The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the principal in-house research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). ARS is one of four agencies in USDA's Research, Education and Economics mission area. ARS is charged with extending the nation's scientific knowledge and solving agricultural problems through its four national program areas: nutrition, food safety and quality; animal production and protection; natural resources and sustainable agricultural systems; and crop production and protection. ARS research focuses on solving problems affecting Americans every day.
ARS also has six major human nutrition research centers that focus on solving a wide spectrum of human nutrition questions by providing authoritative, peer-reviewed, science-based evidence. The centers are located in Arkansas, Maryland, Texas, North Dakota, Massachusetts, and California. ARS scientists at these centers study the role of food and dietary components in human health from conception to advanced old age.
ARS’s complex role in conducting scientific research for the American public is reflected in its mission, which is to conduct research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to:
ensure high quality, safe food and other agricultural products,
assess the nutritional needs of Americans,
sustain a competitive agricultural economy,
enhance the natural resource base and the environment, and
provide economic opportunities to rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.
ARS research complements the work of state colleges and universities, agricultural experiment stations, other federal and state agencies, and the private sector. ARS research may often focus on regional issues that have national implications, and where there is a clear federal role. ARS also provides information on its research results to USDA action and regulatory agencies and to several other federal regulatory agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
ARS disseminates much of its research results through scientific journals, technical publications, Agricultural Research magazine, and other forums. Information is also distributed through ARS’s National Agricultural Library (NAL). ARS has more than 150 librarians and other information specialists who work at two NAL locations—the Abraham Lincoln Building in Beltsville, Maryland; and the DC Reference Center in Washington, D.C. NAL provides reference and information services, document delivery, interlibrary loan and interlibrary borrowing services to a variety of audiences.