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Agriculture: Research Funds Decline

by Britt E. Erickson
February 27, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 9

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research budget would take a hit under the 2013 proposed budget. USDA would receive $2.7 billion for agricultural R&D, a decrease of $59 million, or 2.2%, compared with 2012.

Four USDA agencies have jurisdiction over research: the National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA), the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), and the Economic Research Service (ERS).

NIFA, which funds extramural research, would see its budget fall to $1.3 billion, a decrease of $82 million, or 6.1%, compared with 2012. The cuts include $129 million of Farm Bill programs that are subject to reauthorization this year.

Funding for NIFA’s primary competitive research grants program, the Agriculture & Food Research Initiative, would rise to $325 million, an increase of $61 million, or 23.1%, compared with 2012. AFRI’s research priorities include feedstocks for biofuel production, food security, food safety, and minimizing antibiotic resistance transmission through the food chain, nutrition, and obesity prevention.

ARS, which conducts in-house research in agricultural sciences, would see its 2013 budget rise to $1.1 billion, an increase of $4 million, or 0.4%, compared with 2012. The increase would be used to address environmental challenges facing agricultural production and laboratory infrastructure.

Agricultural statistics would get a large boost in 2013. NASS would receive $179 million, an increase of $20 million, or 12.6%. Of that increase, $3.4 million would fund county-level statistics for selected commodities. The 2013 NASS budget also includes $63 million, an increase of $20.9 million, to support the Census of Agriculture. Funding of ERS, the agency that provides economic and other social science information about agriculture, food, and the environment, would drop to $77 million, a decrease of $1 million, or 1.3%, compared with 2012.


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