An Illinois Senator is hoping to pass legislation to increase funding for agricultural research at the Department of Agriculture over the next 5 years. Senator Dick Durbin, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today introduced new legislation that would authorize a five percent annual funding increase over the next five years at the USDA. The America Grows Act would restore the United States’ commitment to publicly-funded agriculture research at USDA. Durbin announced the bill while visiting the Peoria County Farm Bureau last month.
17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos plans to introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives. According to a press release from Durbin’s office, ag research has been declining in the last few years and is mostly done by large private-sector corporations. U.S. Investment in agriculture has declined to 25% since 1960. By comparison, China’s ag sector has risen by more than 8 times. The America Grows Act authorizes a five percent annual funding increase over the next five years for research activities at the USDA, specifically at the Agricultural Research Service, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, the National Agricultural Statistic Service, and the Economic Research Service. The act is supported by over 80 separate organizations and businesses around the U.S.
Earlier this year, Durbin also sponsored major funding increases for biomedical and national scientific research agencies on the federal level.