The House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture, chaired by Rep. Johnson, R-Ill., conducted a hearing to review USDA’s research programs. USDA witnesses included Dr. Edward B. Knipling, administrator, Agricultural Research Service; Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, acting director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture; Dr. Cynthia Clark, administrator, National Agricultural Statistics Service; and Dr. Laurian Unnevehr, acting administrator, Economic Research Service.

Within USDA, the Under Secretary of Research, Education, and Economics (REE) administers research efforts. REE is divided into four main agencies: Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service (ERS), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Ranking Member Costa, D-Calif., said, “For 150 years, research has been a core mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that has helped American farmers thrive. In 2008, for the first time ever, the Farm Bill created the Specialty Crops Research Initiative, which has helped confront the challenges facing America’s fruit and vegetable growers in the same cooperative way program crops have enjoyed for over a century. It is critically important that our agricultural research programs remain strong so our land-grant universities and other agriculture schools can continue their important work on behalf of American agriculture."

During the question and answer period, Rep. Costa expressed disappointment that the President’s FY12 budget has proposed closing the facility at Shafter, Calif., which conducts important cotton research. Rep. Costa indicated that he and Rep. McCarthy, R-Calif., are in contact with USDA to request more detailed information about the criteria used in making the recommendation to close the Shafter research facility.

The written testimony provided by the witnesses is at www.agriculture.house.gov.