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Markets, Trade and Policy

Enhancing economic opportunities for agricultural producers has always been a core goal of NIFA, and to accomplish this goal the agency supports research, higher education, and extension activities related to marketing and trade. In addition, the agency partners with public and private sector organizations to promote successful marketing and trade methods and strategies, including alternative markets, products, policies, and institutions.

Public policies in the form of international, national, state, and local laws, regulations, and treaties can greatly influence the economic well-being of the U.S. agricultural sector, agribusiness sectors, and individual producers. NIFA provides national leadership, funding, technical assistance, and advice to land-grant colleges and universities that have specific research and extension programs related to agricultural and rural policy research and analysis. In addition, NIFA supports public issues education programs conducted by the Cooperative Extension System.

A Report from the House of Representatives in 1914 underscores the U.S. government's understanding of and commitment to agricultural marketing: "The committee, from the facts before it, concludes without hesitation that production can be many times increased through the machinery provided by this bill, but the committee does not believe that Congress can afford to appropriate money for the sole purpose of teaching the farmer the best methods of increasing production. To teach the farmer the best methods of production is exceedingly important, not more vitally so than is the importance of teaching him the best and most economical methods of distribution. It is not enough to teach him how to grow bigger crops. He must be taught how to get the true value for these bigger crops, else Congress will be put in the attitude of regarding the work of the farmer as a kind of philanthropy. The itinerant teacher or demonstrator will be expected to give as much thought to the economic side of agriculture-the marketing, standardizing, and grading of farm products-as he gives to the matter of larger acreage yields." -- U.S. House of Representatives, Report No. 110, Cooperative Agricultural Extension Work, 1914 Asbury F. Lever, U.S. Representative from South Carolina 7th District, 1901-1919.

Several disciplines cross into the vast area of marketing, including risk management, consumer economics, entrepreneurship, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and other agricultural and social sciences. NIFA works in all of these areas to increase awareness of agricultural marketing and its many opportunities. NIFA supports this program in many ways, including the following: providing information, knowledge, and education to help expand markets and reduce trade barriers; supporting international economic development and trade capacity building through research and technical assistance; providing the science-based knowledge and technologies to generate new or improved high-quality products and process to expand markets for the agricultural sector; providing science-based information, knowledge, and education to facilitate risk management by farmers and ranchers; and promoting an efficient and economically viable agricultural production system.

NIFA provides a number of programs to supports these objectives, but the Agricultural Marketing program plays a significant role in providing relevant impacts.

Agriculture-in the broadest sense of the term-is in the midst of a major revolution that is changing the way farmers and ranchers produce, process, distribute, and market food and fiber in the United States and abroad. These changes significantly impact farm and ranch families, firms, agribusinesses, and rural communities by requiring them to make major strategic decisions to be successful.

Marketing has become a crucial element of contemporary NIFA and land-grant university work. Much of this revolution is being played out in the marketplace. Several hundred economists nationwide do basic and applied research, undergraduate and graduate teaching, and extension and outreach in all aspects of marketing and risk management.

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