Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, is hopeful legislation to allow tax-exempt donations to advance agriculture research will be acted on during this Congress.

Cochran is a primary cosponsor of the Charitable Agricultural Research Act(S.1280), bipartisan legislation introduced by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to amend the federal tax code to authorize the creation of new charitable, tax-exempt agricultural research organizations (AROs) dedicated to supporting breakthroughs in food and agriculture production. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

“This legislation would create opportunities to move agriculture research beyond industry-only or government-funded research by using the potential of our universities to improve American agriculture production and practices. I am hopeful that as the Finance Committee looks at tax-related legislation that this bipartisan measure will be considered,” said Cochran, who supported similar legislation in the 112th Congress.

“Mississippi is fortunate to have universities with excellent agriculture research capabilities that could take part in these tax-exempt organizations,” he added.

Modeled after the successful medical research organization program, AROs would partner private entities and universities funded through by tax-exempt donations. The AROs would 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.

U.S. farm productivity has risen 158 percent since 1948, primarily based on improved farming practices resulting from advances in agricultural research and technology, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. Farmers and ranchers in the United States today produce $312 billion in agricultural products and export $108 billion annually.

In addition to Cochran and Stabenow, the Senate measure is cosponsored by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, Delaware Sen. Christopher Coons, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden. Similar legislation (HR.2671) has been introduced in the House of Representatives.