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PATS Research Summary No. 2

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Over the last decade, the Program on Agricultural Technology Studies (PATS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has received a wide range of formal and informal comments from Wisconsin farmers regarding the direction of university research and extension programs. In an era of declining Extension budgets, increasing privatization, and a rapidly changing farm structure, the debate about where to focus scarce public resources takes on an added significance. Is there still an important role for land grant institutions to play in agriculture in the new century? If so, how can limited resources be targeted most effectively? What do farmers and other citizens want from the land grant system? In order to systematically solicit farmer feedback on these issues, a series of questions about research and extension programs at the University of Wisconsin was included in the PATS 1999 Wisconsin Dairy Farm Poll, a statewide survey sent to 1,600 randomly selected dairy farmers. While the results summarized below focus primarily on the responses of dairy farmers, similar questions were asked of other types of farms in a separate survey sent out at the same time. In general, the response patterns of the nondairy farmers were similar to those of the dairy farm sample.