Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Congressional call for a plan for the Beltsville "National" Agricultural Research Center & the National Agricultural Library

As I continue my quixotic journey to call attention to the continuing decline in research capabilties caused by inadequate funding at BARC & NAL, my efforts have found well placed support from Senators Mikulski and Cardin, and my Congressman, Mr. Hoyer. I have found uncompensated time to work with concerned stakeholders to become President of the National Agricultural Research Alliance - Beltsville, and through this organization work to protect and enhance the people and programs which work to find solution to challenges in food, fuel, fiber, flowers and forests. The two Senators and the Majority Leader found the issues important enough to write a letter requesting plans (Congressional Letter ) for the two vital national entities.

The National Agricultural Library has posted a "Blueprint for 2008"which can be found at:(www.nal.usda.gov/blueprint2008.pdf). We are eagerly awaiting a similar effort from the "Los Alamos of Agricultural Research", BARC.

For two years, I have tried to make the case that the research and science of food needs enhancing not cutting; that issues relating to climate change and the affects on crops and our environment need study; that systematics and issues of invasive species need supporting; that human nutrition is important. Trying to get the press to pay attention so far, is a futile struggle. I suspect the story is too complex and the internal scientific relationships too user unfriendly for sound bytes, so this web log bring you the story.

We need a President who thinks science is important to policy decisions. We need an executive branch which understands that some science takes a long time to produce information; that not everything we need to know can be found on the Internet. We need a national initiative which, in the fashion of placing a man on the moon, states that we can fund and support long term science which can provide methods of adaptation, restoration or control of events that directly or indirectly impact our quality of life.

We read now of food shortages; we cut the science of food research. We seek alternative energy sources; we hamper researchers who are looking for energy sources outside of our food crops. We struggle with carbon emission levels; we do not support research into food crops which might actually produce at current or better yield levels at higher carbon levels. We are failing to understand that we must adapt by adopting strong, fully funded programs of research. We propose to cut agricultural grant for science at universities to the tune of over $1.2 billion dollars and allow 40 per cent of the research space at BARC to be empty. What are we thinking?

Which presidential candidate is speaking out about the need to fund agricultural science (food, fuel, fiber, flowers and forest) in the name of homeland security? Which current presidential aspirant is speaking about the funding initiatives to enhance our systematics work, nutritional research, climate change impact, animal health and food safety research, and information delivery systems? If you have a connection to a campaign, I would love to write to Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama, and ask directly what their level of support will be. I want to know if any of them are even thinking about long term agricultural science and research. Are any of them rpepared to propose funding for a "National Intiative" in the interest of long term scientific research and enquiry into food, fuel, fibers, flowers, and forests?

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