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Long-run and Global R&D Funding Trajectories: The U.S. Farm Bill in a Changing Context


  • Pardey, Philip G.
  • Chan-Kang, Connie
  • Beddow, Jason M.
  • Dehmer, Steven


Domestically funded (and performed) research and development (R&D) has historically been a major source of productivity gains in U.S. agriculture, and a principal source of R&D spillovers to the rest of the world. In the waning decades of the 20th century, U.S. policymakers opted to ratchet down the rate of growth in public support for food and agricultural R&D. As the 21st century unfolds, slowing growth gave way to real cutbacks, reversing the accumulation of U.S.- sourced public R&D capital over most of the previous century and more. The 2014 Farm Bill did little to reverse these long-run research funding trajectories—politicians apparently ignored economic evidence about the still substantial social payoffs to that research and the consequent slowdown in U.S. agricultural productivity growth associated with the spending slowdown. Meanwhile, R&D spending by other countries has been moving in different directions. We present new evidence that today’s middle-income countries—notably China, Brazil and India— are not only growing in relative importance as producers of agricultural innovations through investments in public R&D, they are also gaining considerable ground in terms of their share of privately performed research of relevance for agriculture. The changes in global public and private R&D investment trajectories are accelerating of late, and substantive. If history is any guide to the future, these changing R&D trajectories could have profound consequences for the competiveness of U.S. agriculture in the decades ahead.

Suggested Citation

  • Pardey, Philip G. & Chan-Kang, Connie & Beddow, Jason M. & Dehmer, Steven, 2014. "Long-run and Global R&D Funding Trajectories: The U.S. Farm Bill in a Changing Context," 2015 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 3-5, 2015, Boston, Massachusetts 189694, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:assa15:189694
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.189694

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Terrance M. Hurley & Xudong Rao & Philip G. Pardey, 2014. "Re-examining the Reported Rates of Return to Food and Agricultural Research and Development," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1492-1504.
    2. Pardey, Philip G. & Beddow, Jason M. & Buccola, Steven T., 2014. "Losing the Plot? Agricultural Research Policy and the 2014 Farm Bill," Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 1-5, September.
    3. Bonwoo Koo & Philip G. Pardey & Keming Qian & Yi Zhang, 2006. "An option perspective on generating and maintaining plant variety rights in China," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 35(1), pages 35-48, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chai, Yuan & Pardey, Philip G. & Chan-Kang, Connie & Huang, Jikun & Lee, Kyuseon & Dong, Wanlu, 2019. "Passing the food and agricultural R&D buck? The United States and China," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 1-1.
    2. Kropff, Martin, 2015. "Integrating Public and Private Sector Research Goals for Sustainable Food Security," 2015: The Business of Food Security: Profitability, Sustainability and Risk, 10-12 August 2015 245058, Crawford Fund.

    More about this item


    Agricultural and Food Policy; Agricultural Finance; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies;

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture

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