Agriculture and North Dakota go together. For generations, our sweeping plains have provided for communities across all facets of life.
In recent years, innovation has led to exciting developments for the agricultural community, both here in our state, across the country and around the globe. Research and innovation have been the backbone of those technological advancements. The types of advancements that permit the farming community to be more efficient in its operations, produce more using less land, and harness technological tools to confront challenges that always arrive.
When it comes to ag research and innovation, the federal government is an important partner. Through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), one-of-a-kind, forward thinking research projects have been funded. These grants are allowing North Dakota to remain an agriculture leader and in unique ways.
In recognizing the lack of data on the biology of bison, for example, Sitting Bull College at Fort Yates received a grant to ensure biological data is being collected on bison to make sure we have the necessary information to protect this livestock population, so unique to our state.
In the past five years, North Dakota has received over $9 million in AFRI grants. This has enabled research and development that will afford the agricultural community the ability to meet U.S. and global food supply needs in the future.
This approach is critical on a number of fronts. First, we must maintain U.S. commitments to research. If not, we will continue to fall behind China and others when it comes to supporting this type of innovation and being a leader on the world stage. While our nation has watched China double its commitment to agricultural research and significantly eclipse our current spending levels, we can continue to invest in our research partners here in North Dakota and across the country.
Second, any decline in federal support for research threatens our farmers by reducing the amount of innovation available to them. From market volatility to water quality, today’s farmers rely, every day, upon the results of the work done in labs by top researchers and innovators receiving support from AFRI. In fact, for every $1 spent on agricultural research in North Dakota, it returns $31 back into our economy.
Considering the agricultural sector alone represents over 31,000 farms and nearly 40 million acres in North Dakota, we absolutely must continue to have the benefit of ground-breaking innovation to sustain families and communities that rely upon a strong and healthy agriculture industry.