Wheat farmers and researchers from every region of the country were on Capitol Hill together this week, pressing the importance of long-term and stable agriculture research funding as part of the wheat industry’s annual fly-in focusing on innovation in the public sector. The goal was to educate policy makers about the process of developing new and better wheat plants, which can easily take 10 years per variety, and the importance of adequate, consistent funding even in a time of deep fiscal uncertainty.

Despite increased private investment, wheat research is primarily done within USDA, through USDA grants and at land-grant universities around the country that also get significant funding from state governments and wheat growers directly. Public programs are uniquely suited to address the basic questions all plant scientists need answered and to operationalize research into locally-adapted wheat varieties. Despite demonstrated return on investment of up to $32 to $1, just 1.6 percent of the $142 billion annual federal investment in research goes to agriculture, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

More about wheat research needs and the wheat research community is at www.wheatworld.org/research.

More on this week’s fly-in is at http://www.wheatworld.org/news-events/2013/04/wheat-stakeholders-press-necessity-of-consistent-federal-research-funding/.