The Farm Bill and Ag Research

It’s Monday morning and I’m in the office of one the SVC Research swine research facilities. We’re currently looking to fill 2 research technician positions. In the meantime – I’m getting to spend time with our current employee crew doing lots of research related activities.

In the past few weeks I’ve had conversations with several production systems that have made investments in research facilities. All of the systems say having access to within house research has been one of the reasons they feel they can remain competitive and profitable in the business of pork production. I’m aware of more research facilities being constructed this summer and fall for at least 2 systems – in both cases expansion of current research capabilities. Obviously these systems have more questions than space to answer the questions and they feel getting the right answer is worth the investment.

As I’ve written before, for the medium to smaller producer access to application type research is one of the limits to their ability to remain competitive. With USDA and state government funding for production research declining, where do these producers access information on how to apply new technology or how to assess the latest equipment trends?

Suppliers (i.e. nutrition suppliers) have made investments in research which are helping these producers in using the supplier’s products. However, where do producers access information comparing technologies between companies?

It appears to me that as Congress works on reauthorization of the Farm Bill one of the items a broad coalition of agriculture has to support is funding for applied research. This is a tough sell in Washington. How do you fund research to produce more food (both plant and animal based) when everywhere you look you see evidence of our on-going obesity problem?

If you get the chance to interact with your Congressional delegation remind them of the importance of having a research base to draw upon as we face the challenge of feeding a growing world population. The future of production agriculture will be in the hands of those with access to research information for the decision process.

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