U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a recipient of the American Farm Bureau's Golden Plow Award, today joined U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and John Thune (R-S.D.), a Member of the Committee, in introducing the Charitable Agricultural Research Act. The bill amends the tax code to allow for the creation of a new type of charitable, tax-exempt organization, Agricultural Research Organizations (AROs), similar to Medical Research Organizations which have been in existence since the 1950s.
The measure will spur new agricultural research, leveraging private dollars to create charitable partnerships between universities and private entities to strengthen and improve American agriculture.
"Agriculture is one of the key forces driving Oklahoma's economy," said Inhofe. "In 2008 alone, Oklahoma's agriculture industry directly supported 188,000 jobs and contributed more than $8.5 billion to the state's economy. The industry is a hotbed of innovation with significant involvement in the research and development of better crops and farming methods. This work has produced crops that are resistant to drought and certain farming chemicals, are packed with more and better nutrients, and ultimately provide higher yields for every acre farmed. This research will only grow in importance as the global population continues to grow and demand more food. Fortunately, the United States is leading the world in this effort."
Inhofe continued, "Oklahoma is also a key agriculture R&D player in the United States, and AROs will help attract the necessary private capital to build upon this legacy. As better agricultural methods and crop yields are produced in Oklahoma, the state will continue to serve as a global leader in agriculture."
Since FY 2010, federal funding for agriculture research has decreased by nearly $200 million, and further cuts are likely. As the government is scaling down its role, the Charitable Agriculture Research Act encourages the private sector to fill the gap.
The Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that food productivity will need to expand by 70 percent over the next 40 years to meet rising global demand. This underscores the need for continued funding for agriculture research and development.