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About the Agricultural Research Service

Panoramic view of a farm's buildings and fields

We are the U.S. Department of Agriculture's main in-house scientific research agency. For a few examples of what we've done for you, see "ARS & You."

Our job is finding solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day, from field to table—

  • Protecting crops and livestock from pests and disease,
  • Improving the quality and safety of agricultural products,
  • Determining the best nutrition for people from infancy to old age,
  • Sustaining our soil and other natural resources,
  • Ensuring profitability for farmers and processors,
  • Keeping costs down for consumers, and
  • Providing research support to other federal agencies.

Lasting solutions to these problems are unlikely to have a quick commercial payoff that might otherwise convince private industry to do the research. We work toward solutions by pursuing scientific discoveries. But our task is truly complete when we transfer discoveries to society as useful technology and knowledge.

Our scientists frequently collaborate with research partners from universities, companies, other organizations and other countries.

We take great care in designing and organizing our research effort, and we listen—and respond—to those with a stake in the outcome. (More in "The Research Enterprise")

We follow a strategic plan we develop to meet our stakeholders' needs and support USDA's mission. We check our progress in carrying out that plan, and we modify it as circumstances require. (More in "Plans and Reports").

A few facts about the scope of our organization (figures rounded)—

  • 1,200 research projects within 22 National Programs
  • 2,100 scientists
  • 6,000 other employees
  • 100 research locations including a few in other countries
  • $1 billion fiscal year 2003 budget

ARS is one of four agencies in USDA's Research, Education and Economics mission area. The others:

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