Segment 1 Of 4 Next Hearing Segment(2)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH, EDUCATION, AND EXTENSION PROGRAMS
TUESDAY, JUNE 17, 1997
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource
Conservation, and Research,
Committee on Agriculture,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:30 a.m., in room 1300, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Larry Combest (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Smith, Everett, Lucas, Moran, Jenkins, Cooksey, Dooley of California, Brown, Stabenow, John, Peterson, Pomeroy, Berry, and Goode.
Staff present: John E. Hogan, chief counsel; John Goldberg, Russell Laird, Callista Bisek, Wanda Worsham, clerk, and Anne Simmons.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. LARRY COMBEST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. COMBEST. The hearing of the Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource Conservation, and Research to review the role of Federal, State, and private agricultural research shall come to order.
Good morning and welcome to all of our guests and witnesses who are here today.
I would first like to thank you very much for taking your time to share with us the thoughts and ideas that you have about what I think is one of the most important subjects in the field of agriculture.
Today is the first in a series of at least four hearings that we will have that are planned by this subcommittee to review agricultural research, education, and extension programs.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I've always felt that our cutting edge technology which is dependent on strong research and development efforts is what gives American agriculture the advantage over the rest of the world. While we have some of the most productive land in the world and very hardworking people who produce our food and fiber, we cannot and will not stay competitive on a world market without continued investments in agriculture research extension and in education.
I believe that all the components of our agricultural research portfolio do an excellent job and are something that we should be very proud of. I view agricultural research as the stabilizing roots of our agricultural system. It is the foundation of the system that has brought us to where we are today and the foundation to build on into the future.
Agricultural research has led to a six-fold increase in agricultural labor productivity since 1948. Almost 50 years ago, the number of people fed by one farmer was 15. Today, one farmer is able to feed 96 others. That being said, I also believe that periodic review of all government programs is necessary. Likewise, I believe we have a difficult, but very important job ahead of us as we approach this endeavor.
While there has been some review and incremental adjustments in research programs during the regular farm bill process over the last several years, it has been nearly 15 years since a comprehensive review of these programs was undertaken and 20 years since comprehensive legislation addressing agricultural research programs passed through the Congress.
Further, with passage of the 1996 farm bill came fundamental changes to Federal farm policy which will expose farmers to additional risk in the marketplace. In light of this substantial change in farm policy it is even more critical that strong support for research programs is maintained to insure that we can keep the competitive edge in the technology area. While this is our goal, the degree of difficulty involved is multiplied by our tight budget situation and numerous competing needs.
No matter what good intentions we may have in this committee, I will remind all of our witnesses and observers that this specific funding decision is made in the Appropriations Committee. With that framework in mind, I intend to explore any and all suggestions for improvements that can be made in our research efforts.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 While I will continue to encourage our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to consider the vital importance of investments in agricultural research, I think we need to focus the debate at hand on efforts to improve current research and accomplish more with the same or very possibly fewer dollars.
As I stated earlier, the subcommittee will hold at least four hearings in the coming weeks on this topic. Today's hearing should give us a good overall look at the profile of on-going research efforts by engaging the three main elements of the agricultural research structure Federal, State and private in a discussion about their current and future role.
Today's witnesses will represent the U.S. Department of Agriculture's in-house research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service, research conducted by our Nation's universities, research funded by farmer support and foundations and corporate and other foundations and a general view representing all stakeholders in agricultural research from the vice chairman of the USDA's advisory board.
Tomorrow morning's hearing is intended to give us a better understanding of how the different roles of research can best benefit from leveraging their investments through the formation of partnerships between the public and private sector. After the 4th of July recess, the subcommittee will reconvene and will look at models for coordination between the public and private sector in agricultural research and extension.
Finally, the subcommittee will convene to hear testimony from agricultural organizations regarding their specific recommendations for reauthorizing the research title of the 1996 farm bill.
Again, I would mention to our witnesses that we appreciate their very much time that you have taken to prepare your testimony and appear before this subcommittee and I'm sure I speak for other members of the subcommittee and look very forward to hearing from you in a few moments.
I would recognize at this time the gentleman from California, Mr. Dooley.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 OPENING STATMENT OF HON. CALVIN M. DOOLEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. DOOLEY of California. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank you for holding this the first what will be at least four hearings as we delve into the research issues. I also would like to take just a moment to also welcome my brother Dan who will be testifying on behalf of the USDA Advisory Board. Besides being my brother, he's also my partner in our farming operation in the San Joaquin Valley in California.
I think what our overall objective here is pretty clear. How do we maximize the investment of Federal dollars in research? How do we, by that investment, maximize the support that we receive from State and local, both public and private sources in order that we again maximize and leverage to the greatest extent possible the investment in research.
The paramount need for this, I think, is very clear, and so we are moving into an era where the government is going to be playing less and less of a role in providing income support. We have to provide farmers in our agricultural industry the tools in which they can be competitive in the international marketplace and certainly by this, our Government's participation in facilitating that we're going to be on the leading edge of technology, we can best insure that we are going to be among the low cost competitors that have the ability or provide the ability for our U.S. farmers to capture some of these emerging markets.
What I'd also ask in the conversations and the discussion that we have today is that we at times maybe take I guess the opportunity to look a little bit outside the box. Sometimes I think we find ourselves bound by some of the historic and institutional systems that we have in place and I guess I'd be most interested in hearing if we were going to start from ground zero, would we create the system and the structure that we have in place currently or would we devise something different?
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Would we have the same type of formula funds and allocations or will we have changes in that in order to insure that this investment of Federal dollars is going to be used most effectively.
I look forward to hearing your comments on those issues and many others and hopefully when the dust settles on this issue we can insure that we'll have a reauthorization of a research title which is going to provide the means for our agricultural industry and our rural communities to be able to meet the challenges of international marketplaces as well as some of the real developing needs of their local communities.
Mr. COMBEST. I thank the gentleman. I understand that Dooley Farms is doing much better since you've taken over more full time management.
I would recognize Mr. Smith for any comments.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. NICK SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. SMITH. Just briefly. It's interesting to see how many off-farm jobs it takes to run a farming operation.
As a member of the Budget Committee, I am sure that budgetary pressures are undoubtedly going to put pressure on the amount of Federal funds available to invest in agricultural research programs.
If we're going to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how the Federal funds are spent, we have to look at defining the roles that states and agribusiness and farmers and ranchers themselves will play if we're going to maximize the efficiency and minimize any unnecessary duplication, so I think at a time when we are now putting a greater responsibility on farmers themselves to compete in a ever toughening international market, research has got to continue to be a priority in this and future Congresses.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Goode.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. VIRGIL H. GOODE, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
Mr. GOODE. I look forward, Mr. Chairman, to hearing what all have to say today. Living not too far from Virginia Tech which has benefitted from Federal and State funds in the area of agricultural research and seeing how much a few dollars in research have multiplied for the private sector and for our economy, I hope that this Congress can do all it can in the area of research.
Mr. COMBEST. I thank the gentleman. Mr. Everett.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. TERRY EVERETT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ALABAMA
Mr. EVERETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to take a moment to welcome our guests and while I don't have a brother here, I do have a very close friend and constituent, Mr. Jimmy Sanford from Prattville. Jimmy is the immediate past president of the National Cotton Council and now serves as the chairman of the Cotton Council's Industry and Government Research Committee. He's been a great asset to the cotton industry and I'm happy to have him here with us today.
Mr. Sanford states in his testimony the public and private research systems have been generally responsive to the cotton industry's research needs. I agree with this statement and hope that it rings true for all other areas of the agricultural industry as well. He says that Bt cotton and boll weevil eradication program are two examples of the effectiveness of those research efforts and have proven extremely important to my district. I believe that research is what allows our farmers to be the best and most efficient in the world and it is imperative that both the Government and industry continue to support the corporate research effort.
I look forward to working with you, Mr. Chairman, and the rest of the committee at a time when we're all sort of between the proverbial rock and a hard spot. Our budget, on the one hand, in my estimation, the need for research dollars is perhaps because the change in agricultural industry has never been any greater.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 So thank you for this time.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Everett. Mr. Cooksey.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN COOKSEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF LOUISIANA
Mr. COOKSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here and incidentally, we've had a lot of forestry-related hearings recently, it seems like, and I thank all the panelists for being here this morning, for taking time to present your testimony.
Also, I want to specifically thank Mr. Sanford for being here and for participating in this. Their council has done a lot for research. As a physician, trained in the scientific method, I still have more confidence in the scientific method and research than I do the political method because I'm a freshman and I'm not quite convinced that the political method is always the best way to get the answers, but research is what finds cures for diseases. It's what finds solutions for cotton products, for corn products, for a lot of agriculture products. The scientific method still works and I'm glad you're here.
One of my sources of information in learning last year was a man who has contributed a great deal to agriculture and to research over the years, Chancellor Ross Caffrey and he told me that for every dollar that's spent on research, long term we gain $10 in benefits for that research. I believe that. I know that. I know that to be a fact. So research is very important. This is a very important return only in investment and primarily on the taxpayers' investment.
So for all of those who are representative of the agricultural industry and farming from my district from all the other 435 districts around the country, we're glad you're here. We appreciate your participation and there are some of us that are new to this political arena that do really believe in the scientific method. We're glad you're here. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr Cooksey.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. MARION BERRY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARKANSAS
Mr. BERRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding these hearings. I just want to add to what's been said, that as a farmer myself, I think the fact that the American farmer is the most incredible producer that's ever been known in the history of mankind is largely due to the research effort that's gone into American agriculture over the years and having been a recipient of that myself I certainly appreciate all the work that you have done and the things that agricultural research has meant to this country and to the world. I certainly appreciate you being here and look forward to supporting this effort very much and look forward to another couple of hundred years of great progress in the agriculture area.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Berry.
If any other members have statements to submit, they may be included at this point in the record.
[The statements of Chairman Smith and Mr. Pickering follow:]
"The Official Committee record contains additional material here."
Mr. COMBEST. I will recognize all of our witnesses in a moment with the various hats that they have on, but I would be remiss if I did not introduce a constituent. He is a good friend and a tremendous contributor to agriculture for many, many years, Dr. Robert Albin from Lubbock, TX and Texas Tech University.
Before we get started with your statements, I want to follow up, if I might, just a little bit on what the gentleman from California, Mr. Dooley, said because I think that he made some very good comments in regards to and expressed my feelings of where I'd like to start down this road of reauthorization of the research title.
Having just come off of chairing the Intelligence Committee for 2 years and just finished as serving with vice chairman with Senator Moynihan on a commission to redefine secrecy and security, how do we redevelop those definitions and the roles, but one of the major challenges that we undertook in the Intelligence Committee was to define intelligence for the future. And so many times once a program has been in place as I've mentioned 15 and 20 years in my opening comments, we seemed always to assume that what we have today is the best.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I think Mr. Dooley is exactly correct in looking at this in terms of what would we do today, given what perimeters, what guidelines and what definitions that we have about the needs for the future, differently than we would have done it 20 years ago or how would we do it today if we were just starting today. We always seem to go back to that same pattern that was established years ago and maybe it worked then and it may not have anything to do with the bearing of today, but given the challenges that we have and a shrinking budget, less dollars to expend, I think it is incumbent upon us and upon you to make for certain that every dollar that it is expended in agricultural research maximizes the research.
I think we need to plow some ground here that some people are going to probably think is fairly controversial. Some people are going to think ''gee, they're getting way off track.'' But I don't believe we're doing the service to the farmers and to the Nation as a whole if we don't look at all varieties of options that may be there today to maximize the return for the dollars invested. And I think that the cooperation between private and public expenditures and research should be reviewed and delved into more than we have ever done before.
To make for sure that we are not spending duplicative dollars out there trying to find out the same research, that we don't have such a turf battle out there that we are afraid to share with others what it is that we are doing, and to make for certain that if, in fact, just because a research facility, a university, a department of Government has been doing something the same way for years is it the best way to do it? Should they be doing what they're doing or should they be looking at something new? So just because it's status quo today, I don't believe it necessarily means that it should be for tomorrow.
It may be that it should, but I'm not aware certainly in the 14 years that I have been here that it has been looked into in depth to the extent of really questioning where we are today, not from a standpoint of being critical, but from a standpoint of recognizing that times have substantially changed.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 And that is basically where I would like to take this over the next several weeks and the several hearings is to look at a lot of new ideas and some of them may be good and some of them may not be so good, but I don't believe that we're doing the service that we should be providing if, in fact, we simply move forward with the status quo with allowing, at least bringing into question some potential for some viewpoints in the future that have not necessarily been in the past.
Our witnesses are at the table and I would like to introduce them at this time, in the varying roles that they may be playing today.
Dr. Ed Knipling is the Acting Administrator for USDA's Agricultural Research Service. He is accompanied by Dr. Bob Robinson, who is Administrator of USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service; Dr. Thayne R. Dutson is the Dean and Director for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University.
Dr. Robert Albin is the Interim Dean for the College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University and Dr. Albin is representing the American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources.
Mr. Jimmy Sanford is the chairman of the Cotton Industry Research Task Force for the National Cotton Council.
Mr. Dan Dooley was mentioned as the vice chair for USDA's Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board.
Dr. Elizabeth Owens is with ISK Biosciences Corporation and is here representing the Agricultural Research Institute.
Your comments and written statements, as well as all Members' statements will be made a part of the record.
We would like, if possible, to certainly give you what flexibility, but if it is possible, within a 5-minute time frame, if you could summarize and highlight your remarks, I think that we will begin to get into those in depth in the question and answer period and I believe that Dr. Robinson has some introductory comments before we first hear from Dr. Knipling.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 STATEMENT OF BOB ROBINSON, ADMINISTRATOR, COOPERATIVE STATE RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND EXTENSION SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Mr. ROBINSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do appreciate very much the opportunity to testify before this committee today and as you pointed out in the introduction I wear two hats today. One is the Administrator of the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service which cooperates with the Land Grant University System, which you referred to in your opening remarks.
The second is at the request of Secretary Glickman, who recently asked me to represent the Department of Agriculture as the lead policy official for the purposes of the Research Title reauthorization which is under consideration by this committee.
The subject of these hearings, the reauthorization of the Research Title, is very important to the future of the Department of Agriculture, and as you pointed out, to the future of the competitiveness of U.S. producers, U.S. consumers and in fact, the public at large. In a context of last year's FAIR Act, science and education provide a fundamental element in the new safety net for American agriculture and its farmers and ranchers. The Department of Agriculture takes that responsibility very seriously.
Mr. Chairman, as we have examined options for the reauthorization of the Research Title of the 1996 FAIR Act, we have been working within a framework that has as its foundation to maintain world leadership in agricultural science and education as a guiding principle for our future development.
We also prefer to use existing legislative and administrative authorities where possible and to encourage efficiencies throughout the research system in order, as you point out, to make the best use of the program resources and reduce duplication. We encourage multi-functional, multi-State and multi-institutional activities in order to best leverage the resources at all levels and to continue to support the range of funding mechanisms that we have in both intramural and extramural research.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The Department believes that formula funds will continue to play an essential role in maintaining research and extension activities at land grant universities and the Department continues to support and insist upon good merit or peer review evaluation for our competitive research programs.
We value an active Federal/State partnership in setting priorities and a public/private sector partnership where we leverage the uniqueness and complementarities of each.
Ultimately, we believe that the responsiveness to national and regional needs is a high priority in setting the priorities with our partners and with our stakeholders in conducting work in evaluating results and ultimately in serving customers and stakeholders. From this framework, Mr. Chairman, we have developed four principles around which we are currently developing a legislative proposal for consideration by this subcommittee at the fourth hearing you have scheduled for later in July. Those principles are (1) the Department of Agriculture and the Research, Education, and Economics [REE] mission area invest in creating and strengthening the research and educational capacity essential to meeting the national goals for the food and agricultural system.
Second, the programs of the REE mission area are dedicated to maintaining world leadership and excellence in agricultural science and education.
Third, the Federal Government has a distinct and critical role to play in partnership with State and local governments and with the private sector.
And fourth, wise strategy for public investment supports a diversified portfolio of funding sources and mechanisms as well as a diverse set of institutions performing research, education and extension.
USDA's portfolio currently contains extramural funding in the form of formula funds, targeted grants and competitive grants in addition to the intramural funding activities which we will concentrate on in a moment.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The administration also recognizes that diversity among institutions in performing research, education, and extension is critical to insuring that our national goals are met effectively and efficiently.
The administration supports USDA's mix of extramural programs in research, education and extension, and is a proponent that formula or base program awards should allow and support maximum flexibility for States to use resources where they have the greatest ability to solve problems.
Represented here today are the two agencies which together advance the goals of the Department's research program. The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service is engaged in extramural agricultural research with the primarily land grant universities as well as other research institutions. The Agricultural Research Service is engaged in intramural agricultural research.
The mission of CSREES is to achieve significant equitable improvements in the domestic and global economic, environmental, and social conditions by advancing creative and integrated research, education and extension programs in food, agricultural, and related sciences in partnership with both the public and private sectors. In carrying out this mission we cooperate with 59 State and territorial agricultural experiment stations, seventeen 1890 land-grant institutions, including Tuskegee University, 63 schools of forestry, 27 colleges of veterinary medicine, 42 schools of home economics, and the twenty-nine 1994 land-grant Institutions. In addition to the land-grants, CSREES has partners in a number of other research institutions and nonland grant universities.
The intramural research mission at USDA is carried out by the Agricultural Research Service. The mission of ARS, while similar to CSREES in that it primarily conducts long-term high risk research, also serves the needs of the action and regulatory agencies within USDA by conducting research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 We look forward, Mr. Chairman, to the coming important debate about the future of the research, education, and extension system and we look forward to working with you and members of this committee to strengthen the capacity of our research, education, and extension system.
At this time I would introduce Dr. Ed Knipling, the Acting Administrator of ARS who will present testimony on the intramural research program.
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Dr. Robinson. Dr. Knipling.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Robinson appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
STATEMENT OF EDWARD B. KNIPLING, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Mr. KNIPLING. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I'd like to say that as Acting Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service, I'm certainly pleased to be here to visit with you and the subcommittee this morning and to discuss the mission, the structure, the program scope of the Agricultural Research Service.
I have provided a full copy of my testimony for the record and I'll just make a few oral comments to highlight a few key points in that testimony. Before I actually start, I might just say and I am sure I speak on behalf of the entire panel here, we appreciate all of the favorable comments that members of the subcommittee made about agricultural research and the role that we play to sustain American agriculture. We certainly agree with all those comments as well as with the challenges that you pose before us today.
As the in-house research arm of USDA, ARS maintains a strategically located network of national research laboratories throughout the United States to conduct research on a wide array of agriculture, food and environmental problems and opportunities. Our broad goals are through science and technology to help improve the economic viability and competitiveness of the agriculture and food industry and to improve the quality and safety of the Nation's food supply and environment.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Many of the ARS laboratories are co-located with the land grant and universities and other institutions. This co-location feature fosters research and resource use, cooperation, complementation and coordination and truly represents a real value-added strength of this Nation's entire agricultural research system.
In addition to these research partnerships, one of the most important intramural responsibilities ARS has is to conduct research in support of other department and Federal agencies that depend on technical information and technologies to carry out their program. In this way, we help to insure that their policies and programs are based upon sound science.
Also on behalf of both the Department and the legislative branch, ARS provides and maintains a science and infrastructure capacity to respond rapidly to technical emergencies and to mobilize resources to address the emerging problems.
Now as these statements imply, ARS research programs are directed toward and are responsive to the research needs identified by many customers and stakeholders including this committee and other entities of Congress. Also, ARS receives direction and guidance from the administration, Federal action and regulatory agencies, farmers and ranchers, commodity groups and other farm organizations, corporate entities, trade organizations, small businesses, environmental and consumer groups, the scientific community and many others.
This guidance takes many forms, but includes customer and stakeholder involvement and various mechanisms of program evaluation, both prospective and retrospective to insure that ARS research meets high relevance and quality standards.
Mr. Chairman, this completes my brief verbal comments. More information about ARS programs is in the full testimony and I'd be pleased to respond to other questions that arise later.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Knipling appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Dr. Knipling. As I mentioned, all witnesses' entire statements will be made a part of the record. We have had them and have had an opportunity to look through them and I appreciate that very much. Dr. Dutson.
STATEMENT OF THAYNE R. DUTSON, DEAN AND DIRECTOR, COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
Mr. DUTSON. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I'd like to extend my appreciation for the opportunity to speak here today on the critical issues facing research, extension and education.
I appreciate the kind comments that were made and we agree with many of those. We also agree that we need to continue to look at the system, make sure it's efficient and effective and we have in Oregon, as well as other States, and working on that part of the issue.
I'm here on behalf of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges which has formed a coordinating committee to respond to farm bill research and extension reauthorization issues.
This NASULGC Committee includes vice presidents, deans and directors of many of the components of our universities, as well as our national stakeholders group, the Council for Agricultural Research Extension and Teaching, better known as CARET. Mr. Dooley is a member of the executive committee of that group.
With your permission I'd like to summarize my remarks at this time and as others submit more complete statements for the record.
The founding legislation that established the land grants, the State Experiment Stations and the extension system created a new and unique mission, to apply science and technology to the problems of our communities and to convey that knowledge to the people through the classroom and through extension. This vision to integrate research extension and teaching, to address real world problems is what makes the land grants unique among other educational and research institutions.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The land grants are funded through a unique partnership among Federal, State and county governments and also the private sector. Federal investments in research and extension provides the Federal Government access to the research capabilities of the States and an extension outreach system that reaches into every county in the Nation. Every Federal dollar invested leverages some $4 to $5 in State and local funds.
The land grants work closely with their Federal partner through CSREES and we collaborate with the Agricultural Research Service on many of our programs.
The land grants also work with most other Federal agencies as appropriate to the missions of those agencies. For the record, I've attached additional information that describes the history, mission and activities of the land grant.
I would like to reserve the balance of my time to address several of the critical issues that will be considered by this committee: priorities, stakeholder input, accountability and funding mechanisms.
The Hatch Act of 1887 charges the land grants ''to address the problems of agriculture in its broadest aspects and such investigations as have for their purpose the development and improvement of the rural home and rural life and the maximum contribution by agriculture to the welfare of the consumer as may be deemed advisable having due regard to the varying conditions and needs of the respective States.''
This charge is still applicable today. Some have suggested that federally funded research extension and education projects should be directed only to issues that are of economic importance to production agriculture. Certainly production agriculture is critical to our country and the land grant universities have a long tradition of working closely with agricultural producers. The land grants are committed to continuing and enhancing this alliance in the future.
However, there are many challenges facing agriculture, the food system and communities that are outside what some might think would be a narrow definition of production agriculture. We like to take the expanded definition of production agriculture. In the future, the economic viability of agricultural production will depend heavily on post-harvest handling and shipping, value-added processing, packaging and marketing. Future trading and international competitiveness of agriculture products will depend on our ability to meet food safety standards. Many trade debates will center on sanitary and phytosanitary standards.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 To remain competitive and viable, agricultural producers will need to understand international trade and international markets as well as business and investment opportunities overseas. Agricultural producers will continue to phase the challenges to meet environmental regulations and standards. They will continue to need science-based tools to cost effectively manage their resources. The U.S. public will continue to demand a food supply that's only cheap and affordable, but also nutritious and safe.
The land grant universities support stakeholder input in the priority setting and program developing and process. Each university has established a process for soliciting stakeholder input. As an example, I'd like to describe the system of stakeholder involvement in the land grant programs in Oregon. Our goal is to have stakeholder involvement as close to the program delivery level as possible. As a result, we have extension advisory committees for each county extension program, experiment station advisory committees for each branch experiment station and advisory committees for each department on campus. In addition, we have an advisory council for all of our programs in the College of Agriculture.
As a system of land grants have recently completed a national process for soliciting input from stakeholders, this national program conveyed the feelings of over 300 users in a specific survey and this full description of this stakeholder input process is submitted for the record.
In regards to the stakeholder input at the national level, last year Congress decided to resign and streamline the process for stakeholder input at USDA in the 1996 farm bill. This legislation created a National Agricultural Research Extension Education and Economics Advisory Board which Mr. Dooley is going to speak about.
Some have suggested that a new array of panels and advisory groups should be created. We think this is premature and we think we need to use the authorization of the Agriculture Research Extension Education and Economics Advisory Board and convey through them the ability to make other panels necessary for input into this advisory committee.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The land grant universities support effective assessment of accountability and effective assessment of how well we are leveraging the Federal dollars in the States. We feel that current review of the CRIS system, the food and agricultural education information system and the research extension and education information system that is on-going should continue and will develop the next generation of data bases which allow us to monitor accountability.
In order to monitor and measure accountability of our programs in Oregon, we've developed a data base that allows us to measure program relevance as well as communicate how relevant our programs are to our stakeholders. We call this data base Oregon Invests and I have included in your materials some description of this data base. It shows individually project by project, county by county, department by department and research project by research project how valuable our programs are to our stakeholders.
The land grant strongly support the maintenance of a balanced portfolio of funding mechanisms for research extension and education. Each mechanism addresses a unique set of program needs. Various suggestions have been made regarding possible changes in the way that these funds are awarded and reviewed. I have addressed some of these suggestions in my written testimony.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I'd like to again express my appreciation for the opportunity to speak to these critical issues. I'll be happy to answer questions you may have at the appropriate time.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dutson appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT C. ALBIN, INTERIM DEAN, COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES AND NATURAL RESOURCES, TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. ALBIN. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I'm Robert Albin, Interim Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock. It's my privilege to present testimony this morning on behalf of the American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources, addressing the current and future role of research conducted by nonland grant universities for the benefit of the American agriculture and natural resources.
This organization of nonland grant universities is comprised of approximately 50 other nonland grant universities representing many States. This Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources, does not receive Federal funding. These universities offer agricultural and natural resources baccalaureate degree programs. Several offer Master of Science degree programs and one, Texas Tech University offers the doctorate in six disciplinary areas.
Graduate education is an important part and component of these programs. These advance degree programs produce students, graduates that go into the industry, that go into Government work, that go to serve stakeholders and others who have an interest in pursuing and promoting agriculture and natural resources.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I wish it to be established initially that this testimony reflects a positive partnership image of intended collaboration with nonland grant universities. To address the current and future role of nonland grant universities in conducting research for American agriculture and natural resources, the following statements and examples are presented.
A number of colleges, schools and departments of agriculture and some have expanded areas of interest, have significant growing research programs which are usually designed to address problem solving for the agriculture industry. These programs commonly address issues of particular important to agriculture, forestry and other interests in the region of the State where the university is located. Results are often applicable to a wider area, State-wide, regionally, and nationally. These programs often involve partnering with other institutions including land grant institutions, private industry and commodity organizations. The latter two, private industry and commodity organizations are sources of funding for many of these projects. In many less urbanized areas, land grant programs have been reduced or deleted generally due to shrinking funds or State-wide research priorities have excluded the area in question. This research void creates needs of stakeholders and private industry who approach the nonland grant university in the area seeking and expecting assistance, but funding is usually unavailable to address their needs. Some nonland grant agriculture programs receive State funds to support these research programs. For example, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale receives approximately $1 million of a $9 million appropriation from the State to address food and agriculture research in the State. Illinois State and Western Illinois Universities who are also nonland grant universities participate in this funding. Texas Tech University receives over $2 million in State funding for research in agricultural sciences and natural resources. Texas A&M University at Kingsville receives over $1 million for similar research and then the California State University at Fresno receives approximately $1 million from the State of California for research in agriculture and technology. An excellent payback would result from a capacity building strengthening grant program for nonland grant institutions, not unlike and very similar to that provided to 1890 land grant institutions and those programs developing for the 1994 land grant institutions. This would enable nonland grant faculty to become more competitive for Federal and State grant funds.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The Association of the Nonland Grant Universities wants to see increased appropriations for the challenge grant program. I might add that Texas Tech has been successful in participating in that program and find them to be most beneficial. Currently, programs to improve the educational system for agricultural students receive a very small portion of the USDA budget. However, the end product, better educated graduates has far reaching impact and it's our goal to see that funding back to the original level of minimum level of $7 million annually.
Now other issues are important to the nonland grants and I would highlight just a few of those. The rest are in the testimony, but we believe a very positive effort is being made and their work to date is most successful and that's the National Agricultural Research Education Extension and Economics Advisory Board, as represented today by Mr. Dooley. This is an important effort on behalf of American agriculture and at the present time, however, nonland grant institutions have no input, no representation on that board and would recommend expansion of that board to include the nonland grant institutions.
We support the eligibility for competitive research, extension and education funding and the nonland grants would certainly emphasize continuing the fund for rural America at its original level of funding.
And finally, emphasis on giving priority to proposals that represent partnerships among various entities and certainly that represents in our State a very viable source of effort for research.
Finally, the requirement for stakeholder input is critical if we're going to stay on the cutting edge of research needs and priorities.
In summary, nonland grant universities are filling voids and meeting needs in agricultural and natural resources research in areas where land grant universities have exited due to their own shrinking funding base or in areas of the States where the historical prioritization for funding of agricultural research did not include that geographical area or need, with opportunity to competitively access Federal funding, nonland grant universities will become more capably equipped to meet agricultural and natural resources research needs and expectations of stakeholders in the private sector. Nonland grant universities offer unique capabilities, faculty and programs which are utilized today in many instances and which can be utilized more effectively if allowed to become competitively more capable through specific access to Federal funding.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The nonland grant universities represented by the American Association of State College of Agriculture and Natural Resources appreciate very much the opportunity to appear before you today and to present testimony reflecting the current and future role of nonland grant universities in conducting research for American agriculture.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Albin appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Dr. Albin.
STATEMENT OF JIMMY SANFORD, CHAIRMAN, INDUSTRY/GOVERNMENT RESEARCH COMMITTEE, NATIONAL COTTON COUNCIL
Mr. SANFORD. Thank you, Mr. Chairperson, for this opportunity to discuss agricultural research. My name is Jimmy Sanford and I operate a family farm near Prattville, AL. Today, I am proud to represent the National Cotton Council, the central organization of the entire cotton industry representing seven segments. I am the chairman of the Cotton Council's industry/government research committee and the topic of research and education is one that traditionally is among the highest priorities of our organization. The Council has submitted its full text and I have the honor also of submitting a full text of the National Association of Wheat Growers' testimony this morning also.
Earlier this year, Senator Lugar provided us the opportunity to consider some very appropriate questions concerning the research and extension system in the United States. Our National Cotton Council research committee convened cotton growers representing every cotton belt region from the far western States to the east coast. We developed our response to Senator Lugar's questions. We addressed the roles of the Agricultural Research Service, research conducted by the universities and research addressed by private sector interest. We would like our responses to Senator Lugar to be included as part of our record of this hearing.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Over the years we think that the public and private research system has been generally responsive to our research needs. We attribute to the success to the feedback and communications between the industry and those who conduct research. We consider the public and private research organizations as partners and as such, we annually work together to provide many opportunities for information exchange. The centerpiece of the cotton educational effort is the annual Beltwide Cotton Conference. The cotton industry in cooperation with the land grant universities and the USDA's ARS has worked for many years to make the Beltwide Conference a comprehensive reporting of research results. In January of this year, over 5,000 farmers, processors, marketers, researchers, educators, consultants, agribusinesses and other representatives convened. The latest findings, whether from public laboratories or agribusiness field plots were reported in nearly 800 individual presentations. A diversity of topics ranging from environmental benefits of integrated pest management and boll weevil eradication to the investigation into new technologies such as precision agriculture and genetic engineering were presented. The Beltwide is only one part of the communications process. For example, last fall we convened regional focus sessions among growers, researchers, administrators and extension specialists to identify the most important issues for research. These priorities are being formally communicated to research organizations.
The Council's sister organization, Cotton, Inc., invests heavily in research. Cotton, Inc. is supported by checkoff funds from U.S. cotton producers and importers of cotton goods. Research funded by Cotton, Inc. is typical of private research in that we can ill afford the long-term, high risk, basic research best conducted by the public sector. Every cottonbelt State has a standing State support committee to review proposals and direct money toward meeting local and State priorities.
Written communications are also used. Annual publication or proceedings of the Beltwide Conferences are made available. In addition to the bound publications, abstracts can be searched in computer data bases developed by our organization. For scientific reporting, the Cotton Foundation is developing in cooperation with the research and education community a peer reviewed scientific journal. Again, the thrust is to provide every possible mechanism to assure information sharing, prevent unnecessary duplication and meet needs of all partners.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Finally, the cotton industry invests significant resources in supporting its own foundation for cotton research and education. Programs of the Cotton Foundation are generally directed toward educational and technology transfer. The Foundation is funded by agribusiness partners which provides additional linkages to the totality of an agricultural research system.
In conclusion, what I have described is not a single effort activity nor committee that will assure effectiveness and efficiency in public research and extension. In contrast, we view this as a smorgasbord or an interdisciplinary approach of multiple opportunities, facilitated by the partnering of industry, State Government and agribusiness. Also, what I describe doesn't happen by chance. It started with a deep institutional commitment with the fundamental understanding that we all have shared responsibilities for meeting the public's objectives for assuring an adequate, safe and affordable supply of food and fiber.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Sanford appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Sanford.
STATEMENT OF DANIEL M. DOOLEY, VICE CHAIRMAN, USDA NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH, EXTENSION, EDUCATION AND ECONOMICS ADVISORY BOARD
Mr. DOOLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to be here. Since some commentary was initiated about the profitability of Dooley Farms being somehow associated with Cal's presence in Washington, I should let you know that there's more to the story. I also am a reasonably full-time law practitioner. The reason Dooley Farms is profitable is because we hired our cousin, Bo, to run it. He is doing quite well. I wouldn't want you to cast too much aspersion on Cal's absence from the farm.
I have submitted a full statement to you for inclusion in the record. I'd like to highlight a few points. I am pleased to represent the National Agriculture Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board. I want to thank the Members of Congress for coming up with that name and I want to share some thoughts with you this morning about legislation that is vital to the continued competitiveness of the American food and fiber system.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Many of my comments include some considerable input from Dr. Vic Lechtenberg, the Dean at Purdue, who is the chairman of the board. I want to pay particular thanks to his help with these comments.
Your work and that of your colleagues will play a central role in charting the future success of the historically unparalleled United States collaborative agricultural research and education system. However, refinement of and enhancement of the historically successful system to make it more responsive to current needs and more focused on long term objectives should be welcomed by all who participate in or benefit from that system.
In the spirit of your quest today and your challenge to this panel, I'd like to address just a few things that I think deserve some attention. I think future efficiency and success of the research, the education and extension function require a continued evolution towards programmatic organization and budgeting. National programmatic priorities must be addressed in a coordinated manner which insures that the best available talent is utilized to achieve the research, education and extension priorities and objectives. Flexibility must be provided to allow such objectives to be achieved based upon quality and efficiency, rather than historic agency or institutional alignments.
Currently the research, education and extension system is organized largely along institutional and agency lines. To some extent that historic, institutional and agency alignment has been altered by the reorganization of USDA which placed most of the research, education and extension functions under the REE mission area and under a single Under Secretary.
However, I think more should be done in the future to insure that agency and institutional coordination both within USDA and within the Federal Government. Such coordination must occur as well between the land grant partners and USDA to establish programmatic priorities, budgeting and implemenation of programs to address such priorities. I've included in my testimony some specific ideas that I think should be encouraged as a matter of policy to address those issues.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Let me address for a moment the question of public/private partnership which, Mr. Chairman, is a matter which you specifically addressed. I have to say my experience as a farmer, advisory board member, a CARET representative which Dr. Dutson mentioned, have convinced me that we need to find innovative ways for the public and private sector to work more effectively together.
I do not believe, however, that the private sector can substitute for the important work that needs to be done by the public sector in this field. My experience suggests that private sector research in the agricultural area is focused more on short-term objectives and that we need the public sector to continue the commitment to the longer term objectives and, in particular, basic research.
I also believe there are many things that are very important to the farm and production community which are not subject to easy commercialization. There is an important public role that must be played with respect to many of those issues, particularly issues that we face respecting or related to environmental problems and so forth. These oftentimes are not the kind of things that generate private capital into the R&D area and do not result in research that can be easily commercialized by the private sector. The IR4 program which is designed to make sure that we have pest management tools to serve minor commodities, is an important example. Many of those minor commodities which we grow in California have significant national importance because of their role in exports and generating trade dollars.
Finally, I'd like to just mention a little bit about the work of the advisory board and tell you that it's been an interesting and exciting opportunity for me to participate in the formation of that board.
We held our first meeting in September of last year and I think we have achieved considerable success in the initial tasks which we have undertaken. In particular, we played some significant role in making recommendations to the Secretary about the implementation and priorities to be utilized for the allocation of funds appropriated under the Fund for Rural America. We have nominated and the Secretary has appointed the strategic facilities planning task force which is going to begin taking a look at the various federally funded research facilities around the country and determine their role in meeting the strategic objectives with respect to agricultural research in the future. We have most recently conducted a stakeholders symposium where we invited representatives of the broad array of stakeholders that have an interest in the USDA research, education and extension programs to testify to us about the strategic plan that has been developed by the Department. I can tell you we receivedand you folks may be more used to thisa broad array of recommendations and suggestions about what the Department should be doing in this area. We are presently trying to consolidate that testimony and to present some recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture about what the focus ought to be with respect to the strategic plan.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 More importantly, we have recently created a working group to take a look at the annual performance plan being developed by the Department for the first time under the auspice of the GPRA. It will be their plan for implementation of their strategic plan and will accompany each budget request. In that context, our working group has been looking at the proposed new initiatives that the Department is considering. We've been trying to match those with the input we received from the stakeholders. We've been taking a look, in particular, about how it conforms to the strategic plan which the Department mission area has developed. We are in the process this week of formalizing some recommendations to the Under Secretary for consideration in the finalization of that performance plan for the research mission area.
As a part of that process, we have been giving considerable thought to the appropriate role of the advisory board in assuring that the priorities that are being developed by the Department appropriately reflect the needs of the stakeholder community served by the Department's programs. Furthermore, we're looking at ways in which we can determine on a sort of portfolio basis whether or not the programs that are being offered by the Department meet a relevancy criteria.
I can say that the board has been diligent to the point of every member participating actively in these various processes. The Department, so far, has been quite responsive to the recommendations of the board and I think it has the opportunity over time to become a very major force in helping the Department insure that the programs it develops in the research, extension and teaching areas are relevant to the needs of rural America, the food and fiber production system and that it's conducted in an efficient and effective manner.
I'll be happy to answer questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dooley appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you, Mr. Dooley. Having left the farm to come to Washington myself, I would be very interested in talking to cousin Bo to see if he's interested in moving to Texas.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Dr. Owens.
STATEMENT OF ELIZABETH D. OWENS, GOVERNING BOARD, AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Ms. OWENS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Elizabeth Owens. I'm manager of government affairs for ISK Biosciences Corp. and I'm here representing the Agricultural Research Institute. Today, I'm accompanied by Dr. Richard Herrett who is to my left. He's the executive director of ARI.
ARI is a nonprofit organization with a primary mission of facilitating the exchange of ideas on present and future needs in agriculture. ARI takes the position that Federal funding of agricultural research provides leadership that results in funding commitments from other sources of funding including States, industry, private foundations and production sectors.
I believe that your deliberations today and over the next couple of months on the research title will impact the long-term competitiveness and economic viability of America's No. 1 industry. In my comments today I want to focus on one portion of my total testimony. I am representing the for profit sector. We are oriented towards product development and as others have said, we're not the people that alone can solve the complex issues in agriculture, rather I think that it is important for public programs to provide leadership in basic and applied research that can provide the support that the private and production sectors need for their businesses.
For my example today, I'd like to refer you briefly to a chart that's in the back of my written testimony because I'd like to use potato net necrosis as an example of how public and private research kind of coordinates to solve one complex problem, one crop out of over 250 crops that we grow in this country.
As you may have noticed, I have a bag of potatoes in front of me. These are Idaho Russett Burbank potatoes. These are the potatoes against which all potatoes are measured in terms of quality and appearance. You notice they're comfortably brown on the exterior and when you cut them open and I didn't bring a knife because they wouldn't let me through the security system at the airport with that, but if you open them up, they're white on the inside. But if you have a potato that has potato net necrosis and you cut it open and I found a few in my supermarket bag, you'll see a few brown lines running through the potatoes.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 This is a significant problem for Idaho where Idaho has an economy that is based on an integrated industry around the potato, but it is also an issue for most of the 50 States because they all grow some potatoes and in every State there is a threat for potato net necrosis.
It's a global market now for processed potatoes. You may have noticed an article in the New York Times recently talking about the plunge in potato prices because of the global competitiveness. And it will be quality as well as the cost of production that will keep Idaho in that business.
Over the past 50 years, considerable effort has been gone into finding a solution to tuber net necrosis problem. First efforts were in growing seed potatoes in isolated areas and certifying the seed to be free of the disease. The public sector also got involved through potato breeding programs, looking for disease-resistant varieties. These depended on international agricultural research which includes a world-wide collection of genetic potato material.
It was a basic research by various universities, experiment stations, USDA on plant viruses in the 1950's and 1960's that showed that net necrosis is caused by a virus and that the virus is vectored to the potato plant by a specific aphid. At that time, private sector research and development was working on synthetic chemical pesticides that could be used to protect potato crops from the aphids. Soon these pesticides were applied on a calendar schedule to control the potato pest. But the heavy spray schedules didn't always result in total relief from the disease. More public sector research led to a better understanding of the aphid virus plant relationship. At the same time, concerned heightened significantly about the widespread use of pesticides. The public wanted more control over pesticides and research to find alternatives.
The private industry has escalated commitments to find new pesticides to control this disease. The technology had led, recently, to integrated pest management programs. The USDA funded the first one in 1972 and it still is in use today. There are similar States or programs in all States and most countries.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I just want to say that it took 30 years to get to the implementation of one rudimentary IPM program on one pest and one crop.
In the last of my remarks, now after 15 years of commercial development, we have biotechnology in the picture and there are new varieties that are coming out of the USDA that are also resistant to this disease.
What I want to say though is that pesticides are still needed. They're still the basis of IPM programs and as you know, last year you passed an act called the Food Quality Protection Act. There is still urgent need for USDA research in support of the implementation of this act. Specifically, I want to say that we need to support the continuing survey of food intake by individuals, including an enlarged survey of consumption by infants and children. This needs to be fully funded to the $6 million proposed by the USDA. Just this month, the Scientific Advisory Panel said to the EPA that the lack of current data on food consumption is a significant weakness in EPA's proposed method of determining dietary risks from the use of pesticides.
Congress must continue to consider funding of agricultural research as an important priority. Funding of research programs support an implementation of food safety legislation are key to the continued implementation and improvement of integrated pest management systems.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak and I'll be glad to answer questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Owens appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. COMBEST. Thank you very much, Dr. Owens.
In order to give Members an opportunity to develop maybe a little more discussion, the Chair would ask with unanimous consent that we set the clock for each Member for discussion to 10 minutes and we'll try to adhere to that very closely and we will do additional rounds, but without objection it will be so ordered.
Mr. Dooley, I would certainly concur with you in your comments regards to the public/private sector combination. There are certainly differences there of interest and I think we need to keep that always in mind.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 One of the things I'd like to start and sort of move forward with is Mr. Sanford, if you are looking at a problem in cotton and you happen to be here today so we could be talking about wheat or corn or feed grain or we may want to talk about potatoes. In fact, I think that picture you have there is my potato. I've seen that one before.
And there is a problem that you have or if there is, in fact, just research which is done that makes a substantial improvement in cotton, the cotton industry is the recipient of that research. You benefit from that, generally financially. Or again, what or corn or whatever. If there's a research that leads to the fact that you can genetically splice the gene that is in wheat into cotton and you could grow cotton at 40 degrees, you're going to benefit from that. We certainly are out in Lubbock, no doubt about that. And they'll start growing cotton in Michigan.
There are private companies that are looking at that and sometimes this gets into information which is confidential so we won't talk about any names. I'm sure most of us have been to many of those companies that are doing various types of research and obviously if that company can be the one that develops that cotton seed, let's say, that can do that, they stand to also reap great financial benefits.
And if there is a university that is working within the land grant system or not, a nonland grant university and with cooperation with USDA, research that they are doing is also looking toward trying to develop plants, cotton, corn or other plants that are much less susceptible to weather conditions, drought, too much rain, whatever, insects, whatever, then there are benefits that are obviously economic and financial to that particular commodity and overall the American people and hopefully the world benefit from that.
One of the concerns I have and interest I have is let's say that company who happens to be doing that research on cotton to develop that seed that the industry is making an investment, a university is making an investment, USDA is making an investment, what makes for sure that everybody works together so that one knows what the other is doing or because of potential concerns from the public, there was a biotech tomato which was recently developed and there was tremendous outcry about the concern some people have over an environmental issue of genetic splicing in regards to food that we eat, pesticides and herbicides obviously enter into this. So sometimes there's not a desire to go out there and publicize the work that's being done.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 What I'm concerned about is that you don't have four different entities all with the same result as a goal who are doing the same work and not working together, so if you, Mr. Sanford, through the cotton industry, is willing to make an investment, how do you decide where that investment is going to go?
Do you, Dr. Albin, at a nonland grant, Dr. Dutson with a land grant, the gentleman with USDA, how do you coordinate all of that so that we are certain we're not spending a lot of duplicative dollars out there and where do you actually make that investment?
Mr. SANFORD. May I respond?
Mr. COMBEST. Please.
Mr. SANFORD. That's an excellent question and one that often comes up in many circles, especially the producer ranks. They're concerned about duplication. They're concerned about lack of efficiency. We tend to view the issue that you have so well captured as being like a pyramid and the base of the pyramid is public research and as we go to the top of the pyramid which I would liken to the company who is delivering the final product to the tax payer, to the citizen, to the U.S. citizen, that's our ultimate objective, is to deliver a quality, safe product to the consumer, whether it's food or fiber.
As Congressman Cooksey alluded to in his preamble comments, the scientific approaches, if you narrow scientific approaches too narrow or too concentrated and get myopic about it, then we really risk the vulnerability of being able to maintain the leadership that this great country has had over its history. And you refer to, in your comments, that we've gone from one person providing 15 to one providing 96 and as Congressman Everett so eloquently made a comment at a field hearing in his district, agriculture and agricultural research has allowed those 86 people the difference or 81, excuse my math, it's allowed those 81 people to pursue other pursuits. What greater job creation than what agricultural research and agricultural has provided, so yes, the duplication is of great concern and in the cotton industry we have tried to create an interdisciplinary approach where we maintain communications going both ways and we look at all this as a partnership between producer, research and business. And we all have the same objective and that is to provide that quality product to the consumer.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I don't know whether I've adequately addressed your concern.
Mr. COMBEST. I guess what I'm kind of looking for fundamentally how does it happen that this takes place and Dr. Dutson, Dr. Albin, where do you get your marching orders as far as what research is it that you're going to do and also I'm interested in what restrictions are there, let's say if USDA is helping to fund a research program at a university and the cotton industry or the wheat industry or the corn industry is interested in also putting in additional funds, are there limitations of what can be done there? Are there restrictions inherent in the system that prevent us from being able to be as efficient and effective?
How do you decide, Mr. Sanford, that you're going to put X number of millions of dollars into a research project at Texas Tech University that maybe USDA is putting money into for that study?
Mr. SANFORD. We have, as I'm sure as Congressman Dooley and Dan can attest to, when we see a need and we have a lot of needs, we have a lot of wants too, but obviously our needs are more important and when we see a need, I personally contact our land grant college. That's the first starting point and then they have a network and I think the land grant college network is the greatest system. It's really patterned after the Internet and if you're looking to increase the vulnerability of American agriculture, you consolidate the agricultural research and that scares me. Because you're consolidating the scientific approach, so I like to keep the land grant college system as diverse as possible and through their network I have used research from the University of Georgia, although I'm an Alabama producer. I have gleaned information from other land grant colleges, so the duplication aspects are theor the resolve of the duplication aspect starts with my first contact to the local land grant college.
Mr. COMBEST. Yes, Dr. Dutson?
Mr. DUTSON. Let me give you just a little example in the Pacific Northwest of a program that I think addresses some of the issues that you're talking about. It's the area of small fruits research. It's a minor crop area and we have developed what we call the Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research. And I have provided for the committee members a little booklet which describes that Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research. It is a cooperative program whereby stakeholders are part of technical committees in each of five different subareas of small fruits research, ARS scientists and university scientists and industry scientists in addition to growers participate on those technical committees. Now these technical committees set priorities for research and actually decide upon funding for not only industry dollars, but decide on funding for some of our State dollars, decide on funding for some extra mural research that comes out of ARS as well as funding that comes through CSREES through the special grants program. The contribution of the industry is about $3 million a year, actually more than the contribution of extramural research from CSREES and from ARS. Each year we have a workshop where the research for the previous year is presented and then each technical committees review that research effort, review the priorities for the next year's research and set the priorities and the scientists from anywhere can apply to this program in these priority areas for the next year's research and the actual priority setting is done by those technical committees which involves everyone in the program, so I think if you look around the system you'll find a number of different kinds of systems like the potato research program that involves both the land grant universities and ARS, function on a similar kind of fashion. In the Northwest, we have wheat research that is managed essentially by a tri-State research committee involving the three wheat commissions of Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. COMBEST. My time is up so I can't ask any more, but I would ask any others if you hadMr. Dooley, you were raising your hand. Just any other comments.
Mr. DOOLEY. I'd like to say that I think with respect to the land grant system and the Department's programs, there's a lot of coordination that occurs during the budget process. The various committees on organization and policy of the land grant system spend a great deal of energy and effort in working with the Department in making budget recommendations for both the intramural research programs of the Department, as well as the cooperative State/Federal programs.
I'd like to just mention an example. In California, they have a program priority policy setting process that is annually undertaken which includes input from a whole variety of stakeholders that participate or receive the benefit of those programs.
There also is what's called the California Commodity Committee which is a group of well over 40 commodity groups that have organized in a fairly formal way to work with the university in developing priorities and programs. The result of these activities is that at the University of California with three colleges of agriculture, they have about a $237 million budget that funds the agricultural experiment stations, the extension service and so forth. About a quarter of those funds come from the Federal support including competitive grants. Half come from the State Government and the balance comes largely from the private sector. So there is a very substantial public/private partnership supporting those general program activities in California.
I don't believe that that model is substantially different than what you would find in most States. I think to support what Jimmy said, when you get down to the individual commodity that the primary linkages with the land grant institution in the area where the needs arise, and those linkages are very firm and very strong, I believe.
Mr. ROBINSON. Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, I could add just a couple of comments to what has already been said
One additional thing that we do collectively is to try to arrive at the highest priorities. Both at the State universities and the national ARS labs respond to commodity groups and farm interest groups. There is another activity specifically that we participate collectively in and that's the regional research committees. In regional research committees we try to draw together and insure that we're not duplicating among regions, but we are actually leveraging dollars, not just from CSREES as partnership with the land grants from USDA, but ARS also sits in those regional committee meetings to insure that we are trying to focus dollars in a nonduplicative way to the major problems that have been identified with stakeholders.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Albin.
Mr. ALBIN. Mr. Chairman, I'd like to comment relative to your introductory remarks about what holds this together, what makes it work?
It's been our experience, two things are of primary importance. One is funding and the second, the stakeholders and private sector and I would use the vast cattlefeeding industry of the Southwest as an example. We're in an area where the need exists, the expectation exists for meeting that is Texas Tech and we do that, but we don't do that alone. We do it with our partner, Texas A&M and we do it with our partners in the industry, the Texas Cattlefeeders Association. They expect collaboration and partnership in the research effort. They expect to put up some money, but they expect also the universities to fund some and from a private sector and also then from the individual stakeholders. That particular organization is not unlike manywe have 32 different commodity organizations in the State and they all have representatives that sit on an advisory council among themselves and they watch over what's going on and they expect results from that and as a result they expect money to come from other sources.
I think there's a tendency to expect to put more on the producer that well, they're the ones that benefit from this and those persons should put the money in, but the other side of that being involved also in a family, a corporation farming operation, we're in the business of producing food and fiber for the American people and they're the benefactors, so it's not an easy issue to say this group or that group. It is a collaborative effort from a funding source and that's what drives the effort primarily.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Dooley.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. I'd like to back up a little bit and start off with Dr. Knipling and Dr. Robinson.
We have the $1.8 billion that we're spending basically on research through USDA. Is there a common set of objectives and principles, basically, a mission statement within USDA that is guiding where those investments and how USDA is structuring their operations, both in ARS as well as through the cooperative State research system?
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. BAESLER. Yes, there are. There have been all along and I think this is actually come into even greater focus just in the past few years with this strategic planning activity of the Government Performance and Results Act that I believe you or others mentioned.
The Department has defined some overarching goals and outcomes and all of our plans are then agency level plans and various subsets of the agencies are aligned with hierarchy of overall goals and outcomes and I would also point out that these are in turn also related to the purposes of research that have been outlined by this committee and the existing farm bill, the so-called eight purposes of research and so those are, in fact, the overarching umbrella guiding principles, goals, outcomes, purposes, whatever terminology we use.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. Sure.
Mr. ROBINSON. Perhaps, Mr. Dooley, I could add just a bit to that. In the development of the five goals that are the core part of the Department's strategic plan, they were developed in concert with a number of stakeholder groups including meetings around the country and regional meetings where we reviewed earlier drafts of the strategic plan as it was being built. The earlier draft of the REE mission plan is best described as an overarching plan from which ARS has a programmatic area, the land grants in cooperation with CSREES and it is this overarching aspect that tries to tie the components of our research program, intramural and extramural together, but it is also dependent, I might add, on continuation of stakeholder input in the annual performance plans that we develop from the strategic plan to insure that we are, in fact, addressing the highest priority issues and to insure that we are coordinating our efforts between the entities, the land grants and ARS to address high priority issues.
This is our first experience with this type of plan. We've had a number of different plans that have been strategic plans for different agencies, for the predecessor agencies to CSREES and to ARS, and many of the other Federal agencies as well as the land grant university system. This is the first time we actually have a plan where we're trying to fit these components together in such a way that best addresses the highest research priorities.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. DOOLEY of California. I'd be interested in maybe a brief comment from some of the stakeholders in terms of your evaluation and assessment of the task in the success of the Department in identifying what the objectives and priorities are and their ability to articulate those in a manner which is understood by the industry and other parties that want to be involved in the research.
What I'm wondering is, is this system working? And do you feel like you have the ability to influence?
Mr. SANFORD. May I respond?
Mr. DOOLEY of California. Sure.
Mr. SANFORD. We, in Alabama, and I have to usepardon the personal relationship reference, we, in Alabama feel like the stakeholders should have greater input and so we have through the State support committee and our Alabama checkoff system grant approximately approaching a quarter of a million for research projects that should be matched to address some of our problems. I'm sure this is duplicated across the cottonbelt.
What we do which Cotton, Inc. really started the model of this in our industry is that we get together with the investigators approximately the December to January period of each year with the land grant colleges in our State and we have two land grant, one 1862 and then we have an Alabama A&M 1890 and Tuskegee University. Likewise, we also have representatives from the University of Florida which also appear before our committee. These investigators, along with approximately 15 to 18 producers sit down and discuss the problems they had in the previous production year. They interchange with the investigators to convey these needs and then they ask the investigators to come back in March, some 3 to 4 months later and present proposals for research projects that will address these needs. And I think and then our committee through the budgetary process sets the priorities and it gets quite heated, as you can imagine, among producers saying
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. DOOLEY of California. Sure, Jimmy. But I guess there's nothing incompatible with the process that you're engaging in in terms of the way that it correlates with what USDA is doing, with their broader overall identification of priorities and objectives.
Mr. SANFORD. No sir. We think it enhances their model. We think we are the missing link, so to speak.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. Thank you.
Mr. DOOLEY. I think it's fair to say that there has been some frustration over the years about the ability to influence the national priorities for the USDA research programs. But I think the process that's been described that Bob and Ed have mentioned is a new one. The Department presently is developing their first performance plan under the GPRA which will accompany their budget request for fiscal year 1999, if I have those years right. So it is a new endeavor and as a part of that endeavor, I think the Department, and particularly under Bob's leadership, really reached out to the stakeholder community to get a lot of input.
The other thing I think is new is the advisory board. I'm among the first on the advisory board to not want to create too large of expectations about all of the things it can do because the fact of the matter is it's composed of volunteers. But I think that the next linkage is for the advisory board to develop relationships with the stakeholder community in some sort of formalized fashion which we're endeavoring to do now. It can then do some cross checking to make sure that the performance plans that have been developed by the Department, in fact, are generally linked to the needs of the stakeholder community as expressed to the Board. Finally, the board needs to look after the fact and see how they performed. Did they meet the expectations? Did they perform as they expected they would and if not, why not, and what should be done differently in the subsequent years.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. Dr. Owens, in your written testimony you have another example in terms of your support for the plant genome project.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I guess I'd be interested in terms of this $1.8 billion that we're spending, we got the priorities again that have been established, the objectives. Do you think that this again, from your perspective and your associations or institute's perspective, you know, are youare they reflective of what you think the priority should be?
Ms. OWENS. Well, I think that we would agree that the USDA should lead in basic research and the plant genome project is a good example of that. I didn't get to mention in my testimony here, but I have it in my written testimony that biotechnology is an area that industry has now gotten into, only because all the basic research was done previously in the public sector.
So I think that in general we support those kinds of priorities.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. If we have pretty common agreement in terms of the priorities and objectives, people can focus on that. Then I step into the budget and the allocation and how we're allocating those and I wonder, are we really allocating these funds in a manner which is really allowing us to maximize the achieving of those objectives and specifically I'd like to get some comments on the way we allocate money under the Hatch Act as well as the Smith-Lever Act which comprises a good portion of these funds. The allocation is based on a formula, on the Hatch Act, it was frozen in 1955 base level. It was also then on the amounts that go above that you have 25 percent for regional research, 20 percent equally among all States, 26 percent based on farm population and 26 percent based on rural population. Smith-Lever is a little bit different. It was frozen in 1962, but you have 20 percent of the funds above that allocated to all the States; 40 percent based on farm population, 40 percent based on rural population. If we have these set formulas that are in large part based on farm population, is that directly correlated to achieving our national priorities and objectives? I mean does farm populationlook at the State of California by far and away the leading agriculture State in the Nation. We probably don't have one of the largest farm population. Are we basically using a formula that is outdated and is the Department. My question to you, are you advocating some reform in this that might make it more effective in being consistent with the priorities that you've identified?
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. ROBINSON. Perhaps, Mr. Dooley, I can address that from two perspectives. In my formal remarks and the remarks submitted for the record, I did point out that the Department does support an array of funding mechanisms for research and education, one of which is formula funds. Now there are two aspects of the formula funds that relate to your question. The first is a generalized investment of the Federal Government in the research and education capacity at the land grant university system. That investment allows us to pull together an array of disciplines, and scientists to address issues important to the Government at the national and regional level.
There is a lot of history, as you well know, behind formula funding and there are a lot of questions that have been addressed with regard to formula funding specifically. The questions contained a year ago in Mr. Robert's list, the questions contained in Mr. Lugar's list of questions and some information inquiries that have come out of the deliberative bodies on the Hill now are questioning should we take a look at the formula funding mechanism as one of the prime mechanisms for funding land grant research.
I think the Department's position is that any time we begin to tinker with this we start from the goal of trying to decide specifically what we want to do with formula funds. Then if there is a desire on the part of Congress to study formula funds in terms of meeting that predetermined set of goals, the Department certainly would support that.
The issue that exists, any time there has been a debate with regard to changing the formulas, that are used for the distribution of those funds, is it creates winners and losers. That winner and loser creation, I think, should be guided by a set of goals that we want to accomplish rather than just debating the wins and losses to individual localities.
Now that's one part of your question. The second part of your question I think has to do with priority setting. I think the current strategic plan and performance planning mechanism that we have in place not only meets GPRA, but in fact, begins the development of a planning process between the land grant university system, ARS and USDA which is improved, I think, over anything that we've had in the past. The allocation of those funds for intramural research on that are going by formula, by competitive grant or by targeted grant to the land grant university should address that set of priorities. So there are sort of two sides to that issue and yes, one could debate the validity of the current formulas, but more importantly, it seems to me is what do we want to accomplish with the formulas and how do we best address that line of funding to high priority needs.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. SANFORD. May I respond to that question?
Mr. COMBEST. Sure.
Mr. SANFORD. I find it very interesting that Congress is discussing in a lot of areas the issue of block funding in trying to put priority setting and decision and implementation of programs on a local level. I think the formula funding is original block grant of Congress and I find it interesting that we want to change that in light of all the successes that we've had through the process that we've experienced.
I personally think, I'm an advocate of formula funding. Unlike lab research, which lends itself to competitive grant process, agriculture needs site specific research and I think each State of this great Nation of ours needs the base formula funding to do the site specific research.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr Chairman. The problem with 10 minutes is it tends to go for 15 minutes once you get on a roll with these questions.
I served on the Joint Council on Food and Agricultural Sciences, producers representative, Mr. Dooley, one of the predecessors of your group. I was always very concerned at the lack of criteria in evaluating research efforts and projects that would result in the benefit of the farmer and rancher of this country. We get on such a if you will roll with ARS, with the scientific community, that any research is good just for the sake of research. We see pressures coming from industry with their co-pay and cooperation and encouragement by coming up with their own funding to match or supplement State and Federal funding that very often we see research that ends up to the benefit of the processors and the packagers and the distributors.
I'm concerned as we see smaller farmers in this country going broke and going out of business, as we see the medium level sized farmers that are buying up the smaller farms and simply working longer days and working harder in an effort to come up with the kind of profits that allows them and their family to live in a fashion that their city cousins are existing.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 So I guess my question to all of you is how do we implement the kind of research that's going to benefit the farmers and ranchers of this country and I know there isn't any answer and I knowbut one of my questions I would like you to think about and maybe respond to is what is the last research project that was successful that increased the profits of any farming group in this country? And Mr. Chairman, I'm disappointed that the food belt of this country, the soybeans and the corn and the wheat are less represented than I would like to see them represented in this group. I'm disappointed that the livestock industry isn't here. I hope they will be in the future. The poultry industry and especially the dairy industry of this country. We're losing dairy farmers by the drovers.
Mr. COMBEST. Without coming out of the gentleman's time, the Chair would indicate that we're having three additional hearings and there will be one dedicated to commodity groups.
Mr. SMITH. In an effort toI know that we've had an effort to hopefully have producer representatives sort of combine their ideas, but here again you have some producer groups that are interested in low cost for the price they pay, for the feed input and some groups that are hoping to have a higher profit by having a higher commodity price on those particular commodities.
Can anybody respond to me what you think is the last research project that increased the profitability for more than two years of any producer group in this country?
Ms. OWENS. I would like to cite an example for apples. I worked in the apple industry doing research in Massachusetts and New England I would say that a lot of the research that was done in the land grant universities in that area on integrated pest management that allowed producers to have a better idea of when certain pests were going to be there and when they needed to apply chemicals to control those pests has really lowered their production costs and has allowed some of those smaller producers to stay in business and produce a quality apple that the people in the local markets want to buy. Recently, they initiated an initiative to label produce that's been produced under IPM as labeled that way and that's giving the consumers an opportunity to support that activity.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. SMITH. And the price of apples either increased or remained stable? The price of apples didn't go down out West like they did in Michigan?
Ms. OWENS. Well, the price of apples has to some extent remained stable, but if they hadn't had a research that allowed them to lower the costs of the input
Mr. SMITH. Then apple prices would have gone up or else they would have gone out of business.
Ms. OWENS. Out of business.
Mr. SMITH. Well, I mean maybe there isn't any solution. Maybe the competitive nature of agriculture means that only those that profit from these research are the ones that first are into take advantage of that new research initiative, but I think if we're concernedone of the criteria I think we should be asking, Mr. Dooley, whether it's research or education or whatever your group has encompassed in terms of your advice to Congress and to the Department of Agriculture and to the country, is research directed benefit the U.S. farmers and ranchers and in that regard will the research increase the profitability or the well being of those farmers and ranchers?
We are facing tremendous competition that's going to grow dramatically and as we gauge to the glory of research for research sake and as we move into the consumer demand that we have a better and more nutritious product that's packaged and prepared in a better way, I think it's too easy to lose sight of the more difficult problem of how do we direct research at where we need it, if we're going to continue to have a strong agricultural industry in this country and that's for the producers and ranches.
Mr. DOOLEY. Well, I'd like to just make a couple of comments. I think the question of competitiveness of American agriculture has been a principal concern to the advisory board in our review of the Department's strategic plan and performance plans. In our recommendations to the Secretary about how the Fund for Rural America should be administered.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I think we share your concern that that was stated in the farm bill of 1996 that increasing competitiveness is one of the very highest priorities that we should have in our research and education efforts, particularly in light of the restructuring of the commodity programs.
I will tell you as a farmer who grows quite a lot of corn by the way, we have benefitted directly in recent years from collaborative cotton breeding done by USDA, the University of California and private industry in California and our yields have increased substantially in part because of that.
We have benefitted dramatically because of work done by the University of California on crop mapping in cotton which is a methodology that's been created to help us determine when to irrigate and when insect control is critical and that sort of thing. The net result is over the last 15 years, our production has increased probably close to 40 percent.
Mr. SMITH. And what percentage is your net profits increased?
Mr. DOOLEY. Dramatically.
Mr. SMITH. Ten percent?
Mr. DOOLEY. Oh, more than that. And prices have been relatively constant during that period of time. There have been some low points and some high points, but the fact of the matter is that we're producing a little over 3 bales to the acre now when we were producing 2 1/4 bales to the acre in the early 1980's and that's a direct result of the collaborative state, Federal and private research.
Mr. SMITH. And of course, the other question is I'm also a farmer and I have about 2,000 acres, but what I've seen in applying these risks to this research is I get the advantage maybe for 1 year, maybe for 2 years, if I'm right on the doorstep of that research and am one of the first to implement that kind of innovation and research and then unless I've seen my profits per acre remain very stable, so my expansion of acres sometimes have increased the probability, but what that means our farm programs or research, I think have not been beneficial and have probably been somewhat detrimental to the smaller farmer in this country. And so we have seen producers tend to get bigger.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Let me express another concern I have and see if ARS, if somebody can guide me on what we're doing and that is that a lot of our agricultural research effort from our basic research to our applied research is monitored very closely by the scientific community of the rest of the world. They are, in effect, looking over our shoulder as we publish those reports and what I have observed is often they end up implementing this research more quickly than we do in this country, so they take our basic research and move it into an applied aspect or they take our applied aspect and through an effort that's copied our extension service actually get it implemented in those countries and the other problem along that line in research for research sake, I see research that's been conducted in the past that's really less applicable in our country than it is in some other areas of the country. Just a quick comment and then my time is up.
Mr. KNIPLING. Well, Mr. Smith, yes, we've all observed that, but I don't think it is a dominant trend. Certainly the science community is a global community. It knows no boundaries so to speak. I think one of the actual strengths of our system is that we can share across political boundaries.
Mr. SMITH. How many staff people do we have in USDA that are monitoring the research of other countries in agriculture?
Mr. KNIPLING. I don't think we have any. I wouldn't characterize it as monitoring, but instead, would say that every scientist we have in the ARS and in the university system has scientific collaborators internationally. We have a lot of international scientific exchanges. I just participated in a meeting last week where I met my counterparts from France, England and Canada where we talked about collaboration. We are benefitting from this and I think on balance it's not a major dominant trend of concern.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I conclude by saying I suggest we be more selfish and making sure that the beneficiaries of our research are our producers and our producers are farmers and ranchers and our consumers in this country as opposed to general, some more generally broad spaced criteria.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Thank you.
Mr. COMBEST. The gentleman's time has expired. Mr. Brown.
Mr. BROWN. I really would like to comment on the remarks of my good friend from Michigan a little bit more, but maybe we can do that later.
He is correct in that a good deal of research does not benefit the small farmer, but that's because of things not related to the research. It's because of their lack of capital to utilize the research more than anything else. The dairy industry being a classic problem withor example with the bovine somotrophin. The big farmers get the advantage and it does increase productivity, but unfortunately in agriculture increase in productivity frequently decreases profits and that's not a matter that research is responsible for. It's the way we organize farm policy in this country.
Mr. SMITH. Yes, but if the gentleman yield for just a quick retort.
Mr. BROWN. Yes.
Mr. SMITH. Still, there's a lot of research that can be done that's going to directly benefit even that small farmer and sometimes if that's a criteria and a consideration, then I think we would increase our propensity to have that kind of research.
Mr. BROWN. The gentleman, as I say is correct, but I hope that he doesn't become prejudiced against the value of research because I'm prejudiced for research and I hate to have a distinguished friend on the opposite side of that argument.
This hearing, I want to compliment the chairman for. It's a vitally important step as we move toward reauthorization of the agricultural research provisions. I think we would all recognize because of the major changes we've made in agricultural legislation, the commodity programs are going to have declining importance and the research programs are going to have increasing importance and we need to give additional thought to how we can improve these programs and for one thing make sure that research is focused on the needs of the small farmers as well as the large producers. I think we could be helpful in that, although that problem is really imbedded in other areas than just the research area.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I note because of the presence of another Dooley in the panel that this is reminiscent of a hearing that I conducted when I was chairman of this subcommittee about 15 years ago and the Cotton Council in this case brought in my cousin from California who managed a cotton gin and I wondered how they were able to select such a competent person.
Mr. COMBEST. The tradition continues.
Mr. BROWN. Well, as long as all the facts are disclosed, I don't think it's inappropriate.
There's a number of comments that have been made in this testimony which raises a lot of questions with regard to the importance of agricultural research and related activities and I want to compliment Mr. Dooley, as long as we brought his name up. I think the testimony that he has given with regard to the overall decline in agricultural research relative to other research and relative to the measured percentage of the gross national product is extremely important. It is a fact in my other committee, the Science Committee, we track these things very closely and while all research has declined to some degree, agricultural research has probably been at the bottom of the list in terms of keeping pace with what you might call the needs or keep maintaining its historic percentage of the research dollars that the Federal Government allocates and I have been interested for the last several in trying to change this situation. I don't think it's going to change here in Congress without some outside pressures that would move it in that direction and the fact of the matter is that the agricultural research communities and the universities are just not very aggressive when it comes to pressuring Congress. Is there any argument with that statement from some of you? Any of you?
Scientists in general have that point of view. They have this feeling sort of that their work is sacred and if we don't worship it like they do, while we're going to hell, but they're not going to do anything about it.
There was some suggestion and perhaps you made it, Mr. Dooley, that the research committee that you're representing here could develop a little closer relationship or collaboration with the user community and that out of that might come some strategy that could be used to influence the Congress to a greater understanding of the importance of research.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Did you have something like that in mind or am I misquoting you?
Mr. DOOLEY. Well, I didn't say that precisely, but I do think, well, I think there are a couple of interesting phenomena going on. This is the first time that I can recall or that I've discovered in research when the commodity programs weren't in the process of reauthorization at the same time as the research title was and the consequence of that in the past I think is that the national commodity organizations were not as actively engaged in the substance of the research title as they have become this year because the commodity programs are not up and the research title is up independently. And while there is some disagreement within the commodity community about what the research title should look like in the final analysis, I think it's been quite healthy for them to become engaged in more direct and assertive way in this issue and I think the result of that will be perhaps some more statement of support for certain provisions of the research title to some of your colleagues, Mr. Brown, as this process moves forward. And I think that's healthy. I think it has also fostered a more direct communication between not only the Department, but the land grant system and the national commodity organizations about what the research title should look like than has occurred in the past for the reasons I mentioned.
So yes, I think there has been some emerging healthier dialogue and more attention being paid by some of the stakeholder groups to the reauthorization than perhaps was paid in the past.
Mr. BROWN. Well, there's one thing you can count on for sure, the research title is going to be different in the future and itI won't describe it as being revolutionary different, because we have a very firm foundation on which we said, but there's going to have to be a reversal in the level of funding towards moving it up and some refocus on how to achieve the highest quality.
Now it was hoped that the process of having a national, a segment of the research budget that was awarded competitively which was proposed many years ago under the last Republican administration as a matter of fact, that this would create a higher quality of research by making a wider range of research performing institutions eligible to receive agricultural research grants. For some reason or another that competitive program has never reached the level that it was originally proposed to be and we may need to look at that again. We also may need to look at formula funding again. As somebody commented in that connection, whenever you change the formula funding, you always create winners and losers. That's always been true. And the people who made the present formula created winners and losers. Those who created it and pushed it were the winners. Those who failed to take part and actively engage were the losers and that includes California, I think Mr. Dooley mentioned that.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 But I am not convinced that California should have a larger amount of formula research funds. I think perhaps they can compensate for it in the competitive funds department, but that does need to be scrutinized very carefully to determine whether the interest of we'll say the large Midwest wheat and corn areas are being adequately met. We examined this several years ago and came up with a new formula which provided more money for research on the problems of the Midwest. California benefitted a little from it, too. Not too much. But we need to examine that alternative formula situation in a very broad light as to what's best for the country because that's what we're essentially concerned with here and I don't think we're going to get to this level of analyzing change as we go about looking at the new bill unless we get a lot more encouragement from groups such as we have before us in this distinguished panel.
Now somebody tell me that I'm being unfair and unjust here, please.
Ms. Owen, you made a statement that maybe I can provoke you a little bit.
Ms. OWENS. I'm easily provoked.
Mr. BROWN. The biotechnology industry was doing great on research today and you said you had built that on the base of basic research funded by the Federal Government before the private sector really developed any momentum in this area. That's also true.
Are you implying that we've done all that we need to do in basic research on biotechnology and we should stop funding that?
Ms. OWENS. Oh no. I'm in no way implying that. In fact, one of the things that may save Idaho and the potato industry is biotechnology and it's not just coming up with a new virus-free potato, it's having new information that might allow us to make the potato into your next flu vaccine, for example, and those kinds of things. So I think there is more research that needs to be done. I certainly think that the genome project the plant genome project would help because instead of taking 50 years to get to a resistant variety, we might be able to use this new technology and get to it in 5 years.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. BROWN. Let me make just one comment. The area of national research that's best funded by the Federal Government is the health research field. The reasons are varied, but one of the reasons is that they don't have an authorizing committee to pester the appropriators. They have a very supportive appropriation subcommittee and they have a very, very supportive industry and academic support group that just lobbies the hell out of them and as a consequence health research consistently gets more money than the President asks for. And it will continue to get that more money, even in this budget crisis and they'll take it away from agriculture research.
Now how do you respond to that?
Ms. OWENS. Well, one of the things I would cite is there was an article in theor an editorial in Science Magazine that pointed out that agricultural research has benefitted the health areas and stuff so I think there's an awful lot of overlap and I would say that if you're taking money away from agricultural research you may be taking away from things that might support better nutrition research, that might help us in terms of animal diseases that would eventually translate to human diseases.
Mr. BROWN. You're absolutely correct, but that message isn't getting across very well.
Ms. OWENS. Well, there was another editorial in Science that said that the problem with funding of science doesn't have to do with the public not knowing about science and understanding science and the politicians not knowing about science and understanding science. It has to do with scientists not understanding politics.
Mr. BROWN. That's exactly the point I've been trying to make. Thank you.
Mr. COMBEST. In view of Mr. Brown's comments and Mr. Smith's comments, the Chair would note in Members' packets there is testimony from National Association of Wheat Growers, American Farm Bureau Federation. We received testimony from the Rice Federation and we'll be very open to and soliciting information and comments from every group that has an interest and we'll have a complete record even though we will not have everyone represented at hearings.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. Everett.
Mr. EVERETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I promise not to take my 10 minutes.
Jimmy, it's my understanding that several agriculture groups in Alabama are advocating proposals that would essentially restructure research and extension service.
Could you comment on those and give me your evaluation of each?
Mr. SANFORD. Yes sir. Auburn University has just recently implemented an interdisciplinary approach on restructuring their research and they have combined the Dean of Agriculture with four other deans on the university campus and this is an attempt to bring an interdisciplinary approach to research of agriculture.
Likewise the extension service has been reorganized in Alabama. It changed its name from service to system. It has interfaced, it has merged, the extension service of Alabama A&M and Auburn University into one system and they are addressing not only rural Alabama needs, but also urban Alabama needs and we think this integrating of services as well as research will bring better results in the future.
Another effort that's underway, Congressman Everett, the model of this resides in your district at Headland, AL, the wire grass substation is a system that's been in existence for quite some time and it is a facility which brings research extension and stakeholders together into one facility and there's a plan and an effort in Alabama to try to duplicate that in six or seven or maybe eight other locales within the State and to try to bring focus to agriculture and natural resources in these research and educational facilities and basically bring the extension of ANR out of the county offices into these regional facilities and that leaves, that frees up the county extension offices to focus on the urban needs and to concentrate on those issues.
Mr. EVERETT. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. COMBEST. Mr. Dooley?
Mr. DOOLEY of California. I guess I'd like to revisit this whole issue of how we're allocating funds. I'm still not real comfortable with that because again I like people to start, if we're starting from zero here, I mean if you were going to institute a new system, I guess would you create a Hatch formula as presently under law? Would you create a Smith-Lever formula that's currently under law? I mean would the formulas based on rural population which I'm not even sure what the definition of that is. We have rapidly developing areas of the country that become MSAs, is that based on rural population. What is the definition of a farm population and how does thatand then we have it frozen at a base amount in 1955, how is that commensurate with maximizing the objectives that USDA has determined?
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Yes?
Mr. ROBINSON. Again, perhaps I could address that and the question you're asking in some detail, I think really requires perhaps a bit of study to try to find out what the objectives of different formula may be in the distribution of funds.
I would perhaps, Mr. Dooley, come back to the central core though that I think and the Department's position is that an investment by the Federal Government in the research infrastructure in the land grant community is a wise one. And that investment should be guided by a set of factors that I think really have been articulated in the comments that Mr. Brown made, you made and in fact, Mr. Smith made. What is it that guides that research portfolio and I think if you boiled it down the three guiding features are the guiding features that I used when I first came to the agency and the Department and it's relevance, excellence and usefulness.
Those three terms are not different. Perhaps the order is what's different and the order asks the question at the outset, what are the relevant problems that the research community should be addressing and that's where we do it in a stakeholder involved priority setting process.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. I understand, but I guess my point is if we are locking up a significant amount of funds that are allocated on an arbitrary formula that was developed back in 1955 and 1962, is that not in some ways restricting the ability to meet the present research demands and needs? I mean we're locking up, what it is $500 million almost in formula funds.
Mr. ROBINSON. Well, Mr. Dooley, the lockup in formula funds is actually less than half that. It's in the neighborhood of about $220.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. Hatch Act and Smith-Lever?
Mr. ROBINSON. No, that is for research. Smith-Lever funds also amount to approximately the same thing, so it is roughly $500 for both extension and research.
The answer to your question is very difficult to come by because wherever one is sitting you could come up with different kinds of logic for adjusting the formula. The based issue that you could deal with is elimination of all formula funds and if one did, then what process would you develop to make investments long-term investments in the research and extension capacity at universities?
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I think there is a certain logic for an investment that is longer term which looks at different funding mechanisms. If you do it only from a competitive science driven basis, you're going from project to project. Now what you're actually trying to glean the best science to a set of problems, well, you're not necessarily investing in the infrastructure. I think formula funds do that.
Now that's not to suggest that the current formulas are the only way to do that. I think there is an open issue on examining those formulas, but what, I guess, the only point that the Department makes in that examination not to oppose it, but to suggest what would we want to accomplish in changing formula investment.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. Dr. Dutson?
Mr. DUTSON. Let me give you a little bit of perspective from the local level at the land grant university and within the State of Oregon on formula funds. Rather than thinking of them specifically as quote formula funds that are cranked out by a specific formula, we look at those primarily as a base level of funding that gives us the continuing investment from the Federal system whereby we participate in the larger national picture for the research that we do at the State level.
That is only a small portion, in fact, in Oregon in the research area, that is only about 12 percent of our actual hard dollar investment and less than 6 percent of our total investment in research because we have more than 50 percent of our research investment comes from outside sources, competitive grants. So whether you look at as 12 percent or 6 percent, it's a small amount, but it is a base level that gives us that underpinning and also buys us into the national system.
Now you can argue whether the formula is correct, but that base fund is a really important underpinning for the other parts of the system.
Now the next part of that system that we feel is really important is the State funds. And the State funds that go into that investment in both research and extension are the largest piece and in the extension part I would talk about the county funds and State funds as being together. That's the largest dollar amount and those are essentially to focus on State-related problems, but much of the research that's done there is applicable to the national level, that underpinning of base research programs and the funding that comes from a national level allows us to contribute that into the national scene and the national level.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 There's another piece of that funding picture, particularly on research, but also some on extension, which is more targeted and those targeted funds come from the special grants program or other specific targeted research, Russian wheat aphid research, for example, a very important program. You know, there's just a number of specific programs, potato-wide virus. There's some specific rifle shot kinds of activities that come both from the Federal level, but even more so from the grants and contracts that come from private industry.
So that is really the more targeted specific application related research and what we really advocate is a multiplicity of those funding systems such that we can have the base funding which will fund essentially some of the infrastructure, both the State level and the national level. That buys the scientists. That buys the buildings. That pays for laboratory equipment. Then these other specific targeted research programs come on top of that to really make it germane.
Now whether or not the formula is correct, I think that may need to be taken a look at.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. And I guess that's my point is what's a little frustrating to me is that we have $500 million going out in formula funds. That is, we've got $1.8 billion. I mean it's 30 percent almost, not quite, of our research dollars are being allocated on formula. Why isn't that one of the essential points of this debate whether or not that formula is accurate? I mean I have, in 1997, and this information is relatively new to me, we were spending under Hatch Act allocation, formula allocations, $3 million to the Territory of Puerto Rico. We are spending in my State of California, which has a $22 billion agriculture industry, about $100,000 more than that.
I step back and say how is this allocation of funds consistent with the objectives and the priorities that USDA has under even Hatch Act allocations, that we're spending $3 million in Puerto Rico, and $3.1 million in California?
Mr. Sanford, you talked about why should we back away from formula funding and its original block grant, I don't say that we ought to back away from continuing a formula funding or block grant that you maintain a basic level of funding, but I think it's in the interest of Alabama, which actually gets less than Puerto Rico, gets $2.7 million, that you ought to have a vested interest in seeing whether or not we are investing these funds wisely.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. SANFORD. Right, we certainly agree with that. I think every, most people would agree that your point is well taken and there certainly needs to be a dialogue as to bringing the formula up to date.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. Well, all I would say is the time for the dialogue is upon us and I would hope that we would receive, the committee would receive some guidance and any of you that would choose to add additional comments, I'd be most interested and I know the chairman would be too.
Ms. OWENS. Just one comment. The National Academy of Sciences study on the land grant colleges of agriculture addressed this point and we had quite a bit of debate over how those funds should be allocated. It's not an easy question because there is some thought that if you look at the ultimate beneficiary of agriculture which is the consumer, that perhaps the funding should be allocated on the number of consumers, so that the consumers would have more input on where that money is spent.
So I agree that it's a significant debate, but I would refer you back to our report which came out last year.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. I guess I mean my response to the people from USDA is that to me it seems if you develop your objectives and priorities which we basically had an agreement on that in terms of process and what they are, is that there also ought to be if this is a new process that you're kind of engaging there to define those and how you incorporate those, that there also ought to be a revisiting of the look of how we're funding our research in order to achieve those priorities most effectively and it seems if we're not doing those in tandem, that we really are doing a disservice to an overall investigation analysis of our research title.
Mr. ROBINSON. Perhaps I could respond to that. And I think the Department's position is not unlike the one you just laid on the table. I think the issue is how, for what purpose we examine the formulas. The formulas were set in place by this body and the Senate in terms of determining the way those funds would be distributed and the criteria that were included in the funds and the Department's position is not one of not being willing or wanting to examine those. We're quite willing to do it.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 And in fact, we can run some scenarios that might be useful to this committee on if we changed various criteria within the formula, how would it change the distribution of funds? But again, even having done that, Mr. Dooley, I would suggest that still the guiding principles are two: one is there needs to be a long-term, not just a competitive funding mechanisms for agricultural research, but both an investment through some kind of base fund as Dr. Dutson pointed out and competitive funds, but what are our goals in terms of changing those formula?
We can provide to you what would happen in distribution if we used different criteria to do it. But there are two questions that remain? What would be the goal of changing and secondly, would it leverage the same amount of dollars that it's currently leveraging? For example, in research, about less than 20 percent of the total research budget of land grant comes from formula funds, so you've got $1 in $5 that is being leveraged out of the system. With the extension, it's about 25 to 27 percent of the total budget on average comes from Federal funds, still, a significant leveraging of funds.
Even more important, if you look at most of the studies that are out, there is a return to investment in agriculture and research and extension of 30 to 50 percent, so the question is how do you put that in and perhaps it calls for a comprehensive investigation of what a new formula, set of formula criteria should be and I don't think the Department would be at opposition with the position you lay on the table. And could be very closely aligned with insuring that we've reached the objectives that we've outlined.
Mr. DOOLEY. If I could just make a comment. I think the underlying principles about which everyone agrees is that we need to maintain capacity within the system to be responsive to whatever the priorities are and I purposefully have been quiet about the question of formula funding because I think there's a difficulty in timing and it appropriately should be done at this time, but I mentioned what I think should be a very high priority which is to move towards programmatic approaches to research and education and extension, as opposed to agency or institutional approaches and I think what the Department's planning effort has done is create a programmatic template.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 These are the priorities without saying specifically that this is an ARS priority and this is a CSREES priority and so forth and so on. But they haven't yet in my observation, their existing programs haven't really been laid out and displayed under those new programmatic objectives and priorities, so it's very difficult to say, for example, that do you want to have a formula that's based on a high priority to benefit small farmers?
Do you want to have a formula that's intended to enhance competitiveness? It's hard to do that when you can't really display very clearly what your existing programs are doing and I think that's where the Department is heading is trying to get their existing programs arrayed under this new programmatic kind of format and right now I don't think we have a clear picture of where all of the resources fit under those new priorities and Bob and I have had this discussion on more than one occasion and that's in my opinion where we need to get to.
Once you say here's our programmatic priorities, then you can start talking about where we need capacity and where we ought to be focusing our capacity building or capacity maintenance funding in the system and I'm not sure we're quite there yet and that's why we have this difficulty when we start talking about the formula funds because everybody has a different perception of what the criteria ought to be to revise the formula and it's based on some legitimate priority, but it may not be the national priority. And I think that's the direction we need to be moving.
Mr. COMBEST. Let me ask, I guess, initially sort of point this to Dr. Dutson and then others might wish to comment, this will sort of be described as the devil's advocate question here.
But in light of the fact that we have a national network of ARS labs, a number of nonland grant universities which fill in the gaps, is it necessary to maintain land grant universities in each State in the same form that we have today or would it be maybe a regional approach, would that be more appropriate?
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. DUTSON. Well, I think there are a number of issues that come up relative to regionalizing say the land grant university system. One is are we capitalizing as best we can on the regional possibilities for cooperation across State lines within a region or subregion, for example, Washington, Oregon and Idaho have a lot of the same problems, a lot of the same microclimates, a lot of the same soils, a lot of the same crops. Idaho, Washington and Oregon on the eastern side are quite similar. Washington and Oregon and Northern California are quite similar on the western side.
So I guess one part of the question is if you did something with the land grant university system, would you be able to better capitalize on the regional possibilities say in that subregion or even in the larger regions such as the Great Basin, which covers a large number of the western States.
I think if you look at the cooperative efforts that we have in those regions, you would have to say probably very little increased regional work and regional cooperation would occur if you took those land grant universities and put them together. So I think that's one question, would you gain some efficiency in the system that you don't have the possibility of doing now. I think the possibility is there of creating those efficiencies and many times they are. The Small Fruit Research Center, that little booklet that you have there is an example of that within those three States.
The other piece of that question is what really is the focus of the land grant university within each of those States. I think that's probably the bigger part of the question. If you look at the funding that comes from the Federal level, versus the funding that comes from the State level, the big gorilla is the funding at the State level, that actually focuses the programs within that land grant university.
Mr. COMBEST. Are you saying that that would no longer be there?
Mr. DUTSON. I think that funding would be there, but it may not be there if you were to coalesce the land grant universities across different States. They would create some other mechanism to have their own land grant university.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. COMBEST. I just, coming back to what Mr. Dooley up here said in his opening comments, and that was if you were going to develop that system today, not having anywhere to start from, I wonder if it would look the same as it does today? That doesn't necessary conclude that it would be better. I just wonder if it would and I think that's part of what our challenge is as to look at what we've got and is that the best we can do?
Mr. DUTSON. Let me give you an example of what we did in Oregon when we took a look at what we were doing with the land grant university within the State.
Ten years ago, we tried to wipe the slate clean and decided where we would put our branch experiment stations around the State if we had to start over again. And we just tried to divorce ourselves as much as we could from what the past was and start with where were the needs within the State. Now we ended up creating almost exactly the same positions for our branch experiment stations that were there at that point in time because they had evolved over a number of years toward the needs in specific growing areas, specific climatic zones of the State.
One addition we felt was necessary and we have gone about creating that and that is a trade marketing and value-added processing branch experiment station located in Portland to serve the international trade and the Portland food processing business industry.
So as we wipe the slate clean, we found that the climatic zones around the U.S. were really necessary, around Oregon were really necessary to be taken care of by these branch experiment stations.
Well, if you went to the regional level, you'd still have that same need within those specific subregions of the State. Now each of those subregions of the State are cooperating with like subregions in the adjacent States, whether it be California, Idaho, or Washington, those States around Oregon.
So our seafood research center cooperates up and down the coast and I think if you really went back and wiped the slate clean, you'd still find that in each individual State there are a number of necessary focuses that are even smaller than the land grant university focuses on.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. COMBEST. It might not be that those would be nonexistent, but I guess your first comment in regards to what kind of impact would that have on other sources of funding, i.e., State funding or whatever, sort of begs me then the question of what, I mean let's take and I obviously don't know nearly as much about it in your part of the country as I might be familiar with it in my own, but then what kind of a situation does that create with a nonland grant university. Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
There is an experiment station from the land grant university located in Lubbock. Well, Texas Tech is located in Lubbock also. Why can't they do that? And I guess I would ask Dr. Albin, can you give me some examples of or can you give me some thoughts about potential restructuring of this and can you give me some examples of where you have a very close working relationships with the land grant university?
Mr. ALBIN. Mr. Chairman, I'll give you two examples, one for Texas and one in California for Mr. Dooley's benefit. One of the primary problems that have addressed, that we have addressed over time would be first attitude in terms of the need for doing that. As Mr. Dutson, Dr. Dutson pointed out, there has been an attitude that we are meeting the basis, the land grant system is meeting the basis that there are many different opportunities and needs and stakeholder interest and we're taking care of those.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason and I perceived it to be as I've pointed out lack of funding to meet those needs, increasing pressure by political forces, the urban society that causes funding to maybe be put where agriculturally the priorities would not be the same and so it's not a determined interested to exclude those, the nonland grants, for example, but the resources are not there to make that partnership happen.
Now what we're doing in Texas and we're blessed with a fine standard for research at Texas A&M and Mr. Ed Hiler, but the attitude is there now to work cooperatively and to try to meet some partnership, in a partnership way. The stakeholder requests and demands that we're facing in far west Texas, the swine industry is just exploding in the area, the cattle feeding industry is already there and Texas Tech University has been asked over time and has met over time some of those needs, but today the funding base isn't there for us to do that as a nonland grant and certainly the land grant in this case, Texas A&M, is not able to divert resources to existing outstanding programs to focus on a stakeholder group. So I think the issue to me and it would be some allowance from a Federal standpoint for a partnership to exist for the nonland grants, for the private sector as they would have input to be a part of the system and help officially and also financially take part in that effort.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The same is true at California State University at Fresno and that is there's an increase in demand in that area to provide some specific targeted research programming for some interests and yet there's absolutely no money to do that from either through the land grant system because they do not have the money, not the land grant.
Mr. COMBEST. Well, let's take that sort of as an example. Let's say Federal, ARS, USDA has got an interest and you've got an on-going program or developing an on-going program, let's take the example Dr. Albin used in Lubbock, Texas.
Is there anything today, let's say, that you all talk about that? Is there anything today then that keeps you from going to the private sector and indicating, you know, specific, we're using a cattle feeding industry, is there anything that prevents the two of you either jointly or independently going to the private sector and basically laying out a proposal and saying this is an area of concern we have or are the land grant and nonland grant in California, of doing that, or going to the private sector and laying out a proposal to deal with the problem that is, that they are confronted with?
Mr. KNIPLING. No, there are no constraints or barriers to accomplish that.
Mr. COMBEST. Please.
Mr. ROBINSON. Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, I could add just another couple of thoughts, because the question you've laid on the table is a very critical and interesting one, interesting from the point of view of efficiency, critical from the point of view of funding. If new money is always coming to the system, you can build capacities on all areas in every State and continue to build good, scientific competence. When money becomes tight, questions begin to arise about similarities across State boundaries.
And in fact, the system itself has begun to recognize this. In the Northeast region, for example, they are moving toward a cross state expertise and poultry industry which is very important industry to the Northeast.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Similarly, in the Midwest there are universities that are beginning to form consortia to try to work towards specific cross State boundary issues. Those currently are very important and the discussions are continuing in dairy and in pork. And you find those beginning to emerge and from USDA's point of view, not that we would ever necessarily replace the land grant institution or argue for its replacement, because it serves a lot of clientele, the bulk of the funding as Dr. Dutson points out, comes from the State level or from private sources.
Mr. COMBEST. But what is it that the Federal can do to leverage an increased efficiency by looking at specialization within regions? One State land grant university might specialize in poultry and serve others and a particular segment of that science. But there may also need to be, for example, extension poultry folks in each State in order to be able to transfer that technology to the users.
A similar kind of question could arise with dairy. So the question that you're laying on the table is one that the system is really discussing now as it tries to form some of these consortia to address common regional needs. I think we're there, we're at that investigation, as you referred to earlier, point that we've got to try to look at what can we do to maximize and utilize the efficiency and at the point Dr. Dutson, it may have been you that brought this up, about what impact does that have on other funding, not only from the State, but private. I know the land grant university and I need to make this very clear so there's not any misunderstanding. My home is Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech University is in my district. However, I am a graduate of a branch of the Texas A&M system which is also in my district so this is not something we've got a parochial interest in, but it's just an interest in overall.
I happen to know that Texas A&M has a very strong group of supporters of that university financially. So does Tech. But if you lose that connection and you lose that ability and tie, I think it is critical that we understand since it's one for five, the Federal portion of that, how much of an impact is that going to have? It may be more detrimental. It may not be in the overall question of research the best approach to take.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I am familiar with some universities in the Midwest that are doing this cooperative effort and I think that is a phenomenal step in the right direction because you're utilizing, you're not cutting off your sources, but you're utilizing some expertise that others may have. And I hope that that becomes to be the norm rather than the exception and I think not only across States, but you take, we're closer to several other universities in Lubbock than we are to Texas A&M so we are miles and miles apart and I think that's important within those that they begin to utilize other facilities and expertise which may be available in an area, Dr. Dutson, that you have mentioned. You've got areas that you've got to concentrate on.
There may be other resources there that are totally nonassociated with the land grant university, but of which could be more efficiently utilized to try to get to the problem you're trying to solve. And these are things I don't think maybe has happened in the past, not by intent, but that maybe forced to happen in the future because we are becoming more constrained and I do hope that those discussions are going on and I think they can be very helpful to us in solving some of our long-range problems.
Mr. DUTSON. I couldn't agree with you more. There are other partners besides the AASCARR institutions, the community colleges, for example, have expertise. And we need to look at how we can cooperate with those.
Let me give you an example of something that we're doing in the Pacific Northwest. We are creating an agricultural degree, the first agricultural degree that we're going to deliver through the community college system is general agriculture. That degree program will be tested this fall at two local community colleges, one, Treasure Valley Community College which is on the Idaho-Oregon border and Blue Mountain Community College which is close to the border between Washington and Oregon. Both of those community colleges are in Oregon.
We have a cooperative agreement developed between the University of Idaho, Washington State University, Oregon State University, Eastern Oregon University which is part of the system of higher education in Oregon where we have some Oregon State University faculty in residence there that develop and deliver an agriculture program there and Blue Mountain Community College and Treasure Valley Community College.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 This consortium and memorandum of agreement describes how many courses will come from Washington State University, how many courses will come from University of Idaho, how many from Oregon State University and how many from Eastern Oregon University. Some of these courses are distance delivery. Some of these courses will be delivered through our extension agents who are in those local areas. We have research stations in both of those areas. Some of the faculty at our research stations will participate in delivering some of these courses and the faculty at the community colleges will also deliver some of those programs.
So essentially Eastern Oregon University which is a nonland grant university within Oregon system of higher education, two community colleges and three land grant universities are cooperating together to deliver the programs that are germane in those areas to those students who need training in those areas.
And I think we're beginning to look at these kind of programs in many different ways than we used to before. Twenty years ago, that would be unheard of for us to cooperate in that way across State lines as well as among other institutions and it's not easy. It's difficult, because we've had to deal with the Registrar's Office in all of those institutions.
We have had to change the culture of the registrars in deciding how to sign up these students. We've also had to change the culture of the financial aid departments in all of these universities in these community colleges because they don't know how to deal with different kinds of systems. So it's not easy, but it's something that we cannot stand back and not continue to develop these.
Mr. COMBEST. And I commend you for that and I recognize there's inherent problems that are built into that, but just today's technology almost dictates that that's going to occur.
Mr. Dooley, did you have a comment?
Mr. DOOLEY. I'd like to speak specifically to how I think the Department can encourage those kinds of programs and I think a good example is the RFP that the Department put out on the research portion of the Fund for Rural America which made it clear that they wanted to encourage multi-institutional and multi-functional, multi-State kinds of proposals and Bob can speak more specifically to the number of proposals, but I know of many that there was a citrus research proposal put together that was a California, Texas, Florida proposal that involved four or five institutions, private organizations in each of those States and it was a collaborative effort that was benefitting the citrus regions of the country on a common problem.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I think if the Department is encouraged and as a matter of policy particularly where they have competitive grant programs to where possible look for multi-institutional, multi-discipline kinds of proposals, they'll get them because people, to some extent the proposals follow the money and if the money is targeted to some extent where appropriate to those kinds of multiple institution efforts, it will happen and I think it should be encouraged and I think the experience with proposals received on the research portion of the Fund for Rural America is a good example, that there's a willingness on the part of the scientific community to respond in that way and oftentimes in collaboration with private industry as well.
Mr. DOOLEY of California. I guess again approaching this from, if you could start from scratch here, I think we're looking again at maximizing the investment and a lot of us would in some cases think that do we need how much more bricks and mortar do we need? How do you balance that investment versus human resources potential there.
I guess if you're, I'm wondering even, we have ARS which is, which we refer to basically as your intramural versus the CSREE, whatever you are, that's intermural. Those lines don't always seem quite as distinct to me. But I'm wondering if you started from ground zero, why wouldn't we be developing a system where ARS would be even working to a much closer with the land grants and even the nonland grants?
Why do we almost appear as if we have a separate infrastructure set up that isn't necessarily maximizing the total societal investments in research capacity, why shouldn't we, if we were starting again from scratch, would we do this and why don't we merge and try to create a system where we're merging more the functions of ARS in with our higher institution, educational institutions.
Mr. KNIPLING. Well, I'd like to respond to that. Actually, I don't think we do have separate systems and if there is a perception we do, I think it's been our failure to communicate well the different aspects and attributes of the system. Seventy percent of the ARS laboratories are located, co-located with the land grants.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 There are probably a half a dozen examples of nonland grant institution co-location as well. So I think, in fact, our infrastructure in reality is one and the same. Obviously, there is some institutional lines and ownership interest and so forth.
I've been thinking about this conversation for the last 20 or 30 minutes and by and large since it's dealt with formula funds it's not an issue that ARS deals directly with, but in my own mind I've drawn a parallel. In fact, we have developed an evaluation system that has three key elements and that's capacity, relevance and impact and I think those three concepts apply broadly to everything that this system represents. I think the capacity is the foundation of the system and that's reflected in both human resources mainly and physical resources. The physical resources are sometimes the things we see, the monuments, but the real capacity is the human resource, the technical expertise that we maintain.
I think the relevance gets to the issue of are we working on the real problems or are we working on what the stakeholders and the customers need and what the Nation needs and I think the impact gets to the issue of quality and I think that maybe we need to get together, people on this panel and the different components of the system and convey in a different way a more effective way than we've done in the past, how we, in fact, are although we're different institutions, how we're collectively addressing those three concepts. I think in fact, we are doing that very effectively.
I would say further, if we were to wipe the slate clean and start over, I would suspect that we would come up with something very much like we have now. In other words, if we didn't exist, I think we need to be invested. There obviously would be some variations in the formula or the number of laboratories at certain places, but I would venture to guess that we're on the right track. I think sometimes we're spending more energy tweaking the system than getting on with the job that needs to be done.
Mr. COMBEST. I just would be interested in Dr. Albin and Dr. Dutson, I mean, do you see any, again, from our perspective, our charge is basically again how do we make, structure the system so that it can be most efficient, most effective and when we look at ARS, cooperating with land grants, nonland grants, is there anything we can be doing better there?
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Mr. DUTSON. Well, I think the introduction to the committee relative to one of the problems that we're dealing with all of what we're talking about and that's the level of funding, but that aside it seems to me the cooperation at the local level is quite good and the collaboration and linkage between the stakeholder community, the university community and the ARS community in those local areas is quite good. I think the establishment of the AREE advisory board, is that how you'd say that?
Mr. DOOLEY. I haven't even attempted to pronounce it.
Mr. ALBIN. But the establishment of the advisory board which I think can help us at the national level to make certain that we are going forward with requests for fundings that are together and the funding requests that go up through the President on the Executive side and the requests that go to the Appropriations Committee which come a lot from the stakeholders and some from our offices, I think this committee can help us make sure that those are in sync and in concert with each other and I think all of us as partners in that would like to see that continue, but I think this advisory board should have the flexibility and the opportunity to bring together various task forces and subcommittees which will allow us to continue to move forward in that direction.
I can see, since I came into the system, a lot of progress in that direction, but I think we need to continue that progress, but it essentially comes down to we really have a lot greater need than we have the funding, so I think we need to establish our mechanisms at the national level for the funding and if that is coordinated sufficiently, I don't see any problem at the local level for the cooperation among the programs because we're all linked with the stakeholders at that level and I think that's the important part of the puzzle.
Mr. ALBIN. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Dooley, I would like to comment that I guess my major concern underlying the discussion this morning is that there's something wrong with the system and that we need to maybe start from ground zero and redo it.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I would disagree with that because we're here today as a well fed Nation and we export a tremendous amount of goods, because we do have the land grant system and all that it embodies and ARS. It seems to me that the issue is how do we adjust to the changing times and the changing pressures from the stakeholders and those persons in private sector to meet the needs that are out there, for whatever reason, but mainly it's a changed ballgame.
And so it seems to me that the very issue of base funding as provided through the mechanisms currently in place is so critical to providing the research infrastructure to allow us to adjust and to adapt to these changing needs.
The very issue of the land grant, the nonland grant position as represented by AASCARR today is that we are receiving the same pressures that the land grants are receiving from the stakeholders and individual interest in that they see needs, they have needs and they're not being met by the land grants.
Well, we have no resources as a nonland grant group either and so the issue is for the nonland grants to become a player in the system in order to meet the needs and this morning my testimony and my remarks I hope have emphasized the need for partnership and collaboration to minimize duplication and to maximize efficiency.
And so the very dialogue that's going on, it seems to me, Mr. Dooley, and the way to get to the answer, is the dialogue because it's new for all of us and for yourselves as well.
Mr. COMBEST. Questioning the system doesn't mean that we're going to change the system. It doesn't mean that we're certainly going to change the parts that are working, unfortunately, Government many times goes on and never questions the system.
That's, I think, we've made it clear our intent is to maximize the dollars expended, the efficiency, but simply questioning it does not mean that it is going to change, but it does provide the opportunity for people to iterate or reiterate how significant they feel that change needs to be or does not need to take place and that's what this hearing isand others will be intended to do and as with all hearings there may be other questions that arise either from this hearing, or others that we may bring up that we might like your input on. We would solicit that voluntarily or we may request it of you and try not to be burdensome in that regard.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 But I would invite you as we go through and as we go forward to make continuing comments as you would because the more open the record is and the more diverse it is, the better opportunity we will have to make sure all views are number one, heard and secondly, our final decision is one which is hopefully correct.
I would again express my appreciation to all of you for coming and I appreciate, this has been quite a lengthy period of time that you've been sitting there and I appreciate your patience and your information.
Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 12:35 p.m., the subcommitte was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
[Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
STATEMENT OF DR. BOB ROBINSON, ADMINISTRATOR COOPERATIVE STATE RESEARCH, EDUCATION, AND EXTENSION SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I am here today at the request of Secretary Glickman, who recently asked me to represent the Department of Agriculture as the lead policy official for purposes of the research title reauthorization under consideration by this subcommittee. I also serve as the Administrator of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The subject of these hearingsthe reauthorization of the Research Title of the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (the FAIR Act)is very important to the future of the Department of Agriculture. In the context of last year's FAIR Act, science and education provide a fundamental element of the new safety net for American agriculture and its farmers and ranchers. We take that responsibility very seriously.
Mr. Chairman, as we have examined options for the reauthorization of the Research Title of the 1996 FAIR Act, we have been working within a framework as follows:
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 We support maintaining world leadership in agricultural science and education as the guiding principle that undergirds this framework.
We strongly prefer using existing legislative and administrative authorities rather than creating new mandates.
We encourage efficiencies throughout the research system to assure the best use of program resources and to reduce duplication of effort.
We encourage multi-functional, multi-state, multi-institutional activities to achieve maximum leverage of Federal, State, and local dollars.
We will continue to support the range of funding mechanisms and the current structure of intramural and extramural research with improved accountability. We must maintain long-term, high risk research as well as shorter term, investigator initiated research.
Formula funds will continue to play an essential role in maintaining research and extension activities at the Land Grant universities.
The administration supports merit review with peer evaluation in all research programs with competitively awarded programs wherever possible and appropriate.
We value an active Federal-State-local partnership in setting priorities, conducting the work, and evaluating the results. We will work in partnership with Federal, State, and local entities where we have concurrent jurisdiction.
We value public sector-private sector partnerships as a means of leveraging scarce Federal dollars. We respect that the public and private sectors clearly have complementary strengths and we seek to capitalize on those strengths. Public sector activities should focus on that which is in the public interest.
We believe that responsiveness to national and regional needs is a high priority in setting priorities with partners and stakeholders, conducting work, evaluating results, and serving our customers and stakeholders.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I11Mr. Chairman, from this framework, we have developed four principles around which we are currently developing a legislative proposal for consideration by this Subcommittee at the hearing you have scheduled for July 16.
1. The Department of Agriculture and the Research, Education and Economics mission areaThe Research, Education, and Economics mission area is comprised of four agencies: the Agricultural Research Service; the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service; the Economic Research Service; and the National Agricultural Statistics Service. invest in creating and strengthening the research and educational capacity essential to meeting national goals for the food and agricultural system.
2. The programs of the REE mission area are dedicated to maintaining world leadership and excellence in agricultural science and education.
3. The Federal Government has a distinct role to play in partnership with State and local governments and the private sector.
4. Wise strategy for public investment supports a diversified portfolio of funding sources and mechanisms as well as diverse institutions performing research, education and extension.
Mr. Chairman, let me emphasize this fourth point. We strongly believe that a wise strategy for public investment supports a diversified portfolio of funding sources and mechanisms as well as diverse institutions performing research, education and extension. Our hearing today highlights the diversity of performers in agricultural research.
USDA's portfolio currently contains extramural funding in the form of formula funds, targetted grants, and competitive grants in addition to intramural funding. The administration also recognizes that diversity among the institutions performing research, education, and extension is critical to ensuring that national goals are effectively met. A diversity of performers fosters creativity and innovation. It increases the number of perspectives on a problem, enriches competition among proposals, and induces competition to support the best work among entities providing funding, both public and private. Diverse funding alternatives give original ideas a better chance to find support than a more centralized system. As a result, a diverse system enhances quality of output and strengthens national capacity to respond to new opportunities and changing national needs.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The administration supports USDA's mix of extramural programs in research, education, and extension, and is a proponent that formula or base program awards should allow and support maximum flexibility for States to use resources where they have the greatest ability to solve problems. The administration also supports a strong Federal role in leveraging resources, and recent program efforts have emphasized multi-State, multi-institutional collaborations.
Represented here today are the two agencies which together advance the goals of the Department's research programCSREES is engaged in extramural agricultural research and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is engaged in intramural agricultural research.
The mission of CSREES is to achieve significant and equitable improvements in domestic and global economic, environmental, and social conditions by advancing creative and integrated research, education, and extension programs in food, agricultural, and related sciences in partnership with both the public and private sectors.
In carrying out this mission, we cooperate with the 59 State and Territorial Agricultural Experiment Stations, the 17 1890 land-grant institutions, including Tuskegee University, the 63 Forestry Schools, the 27 Colleges of Veterinary Medicine in the United States; 42 Schools of Home Economics and the 29 1994 Institutions. In addition to its Land-Grant partners, CSREES has partners through our competitive programs in virtually all segments of the agricultural community including private and public colleges and universities, Federal laboratories, private industry, State and local governments, and private individuals. As one of our State partners furthering the mission of agricultural extramural research, Dr. Dutson from Oregon State University will be talking about the role of the Land Grant Universities. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have from the Federal perspective.
The intramural research mission at USDA is carried out by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The mission of the ARS is similar to that of CSREES in that it primarily conducts long-term, high-risk research, but ARS also serves the needs of the action and regulatory agencies within USDA by conducting research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 We look forward to the coming important debate about the future of the research, education, and extension system, and we look forward to working with you and members of the committee to strengthen the capacity of the research, education, and extension system. At this time, I would like to introduce Dr. Ed Knipling, the Acting Administrator of the ARS, to present his testimony regarding the very important intramural work performed by the ARS.
STATEMENT OF DR. EDWARD B. KNIPLING, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Mr. Chairman, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee, I am Dr. Edward B. Knipling, Acting Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). I am very pleased to have the opportunity to submit testimony for the record and answer questions regarding the mission, roles, and direction of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) intramural research programs.
The mission of ARS is to conduct research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to:
oensure high-quality, safe food, and other agricultural products
oassess the nutritional needs of Americans
osustain a competitive agricultural economy
oenhance the natural resource base and the environment, and
oprovide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.
ARS ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
In addition to conducting in-house agricultural research that broadly supports the production and utilization of U.S. agricultural commodities and helps to ensure food and environmental quality for the public, ARS fulfills special roles and responsibilities such as: (1) providing research support to Federal action and regulatory agencies; (2) maintaining the technical capacity to respond rapidly to national emergencies; and (3) facilitating the commercialization of new technologies arising from Federal research. These are roles that other public and private institutions cannot or will not carry out because of different missions; costs involved; need for unique facilities; lack of a national network; requirement for long-term resource commitments; and/or the general inability to capture economic benefits that are directly accruing to the public good.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 I would like to elaborate on several of the stated responsibilities of the ARS. First, we provide technical support to other Federal agencies to ensure that their policies and programs are based on sound science. ARS teams with agencies having program delivery responsibilities in such areas as food safety, water quality, pest management, human nutrition, and market quality and works with them joint priority setting and technology transfer activities. Examples within USDA include food safety diagnostics and preventive technologies for the Food Safety and Inspection Service; erosion prediction capabilities for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); pest detection and control technologies for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); diet-health guidelines for the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services mission area; and market quality expertise for the Foreign Agricultural Service.
Another important example of this role is the research support ARS provides to non-USDA Federal agencies, such as development of alternative methods for pest control, assessment of biotechnology risks, and provision of food composition data for the Environmental Protection Agency. It is important to note that when Federal action and regulatory agencies such as APHIS are involved in international technical and policy negotiations, foreign governments often will not honor the credibility of scientific data and analyses unless it has been generated from U.S. government scientists and laboratories.
The second role I would like to highlight is ARS' capacity to respond rapidly to national technical emergencies and research needs. One examples is the 1993 E. coli outbreak that was rapidly and effectively addressed by mobilizing relevant scientific resources at multiple USDA laboratories nationwide. Development of the rapid bacterial diagnostic test for generic E. coli bacteria by the ARS research laboratory in Clay Center, Nebraska, will assist in the establishment of food quality control strategies by industry and Government for meat inspection. A second example is the detection of fungal spores of Karnal Bunt (KB) disease, discovered last year for the first time in the southwestern U.S. during an inspection of certified durum wheat seed. ARS scientists provided emergency diagnostic services and rapidly put new research in place to help prevent the spread of KB by developing improved identification and decontamination methods and evaluating genetic resistance in wheat.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The third ARS role that I would like to briefly highlight is our leadership in collaborating with private sector industries to transfer and speed the commercialization of research into practical products, processes, services, and businesses. One important mechanism we use is the patenting and licensing of ARS-developed technologies. Protecting private sector investment in further product development and commercialization encourages early technology adoption. Another important mechanism ARS uses is Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). Dr. Peter Johnsen of the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois will testify before this subcommittee tomorrow to discuss these public-private partnerships in some detail but I would like to cite just a few statistics. To date, ARS has entered into nearly 700 CRADAs. ARS leads the Federal research sector in the number of these public-private sector collaborations. Approximately 200 patent licenses are currently in place with the private sector to further develop ARS-developed technologies into commercial products and services.
ARS technology transfer has had an especially positive impact on small and rural businesses. More than half of ARS' current licenses and CRADAs are with small, rural, and/or minority-or woman-owned businesses. At least 48 small and/or rural companies have been created based on patented ARS technologies.
STRATEGIC PLANNING AND PRIORITY SETTING
The ARS mission and roles support the five strategic goals and outcomes of the overall Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area which are:
(1) an agricultural system that is highly competitive in the global economy;
(2) a safe and secure food and fiber system;
(3) healthy, well-nourished children, youth and families,
(4) greater harmony between agriculture and the environment; and
(5) enhanced economic opportunity and quality of life for citizens and communities.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Since 1983, ARS has developed a series of multi-year strategic plans that identify the most critical research programs in the national interest within the scope of our mission and resource capacity. The current plan reflects the REE goals, the purposes of research outlined in the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996, and the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993.
The research directions and priorities outlined in the ARS strategic plan also reflect the input from a broad spectrum of the ARS customers and stakeholders. These include administration officials, Congress, Federal action and regulatory agencies, farmers and ranchers, commodity groups and other farm organizations, corporate entities, trade organizations, small businesses, environmental and consumer groups, the scientific community, and many others.
ARS uses a broad spectrum of both formal and informal mechanisms on an ongoing basis to receive the research needs and priorities of customers and stakeholders. We meet regularly with officials of various organizations, many of which have established research advisory committees or have designated special representatives for this purpose. Other mechanisms include formal meetings and conferences, For example, in 1995, ARS undertook an extensive outreach effort to gain input from a broad cross section of the agency's customers, stakeholders and partners. Five regional Visioning Conferences brought together between 350 and 400 participants who identified major issues that affect agricultural research and major priorities for future ARS research. In March of this year, ARS received the output and benefit of a stakeholder symposium sponsored by the new REE Advisory Board authorized by the FAIR Act of 1996.
ARS PEER REVIEW PROCESSES
Peer review of ARS research is critically important to the credible and accountable implementation of our strategic plans. ARS utilizes multiple peer review processes, both prospective and retrospective, to help us measure and judge research relevance and quality. These reviews are aimed at individual scientist achievements, individual research projects, scientific manuscripts, laboratory programs and national programs.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 ARS carries out a formal peer process to retrospectively evaluate the quality of scientists' accomplishments and stature, as a basis for their professional advancement. Factors included in this review are published or other documented science accomplishments, technological impacts on problem solving and customer needs, honors and awards, professional activities, and other examples of scientific impact and recognition. Panels operate in a confidential manner and do not include supervisors or subordinates of the scientist under review. As a result, the ARS system remains highly objective and credible. This system fosters scientific excellence and professional advancement which are important measures of research quality and relevance.
In addition to a focus on individual scientific achievement, ARS policy requires each new research proposal to undergo a prospective merit and relevance review. A project usually represents the research of a small team of ARS scientists at the same laboratory for a 3 to 5 year period aimed at a specific problem or objective. The reviewers include both ARS scientists and non-ARS personnel. The latter include customers and stakeholders to insure the research relevance of a proposed new research project. Approximately 200 research projects, or 20 percent of the entire ARS program, are reviewed each year in this process.
All scientific manuscripts arising from research projects are required to undergo an internal and external quality review prior to submission to a scientific journal. Each manuscript must be reviewed by at least two subject matter experts in the field: one ARS scientist external to the laboratory and one scientist external to ARS. Review comments must be considered by the authors before the manuscripts are submitted for publication. Journal officials in turn require manuscripts to undergo additional external peer review for validation of their scientific quality.
Ongoing research programs are reviewed periodically at the laboratory and national levels. These reviews consider the accomplishments of multiple individual projects which are components of a larger national program. Reviewers are ARS scientific managers, peer scientists from outside ARS, and representatives from industry, agricultural interest groups, and other customers and stakeholders. Review criteria include excellence, relevance and management standards. Information from these reviews provide a foundation for continual adjustment in the Agency's programs and individual research projects, including prioritization of programs and projects and allocations of fiscal and human resources.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 ARS FACILITIES
ARS maintains a network of facilities at more than 100 locations to conduct fundamental and applied research of national or regional scope on agricultural production, food quality, and environmental problems and issues. Limited resources require that federally funded agricultural research facilities reflect national priorities and be capable of world-class research. The FAIR Act of 1996 authorized a Strategic Planning Task Force to review agricultural research facilities built with Federal dollars, recognizing the need to maintain a future comprehensive capacity to carry out quality research on national priorities. The Task Force had their first meeting May 2830, 1997, in Ames, Iowa, to begin its important work to evaluate existing federally funded agricultural research facilities in ARS, the Forest Service, and at Land Grant Universities and to develop a ten-year strategic plan to guide future Federal investments related to facilities.
The co-location of ARS laboratories at Land Grant Universities and other cooperating institutions is an important attribute of the United States public agricultural research system. Co-location has many benefits, including:
mutual interests are addressed in a cooperative, coordinated, and complementary manner;
resource use is optimized; and
ARS scientists assist in the education of future scientists by serving as research advisors to graduate students and providing employment opportunities and further training for post doctoral students.
There are, however, many instances when the public and other customer needs and benefits require an ARS laboratory to stand alone and be site specific. This applies especially to field-based research programs on conservation, cropping, and livestock production systems in special ecological and climate zones far away from the more densely populated towns and cities where universities tend to be located. For example, ARS has located a network of field laboratories within the Great Plains and western range lands, providing the strategic geographic coverage to address agricultural and environmental issues in diverse ecological zones. In these situations, universities often co-locate some of their scientists at the ARS sites.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 CONCLUSION
This testimony provides only a brief overview of the Department's intramural program. ARS research is broad and complex but complements the roles of other important performers in the United States agricultural research system. We are proud of ARS' leadership in the critical problems we investigate More importantly, our accomplishments and solutions are achieved for a very small investmentjust one percent of the total Federal investment in all research and development. Thank you for this opportunity to share with you ARS' role in intramural research.
ROBERT ALBIN, INTERIM DEAN OF THE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES AND NATURAL RESOURCES AT TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY
Non-land-grant universities are filling voids and meeting needs in agricultural and natural resources in areas where land-grant universities have exited due to their own shrinking funding base or in areas of States where the historical prioritization for funding of agricultural research did not include that geographical area or need. With opportunity to competitively access Federal funding, non-land-grant universities will be more capably equipped to meet agricultural and natural resources research needs and expectation of stakeholders and the private sector. Non-land-grant universities offer unique capabilities, faculty and programs, that are utilized, and can be more effectively utilized, if allowed to compete for additional Federal funding.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am Robert Albin, Interim Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University located in Lubbock, Texas. It is my privilege to present testimony to the Committee on Behalf of the American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources (AASCARR), addressing the current and future role of research conducted by non-land-grant universities for American agriculture and natural resources. AASCARR is a national organization comprised of more than 50 non-land-grant universities in many States. AASCARR receives no Federal grants or contracts. AASCARR-affiliated universities offer agricultural and natural resources baccalaureate degree programs, several offer master of science degree programs and one, Texas Tech University, offers the doctorate in six disciplinary areas. Graduate education is an important component of these programs. These advanced degree programs require research to be conducted as one of the degree requirements. It is important, therefore to recognize that research conducted at non-land-grant universities also involves graduate education for students who graduate to become productive participants in the various fields of agriculture and natural resources.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 JUSTIFICATION and DISCUSSION
It should be noted that this testimony reflects a positive partnership, and collaboration with, land-grant universities. To address the current and future role of non-land-grant universities in conducting research for American agriculture and natural resources, the following statements and examples are presented.
A number of colleges, schools, and departments of agriculture (some with broadened discipline areas) have significant, growing research programs which are usually designed to address problem-solving for the agriculture industry. These programs commonly address issues of particular importance to agriculture/forestry in the region of the State where the university is located, but results are applicable to a wider area: statewide, regionally, and nationally. These programs often involve partnering with other institutions, including land-grant universities, private industry and commodity organizations. The latter two groups are often sources of funding for research, and grants are received from a number of public and private sources.
In many less urbanized areas, land-grant programs have been reduced or deleted, generally due to shrinking funds or statewide research priorities that exclude specific areas. This research void creates needs of stakeholders and private industry who approach the non-land-grant university in an area seeking, and expecting, assistance, but find funding is frequently unavailable to address their needs.
Some non-land-grant agriculture programs receive State funds to support their research programs. For example, Texas Tech University receives over $2.0 million and Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and West Texas A&M-Canyon both receive over $1.0 million from the State of Texas for agriculture and natural resources research. California State University-Fresno, is appropriated over $1.0 million from the State of California for research in agricultural sciences and technology. Additionally, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale receives nearly $1 million from the State of Illinois. Illinois State University and Western Illinois Universities also receive substantial State funds. All of these schools are AASCARR universities.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 There is a significant pool of human capital at non-land-grant universities. While significant research occurs at the non-land-grant institutions, this opportunity could be greatly enhanced by the broadening of access to Federal funding
An excellent payback of Federal investment would result from a capacity building, strengthening grant program for AASCARR universities similar to that provided to 1890 land-grant universities and developing for the 1994 land-grant institutions. This would enable non-land grant faculty to become more competitive for Federal grants.
AASCARR would like to see increased appropriations for the Challenge Grant Program. Currently, programs to improve the educational system for agricultural students receive a very small portion of the USDA budget. However, the end product, better education graduates, has a far reaching impact. It is our goal to see the funding for this program reach a minimum level of $ 7 million annually. This would allow additional research and more collaborative efforts.
The following are other issues of particular importance to non-land-grant universities:
The National Agricultural Research , Education, Extension and Economics Advisory Board should be expanded to include representation from the non-land-grant institutions. At the present time, non-land-grant universities have no voice in setting priorities for research, education, and extension programs.
Eligibility to compete for competitive research, extension and education funding.
Emphasis on continuing the Fund for Rural America at the original funding level.
Emphasis on giving priority to proposals that represent partnerships among various entities.
The requirement for stakeholder input on research priorities.
The non-land grant-universities represented by AASCARR appreciate very much the opportunity to appear before you today and to present testimony reflecting the current and future role of non-land-grant universities in conducting research for American agriculture. Thank you.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL COTTON COUNCIL
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to discuss agricultural research. My name is Jimmy Sanford, and I operate our family farm near Prattville, Alabama. Today I am representing the National Cotton Council, the central organization of the entire cotton industry. I am the chairman of the Cotton Council's Industry/Government Research Committee, and the topic of research and education is one that traditionally is among the highest priorities of our organization.
Earlier this year Senator Lugar provided us the opportunity to consider some very appropriate questions concerning the research and extension system in the US. The NCC research committee, which I chair, convened cotton growers representing every Cotton Belt region from the far western States to the East Coast. We developed our response to Senator Lugar's questions. We addressed the roles of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, research conducted by universities, and research addressed by private sector interests. We would like our responses to Senator Lugar to be included as part of the record of this hearing.
Over the years we think that the public and private research system has been generally responsive to our research needs. We attribute that success to the feedback and communications between the industry and those who conduct research.
This morning I will describe some of the key ways that the cotton industry works to communicate our needs, priorities, and objectives and to get feedback from the research and education community. We are strong believers that providing the forum for dialogue and interchange is the most important first step to assure accountability and relevancy.
We consider the public and private research organizations as partners, and as such, we annually work together to provide many opportunities for information exchange. The centerpiece of the cotton educational effort is the annual Beltwide Cotton Conference. The cotton industry in cooperation with the land grant universities and the USDA's ARS has worked for many years to make the Beltwide Conference a comprehensive reporting of research results. In January of this year, over 5,000 farmers, processors, marketers, researchers, educators, consultants, agribusinesses and other representatives convened. The latest findings, whether from public laboratories or agribusiness field plots, were reported in nearly 800 individual presentations. A diversity of topics ranging from environmental benefits of integrated pest management and boll weevil eradication to the investigation into new technologies such as precision agriculture and genetic engineering were presented. Facilitating discussion among the conferees helps to elucidate, though informally, such important issues as relevancy and accountability.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 The Beltwide is only one part of the communications process. For example, last fall we convened regional focus sessions among growers, researchers, administrators and extension specialists to identify the most important issues for research. These priorities are being formally communicated to research organizations.
The Council's sister organization, Cotton Incorporated, invests heavily in research. Cotton Incorporated is supported by checkoff funds from US cotton producers and importers of cotton goods. Research funded by Cotton Incorporated is typical of private research in that we can ill afford the long-term, high risk, basic research best conducted by the public sector. In addition to programs directed by the national committees within Cotton Incorporated, every Cotton Belt State has a standing State support committee to review proposals and direct money toward meeting local and State priorities. Interaction with land grant universities and State agricultural experiment stations is integral to the Cotton Incorporated effort; hence, another mechanism for communications and discovery of relevance.
Written communications are also used. Annual publication of proceedings of the Beltwide conferences are made available. In addition to the bound publications, abstracts can be searched in computer data bases developed by our organization. For scientific reporting, the Cotton Foundation is developing in cooperation with the research and education community, a peer reviewed, scientific journal. The quarterly publication will be available electronically via the internet. Again the thrust is to provide every possible mechanism to assure information sharing, prevent unnecessary duplication, and meet needs of all partners.
Finally, the cotton industry invests significant resources in supporting its own foundation for cotton research and education. Programs of the Cotton Foundation are generally directed toward educational and technology transfer. The foundation is funded by agribusiness partners which provides additional linkages to the totality of an agricultural research system.
In conclusion, what I have described is not a single effort, activity, nor committee that will assure effectiveness and efficiency in public research and extension. In contrast, we view this as a smorgasbord of multiple opportunities, facilitated by the partnering of industry, State, government, and agribusiness. Also what I describe doesn't happen by chance. It started with a deep institutional commitment with the fundamental understanding that we all have shared responsibilities for meeting the public's objectives for assuring an adequate, safe, and affordable supply of food and fiber.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 TESTIMONY OF DANIEL M. DOOLEY,VICE CHAIRMAN, USDA NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH, EXTENSION, EDUCATION AND ECONOMICS ADVISORY BOARD
Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is Dan Dooley. I am Vice Chairman of the USDA National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board and fill the plant producer category on the Board. I am also a partner with the Ranking Minority Member of this Committee in Dooley Farms, a San Joaquin Valley California diversified farming operation. I serve as a representative of the University of California to the national Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching where I am a member of the executive committee and the National Secretary.
Dr. Victor L. Lechtenberg, Chair of the Advisory Board and Dean of Agriculture at Purdue University, was unable to be here today. I am pleased to represent the Advisory Board and to share some thoughts with you this morning on legislation that is vital to the continued competitiveness of the American food and fiber production system. Many of my comments include considerable input from Dr. Lechtenberg. Your work, and that of your colleagues will play a central role in charting the future success of the historically unparalleled United States collaborative agricultural research and education system. Refinement and enhancement of the historically successful system to make it more responsive to current needs and focused on long-term objectives should be welcomed by all who participate in or benefit from such work.
In recognition of the press of business confronting this Committee and its members, I will submit my full testimony for the record and simply provide you with a summary at this time. Specifically, I will discuss five issues: 1) the importance of the Federal role in research and education programs; 2) the importance of programmatic research and education agendas, and interdisciplinary, multi functional and regional programs; 3) appropriate partnerships with the private sector; 4) the investment in research, extension and education; and 5) the activities of the Advisory Board, including activities to insure relevance and appropriate stakeholder input into priority establishment.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Important Federal Role in Research, Extension and Education
In the climate of today's budget discussions, many question the appropriateness of spending Federal dollars for research, extension and education at a time when budget deficits are large. However, it is critical to recognize that Federal investment in these programs is essential to the technological competitiveness of our agriculture and food system; to our economic well-being; and for a safe, nutritious, low cost food supply for our citizens. This is particularly true in light of the significant restructuring of American agricultural which will inevitably result from the phasing out of commodity support programs mandated by the 1996 Farm Bill.
(1) Federal funds are appropriate, and needed, to achieve national goals. The U.S. should continue to be a world leader in developing basic, fundamental knowledge as a foundation for the practical and cost competitive food and agricultural systems of the 21st century. Our national policy goals should include being the world leader in both the basic and applied research necessary to fully capture the economic potential--domestic and international--of the nation's food and agricultural system. We have enjoyed this position throughout most of this century. We must not lose it.
(2) Our national policy should also assure the Nation has the best educated and trained human resource base in the world. Maintaining our human resource capital is an essential component to remaining atop the increasingly competitive global marketplace. Our leading land grant universities are recognized around the world for their excellence in education. Students around the globe aspire to study at U.S. land-grant universities. This is a tribute to the wisdom and leadership of the Congress in creating and nurturing this system in past decades. The unique marriage of teaching with research and extension education is a major factor in the prominence and reputation of these institutions. The U.S. should retain this preeminent position.
(3) A significant portion of research carried out at land grants and USDA produces benefits that accrue well beyond State boundaries. These ''spill over'' benefits are significant, especially in crop and livestock production. USDA sponsored programs at individual and consortiums of land grant institutions for commodity and animal research provide benefits far beyond the states served by the participating institutions. This partnership has provided opportunities for development of technology benefitting nonprogram crops which have national significance because of their importance to the nation's diet or export revenues. The unique nature of this partnership has been at the core of our past successes and will continue to yield rates of return which would be astonishing in the private sector. The partnership must be preserved.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 (4) Investments in agricultural research and extension have been shown repeatedly to give economic rates of return of between 30 and 50 percent annually. Returns of this magnitude suggest that the Nation is under invested in such activities. Increased investments would pay off handsomely in future decades by enhancing our base of technology from which we can build a better, more economically secure nation and world for our children and grandchildren.
(5) Some argue that research and education in agriculture can be privatized. While private sector investment in agricultural research has increased in the last decade, the agenda for private research, by necessity, must be driven by a relatively short-term goal of generating profit from the sale of goods and services. An entirely short-term focus would change overall research outcomes significantly. Public sector financed programs can and do step beyond the constraints created when short-term benefits dominate the agenda. Publicly funded programs can address long-term projects of national priority and projects of public benefit. Examples are integrated pest management, soil conservation technologies and many environmental enhancing technologies. Without public funding, these vital, public good technologies are not likely to be developed.
Programmatic, Interdisciplinary, and Multi Functional Research, Extension and Education
Future efficiency and success of the research, education and extension functions require a continued evolution toward programmatic organization and budgeting. National programmatic priorities must be addressed in a coordinated manner which ensures that the best available talent is utilized to achieve research, education and extension objectives. Flexibility must be provided to allow objectives to be achieved based upon quality and efficiency rather than historic agency or institutional alignment.
Currently, the research, education and extension system is organized largely along institutional and agency lines. To some extent the historic institutional and agency alignments have been altered by the reorganization of the USDA programs into the REE mission area and under a single Under Secretary. More should be done to ensure agency and institutional coordination in establishing programmatic priorities and in budgeting for and implementing needed programs.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 To the extent practical, the Department of Agriculture should ensure that federally supported and conducted agricultural research, extension, and education is accomplished in a manner which:
(1) integrates agricultural research, extension and education functions with one another so that newly developed technology is commercialized and transferred to new generations by appropriate incorporation into classroom instruction;
(2) comprehensively examine relevant agricultural research, extension, and education needs by applying multiple disciplines in a coordinated manner;
(3) encourage regional and multi State programs to address relevant issues of common concern;
(4) achieve relevant agricultural research, extension, and education objectives through multi institutional and multi functional cooperative programs;
(5) achieve relevant agricultural research, extension, and education objectives in the most efficient manner by conducting such research at the facility[ies] or institution[s] best equipped to achieve the objectives; and
(6) recognizes the importance, and furthers the development, of Federal, State, local and private cooperation and partnerships.
PRIVATE SECTOR PARTNERSHIPS
My experiences as a farmer, Advisory Board member and as CARET representative have convinced me of the need to find innovative ways for the public and private sectors to work more effectively together. However, the research and education community is confronted with a dilemma. On one hand, it must ensure that programs are not branded as corporate welfare. While on the other, it must guard against a disconnect between REE programs and stakeholder needs and relevance.
USDA REE must ensure that new knowledge and technology are developed into useful products, information, and services. To achieve this, effective mechanisms to facilitate collaboration and cooperation between the private and public sector should be encouraged. Requiring Federal, State and private sector co-funding on certain projects or programs would encourage such collaboration and would help ensure that programmatic objectives are achieved in the most efficient manner. However, as mechanisms are designed, they should encourage development of new businesses, grow small businesses, and be open to participation by educational and research institutions of all sizes. Matching industry fund requirements could be targeted to specific projects with an anticipated short path to commercialization, so that industry would have clear incentive to participate. This would ensure ''buy-in'' and relevance assessment from important stakeholders.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 INVESTMENT IN RESEARCH, EXTENSION AND EDUCATION
The reauthorization of the Farm Bill Research and Extension Title will set the funding landscape for agricultural research, extension and higher education for at least the next decade. Federal funding for agricultural research and extension is about $1.8 billion dollars, only three percent of total appropriations for all Federal research and development. The agriculture and food industry that this research supports is commonly estimated at 15-18 percent of the nation's domestic economic output. Thus, the Federal agricultural investment in agricultural research and extension, relative to the economic value of the industry, is low compared to other sectors of the economy. Additionally, several countries today invest more than twice as much per dollar of agricultural output as the U.S.
Federal appropriations for university programs have generally not kept pace with inflation since 1980. Base (formula) funds, which support core programs at universities in partnership with State and local funds, have declined almost 20 percent. These statistics along with very high annual rates of return, suggest that the U.S. is under funding agricultural research and education. This has occurred during a time when Federal funds for research and development in other areas, have been growing more rapidly than inflation. Agricultural research and education is being short changed.
The Fund For Rural America was established by Congress in the 1996 FAIR Act as an innovative new approach to funding multi disciplinary, multi functional applied research. The possibilities provided by the Fund have caused a swell of optimism from the research and education community. This new funding source holds great promise for the food and agricultural system and rural America. The current legislation, however, contains a sunset clause that will terminate the Fund for Rural America at the end of three years. In order to provide adequate funding for the future needs of rural America, you should consider extending the authorization of this innovative program to the full seven year period covered by the 1996 FAIR Act. As this program develops, linkages among agricultural production, processing and trade issues will be strengthened and expanded. Congress has the opportunity to endorse multi-State joint research, extension and education projects by continuing its commitment to this program.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 A balanced funding portfolio that includes base program support, competitive grants and special grants contributes to the strength of the system. Competitive grant programs such as the National Research Initiative are critical funding mechanisms to assure high quality, merit reviewed research particularly for basic research to achieve national priorities and goals. Research to achieve long-term, high priority national or multi-State regional goals should be funded primarily by Federal funds.
Base program funding is important to maintain the cooperative partnership between USDA and Universities and to provide a coordination framework that helps achieve national as well as State and local research and education goals. These funds help sustain the intellectual capacity of the university based agricultural research and education system as well as support the infrastructure necessary to address important national, State, and local issues. Reductions in base program funding would reduce the capacity of the system.
Special grants are an important funding mechanism to address regional and technology directed goals. Unfortunately, due to reductions in core program funding and lower funding in many States, pressures have mounted to use Federal special grant funds to address many State and local goals. While these projects are meritorious, Federal funds would be more wisely invested in multi-State, regional projects and programs and in ways that encouraged effective cooperation among research and education institutions. Some problems of a strictly local nature might be of such national importance to justify Federal funds but these would be rare and would be prime candidates for a matching fund requirement.
ACTIVITIES OF THE ADVISORY BOARD
The USDA National Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board was created during the 104th Congress, as part of the 1996 Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act. The board is charged to advise the Department of Agriculture and its land-grant partners regarding priorities, expected results, effectiveness and relevancy of programs within the REE mission area. Additionally, the Board is responsible for providing customer input in the formation of the REE Strategic Plan. The board consists of 30 members specified by Congress to represent the broad array of research and education stakeholders.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 To date, the Board has provided guidance to the Secretary on a number of different issues, including the Fund for Rural America, the strategic plan and the facilities strategic task force nominees. The Board conducted a Stakeholder Symposium on March 25, 1997, in conjunction with its meeting. The symposium was the first attempt of the Advisory Board to help ensure that broad stakeholder input is incorporated within USDA's priority setting processes. Shortly, the Advisory Board will complete its summary of key issues raised at the Stakeholder Symposium. Additionally, the Advisory Board will be holding a regional stakeholder symposium in July of this year at Columbus, Ohio. This regional conference will be held in conjunction with the North Central region mini land grant meetings. The Advisory Board will be considering an on-going process for stakeholder participation at its August 1997 meeting and is confident that this process will achieve the goals defined by the legislation.
Finally, the Advisory Board has created a working group to review the USDA REE performance plans prepared in compliance with the GPRA requirements. The working group is presently formulating initial comments for the Advisory Board to submit to USDA. Among the issues the working group is evaluating is how the Advisory Board can effectively integrate information acquired through its stakeholder participation process into the USDA performance plan development. The objective of the Advisory Board is to develop a process to help ensure relevance of USDA REE program priorities and initiatives.
Agricultural research, extension and education has had an invaluable impact on the development and competitiveness of this country. Its role in the future will be equally, if not more, important. The restructuring of commodity programs, the advent of new technologies, elevating public expectations, and increasing globalization of markets portends a new era for our farmers, ranchers and rural communities. These realities will require greater reliance on new technologies and management strategies backed by strong research and education programs. USDA REE programs will pay handsome dividends in terms of the future economic health of the agricultural industry and the nation. Regardless of budget allocations, we must do all we can to assure U.S. farmers and producers always enjoy the world-leading technology to which they have become accustomed, and that American consumers continue to enjoy the safest, most nutritious and least costly food in the world. Members of the Advisory Board and I stand ready to work with the committee in charting a path to the next century through a strong and improved research and education system.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 STATEMENT OF ELIZABETH D. OWENS, PH.D., MEMBER OF THE GOVERNING BOARD, ARI
Mr. Chairman my name is Elizabeth D. Owens. I'm Manager for Government Affairs for ISK Biosciences Corporation, a major provider of inputs for agriculture. I am also a member of the Governing Board of the Agricultural Research Institute. Today I'm accompanied by Dr. Richard Herrett, Executive Director representing ARI. ARI is a non-profit organization which brings together members from the for-profit industry, academia, government and the non-profit private sector. Its primary mission is to facilitate the exchange of ideas on present and future needs in agriculture by conducting forums and symposia on major issues, by facilitating interaction among academia, government and industry leaders, and the implementation of projects of interest to its members. ARI takes the position that Federal funding of agricultural research provides leadership that results in funding commitments from other sources including States, industry, private foundations and production sectors. The relatively small input by the Federal Government leads to a mix of funding sources thus providing increased stability for the continued support of an affordable, healthy, environmentally and economically sustainable food and fiber production system.
In my comments today, I will present a prospective of the for-profit private sector. While I'm currently employed in the crop protection industry, my experience also includes the biotech industry, academia and the IPM services industry. I am an entomologist by training with a number of years in IPM research.
Before proceeding, Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank you, the other members of the s Subcommittee and the members of the Agriculture Committee for their diligence and time spent in the reauthorization of the Research Title of the Farm Bill. I believe this could be one of the most significant deliberations of the 105th Congress as it could certainly impact the long term competitiveness and economic viability of America's number one industry
In a May 1995 ERS report (staff paper 9510), it was estimated that in 1992 the private sector provided approximately 60% of funding for agricultural research, much of which went directly into industry in-house research on farm chemicals (37%) and processed food products (30%). I think this supports my basic premise that the public and private sector spending in research and development isn't duplicative and that industry's focus is on research is directed toward product development. Industry relies on the university system, including extension and regional experiment stations, and the USDA, to characterize the problems, provide basic information on the situation and ideas for solutions.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 In the case of crop protection products, it is the responsibility of industry researchers to take publicly and privately generated knowledge and ideas and turn them into profitable, marketable products that effectively eliminate or minimize the problem for the farmer. The goal of the for-profit industry is to develop a product that farmers will want to purchase because it adds significantly to the farmer's bottom line. My current employer manufactures and markets fungicide. It costs the company roughly $100 million plus, from laboratory discovery and screening to production, to bring a new fungicide to the growers. This product has to work for those growers or they won't buy it a second time. If they don't become repeat buyers, then we haven't invested in a successful product. Applied, focused research based on sound scientific information from the public sector is a bottom line effort for us.
There are not always going to be profitable, marketable products available for the solution of every problem so sometimes public research results in publicly funded programs that provide a solution. Public funded research is also viewed by the public as less biased, more neutral than that funded by private industry. Thus Federal funding is often required for research that supports Federal laws, regulations, or policy decisions. The Federal Government also must lead where large scale adoption of one or possibly several new technologies is needed to solve a problem. Large, regional projects that require coordination across State lines and between Federal, State and private industry are good examples of such leadership. In this later category eradication of the bollweevil is an excellent example of a successful program. In the 1960's prior to the implementation of this program, cotton production was virtually eliminated from Southeastern USA because of the costs associated with bollweevil control. Today, following the success of the USDA led bollweevil eradication program several million acres of profitable cotton are harvested there annually.
The resolution of specific agricultural problems often times requires a complex series of interactions between various organizations both private and public, multidisciplinary interactions in many various departments or agencies within a single organizations. I've attempted to illustrate those complex interactions as they relate to the solution of single disease affecting potatoes (Figure 1).
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 When one considers that well over 250 different crops are grown commercially in the United States and each has its own set of unique set of disease, pest and weed problems, it becomes evident why such a complex is necessary. Indeed the information represented by this chart is the envy of the world for it is this infrastructure which results in solutions to problems affecting agriculture.
To illustrate how the profit motive drives decisions in the private sector research, we can examine grain production. When corn was hybridized in the 1930's, it suddenly became possible to develop a private industry based on supplying corn seed because it was profitable for the farmer to grow hybridized varieties and he had to keep going back to the source for more product. In the case of wheat, which can not be easily hybridized because it is self-fertile, most of the product development has remained in the public sector. Wheat farmers can save seed for plant back because the variety will remain true. Only a limited commercial industry exists for wheat seed which provides introduction of some new public varieties or seed pretreated with pesticides. To illustrate how unprofitable wheat seed is compared to corn seed, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. made a gift of its wheat variety development program to the States. This does not mean that wheat is unprofitable for farmers to grow or that its production does not have continuing problems that justify wheat breeding programs (e,g. Russian Wheat Aphid and Karnal Bunt). It just means that the profit margin for the commercial sector does not justify their continued support of internal product research and development programs.
The time frame from discovery to product development is important. Private industry will step in and do the research if they see that the time frame from investment to return is relatively short, but it is to the benefit of society for the public to fund those long term, basic research projects which have potential for significant pay off, but for which risks are high and success is not assured. A case in point is, genetic engineered crop plants. The potential for this technology became apparent in the 1950's when Watson and Crick described the molecules holding the genetic code. It wasn't until genes were cloned 20 years later that industry became interested in possible commercial applications. Industry really didn't get involved to any significant degree until the mid eighties, after significant progress had been made in the development of technology for the identification, isolation, cloning, and transfer of individual genes. 1997 is the first year of significant commercial planting of genetically engineered seed, roughly 30 million acres. So that's 50 years from discovery to commercial application with significant industry involvement only in the latter technology development phases and once commercial viability was relatively certain.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Today, the USDA has another opportunity to provide leadership in basic research - the Plant Genome Project. This initiative provides several elements that fit the image ARI has for a federally based program. It has a broad scope, encompassing a number of basic research areas, crossing disciplines and agencies and incorporating public/private sector interests. It is a long range, high risk project, but with potentially very big payoffs for the general citizenry. For agriculture, it could lead to improved crop varieties and plant health products that will enhance environmentally sustainable production. It will also lead to basic discoveries about the nature of genetics and the genetic code that will benefit medical research for both human and animal health. In that respect, it is very comparable and complimentary to the Human Genome Project. Support for this initiative could lead the USDA to exciting new discoveries and enable them to build a center of excellence in basic science research.
Finally, I recognize that the Federal Government conducts agricultural research that is important to private business and Federal regulatory agencies that is economic in nature. I would like to present two examples that are of particular importance, the USDA food consumption survey and agriculture production statistics. The food consumption survey is particularly significant to Federal regulators, the crop protection industry, the food production industry and food processors for two reasons: 1) EPA is currently conducting pesticide residue risk assessments on data that is over twenty years old, meaning that the results of these risk assessments might not be relevant to today's consumers, and 2) the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) specifically requires the Agency to make risk assessments for youth populations for which currently no valid consumption data exists. It is extremely important to the implementation of FQPA that the Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals (CFSII), including the enlarged survey of consumption by infants and children be fully funded on the timetable and budget of $6.0 million as proposed by USDA. Just this month, the Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) for the Office of Pesticide Programs at EPA noted the lack of current data on food consumption is a significant weakness in EPA's proposed methods of determining dietary risks from use of pesticides. The SAP is composed of accomplished scientists from academia, private research laboratories, and government agencies who provide a peer review of EPA's science based policies.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 An additional requirement for implementation of the FQPA is surveillance of pesticide residues on food items, particularly those consumed by children. USDA has requested $10.2 million for funding of the Pesticide Data Program (PDP) to accomplish this. This data will be useful to EPA as it will provide reality data to support residue level assumptions used in dietary risk assessments for re-evaluations of tolerances on registered pesticide products.
Agriculture production statistics are important to a wide variety of private industries which use the data in market analysis for justifying research and development costs associated with proposed services and products. Since agriculture is now a global industry, information compiled on the production and consumption patterns of countries throughout the world helps US industries stay competitive.
In summary, thank you again for this opportunity to represent ARI as you begin these critically important deliberations regarding the Research Title to the Farm Bill. ARI is a strong supporter of the public funding of agricultural research at or above the current level by the Federal Government. The benefits generated for the US citizenry from the research, extension and education programs in agriculture underpin an economy that is the envy of the world. Yet, the politicians in Washington barely notice expenditures on agricultural research among research budget giants such as defense ($35 billion) and health ($12 billion). Now, more than ever, in an increasingly competitive global economy, it is important for members of Congress revising the Federal commitment to research, to understand the importance of maintaining leadership in research based technology for the food system. It is well documented that when Federal funding for basic research declines, the funding from other sources, including the private sector, also declines in due course. Public sector funding must lead the way if the Freedom to Farm Act and the Food Quality Protection Act are to be implemented with the results Congress intended; that is a public satisfied that their safe, affordable food supply is produced in an environmentally and economically sustainable fashion.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 Figure 1: Simplified flow chart of the types of research conducted by various publicly and privately funded organizations and the research results which were directly related to the original goal of controlling potato net necrosis. It is not possible, in this simple graphic, to represent all of the complex interactions between the various research sectors and funded projects. The graph roughly represents research from 1940 to the present, with most of the work occurring from the late 1950's onward.
STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
Thank you for the opportunity to share with the Subcommittee information about how the American Farm Bureau Federation uses private dollars to conduct agricultural research.
The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture was established in 1967 for the purposes of initiating and financing agricultural research and education. Funding for the foundation has been derived from three sources: individual donors, Farm Bureaus, and corporations and foundations.
The foundation operates on a two-year grant cycle. Research and education priorities are determined by the board of directors of the foundation. Upon determination of the priorities, requests for proposals are sent to land grant universities and other research institutions. The proposals are reviewed by scientists and specialists in the designated fields of study. Funding decisions are made by the board of directors based on the peer reviews.
Current research and education priorities of the foundation are:
(1) the changing structure of agricultural production and marketing and implications for farmers and ranchers, (2) development of an environmental index for watersheds located in agricultural areas, (3) development of a consumer education program on agricultural stewardship and agriculture's interaction with the environment, (4) the effects of multi-spectral satellite imagery on farms of the future, and (5) manure managementmarket development and utilization.
Ten projects are currently being funded, five of which are from the previous funding cycle:
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 4 (1) Economics and Environmental Impacts of Best Management Practices and Technology on Representative Corn/Soybean and Cotton Farms, The Ohio State Univ., (2) Economic and Environmental Impact of Grazing Systems on Lactating Dairy Cows, Univ. of FL, (3) Development and Demonstration of an Accurate Manure Spreading System to Protect Water Quality, Improve Waste Management and Farm Profitability, Univ. of WI, (4) Validating Alternative Manure Management Systems for Dairy and Beef Confined Feeding Operations, CO State Univ., (5) Evaluation of Dry Matter Basis Grain Marketing, Univ. of IL, (6) Developing New Remote Sensing Technology for More Economical Weed Control, Univ. Of ID, (7) Improving Nitrogen Management from Manure in a Corn-Soybean Rotation, Univ. Of MN-Waseca, (8) Development of an Index for the Assessment and Management of Agricultural Watersheds, Grand Valley State University, (9) Evaluation of Market Advisory Services for Agricultural Commodities, Univ. Of IL, and (10) Mobile Ag in the Classroom, Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation.
We appreciate this opportunity to comment on this important issue and look forward to working with you in promoting agricultural research.
"The Official Committee record contains additional material here."
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