Michigan State University leaders were pleased when the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry passed its version of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (farm bill) on May 14.
June 5, 2013
Michigan State University leaders were pleased when the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry passed its version of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (farm bill) on May 14. Although it was necessary to cut $23 billion from the legislation, the Senate version maintains support for the Hatch and Smith-Lever programs, both of which are essential to capacity-building research and Extension programming.
“To serve our diverse agriculture base, it is essential that we have access to research dollars,” said Doug Buhler, newly appointed director of MSU AgBioResearch. “We are one of the few states that grow such a wide variety of food crops—including dairy, beef, pork, field crops, sugarbeets, cherries, apples, asparagus and potatoes—and we have a thriving nursery and horticulture business. It takes strong scientists and solid research to keep those businesses competitive. Thankfully, we have both.”
MSU leaders are especially pleased that the Senate committee’s version of the bill includes increased funding for specialty crops. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the committee chair, has been a staunch supporter of the bill’s specialty crop research title since its inception in the 2008 farm bill.
“Sen. Stabenow was quick to see the need for a specialty crop program,” said Fred Poston, dean of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “She has always been a strong advocate for Michigan agriculture, and we’re happy to see that her committee continued to see the important role that specialty crops play in Michigan’s $91.4 billion food and agriculture system.”
The House of Representatives began reviewing its version of the farm bill May 15, with hopes of having a final version by late June. Both versions will head to a joint Congressional conference committee later this summer. If passed, the bill will reauthorize programs through 2018.
“Agriculture continues to help grow Michigan’s economy,” Poston said. “By funding research that helps make farmers more efficient and profitable, the Senate assures that we can continue to be part of that upward trend.”