MADISON – Three University of Wisconsin System universities will benefit from new funding included in the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill.
U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, led efforts to secure $4.5 million in funding to provide new competitive grants for colleges of agriculture and natural resources that are not housed within large “land-grant” research universities.
UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls and UW-Stevens Point are among 60 such institutions in 13 states that are eligible to compete for funding under the bill, recognizing their mission to educate and prepare professionals in agriculture, food, renewable resources and related fields. This competitive, capacity-building funding, approved by Congress and President Obama, provides research opportunities for students, increasing their competitiveness for graduate work and prospective careers.
“For our students, we know that getting involved in undergraduate research enriches their overall UW education,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “Armed with creative, problem-solving skills, and backed up by hands-on experience, these students will become the sought-after professionals of tomorrow, whether they go on to careers in research, or apply the skills and knowledge that they’ve gained to other enterprises.”
While overall spending in the bill is down relative to previous years, pursuant to the Budget Control Act of last August, Sen. Kohl said the current legislation reflects the importance of maintaining key priorities even in the face of making tough choices.
“All of us across Wisconsin and the country appreciate the support of Sen. Kohl,” said Dale Gallenberg, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at UW-River Falls. “It is through his leadership that our non-land grant institutions will join the ranks of the 1890 and 1994 research universities and the Hispanic Serving Institutions with dedicated capacity building funds. This recognition provides an important opportunity for non-land grant institutions to strengthen their education, research, and outreach programs for baccalaureate and master’s degree students through capacity-building grants.”
“Universities are strong economic engines, helping to create jobs and support for their communities,” said Mike Compton, Director of the UW-Platteville School of Agriculture. “This investment effort, spearheaded by Sen. Kohl, demonstrates his commitment to agriculture and its ability to create jobs that support growth of our local and national economy. The agricultural economy is currently strong, and we expect thousands of jobs to be created in the next decade. This investment in capacity building will strengthen the ability of non-land grant institutions, like UW-Platteville, to prepare students for these opportunities and become strong leaders for the future of agriculture.”
“Support for capacity building at non-land grants will help Wisconsin and the nation build strong 21st- century agricultural, renewable, and forest-based economies,” said Christine Thomas, Dean of UW-Stevens Point’s College of Natural Resources. “UW-Stevens Point envisions that funds from this competitive program could be used to support research that would test the feasibility of creating locally grown, year-round produce in central and northern Wisconsin.”
The bill also will strengthen statewide UW-Extension programs that support Wisconsin’s nearly $60-billion farm and agriculture industry.
“I am pleased that in a very difficult federal funding environment, the 2012 Agriculture Bill is good news overall for Wisconsin,” said Rick Klemme, Dean of the UW Cooperative Extension. “A strong federal agriculture budget is essential to the work that we at UW-Extension do throughout all 72 counties in the state, where each federal dollar is leveraged by state and local funding.”
UW Colleges and UW-Extension