New report shows need to invest in agricultural research

A new report details the critical importance of investing in agricultural research. The report “Benefits of Increasing US Public Investment in Agricultural Research” shows that public spending has been relatively stable over the past decade. In comparison, competitor countries such as China, India and Brazil have steadily increased their investment in agricultural research and development.

“The importance of strong funding for agricultural research cannot be overstated,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), said at a press conference. “Research conducted in this country at public land-grant universities and elsewhere is imperative to the health and sustainability of American agriculture and its future as the breadbasket of the world.”

The report was jointly commissioned by the AFBF and the Farm Journal Foundation and was written by the IHS Markit Agribusiness Consulting Group. Six areas were identified in the report that will require more public funding for research in the future. Plant breeding, crop protection, climate change, animal health, animal and foodborne diseases, and pandemics are critical areas requiring research investment.

The report highlights the need to increase agricultural production to meet the growing demand of a growing population. The world population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. Global food production will need to increase by at least 60% to meet demand. Advances in agricultural research will be essential to help producers meet future food demands.

More US public investment in agricultural research will also be needed to keep US farmers and ranchers competitive. Public investment in Brazil has helped the country overtake the United States in becoming the world’s largest supplier of soybeans. In 2009, China became the world leader in funding agriculture-related research and development programs. Finding ways to improve yields and production efficiency will be necessary to keep US agriculture competitive in the global marketplace.

Lana T. Arthur