The past several years have seen an erosion of public support for agricultural research. While private contributions to the research effort have been on the increase, federal support has been eroded.
Public investments in agriculture research have paid large dividends to society, and the global, high-tech, environmentally-sensitive era we have now entered requires support of public research. The nation’s land grant universities must remain a strategic resource for agriculture and the general public. They must be used wisely and fully to support the needs of an ever expanding domestic and worldwide population.
Publicly funded research is needed to ensure society’s goals are achieved. While private and public research are complementary, private research is more narrow and short-term. Public research can be more speculative, broader and longer-term. Public funding ensures that needs voiced by concerned citizens are achieved. Items such as a safe and secure food and fiber system, a healthy and well-nourished population, harmony between agriculture and the environment, global competitiveness, and general economic development can be addressed better with public funding. All of these factors help provide the quality of life desired by each of our citizens.
Incentives need to be established to encourage regional cooperation around research and extension in order to best utilize limited funding.