The CSU ​has always been a strong contributor to the agriculture, food and beverage industries, and agricultural research remains an important focus of CSU faculty and students. With colleges of agriculture on four CSU campuses, and allied disciplines across the CSU, the breadth of agricultural expertise is extensive.


Ten existing campus centers and institutes (CCIs) are devoted to agricultural research at the CSU. These research organizations are affiliated with CSU campuses but also offer noncredit instruction, information or other services to groups beyond the campus community. They are designed to serve public organizations or agencies, private companies and even individuals throughout California. The CCIs range from the Agribusiness Institute at Chico State University offering general agricultural business expertise, to the Irrigation Training and Resource Center at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, which provides training and technical assistance for industry members, farmers and state and local government agencies. The four CSU campuses with colleges of agriculture operate working farms and ranches to support classes and research in agriculture.


The CSU's Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) is a multicampus affinity group linking the range of diverse research activities occuring at various campuses in the CSU through collaboration and knowledge sharing. ARI works with four member campuses, two affiliated campuses and allied disciplines across the CSU to conduct applied research in an effort to make California's agriculture, natural resources and food systems more resilient and sustainable. Since its launch in 1999, ARI has transformed agricultural research at the CSU with more than $160 million in grant funding and nearly 950 projects.

In FY 2018-19, 132 active projects were being conducted by ARI faculty and students. Environmental and water issues are being addressed in 32 percent and 23 percent of projects respectively, while 17 percent of projects address regulations and labor issues. Research projects cover a variety of topics ranging from advanced technologies, animals, business and economics, environment, farming and ranching, food science, health, human sciences, natural resources, and plants. ARI expenditures across the six ARI-affiliated campuses, including system projects, totaled $3.782 million. These funds were matched with an additional $3.829 million from industry, state and federal sources.

This research profoundly affects student experience and development. Approximately 95 percent of all ARI projects employed students to assist with research projects. These opportunities increase student engagement and allow them to become deeply involved with their discipline and gain knowledge that will help them in their careers. The skills learned through research are a value-added component to their education, and result in a significant downstream economic impact.