The Proposal

Executive Summary

1. Situational Analysis

2. Outline of Proposal

3. Origins of Proposal

4. USDA Integration

5. Case for Integration

6. Enhanced Funding

7. Case for Funding

8. CREATE-21 and NIFA

Related Materials

Supporting Documents

Values and Principles

Definitions

Results of BAA Vote

 

JUSTIFICATION

“A unique partnership arrangement exists in food and agricultural research, extension, and teaching between the federal government and the governments of the several states whereby the states have accepted and supported, through legislation and appropriations [a broad range of federally authorized research, extension, teaching, and international agriculture programs. This partnership] has played a major role in the outstanding successes achieved in meeting the varied, dispersed, and in many cases, site-specific needs of American agriculture…[and] must be preserved and enhanced.”

National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching
Policy Act of 1977 (as amended).

This partnership has two key features: (1) federal funds to land-grant universities leverage state and local matching funds; (2) research—especially applied research—from these land-grant universities is broadly and rapidly disseminated through the Cooperative Extension System to those who can most directly benefit from it. Together, these two attributes have helped to shape an integrated research, extension, and education system, which is the envy of the world. The partnership is not operating at optimal effectiveness due to a slow, steady decline in federal funding and a lack of integration and focus. As shown in Figure 1, USDA funding for food, agriculture, and natural resources has fallen steadily over the last three decades.

Compounding this situation is the fact that food, agricultural, and natural resources research programs are currently divided among three USDA agencies: (1) the Agriculture Research Service (ARS); (2) the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES); and (3) Forest Service R&D (USFS R&D). As a result, there is frequent duplication among the agencies, no clearly identified “lead-agency” to address critical national issues (such as the relationship of food and nutrition to obesity), and a lack of integration across agencies.

To appreciate the critical need to consolidate the research, extension, and teaching functions dispersed throughout the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is important to understand how the three key agencies—ARS, CSREES, and USFS R&D—currently operate:

  • ARS is primarily a research agency that maintains a network of laboratories and offices staffed by federal employees. ARS has a total budget of ≈$1.123 billion, nearly all of which is spent internally. Since it is a scientific research agency, there are few requirements for ARS employees to assume extension (technology transfer) or higher education responsibilities.
     

  • CSREES is the agency that manages the Federal-State and Federal-Tribal Partnerships in food and agricultural research, extension, and teaching. CSREES has a total budget of ≈$1.199 billion, very little of which is spent internally. Many CSREES programs integrate research with extension and higher education and land-grant employees supported through the Federal-State Partnership often hold joint research, extension, and/or academic appointments.
     

  • USFS R&D is one of three principal divisions of the U.S. Forest Service. Like the ARS, USFS R&D maintains a network of labs and offices staffed with federal employees. USFS R&D has an annual budget of ≈$277 million, of which ≥ 90 percent is spent internally. Extension and higher education requirements are also minimal for USFS R&D employees.

The CREATE-21 proposal envisions consolidation of agencies, programs, and activities currently within the USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area (most notably ARS and CSREES) and USFS R&D in the National Institute of __________________. Although the Institute will be a new independent agency reporting directly to the Secretary of Agriculture, it will incorporate the best features and areas of focus from the existing organizations:

  • The Institute will manage a broad and integrated portfolio of programs to be organized by problem/solution areas and funding mechanisms. "Capacity" programs will maintain and expand the intramural research capability within USDA (e.g. ARS) and the research, extension, education, and international capability of the Federal-State and Federal-Tribal Partnerships. "Competitive" programs will build upon the Institute’s capabilities—both within USDA and the Partnerships—and focus on problems of pressing multistate, national, or international significance.
     

  • By continuing appropriate state matching requirements in such key federal statutes as the Hatch Act of 1887, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, the McIntire-Stennis Act of 1962, the Evans-Allen Act, and 1890s Extension, scarce federal resources will leverage other funds. And, by reducing program duplication, limited federal resources will be stretched further still.
     

  • The Institute will be guided by a diverse National Stakeholder Advisory Committee and there will also be new mechanisms for input from local, state, tribal, and regional stakeholder groups as to the immediate, emerging, and future needs for research, extension, education, and international programs. Also, the Institute will build upon one of the great strengths of the Federal-State and Federal-Tribal Partnerships, namely the tight integration of research with extension and teaching.

While the CREATE-21 proposal is no panacea, it will help to "Create Research, Extension, and Teaching Excellence for the 21st Century."

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