up and running—is no longer valid. The committee believes, however, that there are important, well-targeted roles for the federal partner.
One of the most important roles is that of contributor to the funding of those extension programs that provide public goods that cross or transcend political boundaries. These programs lack the impetus of incentives for private funders, and states will tend to underfund such programs because their own producers and taxpayers cannot sufficiently appropriate the benefits.
Programs that introduce new technologies or management practices that reduce off-farm environmental damage often have these transboundary, public-good qualities. Environmental problems are often regional in nature because aquifers, rivers, soil, air, and smoke do not respect state lines (U.S. Congress, 1995). Additionally, broadly applicable technologies often "spillover" rapidly to the benefit of producers in other states and even other nations, and so their adaptation and dissemination tends to be underfunded by both the private sector and states. In this context, the federal partner can help the system realize considerable gains in efficiency by providing the incentives for states to engage in regional and other collaborative extension efforts (see Recommendation 3).
A second important role is that of financial supporter of those programs that provide public benefits where the constituency at the state and local levels lack economic means and political effectiveness. Human nutrition education is a good example because those most in need are economically and politically disadvantaged. The benefits to society of improving the nutritional status of infants and children and pregnant and lactating women, however, are well recognized and include reduced infant mortality, reduced health care costs, and improved development and learning abilities (National Research Council, 1994b). Another important function of such programs is providing marketing information and analyses for low-income and small-scale (such as many niche-market) farmers—clients who are typically unable to conduct such analyses on their own. They are, nevertheless, important providers of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables and other specialty products—a growing demand of U.S. consumers.
A third important role is that of a leader in reforging linkages between extension information and education, on the one hand, and land grant university research on the other. The federal government initiated the components of the land grant system—teaching, research, and extension—in separate phases: as each was implemented, it became clear that the next was needed. Despite the recognition that it was the integrated complex that was important, the separate pieces of legislation spawned separate funding systems and separate administrative structures. Agricultural research and extension have understandably diverged over the years for many reasons related to both internal and external forces. If extension of the future is to have the key place in the land grant model that it was meant to have, efforts must be made to mend the link, and the committee believes the federal government can and should have an important role in doing so (see Recommendation 4).
A fourth major role for the federal government involves ensuring accountability and equity in the use of federal funds for extension programs. This can be done by leading the way and working with state extension services to develop performance measures and standards (see Chapter 2 section, Accountability and Funding Principles).
A fifth and related role is that of acting as a national repository for data and information on extension programs; such a repository should benefit both extension users and extension suppliers. The data reporting system for public extension expenditures has been both less systematic and less accessible than that for research expenditures. Additionally, extension spending categories have changed significantly over time, making it difficult for users and analysts (as well as extension administrators) to assess changes in resource allocation (Fuglie et al., 1996). In the role of national repository, the federal government can assure that effective, successful programs at the regional, state, and local levels receive national recognition and, where appropriate, become national models.