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Integral to the NIFA mission is the notion of partnerships. Our partners include other federal agencies, private organizations, and—chiefly—the Land-Grant University System.

NIFA is the federal partner in a vast network of thousands of scientists, educators, and extension staff and volunteers, who carry out its programs throughout the United States and its territories, and beyond. Most of these partners work at or through land-grant universities. There are one or more such institutions in each U.S. state and territory and in the District of Columbia. NIFA also partners with non land-grant educational institutions, including those belonging to the American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources (AASCARR).

Starting in 1862, the Federal Government granted federally owned land (hence the name “land-grant”) to each state for the development of a university that would serve the citizens of the state in the areas of research, education, and extension.

Other land-grant universities were designated in 1890 (historically African-American institutions) and in 1994 (Native American institutions).


While nearly all universities have research and education as their core responsibilities, land-grant universities also have a Federal Government-mandated extension (outreach) responsibility. This means they are directed by law to offer to the public noncredit, tax-supported educational programs and information based on the results of university research.

The wide-ranging NIFA land-grant partnership includes:

  • More than 130 colleges of agriculture
  • 59 agricultural experiment stations
  • 57 cooperative extension services
  • 63 schools of forestry
  • 27 colleges of veterinary medicine
  • 42 schools and colleges of family and consumer sciences
  • Over 418 Minority Serving Institutions
    • Tuskegee University, West Virginia State College, and the other 16 historically black colleges and universities
    • 33 Native American land-grant institutions
    • 17 Alaskan native-serving and Hawaiian native-serving institutions
    • More than 350 Hispanic-Serving Institutions