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Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Land Grant & Sea Grant: Acts, History & Institutions

"An Act Donating Public Lands to the several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts."
– First Morrill Act, 1862

Land Grant History 

  • Events leading to the establishment of Land-Grant universities.
  • Timeline of federal legislation affecting public higher education and Extension.

UF/IFAS: A Brief Overview 

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to education, research and Extension.


UF/IFAS can trace its roots to the Morrill Act of 1862 which established the Land Grant university system.

On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law what is generally referred to as the Land Grant Act. The new piece of legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont granted to each state 30,000 acres of public land for each Senator and Representative under apportionment based on the 1860 census. Proceeds from the sale of these lands were to be invested in a perpetual endowment fund which would provide support for colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts in each of the states.

The establishment of Florida Agricultural College at Lake City in 1884 under the Morrill Act marked the beginning of what became the College of Agriculture of the University of Florida in 1906.

  • FIRST MORRILL ACT. July 2, 1862. An Act Donating Public Lands to the several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.
  • SECOND MORRILL ACT. August 30, 1890. An Act To apply a portion of the proceeds of the public lands to the more complete endowment and support of the colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts established under the provisions of An Act of Congress approved July second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two.
  • BANKHEAD-JONES ACT OF 1935. June 29, 1935. In order to provide for the more complete endowment and support of the colleges in the several States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.
  • 1994 NATIVE INDIAN LEGISLATION. An Act conferring Land-Grant status on 29 tribal colleges.


Through approval of the Hatch Act of 1887, Congress provided for the establishment of an agricultural experiment station at each of the land grant colleges. The Florida Agricultural Experiment Station was established in 1888 as a part of the Florida Agricultural College at Lake City.

In 1906, the East Florida Seminary joined the Florida Agricultural College and was moved to Gainesville. The renamed University of Florida was now the land grant college in Florida, and the Agricultural Experiment Station became a unit of the College of Agriculture at UF.

Today, the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station operates research and education programs at 22 locations throughout Florida.

  • HATCH ACT. March 2, 1887. An Act to establish agricultural experiment stations in connection with the colleges established in several states under the provisions of an act approved July 2, 1862, and of the acts supplementary thereto.


The third arm of the land grant system was provided by the Smith-Lever Act in 1914. This Act established the Cooperative Extension Service and specified that the service would be associated with a land grant college. The Smith-Lever Act also stipulated that federal funds be matched with local funds.

Florida Cooperative Extension is a partnership between UF/IFAS, United States Department of Agriculture, and county governments in Florida to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public through non-resident educational programs.

Operating as part of UF/IFAS, Extension serves each of the state's 67 counties by providing information and conducting educational programs on issues such as sustainable agriculture, competitiveness in world markets, natural resource conservation, energy conservation, food safety, child and family development, consumer credit counselling, and youth development.

  • SMITH-LEVER ACT. Established in 1914, Cooperative Extension was designed as a partnership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the land-grant universities, which were authorized by the Federal Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. Legislation in the various States has enabled local governments or organized groups in the Nation's counties to become a third legal partner in this education endeavor.
  • CHAPTER 79. May 8, 1914. An 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 the Acts supplementary thereto, and the United States Department of Agriculture.


Sea-Grant Institutions

In 1966 the U.S. Congress established the National Sea Grant College Program. The term "Sea Grant" was chosen to emphasize the parallel between this new program focusing on the nation's marine resources, and the Land Grant Program, which was created more than a century earlier to develop our agricultural resources.

  • SEA GRANT ACT. October 15, 1966. An Act authorizing the establishment and operation of sea grant colleges and programs by initiating and supporting programs of education and research in the various fields relating to the development of marine resources, and for other purposes.

Sea Grant is a partnership of academia, government, and industry focusing on coastal and marine resources. It operates through a university-based network to meet environmental and economic needs. Base funding for Sea Grant comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Department of Commerce. This partnership has created a national network of researchers and educators focused on promoting better understanding and more informed use of our coastal, ocean and Great Lakes resources.

The Florida Sea Grant College Program, created in 1972, functions administratively as a State of Florida center through the Florida Board of Education, Division of Colleges and Universities. The program has system-wide responsibility for research and education activities designed to create a better coastal environment.

Today, there are 32 Sea Grant programs—one in every coastal and Great Lakes state and in Puerto Rico. Sea Grant conducts research, education and outreach to use and conserve coastal and marine resources for a sustainable economy and environment.

Land-Grant Institutions 

While the land-grant tripartite mission rests originally on the Morrill Act of 1862, the Hatch Act of 1887 and the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, Congress has modified, expanded and reaffirmed the land-grant charter many times including:;

  • Adams Act - 1906
  • Nelson Act - 1907
  • Smith-Hughes Act - 1917
  • Parnell Act - 1925
  • Copper-Ketcham Act - 1928
  • Bankhead-Jones Act - 1935
  • Bankhead-FlannegAn Act - 1945
  • Research Marketing Act - 1946
  • Amendment to Smith-Lever Act - 1953, 1955, 1961, 1962, 1968
  • Amended Hatch Act - 1955
  • McIntire-Stennis Act - 1962
  • Research Facilities Act - 1965
  • Public Law 89-106 - 1965
  • National Sea Grant College and Program Act - 1966
  • Rural Development Act - 1972
  • Food and Agriculture Act - 1977
  • National Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching Act - Title XIV - 1977
  • Resource Extension Act - 1978
  • Amendment to Title XIV - 1981
  • Agriculture and Food Act - 1981
  • Amendment to Title XIV of Food Security Act - 1985

Moreover, Congress, in effect, recommits to the federal-state land-grant partnership every time it passes the appropriation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.