Research, Extension, and Related Matters: Title VII
Authorizes funding for research, extension, and education—including competitive grants and capacity funding (i.e., awarded by formula) to Land Grant institutions and State agricultural experiment stations, and intramural funding for USDA research agencies; identifies high-priority research areas and new research initiatives.
- The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is a new nonprofit institution to foster research and technology transfer through public-private collaborations. The Act mandates $200 million in initial funding for the foundation, to be matched with outside funds.
- The 2014 Farm Act broadens support for animal health and disease research and veterinary services, and sets aside $5 million per year for capacity and infrastructure grants.
- Mandatory funding for specialty crops research and extension will increase to $80 million per year, including at least $25 million for emergency citrus disease research.
- High-priority research areas include pulses, coffee plants, corn and soy meal and other grain byproducts, and food safety training. Pollinator research is expanded to include health and population surveillance and a broader definition of pollinator disorders.
New Programs and Provisions
The Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research is established to encourage public-private partnerships in research. The foundation can raise funds for agricultural research and align them with public research plans and priorities.
The Act reauthorizes the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, with funding raised from $15 million to $20 million per fiscal year. The mandatory funding is now open to community- and school-based agriculture education organizations. New provisions set aside 5 percent of these funds for veterans and another 5 percent for limited-resource farmers and ranchers.
The Forestry Products Advanced Utilization Research Initiative is authorized at $7 million per fiscal year for wood quality improvement, new products and renewable energy, management of timberlands, and “green products” from forest products.
A matching requirement for competitive grants changes existing provisions to make matching funds or in-kind resources a condition for awards except for Land Grant institutions, other USDA research agencies, and certain other institutions. The requirement can also be waived for priority research areas.
Agricultural and food law research is authorized at $5 million per fiscal year.
Repealed Programs and Provisions
The Act eliminates high-priority designation for dozens of research areas, although many of these areas are eligible to receive funding through new initiatives (e.g., the expanded animal health and disease research initiative could support research on animal ticks or brucellosis) or through other competitive and formula funding programs.
The Act repeals authorities for a number of research initiatives (Human Nutrition Intervention, Health Promotion Research, and others); research centers (National Swine Research Center, Red Meat Safety Center); and congressionally mandated studies (research, extension, and education; food deserts).
Errata: On March 14, 2014, corrections were made to this section. An erroneous statement regarding limits on USDA administrative fees and overhead was deleted. While the House version of the bill included a numerical limit on such fees, the limit was removed before the Agricultural Act of 2014 was signed into law.
- The 2014 Farm Act largely retains the existing system of research, extension, and education that supports projects at Land Grant institutions and Federal intramural research facilities. The Act does make some adjustments to research funding, some of which are intended to encourage investment of new resources into the public agricultural research system. Although the productivity growth of U.S. agriculture is strongly linked with public investment in research (see link below), growth in public agricultural research and development has been sluggish relative to that of the private sector (see figure below).
Public Agriculture Research Spending and Future U.S. Agricultural Productivity Growth: Scenarios for 2010-2050
- The creation of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research combines new potential sources of research funds with a governance structure that coordinates projects across public and private institutions. The foundation can pursue fundraising from individuals, corporations, charitable foundations, and other sources. The foundation’s Board and other elements of its governance structure will seek to complement existing research plans in USDA science agencies with projects that benefit from new research funds. Public and private research entities often focus on different subject areas (see figure), but private institutions and consumers benefit from the long-term studies, multi-disciplinary teams, and specialized facilities supported by public research. The foundation could also coordinate public-private interaction around technology transfer and the translation of scientific discoveries into useful applications.
- New requirements for competitive grants are also intended to increase public-private coordination and attract new funding into agricultural research. Projects funded under the Specialty Crops Research Initiative will undergo additional review for industry relevance, and State commodity boards will be able to propose competitively awarded research with industry matching funds. A matching funds requirement for competitive awards could draw in additional non-Federal funding, although most competitively awarded funds in recent years would have fallen outside the scope of the policy. Formula funding programs already require matching funds: State Agricultural Experiment Stations received significant funding from State ($1.1 billion) and industry sources ($273 million) in 2012.