Panetta, Bustos, Schrier introduce bill to authorize increase in USDA research
Three Democratic House members who serve on the House Agriculture Committee — Reps. Jimmy Panetta of California, Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Kim Schrier of Wisconsin — on Oct. 17 introduced a bill to authorize a 5% annual funding increase over the next five years at the Agriculture Department.
In a joint release, the three sponsors said their America Grows Act would restore the U.S. commitment to publicly funded agriculture research, which has declined in recent years compared to privately funded research and the public research of other countries.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
“As the representative of the Salad Bowl of the World, including the Salinas Agricultural Research Station, I want to ensure that our producers have all of the tools they need to continue to innovate and compete in the global economy,” said Panetta, who also noted he had founded the House Agriculture Research Caucus.
“We need to make big, bold investments in agricultural research to empower our farmers to compete across the world,” Bustos said.
“Every dollar invested in agricultural research returns more than $20 to our economy, and critical research is needed to arm farmers with innovative tools to fight the growing climate crisis. That’s why my Rural Green Partnership also calls for increased research funding. Illinois has a proud tradition of agricultural research — especially at the Peoria Ag Lab — and I’m proud to join my colleagues on this critical legislation.”
In a background statement, the three House members said that most domestic agriculture research is funded by large private-sector corporations. Moreover, among high-income countries, the U.S. share has declined from 35 percent in 1960 to less than 25 percent by 2013. By comparison, in the past 30 years, Chinese investments in agriculture research has risen eight-fold.
The America Grows Act would increase funding by five percent for the Agricultural Research Service, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service.