A new report commissioned by the International Food Policy Research Institute details how international agriculture research benefits U.S. interests, both in direct and indirect ways.
The federal government spends far less than some taxpayers believe on aid to developing countries, according to “How the United States Benefits from Agricultural and Food Security Investments in Developing Countries.” Total nonmilitary assistance to developing countries was $33.3 billion in 2017, less than 1% of the budget. Foreign agricultural aid is a small bit of that, just 0.04 % of the budget.
But for that investment, U.S. agriculture reaps diverse benefits, the report finds.
Overseas research can help contain diseases and pests that have not spread to the U.S., but also finds solutions to problems like drought, which challenges farmers everywhere.
Helping farmers to grow more crops at home actually fuels U.S. ag exports, too, the report points out. Because agriculture employs so many people in developing countries, improving agricultural productivity in those places can increase incomes, giving people the discretionary income they need to buy U.S. crops. More than half of U.S. ag exports already go to developing countries, and those countries offer much more potential to buy more than wealthier countries, where consumers already are buying the maximum amount of products that they want.