Monday, December 7, 2009

U of I Extension News

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Investing in Idaho's Future: University of Idaho and J.R. Simplot Announce Collaborative Concept for Parma Research and Extension Center

MOSCOW, Idaho – Under a pre-agreement document submitted for consideration by the University of Idaho Board of Regents, the university and J.R. Simplot Company propose a $1.5 million multi-year agreement for the university's Parma Research and Extension Center that would give the center a new lease on life.

"The University of Idaho and J.R. Simplot Company have had a long and proud history of providing leadership to the state and its agricultural industry," said University of Idaho President Duane Nellis."This innovative agreement aligns the research and knowledge expertise of Idaho's land-grant university with the business acumen of one of the state's most respected industry leaders and marks a new era in public-private collaboration in Idaho agricultural research. This is an Idaho-grown partnership that will pay long-term dividends to the state's economy."

Bill Whitacre, Simplot's president and chief executive officer, reiterated the importance of the agreement to Idaho's future.

"The J. R. Simplot Company is excited about the potential for a new level of collaborative research that will benefit both Idaho and our Company," said Whitacre. "The opportunity to work with the University of Idaho will further enable us to enhance both the practical and technical sides of production agriculture in the food system."

In broad terms, the agreement submitted to the board of regents outlines a commitment from Simplot to contribute $300,000 each year for five years to the Parma Research and Extension Center that would give Simplot researchers use of facilities and acreage for crop research and development. The funds would be used to pay the university's labor, materials and other operating costs directly applicable to management and operation of the land and facilities provided by the university under this agreement. and to contribute to costs associated with the university's overall maintenance of the Parma center. The agreement states that Simplot's stand-alone research and the resulting intellectual property would be retained by the company.

“This agreement shows that the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences conducts research that is important to the state, to Idaho agriculture and to a company that symbolizes the entrepreneurial spirit, agriculture and Idaho for many of us,” said John Hammel, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Terms of the Simplot agreement will be presented to the University of Idaho Board of Regents/Idaho State Board of Education for consideration and approval. The board's next meeting is scheduled Dec. 9-10 in Twin Falls. At that time, the university will also present its final recommendations for the research and extension centers.

Cooperative conversations concerning the Sandpoint and Tetonia Research and Extension centers have enabled the university to acquire sufficient pledges of funds from industry parties to allow the institution to maintain operations at these two facilities to be maintained through June 30, 2010. The university plans to continue seeking more sustainable permanent funding from industry partners for those facilities.

Under board of regent policy, the university began concurrent administrative processes to have the mechanisms in place in the event that it needed to restructure some or a number of its research and extension center operations.

The college administers research and extension centers statewide, including cooperative efforts with counties to base University of Idaho Extension research faculty in county offices. Action by the Idaho Legislature and the governor's holdback directive, in the face of declining state revenues, reduced the state appropriation to the Agricultural Research and Extension Service budget this year by 17 percent, or $4.7 million.

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