President Obama Calls for Doubling Funding for Key Agriculture Research Program in Proposed 2016 Budget

Published Feb 9, 2016

WASHINGTON (February 9, 2016)—President Obama’s budget represents a significant shift toward a food system that’s healthier for children and the environment, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).  The proposal calls for doubling funding for the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) to $700 million and permanently establishing the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children Program (Summer EBT).

Below is a statement by Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of UCS’s Food and Environment program.

“President Obama’s budget shows he has his eye on the right priorities. I’m thrilled the president wants to expand USDA funding for competitive research. There are many problems with the way we farm; it is damaging to our soil, water, and air. Farmers recognize these problems but often lack the tools to make a change. Increased AFRI-funded research will provide farmers with the information they need to farm sustainably and profitably. Nearly 350 scientists from agricultural universities and other research institutions across the nation recently called on the USDA to support research for healthier farms and the environment.    

“I also applaud the president’s commitment to permanently establish the Summer EBT Program, ensuring that more kids and their families have access to healthy food all year long. We issued a report last year that found students in the free and reduced price lunch program ate more fruits and vegetables than students outside the program. President Obama understands that if you make healthy food available, you’ll have better outcomes.”

See UCS report “Counting on Agroecology: Why We Should Invest More in the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture” which documents how the USDA is uniquely positioned to support sustainable farming practices without sacrificing productivity or profitability. 

See UCS report “Lessons from the Lunchroom” that found students participating in the federal free and reduced price lunch program ate fruits and vegetables more often than their peers outside the program.