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NIFA Overview

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), part of the executive branch of the Federal Government. Congress created NIFA through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. NIFA replaced the former Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), which had been in existence since 1994.

NIFA is one of four USDA agencies that make up its Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area. The other three agencies are:


NIFA’s 2014-2018 strategic plan clearly defines our mission, vision and core values. NIFA's mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education and extension to solve societal challenges. Our vision is to catalyze transformative discoveries, education, and engagement to address agricultural challenges.


We do this through an extensive network of state, regional, and county extension offices in every U.S. state and territory. These offices have educators and other staff who respond to public inquiries and conduct informal, noncredit workshops and other educational events. You're connected to this system—which is now 90 years old—through your nearest extension office, which provides answers to commonly encountered problems through educational materials (print, video, CD), Web-based information, the telephone, and other means.

With support from more than 600,000 volunteers, 4-H—USDA's 105-year-old youth development program administered through NIFA—engages more than 6.5 million young people every year and teaches them life skills through hands-on learning and leadership activities.

Through all of these activities, NIFA impacts the lives of millions of Americans each day.

Additional NIFA Fact Sheets