AGree, a leading agricultural think tank which is co-led by former USDA secretary Dan Glickman, has released a report detailing “how to improve the food and agricultural research system. The influential group has called on Congress to hold hearings. Sarah Gonzalez writes for Agri-Pulse (@AgriPulse).
AGree’s report, Research & Innovation: Strengthening Agricultural Research, provides “nine recommendations to strengthen the impact of public research dollars by reforming the system and also makes the case for increased research funding.”
“Important progress has been made in recent years to bolster food and ag research,” [Dan] Glickman said at a briefing where the report was released. “Now we need to maximize return on the dollar, which begins with Congress holding a series of oversight hearings examining long-established federal funding models with fresh eyes,” Glickman said. He noted that Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who lead the Senate Agriculture Committee, expressed interest in holding hearings.
Like other national (and international) leaders, Glickman is concerned about the decline in public investment in agricultural research. He also expressed concern with what he terms an “extensive amount of duplicate research” happening at institutions around the country.”
AGree’s recommendations are based on listening sessions held around the nation and a series of five commissioned papers. Among the recommendations?
* Review and reset publicly-funded research priorities periodically, employing a transparent process with input from multiple stakeholders and end users to ensure that funds are focused on high impact areas.
* Target public research funding to areas unlikely to be addressed by private industry.
* Increase Congressional oversight of the U.S. agricultural research enterprise.
* Make data, information, and findings from publicly-funded research accessible.
* Maintain U.S. leadership and engagement in international food and agricultural research.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) “issued a statement supporting AGree’s objectives.”
“…the research agenda we set today in a very real way helps determine the food and agriculture system we will have a generation from now. It is critical, therefore, that as we find ways to increase public investment, we also align research and development with our values.”
Glickman noted that the new Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR – created in the 2014 farm bill ) “could serve to boost research support.” Glickman also serves as FFAR’s chair.
Congress provided $200 million for the foundation, which must be matched by non-federal funds as projects are identified and approved. FFAR recently named Sally Rockey as its first executive director. Rockey is currently deputy director for extramural research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Both the article and the report are worth a read.