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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.”

 


 

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