Opening Statement: “A Review of Title VII: University Perspectives on Research and Extension Programs”
Washington, June 14, 2023
Rep. Jim Baird (IN-04), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Research, and Biotechnology, delivered the following opening remarks at today's subcommittee hearing entitled, "A Review of Title VII: University Perspectives on Research and Extension Programs."Remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing on agricultural research and extension activities across the nation’s universities. As a three-time graduate of land-grant universities and a former Extension agent, this is an issue near to my heart and I am looking forward to the discussion today.
"When USDA was created by President Lincoln in 1862, the primary objective of the Department was to “acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture.”
"Just months after creating USDA, President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act of 1862, establishing land-grant universities in each state to teach agricultural and mechanical arts. Today, the land-grant universities have a mission that is threefold: to provide instruction, conduct research, and disseminate the instruction and research throughout each State through the Cooperative Extension Service.
"To ensure equitable access, Congress later expanded the land-grant system through the Morrill Act of 1890—which established historically black colleges and universities—and the Equity in Education Land-Grant Status Act of 1994—which conferred land-grant status to several tribal colleges and universities.
"While Cooperative Extension is unique to the 112 institutions in the land-grant system, other colleges and universities also carry out important agricultural research and teaching activities. Recognizing the role of other universities, the 2008 Farm Bill included provisions to identify non-land-grant colleges of agriculture (NLGCAs) and Hispanic-serving agricultural colleges and universities (HSACUs).
"Together, these institutions help educate the next generation of agriculturists and perform the research necessary to keep American agriculture at the forefront of productivity.
"Many of the programs that provide capacity and competitive funding for these institutions are authorized in the Research Title of the Farm Bill; however, today marks the first time the House Committee on Agriculture has reviewed university research and extension programs since the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
"When this Subcommittee met a few months ago to hear directly from USDA on research program efficacy, we discussed how agricultural research has yielded our economy $20 for every $1 spent—an impressive statistic despite public spending for agricultural research declining since 2002. At that hearing, we also heard about the backlog of deferred maintenance on research facilities across the nation.
"To remain competitive with other countries, the United States cannot forget the role agricultural research plays in ensuring Americans have the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food, fiber, and energy supply in the world.
"Today’s hearing presents us with an opportunity to hear directly from all three types of land-grants, a non-land-grant college of agriculture, and a Hispanic-serving agricultural college or university. I am looking forward to hearing about success stories from investments in agricultural research, challenges facing our institutions of higher education, and how the next Farm Bill can continue to support the great work they are doing.
"Today’s hearing also gives us a chance to review the Research Title and examine the opportunities for efficiencies among the many programs up for reauthorization. While not every program in the title receives subsequent appropriations, it is worthing noting that NIFA has over 60 unique funding lines that do receive appropriations each year—raising questions on necessity, and where opportunities exist to streamline.
"I would like to thank the witnesses for taking time to be here with us today. I am especially excited to see Dr. Bernie Engel from one of my alma maters, Purdue University, on today’s panel. Just last week, Dr. Engel was selected to be the next Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture at Purdue University. Congratulations on your appointment and thank you for being here today.
"With that, I recognize Ranking Member Spanberger for any opening remarks she would like to make."