efficiencies to the LGCA system through creating a new geography based on multistate, multi-institutional, and multidisciplinary collaborations and partnerships. The case for a new geography rests on a number of findings:

  • States are often not the best unit of organization or operation for food and agricultural research issues or extension programs. (Improving water quality, for example, may require the coordinated approach of several states sharing a watershed.)
  • In the face of fiscal constraints, a broadened agenda for food and agricultural education, research, and extension requires more efficient use of resources within the national LGCA system.
  • Smaller, less well-supported LGCAs may have to develop partnerships with other institutions to survive.
  • Interconnectedness with other institutions and other parts of the country, through modern technologies such as videos, telecommunications, and the Internet, as well as transportation networks, offers broader exposure of students and faculty alike to diverse ideas, perspectives, values, and cultures.

Mechanisms other than the current federal policy of allocating 25 percent of formula research funds to regional projects must be found. The current approach is inflexible with respect to which institutions receive the funding because it is allocated by formula rather than based on the merit of the regional projects, largely ad hoc rather than linked to a formal prioritization process, and not successful in generating genuine multi-institutional, multidisciplinary, and regionally based approaches.

Competitive challenge grants should reward teachers and teaching teams that develop innovative multidisciplinary and systems-based course material and curricula (Chapter 3, Recommendation 8). LGCAs and federal grants programs must foster partnerships among faculty from different disciplines to build the knowledge base for sustainable food and agricultural production systems. Discoveries in the different disciplines (genetics, plant physiology, crop breeding, animal science, and economics, for example) realize their greatest potential value when related to one another and applied to real-world needs through integrative research. For this reason, the committee also strongly endorses special divisions of competitive grants programs for multidisciplinary research projects.

Linkages should be developed among programs at non-USDA agencies and USDA-based extension programs (Chapter 5, Recommendation 16). The colleges of agriculture and the USDA must develop linkages and partnerships with both university units and government agencies outside the LGCA system. Extension programs, for example, now encompass many nonfarm issues such as nutrition education and economic, community, and human resource development. These programs rely—actually or ideally—on a science and policy base often found, at least in part, outside the college of agriculture. These programs may also have a more synergistic effect in combination with public service programs administered by federal agencies other than USDA.

Reinvigorating the Tripartite Mission

Federal formula funds for research and extension should be combined into a single allocation; 50 percent of combined funds should be used to fund programs, projects, and activities that integrate teaching, research, and extension or the work of multiple disciplinarians (Chapter 2, Recommendation 4). LGCA administrations, faculty appointments, budgets, and federal land grant legislation are structured along the lines of teaching, research, and extension. Although it is the historical commitment to its three-part mission that has distinguished the LGCAs, the separate administrative and funding structures too often hinder integration of the three functions and their programs. The different statuses implicitly, if not explicitly, assigned to each function by the university community contributes to the separateness. Furthermore, the primary subject-matter focuses of LGCA undergraduates (agribusiness and agricultural economics and natural resource fields), of college research faculty (animal and plant sciences), and of extension staff (nutrition education; youth,

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