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Woteki: Budget cuts having 'severe' effect on research

By JERRY HAGSTROM

Cuts in the fiscal year 2011 agriculture research budget are having “very severe” effects on Agriculture Department research activities, a USDA official said today.

Catherine Woteki, Agriculture undersecretary for research, education and economics, said the cuts are causing the cancellation of construction projects, closure of programs and possible layoffs of researchers.

The fiscal year 2011 continuing resolution “has had some very severe effects,” Woteki said at a National Coalition for Food & Agricultural Research Coalition seminar for congressional staff. Ten research programs will be closed down at the Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s in-house research organization, she said. Employees at those sites are being offered positions in other research facilities, but layoffs are still possible.

At the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, which provides funding for land grant colleges and other institutions, the biggest impact has come from the zeroing out of earmarks, Woteki said, meaning that 30 campus projects will not be built. Many of these construction projects have traditionally been funded through earmarks, and Woteki said USDA does not have a competitive way to decide which projects should be built.

She also noted that the National Agricultural Statistics Service has already cut some reports.

Woteki made the remarks at a seminar at which she explained the development of USDA’s plans for the public agricultural research agenda. She noted that the plan, which Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asked her to develop, is in the late stages of preparation. Woteki said she would meet Wednesday and Thursday with officials from the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities to discuss their critique of the plan.

The CR for fiscal year 2011 provides $2.353 billion for the National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service, the result of eliminating all earmarks, as well as other programmatic changes.

Research funding from final CR FY 2011



Research funding from final CR FY 2011