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The Agricultural Tri-Societies Honor Leaders in Agricultural Research Advocacy

Congratulations to Edgard Jauregui, Heliae® Agriculture’s Senior Manager of Agricultural Science for Latin America, for being selected as a recipient of the Excellence in Advocacy Award by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). Edgard was one of five Excellence in Advocacy award recipients, with a focus on soil health and local agricultural issues.

This award honors members of ASA, CSSA and SSSA who are passionate about science advocacy which supports advancements in food and agriculture. As an award winner, Edgard was chosen to participate in the 2021 Virtual Congressional Visits Day, where he was able to meet virtually with his local representatives to discuss funding issues important to Arizona and agricultural communities across the country.

“It was such an honor to win this award,” said Jauregui. “As an agronomist and as a scientist, I see the importance of science for the future of agriculture every day. As I become more involved in advocacy, I’m learning more about a different side of science – the laws that govern it, and the potential policy making that can promote it, as well as the formal process of getting funding for grants and research. Receiving this award and being able to speak with policy makers about science was a great experience for me.”

ASA, CSSA and SSSA provided in-depth advocacy and communications training for all Excellence in Advocacy award recipients, who then took what they had learned and met with their local congressional offices to advocate for USDA research programs that need additional funding in the 2022 fiscal year. They also got to hear from guest speakers, which included Dr. Carrie Castille, the new director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Edgard met with the offices of Arizona senators Mark Kelly, Kyrsten Sinema and U.S. Representative of Arizona’s 1st District, Tom O’Halleran to advocate for increased funding for USDA research programs. Two of the USDA programs highlighted were the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and the new research program Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AgARDA). These programs support research across a wide range of interests to the food and agricultural space, including soil health, water availability issues, climate variability, algae agriculture, nutrient management, and the soil microbiome.

Learn more about these programs:
https://www.ers.usda.gov/agriculture-improvement-act-of-2018-highlights-and-implications/research-extension-and-related-matters/
https://www.soils.org/files/science-policy/letters/2021-04-agarda-roadmap.pdf
https://nifa.usda.gov/program/agriculture-and-food-research-initiative-afri

“It doesn’t happen in a lab or a field, but advocacy is an equally important part of the scientific process,” said Jauregui. “As a Certified Crop Adviser, my job is to support my community and agriculture in different ways. The goal of research is to support agriculture by developing knowledge, understanding problems, and then finding solutions. We need solutions for now, but also the funding to create solutions for the future. Advocacy is the part of the process that can help make an idea become reality. If there is no funding, there is no research, and if there is no research, there are no solutions.”

Thanks to advocates like Edgard and his fellow award recipients, USDA has recently announced an over $146 million investment in sustainable agriculture research. This investment is made up of several grants, which include research focusing on the impact of soil health on crops and human health, as well as the impact of regenerative agriculture management practices on agronomic, economic and community resiliency.

Learn more about the USDA’s most recent investment in sustainable agriculture:
https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2021/10/06/usda-announces-more-146m-investment-sustainable-agricultural
https://nifa.usda.gov/press-release/usda-announces-more-146m-investment-sustainable-agricultural-research