Senators mulling tax-exempt donations for ag research

WASHINGTON — Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to allow tax-exempt donations to support agricultural research as a means to help keep American agriculture on the forefront of food production breakthroughs.

The Charitable Agriculture Research Act (S.1561) is a bipartisan measure authored by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). Following the precedent set by medical research organizations (MROs), the legislation would amend the tax code to allow charitable, tax-exempt donations to agricultural research organizations (AROs).

“This legislation would create a new avenue beyond government-funded research to support new advances in agriculture technology,” said Cochran, who is a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. “Mississippi is an agriculture state, and its universities and colleges are proficient in agriculture research and could benefit from this legislation. In addition, overall growth in farm production spurred on by agricultural research can, in the long run, lead to greater sales and exports of goods produced in our state.”

AROs would be required to conduct agriculture research in conjunction with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities, and complement existing public and private research into improving agriculture production and practices.

AROs would be similar to the federally sanctioned MROs that are supported through private contributions from individuals or families “directly engaged in the continuous active conduct of medical research in conjunction with a hospital.”

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