Posted September 10, 2013
Julian Alston, agricultural and resource economics professor at the University of California-Davis, says that investments in agricultural research yield high returns and are necessary for developing a solution to feed a growing world population on limited resources, according to a Drovers article, available here.
Alston spoke “about the challenge to provide safe, affordable food for a world population expected to reach 8.9 billion by 2050 during the Congressional Assistants Tour, hosted by K-State Research and Extension on August 29-30.”
Alston has researched the impact of public research funding on U.S. agriculture and found that “$1 invested in agricultural research has a return of about $33.”  Alston said, “This is a fantastically good investment…It’s not just a monetary payoff, but in addition to that it’s an investment in preserving resources.”  Details on Alston’s research and findings can be found in a book he co-authored titled, “Persistence Pays: U.S. Agricultural Productivity Growth and Benefits from Public R&D Spending.”
The U.S. Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, budgets about $150 billion in spending per year, “but only $3 billion is allocated for agricultural research.”  Alston suggests doubling funding for agriculture research to help the U.S. remain productive and competitive in the future. 
The Charitable Agricultural Research Act (CARA) was recently introduced in both houses of Congress.  This legislation would allow for the creation of new 501(c)(3) agricultural research organizations in an effort to allow private donors to assist in meeting shortfalls in agricultural research.  A recent post from this blog on the CARA is available here.