Bennet, Axne introduce bill for new USDA research agency |

Bennet, Axne introduce bill for new USDA research agency

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, on Monday introduced legislation to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Terra (ARPA–Terra), a new agency at the Agriculture Department that would invest in agricultural technologies to increase economic opportunity for farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

“At a time when American farmers and ranchers are facing extreme weather and low commodity prices, it is more important than ever to invest in research that will form the building blocks for major technological breakthroughs to advance American agriculture,” said Bennet.

“ARPA–Terra will utilize the successful ARPA model to develop innovative technologies and new tools for our farmers and ranchers, and will strengthen American global leadership in agricultural research and development.”

“American farmers have always been on the cutting edge of utilizing new technology to produce more and do more,” said Axne. “Iowa has led the way in agriculture research and development, from Iowa State to John Deere, and the Iowan farmer who is a consistent scientist and inventor in the field. APRA–Terra will help our researchers continue to lead the way in agriculture science and development.”

ARPA–Terra would provide competitive funding to land-grant universities for early stage research on technologies that industry might not undertake due to the long-term and high-risk technological barriers that exist.

The agency would enable the United States to develop technologies and put them in the hands of farmers and ranchers to enhance export competitiveness, environmental sustainability, and crop resilience to extreme weather, a news release said.

The bill calls for the creation of an agency within USDA with a director nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.