As if the governor’s budget message wasn’t enough, we’ve had several other favorable developments in the past two weeks. The U.S. Senate passed the Farm Bill on Tuesday, Feb. 4, after the House passed it the previous week. The Farm Bill has many elements, but among them is the authorization for the work we do in Michigan State University Extension and the federal funding that supports it. I shared details of the Farm Bill in Monday’s MSU Extension Update Webinar (http://connect.msu.edu/p7qm9h3muxx/).
Even better, President Obama has announced not only that he plans to sign the legislation this week but also that he is coming to MSU for the signing ceremony. His stop in East Lansing will be brief and will not include any public gatherings. But he will learn about some innovative agricultural research at MSU and will sign the Farm Bill at the Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center. I don’t think it’s an accident that he will be signing this landmark legislation at the alma mater of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. Her leadership was critical to the success of this legislation. And her alma mater happens to be a hotbed of agriculture, food and natural resource research and extension, which ties in well with the investments the Farm Bill will be making in research and translation for these important industries.
The Farm Bill completion follows a positive outcome of the federal appropriations process for the current fiscal year. In January, Congress and the president approved budgets for all federal programs, including the funding for research and extension, administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nation’s land-grant university system. Funding for the budget lines that affect our programs were increased over the 2013 budgets. This reversed the reductions our funding experienced under the sequestration process.
There’s a lot of other good news to share, but I’ll save some of that for next week. It’s good to have good news, and it’s even better to have a bunch of it. We wouldn’t have these results if it weren’t for the hard work of everyone who is a part of MSU Extension and AgBioResearch. I appreciate having a group of colleagues who are committed to our mission, who are willing to work hard in order to fulfill it and who have a high tolerance for uncertainty. And that’s the best news I can share. Gordon was right, it IS a great day to be in Extension!