Agricultural Economics Research and Analysis Needs Mission Clarification

RCED-83-89: Published: Jan 31, 1983. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1983.

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GAO examined and clarified the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) economics research and analysis activities. GAO made its review in terms of the USDA Economic Research Service's (ERS) overall mission and program priorities and its relationship to that of state land-grant institutions. GAO also reviewed USDA activities with regard to planning, priority setting, and coordination of public sector agricultural economics research and analysis.

GAO found that there is a disagreement within the agricultural community on the roles of ERS and the land-grant institutions' departments of agricultural economics. Contributing to this problem is the lack of clear roles between ERS and land-grant institutions in their economics research. A systematic determination of research needs is important because some research needs must be given higher priorities than others. However, very little has been done to plan for, set priorities for, or coordinate overall public sector agricultural economics research and analysis activities. Decisions are often made on an ad-hoc basis with little coordination between USDA and the land-grant institutions. GAO concluded that, during the past few years, ERS has conducted socioeconomic research which GAO believes is questionable from a subject matter perspective, while other priority research and analysis needs have not been given adequate attention.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture, in cooperation with the state land-grant institutions, should: (1) examine and clarify the federal role in agriculture economics research and analysis, including the ERS role in relation to that of the land-grant institutions; and (2) prepare a statement of the ERS mission and role in relation to the state land-grant institutions and submit it to the appropriate congressional committees for their information and review.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should provide leadership in planning and coordinating agricultural economics research and analysis by directing the Administrator, ERS, to actively encourage joint program planning for, and coordination of, agricultural economics research and analysis with the land-grant institutions as well as other interested federal and state agencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

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