Report Highlights How Stagnant U.S. Public Funding for Agricultural Research Threatens Food Systems

Updated: 3 days ago


WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 25, 2021) – Stagnant public funding for agricultural research is threatening the future vitality of U.S. food systems – posing risks to farmer productivity and profitability, the steady supply of affordable food for consumers, and ultimately global food security, according to a new report.


The report, jointly commissioned by Farm Journal Foundation and the American Farm Bureau Federation and authored by the IHS Markit Agribusiness Consulting Group, highlights the vital importance of public funding for agricultural research and development (R&D). New innovations are crucial so that farmers can increase their productivity and meet rising global demand for food, even as climate change intensifies. The world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and food production will need to increase by 60%-70% to meet rising demand. While private-sector funding for agricultural R&D has been increasing, U.S. public spending has been flat for the past decade.


“The U.S. has always been a leader in agricultural innovation, but we’re at risk of losing that advantage by falling behind the rest of the world in research and development,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “This report shows the clear need for agricultural research to benefit not only farmers, but our entire food system and every person who eats. Research will unlock the answers to growing more crops even as we face increasingly volatile weather, help to create a more resilient food system supply chain, and provide food that’s higher in nutritional value. It’s the golden ticket.”


Public investment is crucial, as private companies have less incentive to research subjects that benefit society broadly but offer potentially lower monetary returns, such as in the areas of environmental, animal health, specialty crop, and food safety research. Private companies primarily focus research spending on only a few major crop and livestock markets, leaving other sectors under-explored.


Other countries are seeing the value of investing in agricultural research, putting the U.S. at risk of losing its competitive advantage in agricultural production and exports. China became the world’s largest public funder of agricultural R&D in 2009, and India and Brazil are also making significant investments.


It can take years to develop and bring new technologies to market, so research funded today must seek to anticipate and solve the problems of tomorrow. In order to make agricultural and food supply chains more resilient, increased research funding is needed across the board. This paper focuses on the key areas of crop breeding, crop protection, animal health, animal disease and foodborne illness, climate change, and global pandemics as case studies.


“COVID-19 should be a wake-up call that more public research funding is needed to address unexpected shocks,” said Tricia Beal, CEO of Farm Journal Foundation. “The pandemic created huge challenges for agricultural supply chains around the world. It also showed just how quickly pathogens can spread. Increased public support for agricultural research is crucial for finding solutions to make our entire food system more resilient.”

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About Farm Journal Foundation

Farm Journal Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving global food security by sustaining modern agriculture’s leadership role and ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population. The organization works to advance this mission through

key issue areas, including global food security, agricultural research

and development, nutrition, and conservation agriculture. To learn more

visit www.farmjournalfoundation.org.


About the American Farm Bureau Federation

The American Farm Bureau Federation is the Voice of Agriculture®. We are farm and ranch families working together to build a sustainable future of safe and abundant food, fiber and renewable fuel for our nation and the world. For more information, please visit www.fb.org.


Disclaimer

The IHS reports and information referenced herein (the “IHS Materials”) are the copyrighted property of IHS Inc. (“IHS”) and represent data, research, opinions or viewpoints published by IHS, and are not representations of fact. IHS conducted this analysis and prepared the IHS Materials utilizing reasonable skill and care in applying methods of analysis consistent with normal industry practice. Forecasts are inherently uncertain because of events or combinations of events that cannot reasonably be foreseen including the actions of government, individuals, third parties and competitors. The IHS Materials speak as of the original publication date thereof (and not as of the date of this document). The information and opinions expressed in the IHS Materials are subject to change without notice and IHS has no duty or responsibility to update the IHS Materials. Moreover, while the IHS Materials reproduced herein are from sources considered reliable, the accuracy and completeness thereof are not warranted, nor are the opinions and analyses which are based upon it. To the extent permitted by law, IHS shall not be liable for any errors or omissions or any loss, damage or expense incurred by reliance on the IHS Materials or any statement contained therein or resulting from any omission. NO IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE SHALL APPLY. The IHS Materials are not to be construed as legal or financial advice, are supplied without obligation and on the understanding that any person who acts upon the IHS Materials or otherwise changes his/her position in reliance thereon does so entirely at his/her own risk. The IHS Materials were prepared for the sole benefit of IHS’ client for IHS’ client’s internal business use. No portion of the IHS Materials may be reproduced, reused, or otherwise distributed in any form without the prior written consent of IHS. IHS Materials reproduced or redistributed with IHS’ permission must display IHS’ legal notices and attributions of authorship. IHS and the IHS globe design are trademarks of IHS. Other trademarks appearing in the IHS Materials are the property of IHS or their respective owners.


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