The Agricultural Research Council on its creation in 1931 inherited, as it were, a substantial research service in the form of established institutes, many of long standing. The earliest identified research priorities were all related to animal disease at a time when the then four veterinary schools were ill-housed with minimal staff and with little or no research capability. The ARC's role was then essentially advisory. Although it established its first institute in 1937 against considerable opposition, it did not become financially independent, in England and Wales at least, until 1956. In the meantime, a reluctance on the part of certain universities to take advantage of opportunities to expand agricultural research activities did much to steer the Council's policy towards investing in its own institutes rather than by attempting to support research on any considerable scale in university departments. As a result of this policy, the universities in general and the veterinary schools in particular have fared much less well in comparison with the scientific disciplines supported by the other Research Councils. On the other hand, many aspects of agricultural research, which at one time were restricted to the universities and colleges, have progressed most notably in the institutes directly financed or grant-aided by the ARC. This applies especially to plant breeding and to animal health.
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