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Cooperative Extension History

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture

In 1914, the Smith-Lever Act was passed which established the partnership between agricultural colleges and the USDA. The act stated that the USDA provided the funds based on population.  Originally each county of all 50 states had a local extension office. This number is currently about 2,900 extension offices nationwide.

The Cooperative Extension Service is a educational program designed to help people use research-based knowledge to improve their lives. This service is provided by the state's designated land-grant universities.

In 1994 Congress created Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) by combining the former Cooperative State Research Service and the Extension Service. Its mission is to "advance agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities" by supporting research, education, and extension programs at land-grant universities and other organizations.

In 2009, CSREES was reorganized into the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. (NIFA)

Click on the state in the Table of Contents above to see a short history, contact information and a list of publications.

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This guide was authored by Madeline Byrne and Sally Hagy-Boyer.