A Presidential committee today released a report calling on the Federal Government to launch a coordinated effort to boost American agricultural science by increasing public investments.

The report was initiated at the request of Catherine Woteki, the Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics, and Roger Beachy, former Director of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

The report has several interesting observations and important recommendations that, if implemented, would enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of US and global agriculture.

Their recommendations include:

 

1. Expand the role of competition in agricultural research funding:

a. Expand the use of competition in allocation of research funding within intramural and

extramural programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

b. Increase the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget for basic science relevant to agri­

culture from $120 million to $250 million per year.

c. Increase the USDA budget for competitive funding of extramural research from $265 million

to $500 million per year, consistent with the 2008 congressional authorization.

 

2.     Greatly expand a competitively awarded fellowship program for graduate students and

post­doctoral researchers at a level of $180 million per year with at least 5­year funding.

 

3.   Expand the USDA program of competitive awards for new infrastructure investments for

agricultural research with an emphasis on specialization and consolidation to avoid redundancies.

 

4. Create six large, multidisciplinary innovation institutes focused on emerging challenges to

agriculture, supported by public­-private partnerships at an initial new Federal investment of

$150 million per year to create six institutes at a funding level of $25 million per year for no less

than 5 years.

 

5. Conduct an internal review of Federal regulatory policy for agriculture to promote regulatory

clarity, consistent with Executive Order 13563, as well as the Presidential Memorandum on

technology transfer from the national laboratories to the marketplace.

 

6. Establish an implementation committee to act on these recommendations. Create a permanent,

independent science advisory committee to advise the Chief Scientist of the USDA.

 

Read the entire report here.

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