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Principles for Public Investments in Agriculture Sciences


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Executive Summary:

The United States has long been a world leader in agriculture through the hard work of its farmers, the leadership of its scientists and extension agents, and the wisdom of its policy makers to invest in publicly funded research and development.

These investments have increased productivity, made us a major food exporter, and spurred the Green Revolution that helped many other countries, especially in Asia and Latin America, develop their agriculture sectors, making them even stronger trading partners and allies. In recent decades, however, our publicly funded research has declined markedly: USDA’s R&D funding has fallen to just 1.6% of the agency’s budget in 2016, roughly half 1970’s level and the lowest point on record. China’s public R&D budget now exceeds that of the United States, and combined, China, India and Brazil spend $2.35 for every $1.00 the United States spends. This decline in US public investment comes as farmers around the world will be challenged to feed a growing population and to do so in ways that are sensitive to the relationship between agriculture and the environment.

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