Public Funding is Critical

publicsystemThe National Association of Wheat Growers strongly believes the United States must maintain the strong core research infrastructure for scientific discovery, technology transfer and training of plant researchers that makes us competitive worldwide.

Public research is so vital because much of it focus on basic research – the investigations that must happen before researchers know exactly how a finding can be used. This work is not generally supported by the private, profit-seeking sector, but is essential to ensuring scientists can deliver new solutions for farmers in the coming decades.

For historical and agronomic reasons, wheat is disproportionately dependent on public investments for continued crop improvement. An estimated 76 percent of the more than 50 million acres of wheat grown each year in the U.S. are planted with wheat varieties that originated out of the public system.

 

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USDA devotes an estimated $45 million to wheat research within its own labs and at universities around the country. Though this figure may seem high, these investments don’t compare to a crop worth nearly $15 billion at the farm gate annually.

Since the commodity price spikes in 2008 made clear the importance of continued investment in wheat, a number of private research companies have announced plans to invest in wheat research.