U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, today ushered three provisions through the committee, including his bipartisan bill to stimulate new agricultural research by leveraging private dollars to create charitable partnerships between universities and private entities. Thune’s bill, which he introduced last Congress with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), would amend the tax code to allow for the creation of new tax-exempt agricultural research organizations, which are similar to medical research organizations that have been successfully supporting innovation in medical sciences since the 1950s.
"As we seek to stimulate ag research to better equip our producers with the tools needed to meet the demands of a growing global market, Congress needs to enact innovative legislation, such as this bill, which will encourage private donors to help bolster agricultural research funding,” said Thune. “I am pleased the Finance Committee has moved swiftly on this common-sense legislation to provide a new tool for those wishing to dedicate their own resources to agriculture research. Production agriculture's current economic strength is a direct result of research that, among other things, has increased crop yields, made livestock healthier, and made food safer. My bill will facilitate the transfer of much-needed private investment to agricultural research."
Over the last 60 years, agricultural research has expanded food production significantly. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, farm productivity has risen 158 percent since 1948. This increase is attributed to research, by implementing new changes in the efficiency of farming practices and the use of agricultural technology.
However, agricultural scientists warn that failing to invest in agricultural research could jeopardize the future of American food security and safety. The Charitable Agricultural Research Act seeks to address these challenges by creating agricultural research organizations (AROs) that work in conjunction with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities to conduct research in the field of agriculture.The Senate Finance Committee also approved Thune’s bipartisan Philanthropic Enterprise Act, which he introduced last year with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). Thune’s bill would recognize and encourage a new type of philanthropy that combines private sector entrepreneurship with charitable giving. Finally, the committee passed a Thune provision to tax propane used as transportation fuel on an energy content basis, rather than a volumetric basis, thus ensuring propane is taxed in a more equitable manner.