The Politics of Agricultural Research

The Politics of Agricultural Research

The Politics of Agricultural Research

The Politics of Agricultural Research

Excerpt

Agricultural research institutions, after many years of operating in relative obscurity, are "coming out" into the world they have changed so much.It is an appropriate time for them to do so.

Public attention to agriculture has generally focused upon the farmer as producer, with little notice being taken of the fact that the farmer has had many sets of elves. Thus the work of those inconspicuous research institutions which have done much of the training, norm‐ setting, thinking, and communicating—and even deciding and implementing—in the agricultural world has usually been ignored or overlooked.

Now, however, a large nonagricultural public has become interested in agricultural research. Meanwhile, the agricultural subsystem has chosen to limit its involvement in research activities and no longer provides its research institutions with adequate support or adequate scope. Therefore, these mature and quite successful institutions are being pressed to change their associations and approaches, and to rewrite their job descriptions.

For the institutions and for those interested in their work, this is a moment of anticipation, a time for questions to be raised and decisions made about the future of agricultural research. On the assumption that, if each of those involved in the decision making can see where the others have been and where they want to go, all can move with more grace and effectiveness, indeed with less pain, this book attempts to describe the present state and goals of agricultural research. The book is about political demands and political supports, and about the political processes that lead to political decisions. It addresses the questions "Who makes agricultural research policy?" and "What do they want it to achieve?" The book may offer, as well, some insight into the impact of agricultural research, though that subject is treated only indirectly.

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