NAWG and almost 50 other agricultural organizations wrote Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag this week making a pitch for a $500 million allocation for the new Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) in the FY2011 budget.
The groups said the successful roll-out of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the umbrella organization over AFRI, and increased research funding in FY2010 were important first steps in bringing change to agricultural research efforts.
Still, agricultural research done with competitive grant money is dramatically underfunded. According to NIFA, in the 2007 fiscal year, USDA received proposals requesting more than $772 million, with awards made totaling just over $164 million – just 21 percent of requests.
The groups said, in part:
“Providing $500 million for AFRI in the FY 2011 Budget will not meet this entire need, but will ensure that we continue to address critical issues in agricultural research and extension funding for the coming year. This will also put us on a path to reaching the authorized funding level of $700 million for AFRI by the end of this Farm Bill in 2012…”
NAWG and other signatories also stressed that funding increases for competitive research should not be at the expense of basic research programs at land-grant universities or USDA, many of which are also dramatically underfund.
The full letter is available online at www.wheatworld.org/research.