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Agriculture: Competitive Research Funds Set To Rise

by Britt E. Erickson
April 22, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 16

Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture
A table shows that agriculture and food research get a boost at USDA.
Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture’s research budget would get a boost under the President’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget. USDA would receive $2.9 billion for agricultural R&D, an increase of 6.3% 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, is set to see its budget fall to $1.3 billion, a loss of $7 million compared with 2012. Funding for NIFA’s primary competitive research grants program, the Agriculture & Food Research Initiative, however, will rise to $383 million, a jump of $119 million, or 45.1%, compared with 2012.

Some of the Agriculture & Food Research Initiative’s priorities for 2014 include beefing up the food- and agriculture-related workforce, ensuring water security, improving nutrient management in agricultural areas, reducing the impacts of chemicals of emerging concern on water resources, improving food security, minimizing antibiotic resistance transmission through the food chain, strengthening the sustainability of biomass production, and mitigating the effects of climate change on agriculture.

ARS, which conducts in-house research in agricultural sciences, will see its 2014 budget rise to $1.3 billion, an increase of $178 million, or 15.8%, compared with 2012, under the President’s request. A large chunk of the extra money, some $155 million, will be used to replace USDA’s Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga., an outdated facility focused on poultry diseases. Other priorities include reducing the cost of biobased products and biofuels, identifying animal genomic data to improve animal health, boosting crop yields, and ensuring food safety.

Funding for agricultural statistics is flat in the President’s request. NASS would receive $159 million, exactly the same amount it got in 2012. Approximately $42 million of that amount would be used to complete the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

ERS, the agency that provides economic and other social science information about agriculture, would see a small increase. The proposed 2014 budget requests $79 million for ERS, an increase of $1 million, or 1.3%, compared with 2012.


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