WASHINGTON—A new federal agricultural research program, funded at $75 million annually over the next 20 years, has been proposed to "develop and produce marketable products other than traditional food and fiber products."

The research program would be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with assistance from an independent New Products Research Board to be created. The law would require USDA to fund at least 15 research projects within two years of the act's passage; each project would receive funding for at least five years "or until a marketable new product is developed or determined to be unattainable or unnecessary."

The bill, S. 970, is intended to help farmers find an outlet for overproduction and boost sales in world markets. "We lack diversification in many agricultural areas of the country," said its sponsor, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). "We also lack diversification in the range of end uses for which our...

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