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Thursday, February 9, 2012

National Institute of Food and Agriculture Listening Session

The way we nationally fund agricultural science has changed dramatically in the last five years.  Perhaps the most notable and impactful change has been the move away from long-term dedicated funding for research and extension programs (such as regional integrated pest management (IPM) centers) and the move toward large multi state, multi disciplinary grants.  While neither of these may sound dramatic on their own, the effect has been to reduce support for research and extension infrastructure, things that are difficult to fund with grants.  These changes have also made it more difficult, in some cases, to fund promising preliminary research and for scientists to explore new fields, since its difficult to compete for huge grants without an abundance of background information.  Some positive results have come from recent changes to USDA funding as well, including the increased availability of funding for specialty crops (also known as "minor" crops) which are essentially anything other than large commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, etc.).  Much of my work on blackberries, raspberries, hops, and blueberries has been supported by these funds.

The National Institue of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has scheduled a listening session to solicit public comments for use in crafting future grant requests for February 22nd at the Waterfront Center in Washington, DC.  Stakeholders who use and conduct research, extension, or education activities are invited and encouraged to attend.  If you're reading this blog, that includes you!  You can find meeting details and registration information here.  In addition to this in person meeting, at least seven webinars will be held for stakeholders unable to come to Washington.  Watch the NIFA website for more information.

This is an important opportunity for stakeholder feedback and has the potential to directly impact how we support agriculture in the future.

1 comment:

fruitculture said...

It would be interesting to open a space for a discussion of possible ideas and experiences to solve these hardships that would otherwise remain only that. If this is interesting I'll be the first to make a contribution.
I wish her ​​good work and all those who contribute to the solution of problems.