"The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area has the primary federal responsibility of advancing scientific knowledge for agriculture through research, education, and extension. USDA REE responsibilities are carried out by four agencies: the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Economic Research Service (ERS), and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). USDA conducts its own research and administers extramural federal funding to states and local partners primarily through formula funds and competitive grants. Discretionary funding for the REE mission area totaled $2.937 billion in FY2016, and mandatory funding from the 2014 farm bill adds another $120 million per year on average. Debates over the direction of public agricultural research and the nature of its funding mechanism continue. Ongoing issues include the need, if any, for new federal funding to support agricultural research, education, and extension activities, and the implications of allocating federal funds via formula funds versus competitive grants. Many groups believe that Congress needs to increase support of U.S. agriculture through expanded federal support of research, education, and extension programs, whereas others believe that the private sector, not taxpayer dollars, should be used to support these activities."
CRS Report for Congress, R40819
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html