WASHINGTON — Diverse segments of the wheat/wheat foods industry have joined forces to stem an effort they believe could undermine funding for agricultural research.
In a joint letter to Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition, the group seeks to preserve the organizational structure of the agencies in charge of the research. Signators to the letter included Lee Sanders, senior vice-president of government relations and public affairs, American Bakers Association; Darren Coppock, chief executive officer, National Association of Wheat Growers; Elizabeth (Betsy) Faga, president, North American Millers’ Association; Michael P. Davis, president, American Malting Barley Association, Inc.; C. James Peterson, chair, National Wheat Improvement Committee; and Ken McCauley, president, National Corn Growers Association.
Of concern is the possible creation of an organization that would oversee and coordinate the work of the Agricultural Research Service and the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.
While supporting efforts to coordinate activities of the groups, the coalition said it would "oppose any efforts to create a new level of administration as an umbrella over ARS and CSREES."
Ms. Sanders said the groups fear the creation of an additional level of oversight would "add a level of bureaucracy that would just result in less funding being spent on actual research."
"In 1977, the agencies were merged under one super agency, the Science and Education Administration, which, as the chairman pointed out at a hearing earlier this year, created confusion and bureaucracy, leading to the separation of the agencies again in 1981," the coalition said.
The groups expressed support for the U.S.D.A. Current Research System as the preferred vehicle for coordinating work between the research agencies.
The issue of adequate funding was emphasized by the group in the letter to Mr. Harkin.
"The root of the challenge in agricultural research is a need for more funding, not a need for more bureaucracy," they said.