CSU ag dean: Commitment to ag research remains strong
For nearly 125 years, research has been the pillar of Colorado State University.
Since Congress passed the Hatch Act in 1887, land-grant institutions like CSU have invested manpower and resources to advance agriculture through both discovery and the application of those discoveries.
It is predicted that the global population will increase from our current level of 6.8 billion to more than 9 billion people by 2050. Much of the growth will occur in developing countries, where resources are limited. With less water and less land, we will need to produce twice as much food as we do today to meet the needs of our world’s growing population.
The key to this dilemma is research, and more specifically, our ability to produce quality and relevant research that has great impact locally and globally. CSU is uniquely poised to tackle not only world hunger and food safety, but also issues such as climate change, energy security, and environmental sustainability.
At CSU, our College of Agricultural Sciences has attracted some of the world’s most gifted faculty with expertise in plant, soil, animal, atmospheric, landscape, and economic sciences. Our faculty conduct research to address immediate problems and anticipate future challenges, and our research programs cover diverse issues such as meat and produce safety and quality, nutritional enhancement of food, invasive weeds and diseases, water conservation, design of urban landscapes, and rural economic development.
Agriculture will always remain the central focus of the college, but we find that our experts are also called upon to also address emerging complex national and global social concerns such as obesity and diabetes, energy security, and climate change. Our ability to deliver on these issues makes a strong case for the continued support of our research programs.
While we are focused on offering solutions for agriculture’s global issues, we also know that these issues affect us here in Colorado. Agriculture is a multibillion dollar industry – contributing significantly to the state’s workforce. We are committed to sustaining this important sector of Colorado’s economy.
The impact of our research leads to positive economic gains for Colorado agriculture. Improved varieties of wheat and potatoes have resulted in an annual return of $42 million to the agricultural sector. An additional $34 million per year have resulted from research in the development of decision support systems for livestock, dryland cropping systems, and disease prevention and control systems in onions.
In order to ensure relevancy of our research programs, it is essential that we maintain strong ties with our constituents who seek information and assistance from CSU. It is only through frequent communication that we can ensure the state’s needs are being met through meaningful research. While we work to continue this dialogue, we also need to secure additional federal and local funds to support our agricultural research.
The college receives more than 70 percent of our research budget from competitive grants, of which the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a significant source. Unfortunately, funding from the USDA to support agricultural research throughout the nation has been flat since 1970 and is considerably less than the funding to support health related research from National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Faculty and staff in the college represent a tremendous investment in intellectual capacity and are one of Colorado’s richest resources. As such, we have a responsibility to use our expertise to discover and apply knowledge that contributes to the economic prosperity of our state and solves great global issues.
Increased profitability and production capacity in Colorado agriculture and throughout the nation depend on a continued investment of research dollars. It is time that the U.S. recognizes the importance of agriculture as the cornerstone to a safe, healthy, and secure food system and invests dollars that will ensure its future for generations to come.
Craig Beyrouty is the dean of the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences. He is the chief administrative and academic officer with responsibility for leadership in coordinating and overseeing the college’s programs, budgets, and related activities including resident instruction, research, outreach, and international activities.