Monday, January 25, 2010

U of I Extension News

Agricultural Groups Step Up to Support Parma, Tetonia

MOSCOW– The Treasure Valley Agricultural Coalition, which represents specialty and seed crops, mobilized supporters of the Parma center who collectively contributed $65,000 to fund field operations through June 30, the end of the fiscal year.
University of Idaho research and extension centers at Tetonia and Parma begin the new year as models of enhanced public support for work that benefits the state, said John Hammel, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean.

A separate five-year agreement with tree fruit and table grape industry interests will contribute $30,000 a year to support operations at the center's orchards and vineyards. Contributors included the Idaho Apple and Cherry Commissions, Idaho State Horticultural Society Stone Fruit Committee and the Snake River Table Grape Association.

At Tetonia, which is important to potato and cereal variety development and the foundation seed program, agricultural industry groups contributed $120,000 to fund field operations there through the end of harvest. The Idaho Potato Seed Growers contributed $65,000, the Idaho Potato Commission $40,000 and the Idaho Barley Commission contributed $15,000 toward continued center operations through harvest.

"We know it was a difficult process for many of our supporters that at times strained important relationships," Hammel said. "I greatly appreciate the strong efforts by different agricultural sectors and leaders in the Treasure Valley to find funding to support work that is important to the state and the economy."

Facing a $3.2 million or 11.5 percent state budget cut, the college proposed late last spring a plan that would end funding for field operations by Dec. 31 at the Parma center and plans to seek alternative funding to support orchards, vineyards and field operations.

The plan was based on recommendations of a statewide committee, which also supported similar moves at the Tetonia and Sandpoint research and extension centers.

After voiced concerns and widespread support for Parma, incoming University of Idaho President Duane Nellis asked college administrators to re-examine the plan and redouble efforts to find alternate funding. The review re-affirmed the plan and called for supporters to commit funds by November to sustain the centers' operations.

In early December, the university announced a five-year agreement with the J.R. Simplot Co. that will contribute $300,000 a year to the Parma center to support operations for company research and help fund overall field operations.

A special gift fund in the college will enable operations at the Sandpoint center to continue operations at 60 percent of normal through June 30 to allow more time to determine long-term funding opportunities in collaborative efforts with Sandpoint city officials, agricultural representatives and stakeholders. Hammel acknowledged the strong support for the Sandpoint center and hoped that it would it would lead to long-term, sustainable solutions for operating the center.

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