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U.S. Department of Agriculture
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS
USDA views science and technology not as a cost but rather as a public
investment that will enhance the nation's wealth-creating capacity and security.
Agricultural research has historically provided significant returns on
investment, estimated at 30 to 40 percent in recent studies. If cuts in the
science and technology infrastructure are too deep it will take a long time to
recover--especially in light of the strong link between research and education,
which is a high priority of the President and his administration. A summary of
the critical science and technology programs at USDA that are at risk:
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
The President's FY 1996 budget includes new and expanded
initiatives that are investments in food production that directly benefit
farmers and consumers. These priority initiatives were not included in the
recently passed House Bill. Specifically, the President's budget proposed an
increase of $7.5 million for pre-harvest and post-harvest food safety research
to reduce pathogens from "farm-to-table." This research is critical
to the timely development of a science-based inspection system to provide
consumers with wholesome and safe meat and poultry products. These funds were
excluded from the House bill.
The President's budget provided $5 million to expand Integrated Pest
Management (IPM) technologies to control pests by practices that are
cost-effective, benign to the environment, minimize development of pest
resistance, and are sustainable in the long term.
The President's budget provided $8 million for research to improve the
health and well-being of all Americans. This money would fund a Nutrition
Monitoring and Food Consumption Survey; and Nutrition Intervention and
Evaluation. The House Bill omitted these funds.
Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
The President's budget included funding for the National Research Initiative
(NRI) competitive research grants, from $103 million to $130 million. The House
omits these funds. The President's budget also requested increases for several
CSREES pest control related programs that reduce the risk from the use of
pesticides. The House provides only partial support to these important pest
control programs. Finally, the House discontinues the $9 million Capacity
Building Grants program which has been the centerpiece of the Department's
initiative to strengthen the historically Black land-grant institutions.
Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
The House directs FAS to "significantly downsize" the agency's
programs of international cooperation and development. USDA's funding of
various international scientific research projects has greatly benefitted the
competitiveness of U.S. agricultural and forestry research products abroad.
Specific examples of FAS projects include the search for biocontrol organisms to
reduce boll weevil in cotton production and the Asian gypsy moth in hardwood
forests. FAS supports ARS scientists in Texas in their work with counterparts
in Mexico to conduct field releases of laboratory-reared tiny parasitic wasp
from Mexico, which specifically attacks boll weevil. The boll weevil cost the
U.S. cotton industry more than $300 million a year. The gypsy moth continues to
wreak havoc in the hardwood forests of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of
the U.S. USDA agencies are using natural enemies of the Asian gypsy moth as
biological control agents in the U.S. Funding for these programs needs to
continue so research into effective biological controls can be developed.
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
The President's budget provides funding for the Animal Production Food
Safety (APFS) program. This $6.2 million program is needed to enable the
development and implementation of preventive strategies to reduce the risk of
chemical, physical and microbial hazards entering the plant. In addition, the
President's budget provides for investments in the pathogen reduction program
which will enable FSIS to conduct intervention methods in plants, and the
baseline levels of contamination on raw products.