PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY REPORT CALLS FOR INCREASED INVESTMENT IN AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH Created by on 12/18/2012
On December 7th
, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST
) released its “Report to the President on Agricultural Preparedness and the Agriculture Research Enterprise.”
The document called for increased federal investment in agriculture research and development (R&D) at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Science Foundation (NSF). USDA currently spends $265 million, through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), on competitively-funded agriculture research. The PCAST report urges that the NIFA appropriation be increased to the level authorized in the 2008 farm bill ($700 million). For NSF, the report recommends an increase in NSF agriculture research funding from its current level of $120 million to $250 million.
In addition to calling for increases in agriculture research funding levels, PCAST also urged that a higher portion be awarded through competitive extramural grant mechanisms to maximize innovation. USDA, the principle federal agency in support of agriculture research, distributes funds by a variety of mechanisms, including formula funds and non-competitive grants. Further, 66 percent of USDA research funding goes to the department’s intramural R&D program. This is more than double what other research-focused agencies devote to intramural research. The National Institutes of Health spends approximately 11 percent of its budget on intramural research.
Finally, the report suggested a rebalancing of the federal government’s agriculture science portfolio towards basic research. PCAST’s examination found significant levels of overlap with the private-sector and underfunding of areas not covered by non-government activities. The report urged that federal efforts should focus upon “non-commercial research for the public good and workforce development.”