Ag research big winner in president’s FY ’17 budget

Early indications are agricultural research will be a big winner when President Obama releases his Fiscal Year ’17 budget.

The administration’s budget is proposing $700 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. This would fully fund AFRI at the level Congress authorized for the program in the farm bill. In the past, AFRI has been funded at or below half of the authorized level.

In an early announcement, the USDA said, “Investments would support the discovery of solutions to serious challenges being faced by society, such as poor nutritional outcomes, climate change, pollinator health and anti-microbial resistant bacteria. AFRI would be better able to support cutting-edge science that advances sustainable food and agricultural systems, provides for an abundant and safe food supply, promotes nutritional security, supports the resiliency of rural communities, creates jobs, and develops the next generation of food and agricultural scientists.”

These additional funds, if approved by Congress, will be a major step forward for agricultural research. Currently, nine out of 10 proposals submitted to the AFRI program are rejected for the lack of funds. AFRI was established by Congress in the 2008 farm bill and is the nation’s premier peer-reviewed competitive grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences. 

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