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U.S. Senators Lujan and Hoeven Co-Sponsor Billfor Agriculture and Energy Research

On November 14, United States Senators Lujan, of New Mexico, and John
Hoeven, of North Dakota, introduced the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA) Interagency Research Act.

“To provide for Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture joint research and development activities, and for other purposes… in general, the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Agriculture (referred to in this section as the “Secretaries”) shall carry out cross-cutting and collaborative research and development activities focused on the joint advancement of Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture mission requirements and priorities.”

Senators Lujan and Hoeven are both members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. According to a press release from Senator Lujan, the bill if passed will require “interagency collaboration on activities including environmental science, electric grid modernization, and rural technology development.”

“New Mexico is blessed to have a thriving agriculture sector, expansive public lands, and National Labs right in our backyard. With such resources at our disposal, it’s critical we capitalize on every opportunity to harness the power of our National Labs to further groundbreaking research,” said Senator Luján. “That’s why I’m proud to join Senator Hoeven to introduce this bipartisan bill that will boost our public lands and agricultural industry by improving coordination with DOE and USDA. This legislation will help codify this partnership and ensure our Labs are being used to their full potential to support the USDA and the challenges facing our farmers, ranchers, and producers.”

“In North Dakota, our two biggest industries are energy and agriculture, and we’ve found innovative ways to connect these industries and create value-added opportunities for both our agriculture and energy producers,” said Senator Hoeven. “This legislation will help strengthen the research partnership between the Department of Energy and the U.S Department of Agriculture to expand the nexus between the two foundational industries of ag and energy.”

The text of the bill emphasizes “collaborative research” in the form of “modeling and simulation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, data assimilation, large-scale data analytics, and predictive analysis” for purposes of “optimizing algorithms” to advance agricultural, biological, computational, and environmental science and engineering in “a competitive, merit-reviewed process that considers applications from Federal agencies, National Laboratories, institutions of higher education, nonprofit institutions, and other appropriate entities.”

If passed, the bill will require the U.S. Secretaries of Energy and Agriculture to submit reports no later than two years after the date enactment to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Committee on Agriculture describing the following:

  1. Interagency coordination between each federal agency involved in the research and development activities carried out under this section
  2. Potential opportunities to expand the technical capabilities of the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture
  3. Collaborative research achievements
  4. Areas of future mutually beneficial successes
  5. Continuation of coordination activities between the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture