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Return on Investment, Animal Health, Regents Professors

Posted by | March 26, 2008

Ag Research Earns High Returns on Investment

Over the last several decades, the U.S. agricultural sector has sustained a high rate of productivity growth, driven largely by the nation’s agricultural research system, encompassing federal-state public research as well as private research.

Economic analysis finds strong and consistent evidence that investment in agricultural research has yielded high returns per dollar spent. These returns include benefits not only to the farm sector but also to the food industry and consumers in the form of more abundant commodities at lower prices. While studies give a range of estimates of returns to agricultural research, there is a consensus that the payoff to society from the government’s investment in agricultural research has been high.

The Economic Research Service of the USDA analyzed findings from 27 studies that estimated the economic return to public agricultural research in the U.S. These studies assessed both farm sector and economy-wide impacts. Although study methodology and coverage varied, more than four out of five of the estimated rates of return to research ranged between 20 and 60 percent, with a median estimate of 45 percent. This is an exceptional return on a public investment, given that a common benchmark for such investments is 3 to 4 percent per annum (the interest paid on government borrowing).

Research is an investment that pays off slowly over time as innovations are developed by scientists and adopted by farmers, providing long-term economic benefits (as long as 30 years). Given the cost of public funds and the median estimate of the rate of return to public research from the reviewed studies, each dollar spent on public agricultural research has returned roughly $10 in benefits to the economy. Furthermore, the studies found that these benefits are shared widely throughout the economy. As a result, the social returns earned by investments in agricultural research are likely to be much higher than the private returns a company could earn from such investments.

For more information, please visit the ERS/USDA: http://tinyurl.com/2zmool.

Ag research delivers an exceptional return on public investment. Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA/ARS.

Ag research delivers an exceptional return on public investment. Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA/ARS.


Gates Foundation Grant Launches WSU School of Global Animal Health

A $25 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help Washington State University launch the new School for Global Animal Health, where internationally recognized scientists will take the lead in solving global health challenges that affect animals and humans alike. The grant represents the largest single private financial commitment in WSU history.

The grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help the University begin construction on the school’s $35 million flagship building, located on the Pullman campus. It will provide modern facilities to support global animal health research.

“Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is a worldwide leader in research on animal health and its link to human health,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “The generous support of the Gates Foundation is truly transformational. The work of WSU researchers will be dramatically enhanced, and the results of their work could impact countless lives in this country and around the globe.”

“You cannot identify a healthy human population in which the animals are not also healthy. Humans are inextricably linked to their animals, whether for food, for work, or for companionship. Solving the challenge of global poverty is not possible without a focus on animals,” said Warwick Bayly, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at WSU. “Controlling infectious diseases at the animal-human interface is fundamental to eliminating the impact of these diseases on human health and well-being.”

For more information on the new school, including photos and video, please visit: http://globalhealth.wsu.edu/.

The cow (Bos taurus) is important for biomedical research and development, as well as being agriculturally important.

The cow (Bos taurus) is important for biomedical research and development, as well as being agriculturally important.


CAHNRS Faculty Named Regents Professors

Two faculty members in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences have been promoted to Regents professors at Washington State University.

Professors Norman G. Lewis and B.W. Poovaiah were promoted to Regents professor, the highest level of international distinction in their discipline and in recognition of their efforts in raising university standards through teaching, scholarship and public service.

Lewis, director, fellow and professor in the Institute of Biological Chemistry, is recognized for his research training record with undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students and is one of the nation’s outstanding plant biochemists.

His research focuses on the production of lignins, a molecule that helps in a plant’s rigidity, and their nutritional and medicinal role in preventing or treating various cancers.

Poovaiah, professor of horticulture and landscape architecture, is recognized for his exceptional teaching and mentoring as well as for his research.

Over the years, Poovaiah’s research on calcium/calmodulin-modulated signaling in plants has led to numerous patents and publications in top scientific journals as well as won millions of dollars from the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautical and Space Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Two other WSU faculty members also received the distinguish Regents professor title. Michael D. Griswold, dean of the College of Sciences, is recognized for his extensive work in male reproductive biology, and Gregory W. Yasinitsky, professor in the School of Music, is a world-renown scholar of music with widely published compositions.

–Desiree Kiliz, CAHNRS and WSU Extension Marketing, News, and Educational Communications Intern

Regents professors Lewis (top) and Poovaiah are recognized for their teaching, scholarship and public service.

Regents professors Lewis (top) and Poovaiah are recognized for their teaching, scholarship and public service.