Denver, CO – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, joined Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator John Thune (R-SD) and six others to introduce a bipartisan bill that will spur new agricultural research, leveraging private dollars to create charitable partnerships between universities and private entities to strengthen and improve American agriculture.
The bill, the Charitable Agricultural Research Act, amends the tax code to allow for the creation of a new type of charitable, tax-exempt organization, agricultural research organizations, similar to medical research organizations which have been in existence since the 1950s. This bill comes on the heels of Bennet’s discussions with farmers, ranchers and rural communities in August, including one at the Arkansas Valley Research Center, which has conducted agricultural research for more 120 years.
“Colorado’s agricultural producers work day in and day out to provide our country with a reliable, safe supply of food, fiber and fuel,” said Bennet. “Colorado is already leading the way in agricultural research and innovation, whether to protect our natural resources or increase productivity, and now our agricultural research community will have additional support to help strengthen this important aspect of Colorado’s economy.”
Over the last 60 years, agricultural research has expanded food production significantly. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, farm productivity has risen 158 percent since 1948; this increase is attributed to research, by implementing new changes in the efficiency of farming practices and the use of agricultural technology. Today, the United States produces $312 billion in agricultural products and exports $108 billion annually.
However, agricultural scientists warn that failing to invest in agricultural research could spell disaster for the future of American food security and safety. Agricultural research funding has become stagnant and has fallen far behind other federal agencies since the 1970s. The Charitable Agricultural Research Act seeks to address these challenges by creating agricultural research organizations (AROs) that would work in conjunction with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities to conduct research in the field of agriculture. To accomplish this, a new section allowing for donations to agricultural research would be added immediately below the portion of the current tax code that provides for charitable contributions to medical research organizations.
The establishment of AROs will complement existing public and private research and also create the opportunity for previously under-funded projects to be fully funded, such as projects addressing specialty crops or specific diseases.
A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).