Opening Statement: Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Davis: The Next Farm Bill: Agricultural Research
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Good morning and welcome to today’s Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research subcommittee hearing. This hearing continues our series where each of the six subcommittees is looking at all aspects of the next farm bill.
The focus of today’s hearing is on agricultural research. As we kick off the discussion, try to imagine where the United States as a whole—and American agriculture in particular—would be without the massive productivity gains that have resulted from more than a century of investment in agricultural research. We enjoy the safest, most affordable, and most abundant food supply in the world in large part due to sustained public investment in agricultural research. In fact, USDA describes the rise in agricultural productivity as the single most important source of economic growth in the entire U.S. farm sector.
USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area includes four agencies that serve as the federal lead for our research, education, and extension activities. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service conducts research and develops solutions for agricultural problems of high national priority. The Economic Research Service—through science-based economic research and analysis—informs public policy and other decisions about agriculture, food, rural development, and environmental challenges. The National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. And, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture supports research, education and Extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. Together with state-level and private-sector funding, the U.S. agricultural research system is the envy of the world.
While private-sector research investment is substantial and growing, public funding for agricultural research in the United States has been on the decline for the past decade. Agricultural research increasingly occupies a smaller share of the United States’ public research portfolio. At the same time, other countries like China are rapidly outpacing U.S. public investment. Given that public research is often the foundation upon which private research is built, public investment is essential to maintaining the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.
We have a tremendous legacy of supporting public agricultural research in this country. While we have a lot of difficult decisions to make, agricultural research will be a vital part of ensuring the success of American agriculture over the next century.
I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses today in exploring the importance of agricultural research, in addressing agricultural research priorities, and in examining the effectiveness of public-private research partnerships. To that end, I welcome their thoughts on the next farm bill as well.
With that, I turn to Ms. Lujan-Grisham for any opening comments she’d like to make.