Economic Brief No. (EB-19) 8 pp

September 2012

The Complementary Roles of the Public and Private Sectors in U.S. Agricultural Research and Development

This brief examines the funding and performance of agricultural R&D to assess the evolving roles of the public and private sectors in the U.S. agricultural research system. There is a clear, long-term trend toward greater private sector funding and performance of R&D. In 2007, the private sector performed 53 percent of total food and agricultural research in the United States, and privately funded R&D has grown faster than publicly funded R&D over the long term. Public-sector funders and performers of R&D play a largely complementary role by emphasizing social returns in the selection of research topics and valuing rapid and widespread disclosure of new knowledge.

Keywords: Agricultural research and development, R&D, public sector, private sector, State Agricultural Experiment Stations, private returns, social returns, technology transfer, plant breeding

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