Letter to Representatives DeLauro and Kingston and Senators Kohl and Brownback

Dear Representatives DeLauro and Kingston and Senators Kohl and Brownback:

Our organizations represent livestock and dairy producers, those who grow feed grains, fiber crops, fruits and vegetables, and others in the food chain. While we embody a wide diversity of interests, we are united in our support for a sustained effort to increase funding for the USDA’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 F.Y. 2010.

The importance of agricultural research has never been more evident:

·         Global food security is a challenge. World food demand is expected to increase 100 percent by 2050.

·         Foreign crop pests and diseases, introduced either by the weather or the movement of goods, threaten row crops and orchard stocks.

·         Novel and exotic animal diseases threaten herds, flocks, and even human health.

·         New crops and trees are urgently needed to provide renewable fuels to balance the U.S. energy portfolio and to help sequester carbon to address global climate change.

At the same time, the research needs for other agricultural and natural resource priorities, including conservation, food safety, human health and nutrition, and obesity also continue to rise — creating tougher competition for increasingly scarce USDA research dollars.

We do not expect the federal government to provide all food and agricultural research funding. To cite but one example, agricultural producers will provide $58 million for crop research this year, through check-off programs and other means (not including funds generated through similar state programs). While funding provided by the private sector is substantial — as this example illustrates — it still 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. And likewise, it is not enough to assure affordable fuel and fiber produced on a renewable and sustainable basis. However, we must emphasize our belief that providing this requested increase through reductions in other programs or through offsetting reductions in mandatory programs would be counterproductive.

We believe that American citizens benefit from agricultural research just as they benefit from other health and science research. While AFRI is a smaller program than those of other agencies, it is USDA’s premier competitive program. For this reason, we urge you to provide a $100 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative as part of the F.Y. 2010 Agriculture Appropriations bill.

 

Sincerely,

 

American Agriculture Movement

American Corn Growers Association

American Feed Industry Association

American Sheep Industry Association

American Soybean Association

Biotechnology Industry Organization

Council for Agricultural Science and Technology

Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments

National Association of Federal Veterinarians

National Association of Wheat Growers

National Barley Growers Association

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Chicken Council

National Corn Growers Association

National Cotton Council

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry

National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association

National Renderers Association

National Sorghum Producers

National Sunflower Association

Northeast States Association for Agricultural Stewardship

State Agriculture and Rural Leaders

United Egg Producers

United States Dry Bean Council

U.S. Canola Association

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association

USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council

USA Rice Federation