Private spending on food and agricultural research and development (R&D) in the United States has exceeded public-sector agricultural research expenditures most years since the late 1970s. In 2007 (the latest year for which complete data are available), the private sector accounted for about 53 percent of total food and agriculture-related research. Private research is nearly equally divided between food and agriculture. Public research is more oriented toward basic or fundamental science and scientific training, as well as topics like food safety—research that has high social value but for which private incentives are relatively weak. In addition, some public agricultural research funds are devoted to “other” governmental responsibilities, such as improving the environment and protecting natural resources, community development and related social goals, and economic and policy analysis. The public sector nearly matches the private sector’s investments in agricultural R&D, but spends far less on food-related research (with more emphasis on food safety rather than the private sector’s emphasis on product development). Public investment in conservation, community development, and other governmental functions has little counterpart in the private sector. This chart is a revised and updated version of one found in the June 2012 Amber Waves article, Private Industry Investing Heavily, and Globally, in Research To Improve Agricultural Productivity.
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