New USDA-ERS Brief: Increasing Agricultural Research Funding to Meet Rapidly Growing Global Ag Demand

Posted by on August 11th, 2011 | 0 Comments »

The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released an economic brief detailing current U.S. public agricultural research funding and the U.S. agricultural productivity growth rate required to keep up with rapidly growing global agricultural demand over the next four decades.

According to the brief, global agricultural demand is projected to increase 70 to 100% by 2050, and unless agricultural research funding increases at a similar rate, raising agricultural output will require bringing more land, labor, capital, materials and other resources into production that could have environmental consequences.

Meeting the agricultural demands with existing resources will require an increase in global agricultural total factor productivity (TFP); this measure of productivity compares the total output of a sector to the total land, labor, capital, and materials used to produce that output.

Key findings of the USDA-ERS economic brief are below:

  • The U.S. must increase its global agricultural TFP in order to maintain its current contribution to global food supply.
  • A renewed focus on long-term public agricultural research will play a major role in the increase of agriculture TFP.
  • Stagnant funding for public agricultural research since the 1980s may be slowing down TFP growth. (The rate of TFP growth of U.S. agriculture has averaged 1.5% annually over the last 50 years.)
  • USDA-ERS projections indicate that if U.S. public agricultural research funding remains constant until 2050, the annual rate of agricultural TFP growth will decrease to under 0.75%, which will increase U.S. agricultural output by only 40% over the next four decades.
  • Increasing public agricultural research funding would increase U.S. agricultural productivity and output growth; Increasing research funding by 3.73% annually would increase U.S. agricultural output by 73% by 2050.

Click here to read the full USDA-ERS economic brief and view accompanying charts.

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