University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences citrus and horticultural faculty are featured in “Innovation to Profit,” recently published by the Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation (SoAR).
The report explores how federally funded agricultural research strengthens farmers and ranchers’ bottom line by reducing costs and risks, increasing profits, and laying the groundwork for new products and industries. With powerful examples from universities across the country, including UF, it describes how research can generate outsized economic benefits that extend for decades.
Two Florida examples:
• Citrus greening threatens to destroy our nation’s citrus industry. With USDA funding, UF/IFAS scientists are examining strategies to increase the potential of citrus’ own immunity and develop trees resistant to the disease.
• USDA grants of $2.5 million that supported research of blueberry’s genetic traits and breeding helped Florida’s blueberry industry grow from $500,000 in production value in the 1980s to an estimated $82 million annual value today.
“Citrus growers in Florida face hardship like few other professions,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “UF/IFAS scientists are working tirelessly to generate the innovations that can help farmers turn a profit by keeping our labs and fields in operation, even during crisis situations. Federal support for agricultural research can make big difference here, both today and in the future.”
In the 1940s, almost 40% of American research and development spending was focused on agriculture. Today, agriculture research only accounts for 2% of federal research and development spending. The report explains that innovations can take years to develop; with so many current troubles, farmers need research investments now to stay afloat in the future.
“Our farmers are struggling and many of them face the prospect of losing farms that have been in their families for generations,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “In order for farms to not only weather this storm today but be competitive in the global marketplace going forward, they need partners ready to invest in innovative thinking. The U.S. still holds the top spot for the most productive agricultural research system in the world, but public spending on domestic research and development has fallen over the last decade. We need to correct that so that agricultural research can continue to unlock ground-breaking solutions.”
About the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation
The SoAR Foundation leads a non-partisan coalition working to educate stakeholders about the importance of agricultural research and focus more of our best minds on feeding America and the world. The SoAR Foundation advocates for full funding for the Agriculture Food and Research Initiative (AFRI) to encourage top scientists from multiple disciplines to address agriculture-related challenges in order to improve public health and strengthen our economic competitiveness.
The new report, Innovation to Profit, can be found at https://supportagresearch.org/
Source: Adapted from SoAR press materials