RELEASE: Letter from Breakthrough Institute, Others Urges Congress to Prioritize Funding for Ag Research and Innovation

Signed by 25 climate, environment, and agricultural organizations, letter urges increased funding for research and innovation to limit climate impacts of agriculture, which accounts for 10% of total US carbon emissions

Berkeley, Calif. — Today, the Breakthrough Institute, joined by 24 climate, environment, and agricultural organizations, sent a letter to House and Senate Agriculture Subcommittees, urging them to prioritize funding for agriculture research and innovation.

The letter states, “In addition to enhancing nutritional value, reducing food costs, and improving rural livelihoods, agricultural research and innovation could substantially reduce the climate impacts of agricultural production, which currently accounts for around 10 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions. Despite recent increases in funding, total public agricultural research funding has only just returned to 2002 levels, and agricultural research accounts for just 2% of federal research and development spending. By increasing funding for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research programs in the Fiscal Year 2023 spending bill, Congress can support advancements in environmental and economic sustainability and position America’s farmers and ranchers to lead on climate change.”

Click here to read the whole letter

The letter continues, “Research is essential to addressing climate change for several reasons. First, public research helps identify ways of enhancing agricultural productivity, which is key to cultivating more food with less land, fewer inputs, and, ultimately, lower greenhouse gas emissions. Since the 1960s, innovation-driven productivity advances have enabled farmers to cut the carbon footprint per pound of milk and chicken by more than 50 percent. Building on this progress, doubling U.S. investments in public agricultural research over the next decade would increase crop production while reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 109 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per year by 2050, relative to a business-as-usual scenario.”

“Second, agricultural research can improve climate outcomes by targeting specific topics with especially high mitigation potential. For example, research and development of new technologies would make it possible to cut the carbon footprint of beef nearly in half, and advances in crop breeding could result in crops that sequester up to twice as much carbon in the soil as today’s crops. Third, research is necessary to develop innovations that help farmers adapt to pests and diseases, extreme weather, and other impacts of climate change. Technologies and practices that improve climate resilience will also reduce total emissions by preventing food loss and wasted resources.”


American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges

American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Society for Horticultural Science

American Society for Microbiology

American Society of Agronomy

Bipartisan Policy Center Action


Crop Science Society of America

Ecological Society of America

Environmental Defense Fund

Eversole Associates

Farm Journal Foundation

International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium

Kona Coffee Farmers Association

National Barley Improvement Committee

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

North American Craft Maltsters Guild

North American Millers’ Association

Phytobiomes Alliance

SoAR Foundation

Soil Science Society of America

Synergistic Hawaii Agriculture Council

The Breakthrough Institute

The National Grange

The Nature Conservancy

Click here to read the whole letter.