Western Farm Press reports that, in the annual priorities outlined by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates expressed interest in the lack of funding for agricultural research and innovation. The Foundation was concerned with projected increase in world population and the lack of prioritization that is being given to research.

The Foundation will be contributing $2 billion to agricultural research. Of particular interest to Gates is research on Ug99, a stem rust that devastates wheat crops and is a threat to the most populous parts of the world. Of the $3 billion a year spent on researching the seven most important crops (one of which is wheat), “$1.5 billion comes from countries’ public funds, $1.2 billion from private companies and $300 million from international research organization CGIAR.”

The decrease in funding for agricultural research “is a particular worry for the wheat industry, which is disproportionally dependent on public-sector research dollars that have decreased in recent years because of squeezed state and federal budgets.”