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Impact of budget cuts on UC Sustainable Agriculture Programs- Your input needed
by California Sustainable Agriculture Working Gr
Wednesday Jan 28th, 2004 5:33 PM
More than ever, California growers need farming systems that are environmentally sustainable and economically viable. They need a University system that produces this knowledge and quickly transfers it to the field.
YOUR COMMENTS NEEDED

IMPACT OF BUDGET CUTS ON
U.C. SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROGRAMS

The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural
Resources (ANR), in response to budget cuts by the state, proposed an
organizational restructuring in the Fall that severely threatened the
existence of important sustainable agriculture programs such as SAREP,
the Small Farm Center, and the Statewide IPM program. In the face of
much opposition, they withdrew that proposal.
ANR has formed a working group to draft new recommendations for
restructuring and has announced listening sessions for the public.
Written comments will also be accepted.
The new revised proposal for restructuring ANR statewide programs is
available on line at http://groups.ucanr.org/directions

ANR LISTENING SESSIONS
January 29 - San Luis Obispo
February 5 - Riverside
February 10 - Redding
February 19 - Parlier (Kearney REC)
February 26 - Davis

Your must register prior to attending any of the listening sessions.
Reservations are being taken on a first come, first serve basis.
To register, send written comments, and get find background information
visit the website listed above.
Please see below or attached for talking points.
############################################################

CA Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Response to UC ANR's
A Proposal for Improvement of the Statewide Functions of ANR

Please visit http://groups.ucanr.org/directions to submit your written
comments.

Big picture challenges not addressed
Overall, ANR's proposal for the improvement of statewide programs is
inadequate for addressing the fundamental challenges now facing the
division. More than ever, California growers need farming systems that
are environmentally sustainable and economically viable. They need a
University system that produces this knowledge and quickly transfers it
to the field. Yet the current proposal:

… Fails to address the critical need to integrate on-campus research
and outreach capacity to transfer knowledge to California growers.

… Fails to address the need to integrate the constellation of small
programs and projects scattered throughout the UC system, many of which
are working to address similar issues and problems with inadequate
resources.

… Fails to examine the cost-efficiency or value-added of a centralized
ANR administration that is separate from existing on-campus
infrastructure - an obvious and important question in face of recent
budget cuts.

… Fails to create new incentives for promoting outreach - incentives
that are necessary in an academic culture that prioritizes research and
publication.

… Instead it focuses on reorganizing a handful of small programs that
comprise just 2% or 3% of the University's total agriculture research
and outreach budget.

Support for prioritizing sustainable agriculture, preserving existing
programs
… Within the narrow scope of the current proposal, we strongly support
the recommendation to preserve existing Statewide Special Programs,
program identities and their directors. As many of us commented in
response to the last restructuring proposal, these programs and
identities hold great value in terms of program function, branded
recognition, relationships to clientele and success in fundraising. We
specifically support the retention of SAREP, Statewide IPM Program and
the Small Farms Program. As described below, however, we remain
concerned that this new proposal over-emphasizes the need to evaluate
and replace these programs in the future.

… We strongly support the recommendation to prioritize sustainable
agriculture, as it is defined in the proposed mission and core
activities.

… We specifically support the creation of the proposed Sustainable
Agriculture and Pest Management Systems team as an umbrella
organization within ANR to promote sustainable agriculture and give
these strong programs more stature within the University. For this to
succeed, however, ANR must recruit an energetic, visionary team leader
who is committed to sustainable agriculture as it is described in the
proposal. We urge ANR to cast the widest net possible to recruit this
leader, including beyond the walls of the University. We urge ANR not
to split this entity into two teams, as considered at the footnote on
page 6. This would defeat the purpose of linking these
mission-compatible programs in the first place.

… Existing statewide special programs have already taken
disproportionate cuts above those made to Cooperative Extension and
Agriculture Experiment Station over-all. As ANR's most effective
engine to deliver knowledge to the public, these programs should be
strengthened, not reduced. We hope that the proposed restructuring
indicates that ANR will give its statewide programs greater priority
and funding in the future, not less.

… We support the language in the proposal's mission, core activities
and advisory board that specifically addresses food systems, community
health and farm worker issues in addition to growers' needs. We hope
that ANR will provide increased resources to these issues in the future.

… We support the proposal's explicit commitment to address the unique
needs of organic growers - a need that has largely been ignored under
the existing organizational structure.

… We support the proposal to transform the existing Agriculture Issues
Center into a multi-disciplinary Forum that includes agriculture,
natural resources, and human resources. We specifically support the
creation of a new advisory board for this entity so that it includes
perspectives from all of these constituencies. The Issues Center/Forum
should also embrace the perspectives of social science, policy,
ecology, and other disciplines, in addition to economics. The proposal
should clarify, however, that this Forum/Issues Center will not dictate
priorities to the "Teams" but will rather incorporate priorities
identified by the Teams into its priority-setting process.

Problems with the proposed recommendation
In addition to the big picture problems described above, we are
concerned that the proposal attempts to diminish the importance of
existing statewide programs and over-emphasizes the need to consider
their elimination.

… We oppose the proposal for competitive five-year program reviews.
Fostering on-going competition for program survival will discourage the
collaboration that the proposal seeks to stimulate through
restructuring.

… The term "Team" implies a very informal, loose affiliation which is
inconsistent with the proposal's interest in creating real
mission-driven umbrella organizations within ANR. "Center" or
"Initiative" is more appropriate.

… In centralizing administrative functions, great care must be taken
not eliminate irreplaceable capacities within programs. Restructuring
in this area should be fully transparent with actual cost savings
identified, and should involve existing Program Directors. Any cost
savings should be allocated back to the programs.

Listening session process flawed
We are disappointed that ANR has effectively defeated its own effort to
involve the public in this process by severely limiting the listening
sessions and locations. Restricting the public's ability to participate
has and will breed animosity and distrust.

… ANR should add additional listening sessions in highly populated
urban areas, such as the Bay Area and Los Angeles. ANR's very survival
depends on its ability to connect with this increasingly large
constituency.

… We oppose ANR's decision to segregate UC insiders and external
stakeholders during the listening sessions. This is inconsistent both
with the report's own recommendation to increase transparency and the
spirit of academic free speech. It also misses an opportunity for UC
staff and the public to learn from each other.
… ANR's decision to limit the number of speakers at each session is
simply unacceptable and degrades the division's credibility as a public
agency. We can recall no other public hearing convened by a statewide
public agency that imposed such limitations.

--


California Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (CA SAWG)
P.O. Box 1599, Santa Cruz, CA 95061
Phone: (831) 457-2815
http://www.calsawg.org
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