A new report from the Presidential Council on Science and Technology (PCAST) said that the federal government needs to launch a coordinated effort to boost American agriculture science by increasing agricultural research investments by $700 million per year and by rebalancing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) research portfolio so that external funding is increased.
The "Report to the President on Agricultural Preparedness and Agriculture Research Enterprise" concluded that the United States is the undisputed world leader in agricultural production today, but must invest in more technology to maintain this position. The report prioritizes the top scientific challenges facing agriculture, including the need to manage new pathogens, reduce agriculture's environmental footprint, adapt to a changing climate and accommodate demands for bio-energy while producing safe and nutritious food at home and abroad.
PCAST recommended that Congress appropriate the previously authorized funding for USDA's competitive grants program aimed at researchers outside the government and noted that the majority of USDA's research and development budget is directed internally (60 percent) while most other science-based federal agencies devote less than 30 percent of their budgets intramurally.
The full report is available at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast_agriculture_20121207.pdf.
Reprinted in part from American Meat Institute