While funding for science and health-related federal research programs is keeping up with or exceeding inflation, agricultural research is slipping farther behind. More then two dozen agricultural, nutritional and research organizations want to see that changed.

In a letter to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) the groups asked for funding for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture to be included in the 2007 Farm Bill.

 “NIFA strives to re-balance USDA's research and development portfolio so that the sizable gap between food, nutrition and agriculture research and all other forms of federal research investments is narrowed,” the letter stated. “To do this, a proven model most closely resembling the NIH is the very essence of the NIFA proposal and one which we believe should be enacted in this Farm Bill.”

The groups do not ask for a specific amount of funding, but point out that in competitive, peer-reviewed awards, long considered to be the optimal way of achieving scientific discovery, the National Institutes of Health currently outspends the USDA by 150 to 1.

Congress returns to Washington this week after the July 4th recess, and the House Agriculture Committee will continue to develop the 2007 Farm Bill legislation.