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The current program in tropical/subtropical agriculture research had its legislative origin in Section 406 appended by PL 89-808. Section 406 was an outgrowth of the World Food Conference held in Rome, Italy, in November 1974. At that conference, representatives from the United States of America announced that the United States could not "feed the world" but would contribute to the assistance of developing countries in efforts to strengthen their own food production capabilities.

Section 406 authorized the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture to (1) Enter into research contracts and cooperative agreements with Land-Grant Universities and other appropriate research institutions; (2) conduct research on crop and food products and make the results available to friendly developing nations; (3) increase cooperation with the Peace Corps, Agency for International Development, and foundations to accomplish the overall mission of the program; and (4) authorize expenditures up to $33 million annually to accomplish the missions of the program.

The initial funding to the U. S. Department of Agriculture for research under this program occurred in the late ‘70s when an appropriation of under $400,000 was allocated to the Agriculture Research Service (ARS). During the first years of operation, research was conducted by ARS and selected cooperating universities. In 1983, the decision was made to reassign the program from ARS to the Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS, now CSREES), USDA, with $735,000 being allocated to the ARS Tropical Agriculture research program and $640,000 of that amount being directed to the Tropical Agriculture Research Station, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The balance of $2,980,000 available in 1983 was allocated to CSRS for the T-STAR-Caribbean and T-STAR-Pacific programs. Small incremental increases in the appropriation were obtained after1984 until the appropriation became $3,341,000 in Fiscal Year 1990. Each year funding was divided equally between the Caribbean and Pacific Basins. Reductions in appropriations occurred in the ‘90s bringing the total to about $2.8 million annually.

Research is conducted through Special Grants in Tropical/Subtropical Agriculture Research awarded by CSREES. Program management in the basins is conducted by the Caribbean and Pacific Basin Administrative Groups (CBAG and PBAG).