The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is joining an advocacy effort with more than a dozen universities.
The goal is to raise awareness of agriculture research and increase funding for it. The new initiative is called Fed By Science.
Deb Hamernik, UNL associate dean for agricultural research, says more research is needed to be competitive, which requires more funding.
She says China now out-funds the US in ag research by more than two-to-one.
“They’re going to be the ones developing new technologies to improve the efficiency of food production and to sustain the environment as well,” Hamernik tells Nebraska Radio Network. “It’s no longer just about yields. It’s also about environmental impact, it’s about jobs, and producing enough food to feed the world, eventually.”
The effort comes as Congress is crafting a new 2018 Farm Bill, which includes money for ag research.
Administrators at the collaborating universities say the agriculture and food production industries are facing considerable challenges, that can only be solved by more research.
“We want to maintain soil, air, and water quality; enhance the nutrition, affordability, and safety of food; protect human health and wellbeing; and then strengthening the U.S. economy, creating jobs, and increasing profitability for farmers and ranchers,” Hamernik explains.
She says some of the focus is on weather impacts, new pests, and evolving pathogens that threaten crops.
“Developing technology has a cost. Training the future workforce has a cost as well.” Hamernik says. “We just want the public to be aware of the importance of funding for research and the need to train the next generation of farmers and ranchers and members of the food and ag industry.”
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:40]