Created by on 5/1/2012 12:00:00 AM

The Senate Agriculture Committee recently approved the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (2012 Farm Bill) by a vote of 16-5. Section 7407 of the Research Title of the bill reauthorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) through the year 2017 at its current level of $700 million. Among the bill highlights, committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) lists “investing in research to help commercialize new agricultural innovations.” The bill also directs the Secretary of Agriculture to submit a report to Congress within one year that includes an analysis of existing barriers in NIFA’s competitive grants process, as well as specific recommendations for streamlining the application process.
The 2012 legislation also includes a provision to establish a non-profit, non-governmental Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). FFAR would be governed by an appointed Board of Directors and would have the authority to solicit private donations, award grants to advance and support USDA agricultural research activities, and foster new public/private partnerships within the agricultural community. The bill provides FFAR with $100 million in matching mandatory funding, which cannot be expended until an equal amount of non-federal funds are secured by the Foundation.
A summary of the bill, complete bill text, considered amendments, and a webcast of the mark-up are available on the committee website. The Government Accountability Office issued a Farm Bill companion report earlier this month.