Since their creation in 1862, land-grant universitieshave revolutionized American agriculture.
esepublic institutions delivered better seeds, newplant varieties and advanced tools to farmers whodeployed scientiﬁc breakthroughs to increase agri-cultural productivity.
ey pioneered vitally impor-tant research on environmental stewardship, such assoil conservation. Land-grant universities partneredwith farmers in research efforts, advancing rurallivelihoods and improving the safety and abundanceof food for consumers.
ese innovations were spurred almost entirely withpublic investments from state and federal govern-ments. Starting in the 1980s, however, federal policiesincluding the Bayh-Dole Act of 1982 began encour-aging land-grant schools to partner with the privatesector on agricultural research. A key goal was todevelop agricultural products such as seeds, whichwere sold to farmers under an increasingly aggressivepatent regime.
By 2010, private donations provided nearly a quarterof the funding for agricultural research at land-grantuniversities.
is funding steers land-grant researchtoward the goals of industry. It also discouragesindependent research that might be critical of theindustrial model of agriculture and diverts publicresearch capacity away from important issues suchas rural economies, environmental quality and thepublic health implications of agriculture.Private-sector funding not only corrupts the publicresearch mission of land-grant universities, but alsodistorts the science that is supposed to help farmersimprove their practices and livelihoods. Industry-funded academic research routinely produces favor-able results for industry sponsors. Because policy-makers and regulators frequently voice their need forgood science in decision-making, industry-fundedacademic research inﬂuences the rules that governtheir business operations.Congress should restore the public agriculturalresearch mission at land-grant schools.
e Farm Billcan reinvigorate investment in agricultural researchand fund research projects that promote the publicinterest. Reprioritizing research at land-grant univer-sities may not remedy all of the problems in the foodsystem, but it could play a vital role in developingthe science and solutions needed to create a viablealternative to our industrialized, consolidated foodsystem.