Created by on 03/27/2012

At the March 9th meeting of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), which included a discussion of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research programs, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) delivered comments calling for strong and sustained investment in the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). FASEB’s statement highlighted the importance of AFRI’s research and training activities and expressed appreciation for the funding increase provided to the program in the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. The Federation also supported the FY 2013 AFRI funding request by submitting written testimony to the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on March 20th.
PCAST meeting agenda items included an update on science, technology, and innovation at USDA by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who was accompanied by Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Dr. Catherine Woteki. During his presentation, Secretary Vilsack discussed challenges to USDA’s science mission. In reference to the USDA research budget in recent years, he said, “What we’ve seen is a flat-lining. We are just barely making it.” He also stressed that research to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability should be recognized as a national priority because of its relevance to national security and public health. The Secretary also listed a number of suggestions for strengthening the agricultural research system, including elimination of redundant and inefficient programs, regulatory system reforms, creation of generic seed industries, and improved technology transfer mechanisms. Meeting materials and an archived webcast are available on the PCAST website.