Spend more on food and ag research, says ASU food leader

Congress perennially recognizes the long-term payoff from agricultural research but repeatedly fails to adequately fund the work in the near term, said Kathleen Merrigan, who served as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture during the Obama era. During a panel discussion on the future of global agriculture, she put ag research at the top of her list of issues that need attention.

Senate bill boosts regional ‘seeds and breeds’

The USDA would offer at least $75 million a year for the development of regionally adapted plant seeds and livestock breeds at public universities under a bill filed by five senators. Sponsors said regional diversity would make the U.S. food chain more resilient and more productive.

Declining investment in public ag research threatens innovation, report says

A new report from Purdue University, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and other groups says that public spending on agricultural research in the United States has plummeted, threatening innovation and public access to information. At the same time, it says, ag research is becoming increasingly privatized.

EPA plans to shutter essential research group

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to close its National Center for Environmental Research, a lauded program that has funded research into the effects of environmental chemicals on children’s health. Advocates fear that the reorganization could result in defunding of essential research programs.

White House hopes to make big cuts at climate-science agency

The White House wants to cut funding 17 percent at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), one of the government’s chief resources for climate science, according to a budget memo from the Office of Management and Budget obtained by The Washington Post.

Lowest Sierra Nevada snowpack in 500 years, scientists say

Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada last winter "was the lowest it has been in more than 500 years," the Los Angeles Times reports, citing research published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Snowpack is a primary source of water for California.

U.S. urged to update ag research to meet global demands

The AGree policy initiative called for greater funding for the U.S. agricultural and food research system, coupled with an updated list of priorities for publicly funded research.

Group says USDA researchers face industry harassment

A public-employee group petitioned the USDA to better protect its scientists from outside pressure and assure the integrity of its research, says DTN.

Bycatch is hurdle to higher ratings for U.S. fisheries

Almost all U.S. fisheries would be rated as "best choice" for environmental sustainability and would "reap rewards in the marketplace for that recognition" if they reduced losses from bycatch, says a new research paper.

Limited value from antibiotics to boost livestock growth

The advantage of using antibiotics as a growth promotant in food animals has shrunk to a tiny margin, say two Princeton University researchers who surveyed recent papers on performance in hogs and poultry. From 1950 through 1985, studies showed decidedly higher daily weight gain with sub-therapeutic use of antimicrobials, from 4 percent in slaughter hogs to 16 percent in "starter" pigs.

New US agro-defense lab gets $300 million for construction

The National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, for research into some of the most feared livestock diseases, was allotted $300 million as part of congressional approval of funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Little gain if sugary drinks are banned from food stamps

Disqualifying sugary drinks, such as soda, from purchase under the food-stamp program would have little impact on consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, say USDA researchers.

Grain research center names new director general

The rector of Wageningen University in the Netherlands will become director general of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) on June 1. Martin Kropff will succeed Thomas Lumpkin, who has been CIMMYT chief since 2008.

Persistent drought in Plains, Southwest due to climate change

The Great Plains and U.S. Southwest, the hub of U.S. wheat and cattle production, will face persistent drought during the second half of this century that will be "worse than anything seen" and due primarily to climate change caused by humans, says a study by...

USDA research imposes “a steep cost” on animal welfare

USDA's Meat Animal Research Center in the Nebraska plains is re-engineering cattle, pigs and sheep "to fit the needs of the 21st Century...animals that produce more offspring, yield more meat and cost less to raise," says a front-page New York Times story.

NAS report lists priorities for food animal research

A report from the National Academy of Sciences suggest four priorities for research to assure an adequate meat supply for a world population that could reach 10 billion by 2050.

Nearly a decade before new animal disease lab is ready

"It will be nearly another decade" before the mammoth National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Kansas goes into operation, says Drovers CattleNetwork, reporting on a presentation at a veterinarians' conference.

Healthy meals a hard sell, no matter who makes them

Whether they bring food from home or buy food at school, children aren't eating healthy lunches, says a Bloomberg story about two small-scale studies.

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