This chapter discusses capacity building in the animal sciences via research, research transfer, and undergraduate and graduate education, and the infrastructural changes needed to effectively support these activities. The focus is mainly on land-grant universities because they are the primary institutions conducting integrated research, research outreach, and instructional activities in the animal sciences in the United States. Data collected by the committee about the 128 U.S. universities with animal science programs entered into the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Agricultural Education Information System (FAEIS) database showed that in 2012, 90 percent of the 909 faculty in animal science departments were at land-grant institutions (1862, 1890, or 1994), with the remainder at non-land-grant institutions and none from private institutions. The committee recognizes the value of animal science training and research provided by non-land-grant institutions, as well as by non-U.S. institutions. Neither the committee’s mandate nor the areas of expertise of the committee members allowed comparisons of capacity-building activities in U.S. and non-U.S. institutions. It was, however, recognized that several U.S. higher education institutions have established bilateral or multilateral agreements with non-U.S. institutions in the field of animal sciences, and that these agreements can be beneficial and effective in enhancing and improving the quality of research and training in animal sciences. The committee also recognizes the critical role that private industry plays in conducting research and providing research outreach as a part of their
technical service teams. There were insufficient data available to the committee in order for this contribution to be evaluated, but the critical role of public–private partnership building for the future of animal science research, outreach, and training is recognized and discussed.
5-1 Research in Animal Sciences
Federally, most animal science research is funded by the USDA via two mechanisms: competitive grant funding and intramural allocations to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The Hatch Act of 1887 transformed the Bureau of Agriculture established by President Lincoln in 1862 into the USDA, with its primary emphasis on agricultural research. The Act mandated that USDA sponsor extramural agricultural research to solve the food challenges that the country was, and would be, facing. It provided funding to federal laboratories and state agricultural colleges through a formula based on each state’s share of the rural and farm populations, and authorized federal funds for the development of agricultural research at land-grant institutions (FA-RM, 2014). These “formula funds” focused on applied, mission-oriented programs, teaching, and extension (Roberts et al., 2009) and provided the backbone on which research in animal agriculture was based; however, these formula funds have declined significantly over time. Huffman and Evenson (2006) demonstrated a decline in formula funding (in constant dollars) for agricultural research and extension of 57 percent from 1980 to 2003. Overall revenue to state agricultural experiment stations actually increased by about 21 percent during this same period, mainly due to increased funding from non-Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS) Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) federal government research funds, contracts and grants, as well as commodity group and foundation funding. Hatch funding continued to decline in constant dollars from 2003-2008; it then increased in 2007 and 2008, but thereafter declined again to levels similar to 2003 (Figures 5-1 and 5-2). Huffman and Evenson (2006) found that formula funding has a greater impact on agricultural research productivity than competitive grant funding. Advantages of formula funding are that it can provide steady support for core research and be used to address issues that are of local importance. In addition is has greater “purchasing power” given that it is not subject to university overhead costs.
The National Research Council has repeatedly warned about gross underfunding of the basic sciences of agriculture (NRC, 1972, 1989, 2000). Despite these warnings, Congress has failed to act in a significant way as overall funding has decreased for animal systems (animal science/animal health research; CRIS codes RPA 301-315) from 1998 to 2011 (Tables 5-1a and 5-1b; Box 5-1). Overall funding for animal systems has shown large annual fluctuations, mainly due to variations in funding received from other federal (i.e., non-USDA) funding sources. In general, there was an overall increase in funding in real terms compared to 1998 dollars until 2010 when funding dropped and actually fell below 1998 dollars. Despite this lack of congressional priority and the declining role that USDA funding has played in terms of its contribution to the overall public funding portfolio for agricultural research (NRC, 2014), USDA has funded many notable advances in animal health, food safety, genetic improvements, reproductive efficiencies, nutrient utilization, and animal production systems.
FIGURE 5-1 Hatch funding in real dollars (2003-2011).
SOURCE: Data from USDA NIFA (2014a).
FIGURE 5-2 Hatch funding in nominal dollars (2003-2011).
SOURCE: Data from USDA NIFA (2014a).
TABLE 5-1a Source of Funds for Animal Systems Research in FY 1998-2004 as reported by Current Research Information System for 15 Fieldsa, Funds by Fiscal Year (thousands)
|Other USDA c||10,682||11,004||12,970||18,856||22,878||23,713||22,848|
|Total (real 1998 dollars)||753,651||790,547||798,555||841,567||867,431||884,337||903,979|
TABLE 5-1b Source of Funds for Animal Systems Research in FY 2005-2011 as reported by Current Research Information System for 15 Fieldsa, Funds by Fiscal Year (thousands)
|Total (real 1998 dollars)||838,175||1,071,004||1,068,529||1,071,838||823,302||688,268||681,995|
aCRIS reporting categories RPA 301-315 (reproduction, nutrition, genetics, animal genome, animal physiology, environmental stress, animal production and management, improved animal products, animal disease, external parasites and pests, internal parasites, toxicology, and animal welfare).
bRegular USDA appropriations used for in-house research by USDA research agencies and centers (excludes CSREES programs) (Form AD-418 field 131).
cOther USDA: expenditure of funds received by state agriculture experiment stations (SAESs) and other cooperating institutions from contracts, grants, or cooperative agreement with one of the USDA research agencies other than CSREES. Identification of awarding agency is not collected. (Form AD-419 field number 219).
dCSREES ADM: expenditure of formula and grant funds administered by CSREES and distributed to SAESs and other cooperating institutions (OCIs). Programs included are National Research Initiative, Hatch, McIntire-Stennis, Evans-Allen, Animal Health, Special Grants, Competitive Grants, Small Business Innovation Research Grants, and other CSREES grant programs (Form AD-419 field 31).
eOther nonfederal: expenditures by USDA agencies, SAESs, and OCIs of funds received from sources outside federal government, such as industry grants and sale of products (self-generated).
fOther federal: expenditures by USDA agencies, SAESs, and OCIs of funds received from federal sources outside USDA through contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements directly with other federal agencies. Sponsoring agencies may include National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Agency for International Development, National Institutes of Health, Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Tennessee Valley Authority. (Form AD-418 field number 332/Form AD-419 field number 332 minus field 219).
SOURCE: USDA-CSREES; NRC (2005) Beginning in 2009, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) was established to replace the USDA’s CSREES. The NIFA program that allocates competitive funding is the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). NIFA investment in animal science research was essentially stagnant in real dollars between 2003 and 2012 (Table 5-2), with a mean of $114,584,000 per year (CV of 8.2 percent) (Table 5-3; Appendix J). The highest priority was dairy production (17 percent of the funding) followed by aquaculture (16 percent), beef production (16 percent), poultry production (12 percent), and swine production (11 percent).
TABLE 5-2 Dollars Directed Toward Animal Science Research by NIFA
|Year||Actual dollars ($1,000)||Real dollars ($1,000), 2003 as Base|
SOURCE: USDA (2014b).
TABLE 5-3 Average Annual NIFA Investment in Animal Science Research Between 2003 and 2012, Mean from 2003 to 2012
|Animal Science Investment ($1000) by Species||Mean||CV, %||% of Total|
|Goats, food & hair||$4,987||26.1||4|
|Horses, ponies, and mules||$2,911||21.8||3|
|Beef, Food (Meat)||$2,054||27.1||2|
|Poultry food (meat & eggs)||$1,706||30..8||1|
|Sheep food & wool||$581||27.1||1|
SOURCE: USDA (2014b).
The NIFA investment by discipline or knowledge area was also flat in terms of relative percentage allocations over the 10-year period between 2003 and 2012 (Table 5-4; Appendix K). Animal health was the highest priority (23 percent of the funding) followed by genetic improvement/genome (17 percent); reproductive performance (12 percent); nutrient utilization (12 percent); animal management systems (10 percent); animal physiology (6 percent); food (5 percent); economic, marketing, trade, policy (4 percent); improved animal products (3
percent); animal welfare (3 percent); environmental stress (1 percent); facilities and engineering (1 percent); waste disposal (1 percent); and nonfood products and maintenance (1 percent).
The USDA ARS allocation declined in constant dollars from FY 2010 to FY 2014 (Figures 5-3 and 5-4), and the research priority area percentage allocations essentially remained static (Appendix L); ARS research priorities were different from those of NIFA. Animal agriculture research investment (with a mean of $241,538,400 per year) was the highest for beef (25 percent of the animal and aquaculture investment) followed by poultry (19 percent), dairy (18 percent), swine (14 percent), aquaculture (14 percent), sheep (6 percent), and other animal research (4 percent). Of the total USDA ARS appropriations (with a mean $1,109,389,200 per year), animal agriculture represented 22 percent of the total allocation compared to 38 percent for plant research (Table 5-5; Appendix L).
TABLE 5-4 Average Annual NIFA Investment in Animal Science Knowledge Areas, 2003-2012
|Knowledge Areas||Mean from 2003 to 2012|
|Mean ($1,000)||CV, %||% of Total|
|Animal management systems||11,599||10.4||10|
|Economic, marketing, policy||4,011||20.8||4|
|Improved animal products||3,722||47.3||3|
|Nonfood products & maintenance||652||48.0||1|
|Total||114 584||8 2||100|
SOURCE: USDA (2014b).
FIGURE 5-3 ARS budget in real dollars (FY 2010-2014). SOURCE: USDA (2014a).
Overall, animal science research funding was flat, with a decrease in purchasing power over the past few decades and with little change in the allocation of funds among species and knowledge areas. Underfunding animal science research has long-lasting consequences, including a decrease in faculty positions and animal, dairy, and poultry science departments; reduction in infrastructure, trained students, and industry and government jobs; and reduced innovations needed to address challenges. Once lost, it will take a greater investment with a longer time lag before productive research can be regained, if possible. In 2008, the USDA competitive grants program, the National Research Initiative, was replaced with a new competitive grants programs called the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). This program has greater potential for receiving funding because allocations are stipulated within the Farm Bill. Increased coordination among federal funding agencies could also stimulate additional funding for animal sciences research, such as the current USDA-NIH Dual Purpose Dual Benefit program (Box 5-2)
FIGURE 5-4 ARS budget in nominal dollars (FY 2010-2014).
SOURCE: USDA (2014a).
TABLE 5-5 Average Annual USDA ARS Appropriations by Knowledge Area from FY 2010 to FY 2014
|Knowledge Area||Mean per Year, $||% of Appropriation||% of Animal & Aquaculture Research|
|Food animal production||$47,809,800||4||20|
|Quality and utilization of agricultural products||$9,025,400||1||4|
|Pasture, forage, and rangeland systems, agricultural system competitiveness||$8,364,400||1||4|
|Agricultural and industrial byproducts||$5,124,000||1||2|
|Manure and byproduct utilization||$3,723,200||0||2|
|Knowledge Area||Mean per Year, $||% of Appropriation||% of Animal & Aquaculture Research|
|Bioenergy and energy alternatives||$320,400||0||0|
|Climate change, soils, emissions||$283,600||0||0|
|Plant genetic resources, genomics, and genetic improvement||$202,400||0||0|
|Crop protection and quarantine||$129,400||0||0|
|Air quality Water availability and management||$104,600||0||0|
|Total research in support of animals||$64,200||0||0|
|ARS total appropriation||$1,109,389,200|
SOURCE: USDA (2014a).
The lack of change in percentage allocations among animal science research priorities within USDA, despite the changing pressures facing animal agriculture research, suggests a need for a more structured and consistent research priority planning process that involves representative stakeholders. The NRC (2014) review of AFRI noted that “AFRI does not have clearly articulated plans to guide its priority-setting management processes and interagency collaboration,” and recommended that AFRI develop a strategic plan to identify such priorities and create a framework for assessing the program’s progress. The committee strongly endorses this recommendation, as well as the report’s recommendation that there be an external advisory council that can provide guidance and validate AFRI strategic directions.
Dual Purpose for Dual Benefit
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) posted a request for applications (RFA) in August 2013 seeking proposals related to research on agriculturally important animal species, with estimated funding of $5 million (NIH, 2014). The goal is to encourage research using agriculturally relevant animals that will benefit both human and animal populations. The proposals for research were due in September 2014, and the RFA background text acknowledged the progress related to human diseases and reproductive medicine that results from agricultural animal science research. This proposal seeks to specifically gain knowledge related to assisted reproduction technologies and stem-cell biology, metabolism, the developmental origin of adult disease, and infectious diseases, which are noted as being “high priority” issues in the fields of both biomedicine and agriculture (NIH, 2014). The RFA emphasizes the benefits to be obtained from these areas for both human and animal health, and how joint funding initiatives such as this can facilitate cross-disciplinary and comparative research that benefits both medicine and agriculture.
Two existing models for collecting information essential to the research prioritization process that could be of value are the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). CAST is a nonprofit organization in the United States comprising scientific societies and many individual, student, company, nonprofit, and associate society members. CAST's board is composed of representatives of the scientific societies, commercial companies, nonprofit or trade organizations, and a board of directors. The primary work of CAST is the publication of task force reports, commentary papers, special publications, and issue papers written by scientists from many disciplines. Through its publications, CAST is able to address research needs, including the priority of food animal sciences research, by composing teams representing various stakeholders.
EFSA is the keystone of European Union risk assessment regarding food and feed safety including agricultural production as a whole. EFSA is an independent European agency funded by the European Union (EU) budget that operates separately from the European Commission, European Parliament, and EU member states. In close collaboration with
national authorities and in open consultation with its stakeholders, EFSA provides independent scientific advice and clear communication on existing and emerging risks. EFSA has been a scientific entity in producing technical scientific reports of various topics relevant to food, feed, and food security. Because of the structure and procedures utilized by EFSA, these reports have provided scientifically reliable, mostly independent scientific opinions about the topics and have been used as a basis for developing research priorities and synthesizing systems approaches for research in animal sciences.
Priorities for Infrastructure
Federal formula funding for agricultural research has declined significantly since the 1980s, thereby exerting a significant impact on research and the infrastructure needed to support that research. Since 1972, the NRC has repeatedly warned about the consequences of underfunding of agricultural sciences. Although overall funding for animal science and animal health research has actually increased during that time, this increase has mainly been derived from increases in non-USDA federal funding and non-federal funding. These sources are subject to large annual fluctuations and do not provide the steady source of support needed for animal science research to achieve the long-term goal of sustainable intensification. USDA competitive funding for research, as well as ARS funding, showed a decreasing trend in real dollars during the last decade. Underfunding animal science research has long-lasting consequences, including a decrease in faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate student positions; loss or consolidation of many animal, dairy, and poultry science departments; and the lagging of improvement/enhancement of other essential infrastructure that is critical to the development of innovations to address challenges. In addition, the number of industry and government jobs have continued to decrease. Recovery from these current funding trends and associated consequences will require a greater investment with a longer time lag before productive research levels can be realized.
The USDA, CSREES/NIFA, and ARS research priority areas have remained essentially unchanged in terms of percentage allocation of funding during the last decade. Sustainability-related topics have chronically received only a small proportion of total allocations. Priorities for infrastructure for this area include:
- There is an imminent need to revitalize animal agriculture research infrastructure (human and physical resources) through a series of strategic planning approaches.
- The percentage allocation of public funding by agencies including USDA ARS, CSREES/NIFA, and ARS should be reprioritized by species, taking into account the long-term projected consumer demand for that animal product and the potential for reducing the environmental impact contributed by animal agriculture, with a focus on basic research.
5-2 Research Outreach in the Animal Sciences
To facilitate agricultural research outreach to stakeholders throughout the United States, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created a unique entity, the Cooperative Extension (CE) System. The Act provided funding for CE activities by creating a partnership between the USDA, the state land-grant universities and governments, and local governments (i.e., city and county). USDA (via NIFA, formerly via CSREES) delivers congressionally appropriated funds to support CE activities annually to each state land-grant university. The amount of these funds is based on population-based formulas as well as funding for specific programs, and states are asked to match this funding.
CE programs are largely administered through county and regional extension offices, with the land-grant universities determining the funding allocations. The way in which formula funds are used is influenced by state and local needs as well as the national priorities established by NIFA (USDA NIFA, 2014b). The early emphasis of CE was on increasing agricultural productivity, and the CE has been the nucleus for the application and advancement of technology in agricultural production; however, as the number of farms in the United States declined, priorities shifted. The current focus is much broader, covering six major areas (USDA NIFA, 2014b): natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, agriculture, leadership development, and community and economic development. Nationally the majority of current CE full-time equivalents (FTEs) are directed toward the first three areas, although there is a great deal of regional variation (Wang, 2014).
Despite this broader mandate, funding for CE has declined in real terms, which has in turn affected the capacity to deliver extension (Wang, 2014). Although the federal appropriation for CE has continued
to increase, in real dollars there has been a decrease in total federal funding for extension from a peak of $778.83 million in 1973 to $333.17 million in 2008; formula funding had decreased from a peak of $505.82 million in 1980 to $228.24 million by 2008 (Wang, 2014). State funding for extension has continued to grow, and from 2000 to 2005 made up approximately 80 percent of the total extension budget overall (Wang, 2014). Regardless, this pattern of funding has been insufficient to maintain the strength of extension programs, with the number of extension FTEs nationally declining significantly by 22 percent from 1980 to 2010, with some regions experiencing greater declines than others. A factor that may have exacerbated the decline in overall university extension specialist FTEs is the trend toward 9-month appointments and split (e.g., research/teaching/extension) appointments for faculty in colleges of agriculture at land-grant universities. The Internet has also had an important impact on extension and outreach, possibly reducing some infrastructure requirements. For example, clients can obtain information from distant sources rather than having to rely on the universities located within their state or region; a farmer or rancher in one state can access information via the Internet as easily from another state’s land-grant university as from their state’s university (Britt et al., 2008).
Quantifying the value of such diverse extension programs is challenging. Wang (2014) has summarized some recent statistics about the economic impacts of agricultural extension. Agricultural extension activities have a high rate of return, with literature estimates ranging from 16 to 110 percent. Extension was estimated to contribute to 7.3 percent of annual agricultural productivity growth from 1949 to 2002 via improving farm production efficiencies. The loss of extension capacity will impact the ability of CE not only to help animal agriculture address the upcoming challenges related to food production and food security nationally and globally, but to bridge the communication gap between producers and stakeholders about animal agriculture.
Priorities for Infrastructure
CE has been particularly hard hit by decreases in federal funding allocations, with the number of CE FTEs declining by 22 percent from 1980 to 2010, and the underfunding impedes progress in animal science research enterprises. This loss of extension capacity will impact the ability of CE to not only address the upcoming challenges of national and global food security, but also to bridge communication gaps to educate
both the public and stakeholders about animal agriculture production strategies and technology. One priority for infrastructure in this area includes:
- CE funding should increase to levels that are commensurate with animal science research and technology transfer needs. Its important communication role should be upgraded and improved to meet varied and changing demands of technology transfer.
5-3 Education in the Animal Sciences
Education and training are the main ways to transfer knowledge, skills, and attitudes in research. They are critical to capitalizing on the diversity of animal science research needed to improve national and global food security. Higher education institutions need to prepare current and future generations to meet labor market demands that increasingly require the ability to adapt and adopt emerging technologies in order to actively participate in the global knowledge economy.
Although higher education in animal sciences is generally recognized as a critical component of building human capacity for research, it has recently struggled to attract sufficient resources because of several internal academic factors as well as funding for this specific area. For many years, the largest support for education infrastructure in agriculture at land-grant universities in the United States was federal agencies, with some state funds. The limited support created by this environment diminishes the role of higher education within the public and private sectors, impacts staffing levels at universities, and affects the way higher education investments in animal sciences are designed. The U.S. higher education component for professional veterinary medicine was exceptional in receiving attention and funding until recently. This attention was mainly due to the field’s engagement with companion animals, but was not relevant to other animal species, including food animals. New approaches, businesses, and business models for building human capital for higher education have evolved but with limited utilization by universities and other research entities in the field of animal sciences (APLU, 2014a). The future outcome of this need for transformation of human capital investment in research for animal sciences is challenging, but ignoring it will lead to missed opportunities.
Recently the role of the private sector has become increasingly important in terms of animal agriculture science and technology job creation, underscoring the necessity and urgency of meaningful
engagement between higher education and the private sector to ensure the relevance of education and training and the absorption of graduates. The food production industry is expanding both horizontally and vertically. Institutes of higher education will need to modify their tactical approaches in the disciplines of animal sciences to address the demand and supply sides of the food system by engaging students in food-related disciplines. The support of higher education not just by public funding but by the private sector is critical to ensure that innovation, research, and its job creations are served. This may require shifting the existing paradigms in education and in conducting research.
The priority for investing in higher education has changed over time. Although higher education in agriculture in general, including animal science disciplines, was in fashion in the 1950s and 1960s, it subsequently fell out of favor. In general the focus of public funding in the 1970s through the 1980s was on essential needs for rural development related to policy reform, with limited emphasis on higher education. In the 1990s and until now, investments in human capital have been more directly related to technology, with limited inputs in agriculture education (APLU, 2014a).
5-3.1 Past, Current, and Future Drivers for Human Capital
Animal science has been a popular subject among college students for most of the 20th century. Early training and education in animal sciences focused mainly on improving husbandry, nutrition, and breeding. The historical demand for efficiency in animal production led to a research focus in animal science departments on nutrition, breeding, physiology, and genetics, which were research activities that were integrated in several ways with the training and education of undergraduate and graduate students. Animal science departments in U.S. universities, and their faculty members, were the drivers for expansion in basic science and the establishment of various departments such as food science, biochemistry, genetics, biostatistics, nutritional science, and veterinary science. The interaction among research, education, and outreach was well demonstrated in the early activities of these departments; however, animal science departments are now in a state of flux due to the changing face of animal agriculture and basic research needs in animal biology, public interest in the food system, changes in the job market, and evolving interests of students (and consequently future faculty) pursuing animal science degrees.
Animal science continues to be a popular undergraduate major. Undergraduate enrollments in animal science disciplines (e.g., general animal science; animal breeding, health, and nutrition; dairy science; food animal management; and poultry science) have steadily increased since 1987, with 5,000 undergraduate animal science degrees conferred in 2012 (Figure 5-5). In 2012, animal science students made up approximately 7 percent of all students enrolled in food and agriculture departments (FAEIS, 2014).
In contrast, there has been a decline in the number of M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in animal science conferred, from approximately 600 M.S. graduates annually in 1987 to 450 in 2012 and 200 Ph.D. graduates to 150 in the same years (Figure 5-6), although the numbers of both have remained essentially flat since the mid-1990s. It is unclear what these figures reflect about the current numbers of graduate students with expertise or emphasis in the animal sciences, because universities may also confer disciplinary (e.g., physiology, immunology, animal behavior, and nutrition) or interdisciplinary (e.g., agricultural sustainability) advanced degrees, with students nevertheless trained by animal science faculty members. The committee was unable to find statistical information about the numbers of animal science–oriented students receiving these kinds of disciplinary or interdisciplinary degrees.
FIGURE 5-5 Number of B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees awarded over a 25-year period.
SOURCE: Knapp, 2014. Summary of Animal Science degree data prepared for the National Research Council.
FIGURE 5-6 Trend over time in the number of M.S. and Ph.D. degrees awarded in animal sciences.
SOURCE: Knapp, 2014. Summary of Animal Science degree data prepared for the National Research Council.
Faculty headcount in animal science also remained flat from 2007 until 2010 despite an 8 percent increase in undergraduate enrollments during this period (FAEIS, 2012).
There has been a significant shift over time in the demographics of the student population. By 2010, the vast majority of bachelor’s (76 percent) and master’s (57 percent) students were female, as were 50 percent of doctoral students (FAEIS, 2012). A recent survey of animal science departments revealed some other elements of change at the undergraduate level (Buchanan, 2008). There has been an increase in the proportion of urban students, with fewer students now intending to return to a family farm and more intending to apply to veterinary school. Students are now interested in a wider diversity of animals, especially companion and exotic animals and horses, leading some animal science departments to establish curriculum subspecializations within these areas. To address student interests and emerging knowledge needs, course offerings have also expanded into less traditional animal science disciplines and areas such as animal behavior, animal ethics, contemporary issues, biotechnology, and molecular biology. These nontraditional undergraduates may also require different types of introductory courses (e.g., basic animal handling courses) than the animal science students of past decades. Student interest in veterinary
medicine also suggests that students would benefit from courses on topics such as animal health and the human–animal bond (Britt et al., 2008).
Undergraduate student research also provides a key opportunity to develop the next generation of animal scientists. If students do not continue on into postgraduate education, the experience can still be valuable and help improve science literacy. Universities have a variety of methods for encouraging and rewarding students for participation in research, including paid fellowships, undergraduate research conferences, and research specialization designations for their bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate research is also facilitated at the annual meetings of the animal science societies (e.g., American Society of Animal Science, American Dairy Science Association, Poultry Science Association) with competitions for undergraduates for presenting research or quiz bowls to demonstrate their knowledge of the animal sciences.
5-3.2 Capacity Building for Employment in the Agricultural Industries
A major challenge for undergraduate and professional education, including animal science and veterinary medicine institutions, is ensuring that students are sufficiently trained in the skills needed for the job market. A survey of employer perceptions of agricultural sciences graduates of U.S. land-grant universities indicated that students are better prepared in technical skills than communication skills (Alston et al., 2009). Although this survey did not include the profession of veterinary medicine, there are also skill gaps for veterinarians entering the food animal industry. An established technical officer in the animal agriculture allied industry stated that “effective veterinary care is essential in food animal production.” While traditional veterinary medicine has focused on individual animal diagnosis, treatment, and health management at the herd or flock level, in modern animal production systems, animals are raised on hundreds or even thousands of individual farms. The health management of these farms is highly interrelated within a production system, between production systems, and across other farms in the region. Today, to be more fully prepared to contribute in modern food animal agriculture, veterinary professionals need training, skills, and understanding to ensure that they provide proper care for individual animals while maintaining effective population health management. In addition to the traditional training that
veterinarians receive as part of a 4-year professional degree, enhanced focus in the areas of epidemiology, statistical analysis of data, risk analysis, and effective communication would be beneficial. “Adequate training and skills in these disciplines would better prepare new veterinarians for greater contribution to modern food animal agriculture production” (Terry Coffey, Smithfield Foods, personal communication).
Higher education institutions and technical schools in the United States are coping with the changing societal views of food production and the value of food animal to society, as well as changes in public attitudes toward and experience with animals (Fraser, 2001, 2008). For the majority of people, animals are viewed as companions, and thus institutions and technical schools of agriculture have increased their emphasis on nonlivestock species. Nevertheless, private industry has maintained and advanced research in food production over the entire production cycle from conception to consumption because of society’s demand for higher quality, more efficiently produced, and safer food. Although the education and training for current students in these U.S. animal and food science departments are of high quality, these students may lack sufficient knowledge to cope with the necessary requirements and tasks of the private food industry. For example, employment opportunities within the poultry industry have shifted from primary production to the processing plant, largely due to increases in on-farm production efficiencies that have reduced labor needs (Thaxton et al., 2003). In addition, the poultry industry views technical competence in poultry science as a less-important attribute for employment than good business and communication skills (Pardue, 1997). Courses and expertise in business and food processing or food safety generally lie outside of animal science departments, which are more focused on core scientific disciplines and animal production. This mismatch between industry needs and traditional animal science curricula, along with decreasing enrollments, has been identified as a driver for the decline in the number of poultry science departments in the United States from 45 departments in the 1940s to only 6 today (Thaxton et al., 2003). Ensuring that animal science graduates continue to be employed in the agricultural industries is critical for the future animal science research because these graduates are able to recognize and communicate industry research needs and opportunities to academic scientists.
5-3.3 Research Gaps and Limitations of the Current Higher Education Systems
As discussed in other sections of the report, meeting the challenges of sustainability over the next 40 years will require more and different animal science research, extension, and education efforts. Several of the challenges of sustainability will require in-depth, specialized knowledge and advancement of the basic sciences of animal production systems; however, transdisciplinary research that incorporates other disciplines and the social sciences will also be necessary to simultaneously address the environmental, economic, and social facets of sustainability. The findings from a 1996 NRC report, Colleges of Agriculture at the Land Grant Universities: Public Service and Public Policy, are still highly relevant to the animal sciences—curricula need to be developed and expanded to reflect a contemporary view of the agrifood system and promote interdisciplinary, experiential, and systems-based learning. The more recent empirical evidence of the contributions of education in general to economic growth finds that cognitive skills and school quality are important in explaining economic growth. Therefore, policies that improve educational quality and raise educational outcomes are also important for improving income distribution. The higher education component should improve cognitive skills as part of undergraduate curriculum; such an approach is insufficiently emphasized in higher education in animal sciences across the world.
A Web-based Delphi exercise of academic experts conducted by University of California, Davis researchers (Parr et al., 2007) suggested some important elements that should be included in teaching about agricultural sustainability, with respect to plant and animal agriculture. The first is that course content needs to be broad and multidisciplinary to include information about agroecological processes; environmental impacts; food system–environment interfaces; nutrient cycling; relationship between agriculture, environment, and community, including vulnerable communities; and social and economic impacts (Anthony, 2014). In recent years there has been a remarkable increase in the number of undergraduate and graduate programs with “sustainability” in their title, demonstrating high student interest in this area. This suggests that courses that provide this kind of integrated content related to the animal sciences could not only be beneficial for animal science students, but could interest students outside of the major and help to promote an understanding of animal agriculture among non–animal science students and faculty.
The second point made by Parr et al. (2007) is that the curriculum needs to provide opportunities for experiential learning, group projects, and evaluation of case studies. Bawden (1992) describes an undergraduate program developed at Hawksbury College, an agricultural vocational college in Australia, to break through traditional silos and increase application by developing such a systems-based learning approach. During the first year, students were required to participate in the analysis of seven agricultural development projects that progressively increased in complexity in terms of their solutions. Examples were an initial project that required primarily applying simple technical solutions to an agricultural problem, with difficulty increasing as assignments progressed to exploring a paradox in rural development. In the second year, students collaborated with a commercial producer, participating in day-to-day tasks and strategic decisions. In the final year, students worked as part of collaborative projects that typically involved multiple stakeholders. One example of such a project was an animal health evaluation involving the Department of Agriculture, local farmers, and rural land protection boards. Bawden (1992) notes that this teaching activity had knock-on effects in that it increased the engagement and expertise of the faculty in dealing with complex issues, as well as their involvement in extension activities.
Making these kinds of curricular changes requires that animal science faculty be more broadly trained, for example, in ethics as it applies to value judgments and the assessment of risk, and in pedagogical methods that encourage discussion and analysis of complex problems (Schillo, 1999). A survey published in 1999 indicated that a substantial majority of animal science departments offered at least one course on “contemporary issues” covering multiple societal issues to animal science undergraduates at the upper-division level (Swanson, 1999). There is potential not only for improvement in the number of such courses offered, but also to incorporate discussions about social concerns and sustainability into more traditional courses, expose students to these topics earlier during their degree program, and extend this education to students outside of the animal science major.
To meet national and global training needs in animal agriculture during a time of financial constraint, creative approaches will be necessary. One obvious example is increasing the availability of online course offerings not just for undergraduate and graduate students, but to provide opportunities for continuing education (APLU, 2014b). Multiuniversity collaborations are another vehicle for expanding
academic education possibilities. The Midwest Poultry Consortium (MPC, 2014) is an example of multiuniversity–industry collaboration designed to fill the gap created by the decrease in academic departments of poultry science in the United States. Students in the 13 participating states can receive 18 units of credits in poultry science at the University of Wisconsin during the summer session that transfer to their home institutions. Course topics span basic avian biology and health to poultry enterprise management, and cover the breeder, hatchery, and processing/product segments. Industry partners participate in lecturing and provide paid internships for the students. There is also the potential for additional industry and foundation funding to be directed toward strengthening academic programs in the animal sciences. Tyson Foods, for example, recently donated $1 million to the USPOULTRY Foundation to endow a fund to recruit students to study poultry science, with contributions to the fund totaling more than $8 million by July 2012, while the Harold Ford Foundation provided nearly $200,000 in grants to universities with poultry science departments to encourage students to enter the poultry industry (Shane, 2014).
The development of innovative programs to train both graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in emerging areas is also critical to future faculty development and research capacity in the animal sciences. An excellent example of an existing USDA NIFA effort to build such research capacity is the Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants program. The current fiscal year request for proposals (FY 2014) is funded for $2.8 million to address the following “Targeted Expertise Shortage Areas”: (1) animal and plant production, (2) forest resources, (3) agricultural educators and communicators, (4) agricultural management and economics, (5) food science and human nutrition, (6) sciences for agricultural biosecurity, and (7) training in integrative biosciences for sustainable food and agricultural systems. The program has funded 195 projects since 2005, supporting the training of master’s and doctoral students, as well as postdoctoral scholars. Additionally, the program has a focus on recruiting fellows from traditionally underrepresented groups in the agricultural sciences. The National Research Council report on AFRI (NRC, 2014) found that there has been a sharp decline in the number of researchers trained as part of the Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement Grants, which are intended, among other areas of emphasis, to train predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows. The committee strongly supports the National Needs Fellowship program and its current
emphasis on training individuals in agriculture communication and integrative sustainable food and agricultural systems projects, and recommends continued support and strengthening of this program in order to ensure that future human capital needs in the animal sciences are met. As the NRC (2014) committee noted: “If talented young investigators in agriculture decide to look for higher funding rates outside USDA, they could alter their focus away from agricultural research; some researchers have indicated that this is already happening.”
Priorities for Infrastructure
Undergraduate enrollments in animal sciences are robust and increasing. However, a significant shift in demographics has occurred (more enrollees from urban backgrounds), and objectives are veterinary or nonagriculturally related careers. The traditional animal science curriculum structure may not be well matched to meet the interests and needs of these students or structured to improve science literacy and provide a broad knowledge about agriculture. Curriculum reformation should be designed to stimulate students to pursue a career focusing on animal agriculture or animal sciences research as well as train students to meet current employment needs within the food industries.
The number of master’s and doctoral degrees conferred in animal sciences appears to be decreasing. Although the committee could not ascertain the reasons for this decline, such a condition could significantly affect future faculty capacity, particularly given the projected pattern of faculty retirements. Providing adequate support for graduate and postgraduate research is a key element of meeting future hiring needs. The USDA NIFA Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Post-Graduate Fellowship program is an excellent example of a program addressing the need to build research capacity in emerging areas. One priority for infrastructure in this area includes:
- Funding for the USDA NIFA Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Post-Graduate Fellowship Program should be increased, with periodic evaluation of the program to ensure that it is continuing to adequately address emerging research needs in animal science while developing the next generation of researchers.
5-4 Special Infrastructure Needs
Research, teaching, and outreach in the animal sciences rely heavily on having high-quality research facilities, which include animal housing, handling, and processing facilities. Declining funding has significantly affected these special facilities. In 2012, ARS developed a plan for capital investment in their facilities at the direction of the Secretary of the USDA. Their review indicated that there had been a 25-year period of deferred maintenance and provision of only partial funding for new facility construction, with the exception of the funding directed toward the biocontainment facility in Ames, Iowa. Their analysis of the 122 ARS facilities nationwide showed that 39 of the facilities housed high-priority research, but were in poor condition and needed significant renovation. Funds were also needed for construction of three new facilities to house high-priority ARS research that was currently being carried out in cooperator-owned facilities. Using industry standards for annual investment needs as a function of the capitalization value of facilities, ARS estimated that nearly $150 million in capital investments would be needed on a regular and recurring basis simply to upgrade and maintain their existing facilities.
Although there does not appear to be comparable information available for animal science departments at land-grant universities, anecdotal evidence suggests that they are facing similar challenges with aging and substandard animal facilities that do not reflect current industry housing standards. This makes it difficult to adequately train undergraduate and graduate students for industry employment, and challenging to conduct applied research that can contribute to current animal food production and sustainability needs. It can also create problems for animal science departments in meeting the regulatory requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and the Public Health Service Policy and the certification standards of the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation for Laboratory Animal Care with regard to the care and use of animals in research and teaching. This in turn can constrain the ability of animal scientists to apply for more biomedically oriented research funding. Inadequate facilities also negatively affect the ability of animal science departments to maintain herds and flocks of animals that can be used for research and provide essential hands-on training of students, including veterinary students, and that help to maintain genetic diversity of livestock and poultry populations (Ireland et al., 2008).
In some cases the agricultural industries have contributed funding toward new or upgraded facilities at land-grant institutions. For example, the poultry industry has played a significant role in improving the physical infrastructure for poultry science research and teaching at University of Arkansas, Auburn University, North Carolina State University, and Michigan State University. There is a need for systematic assessment of the current state and capital needs of the physical infrastructure of animal science departments nationally, as well as the development of funding strategies to address deferred maintenance issues and new facilities construction needs.
5-5 Capacity Building to Increase Diversity
It has long been recognized that increasing diversity is a critical part of capacity building for agriculture. The Second Morrill Act of 1890 attempted to extend agricultural education to African Americans, which resulted in some states establishing separate land-grant institutions (1890’s institutions, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities). In 1994, Native American institutions were also given land-grant status (NSF, 2000). Despite ongoing discussions about the importance of and barriers to diversity within agriculture in general and animal sciences departments in particular (Beck and Swanson, 2003), it is clear that there are still diversity challenges. Animal science undergraduate students (82 percent), Ph.D. students (80 percent), and faculty (89 percent), and to a lesser extent master’s students (74 percent) are overwhelmingly White/Caucasian. This reflects the pattern in U.S. commercial agriculture, where nearly 96 percent of primary operators are White, although the percentage of non-Caucasian primary operators is increasing (USDA, 2012). Note, however, that underrepresented minorities also make up a relatively small percentage of students in STEM fields in general, in 2010 receiving approximately 18 percent of undergraduate degrees, 13 percent of master’s degrees, and 7 percent of doctoral degrees (NSF, 2012).
There is also a significant gender gap at the faculty level in the animal sciences. As indicated above, the majority of undergraduate students majoring in animal science are female, as are approximately half of the graduate students. In contrast, only 18 percent of animal science faculty members are female (FAEIS, 2012), which represents a considerably lower percentage than females holding research or teaching appointments at 4-year institutions in the biological sciences or STEM
fields overall (NSF, 2012). The percentage of female animal science faculty is higher at the assistant (28 in 2010) than at the associate (21) or full professor (9) ranks, however, suggesting that there may be an increased hiring trend (FAEIS, 2012). Given that the proportion of female animal science doctoral students is similar to the proportions in biological sciences, agricultural sciences, and all university majors, the reason for the gender imbalance in the faculty is unclear.
Gender differences matter for agricultural production in farming systems all over the world where the ownership and management of farms and natural resources by men and women are defined by culturally specific gender roles (World Bank, 2013). Gender differences are also obvious in the staffing and conduct of agricultural research as most agricultural scientists and extension agents are male. Although progress has been made in developing extension systems that are more gender sensitive, unless the sources of new crop, fish, poultry, and livestock varieties and agricultural technologies take women’s different needs into account, the products that are being disseminated by extension systems may not meet women’s needs and preferences. Therefore, a gender-responsive agricultural research, development, and extension system needs to address women as well as men as both the clients and actors in agricultural research.
Gender relations are culture and context specific. Men’s and women’s roles in food and agricultural systems and their involvement in agricultural research depend on the region in which they live. Because gender and cultural issues are inseparable, involving women as well as men in agricultural research issues should take into account existing gender roles and how these can be transformed through education and capacity building (Meinzen-Dick et al., 2011).
One might argue that changing agricultural research, development, and extension systems from being male dominated to gender equitable is a matter of political correctness or ideology. The committee believes that paying attention to gender is not a matter of ideology but rather a matter of developmental effectiveness; incorporating gender issues more widely and systematically in agricultural research, development, and extension systems will contribute significantly to meeting the food needs of the future population or ensuring that productivity translates into the improved welfare of the poor. Meinzen-Dick et al. (2011) note that
whereas the fields of health, nutrition, and education have long acknowledged that explicitly addressing gender issues is one of the most effective, efficient and empowering ways to boost development and address poverty, the field of agricultural research has lagged. In the realm of national and international agricultural research, women continue to be underrepresented and underserved, and their contributions are not fully tapped.
It is time to catch up to remedy these gender and other diversity imbalances that negatively affect the ability to conduct and disseminate animal science research that is relevant to improvements in animal agriculture nationally and globally.
5-6 Partnerships for Research, Outreach, and Teaching to Leverage Resources
Land-grant universities should play a critical role in informing public policy related to animal agriculture and food systems. Recent research (Pillay, 2010; Cloete et al., 2011) has demonstrated that cooperation and consensus are key factors in policy making and implementation. Pillay (2010) evaluated three approaches for linking university activity to public policy in South Korea, North Carolina, and Finland. In South Korea, the hand of government is clearly visible in all components of the education system, including oversight of the private sector. Historically, an important network has been developed between the relevant government ministries, the public research institutions, and the large private-sector companies with respect to research and development (R&D). Increasingly universities are becoming an important fourth component of this group as they develop their R&D capacity. Important linkages are developing directly between industry and universities, particularly through initiatives such as the Industry-Academia Collaboration. In addition, a set of networks is being developed between universities, industry, and regional governments as part of initiatives such as the Regional Innovation Committee and the New University for Regional Innovation. In summary, in South Korea
there has been a dramatic change in the nature of the higher education networks from one historically dominated by central government to one in which the private business sector and regional governments are
starting to play an increasingly important role. Such initiatives are beginning to address both the role of universities in R&D and also the challenge of regional equity in the quality of higher education institutions (Pillay, 2010).
The Pillay (2010) study also shows that other approaches with less government control can be effective. In North Carolina, there are established relationships between higher education systems on the one hand, and government, the private business sector, and civil society broadly on the other to promote economic, social, and environmental development. None of these relationships have been legislated, but instead have come about through a common commitment to the development of the state and region. Pillay (2010) also notes that in Finland, the system is characterized by a high degree of consensus building and cooperation between stakeholders in the higher education system including higher education institutions, government, public funding agencies, and the private sector. This cooperation has been a key factor in stimulating efficiency and effectiveness in the distribution of resources and the development of appropriate education and research outcomes. Moreover, it has facilitated an effective regional development strategy with universities and polytechnics spread throughout the country.
There is a need for a renewed emphasis on investing in higher education in animal sciences and on developing these kinds of partnerships. Investment in human capital formation to promote economic growth, the development of the knowledge economy, and regional and local development is vital to ensure a vibrant research enterprise that contributes to a reliable food security system in general and food animal production. While some of the benefits to higher education are not easily quantifiable, they are indeed real and important for reliable, tangible, and efficient research in animal sciences. Partnerships can contribute to resource mobilization, civil society engagement, and operationalizing capacity-building efforts (NRC, 2009). They can also facilitate access to different levels of expertise, aiding to the diffusion of knowledge and learning (Andonova and Levy, 2003; NRC, 2009) and provide an “avenue for local and regional action, even in the presence of deadlocks or inaction at higher levels” (Andonova and Levy, 2003). In the United States, partnerships between the public and
private sectors and academia play an important role in furthering research and leveraging funds in the field of animal agriculture.
Because the private sector is funding and performing a larger share of the overall food and agricultural R&D, these partnerships become even more important during times of stagnant public funding (King et al., 2012). Approximately 70 percent of private funding was targeted to farm production and 30 percent to food manufacturing (Fuglie and Heisey, 2007). Private companies fund nearly all food-processing R&D and perform a growing share of production-oriented R&D for agriculture (e.g., feed additives, feed formulation, feed processing, growth promotants, probiotics, and prebiotics) and animal health (e.g., antibiotics, vaccines, parasiticides, and dewormers). The increase in funding by the private sector reflects the increasing prevalence of public–private partnerships and other policies to enhance private returns on R&D, and the private companies’ incentive to capitalize on new opportunities for innovation from prior public investments in the agricultural sciences. King et al. (2012) note that
most of the growing share of private-sector agricultural R&D supports researchers working in private companies who focus on topics and issues with the highest expected private returns. Relative to the public sector, this leads to a smaller portfolio of research topics and a greater emphasis on short-term research. Public-sector funders and performers of R&D play a largely complementary role by emphasizing social returns in the selection of research topics and valuing rapid and widespread disclosure of new knowledge.
In essence, publicly funded research is needed to ensure that the research agenda in animal agriculture reflects the broad interests of the general public. Fuglie and Toole (2014) note that in developing public-private partnerships, “one of the critical issues is whether public agricultural research complements and thereby stimulates additional private agricultural R&D investments.”
There is legal precedent for the public sector to develop partnerships with private-sector entities (Toole, 2013). For example, the Bayh-Dole Act simplified processes for universities and other performers of federally sponsored research to patent and license their research results, which facilitates the transfer of technologies that require additional development by private-sector partners. Additionally, federal laboratories
can enter into partnerships with for-profit companies, not-for-profit organizations, state or local governments, and other federal agencies using flexible contracts (e.g., Cooperative Research and Development Agreements [CRADAs]) created by the Federal Technology Transfer Act. CRADAs can be used to transfer technologies or advance research while protecting proprietary information and intellectual property rights. USDA’s CRADA program has “been operating longer and has had more agreements per appropriated dollar than similar programs operated by any other Federal agency” (King et al., 2012).
Some select partnerships addressing agricultural research between federal agencies, the public and private sector, as well as with academia are described below. For example, federal agencies frequently partner with land-grant universities to conduct animal research. Several examples include partnerships initiated by the USDA NIFA:
- The National Animal Genome Research Program (NAGRP) which attempts to identify DNA sequences or quantitative trait loci associated with disease resistance or susceptibility and production traits in livestock and poultry species. Key partners in these efforts include Auburn, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Michigan State, Utah State, and Iowa State universities (USDA NIFA, 2009).
- NIFA partners with the Cooperative Extension Service and researchers at universities and other institutions via its Multistate Research Program in order to facilitate research on issues important to the State Agricultural Experiment Stations. Activities include Multistate Research Projects, which facilitate integrated multistate research; 500 Series Projects, which coordinate formal or informal research directed toward acute crises or opportunities; and National Research Support Projects, which focus on enabling technologies, support activities, and sharing facilities needed to accomplish high-priority research.
- NIFA partners with multiple states on implementation and strategies for the National Beef Cattle Evaluation, which provides a focal point for discussion and exchange of information for the many disconnected research activities—biological, statistical, computational, economic—that support National Cattle Evaluation (USDA NIFA, 2009).
Federal agency partnerships have also been forged to address animal agriculture issues. Related to aquaculture, the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification (IWGOA) was chartered in October 2009 and includes representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, Department of State, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Navy. NOAA chairs the group, with vice chairs from NSF and NASA. The agencies represented in the IWGOA have mandates for research and/or management of resources likely to be impacted by ocean acidification. The group meets regularly to coordinate ocean acidification research activities across the federal government (IWGOA, 2014)
Another newly formed foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), provides an example of USDA partnering with the private and NGO sectors to foster agricultural research and technology transfer. Created as part of the 2014 Farm Bill (Agricultural Act of 2014, P.L. No. 113-79) with $200 million in initial funding, FFAR can pursue fundraising from individuals, corporations, charitable foundations, and other sources. It can then combine these funds to benefit research that complements existing USDA scientific research plans. FFAR could also coordinate public–private interaction around technology transfer and the translation of scientific discoveries into useful applications. The governance structure for the foundation consists of seven representatives selected from lists of candidates provided by industry and eight from a list of candidates provided by the National Academy of Sciences.
In addition to foundation structures, academic institutions do a fair amount of coordinating funding from the private sector to support agricultural research. For example, the California State University Agricultural Research Initiative program is one of several examples of an academic institution partnering with the private sector, where annually more than $4 million in state and federal funds are matched by mostly private companies to stimulate agricultural research for the public benefit (Benson et al., 2013). Other examples of associations that foster partnerships in animal agriculture include the Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS) and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. FASS was formed in 1998 to provide a forum for scientific societies to discuss common issues and to coordinate strategies and plans of action to meet public needs and benefit animal agriculture. Members of the Federation include the American Dairy Science Association, the American Society of Animal Science, and the Poultry Science Association. A key contribution of FASS was the publication of the 2012
Farm Animal Integrated Research document, which was based on collaboration among scientists, educators, producers, industry, health professionals, and government representatives, who identified key priorities and strategies for the future of the field. FASS continues to convene and facilitate the dissemination of scientific and technical information through publications and scientific meetings and to promote cooperation among all scientific societies that advance and support animal agriculture (FASS, 2014).
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is another partnership designed “to increase demand for dairy products and ingredients globally, by working with and through industry, academic, government and commercial partners to drive pre-competitive, technical research in nutrition, products and sustainability” (Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, 2014). Partners include Dairy Management, the National Dairy Council, and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, among others. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy also partners with other organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund. This partnership was developed to mutually advance conservation goals and improve the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of the dairy industry (Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, 2014).
Despite the productivity of the partnerships cited above, partnerships in general often face similar challenges including the possibility of resource constraints, governance issues, and conflicts about mission and vision. Benson et al. (2013) notes that “public investments in agricultural research and development could be reinvigorated as land grant universities have an opportunity to seek new and innovative partnerships with the private sector to support animal research.” Additionally, there are models where “joint ventures with the allied animal industries could leverage strengths of academic institutions with private-sector capital. To accomplish increased funding, partnerships with the allied animal industries must be structured so industry partners receive relevant science while academic scientists remain independent and unbiased.” This latter point is important in terms of communicating the results of scientific research to the public and other nonagricultural stakeholders since the credibility of academic scientists is eroded if they are not perceived as “honest brokers” of information (Croney et al., 2012).
Several activities can contribute to the development of successful partnerships, including engaging in problem definition and priority-setting activities, engaging stakeholders upfront, identifying a facilitating agent for brokering and managing the partnership, understanding partner
motivations at the outset, and engaging end users in preliminary discussions (NRC, 2009). Also, more attention should be paid to monitoring, evaluating, and communicating results (NRC, 2009).
Priorities for Infrastructure
Partnerships can be an effective tool for leveraging resources for animal science research, teaching, and outreach. Public–private partnerships are playing an increasingly important role with the stagnant level of public funding. Fostering effective partnerships will also be a key element in the successful development of technology and the assurance of its effective transfer. One priority for infrastructure for this area includes:
- Additional partnerships are needed to address animal agriculture research, teaching, and outreach to leverage dollar support. Ongoing engagement of partnerships among federal agencies (e.g., USDA, EPA, and NSF) and those that link animal health and public health, and public–private endeavors needs to be pursued.
5-7 Information Gaps
Although the committee was tasked with assessing human and physical resource needs, there were many gaps in information that meant that only a broad overview of those needs could be provided. Gaps included (1) information about potential shifts in disciplinary/species emphasis and the balances between applied and basic science approaches in animal science departments, and how those might affect curriculum and future hiring needs; (2) current need and projected hiring trends for animal science graduates in the food industries; (3) land-grant physical infrastructure needs and the projected costs of meeting those needs; (4) factors affecting hiring, retention, and diversity in animal science departments; (5) the extent of diversity within extension; (6) factors affecting the decline in the number of doctoral graduates and whether or not the current numbers of students and their expertise are sufficient to meet projected academic and employment demands; and (7) the extent to which public–private partnerships or private funds are utilized to support research, teaching, physical infrastructure, and outreach activities. These and other gaps related to capacity building led the committee to recommend that a strategic planning process be undertaken to identify capacity needs within the animal sciences and develop a roadmap for addressing those needs.
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