(refer to Multistate Guidelines)




The human and natural resources of the north central states are both plentiful and diverse. The human resource base is known for its strong work and stewardship ethics, its initiative, and its varied rural and urban communities. These human resources are complemented by the rich diversity of the region's crop and range lands; natural resources, including its forests and fresh water; glaciated and unglaciated lands; geology; topography; and climate. The region's agricultural enterprises are equally as diverse as its population and environment. Its research priorities are directly influenced by stakeholders during both the critical developmental and the review stages. Stakeholders are true partners in the North Central region and they include a broad constituent and customer base that represents the region's diversity. This complex 12-state area has the capacity to lead the nation in the development of multistate research activities with its human and natural resource bases. The North Central Regional Association (NCRA) of State Agricultural Experiment Stations (SAES) is committed to the development of a strong multistate research program that utilizes the inherent qualities of its human and natural resource bases.


The NCRA research prioritization effort is predicated on the belief that the most accurate research needs for the region should be established at the departmental rather than at the director level. The faculty of our land grant institutions are at the cutting-edge of research and educational activities. They have contributed directly to this research planning and implementation process.


The intent of this exercise is to identify North Central multistate research priorities and to rank them either as they are presented or by developing a matrix that places these priorities into broad programmatic crosscutting areas that are best addressed by multistate projects. There was no intent or attempt to program, correlate, or in any way link this prioritization process to those of Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP), Users Advisory Board, Joint Council or other organizations.



The NCRA charged the North Central Administrative (NCA) Committees with developing a list of research priorities in September, 1994. The NCA Committees began submitting multistate research priorities in February, 1995.


The NCRA was briefed in March, 1995 on the status of the prioritization process. A brief, but incomplete, outline of the priorities received was distributed. Following this meeting, the NCRA informed the chairs of the NCA Committees that it would prepare a new draft of priorities for discussion at its July, 1995 meeting. The Multistate Research Committee (MRC) met with NCA Committee representatives in September, 1995 to develop a penultimate document for NCRA review in March, 1996.


Priorities and related objectives received from the NCA Committees were listed in rank order (by committee) whenever possible. However, some committees did not prioritize and did not accompany priorities with objectives. If objectives were not presented, where feasible, the Executive Director (ED) of the NCRA added objectives to clarify the intent of the priority. This listing of priorities/objectives was labeled A and was shared with the NCRA in May, 1995.


Most NCA Committees developed disciplinary and interdisciplinary priorities and most priorities had objectives that fit into more than one crosscutting area (crosscut). Each priority/objective was assigned to a crosscut, however placement was purely subjective and on the basis of a decision by the ED. The intent was to be direct, rather than indirect, and to lump rather than split assignments. The number of priorities/objectives in each crosscut is an indication of the breadth of that area and the mechanics of placement. This outline was labeled B and was also shared with the NCRA in May, 1995.


The MRC plus Directors from Iowa and Wisconsin met in June, 1995 to: 1) review an updated version of the B outline of priorities and crosscuts; 2) discuss, review, realign and edit the updated B version; and 3) discuss procedures for development and presentation of the next iteration (C) of the research prioritization process to the NCRA at the July, 1995 meeting.


The MRC prepared guidelines for development of the C iteration. They included: 1) development of a statement that recognizes the importance of and need for research in the fundamental sciences, but clarifies that research of this nature is best funded through other than Multistate Research Funds (MRF); 2) development of a statement that identifies and qualifies multistate research activities; 3) review and refinement of crosscuts and assignment of priorities; 4) use of consistent language across all of the crosscutting areas; and 5) further clarification of each crosscut by development of a set of objectives for each. Iteration C was developed and sent to the NCRA.


In July, 1995, the NCRA suggested minor changes in the C iteration and approved distribution of the new document (D) to the NCA Committees. The NCA representatives and the MRC met in September, 1995. The purpose of the meeting was to: 1) brief the departmental administrators on the status of the prioritization program; and 2) seek their wisdom, counsel, and input on the development of the penultimate document for NCRA review at its March, 1996 meeting. The discussions with the NCA Committee representatives resulted in an improved document (E).


Following the September, 1995 meeting the NCRA began the process of identifying the 1996 NCRA commitment to the support of the priority programs (levels of FTE, $ and their source, site of activity, etc.). This information is critical to further decisions about resource delegation to priority areas.


The NCA and NCRA agree that the seven crosscuts are of equal priority. The NCA Committees reviewed the E iteration and prioritized the objectives under each of the seven crosscutting areas at their annual meetings and most sent (11 of 14) their comments to the ED's office in February, 1996. The NCRA (21 directors representing 11 SAESs) also ranked the objectives for each crosscut. The penultimate document (iteration F) was presented to the NCRA in March, 1996. The NCRA approved the recommendation of the MRC to accept iteration F with minor changes. These minor changes were incorporated and approved at the July,1996 NCRA meeting (iteration G). It was agreed that iteration G, along with an appendix, should be published and distributed.


Premises and Guidelines


In 1998, congress passed the Agricultural Research, Extension and Education Reform Act (AREERA) which reconfirms the mandate for multistate research. The overriding philosophy of multistate research is that problems are effectively solved by combining the resources and expertise of two or more states. The funds that support multistate research are unique and are set aside to undertake these specific activities. Thus, within the North Central Region, multistate research funds will be used to support research that addresses the region's priorities.


Multistate research is targeted to address problems that bring together a team of scientists with the appropriate mix of disciplines. A combination of fundamental, applied, adaptive and developmental research may be necessary to solve problems. Multistate research must be of the highest quality science and result in measurable impact.


The following guidelines/criteria must be met for all multistate research projects:


The North Central Regional Association (NCRA) has identified high priorities from within the crosscutting research areas.


Revised 9/30/99




Agricultural Production, Processing and Distribution

Agriculture is the system that produces processes and distributes food, fiber and other products and services from the farm to the consumer. It encompasses aquaculture, forestry and a diversity of natural resource elements, such as soils, surface water, groundwater, wildlife and the atmosphere. In addition, human resources, financial capital and community infrastructure are integral components of agricultural systems.


Priority Research Objectives:


Genetic Resources Development and Manipulation (Genomics and Germplasm)

Includes the management of genetic resources (animals, aquatic, insects, microbes and plants) and encompasses both germplasm and genome research activities.


Priority Research Objectives:


Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) focuses on developing systems that combine the use of biological, cultural, physical and chemical pest control tactics to minimize economic, health and environmental risks. IPM practices have the potential to simultaneously reduce environmental, food and fiber safety risks associated with pesticide use, to increase the profitability of agriculture, to enhance the sustainability of natural resources, to enhance the quality of life and to open new export markets for U.S. goods.


Priority Research Objectives:


Natural Resources and the Environment

Includes an understanding of the ecological processes defining air, water and soil that influence the natural resource base upon which primary production activities such as agriculture, forestry, wildlife management, fisheries management and mineral management depend. The understanding of ecological processes operating in human, plant and animal communities in their own right is essential. Similarly, the maximization of utilization efficiency is crucial to minimizing impact on natural resources. The interaction of human, plant and animal communities offers potential insights into sustainability of large landscape scale human-resource systems.


Priority Research Objectives:


Economic Development and Policy

Includes focus on improving economic and social development in the North Central Region related to profitability, domestic market development, global competitiveness, new management decision-making models and non-market evaluation.


Priority Research Objectives:


Social Change and Development

Includes an emphasis on social processes as they work in rural areas, the extent to which they (social processes) are changing and their relationships to urban issues: understanding the relationships and interactions among individuals, families, organizations and communities; creation of community systems that can improve the quality of life of residents.


Priority Research Objectives:


Food and Nutrition

Includes the development, production, processing, procurement, handling, safety, preservation and consumption of food products; the functional, nutritional, mechanical and sensory properties of food components; nutrient metabolism and relationship to health and disease; and factors that influence dietary intake


Priority Research Objectives:


Revised 9/99