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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

SPURRING
INNOVATION IN
FOOD AND
AGRICULTURE

A REVIEW OF THE USDA AGRICULTURE AND
FOOD RESEARCH INITIATIVE PROGRAM

Committee on a Review of the USDA
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                               OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS   500 Fifth Street, NW   Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by Contract USDA-NIFA-COOP-003601 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-29956-5
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-29956-X

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

COMMITTEE ON A REVIEW OF THE USDA AGRICULTURE AND FOOD RESEARCH INITIATIVE

VICTOR L. LECHTENBERG (Chair), Purdue University, Lafeyette, IN

STEVEN S. BALLING, Del Monte Foods, Walnut Creek, CA

KEITH L. BELLI, University of Tennesee, Knoxville, TN

PETER J. BRUNS, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Retired), Chevy Chase, MD

STEVEN T. BUCCOLA, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

JAMES C. CARRINGTON, Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, MO

MACHI F. DILWORTH, National Science Foundation (retired), Arlington, VA

CUTBERTO GARZA, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA

RONNIE D. GREEN, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE

ROSEMARY R. HAGGETT, University of North Texas System, Dallas, TX

GENE HUGOSON, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

BENNIE I. OSBURN, University of California, Davis, CA

PHILIP G. PARDEY, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

SALLY J. ROCKEY, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

JULIANA M. RUZANTE, Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, DC

JAMES J. ZUICHES, North Carolina State University (Retired), Chapel Hill, NC

Staff

PEGGY TSAI YIH, Study Director

EVONNE P.Y. TANG, Study Codirector (through October 2013)

JANET M. MULLIGAN, Senior Program Associate for Research

KATHLEEN REIMER, Senior Program Assistant (through January 2014)

JENNA BRISCOE, Program Assistant

ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

NORMAN GROSSBLATT, Senior Editor

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

BOARD ON AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

NORMAN R. SCOTT (Chair), Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (Emeritus)

PEGGY F. BARLETT, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

HAROLD L. BERGMAN, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY

SUSAN CAPALBO, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

GAIL CZARNECKI-MAULDEN, Nestle Purina PetCare, St. Louis, MO

RICHARD A. DIXON, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

GEBISA EJETA, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

ROBERT B. GOLDBERG, University of California, Los Angeles, CA

FRED GOULD, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

GARY F. HARTNELL, Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO

GENE HUGOSON, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

MOLLY M. JAHN, University of Wisconsin–Madison, WI

ROBBIN S. JOHNSON, Cargill Foundation, Wayzata, MN

JAMES W. JONES, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

A.G. KAWAMURA, Solutions from the Land, Washington, DC

STEPHEN S. KELLEY, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

JULIA L. KORNEGAY, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

PHILIP E. NELSON, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN (Emeritus)

CHARLES W. RICE, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

JIM E. RIVIERE, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

ROGER A. SEDJO, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC

KATHLEEN SEGERSON, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CN

MERCEDES VAZQUEZ-AÑON, Novus International, Inc., St. Charles, MO

Staff

ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director

CAMILLA YANDOC ABLES, Program Officer

JENNA BRISCOE, Program Assistant

KARA N. LANEY, Program Officer

JANET M. MULLIGAN, Senior Program Associate for Research

PEGGY TSAI YIH, Senior Program Officer

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

Preface

The United States embarked on bold polices to enhance its food and agricultural system during the last half of the 19th century, investing first in the education of people and soon thereafter in research and discovery programs aimed at acquiring new knowledge needed to address the complex challenges of feeding a growing and hungry nation. Those policies, sustained over 125 years, have produced the most productive and efficient agricultural and food system in history. The policies and investments spurred ever-increasing productivity in all sectors of the food and agriculture system—productivity increases tied to technological advances and innovations in all forms.

The future poses new challenges. Agricultural productivity gains in the United States have trended downward over the last 20 years. Public investment in agricultural research has declined relative to other sectors of U.S. science and technology and relative to agricultural research investments of other nations. The United Nations forecasts that world demand for food will need to grow by at least 70% by 2050 to meet the needs of a global population of 9.6 billion people. Competition for funds to support fundamental research and translational endeavors are greater than ever, and the need to achieve and sustain increased productivity has never been greater.

The U.S. food and agricultural research system has become multifaceted, with investment by federal and state governments, private companies, and various philanthropic and nongovernment entities. Funds from at least four federal agencies support food and agricultural research; the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the primary agency responsible for supporting innovations and advances in food and agriculture. USDA funds

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

are allocated to support research through several mechanisms, including the Agriculture and Food Research Institute (AFRI). In 2008, Congress replaced USDA’s National Research Initiative with AFRI, creating USDA’s flagship competitive research grants program, and the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, known as the Farm Bill, outlined the structure of the new program. The purpose of this present review was to assess the effectiveness of AFRI in meeting the goals laid out by Congress and its success in advancing innovations and competitiveness in the U.S. food and agriculture system. While this review was completed before the passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (known as the 2014 Farm Bill), the committee commends Congress for reaffirming the importance of the AFRI program, as evidenced in both the 2014 Farm Bill as well as in FY 2014 appropriations, which provided much needed funding increase to AFRI.

The committee expresses appreciation to USDA for cooperation and assistance in providing access to the information needed for it to do its work. Without USDA cooperation, this task could not have been accomplished. It also thanks the many resource people with whom it met, as their perspectives and input helped to inform this report. National Research Council staff have been incredibly skilled and efficient in supporting the committee members. On behalf of the committee, I want to thank them for their outstanding effort, pleasant demeanor, and overall competence in supporting the committee.

Victor L. Lechtenberg, Chair
Committee on a Review of the USDA
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

Acknowledgments

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

May R. Berenbaum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Deborah P. Delmer, Rockefeller Foundation (Retired)

Michael P. Doyle, University of Georgia

R. Corby Hovis, National Science Foundation

Michael R. Ladisch, Purdue University

James McFerson, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission

Anna Palmisano, U.S. Department of Energy (Retired)

Lawrence B. Schook, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Norman R. Scott, Cornell University (Emeritus)

Spiro E. Stefanou, Pennsylvania State University

Laurian J. Unnevehr, International Food Policy Research Institute

Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State University

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Richard R. Harwood at Michigan State University (Emeritus) and John Erdman, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
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5-3 Summary of Research Priorities Identified by AFRI for Five Challenge Areas

5-4 Percentage of Funds for Fundamental vs. Applied Research

5-5 Percentage of Funds for Multidisciplinary vs. Single-Discipline Research

5-6 Percentage of Funds for Integrated vs. Single-Function Grants

5-7 Budget for New Programs, by Program Area Over Years of Program

5-8 Number of New Grants Awarded, by Year

5-9 AFRI Proposal-Review Activities

5-10 Percentage of Applications Submitted, Applications Awarded, and Total Funds Awarded to 1862 Land-Grant Institutions by AFRI, 2009–2011

G-1 Sample Statistics of NRI Projects, 2008

G-2 Sample Statistics of AFRI Projects, 2009–2010

G-3 Sample Statistics of AFRI Projects, 2011–2012

G-4 Budget Regression on Outputs and Inputs, AFRI 2009–2010 and 2011–2012

FIGURES

2-1 Agricultural and food R&D spending worldwide, 1980 and 2009

2-2 Public and private investments in food and agricultural R&D

2-3 Roles of the federal government, including USDA, in funding SAES research, 1975–2009

3-1 Timeline of establishment and repeal of USDA competitive grant programs

3-2 Total amounts requested from investigators and awarded by the NRI and AFRI, in nominal (inflation-unadjusted) terms

3-3 Numbers of proposals submitted to and awards made by the NRI and AFRI

3-4 Competitive funding for U.S. agricultural research, 1979–2007

4-1 Share of program expenditures by award type

4-2 Share of program expenditures by type of research

4-3 Stylized relationship between setup cost, per-unit output, and marginal cost

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Select Acronyms and Abbreviations

AAAS

American Association for the Advancement of Science

AFRI

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

APLU

Association of Public Land-Grant Universities

ARS

Agricultural Research Service

ASPB

American Society of Plant Biologists

BBSRC

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

BIC

Brazil, India, and China

BRDi

Biomass Research and Development Initiative

BREAD

Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development

CAP

Coordinated Agricultural Project

CAST

Council for Agricutural Science and Technology

COI

Conflict-of-Interest

Co-PI

Co-Principal Investigator

CRADA

Cooperative Research and Development Agreement

CRGO

Competitive Research Grants Office

CRIS

Current Research Information System

CSREES

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
×

DHHS

U.S. Department of Human Health Services

DOE

Department of Energy

DOI

Department of the Interior

EPA

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPSCoR

Experimental Program for Stimulating Competitive Research

ERS

Economic Research Service

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization

FASE

Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement

FY

Fiscal Year

GAO

Government Accountability Office

IFAFS

Initiative for Future Agricultural Food Systems

IOM

Institute of Medicine

LGU

Land-Grant University

NAE

National Academy of Engineering

NAREEAB

National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board

NAS

National Academy of Sciences

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASS

National Agricultural Statistics Service

NIFA

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

NIGMS

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

NIH

National Institutes of Health

NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NPL

National Program Leader

NRC

National Research Council

NRI

National Research Initiative

NSF

National Science Foundation

OTA

Office of Technology Assessment

PCAST

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

PI

Principal Investigator

PPP

Purchasing-Power Parity

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A Review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18652.
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R&D

Research and Development

REE

Research, Education, and Economics

RFA

Request for Application

ROW

Rest of World

S&T

Science and Technology

SAES

State Agricultural Experiment Stations

SOP

Standard Operating Procedure

STAR METRICS

Science and Technology for America’s Reinvestment: Measuring the Effect of Research on Innovation, Competitiveness and Science

STEC

Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli

STEM

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

USAID

U.S. Agency for International Development

USDA

U.S. Department of Agriculture

USFS

U.S. Forest Service

WG

Working Group

WHO

World Health Organization

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The United States embarked on bold polices to enhance its food and agricultural system during the last half of the 19th century, investing first in the education of people and soon thereafter in research and discovery programs aimed at acquiring new knowledge needed to address the complex challenges of feeding a growing and hungry nation. Those policies, sustained over 125 years, have produced the most productive and efficient agricultural and food system in history.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the primary agency responsible for supporting innovations and advances in food and agriculture. USDA funds are allocated to support research through several mechanisms, including the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). In 2008, Congress replaced USDA's National Research Initiative with AFRI, creating USDA's flagship competitive research grants program, and the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, known as the Farm Bill, outlined the structure of the new program. Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture assesses the effectiveness of AFRI in meeting the goals laid out by Congress and its success in advancing innovations and competitiveness in the U.S. food and agriculture system.

Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture evaluates the value, relevance, quality, fairness, and flexibility of AFRI. This report also considers funding policies and mechanisms and identifies measures of the effectiveness and efficiency of AFRI's operation. The study examines AFRI's role in advancing science in relation to other research and grant programs inside of USDA as well as how complementary it is to other federal research and development programs. The findings and conclusions of this report will help AFRI improve its functions and effectiveness in meeting its goals and outcomes.

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