NCSU CALS Investment In Agriculture Pays Big Dividends

Extension and agricultural research are two wings of university's agricultural investment strategy.

Published on: Jan 20, 2012

Most North Carolina farmers will tell you that N.C. State University's Extension and Agricultural Research are critical components in a developing agricultural system. The organizations help keep the state's farmers on the cutting edge of farming worldwide while contributing at a local level to their bottom lines.

 Still, it would be difficult for farmers to put numbers on just how much value comes back from resources put into the university-run system. A report on agriculture programs run by N.C. State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences now gives some concrete numbers that demonstrate how those programs are more than paying for themselves.

CALS takes a two-sided approach to agricultural research via the two organizations. The N.C. Agricultural Research Service conducts important agricultural research and the N.C. Cooperative Extension makes that research available to farmers and others who can use it, with Extension centers serving all 100 counties.

"Together, agricultural research and Extension programs spark economic activity and create jobs, making North Carolina agriculture and the state's rural communities more prosperous," notes the report.

The report, North Carolina's AgAdvantage, notes that North Carolina's investment in research and Extension programs generates a return of $1.45 in economic activity for every $1 invested, resulting in more rural income, lower food costs and a safer food supply. It also generates an additional $116 million annually from grants, contracts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and from county governments. These grants and contracts create 400 jobs, the report says.

In addition, the programs help identify and promote new business and income opportunities in agriculture, including new organic foods, aquacultural products and biobased products such as biofuels and value-added farm products like agritourism.

Research and Extension investments help promote best management practices that encourage ecological practices and safety. They reduce health risks and enhance food safety practices and procedures. They are also used to promote understanding and implementation of sound financial management that reduces debt and increases both energy conservation and recycling. In addition, they are used to accustom the farming workforce to new emerging technologies, often with hands-on experience.

Learn more about CALS and its programs on the college website at