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Smith–Lever Act of 1914

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Smith-Lever Act
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titlesAgriculture Extension Act
Long titleAn Act to provide for cooperative agricultural extension work between the agricultural colleges in the several States receiving the benefits of an act of congress approved July second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, and of acts supplementary thereto, and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Enacted bythe 63rd United States Congress
EffectiveMay 8, 1914
Public lawPub.L. 63–95
Statutes at Large38 Stat. 372, Chapter 79
Titles amended7 U.S.C.: Agriculture
U.S.C. sections created7 U.S.C. ch. 13 § 341
Legislative history

The Smith–Lever Act of 1914 is a United States federal law that established a system of cooperative extension services, connected to the land-grant universities, in order to inform people about current developments in agriculture, home economics, public policy/government, leadership, 4-H, economic development, coastal issues (National Sea Grant College Program), and many other related subjects. It helped farmers learn new agricultural techniques by the introduction of home instruction.

The appropriation for cooperative extension is shared between the states based on the following formula. Once the historic amount that has been allocated for "special needs" programs is set aside[1] and an additional 4% is reserved for USDA administrative costs, the remaining funds are allocated:[2]

  • 20% shared by all States in equal proportions;
  • 40% shared in the proportion that the rural population of each bears to the total rural population of the several States as determined by the census;
  • 40% shared in the proportion that the farm population of each bears to the total farm population of the several States as determined by the census.

Except for the "1994 Land-grant colleges" for Native Americans, each state must match its Federal cooperative extension funds.[3]

In addition, an amount no less than 6% of the total Smith-Lever Act appropriation is appropriated for the extension programs of the "1890 Land-grant colleges" (historically black colleges). These funds are also shared between the 1890 colleges by the 20/40/40% formula, with Alabama A&M and Tuskegee University treated as though they were in different states.

In 1964, a US stamp was issued honoring homemakers for the 50th anniversary of the Smith–Lever Act.[4][5]

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  • ✪ Smith-Lever Act 100 Year Anniversary
  • ✪ Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act
  • ✪ University of Wyoming Extension Centennial 1914-2014


There’s more to this birthday cake than flour, sugar and candles, there is a century of hard work and dedication baked in, too. For 100 years now the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service has been improving life for everyone in Arkansas through education and leadership. So, we thought we'd use this occasion to reflect and to celebrate a century of service we’ve given to the people of our state.   Agriculture has long been the backbone of the American economy by delivering an abundant and safe food supply to a growing nation and by supplying industry with a reliable source of raw material. In 1862, the Morrill Act established land grant universities in every state to foster research and technology. And in 1914 Congress acted again teaming the Extension Service with the land grant Universities to channel those advancements in agricultural research to American farmers. It’s important to remember that in the 18th and 19th centuries nearly everyone in the United States lived or worked on a farm – that was especially true here in Arkansas. But farmers were mostly untrained, and they often held on to arcane and unproductive ways of farming. This meant that many farmers were barely able to produce enough to feed their own families, and many farm families in Arkansas lived in poverty.   By 1900, major changes were well underway in American society. Science and technology was transforming industry and commerce. People were leaving farms and small towns and moving to bustling cities, attracted by the prospect of a better life, plentiful jobs and boundless opportunities. At land grant universities, research and technology was also advancing the science of farming. Researchers were developing better seed and plant varieties, and formulating chemical compounds to combat pests and disease. Universities were also innovating farming strategies that increased efficiency and made farming profitable.     But, agriculture was slow to advance because farmers were isolated and very few of them had access to the innovations coming from research. Eventually, leaders in agriculture and government realized that agriculture had to advance if America was going to be able to feed and clothe its growing population. Others saw agriculture as vital to national security as the world teetered on global war. Together these leaders crafted legislation to bring badly needed, cutting-edge research and training to American farmers. The Smith-Lever Act created us, the Agricultural Extension Service, we’re now called the Cooperative Extension Service. We began as a network of farm demonstration agents from the University of Arkansas, who taught farmers all over the state how to be more effective by using the latest university recommendations in their farming operations. The signing of the Smith-Lever Act into law in 1914 revolutionized American agriculture and stimulated rural society across the country and in Arkansas. President Woodrow Wilson called it, “one of the most significant and far-reaching measures for the education of adults ever adopted by the government.”   The program was so successful with farmers that the model was extended to teach farm women and children how to grow gardens, how to preserve food through canning, and other critical homemaking skills like clothes construction and financial budgeting. The Agricultural Extension Service and its county agents were instrumental in many of Arkansas’s most important historical episodes. During the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, demonstration agents saved countless Arkansans from financial ruin and even starvation by showing families how to grow food gardens, and how to stretch their dollars, among other crucial skills. We were also instrumental in the bringing electricity to rural Arkansas towns and farms during the 1940’s and 50’s. Demonstration agents surveyed and mapped vast stretches of Arkansas backcountry, and they worked tirelessly educating and winning the support of, often wary, rural merchants and farmers to the benefits of electric power. The electrification of Arkansas’s rural counties was perhaps the state’s landmark achievement that helped catapult Arkansas into the American mainstream. During World War Two, the Extension Service joined the war effort at home, leading the all-out-drive for food production by initiating family and community “Victory Gardens”. Home demonstration agents taught gardening, nutrition, conservation and helped families with rationing. Working together, agriculture agents and Arkansas farmers overcame poor weather, insects, and labor and equipment shortages to meet the state’s wartime production goals. And it was the Extension Service who assumed leadership over 10,000 German POWs put to work in Arkansas fields, as 4-H members canned food, grew crops, sold bonds and collected salvage. Famine followed the war in Europe and Asia, so agriculture agents joined the effort to “win the peace” by, again, assisting Arkansas farmers reach production goals with new, innovative farming and conservation strategies. Agents found allies in returning war veterans, many of whom had operated modern military machinery. These men wanted to modernize their operations so they eagerly adopted Extension recommendations. As a result, Arkansas agriculture prospered throughout the post-war years. The second half of the century saw Extension’s role in Arkansas expand far beyond the farm as Arkansas modernized and urbanized. A highlight of the 1960’s was the formation of county development councils in all 75 counties that were successful getting federal and other assistance to fund building projects, workforce training, and job creation. The 1970’s were marked by a focus on the family, health and education and quality of life for all Arkansans. The last two decades of the 20th century brought new challenges to Arkansas agriculture. Government restrictions on pesticides and public passions over environmental conservation were two major issues with which Arkansas farmers had to contend. And, again, producers turned to the Cooperative Extension Service for guidance and inventive solutions. The new millennium has ushered in new challenges for Arkansas Agriculture. Extension economists are actively searching out stable markets for Arkansas farm products in a volatile globalized economy. The threat posed by weather extremes has agricultural scientists are developing hardier crops and has Extension engineers and devising strategies that mitigate the effect of our unstable climate. Today demonstration agents continue to fill programs with families eager to learn how to stretch their dollars, other agents are producing significant health care costs savings by leading health and nutrition education classes and fitness programs. Our 4-H program remains the leading youth development program in the state. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in Arkansas over the past century and look forward to another one hundred years of serving the need of the people of out state and we look forward to another century of serving the people of our state. Recent studies show that each public dollar invested in agricultural research and extension generates twenty dollars or more in public benefits. Before we blow out the candles on this celebration we want to invite you to learn more about who we are and how we can help you and your community. Call, or, better yet, drop by your county Extension Service Office. You can also go to our website to find the wealth of information we have posted for you online at  

See also


  1. ^ 7 U.S.C. § 343(b)(1)
  2. ^ 7 U.S.C. § 343(c)(2)
  3. ^ 7 U.S.C. § 343(e)(1)
  4. ^ "Leaving Their Stamp on History". Archived from the original on 2015-09-06.
  5. ^ "Arago: Homemakers Issue".

External links

This page was last edited on 19 October 2019, at 07:20
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