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Agricultural Research and Productivity for the Future

The role of research in supporting and maintaining the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture in a global economy was the focus of a workshop April 28, 2009 at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.  The workshop, Agricultural Research and Productivity for the Future, was a collaboration of Farm Foundation and the National Agriculture Research Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board.  Speaker presentations are posted below. A  Farm Foundation Issue Report summarizes the conference discussions.

Workshop participants examined the relationships between public- and private-sector research and agricultural productivity growth, both in the United States and worldwide.  Participants identified specific challenges for agricultural research and the implications for research funding strategies in the United States.

Historically U.S. agriculture’s competitiveness in global markets has been driven by a combination of public- and private-sector investments in research, education and technology transfer.  In recent years, the growth in U.S. agricultural productivity may have slowed.  While funding for agricultural productivity-enhancing research in the United States has slowed and in some cases declined, other nations, such as Brazil, have increased their investments in agricultural research.

The April 28 workshop opened with discussion of economic returns to public agriculture research, productivity trends and prospects for future returns to agricultural research.  Also addressed were such challenges to agriculture as climate change, food safety in a global economy, and livestock production issues.  The second half of the workshop focused on options and strategies for public- and private-sector funding.

Conference program and presentations

Neil Conklin, Farm Foundation
Walter Armbruster, National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education & Economics Advisory Board

Agricultural Research and Adoption: Impacts on Productivity
Economic Returns to U.S. and Global Public Agricultural Research
 Keith Fuglie, Economic Research Service, USDA

Putting U.S. Agricultural R&D and Productivity Developments in Perspective
 Philip Pardey, University of Minnesota

Future Challenges Facing U.S. Agriculture and Implications for Research
Climate Change and Agriculture’s Needs for Adaptation and Mitigation
 Margaret Walsh, Global Change Program Office, USDA

Food Safety in a Global Economy
 Liz Wagstrom, National Pork Board (presented by Jennifer Greiner)

Livestock Production Issues
 Jeffrey D. Armstrong, Michigan State University

Research Needs & Opportunities in Agriculture
Kitty Smith, USDA Acting Administrator, Research, Extension and Education

New Public- and Private-Sector Funding Options
Multi-State University Collaboration Opportunities
 Robert Steele, Pennsylvania State University

Lessons from Outside Agriculture
 Barbara Mittleman, National Institutes of Health

University/Industry Partnerships
 Anthony Boccanfuso, National Academy of Sciences

Agricultural Research Service/University/Industry Partnerships
 Edward Knipling, Agricultural Research Service,USDA

Discussion Groups: Strategies for
Moving Forward
Commodities, including Energy Crops
Chair: Bob Dickey, National Corn Growers Association
Rapporteur:  Fritz Behr, Wyffels Hybrids

Livestock Challenges and Opportunities
Chair: Jennifer Greiner, National Pork Producers Council
Rapporteur: Gregg Doud, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Specialty Crops, including Green Industry and Niche Markets
Chair: John Keeling, National Potato Council
Rapporteur: Robert Guenther, United Fresh Produce Association

Engaging the Agricultural Community in Funding Future Research
Working Together at the National Level
 Joe Layton, National Council on Food and Agricultural Research

Raising Research on the Organization’s Policy Agenda
 Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation

Strategies for Universities
Ian Maw, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

Closing Comments and Next Steps
Martin Massengale, National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education & Economics Advisory Board
Neil Conklin, Farm Foundation






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