Thursday, April 03, 2008

FARM BILL ACTION ALERT -- IMMEDIATE ATTENTION NEEDED

The following Action Alert was sent to National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC)Board of Agriculture Assembly and the Councils on Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching and Governmental Affairs. I encourage you to consider adding your voice in concern over funding for the "Research, Teaching, and Extension" Title of the Farm Bill.

Below the Action Alert is a plea to the Farm Bill Conferees that provides additional information that you can may find useful.

ACTION ALERT – HOUSE and SENATE CALLS/EMAILS NEEDED - IMMEDIATELY!

TO: Board on Agriculture Assembly
Council on Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching
Council on Governmental Affairs

As you know, (see: www.create-21.org/alerts/02-13-2008.htm) the top Farm Bill priority for the land-grant system is mandatory funding for research, extension, and teaching.

Current documents from the House-Senate Farm Bill conference show a $1.244 billion reduction in such funding -- a 75% reduction in the "Research, Teaching, and Extension" Title. No other title in the Farm Bill received such a large percentage reduction.

We need you -- and your researchers, extension personnel, graduate students, and any other parties willing to help -- to immediately call and/or email your senators and representatives. Please urge them to communicate with the Agriculture Committee leadership in their respective chamber. (Senators Harkin and Chambliss or Representatives Peterson and Goodlatte)

WE NEED TO INUNDATE CAPITOL HILL WITH OUR CALLS AND EMAILS!

The message follows:

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Dear (Senator/Representative):

I am calling/writing to express my strong concern with regard to the House-Senate conference on H.R. 2419, the Farm Bill.

While it is encouraging to hear of progress being made which would bring the conference to a conclusion, I am distressed by indications that existing mandatory "Research Title" funding for land-grant research, extension, and teaching will be all but wiped out.

Over the past many years, I have heard senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle talk about the need for more funding, not less.

Additional university funding is absolutely necessary to combat the growing problem of obesity; to find new conservation techniques for preserving soil and water; to develop methods to provide more plant and animal production at less cost (to the farmer, the consumer, and the environment); and to find ways to feed our citizens and people in the rest of the world.

The most recent conference documents indicate a reduction of $1.244 billion from the Research Title — a cut of over 75%!

This would appear to be the largest percentage cut from the baseline of any title in the Farm Bill. And, it would be far below what either House or Senate Bills contained when originally passed.

We recognize that difficult decisions lie before the conferees. But these massive cuts to the Research Title are inconsistent with the increase in overall Farm Bill spending and are disproportionate to that being contemplated in other titles of the bill (such as trade and crop insurance).
The challenges facing rural America and the nation’s nutrition-challenged populations have never been greater — and neither have the opportunities to meet these challenges. We cannot address these and other problems without an enhanced investment in land-grant research, extension, and teaching.

The best opportunity to do that is in this Farm Bill.

Please do not let the outcome of this Farm Bill be the destruction of existing Research Title funding. If you cannot find ways to enhance funding, I urge you to at least protect the current land-grant funding baseline.

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There is a tremendous stake for the land-grant system in a positive outcome. We need you and all of your faculty, staff, graduate students, and outside supporters to make these calls and emails!

Thanks, as always, for your assistance.

PLEA TO FARM BILL CONFEREES:

DO NOT KILL THE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH BASELINE

Based on limited available information, we are of the understanding that the tentative agreements reached by House and Senate Agriculture Committee staff on the Research Title of the Farm Bill will, if ratified by the Conferees, result in three significant fiscal impacts regarding agricultural research:

  1. It eliminates current law Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) funding – a net loss in the Farm Bill of $1.6 billion in budget authority ($1.244 billion in budget outlays)
  2. It creates two or three new targeted mandatory research programs for specialty crops, organics, and energy. No figures are available but the total is approximately $200 million over five years.
  3. It terminates these targeted programs in 2012. This will result in ZERO dollars in the Committee baseline for agricultural research in FY 2012 and the future.

This course of action would be a huge step backwards for the federal commitment to agriculture, nutrition, energy and related research – with permanent negative repercussions far beyond the five year life of the Farm Bill.

  • REPEALS MORE THAN $1.2 BILLION (OUTLAYS) IN MANDATORY AG RESEARCH FUNDING: The tentative agreement would abandon funding for the IFAFS program provided in current law in the amount of $200 million per year for eight fiscal years (2010 through 2017). This would repeal $1.6 BILLION in mandatory research budget authority (and $1.244 Billion in outlays) over the 10 year budget baseline of the bill.

  • TARGETED RESEARCH FUNDS ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE: While the tentative agreement reportedly includes some mandatory funding targeted to specialty crops, organics, and renewable energy, the total amount of new mandatory research funds made available are more than ONE BILLION DOLLARS LESS THAN CURRENT LAW.


  • KILLS LONG TERM COMMITMENT TO AG RESEARCH BY REPEALING PERMANENT LAW BUDGET BASELINE: Not only does the tentative agreement specifically terminate IFAFS funds beginning immediately, it would eliminate the new, targeted funds in FY 2012. This means that the budget baseline for all of these agriculture research priorities will be ZERO when the next Farm Bill is written in 2012. Specialty crops research baseline = ZERO. Renewable energy research baseline = ZERO. Organics research baseline = ZERO. IFAFS research baseline = ZERO. This would reverse more than 10 years of effort in building the budget baseline for agricultural, nutrition, renewable energy, and related research.

HOW YOU CAN HELP!

PRESERVE THE BUDGET BASELINE FOR MANDATORY AGRICULTURE RESEARCH FUNDING BY:

  1. PROVIDING MANDATORY FUNDS THROUGH FY 2012. DO NOT MAKE BASE FUNDING “SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATIONS” IN THE FARM BILL.
  1. MAINTAINING FUNDING FOR IFAFS AT THE HIGHEST AMOUNT POSSIBLE—ESPECIALLY IN FY 2012.


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