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Oat Millers, Growers and Researchers Lobby Congress for Oat Research Funding

February 17, 2004

CONTACT: Jim Bair, NAMA Vice President
202.484.2200, ext.107
jbair@namamillers.org

Washington, DC – February 17, 2004 – A team of oat millers, growers, and researchers from throughout the U.S. were hosted by the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) in Washington, DC February 10 -11 in a joint effort to advocate increased federal funding for oat research. “It was a great opportunity to advocate for our company and the oat industry,” stated Rick Cole, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, MN.

Three NAMA teams participated in this yearly lobbying effort. They visited the offices of 12 Senators and 27 Representatives. Their message was simple: Basic research in oats has not kept pace with research in other crops. As a consequence, oat production has become less economically viable relative to other production options.

In 2003, the 145 million bushels of oats produced in the U.S. contributed to the production of more than $2.5 billion in food, feed, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, sweeteners and industrial products generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax income. Despite the steady decline in oat production in this country, the food use of oats has been growing at about 5% per year due to the unique nutritional benefits provided by oat products for human food.

Continued investment by the federal government in strong oat research programs is required to keep the U.S. at the forefront in the development and implementation of new technologies to improve oat productivity and quality. No private commercial oat breeding programs exist in the U.S., so oat research is conducted only by state land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). Current federal investment in oat research is less than $4.4 million per year, so the returns from this modest federal investment in oat research far exceed the expenditure.

Oats play an important role in sustainable grain production in the U.S. and provide producers with another crop option. To remain a viable crop, progress in oat improvement must be sustained. Federal support is essential to this progress.

NAMA has 45 member companies operating 169 wheat, corn, oat and rye mills in 38 states and 150 cities. Its membership represents about 95% of the total U.S. capacity.

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Oat research priorities are listed at http://namamillers.org/oldsite/cs_oat_priorities_05.html

Statistical background information:

USDA Research Chart
http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/pdf/USDAResearchChart.pdf

Yield Comparison http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/pdf/YieldComparison.pdf

Oat Production by Decade http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/pdf/OatProductionByDecade.pdf

Oat Imports
http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/pdf/OatImports.pdf

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