Land Grant Universities

graduation cap

New college graduates have recently stepped into the bright sunlight of “the real world.” I recently had a wake-up call of my own as I learned a little about the role of universities in agribusiness.

I grew up not far from UCONN, where one could be an “ag major.” That sounded cool–a person could get a degree in farming. There are beautiful small farms all over Connecticut. Of course, I was oblivious to the big picture.

It’s this: Many state-funded schools were originally chartered with the purpose of teaching and fostering agriculture. These are called “land grant universities,” and Iowa State and Michigan State were two of the first. Cornell is one as well. These universities have agricultural “experimentation stations” and “agricultural extension agents” who support agriculture in the local communities.

This all sounded fine and good until I learned that the programs are funded by the USDA and the usual biotech conglomerates. Iowa State even has a Monsanto Auditorium. Naturally, it follows that this segment of academia conducts plenty of research that favors agribusiness practices. For instance, many land grant university “studies” support the caging of hens, GMO’s, and chemical-dependent agriculture.

It’s a bit like BP offering free science curriculum to public schools.