Research Continues to be Vital to the Future of Agriculture

By Don Molino, The Voice of Louisiana Agriculture Radio Network

During this report on the Voice of Louisiana Agriculture Radio Network, Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain pointed out the talks in both Washington and Baton Rouge about the new farm bill have centered on how agriculture is the foundation of our overall economy, when looking at the natural resource based industries.

Strain also pointed out agriculture has remained strong ever since the U.S. Department of Agriculture was signed into being by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, due to formula funding established by congress over the years.

“But there are now fears the US may not be leading the way in innovation,” says Strain, “as we have decreased funding for research while other countries, such as China, have actually increased their funding markedly.”

The return on investment in agriculture research is rather astounding, according to Strain.

“For ever public dollar we invest more than $24 comes back into the economy.”

“When we develop new strains, new varieties, new ways to fight diseases, all the things from agriculture research including doubling food production since the 1980’s and how we’re going to  triple US food production between now and 2050 to feed a growing world population,” the importance of ag research isn’t hard to imagine, according to the commissioner.

“In the early 1970’s about 6.5% of all federal research dollars went to agriculture scientists. Now that figure stands at 3%.”