gricultural productivity has increased markedly inrecent years—more rapidly, in fact, than productivityin the overall U.S. economy. Many attribute a largepart of this growth to public sector agriculturalresearch, which is carried out primarily by land grant univer-sities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s researchagencies. Despite this success, however, new budget con-straints, scientific advances, and public demands for environ-mental safety are presenting the agricultural research systemwith the greatest challenges it has faced since its inception,more than a century ago. Questions have been raised aboutwhether the old research institutions are still useful, andabout how they should adapt to accommodate the new reali-ties of the 1990s.In discussions leading up to the 1995 farm bill, agriculturalresearch policy has been put squarely on the negotiatingtable. Policymakers have been particularly interested in howwell the agricultural system has responded to legislativedirectives in the past farm bill that called for a clarification of the purposes of agricultural research and extension, a nationalcompetitive research initiative, a sustainable agriculturalresearch program, and research efforts to create new agricul-tural crops and new uses for agricultural commodities.This report responds to a bipartisan request from the Sen-ate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry todetermine the progress the research system has made in meet-ing the objectives set forth in these new areas, and to provideguidance on the management of agricultural research. Indoing so, the report focuses on new ways to finance, orga-nize, and manage agricultural research to prepare the systemfor the challenges of the next century.
ROGER C. HERDMAN