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Soto and Yoho Introduce Bill to Preserve Program that Strengthens U.S. and Israel Agricultural Economies

WASHINGTON Today, U.S. Congressmen Darren Soto (D-FL) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) introduced the United States-Israel Agriculture Strategic Partnership Act, (H.R. 2659) a bipartisan bill that permanently authorizes the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) program, founded 40 years ago.

“BARD advances research that feeds and enriches our two countries. This bill puts BARD on a firm footing – it is a forward-looking, commonsense, bipartisan solution, supported by experts and advocates. And it strengthens our relationship with our best ally in the Middle East: Israel,” said Congressman Soto.

“With an ever increasing global population, it is important that agricultural best practices are shared between nations. The U.S.- Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development program (BARD) is important to meeting the agricultural needs of our two countries. Conducting research on how best to increase agricultural productivity in all climates, while emphasizing plant and animal health, food quality, and safety, not only benefits our two countries but the world,” said Congressman Yoho.

BARD has funded over 1,300 projects.  An independent economic review team estimated the benefits of just 10 of these projects at $440 million to the United States, and $300 million to Israel. That return alone more than pays for all the total investment into BARD since its inception in 1977.

This bill is needed because only a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Israel and the United States keep this critical program running; there is no protection of it under federal law.  HR 2659 currently has eight bipartisan co-sponsors.

BARD is a competitive funding program for mutually beneficial, mission-oriented, strategic and applied research of agricultural problems, jointly conducted by American and Israeli scientists. Most BARD projects focus on increasing agricultural productivity, particularly in hot and dry climates, and emphasize plant and animal health, food quality and safety, and environmental issues.

BARD supports international agricultural science workshops, and offers fellowships for postdoctoral research, senior research scientists, and graduate students. BARD is empowered to fund scientists affiliated with public or non-for-profit, private entities and to encourage the exchange of agricultural scientists, engineers or other agricultural experts.

BARD has funded programs in over 25 states, including Florida, South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Arizona, and Massachusetts.

SOURCE | U.S. Congressman Darren Soto

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