University faculty located and conducting research at off-campus agricultural research centers often are advised by committees representing agribusiness, producers, and extension personnel. A two-page questionnaire was sent in 1996 to the directors, faculty, and members of the advisory committees of three research centers each in Arkansas, Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Texas and two research centers in Kansas to assess opinions about the composition, structure, goals, and effectiveness of agricultural advisory committees. All occupational groups surveyed felt that advisory committees can provide valuable input for agricultural research, but were less convinced that they accomplish their goals, in general, research center directors, extension personnel, and research faculty tended to be more reserved than agribusiness and producer respondents in their opinions on the performance of advisory committees. Respondents believed that agricultural research advisory committees should comprise representatives of agribusiness, area producers, extension personnel, and research faculty who are chosen by those groups, although research center directors did not support extension personnel or research faculty having a voice in the selection process. Committee members should serve a term of 3 to 4 years. Goals should be more defined and should help to identify needs and guide research by providing direction and focus, being an advocate for the research center, and providing input on fund raising and management. Improved communication, more meetings with definite agendas, and better attendance were identified to help improve the success of advisory committees. Overall, the potential for benefit is high, but agricultural advisory committees often are perceived as needing to improve their effectiveness.
Contribution no. 98-283-J, Kansas Agric. Exp. Stn.