The tax bill passed in December includes a measure that creates a new type of 501(c)3 public charity called agricultural research organizations.
“AROs offer philanthropists another option to advance public agricultural research,” said Bill Buckner, Noble Foundation president and CEO, in a media statement. “The creation of just one new ARO could spur innovation and significantly advance agricultural research, but a dozen or more could dramatically impact global agricultural productivity, enhance our sector’s ability to retain talented researchers and contribute the resources needed to make long-term research progress.”
Agricultural research has been underfunded for decades. Agriculture-related research accounts for only 2 percent of federal research and development spending, and such funding has increased at a rate of less than 2 percent annually for more than four decades. Insufficient research funding affects research outcomes and the delivery of innovations, which negatively impacts productivity.
The United States Department of Agriculture reports that total domestic agricultural production has slowed significantly since 1990. Food, feed and fiber production is challenged by an exploding global population, changing weather patterns and shifting seasons, increased water restrictions, and losses of arable land to erosion and urban sprawl.
Increases in productivity and new technologies are required to ensure production agriculture delivers improved environmental impacts, responds to new disease and pest threats, protects and enhances soils, provides food security to prevent related economic unrest, and satisfies increasing global demand for animal and plant protein.
AROs follow a model created in the mid-1950s when Congress modified the tax code to create medical research organizations to support medical research. About 200 MROs have been established since.
“Private philanthropy has the opportunity to dramatically impact public agricultural research,” Buckner said. “The Noble Foundation’s founder, Lloyd Noble, was a pioneer of using donated, private wealth to target research to improve a geographic region impacted by man-made disaster and drought. Today, some 70 years later, his institution has a global impact. AROs will offer similar opportunities to tackle agriculture’s challenges in conjunction with the nation’s agricultural universities and colleges.”
Source: Noble Foundation