Chair DeLauro Statement at the USDA Research, Education and Economics Mission Area Hearing
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee's hearing on USDA Research, Education and Economics Mission Area.
Chairman Bishop, Ranking Member Fortenberry thank you for your continued leadership of this Subcommittee, especially with this hearing on scientific research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
And to Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, welcome to the Appropriations Committee. I very much look forward to your testimony on the Administration’s discretionary budget request for the Department’s Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area. I appreciate you and your colleagues being with us today.
The investments we will make within this Mission Area, as part of the fiscal year 2022 bill, come at a crucial time. I will be frank. In my view, the Department’s science and research agencies have had to endure four years of assault. Agencies like the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture were targeted, hollowed out, and moved from Washington, DC. Our task now is to rebuild and refocus these Agencies, which have long been seen as unbiased and trusted for research and expertise.
And, we now have an Administration that believes in the role of science. Dr. Jacobs-Young, as you have pointed out in your written testimony, science is so critical to American agriculture and to addressing the challenges we face throughout the food system.
That is why I have long been concerned by declining levels of public funding for agricultural research and development in the United States, especially during a time when our global competitors have done just the opposite. For example, spending by the Chinese government on agricultural R&D surpassed that of the U.S. in 2008 and more than doubled by 2013.
Despite this, agricultural science and research is as important now as it has ever been. The problems we face: Ensuring enough food for a growing population; Addressing the existential threat of global climate change; and, Transforming our food system from being reliant on exploitive and extractive practices to being regenerative and restorative – these all have a common denominator: scientific breakthroughs hold the solution. And I look forward to seeing these premier scientific agencies play a significant role in tackling these issues.
I also want to take the time to thank your Agencies for the work they have done over the last year and for the work they are continuing to do. The COVID-19 pandemic created the greatest public health and economic crisis in a generation, but USDA scientists did not miss a beat. Their insight and expertise were critical in understanding the true impact of the pandemic on families facing hunger, on America’s family farmers and ranchers, and on local food systems and supply chains.
So, I am eager to hear more today about the Administration’s request for the REE Mission Area and how these investments might sustain and improve the farmers and families in my district and across the country.