USDA research official: Imagine if US ‘on par’ with China, Brazil | TheFencePost.com
YOUR AD HERE »

USDA research official: Imagine if US ‘on par’ with China, Brazil

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., opens a hearing on agricultural research on Tuesday. Photo by Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report
Research-RFP-121222
As the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday considered the impact of China and Brazil increasing their spending on agricultural research while the U.S. public research budget has been stagnant, the highest ranking Agriculture Department research official urged the committee to “imagine what we could accomplish if we were on par with our scientific colleagues.”
Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Chavonda Jacobs-Young made the statement at a hearing after Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said that China has quintupled its investment in agricultural research and is now spending double what the United States is, while Brazil has also increased its spending. Brown asked if she was concerned about other countries spending more on agricultural research than the United States and Jacobs-Young said she was.
Earlier in her opening statement Jacobs-Young pointed out that between 1948 and 2019, total agricultural output in the United States grew by 142%.
“This rise cannot be attributed to increases in agricultural land or labor — both inputs declined over the period — but stem instead from the adoption of a whole suite of publicly funded innovations in crop and livestock breeding, nutrient use, pest management, and farm and field management,” Jacobs-Young said.
She also noted that USDA’s Economic Research Service has found that public agricultural research and development investments from 1900 to 2011 generated, on average, $20 in benefits to the U.S. economy for every $1 of spending.
When Brown suggested that the answer is multiyear, mandatory agricultural research spending, Jacobs-Young said she would leave that decision up to Congress but would be happy to provide technical assistance.
In an indication he understands administration officials are reluctant to tell Congress how to write the farm bill, Brown said “I get it,” and that Jacobs-Young’s response was “well said.”
Jacobs-Young said it is important to update agricultural research facilities and that the average Agricultural Research Service building is 47 years old. She also noted that 20% of employees in the Research, Education and Economics mission area are eligible for retirement and that in a few years the percentage will rise to 33%.
Jacobs-Young said USDA needs support to continue recruitment, particularly among women and minority groups that are not well represented in the ag research field.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who chairs the Senate Agriculture Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics and Research Subcommittee, told Jacobs-Young he is particularly concerned about concentration in agriculture and that only 2% of farm subsidies go to the fruits and vegetables that “other parts of government” say Americans should eat.
Booker said the current farm program does not take into concern “the negative externalities” from farm subsidies that lead to greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of lakes, rivers and oceans, depletion of soil health, flooding and the loss of biodiversity.
He said the program also leads to making products like Twinkies “so much cheaper” than apples because the subsidies go into ingredients in Twinkies, he said. That means the taxpayer pays twice, Booker added, once for farm subsidies and again for Medicare and Medicaid health care costs.
“We are a frog in boiling water right now as a country,” Booker said, referring to the story of a frog placed in tepid water getting boiled alive as it is slowly heated, as opposed to jumping out right away from a hot water pot.
If cases of diabetes, stroke, heart disease and Alzheimer’s keep going up, the percentage of the federal budget will rise from one third on health care to one half, he said.
“You could be the canary in the coal mine right now by screaming with research to expose more of the truth of how we are digging our own grave … with the number of people who are dying based on the way we have designed our food system,” Booker said.
“You’ve dropped a lot there,” Jacobs-Young said, asking if she could follow up by sitting down with him.
Booker said that would be fine and said he would surrender the time.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., opens a hearing on agricultural research on Tuesday. Photo by Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report
Research-RFP-121222
More Like This, Tap A Topic
news

[placeholder]