U.S. Senator Dick Durbin wants to spend more money on agricultural research.
The Democrat is introducing legislation that would add a five percent funding increase over the next five years. It would go toward program’s like the USDA’s chief research agency, the Agricultural Research Service. The USDA's largest research facility in the country is the Peoria Ag Lab.
Durbin said American agricultural research spending has been on the decline for the last half century...and other countries are catching up.
“We’ve seen an eight-fold over the last 30 years in China in agricultural research. They understand it. They know what the future could be and they want to lead it. Shame on us if we let that happen," he said.
Durbin said the ARS’s annual budget last year was around $1.3 billion. Under his proposal, that would go up by about $65 million.
Durbin expects the proposal will get bipartisan support, but said he has not reached out to potential sponsors across the aisle.