Opening Statement: "A Review of Title VII: USDA Implementation of Research Programs"
Washington, March 23, 2023
Rep. Jim Baird (IN-04), Chairman of the Conservation, Research, and Biotechnology Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at today's subcommittee hearing entitled, "A Review of Title VII: USDA Implementation of Research Programs."Remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Good morning and welcome to the first hearing of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Research, and Biotechnology in the 118th Congress. I also want to welcome Ranking Member Spanberger, and I look "forward to working with her as we reauthorize a Farm Bill.
"As the United States Representative for Indiana’s 4th Congressional District, I know how important agriculture is to our nation’s identity and for our economy.
"As some of you might know, Indiana is home to a varied and immensely productive agricultural industry and is the 8th largest agricultural exporter in the nation, with over 80% of its land being used for "agricultural production.
"Indiana is also home to many great colleges and universities, one in particular being Purdue University where agricultural research is a high-ranking priority.
"Despite historically strong bipartisan support for the topic, today’s hearing is the first time since 2019 that the Committee has spent some time on research, and the implementation of Title VII of the 2018 Farm Bill.
"Since 2019, we have witnessed the resiliency of the American producer; record inflation, a global pandemic, geopolitical turmoil, and how burdensome overregulation has tested our farmers and ranchers in ways unimaginable. Yet, our producers responded to ensure our nation, and many others around the world, retained access to the safest and most affordable, food, fiber, and energy supply.
"And much of that resiliency is based on the work of the Department. Today, we will hear directly from USDA on implementation of key research programs, research program efficacy, and opportunities within research to increase productivity for future generations of farmers and ranchers.
"While some programs—like the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative—have proven to be effective, other programs—like the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority Pilot—have not even been implemented. This specific program, known as AGARDA, was created in the 2018 Farm Bill to conduct advanced research on long-term and high-risk challenges for agriculture; however, USDA just published the congressionally mandated strategic plan two days ago—over three years after the original deadline.
"When the Committee marked up the bipartisan Budget Views and Estimates letter a few weeks ago, Chairman Thompson asked us to look at the return on investment in each title of the Farm Bill. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, public spending on agricultural research has yielded our economy $20 for every $1 spent.
"Despite the benefits of investing in agriculture research, public spending has steadily declined since its peak in 2002. When accounting for inflation, the United States now spends roughly the same amount on agricultural research that was spent in the 1970s. While this in and of itself is concerning, it is further compounded by the fact that our competitors—China, India, and Brazil—have rapidly increased spending. In fact, China is now the world’s top investor in agricultural research. As we seek to remain competitive with China, we cannot forget about the importance of agricultural research in ensuring the United States has the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food and fiber supply in the world.
"I would like to thank USDA Under Secretary Chavonda Jacobs-Young for taking time to be here with us today. Dr. Jacobs-Young has an incredible background, and I am looking forward to her testimony.
"With that, I would like to recognize Ranking Member Spanberger for any opening statement she would like to make."
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