Public funding for research into specialty crops

Julian M. Alston, Philip G. Pardey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Specialty crops have become increasingly important relative to other categories of agricultural production in the United States over the past 50 years, especially during the past 25 years. The growth in the value of production of specialty crops has not been matched by commensurate growth in public agricultural research spending. The specialty crops' share of spending on crops research (or on all agricultural research) has remained approximately constant during a period when the specialty crops' share of the value of production has increased significantly. This article reviews trends in the economic importance of specialty crops, and public funding for specialty crops research, and examines arguments and evidence about whether the total funding for specialty crops research is too little and whether the share of agricultural research funding allocated to specialty crops should increase. Although the evidence is mixed, we conclude that specialty crops research is underfunded and that a case can be made for increasing the share of agricultural research funding going to specialty crops. A producer check-off program with a matching government grant could be developed to give incentives to both the industry and the government to help enhance research funding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1461-1470
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Public R&D
  • Research benefits
  • Research funding
  • Specialty crops


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