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Ranking Member Abigail D. Spanberger Opening Statement at Hearing "A Review of Title VII: USDA Implementation of Research Programs"

  • Abigail Spanberger
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House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Abigail D. Spanberger delivered the following statement at today's Conservation, Research, and Biotechnology Subcommittee hearing entitled “A Review of Title VII: USDA Implementation of Research Programs.”

[As prepared for delivery]

Thank you, Chairman Baird. I am excited to be here with you for our first hearing as a Subcommittee of the 118thCongress.

I look forward to working with you on issues important to growers and producers across the country, especially as they relate to strengthening voluntary conservation at USDA, investing in our USDA conservation and research workforce, and, of course, ensuring that the United States remains at the forefront of agricultural research and technologies.

Know that as we work towards passing the 2023 Farm Bill, I’m committed to working with you as a partner on issues within our Subcommittee’s jurisdiction. I’m proud of what this Subcommittee accomplished last year, including finally getting our Growing Climate Solutions Act signed into law. Chairman Baird, I’m thankful for your support of that legislation last Congress. Today, I am excited to work even more closely with you this Congress when it comes to bringing farmers to the table on environmental issues.

Today, we are here to review how agricultural research programs support our country’s producers and our country’s economy overall.

Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen the benefits of agricultural research. A report from the Economic Research Service showed that every dollar of public research and development funding had a $20 return on investment in the American economy between 1990 and 2011. Despite this nearly unheard-of return on investment, public agricultural research funding peaked way back in 2002. Over the past 20 years, the funding has declined by a staggering 33 percent. As a result, we have less capacity for research, even as the need for innovation is more urgent than ever before — both in Virginia and across the country.

Global temperature rises, increasingly severe natural disasters, and the impacts of climate change on America’s crop and livestock producers should make it clear — we need to invest in research. And we need to support American researchers who are spurring innovation.

This critical work is happening at Land Grant Universities and USDA research facilities across America. My home state of Virginia has two tremendous Land Grant Universities — Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. These universities collaborate with USDA to complete cutting-edge research. For example, brilliant staff and students at VSU’s agriculture research center have focused on new ways soil science can contribute to the fight against climate change.

And recently, I had the chance to visit with professors and students at Virginia Tech. There, researchers are focused on agricultural innovation and ways to address climate change through energy and greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable transportation, climate justice, and forestry work. This is the incredible — and necessary — research of the future.

I am pleased with the work Undersecretary Jacobs-Young has undertaken, despite the need for more funding than Congress has provided for research initiatives. Throughout this hearing, I’m eager to hear from her about how Title SEVEN has been implemented since 2018 and areas Congress needs to improve upon.

I am particularly interested in her thoughts on ways research can further conservation efforts and ways we can shape a better future amid the devastating impacts of climate change on America’s rural communities.

I yield back.


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