WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Public funding for research initiatives has fallen in real dollars over the past two decades, and that trend needs to stop, according to American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.

Stallman advocated for increased public funded research recently at the Farm Foundation's conference.

"Congress needs to consider how our land grant universities contribute and verify advancements in agriculture," said Stallman. "This means we cannot allow university and Extension research to wither on the vine. We need more funding for research, not less."

Stallman said with new expectations being placed on American agriculture, as well as farmers and ranchers exploring new ways to improve the environment through innovative conservation practices, the need for research is intensifying. He said Extension research must be greatly enhanced to provide critical outcomes and essential tools needed to respond effectively to these expectations, while still providing safe and affordable food, fiber and fuel for the U.S. and abroad.

Key areas where research is needed, according to Stallman are bio-security; improved diets; the environment; rural revitalization; biotechnology; and renewable energy. Regarding energy, Stallman cited research on cellulosic ethanol, which uses switchgrass and other renewable sources, rather than grain. He said commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production is expected in about 5 years.

"Without exploring new means and improving existing practices, there is no doubt that U.S. agriculture would be less efficient, less advanced in terms of technology and most critically, less competitive in the global marketplace," said Stallman. "We must not take this for granted."

SOURCE: American Farm Bureau Federation news release.