By Chuck Abbott From Successful Farming 3/8/2017
The world’s largest farm exporter, the U.S., is also a global leader in agricultural innovation. Consider GMO crops grown on nearly half of U.S. cropland and on 440 million acres in more than two dozen nations.
U.S. preeminence overshadows a startling change: China leads the U.S. by a large margin in government funding of food and ag research and development.
China began pouring money into agricultural R&D at the same time that U.S. funding from federal and state sources stagnated and, about a decade ago, began to decline.
According to three USDA economists, China surpassed the U.S. in public funding in 2009 and had a 2-to-1 advantage in 2013. They say reduced U.S. spending “may have negative implications for agricultural productivity” when dealing with new pests and diseases and with climate change.
“The effects of a decline in public agricultural R&D are likely to become more pronounced over time if the pace of fundamental advances in agricultural sciences slows,” say economists Matthew Clancy, Keith Fuglie, and Paul Heisey in a USDA magazine. “Slippage of U.S. funding in agricultural R&D also carries implications for U.S. engagement with the global research community.”