Return on Investment

In 1940 an average American farmer could feed 19 people. Today the average farmer feeds 155 people. The growth in agricultural productivity over the past 70 years can be attributed largely to investments in agricultural research and technology development [USDA n.d.]. Research results reach the farmer through the Cooperative Extension Service. PSA’s two regulatory agencies help ensure that animal and plant agriculture is safeguarded from diseases and other injurious pests. Our mission focuses on South Carolina’s $41.7 million agriculture and forestry industry and natural resources. Agriculture and forestry exceed tourism as the state’s number one industry, employing 200,000 people (London & Associates, 2015).

PSA’s Experiment Station research and Extension outreach of that research to our clients and regulatory programs are the keys to economic development and job creation throughout the state.

 Powerful Impacts and Return on Investment

  • Ninety-nine percent return on dollars invested in agricultural research and 84.6% return on dollars invested in cooperative extension programs (Alston et al. 2000). Huffman and Evanson (1993) rank South Carolina as the 4th in the nation on converting agricultural research dollars into revenue for the state.
  • According to a 2012 study conducted by Clemson’s Strom Thurmond Institute for Government and Public Affairs, PSA accounted for 1,756 jobs statewide, $133.4 million in economic output, $9.6 million in net local government revenue, and $13 million in net state revenue in 2010.
  • The Home and Garden Information Center and other PSA Websites generated 2.3 million PSA website visits in 2011-12 assisting people.
  • 4-H youth, by grade 8, are 1.6 times more likely to attend college than their peers and are ranked 41% lower in risk/problem behaviors measures (Lerner et al. 2008).
  • $16 million annual personal-income impact through 4-H programs that encourage leadership and educational achievement and discourage risky behaviors – based on 5% increase in the number of 4-Hers earning an undergraduate degree versus high school diploma only (Battelle, 2004).
  • Agents covering 46 county extension offices deliver 9,737 programs reaching over 143,122 people this year including commercial growers, livestock producers, forest and natural resource managers, institutional food services, homeowners and families across the state.
  • Animal and plant production is protected by regulatory programs that mitigate disease and non-native species introductions that cost the US over $138 billion in annual losses (Pimentel et al., 1999).
  • Clemson guidelines save cotton growers $7 million a year in insect management costs.
  • Thresholds and spray techniques developed by Clemson scientists could save SC soybean growers $22 million in losses caused by the kudzu bug.
  • SC peanut growers can earn an additional $7.5 million by following optimal digging guidelines outlined by Clemson researchers.
  • Decades ago, large piles of used pesticide containers littered the SC landscape. Since the beginning of an aggressive Regulatory Services program over 2.4 million pounds of pesticide containers have been recycled.
  • Veterinary Diagnostic Center completed 87,121 tests and procedures during FY11-12 in performing its animal and food safety diagnostic duties protecting the $6 billion SC animal industry.

Science. Service. Solutions. Return on Investment: Major Units                    

  • Clemson Experiment Station scientists work to improve the quality of life for people in South Carolina, the nation and the world by providing science-based information on major issues facing decision makers. Research is conducted in laboratories, farms, and forests on the Clemson campus and at five Research and Education Centers strategically located in the state's distinct soil and climate regions. Areas of study include: animal production, horticultural crops, agronomic crops, biotechnology, food safety and nutrition, community and economic development, water quality and quantity, and forest and natural resources.
  • Cooperative Extension Service meets the diverse needs of South Carolina citizens by delivering research-based information in agriculture, the environment, food safety & nutrition, economic & community development, and youth & families. South Carolina's citizens and PSA’s stakeholders have direct input into decisions of the Extension System through statewide planning efforts and the needs identification process.
  • 4-H Youth Development programs provide leadership, citizenship and life skills training to prepare the state’s workforce to compete in a knowledge-based economy.
  • Livestock-Poultry Health Programs ensure the health and safety of livestock/poultry industries and companion animals, and protect the meat supply and public health of South Carolinians.
  • Regulatory Services protect the state from exotic and invasive species, ensure that pesticides are used safely, regulate the structural pest control industry, verify that fertilizer and lime meet standards and labeled guarantees, conduct programs for seed and organic certification, provide diagnosis of plant pests, and ensure readiness to respond to an agroterrorism event impacting the state’s agriculture.
  • PSA Institutes conduct research and outreach in economic and community development, forest and natural resources, family and neighborhood life, and youth. Clemson initiated a two-year plan beginning in 2010 to remove state support for certain institutes associated with PSA.