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Agricultural Research, Education,
Jean M. Rawson
Specialist in Agricultural Policy
March 4, 1997
Total U.S. Government spending for research and development (R&D) in FY1997 is expected to be $74 billion. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget for R&D under its Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area in FY1997 is $1.848 billion, or 2.5% of the U.S. R&D total.USDA's spending under its REE mission area represents 3.5% of the Department's total budget authority of $53.2 billion in FY1997.
The private sector currently spends about $3.3 billion annually on applied agricultural research to develop new marketable products. The leading areas of private research have recently been agricultural chemicals, plant breeding, veterinary medicines, postharvest commodity and food processing, and machinery.(2)
The reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1994 (P.L. 103-354) gave a new name to the former Science and Education mission area of the Department: Research, Education, and Economics (REE). The new mission area encompasses the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), the Economic Research Service (ERS), and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The agencies report to the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. The 1994 reorganization made the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland, part of ARS. CSREES represents the merging of the former Cooperative State Research Service and the Extension Service. ERS and NASS formerly had been under the Economics mission area of the Department.
About 60% of USDA's total annual appropriation for the REE mission area supports the in-house programs of ARS, ERS, and NASS.
ARS is USDA's in-house research agency. It has no stateside partner per se, but many of ARS's 104 laboratories are located at or near land grant universities, and ARS scientists may integrate their work with that of scientists at the state agricultural experiment stations. ARS also has three overseas research locations. The agency employs about 1,800 scientists and additional research support and administrative staff for a total of 7,600. ARS research is supported directly by annual federal appropriations, which are allocated to the various research laboratories on the basis of a strategic plan. The agency revises the plan every 5 years and invites public comment through publication in the Federal Register. The agency's principal mission is to undertake basic and applied research in areas that serve broad national priorities in the areas of agricultural productivity, international competitiveness, agriculture's environmental effects, rural economic welfare, and human health and nutrition. Approximately one-third of the agency's research supports the programs of USDA's regulatory agencies (e.g., the Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service).
CSREES is the agency within USDA that distributes annual federal appropriations to the states in partial support of their research, extension, and academic programs. A portion of the funds are distributed on the basis of formulas found in:
In addition, the agency administers the Native American Institutions Endowment Fund, the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (NRI), the Special Grants program (primarily earmarked grants to specific land grant institutions), and a number of grant programs to support higher education programs in agriculture at the land grant Colleges. All 325 CSREES employees are located at USDA headquarters.
ERS is USDA's in-house social science research agency, providing economic information and analysis on agricultural, food, natural resource, and rural development subjects. ERS has about 600 employees, all located in Washington, D.C.
NASS is USDA's statistical data gathering and information agency. Of NASS's 1,040 employees, about 400 are located at USDA headquarters, and the rest are located at 45 field offices located at state Departments of Agriculture or at land grant Colleges. In 1996, responsibility for carrying out the Census of Agriculture (every 5 years) was transferred from the Department of Commerce to NASS, which will begin the next Census in 1998.
The Forest Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA also operate federal laboratories that perform applied research in support of their missions. They are administered under the Natural Resources and Environment, and Marketing and Regulatory Programs mission areas, respectively. (For further information, see the FY1998 USDA Budget Explanatory Notes, Vol.1, Chapter 14 (APHIS); and the FY1998 USDA/Forest Service Budget Explanatory
The Morrill Act of 1862 gave a grant of federal land to each state and directed the state to sell the land and use the proceeds to establish a College of Agriculture. In many states, the original 1862 school became the foundation for the state university, growing to include all academic disciplines, not just those associated with agriculture. There is an 1862 land grant College of Agriculture in each of the 50 states, and 7 in U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. Federal funding in support of the academic programs at the Colleges of Agriculture are distributed through higher education grant programs administered by CSREES, but by far the greatest support for the Colleges comes from state appropriations and tuition fees.
The Hatch Act of 1887 provided that an agricultural experiment station should be established in affiliation with each state's land grant College of Agriculture so that scientific discoveries about production agriculture could underpin the College's teaching programs. There are now 59 experiment stations employing about 12,000 scientists, all of whom are state employees.
Federal funding for experiment station research remains under the authority of the Hatch Act of 1887, which was amended in 1955 to include a formula that distributes a portion of the funds on the basis of each state's farm and rural population. Hatch Act funds alone account for an average 10% of each experiment station's funding.
On average, federal sources account for 30% or less of total funding for the experiment stations (including grants from other non-REE agencies within USDA and from other federal departments), and state appropriations account for 50%. However, on an individual state basis, the federal share relative to the total funding may range from as low as 10% to as high as 60%, depending upon the level of the state appropriation. The experiment stations also receive grants from private industry and research foundations, and income from licensing patents on research products. 4
The second Morrill Act of 1890 authorized additional sums of money for the state agricultural experiment stations at the 1862 land grant Colleges of Agriculture, but stipulated that to receive the funds states should provide college-level agricultural education to black as well as to white students. Sixteen southern and border states used the 1890 appropriation to establish separate agriculture colleges for black students. In 1972, Congress gave land grant status to Tuskegee University in Alabama. The seventeen 1890 land grant Colleges receive federal funding for their research and extension programs under formulas in the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 that are similar to the Hatch and Smith-Lever Act formulas except that no matching funds are required. The 1977 Act also authorizes grants to the 1890 Colleges to strengthen their institutional teaching and research capabilities.
The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 authorized an annual grant to the land grant Colleges for the development of a nonformal educational system to "extend" the benefits of the Colleges and their affiliated experiment stations to the public. The system includes a Cooperative Extension Office in nearly all of the Nation's 3,150 counties; scientists at the land grant Colleges who often hold joint extension, experiment station, and teaching assignments; Cooperative Extension administrative headquarters at the university level; and administrative personnel within CSREES at USDA headquarters. Extension's outreach efforts include, among other things, on- and off-campus courses, field demonstration projects, community-based programs, publications, and distance learning through electronic media. The system employs about 21,000 people (state employees) and has an estimated 3 million volunteers assisting with its programs.(5)
A formula for distributing federal funds to states for their Cooperative Extension Service programs was added to the 1914 Act in 1953 and last revised in 1962. On average, federal funds account for 30% of the Cooperative Extension system's funding, but as with the experiment stations, the proportion of federal to state funds varies widely from state to state. 6
There are 27 colleges of veterinary medicine, 25 of which are affiliated with Colleges of Agriculture; two are located at non-land grant institutions (Tufts and the University of Pennsylvania). Fifteen additional states have veterinary science programs within their Colleges of Agriculture. CSREES distributes federal funds to these colleges and programs on the basis of a formula adopted in the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977. The majority of funding for veterinary colleges comes from state appropriations and tuition fees. 7
There are 52 forestry colleges or programs affiliated with Colleges of Agriculture (an additional 12 forestry programs are not located at non-land grant universities). More than half the forestry programs were established after passage of the McIntire-Stennis Act of 1962, which remains the authority under which USDA funds for forestry research are distributed. 8
The Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act of 1994 gave land grant status to 29 Native American Colleges (generally referred to as the 1994 Institutions). The Act established a $4.6 million endowment fund from which CSREES takes the annual income and distributes it to the Colleges --40% in equal shares and 60% on the basis of Indian student enrollment at each institution. In addition, the Act authorizes appropriations to support grants for curriculum, faculty, and equipment improvement at the 1994 Institutions.
Federal funds in support of agricultural research, education, and extension are distributed in four ways: (1) by direct funding to USDA in-house research agencies; (2) by block grants to the states, allocated by formulas found in various acts; (3) by grants awarded through a competitive, peer-review process; and (4) by grants specified in annual appropriations acts (Special Grants).
If these different mechanisms were viewed as an investment portfolio, the Department's largest investment --51% of its portfolio -- would be in its in-house research agencies (ARS, ERS, and NASS). Block grants (formula funds) to the states for agricultural, veterinary, and forestry research, research and extension at the 1890 Colleges, and for the core Cooperative Extension Service programs, would account for 30% of the portfolio. Grants awarded competitively through a peer-review process (primarily the NRI, hut also some smaller individual programs) would account for 12% of the portfolio. Special grants, including earmarked grants to land grant institutions for construction projects and earmarked funds for specific extension projects, would account for 7% of the portfolio.
This pattern of funding distribution differs from that of other federal agencies that support research. For example, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation allocate more than 80% of their research funds through competitive grants to external research laboratories. Twenty percent or less supports research at their in-house laboratories.
FY1997 Budget for USDA's Research,
Agricultural Research Service
Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service
1. For additional information on agricultural research and extension programs and policies, see CRS Report 96-596, Research Provisions in the Enacted 1996 Farm Bill and Issues for Further Consideration; and CRS Report 96-221, Agricultural Research, Education, and Extension: Questionnaire Responses from Partners and Stakeholders.
2. U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Challenges for U.S. Agricultural Research Policy, OTA-ENV-639 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, September 1995), p. 79.
3. The source of information on the USDA Research, Education, and Economics agencies is the FY1998 USDA Budget Explanatory Notes, Vol.1.
4. National Research Council Colleges of Agriculture at the Land Grant Universities: A Profile. (National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1995), Chapter 6.
5. FY1998 USDA Budget Explanatory Notes, Vol.1, Chapter 10.
6. National Research Council, 1995. Chapter 6.
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