Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

April 2002
April 10, 2002

The meeting called to order by Steve Umberger.

Meeting Participants: 

Steve Umberger
Charles McPeake
Michael Ouart
Ross Love
Ed Smith
John Hayes
Joan Duskey
Tim Cross
Mike French
Bill Hubbard
Dennis Kopp
Arlie Powell
Steve Halbrook
Fred Sanders 

Minutes from last meeting

On the web, Michael Ouart moved and Joan Dusky seconded the motion that the minutes be approved, motion carries.

Bill Hubbard, Regional Extension Forester  

For the new people on the committee, he reviewed the history and purpose of the regional extension forester position.  

RREA - $900,000 increase (almost 25%) for FY2002. The new monies will be distributed by a modification of the formula, with increases to most states, and $10,000 to each 1890 institution and some remaining ($180,000).  This remainder could be for special projects or multistate projects. In the allocation there is a request for more planning and reporting with 1890. Bill offered to facilitate coordination between 1890 and 1862 institutions, or multistate efforts. State plan has to be cosigned by the two institutions. 

Hiatus for call from Dan Smith  

Directors meeting starts Sunday, and because of the budget Dan stayed home and called.

  1. RREA funding - Nancy Bull chairs national forestry ECOP committee, forestry directors have a bit a problem with how the 180,000 focus dollars will be allocated. They will meet in May to determine that allocation. Anticipated in terms of historical formula, about 400,000 went to 1890 and 1994 - Directors need to know before going to Congress how money is going to be allocated instead of after the fact. Forestry liaison team is going to develop a 5-year plan. $180,000 is for quick impacts to go for further dollars.  There was discussion on how each region should have the opportunity to use funds instead of a national committee making that decision. There was another proposal to put the money in a few states instead of spreading it out too much, or to use it as leverage funds to get further grants. Input was requested for Forestry Liaison Committee for their meeting May 1-2. Joan Dusky recommended that the funds be used for the basics of forestry curriculum to go online. Dan said that George Hopper TN recommended something similar, but did not get a good reaction. Dan will try to connect with e-Extension and reassert this suggestion. Other areas for consideration of RREA funds included the focus on extension education in the sustainability report, forest fragmentation, rural-urban fringe, land use planning, and public policy.
  1. eExtension Curriculum committee - The southern directors are excited about tying eExtension with the curriculum effort. In a meeting in Atlanta about 3 weeks ago - Ron Brown indicated he is focusing on multistate programming instead of administration, and put together eExtension committee which explored the concept of a southern extension web-based network to our constituency, all regions represented and 1890 and felt it should be a national network. There is concern if we have the infrastructure to sustain this national network. Purdue has also issued a proposal, and there is an effort to blend the two proposals and blend in to some part of ADEC. Planning committee is moving forward with concept, infrastructure, etc. not curriculum. They were cautioned that it would be expensive and require extensive staff support to maintain.
  2. Requested for any action items to take to directors.
  3. Doing a revisit of SERA - IEG's, David Foster asked to work with research representative on SERA - IEG's and evaluate the level of impact and participation. They have been approved without much discussion or oversight. Looking at which to continue, some could go back into Southern Region Research Projects, and some can be done electronically instead of meetings. There is currently no protocol for approval of SERA- IEG, reviews, reports, and impacts. Dan has served as advisor for Risk Management SERA. It is an excellent group, meeting for several years, 25-30 people, strong agenda, but primarily research - - do we continue to support and finance those that are primary research, or those that may not be functioning. Question was raised on how extension supports these efforts. Extension only supports travel and the administrative support for participation. Mike French indicated that some of the SERA IEG;s work very well and should continue. Provide input to Dan or your director on those not functioning. It was noted that a couple of years ago there was a web-based report for the SERA-IEG's, and one of the positives is that there is not much bureaucracy associated with them and that people are willing to participate because of that.
  4. Homeland Security - Regional or multistate funding opportunities. Clemson is unique in having livestock and plant fertilizer in their programs. Discusssed with plant fertilizer unit director regarding educational materials or programs - question if he shared new disease diagnosis to other states. - - States in southern region do not share if new diseases come along, etc. Suggested that lab directors share with other states if a new disease is discovered, - discussion about assessing the risk of sharing and not sharing. Dennis Kopp said it should be done nationally and beyond USDA. Any comments or concerns to be carried forward were requested.

Resumed Hubbard's report

National Forest Service lands, in lieu of taxes - go under Title III to spend 15% on forestry education - Mississippi is getting about one million to do forestry education in the state-The money goes to county board of supervisors and we would have to work with each county to get the money. Bill to send out copy of the act to all ANR Leaders. From this effort, Mississippi will get 6 area agents.

Billy briefly discussed the Southern Forest Resource Assessment, Canadian Softwood Tariff, CCA, Forest Certification, and high-lighted the Master Tree Farmer Program, Urban Forestry Program, Master Tree Farmer II, and the Master Wildlife Program.

Action Item

Forestry is a high priority for eCurriculum, there is good collaboration among forestry program staff, there is no problem letting Bill administrate, and it would be possible to show good impact quickly. Joan Dusky moved and Charles McPeak 2nd the motion that forestry be one of the first projects pursued and that the discretionary RREA funds be used to complete it. Unanimously approved. 

Charles reported on Bill's evaluation. 

Steve Halbrook -Farm Foundation

Steve provided brochures, and reviewed that FF has a history of working with PPE - and has engaged policy education specialists to be involved in a meeting every September. He indicated that participation has been declining. The topic for the 2002 meeting in Reno (15-17 September) is agrosecurity. Steve will relay what was discussed at morning session to the planning committee. FF has a commitment to public policy education - there have been struggles within group over time. Initially the focus was agriculture policy and the farm bill, but has now expanded, which is a good thing. There has been a real growth in the process people - those involved in dispute resolution. Concern that dispute resolution is not our strong suit, but we do have subject matter expertise to bring to the table, and that public issues education is going in a direction that lacks subject matter balance/issue. FF is trying to strike some balance. Steve wants us to encourage more folks to attend the September conference to work on this. FF still has 6 priority areas - see brochure. All is available on website as well as details of meeting. They no longer support partial travel for states, and have stopped the scholarship fund. Contributed papers and programs also a part of the program this year. 

Dennis Kopp - USDA

Distributed 4 handouts:

Plant Systems update
PAS Organization
President's budget
How spent pest management dollars last year           

Comments: Good year, strange year, biosecurity is a long term issue. 

Question - Schedule A appointments - understanding that would retain current benefits, but not have an option for any new benefits. 

Joan Dusky - Cooperative Extension Curriculum Project

Distributed 3 handouts.

Committee to discuss computer based training. In December PLC approved the project.  Joan summarized the questionnaire to ANR leaders on what agents are referred to. Southern Directors created a task force via Ron Brown to look at a multistate curriculum project. There will problems agreeing on priorities, competencies, etc. FCS has broken down competencies, 4-H has a model, ANR is most difficult because of the diversity. Therefore determining models everyone can live with in order to identify and inventory everyone will be difficult. Part of the effort is getting to what the agent is supposed to know in a particular subject matter area.

Four Opportunities and Ideas for a pilot project were given:

SARE project
Risk Management
Biotechnology Issues (FL has a USDA challenge grant to develop a program)

These can be used to develop the format etc. 

Discussion on being able to reorganize or reshuffle components that are common to all the states, and if there are specifics for a state, they could go ahead and develop what fits. County educators could use the modules in teaching clientele - take the appropriate parts, etc.   

The committee will work initially with 12 program areas and then develop subjects under each.    For example, weed science has communalities for all crops, but then there are specific areas under it. 

Joan indicated that a web-based survey to ANR leaders is coming out for department leaders or specialists to respond to, i.e. what a livestock agent should know, cotton agent should know, horticulture agent should know, etc. 

Arkansas is looking at core competencies that a new agent needs to learn within the first 3 years of employment. They are prioritizing and determining what they need in first year, etc.  

Natural Resource Agriculture and Engineering Service

Michael Ouart indicated that the NE Ag Engineering Service is interested in branching out to the South. They are willing to come and talk to ANR leaders. They do a lot of structure, waste management, horticulture, etc. All their publications are forsale. Virginia Tech is a member university, and members can purchase publications at half-price. Virginia uses these in extension offices as a resource.  Membership is based on Smith-Lever allocations, therefore it varies from state to state. You can purchase at member price, but policy is to sell at cover price, i.e. state can keep the rest. 

Ouart will request the representative to attend the August meeting and bring samples and a display.  

Ross Love - PLC meeting

There is a process for PLC to determine what it ought to be doing. ANR leaders send one representative to PLC, some committees send more and they stay longer as chair and vice-chair Some of the August meeting will be on the curriculum project. Other agenda items for the meeting were discussed.  

There was considerable discussion that we waste a lot of time at PLC meetings not addressing an issue as much as providing reports. In the ANR session we give a lot time to 20-25 report topics. It was suggested that we pick one or two topics or issues that we get into very intently - i.e. would rather spend time addressing a major issue instead of listening to a lot of reports. When Steve sends out notice for agenda items, it is important to respond with what you think. There was agreement to keep reports to a minimum.

The need to have a state program leader orientation for new program leaders was identified and agreed to.  

The Committee list was reviewed and updated. 

Meeting adjourned to go and eat.