U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Kit Bond (R-MO) received the BESC/CoFARM award on Wednesday April 18 to recognize their unwavering and long-time support for the agricultural and biological sciences. The award was presented by the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) and the Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM) which promote federal support of the non-medical biological sciences and the advancement of agricultural research, respectively.
Throughout their distinguished careers in public service, Senators Harkin and Bond have worked to increase funding for National Science Foundation and USDA research. Both Senators have sought to make support of research a bi-partisan national priority.
Since 1984 Senator Harkin, currently Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has worked to ensure that farmers across America have access to the best environmental and agricultural science available. He was instrumental in the creation of the Conservation Security Program and other USDA programs to safeguard America's biological heritage.
"Agricultural research provides a wide range of benefits to our society, from agricultural producers to consumers, and we continue looking to it to guide our food production, eating habits, and our energy production. Because of agricultural research, we know that particular foods contain anti-cancer compounds, we have developed crop varieties that are resistant to particular diseases, and we know that conservation is important to keeping farm land productive. However, it is becoming apparent that future successes in agricultural research, education, and extension are not assured. To meet the growing demand on agriculture and develop new innovations in renewable energy and other areas we must increase investments in agricultural research," said Harkin.
During his 21 years in the U.S. Senate, Kit Bond has been among Congress' most outspoken proponents of research funding. In particular, his ongoing work on behalf of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center has greatly benefited basic and applied research at the crossroads of agriculture and the environment.
According to Senator Bond, "The cost of everyday commodities such as food and fuel continue to rise and affect people around the world. Solutions to these problems rest in the critical investment of agricultural research. These solutions are so important that the position of the United States as a world leader may depend on our solid willingness to commit to forward-looking investments in agriculture and biological sciences."
The BESC/CoFARM reception honoring Senators Bond and Harkin is part of a two-day Congressional Visits Day event to raise awareness on Capitol Hill about agricultural and environmental research. Over 40 scientists from around the nation are participating in the event.
Since 1990, the Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFARM) has represented over 200,000 individuals from scientific and professional organizations, united by a commitment to advance and sustain investment in the nation's fundamental and applied agricultural research.
Formed in 2002, the Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC) is an alliance of organizations united to support national investment in the non-medical biological sciences across all federal agencies.