Federal Issue Brief

 Charitable Agriculture Research Act, H.R. 2959/S. 1561

AVMA Position:

Support

Summary:

Bicameral, bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2959 sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-21) and S. 1561 sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow would amend the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) allow a tax deduction for a charitable contribution to an agricultural research organization (ARO) directly engaged in the continuous active conduct of agricultural research, and (2) make prohibitions against expenditures to influence legislation applicable to such organizations.

Background:

As a model, the Internal Revenue Code was amended in the 1950s to create medical research organizations (26 IRC § 170(b)(1)(A)(iii)). Medical research organizations are charitable organizations that must actively conduct medical research in conjunction with a non-profit/government hospital. These organizations have successfully moved private wealth into the charitable research sector to benefit human health.

To meet the challenges faced by modern agriculture greater investment in the nation's agricultural research capacity is needed.

  • Private wealth is needed to complement the historically flat public investment in agriculture research;
  • The world population is estimated to reach 9.1 billion by 2050.
  • From 1970 to 2005, the U.S. population grew by 100 million and the economy grew 293%, but USDA research funding rose by only $650 million, or just 1.85% a year. In that same period, Congress approved $22.6 billion in increased research funding at the National Institutes of Health.

Justification:

  • AVMA has a long established a record of support for legislation to bolster federal funding for agriculture research.
  • H.R. 2959/S. 1561 would create a new type of charitable organization, agricultural research organization - to:
    • Provide new research capacity to benefit agriculture worldwide, for example, improve crop productivity, livestock health, human food supplies and nutrition, natural resources conservation and bioenergy production; and
    • Complement the role of public agricultural funding and research, including alignment with the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.
  • H.R. 2959/S. 1561 would create new private-public partnerships with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities by requiring AROs to conduct research in conjunction with these institutions.
  • H.R. 2959/S. 1561 would move new private wealth into the charitable research sector to improve society through enhancement of agriculture productivity, human and animal nutrition, resource conservation and rural economies.

Current Status:

H.R. 2959 introduced 9/15/11 and referred to the Ways and Means Committee. S. 1561 introduced 9/15/11 and referred to the Finance Committee.

AVMA Contact:

Gina Luke, Assistant Director, Governmental Relations Division, 202-289-3204