It was Hippocrates who said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” forever entwining what we eat with our quality of life. Like medicine, agriculture has benefitted greatly from decades of Federally funded, ground-breaking research that brings innovation to farms, allowing the United States to have the most productive agricultural in the world. However, unlike medicine, which enjoys substantial funding from the government, agriculture has only a tiny portion of the federal research portfolio and it continually shrinks in actual buying power.
Why, when we must feed a burgeoning world population, are we not investing in our future by providing research funding commensurate with the impact agricultural sciences have on people’s lives?
Now is the time to change the world by making major investments in scientific innovation for food and agriculture. No time could be better. Science is advancing at a breathtaking pace and investments will be amplified, generating abundant results and be applied to real world issues almost immediately.
In my lifetime, total agricultural output in the United States has grown nearly 170 percent with less land and labor due to the adoption of technologies in crop and livestock breeding, farm equipment, fertilizer use, pest management and farming practices. Advances in food, agricultural and environmental sciences depend upon this research. And to put a finer point on these achievements—over that same period, the United States has established itself as the most consistently food secure nation on the planet. With food security come economic and national security. And when you have all three of these together, you have prosperity.
Let us not overlook just how important agricultural research is to our nation’s prosperity. Like medical sciences, modern advances in agriculture depend upon research advances from public and non-governmental organizations alike.
Yet, federal funding for agricultural research has been stagnant over the past decade and has declined in real terms according to the USDA.
If America wants to continue to feed the world, our farmers and ranchers must be given every opportunity to apply cutting-edge research and technology into their fields. With an ever-increasing number of mouths to feed and threats mounting, it’s imperative that our food system keep pace by supporting innovation and technology.
I believe there is no better time to be engaged in food and agricultural science and research. The pace of technology is absolutely breathtaking and FFAR is uniquely positioned to bring together all aspects of our food system in an inspiring, unified manner to solve the biggest challenges ahead.
At FFAR, we envision a world in which ever-innovating and collaborative science provides every person access to affordable, nutritious food grown on thriving farms. FFAR’s aim is to fund innovative and applied sciences that help to increase access to food, support producers and the agricultural economy and foster environmental resilience by building unique partnerships that address the most pressing challenges in food and agriculture.
I know we will look back on the past two years as an important, formative time spent planting the seeds of innovation and I also know that the best is yet to come for FFAR. The relationships, scientific ideas and organizational framework in which we have invested so much energy are just now beginning to prosper.
Now is the time to change the world and FFAR will be on the forefront of that change.