ASI Supports Farm Bill Research Funding
April 5, 2019

The American Sheep Industry Association joined other livestock and agriculture groups this week in signing on to two letters calling for support of research funding established in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Addressed to the chairs and ranking members of the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, the letters call for support of $40 million for the Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative and $10 million for Section 1443, which would enable competitive research grants to address critical priorities in food security, animal health and stewardship.

The Genome to Phenome Initiative recognizes the critical need for increased federal investment to advance genomics in agriculturally important plant and animal species.

"It is widely acknowledged that obtaining phenotype information is a major limiting step in converting genomic information into useful improvements in agriculturally important species," read the letter. "Significant research is needed to fully characterize the phenotypes, which are collectively known as the 'phenome' of our major crop and livestock species. Understanding the relationships between genes and trait phenotypes will eventually allow farmers and ranchers to enhance production by identifying optimal combinations of genetics and management practices."

Section 1443 is necessary because funding for such programs has been stagnant in recent years.

"The imbalance in support for animal science puts U.S. animal agriculture at a major disadvantage at a critical time when livestock and poultry producers are striving for global competitiveness, improving sustainability and working to feed a growing global population," read the letter. "Recent disease outbreaks such as avian influenza in the United States underscore the need to develop science-based tools to prevent and mitigate the impacts of such outbreaks. A proactive research effort is needed to help address these threats and protect the nation's animal agriculture industry."