Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just in from Washington

The Parm Research Center does Ag Extension research

4-H, Ag Extension Programs Face Budget Axe in Congress

Boise--Idaho farmers and food producers and rural communities are being alerted to budget cuts made by the U.S. House of Representatives that could drastically affect Extension programs and agricultural research.

Last week, the House passed a continuing resolution for the 2011 fiscal year that included a $217 million cut for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The proposed cuts include Smith-Lever funds – funds used to fund Ag Extension and 4-H clubs – face a $30 million dollar shortfall.

“This is nationwide, it’s not just Idaho 4-H and extension programs,” said Beth Kienitz-Carter. Carter is conducting a statewide Facebook awareness campaign, urging fellow farmers to contact their U.S. Senators to save 4-H and Extension research programs. “Back in Washington they want to cut the budget deficit with hopes of one day balancing the budget, but our Congressmen didn’t read through the whole bill to see what the cuts actually were.”

The Senate is expected to debate the House’s continuing resolution on March 4th.

Kienitz-Carter worries that the proposed cut could severely affect the University of Idaho’s Extension program. Compounding the problem, she says is that the cuts come halfway through the fiscal year. Cutting the programs (about 10-percent) must be made over six months instead of a full year. “We’re going to potentially lose a very viable program across the United States that builds leaders for tomorrow. This could close county 4-H offices and lay off non-tenured staff."

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