Johnathan Hladik, the policy program director with the Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs, says that additional money is needed for research to be able to help feed a growing world population.
“When you look at the landscape, you look at the charge of agriculture in the coming years, we need to feed more and more people, in some cases, with less land and fewer resources,” Hladik says. “What’s going to get us there is sound research and good science. We took this opportunity to express our support for making sure we have the dollars and support from the federal government there to get this done.”
The requested doubling of federal research funding would take the figure to $6-billion.
“It sounds like a significant chunk of change,” Hladik says, “but this is the type of research that pays off for generations to come and it’s smart to make that investment now, upfront, rather than trying to catch up later on and dealing with what could end up being a significant food shortage.”
He says private companies in the U-S have contributed to ag research but the advantage in federal funding is that the research tends to be unbiased.
“Over the past decade or so, it’s private companies really stepping up and filling that gap and that could be a really big positive but in a lot of ways that can also tailor the research in a certain direction or limit its scope,” Hladik says. “When you have more general non-partisan dollars that are going to work, it can open up the amount of issues you can look at.”
Hladik says the U.S. should look at the commitment China has made to ag research. China is now the world leader in such funding, passing the U.S. — which is now in second place.
The Center for Rural Affairs is based in Lyons.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton