of the Farm Bill: Report from the House Mark Up
The Bill emerging from the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research chaired by Representative Tim Holden (D, PA) combines existing USDA research programs with two proposals, one from state universities and land grant colleges and the other from a coalition of public and private research interests including Monsanto. The land grant proposal, coined “Create21”, seeks to consolidate research agencies and free more funding for competitive grants and protect the land grant formula funding. The other proposal, NIFA – National Institute for Food and Agriculture – seeks to combine all competitive grants programs under its purview.
The draft Bill melds these two concepts together and would establish a new “Agricultural Research Institute” that consolidates all USDA research and research grants under six mission areas or “institutes.” They are:
* Renewable Energy, Resources, and Environment
* Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health
* Plant Health and Production
* Animal Health and Production
* Agriculture Systems and Technology
* Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities
Unfortunately, it appears funding for much of this would come from the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS). We have long advocated for IFAFS, both as a separate program within USDA and as a vital part of larger programs as well. We are urging Congress to retain as much funding as possible for our research priorities.
Overall, it is very difficult to figure out just exactly where the money will come from or even the main goals of the House research proposal. Like Rural Development programs, it does appear that most of the money would come through the annual appropriations process, which makes it difficult to achieve needed funding increases and money for vital new programs. Given the importance of research programs to the future of farming and rural communities, we will continue to closely monitor the Research Title as it moves through the farm bill process.
If you are interested in working with us on our agricultural research policy work please email Kim Leval at email@example.com to add your name to our email update list. Or call her at (541) 687-1490. Kim is Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Rural Affairs and is based in Eugene, Oregon.