Cattlemen’s Corner: Ag research funding | TSLN.com
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Cattlemen’s Corner: Ag research funding

For the September 10, 2011 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

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Last week we discussed child food insecurity in the U.S. A report released in July by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) titled “Public Agriculture Research Spending and Future U.S. Agricultural Productivity Growth: Scenarios for 2010-2050,” examined the relationship between funding for public ag research and the resulting ag productivity. Some key findings outlined in the report indicate the need to continue providing appropriate research funding to ensure adequate food supplies for a growing world population.

Most have probably heard the statistics – global agricultural demand is projected to grow 70-100 percent by 2050 due to population growth, energy demands and higher incomes in developing countries. Meeting this demand from existing ag resources requires raising global ag productivity by a similar level. Likewise, maintaining the U.S. contribution to the global food supply also requires a similar rise in U.S. agricultural output.

The ERS report indicates productivity growth in U.S. agriculture is predicated on long-term investments in public agricultural research and development. Productivity growth also springs from agricultural extension, farmer education, rural infrastructure, private agricultural research and development, and technology transfers, but the force of these factors is compounded by public ag research.



According to the ERS report, U.S. agriculture productivity has grown at an average rate of 1.5 percent annually over the past 50 years. However, since the 1980s funding for public ag research has remained relatively stagnant, which may be causing agricultural productivity growth to slow.

ERS simulations indicate that if U.S. public agricultural research spending remains constant until 2050, the annual growth rate of ag productivity will decrease to less than 0.75 percent and U.S. ag output will increase by only 40 percent by 2050. Under this scenario, raising output beyond this level would require bringing more land, labor, capital, materials and other resources into production.



ERS findings indicate that additional public spending on ag research would raise U.S. productivity and output growth. Raising research and development spending by 3.73 percent annually, which offsets the historical rate of inflation in research costs, would increase U.S. ag output by 73 percent by 2050. Raising public research and development spending by 4.73 percent per year, which represents 1 percent annual growth in spending, would increase output by 83 percent by 2050.

With these statistics in mind, it seems clear that ag research funding should be a priority, not only for farmers and ranchers, but also for consumers. As you know, South Dakota State University (SDSU) has taken severe budget cuts in the last few years. Dr. Barry Dunn, Dean of SDSU’s College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, has indicated a serious concern about the long-term ramifications of the cuts to research funding and the ERS report released in July affirms Dunn’s concerns. As we look toward the 2012 Legislative Session, I urge you to encourage your legislators to maintain adequate funding for ag research at SDSU.

As always, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association will continue to monitor this and other issues that impact your business.

Last week we discussed child food insecurity in the U.S. A report released in July by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) titled “Public Agriculture Research Spending and Future U.S. Agricultural Productivity Growth: Scenarios for 2010-2050,” examined the relationship between funding for public ag research and the resulting ag productivity. Some key findings outlined in the report indicate the need to continue providing appropriate research funding to ensure adequate food supplies for a growing world population.

Most have probably heard the statistics – global agricultural demand is projected to grow 70-100 percent by 2050 due to population growth, energy demands and higher incomes in developing countries. Meeting this demand from existing ag resources requires raising global ag productivity by a similar level. Likewise, maintaining the U.S. contribution to the global food supply also requires a similar rise in U.S. agricultural output.

The ERS report indicates productivity growth in U.S. agriculture is predicated on long-term investments in public agricultural research and development. Productivity growth also springs from agricultural extension, farmer education, rural infrastructure, private agricultural research and development, and technology transfers, but the force of these factors is compounded by public ag research.

According to the ERS report, U.S. agriculture productivity has grown at an average rate of 1.5 percent annually over the past 50 years. However, since the 1980s funding for public ag research has remained relatively stagnant, which may be causing agricultural productivity growth to slow.

ERS simulations indicate that if U.S. public agricultural research spending remains constant until 2050, the annual growth rate of ag productivity will decrease to less than 0.75 percent and U.S. ag output will increase by only 40 percent by 2050. Under this scenario, raising output beyond this level would require bringing more land, labor, capital, materials and other resources into production.

ERS findings indicate that additional public spending on ag research would raise U.S. productivity and output growth. Raising research and development spending by 3.73 percent annually, which offsets the historical rate of inflation in research costs, would increase U.S. ag output by 73 percent by 2050. Raising public research and development spending by 4.73 percent per year, which represents 1 percent annual growth in spending, would increase output by 83 percent by 2050.

With these statistics in mind, it seems clear that ag research funding should be a priority, not only for farmers and ranchers, but also for consumers. As you know, South Dakota State University (SDSU) has taken severe budget cuts in the last few years. Dr. Barry Dunn, Dean of SDSU’s College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, has indicated a serious concern about the long-term ramifications of the cuts to research funding and the ERS report released in July affirms Dunn’s concerns. As we look toward the 2012 Legislative Session, I urge you to encourage your legislators to maintain adequate funding for ag research at SDSU.

As always, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association will continue to monitor this and other issues that impact your business.


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