Funding Research Extension to Assure the Future of U.S. Agricultural Competitiveness

The relationship between public funding of research and Extension and the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture was the focus of a Farm Foundation conference March 14, 2007, at Jurys Hotel, Washington, DC. The conference examined:

  • Trends in rates of growth in agricultural productivity, and how research and Extension affects productivity;
  • Proposed options to fund and organize research and Extension at the federal level;
  • Research gaps and technology needs, and
  • Strategies for improving research and Extension impacts in the future.

The Land Grant university system in the United States has contributed significantly to increases in productivity and the competitiveness of agriculture and the food system. Over the past two decades, public funding of agricultural research and Extension has been reduced or declined in real dollars. Evidence is now emerging that the rate of growth in agricultural productivity is beginning to decline. At the same time, some U.S. competitors are increasing public funding of agricultural research. Adequate public funding for agricultural research and Extension programs is a critical factor in the future competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.

Participating in the conference were stakeholders directly affected by public funding of research and Extension. This includes policy leaders representing producers, agribusiness, research and Extension programs, and other interest groups involved with agricultural, environmental and rural issues.

A  Farm Foundation Issue Report on the conference is available.

Presentations made at the conference follow.

Setting the Stage
The Imperative of Funding Basic Agricultural Research
Victor Lechtenberg, Purdue University

Dynamics of Change in Agriculture and Land Grant Universities
Michael Martin, New Mexico State University

USDA Research Extension, Education and Economics Programs
Gale A. Buchanan, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics

Research, Extension & Agricultural Productivity
Trends in Research and Extension Funding and Farm Level Productivity
Julian Alston, University of California-Davis and Philip Pardey, University of Minnesota

What This Means for U.S. Agricultural and Food System Productivity
Dan Dooley, Dooley, Herr & Peltzer, LLP
Jean-Marie Peltier, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Robert Evenson, Yale University

Alternatives for Research and Extension Funding and Organization
Creating Research, Extension and Teaching Excellence for the 21st Century (CREATE – 21)
Jeff Armstrong, Michigan State University

National Institute for Food and Agriculture
William G. Lesher, Lesher & Russell, Inc.

Research Gaps and Technology Needs
David Wright, Iowa Soybean Association
Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation
David E. Hardin, Hardin Farms
Bill Nelson, WineAmerica

Strategies for Improving Research & Extension Impacts
Multi-State Collaboration
H. Michael Harrington, Western Association of Agricultural  Experiment Station Directors

State and County Partner’s Roles
Robert D. Steele, Pennsylvania State University

Public-Private Sector Collaboration
Mark Cook, University of Wisconsin

Opportunities for the Future
George Hoffman, Restaurant Services, Inc.
Mark Scholl, BASF/ENTIRA
Carol Keiser, C-ARC Enterprises, Inc.


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