A new report details the critical importance of investing in agricultural research. The “Benefits of Increased U.S. Public Investment in Agricultural Research” report shows that public spending has been relatively flat over the last decade. By comparison, competing countries such as China, India, and Brazil have been steadily increasing investment in ag research and development.
“The importance of robust funding for agricultural research cannot be overstated,” American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall said during a media briefing. “The research conducted in this nation at public land grant universities and elsewhere is imperative to the health and sustainability of American agriculture and its future as being the breadbasket of the world.”
The report was commissioned jointly by AFBF and the Farm Journal Foundation and was authored by the IHS Markit Agribusiness Consulting Group. Six areas were identified in the report that will require more public research funding moving forward. Crop breeding, crop protection, climate change, animal health, animal disease and foodborne illnesses, and pandemics are critical areas requiring research investment.
The report highlights the need to increase crop production to meet rising demand from a growing population. Expectations are for the global population to increase to nearly 10 billion by 2050. Overall food production will need to increase by a projected 60 percent or more in order to meet demand. Advances in agricultural research will be critical for helping producers meet future food demand.
More U.S. public investment in agricultural research will also be necessary for keeping American farmers and ranchers competitive. Public investment in Brazil has helped the country surpass the U.S. in becoming the world’s largest supplier of soybeans. In 2009, China became the global leader for funding research and development programs related to agriculture. Researching methods for improving yields and production efficiency will be necessary to keep U.S. agriculture competitive in the global marketplace.