Funding for the National Research Initiative (NRI) would increase by $70
million to $250 million (see Table II-13).
USDA would establish a State Agricultural Experiment Stations Competitive
Grants Program with an initial $75 million.
Hatch Act Formula Funds would fall by $90 million.
Research in the Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative (the former Homeland
Security Program) would increase by $44 million.
USDA would establish a Higher Education Agrosecurity Program with $5 million.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) serves as the principal government
agency for agricultural research and development. Over the years, it has
developed productive partnerships with higher education institutions to
produce some of the best agricultural research in the world. Funding to
universities and other educational institutions flows through the Cooperative
State Research, Extension, and Education Service (CSREES). USDA is also
home to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is the principal
research agency for USDA. Other research agencies within USDA include
the Economic Research Service (ERS), the National Agricultural Statistics
Services (NASS), and the Forest Service (FS) which funds forest and rangeland
groups its programs under five strategic goals: (1) enhance economic opportunities
for agricultural products; (2) support increased economic opportunities
and improved quality of life in rural America; (3) enhance protection and safety of the nationís agriculture
and food supply; (4) improve the nationís nutrition and health; and (5)
protect and enhance the nationís natural resource base environment. All
R&D programs proposed in this budget fall under one of these five
National Research Initiative (NRI): The NRI is USDAís principal competitive grants program
that provides funding for both basic and applied research. It is administered
by CSREES. The NRI also aims to help develop the next generation of agricultural
scientists. The FY 2006 budget proposes an increase of $70 million, which
would raise the funding level to $250 million (see Table
II-13 for USDA details). The increase would target initiatives within
the NRI including agricultural genomics, nanotechnology, food safety,
water quality, pest-related programs, and human nutrition and obesity.
The Administrationís budget also proposes to eliminate the current limitations
on indirect costs. This means that competitive grants awarded through
the NRI would receive full indirect costs like other federal competitive
research grant programs.
Regional, State, and Local Grants Program:
This new program is proposed at a level of $75 million and would be housed
in CSREES. This is not, however, new money, but rather money that has
been shifted from other programs, including formula-based research programs
such as the Hatch Act which funds the nationís agricultural experiment
stations. The establishment of this new competitive grants program represents
a major departure from the way that the nationís agricultural experiment
stations have been funded and, in fact, represents the first phase of
a two-year plan to redirect funding, thereby eliminating Hatch formula
funds. This new competitive grants program would support research conducted
by state agricultural experiment stations and would target regional, state,
and local issues. This could be an attempt to redirect congressional zeal
for earmarking funds that target their regional, state, and local needs,
needs that are often overlooked in a competitive grants program such as
the NRI. If Congress were to accept such a measure and use this new program
for targeted needs, it is possible that real budget reduction could take
Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative
(former Homeland Security Program): Keeping national
security as a priority, USDA proposes an increase of $44 million for research-related
efforts of the Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative in ARS and CSREES.
Research funding in ARS would increase by $23 million to $46 million.
An additional increase of $21 million in CSREES for a total of $30 million
would enhance the regional diagnostic network established in FY 2002 to
protect the food and agricultural system from high-risk biological pathogens.
13 animal diagnostic labs and six plant diagnostic labs were established
at that time, and the proposed increase would enable these labs to augment
their ability to identify exotic and domestic pests and pathogens.
Higher Education Agrosecurity Program: The FY 2006 budget proposes $5 million to establish
a new Higher Education Agrosecurity Program in CSREES. This initiative
aims to supply educational and professional development for personnel
involved in protecting the nationís food and agriculture supply. This
initiative interfaces with the Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative
and would provide the needed training that personnel need at the various
Agricultural Research Service (ARS): As stated above, ARS is the in-house research arm of
USDA and along with CSREES serves as a major producer of the nationís
agricultural research. ARS has over 100 research labs in the United States and around the world.
increase of $69 million is proposed for research activities, which would
bring funding to a level of $996 million. The Administration has once
again zeroed out all earmarked projects (either a proposed savings of
$175 million or an amount that can be shifted to funding increases for
other programs) and proposed decreased funding levels for Buildings and
Facilities from $186 million to $65 million (see Table II-13). ARS research
areas include: (1) product quality/value added (such as development of
alternative energy and expansion of domestic and global markets); (2)
livestock production (such as animal genomics); (3) crop production (such
as crop genomics and genetic and genomic databases and bioinformatics
tools); (4) food safety (such as reduction of hazards caused by pathogenic
bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.); (5) livestock protection (such as
bovine spongiform encephalopathy); (6) crop protection (such as reducing
impact of plant diseases and pest management); (7) human nutrition (such
as energy and nutrient content of food); and (8) environmental stewardship
(such as technology development to aid in protection of soil, water, and
Cooperative State Research,
Extension, and Education Service (CSREES): Traditionally, CSREES has partnered with higher education to fund and
support agricultural research. Funds are disbursed through various formula
programs such as the Hatch Act which funds the nationís agricultural experiment
stations based at land-grant colleges and universities and competitive
grants programs such as the National Research Initiative (NRI).
for CSREES activities is proposed at a level of just over $1 billion which
is $143 million, or 12.2 percent, less than was appropriated in FY 2005.
USDA officials are quick to point out, however, that the Presidentís FY
2006 proposal for USDA research is 1.2 percent higher than the FY 2005
proposal. However, funding falls short when compared to actual dollars
appropriated by the Congress for FY 2005.
most remarkable item in this budget proposal is the proposed cut for Hatch
Act funding, which, as mentioned above, funds the nationís agricultural
experiment stations. The proposed cut would immediately eliminate $89
million from a FY 2005 level of $179 million. This cut represents the
first phase of a two-year plan to eliminate Hatch funding altogether.
The Administration proposes to replace Hatch funding by (1) augmenting
funding for the NRI to $250 million from an FY 2005 level of $180 million
and (2) establishing a new Regional, State, and Local Grants Program at
a level of $75 million.
to say, cutting Hatch formula funds in half is a dramatic departure from
a long-standing funding practice that will result in significant changes
in the maintenance of the infrastructure of faculty and infrastructure
for research at land-grant universities and their agricultural experiment
stations. Land-grant universities would be profoundly affected by this
change, a change that could result in the elimination of faculty positions
and established, on-going research projects that target state and local
again, the Administration removes from its CSREES budget proposal all
funding for special grants, also known as earmarked programs. Doing this
allows the Administration to ďredistributeĒ approximately $181 million,
the amount that Congress appropriated in FY 2005 for special research
projects located in Membersí home states and districts. The practice of
awarding special grants has as many supporters as detractors. Supporters
argue that some research needs are so localized that the grant proposals
cannot survive a review process that favors national needs. Detractors
claim that if the research is good then even local research needs can
successfully navigate the competitive review process. Clearly, Congress
will reinstate its funding priorities in the USDA budget, though at what
level is not yet known. However, when this funding is ďrestoredĒ then
the bottom line will once again have to be adjusted upward if, in fact,
the Congress honors the Presidentís proposal.
Economic Research Service (ERS): ERS provides economic, social science information, and
analysis on agriculture, food, the environment, and rural development.
ERS would receive an increase of $7 million to $81 million if the Administrationís
budget proposal is adopted. (For more on ERS, please see Chapter
National Agricultural Statistics Services
(NASS): NASS provides unbiased
data to agricultural markets, rural communities, and researchers. The
FY 2006 budget proposes an increase of $17 million to a level of $145
million. (For more on NASS, see Chapter 21.)
Forest Service (FS):
One of the worldís largest forest research organizations, the Administration
proposes a funding level of $285 million for forest and rangeland research.
This represents a $9 million increase to support research that would enhance
the management of the National Forest System.