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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Research stations & the budget

The NC Flue Cured Tobacco Tour at the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station, near Rocky Mount, NC. Over 120 growers, researchers, cooperative extension agents, and industry members attended the 2 day tour, which visited projects at the Upper Coastal Plain and Lower Coastal Plain (Kinston, NC) Research Stations.

We're at the beginnings of the North Carolina state budget process, but already some issues are rising to attention. The current 2011 budget from the governor proposes (among many other things) transferring the 12 North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA & CS) research stations to NC State University as well as the sale of 7 stations as surplus property. We certainly need to look at all options to economize and optimize during the current budget situation, but we also need to be careful with how we make these decisions.

Research stations have been crucial to my extension and research program. I quickly totaled the number of projects I have done on research stations in the 3 years I have been in North Carolina. From 2008 through 2011, I have had:
17 Tobacco Research Projects
3 Blueberry Projects
5 Blackberry Projects
7 Strawberry Projects

These projects have been at 10 research stations across the entire state. Just a few impacts of these projects include:
Supporting the registration of 3 new insecticides in tobacco & developing recommendations for their use in an IPM system
Discovering new information on the biology of tobacco splitworm, an emerging pest
Determining thrips biology in blackberries and tobacco
Discovery of the first reproducing spotted wing drosophila populations in the eastern US

These impacts would not have been possible without the fantastic support of the North Carolina Research Stations. Cuts are inevitable, but again, we need to be wise with the cuts. The NC Agribusiness Council has a great summary of the current status of the research station proposal.

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