Senators Stabenow and Thune Reintroduce Bill to Advance Agricultural Research

Thursday, May 21, 2015

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee, and John Thune (R-SD), member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, today reintroduced legislation to support agricultural research. The Charitable Agricultural Research Act encourages the creation of public-private partnerships to boost funding and spur innovation for agricultural research. Senators Stabenow and Thune, members of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced this legislation last Congress and co-led the passage of a similar bipartisan measure out the Finance Committee in February.

"We need to invest in agricultural research if we want to have a strong agricultural industry in America," Stabenow said. "Farmers and ranchers face extraordinary challenges every day, from pests and diseases to droughts and severe weather. Our bill builds on decades of success, giving incentives to new and creative partnerships to fund research into some of agriculture's most pressing challenges."

"The Charitable Agricultural Research Act would help facilitate the transfer of much-needed private investment to agricultural research, which would better equip our producers with the tools they need in order to meet the demands of a 21st century global marketplace," said Thune. "This common-sense legislation creates a new means for generous Americans who wish to dedicate their own financial resources to agricultural research to do so more easily."

Over the last 60 years, agricultural research has significantly expanded crop, livestock, and food production. Michigan agriculture contributes over $100 billion to the state's economy and exports $3 billion in farm goods annually. In South Dakota, agriculture contributes more than $25 billion to the state's economy and generates nearly $4 billion in exports. However, agricultural scientists warn that failing to invest in agricultural research could spell disaster for the future safety and security of American food.

The Charitable Agricultural Research Act seeks to address these challenges by creating agricultural research organizations (AROs) that would work in conjunction with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities to conduct research in the field of agriculture. The legislation is modeled on medical research organizations (MROs), which were created by Congress in 1956 and have successfully generated billions of dollars of new investment in medical research.

The Thune-Stabenow Charitable Agricultural Research Act is cosponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Thad Cochran (R-MS.), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).