College agriculture programs will likely rely increasingly on public and private partnerships, UC ANR vice president Dan Dooley told the Los Angeles Times for an article on funding cuts to the state's preeminent agricultural education programs.
The article, which appears on the front page of the Times' website today, focused on Cal Poly Pomona, Fresno State and UC ag programs. State support for agricultural and natural resources at UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UC Riverside has dropped 15 to 20 percent in the last three years. At UC ANR, Dooley said, dozens of administrative and support positions have been eliminated, research has been cut, and some departments within colleges have been eliminated or consolidated.
Dooley expressed concern about the repercussions of reduced public investment in agricultural research and education.
"There's an enormous relationship between public investment in agricultural research and farm productivity," Dooley was quoted. "If we're going to play a significant role in meeting worldwide demand, including adjusting to climate change, we're going to have to enhance productivity.... California has always been the leader."
Times reporter Carla Rivera wrote that some of the state's ag schools are looking for creative ways to boost their budgets. At Fresno State and Cal Poly, ag departments are expanding beef, pork and wine sales to the public.
Fresno State is looking into growing its own animal feed to cut costs. The Pomona campus hosts a pumpkin festival, sells produce at local farmers markets and in the school's farm store, and is investing in higher quality horses, which are auctioned online for as much as $25,000. Cal Poly is also considering opening a petting zoo.
Agriculture and extension programs at land-grant universities around the nation are feeling the impact of university budget cuts, according to an Associated Press story that was picked up by several major newspapers.
“We’re mortgaging our future with some of these cuts,” the story quoted Ian Maw, vice president for food, agriculture and natural resources at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
The story bore a Minneapolis dateline and began with the plight of the University of Minnesota Extension program.
"People may not see the impact tomorrow but they will see long-term that not investing now means we’ll have more problems in the future,” said Beverly Durgan, dean of the University of Minnesota Extension program.
Other universities covered included:
- University of Georgia, where the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences recently decided to lay off 18 workers and sell a farm
- Iowa State University, where the extension program is planning for a 6 percent reduction in state funding
- Pennsylvania State University, where extension expects a cut between $5.5 million an $8 million.
“Final decisions haven’t been made but the reality is with each reduction we’re going to have to decide what we’re going to do and what we’re not going to do,” Dooley was quoted.
Vice President of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Dan Dooley, speaking at the Farm Foundation Forum in Washington, D.C., last month, proposed a new direction for funding research and teaching in agriculture, according to an article in Lancaster Farming.
He pointed to the 1944 GI Bill, the National Defense Education Act of 1956, and the Higher Education Act and Pell Grants of 1965 as examples of earlier notable federal initiatives.
For the 21st century, Dooley suggested a “Food Security and Sustainability Act," which could lead to funding for research projects and university-supported programs for agriculture.
Other panelists on the Farm Foundation Forum, which took place at the National Press Club, were former U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm of Texas, Nicole Ballenger of the University of Wyoming and George Norton of Virginia Tech.
The Lancaster Farming article said the panelists agreed on a number of points:
- The well-being of the nation depends on a strong, pro-active agricultural system served by vibrant college and university agriculture programs
- "Business as usual” is over
- New sources of funding for agricultural training and research must be cultivated
- Rewards and opportunities are necessary to entice bright minds to do research and tackle the problems facing modern farming in the U.S.
- Extension services are the “face” of the university, and therefore their funding and their roles must be guarded
According to reporter Janice Booth, Dooley spoke about the state of agriculture programs at the University of California.
“Since 1990, there has been a 40 percent decline in (California’s) investment in education,” he said.
The segregation of agriculture services at the federal and university levels further impedes growth. At UC, colleges of agriculture are not integrated with the larger institution, and thus miss some of the opportunities to collaborate with other colleges in research and academic initiatives, Dooley said.
The main focus for the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the coming year is beginning to rebuild, according to an article published today in AgAlert, the California Farm Bureau Federation's weekly newspaper.
The article, written by assistant editor Ching Lee, was based on information gathered directly from ANR vice president Dan Dooley.
The story says Dooley expects to be able to hire 20 to 30 new Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists in the coming year. The good news comes in the wake of major restructuring last year due to a 20 percent budget cut.
The 2010-11 budget, he said, is a very positive budget for the University of California.
"I think one of the things we were able to do was change the relative priority of higher education," Dooley was quoted. "We put a lot of energy into the advocacy effort and engaged a lot of people, and I think it bore some fruit."
Dooley said he doesn't foresee any specific, major restructuring for ANR in the coming year, Lee wrote, but there could still be more changes.
"Regardless of funding, if it's appropriate for us to look at more efficient mechanisms to administer our programs, we're going to continue to do that," Dooley was quoted. "I just think that's good business. Any successful private business is always looking at its organization and asking the question, 'Are we properly managing our efforts?' And we'll continue to do that here as well."
"We really believe we've got to restore the capacities of our cooperative extension programs," Dooley was quoted in the story.
In the 1980s, there were about 500 UCCE advisors in California. Today, the number is 225. Dooley's goal is to bring the number up to 300.
In his remarks, Klingborg noted that the need for vibrant agricultural industries will only intensify as the population increases.
"One of the things I'm reminded of is that by 2050 we're going to need twice as much food as we need today," Klingborg was quoted. "The challenge is, how do we prepare ourselves today?"