Public agricultural R&D spending in the United States has declined in recent years

This is a line graph showing the public spending on agricultural research and development from 1970 to 2020.

Spending on agricultural research and development (R&D) comes from private and public sources. Public R&D, however, has traditionally been the primary source directly oriented toward improving farm technology and productivity. Since the early 2000s, expenditures have declined in real terms for agricultural R&D performed by public institutions, including USDA laboratories, land grant universities, and other cooperating institutions. Researchers with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) found that R&D expenditures are now only slightly above the 1970 level of about $5 billion and well below the 2002 peak of just under $8 billion (constant 2019 dollars). Research expenditures were adjusted for inflation using the National Institutes of Health’s Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI). This chart appears in the ERS’s Amber Waves article, “Investment in U.S. Public Agricultural Research and Development Has Fallen by a Third Over Past Two Decades, Lags Behind Major Trade Competitors,” published June 2022.

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