Tag Archives: tom coon

What’s happening with ‘What’s Now? What’s Next?’

As you know, a series of open forum-style meetings known as “What’s Now? What’s Next?” took place across the state. The meetings provided the people of Michigan a chance to talk to the leadership of the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Dean Fred Poston, associate dean and director of academic affairs Kelly Millenbah, director of AgBioResearch Doug Buhler and Extension director Tom Coon hosted 14 meetings, spoke with nearly 500 people and traveled more than 1,400 miles, answering questions on various issues brought up by those in attendance. They listened carefully to their thoughts and concerns. It was a chance to answer questions and clear up some misconceptions about changes implemented as a result of budget cuts. Those questions and misconceptions were answered and explained on the spot. People have been asking me if the input gathered at those meetings will be used in the process of gathering stakeholder input. Yes, it already is being used as the thoughts, ideas and suggestions from the attending audiences have been part of an ongoing gathering of stakeholder input and will also be a valued part of any additional stakeholder input work done moving forward. I have begun to review the input from those sessions.

A wrap-up article was created and sent to all participants that provided an email address. We’ve posted the article to this link: http://www.canr.msu.edu/news/canr_leadership_wraps_up_state_tour

Comments Off on What’s happening with ‘What’s Now? What’s Next?’

Filed under Uncategorized

Farm Bill hearing takes place May 31 at MSU

This coming Tuesday, May 31, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold the committee’s first Farm Bill field hearing here at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The hearing, “Opportunities for Growth: Michigan and the 2012 Farm Bill,” will focus on the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill, examining agriculture as well as energy, conservation, rural development, research, forestry and nutrition policies that affect Michigan. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow chairs the committee. Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon, MSU president; Dr. J. Ian Gray, MSU vice president for research and graduate studies; and I will lead the opening panel discussion. Witnesses for the second and third panels will consist of various leaders in the agriculture industry.

 Sen. Stabenow is an alumna not only of MSU, but also of MSU Extension. She participated in 4‑H in Clare County as a youth, served as an intern for MSUE in Lansing as a student at MSU, and for many years supported MSUE in Ingham County as a county commissioner. Senator Stabenow was appointed to chair the agriculture committee earlier this year and has the opportunity to lead the committee through the very important reauthorization process for all laws associated with food and agriculture policy in the Farm Bill. This includes authorization for funding of research, extension and education such as the Smith-Lever funding that supports Cooperative Extension in Michigan and every other state.

 The public may participate in the hearing by submitting written testimony, which will be included in the official record of the hearing. Three copies of your testimony can be submitted at the hearing or can be sent to the committee no later than June 7, 2011. Send your testimony to aghearing@ag.senate.gov or to U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, 328A Russell Senate Office Bldg, Washington, D.C. 20510.

 For up-to-date information on the hearing and Farm Bill process, you can visit the Senate Agriculture Committee website at ag.senate.gov.

Comments Off on Farm Bill hearing takes place May 31 at MSU

Filed under Agriculture

“It’s been a quiet week in East Lansing …”

Blame my rural Iowa roots, or perhaps my undergraduate years at a college founded by Norwegian Lutheran immigrants (Go Norse!), but I’m a 30 year fan of Garrison Keillor’s radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.” His stories and satires about Midwestern life hit close to home, and help me to see the humor in my experiences. His fictitious community of Lake Wobegon, Minn., is populated with people that I swear lived in my own hometown. I especially enjoy his monologue that always begins “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.”

That seems like a fitting way to start this update, with one change, “It’s been a quiet week in East Lansing.” The irony in Keillor’s story-telling drips out of the radio speakers, and if you think it’s really been quiet here, you’ve been sleeping.

At Fall Extension Conference (FEC09) on October 15, I shared my concern that Gov. Granholm may elect to use a line-item veto to eliminate funding for Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station in the higher education bill. At the time, I was concerned about being an alarmist—a chicken-little forecasting something as ridiculous as the sky falling. As it turns out, the idea of a line-item veto was not as absurd as we had hoped.

I don’t know if the motivation is based on a true sense of our organizations being outdated and unnecessary, or on a realization that people care enough about our programs to mount political heat that will force compromise between opposing political stances. Frankly, the reason for the veto theory is irrelevant. We have two choices: 1) we can stand on the sideline assuming that “surely they won’t let this happen,” or 2) we can inform our stakeholders of the fate that awaits us and them with a line-item veto.

It’s an easy choice. We owe it to the people we serve to do all we can to ensure our organizations continue to serve them AND to do all we can to use the public resources given to us for our mission as wisely and carefully as possible.

Though this puts us in a situation of great uncertainty and anxiety, it also helps us work through some fundamental changes in the way we are organized and the way we deliver programming as we help our stakeholders understand the importance of their voices in shaping public policy.

Has it been a quiet week? Of course not. And yet, as Randy Bell, Chuck Pistis, and others shared at FEC09, facing these dual challenges is a part of doing the work of Extension—at least in this state. The only difference between what we’re facing now and what we’ve faced before is the urgency and scope of the challenges. In that respect, our past helps us to shape our future. I remain confident that MSUE and MAES will continue to serve the people of this state well into the 21st Century. The needs are great, and our capacity to deliver relevant research and education is even greater. Let’s keep focused on doing our work, and at the same time, attending to the other parts of our lives—our families, our health, our friends—and show this state and this nation how resilient we are.

Look for messages from me throughout the weeks ahead to keep you updated throughout this budget process. And remember to log on to the portal and visit the Strategic Communications page for resources you can use when talking to your stakeholders.

Thanks for all you do to keep us in business.

Comments Off on “It’s been a quiet week in East Lansing …”

Filed under Budget, Funding