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UC Davis Joins 12 Universities Calling for Increased Federal Investment in Ag Research


June 14, 2016

Dr. Bart Weimer is using DNA sequencing to build a library of foodborne pathogens to assist health authorities in controlling outbreaks.

Dr. Bart Weimer is using DNA sequencing to build a library of foodborne pathogens to assist health authorities in controlling outbreaks.

WASHINGTON, DC (June 14, 2016)—Thirteen prominent research institutions in the United States joined the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation today in calling for a surge in federal support of food and agricultural science. Retaking the Field, the report released by this coalition, highlights recent scientific innovations and illustrates how US agricultural production is losing ground to China and other global competitors.

“We are committed to advancing the health of animals, people and the environment,” said Michael Lairmore, dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “Investment in agricultural research is critical to our mission.”

Retaking the Field looks at the importance of agriculture and its related industries to the US economy. According to the US Department of Agriculture, this sector was responsible for nearly 1 in 10 jobs in 2014 and contributed $835 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product. Even though every public dollar invested in agricultural research provides $20 in economic returns, the federal budget for agricultural research has remained flat for decades. Today, the US trails China in both agricultural production and public research funding.

The report highlights food safety research taking place at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Through the 100k Genome Project, microbiologist Bart C. Weimer and his colleagues are building a library of known pathogens to rapidly determine the exact strain and source of outbreaks and food contamination to assist health authorities around the world responding to recalls.

“Researchers are discovering incredible breakthroughs, helping farmers produce more food using fewer resources, and keeping our meals safe and nutritious,” said Thomas Grumbly, President of the SoAR Foundation. “However, the science behind agriculture and food production is starved of federal support at a time of unprecedented challenges. A new surge in public funding is essential if our agricultural system is going to meet the needs of American families in an increasingly competitive global market.”

Farming has never been an easy endeavor and today’s challenges to agricultural production are daunting. The historic California drought continues and US production is also threatened by new pests and pathogens, like the 2015 Avian Influenza outbreak that led to the culling of 48 million birds in 15 states and $2.6 billion in economic damages.

“Every year, the director of national intelligence testifies before Congress that our national security is threatened by hunger in unstable regions,” said Tom Grumbly. “As the number of people on our planet continues to grow, we must produce more food. This cannot be done with yesterday’s science. We need a larger infusion of cutting-edge technologies.”
 



Monique Garcia Gunther, mgunther@ucdavis.edu or 530-752-4272

Dan Klotz, SoAR Foundation, dklotz@burness.com or 301-280-5756