family, community, and leadership development; and other social science issues) have diverged significantly over the years; thus limiting the ready-made opportunities to integrate academic, research, and extension programs. Even with the acknowledged commitment to a balanced and integrated approach, teaching, research, and extension linkages can and should be improved.

Federal incentives and signals are important but not sufficient. The entire university should be accessible and responsive as the research base for extension programs (Chapter 5, Recommendation 15). The integration of teaching, research, and extension is valued for several reasons. Research-extension linkages, when they work well, spawn a two-way flow of insights and information that enhances the relevancy of research and uses research findings where they are most valuable to the public. Strong research-extension linkages help ensure that outreach programs reflect the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. The integration of teaching, research, and extension is of special value to students because it offers an academic experience that involves students in both the process of scientific discovery (as members of research teams) and public service (as extension interns and aides).

Two additional recommendations were designed to revitalize the linkages among teaching, research, and extension in the food and agricultural sciences.

  1. Students should be required to serve an internship in any of a wide range of settings representing diverse career opportunities (Chapter 3, Recommendation 7).
  2. To strengthen the research base for extension programs, the applied research capacity in economics, sociology, public health, and related disciplines should be improved as should their applications to extension programs (Chapter 5, Recommendation 17).

Federal Funding: Levels and Guiding Principles

The federal partner should increase its use of competitive research grants to fund projects and individuals on the basis of merit as determined by peer review (Chapter 4, Recommendation 9). Federal research and development (R&D) funds totaled $69 billion in 1994. A little more than 2 percent ($1.5 billion) funded R&D conducted or administered by USDA. Of the USDA portion, approximately 30 percent ($400 million)—or 0.6 percent of all federal R&D—funded agricultural research conducted outside of USDA (most often at land grant colleges and universities). Of these USDA-administered extramural funds, approximately 55 percent were allocated to land grant colleges according to a formula; approximately 25 percent was in the form of competitive grants accessible to all researchers in and outside of land grant colleges; and the remainder was in the form of congressionally designated grants to institutions for specific programs.

These numbers were factors in two conclusions drawn by the committee. First, federal support of research designated for food and agricultural system issues and problems is indeed modest in light of (a) the heightened national interest in the performance of the food and agricultural system, (b) the evidence from the economics literature describing high social rates of return on public investments in agricultural research (from 30 to 50 percent), and (c) the total federal investment in R&D. Second, USDA-administered research funding differs from other R&D funding in the much smaller percentage allocated to individuals and projects on the basis of merit review and competition because of (a) the relatively large share of agricultural research conducted intramurally by USDA agencies and (b) the use of formula funds and congressionally designated grants in allocating extramural funds to institutions. Consequently, the committee strongly supports full funding of the $500 million competitive grants program for food and agricultural system research that was detailed in the 1989 NRC report entitled Investing in Research: A Proposal to Strengthen the Agricultural Food and Environmental System. Merit-based, peer-reviewed research by scientists within and outside the land grant colleges and their research experiment stations is essential to discover and advance the fundamental knowledge needed to enhance productivity and sustainability of the world's food and agricultural system. There is also a continued valuable role for formula funded research



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement