Over 1,200 companies, research universities, scientific associations and residents urged the U.S. government to maintain funding for agricultural research as Congress mulls over huge budget cuts, in a petition released Tuesday by the American Society of Plant Biologists.

The group signed a petition letter dated Oct. 19 that requested protections and even increases in current agricultural federal funding.

The group sent the letter to the bipartisan Congressional super committee expected to recommend budget cuts by the end of November to reduce federal deficits by at least $1.5 trillion in the next 10 years.

Proposed budget cuts would include $23 billion from farm program spending over the next 10 years, according to reports.

Roger Beachy, former director of U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, said in a statement the broad range of signers highlighted the importance of U.S. agriculture remaining sustainable and internationally competitive into the future.

The petitioners struck back against $23 billion in potential cuts with numbers of their own: U.S. farms and ranches spent $288 billion to produce $369 billion-worth of goods in 2010; U.S. food and agriculture exports will reach $140 billion in 2011, and 21 million Americans depend on the agriculture and food sector.