The research agenda for public agricultural research is currently the subject of considerable debate. Changes in the structure of American agriculture have brought with them the need for public sector scientists and administrators to reconsider the mission of public research. Indeed, the question of the proper mission for public research is a pressing one, since with the upcoming centennial of the Hatch Act in 1987, there are increasingly calls from both inside and outside the agricultural research establishment for a "new commitment" to the public purpose in public sector research. What this means is, however, far from clear.