June 5, 2009
"We are united in our support for a sustained effort to increase funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) until this competitive research program reaches its full authorized level of $700 million per year. As the first step, we support an increase of $100 million in fiscal year 2010." This is the message sent forward by the membership of 29 national and regional agriculture organizations, including the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI).
The letter, sent to Sens. Herb Kohl (Wis.) and Sam Brownback (Kan.) and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) and Jack Kingston (Ga.), members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittees on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, explained that the importance of agricultural research has never been more evident. Global food security is a challenge with the world's demand for food expected to increase 100 percent by 2050; the introduction of foreign diseases and pests are threatening row crops and orchard stocks; and new and exotic animal diseases threaten herds, flocks and even human health.
The private sector will provide $58 million for crop research this year and, while this funding is substantial, it falls far short of what is needed to provide the fundamental and applied science breakthroughs needed to ensure that U.S. consumers will continue to have a safe, nutritious and bountiful food supply.