Public Release: 

Ag and food research funding supported

Innovation needed to meet 21st century challenges

American Society of Agronomy

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IMAGE: Research is vital in solving food security issues of the 21st century: weed competition, insects, pathogens, flooding, drought, temperature extremes, infertile soils, and a demand for increased yield. view more

Credit: Matthew Caldwell

Feb. 8, 2016 - Three scientific societies praise the Obama administration's commitment to doubling funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA). "We need cutting-edge science to meet 21st century challenges in public health, food production, national security, and global competitiveness," says Ellen Bergfeld.

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) made these comments after learning of the budget planned for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). Bergfeld is the CEO of ASA, CSSA, and SSSA.

In a February 3 announcement, Secretary Vilsack highlighted the administration's fiscal year 2017 proposal to invest $700 million in AFRI. This is the full amount authorized by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI is currently funded at $350 million.

"We hope Congress meets the President's challenge to double AFRI funding," said Harold van Es, President of SSSA. "We all benefit from more research that is helping to bring solutions to the food, agriculture, and natural resource challenges facing us today and into the future."

"A fully-funded AFRI will attract the future generation of scientists and advance innovations benefiting all Americans," says Bergfeld.

Food, agriculture, and natural resources research has been woefully underfunded, according to the societies. Every year, over half of AFRI's research grant proposals rated as highly innovative go unfunded due to budget constraints within the agency. In FY 2014, only $270 million of the $1.1 billion in projects recommended for funding by AFRI's review panels received support.

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The American Society of Agronomy is a progressive international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global agronomy. Based in Madison, WI, ASA is the professional home for 8,000+ members and 14,000+ certified professionals (Certified Crop Advisers and Certified Professional Agronomists) dedicated to advancing the field of agronomy. The Society provides information about agronomy in relation to soils, crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) is a progressive international scientific society that fosters the mission of plant science for a better world. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1956, CSSA is the professional home for 5,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of crop science. Society members are dedicated to the conservation and wise use of natural resources to produce food, feed, fiber, fuel, and pharmaceutical crops while maintaining and improving the environment.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1936, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members and 1,000+ certified professionals dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. The Society provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

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