A new report calls for reforms in food and ag research. AGree, a group that’s supported by leading foundations that fund food and agriculture, international development, and health and well-being, unveiled its comprehensive report on food and ag research, “Research & Innovation: Strengthening Agricultural Research,” which includes nine recommendations to strengthen the impact of public research dollars by reforming the system and also makes the case for increased research funding.
“We need to make a smart investment even smarter,” said Deborah Atwood, Executive Director of AGree. “The need to modernize our research system has long been discussed behind closed doors – now it’s time to have an open national conversation about needed changes.”
The recommendations were developed based on meetings held across the country throughout a two year period involving more than 100 people. They were further informed by five Point of View papers commissioned by AGree, and guided by the direct engagement and insight of AGree Co-Chairs and Advisors. They are:
– Scrutinize and modernize federal funding mechanisms for public research, education, and extension to foster innovation and maximize public benefits.
– Review and reset publicly-funded research priorities periodically, employing a transparent process with input from multiple stakeholders and end users to ensure that funds are focused on high-impact areas.
– Minimize duplicative efforts and unnecessary costs by assessing the existing research infrastructure and improving grant monitoring and tracking systems.
– Target public research funding to areas unlikely to be addressed by private industry.
– Increase Congressional oversight of the U.S. agricultural research enterprise.
– Make data, information, and findings from publicly-funded research accessible.
– Strengthen the role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Chief Scientist to help ensure the U.S. continues to serve as a global leader on food and agricultural research and innovation.
– Integrate research, education, and extension activities to promote coordination across each of these three interconnected elements at the university level.
– Maintain U.S. leadership and engagement in international food and agricultural research.
The next steps for AGree include convening a diverse coalition of thought leaders to coalesce around smart, long-term changes to the public food and agricultural research enterprise.