NFU President Roger Johnson speaks at the Rally for Family Farms in 2015.

By NFU President Roger Johnson

Tomorrow, Farmers Union members from across the country will join forces with thousands of scientists, concerned citizens, and policymakers to stand up for robustly funded and publicly communicated science at the March for Science.

Farmers rely on sound science and public research to maintain the stability of the food system. This includes ensuring we have effective plant varieties, safe and reliable crop protection, healthy soil and important weather information needed to produce adequate, reliable harvests.

We’ll need strong scientific research especially in light of the threat of climate change, which is already drastically altering the way we produce grow and raise the food, fuel, and fiber needed to power the world.

I’ll be speaking at the flagship March for Science event in Washington D.C., where I’ll advocate for publicly funded, independent, and peer-reviewed research. While important, corporate interests should not be dictating what is studied.

Land grant universities provide valuable information to farmers and ranchers. Pictured: University of District of Columbia (UDC) . (USDA Photo by Preston Keres)

Sadly, we’ve seen a significant movement in that direction. In the past, a majority of U.S. agriculture research was publicly funded. Now, more than 70 percent of it is financed through private dollars, while our public funding is being outpaced by China, Western Europe, and Asia-Pacific region countries.

As the breadbasket of the world, America should be leading – not lagging – in this space.

Finally, facts and science must inform public policy – not the other way around! Unfortunately, too many people too often decide which policy they prefer, and then look to science to back it up. Sometimes this is even true for government officials. We need to invert this approach – our leaders should first be informed by science and facts, and then implement policies that address real issues and provide real solutions.

We all benefit when sound and well-communicated science and public research informs government policy.

I look forward to joining the with those marching in Washington, D.C., across the country, and around the world to promote science. Our food system, health, safety, economy and government rely upon it.

For more information on the March for Science, visit the movement’s website. To find a march near you, click here.

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