164 Future of the Agriculture Research Enterprise Lunch and LearnOral Session
In December 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a report to the President on Agricultural Preparedness and the Agriculture Research Enterprise. The report represents an important analysis of the public and private agricultural research structure and the current levels of investment. The release of the PCAST report, coupled with limited federal resources, has sparked a dialogue amongst scientific societies, universities, commodity groups and industry on how to position agriculture research for the 21st century and get the most value out of the state and federal investment. Hear from Daniel Schrag, PCAST member and co-chair of the PCAST Agricultural Preparedness Working Group, on PCAST’s findings and recommendations and what it means for the future of the food and agriculture research enterprise. The report identifies the top seven emerging challenges that threaten America’s agricultural preparedness: the need to manage new pests, pathogens, and invasive plants; improve water use efficiency; reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint; grow food in a changing climate; manage bioenergy production; produce safe and nutritious food; and global food security. It concludes that the current agriculture research portfolio is not adequately prepared to deal with these emerging challenges and a renewed commitment to research and innovation is needed. The report makes six recommendations. Overall, they call for an additional $700 million per year in agriculture research to address emerging challenges. This includes an additional investment in the National Science Foundation and USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Institute. The report also recommends that USDA research funding shift toward competitive grants. To prepare the next generation of the agriculture science and technology workforce the report calls for expanding fellowships for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.