WASHINGTON – Agriculture’s conscientious approach to sustainable food and energy production has driven the need for continued investment in research and innovation in these areas. As such, National Farmers Union (NFU) applauded President Obama’s announcement today to double research and development (R&D) funding for clean energy initiatives from $6.8 billion to $12.8 billion by 2021. Research investments from the public sector have remained relatively stagnant since 1980, while private-sector investments have grown.
“Public research funding that recognizes the special energy needs and potential contributions of American agriculture is absolutely critical for adapting to climate change and mitigating its effects on farmers and ranchers,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “I believe this plan is a meaningful step in lessening the impacts of climate change and in growing the U.S. economy. I am pleased by the president’s ambitious leadership to ramp up public R&D funding.”
Johnson explained that the president’s plan sets an example for the 20 countries that committed to the Mission Innovation initiative in Paris last year. There, the countries agreed to double their governments’ R&D investments in clean energy over five years, which, when fully implemented, will account for 80 percent of global clean energy R&D spending.
The president’s budget request for fiscal year 2017, which will be unveiled tomorrow, calls for $7.7 billion in R&D investment across 12 agencies. The bulk of that investment would fall under the Department of Energy, according to the White House, including $1.8 billion for fundamental science research on the effects of energy production, conversion and storage on climate change.
The budget also calls for a $106 million investment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the development of bio-based energy sources that range from forest systems and farm products to increased biofuels production.
Johnson added, “We are hopeful for bipartisan support in Congress of these important research investments that benefit rural America and promote food security.”