The Mission of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center

The University of California Agricultural Issues Center (AIC) provides identification and analysis of important issues affecting agriculture in California.  AIC provides independent and objective research-based information on a range of critical, emerging agricultural issues and their significance for the economy.

AIC studies topics such as food and agricultural commodity markets, the value of agricultural research and development, farm costs and returns, consequences of food and agricultural policy and rural resources and the environment, among others. The issues are often global, but we emphasize implications for agriculture and natural resources in California. The audience for AIC research and outreach includes decision makers in industry, non-governmental organizations and governments, as well as scholars, journalists, students and the general public.

Our priorities

  • International trade and globalization of agriculture
  • Advances in productivity and technology in agriculture
  • Linkages between natural resources, the environment and agriculture
  • Rural-urban interactions, particularly land use issues
  • Agricultural personnel and labor issues
  • Commodity market and agribusiness issues

Our organization
The Center consists of a director, several associate directors, a small professional staff and an Advisory Board. The Board, made up of leaders from the agricultural community and other public sectors, helps determine the Center’s agenda and provides policy guidance for its programs. The associate directors, chosen from UC research and extension personnel, lead our efforts in particular program areas. In a sense, the “staff” of the AIC includes the entire UC faculty and more. When issues have been selected for study, researchers from across the UC system and representatives of government and industry are invited to help design and carry out the effort. Center projects may involve 50 or more individuals for a year or two, with the Center coordinating study groups and providing support. Major projects have focused on such issues as:

  • Chemicals in the human food chain
  • Irrigation water transfers from two Northern California counties
  • Animal agriculture’s impacts on water quality
  • Maintaining viable agriculture at the urban edge
  • Exotic pests and diseases of plants and animals in California

Other Center activities have ranged from “competitive edge” studies of agricultural industries to development of a better system for estimating California’s farm exports.

Significant financial support for the Center comes from:

  • The state appropriation established at the Center’s inception
  • Supplemental funding from the UC Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources
  • Extramural grants for specific projects
  • An endowment currently being built through gifts from individuals, foundations and corporate donors

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