Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran has announced that he is an original cosponsor on legislation 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 Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman, and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. 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).

“Agriculture research has made the United States the greatest nation in history in terms of sustainable food production and innovative agriculture practices,” said Cochran, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This legislation would create a new avenue beyond government-funded research to support new advances in agriculture technology.

“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.”

U.S. farm productivity has risen 158 percent since 1948, primarily based on improved farming practices resulting from advances in agricultural research and technology. Demands on the agricultural sector will increase with population growth and challenges posed by environmental and regulatory requirements.