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LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS FORM GROUP TO LOBBY FOR MORE AG RESEARCH FUNDS
PostBulletin.com reports:

Jim Christensen sat through many Iowa State University Department of Animal Science External Advisory Board meetings in recent years and heard about cuts to the College of Agriculture and the Agriculture Experiment Station. The cuts came at the same time the College of Agriculture was experiencing record enrollment.

"This was at the same time opportunities for Iowa agriculture to feed a growing world population were so great," said Christensen, who grows corn and feeds cattle near Royal with his wife, Julie. "We will need to produce twice as much food in the next 50 years as we have since the beginning of time. It seemed like a funny time to be cutting agricultural research."

Christensen spoke to Dean Wendy Wintersteen and animal science chairman Maynard Hogberg, suggesting getting livestock producers from across the state who value agricultural research to come up with a game plan. "It needed to be a producer-led group that wasn't really attached to another commodity group," Christensen said.

He and Greg Hora, a Fort Dodge pork producer; Eric Lyon, a dairy producer from Toledo; Dennis Casey, of Ankeny, who works with Hy-Line International; and Keith Aljets, a Williamsburg veterinarian, established Grow Iowa Ag and met to establish issues they wanted addressed. Hogberg, Wintersteen and Lisa Nolan, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, also were part of the process.

Grow Iowa Ag's initial goal was to replace ag research funding cut the past seven to eight years and shore up funding for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Christensen says "I think in the past it's been easy for legislators and the governor's office to cut the research budget because they never really had a political consequence. We'll tell them it's our livelihood. They're not just cutting ISU's ag research budget, they're hurting Iowa producers who produce high quality food to feed the world."

They were told a $2.8 million request would be made for the ag experiment station line, a 10 percent increase, and Iowa Gov. Branstad's new budget proposal calls for a $2.5 million funding increase to the College of Agriculture and Life Science's Ag Experiment Station.

"It wasn't $2.8 million, but it was 90 percent of that and we're very happy with Gov. Branstad's commitment to put back lost ag research dollars we have given up over the past decade," Christensen said.


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