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The objective of this paper is to review key conceptual issues in the finance, management, and economic impact analysis of agricultural research of the U.S. and other western developed countries, to critique evidence on the impacts of R&D, to summarize new developments and emerging trends in agricultural science policy, and to speculate about the likely effect of these trends during the 21st century on impacts of R&D. The conceptual review emphasizes refinements in the theory of public goodsassociated with a class of impure publicgoods. Some overall conclusions are presented for U.S. agricultural research policy of the 21st century