USDA conducts agricultural research at the federal level and provides support for cooperative research, extension, and post-secondary agricultural education programs in the states, through Title VII of the 2014 Farm Bill. Title VII: Research of the 2014 Farm Bill includes a few important reforms and new initiatives.
The 2014 Farm Bill provides $200 million in mandatory funding to establish the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, “a nonprofit corporation designed to supplement USDA’s basic and applied research activities” with public-private research collaborations. In addition, the $200 million initial funding for the foundation will be matched with outside funds.
Funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) is doubled to $80 million annually in the 2014 Farm Bill compared to the 2008 version. According to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” The SCRI includes five legislative focus area priorities, including:
- research in plant breeding, genetics, and genomics
- efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases
- efforts to improve production efficiency, productivity, and profitability over the long term
- new innovations and technology, including those that delay or inhibit ripening
- methods to prevent, monitor, control, and respond to potential food safety hazards.
The 2014 Farm Bill also increases funding for the Organic Agricultural Research and Extension Initiative, which aims to fund projects to enhance the ability of producers that have adopted organic standards to produce and market organic crops and products. Additionally, the 2014 Farm Bill increased funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which aims enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers through education and startup loans, and to combat the decline in number of farmers, which was an 8% decrease from 2004 to 2014.
For a comprehensive summary of the research programs authorized under this title, check here.
 Chite, Ralph. The 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79): Summary and Side-by-Side, Congressional Research Service, http://nationalaglawcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/R43076.pdf.
 Agricultural Act of 2014: Highlights and Implications, USDA, http://www.ers.usda.gov/agricultural-act-of-2014-highlights-and-implications/research.aspx.
 Specialty Crop Research Initiative, NIFA, http://nifa.usda.gov/program/specialty-crop-research-initiative.