Since its inception in 2012, the National Association for the Advancement of Animal Science (NAAAS) has played an active role in highlighting the importance of the animal sciences with Congress and key federal agencies. NAAAS efforts have significantly increased awareness among policy officials of the funding inequities facing the animal sciences and the need for increased federal investments.
Established to advocate for an increased federal investment in agricultural research, in its first year the group has focused activities on supporting agriculture appropriations for research and extension conducted and supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; developed an initiative in the 2013 Farm Bill that would establish a new competitive grants program focused on the animal sciences; and worked closely with the USDA and the National Academies of Science (NAS) to develop a consensus study entitled “Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research.”
“When the founding departments of NAAAS began looking into the funding situation for animals, we were shocked to learn that we had no official lobbying entity in Washington, D.C.,” said Russell Cross, Ph.D., president of NAAAS and head of the department of animal science at Texas A&M University. “We have made great progress in the first year. NAAAS has established a voice for animal agriculture research in Washington, D.C. and now the USDA, Congress and many others are paying attention.”
Historically, federal funding for plant versus animal research has been imbalanced with 71 percent designated for plants and 29 percent for animals, Cross added. Additionally, the U.S. falls behind other countries when comparing all competitive funding for agriculture – U.S. ($1.4 billion), Brazil ($3 billion) and China ($45 billion).
“Federal funding for animal research has been stagnant for more than two decades. The road ahead will be long, but we are off to a great start to reversing this trend,” Cross said. “As the world’s population grows and natural resources become limited, animal agriculture research will rely on this funding to continue to improve efficiency in order to provide safe and abundant food supplies.”
The association is comprised of leaders of animal, dairy, poultry and veterinary science departments from universities across the country as well as allied animal industry organizations. Others have taken notice of NAAAS’ progress. Association membership has grown to 18 academic departments and six national organizations as associate members.
Looking ahead, NAAAS expects work to begin on the NAS consensus study this fall with results highlighting the need and importance of additional investments in animal science to meet emerging grand challenges.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Courtney Coufal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.