RELEASE: Breakthrough Institute Endorses Bill to Improve Climate Data Coordination at USDA
February 1, 2024 — Washington, DC
The Breakthrough Institute endorses the Improving Coordination of Agriculture Research and Data Act, introduced this week by Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA), along with Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett (D-TX). This legislation includes proposals for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a new scientific advisory committee focused on agriculture climate research; create a “Rural Climate Alliance Network'' to strategically align agricultural climate research, data systems, and technology transfer; and direct USDA to issue a report to Congress that identifies the research, data systems, and technical assistance needs of farmers, ranchers, foresters and rural communities.
These efforts will ensure the federal agriculture climate research agenda is driven by science and coordinated with producers to address both immediate and long-term climate challenges. By aligning existing federal climate resilience-related research efforts—including those at the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research Network, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research—and by increasing coordination with private agriculture research entities and technical assistance providers, USDA can more effectively execute its research agenda.
“It’s hard to overstate the important role public agricultural research programs have played in increasing the productivity of the US food system in the face of growing climate challenges over the past several decades,” said David Hong, Federal Policy Director for Food & Agriculture at the Breakthrough Institute. “As Congress supports a growing number of climate-related agricultural research programs, initiatives, and tools, it is imperative that lawmakers ensure these efforts do not occur in siloes. We appreciate Congresswoman Brownley’s leadership on the Improving Coordination of Agriculture Research and Data Act, which will provide oversight of USDA to ensure climate research programs use standardized data protocols, collaborate with producers and regional stakeholders to identify research gaps, and examine whether climate-related technologies are reaching all facets of the agricultural system.”
Breakthrough urges Congress to carefully consider this legislation amidst ongoing farm bill negotiations. As the adoption of climate-smart agriculture practices continue to expand, it is now more important than ever that USDA programs and agencies actively coordinate their climate research, data collection, and monitoring efforts.