Wyoming trying to give more research control to producers
October 16, 2013
A Wyoming state senator's efforts to put research dollars more so in the control of farmers and ranchers have now come to fruition.
In recent years, Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Glenrock, said he had been approached by his rural constituents, who informed him that, while they have long benefitted from research done by professors and extension specialists at local universities, there are other small-scale and more immediate problems to which they need solutions.
During last year's legislative session in Wyoming, Anderson sponsored a bill aimed at freeing up state dollars for smaller agricultural research projects — endeavors that could allow farmers and ranchers to team up with higher education personnel and others to do their own research on their own land.
The bill passed.
A year later, those dollars are now up for grabs, as the Wyoming Department of Agriculture is accepting grant applications for the money available.
"In talking with farmers and ranchers here, it sounded like there was research needing to be done that might not be on the radar of the universities — simpler issues, or small-scale, or short-term," Anderson said. "For example, in certain circumstances, is it more cost-effective to buy or lease equipment?
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"For my size of operation, am I better off growing my own feed or buying it?
"What are the best animals to put on certain land in certain weather?
"We're hoping these new dollars will give farmers and ranchers more control to study up-close exactly what they want to know."
Farmers and ranchers have long depended on research results from universities to bring along the next big breakthroughs in production.
Putting more research control in the hands of farmers and ranchers is a different way of doing things, and is new in Wyoming, according to Anderson and Chris Wichmann with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.
"We had come across some similar programs elsewhere in doing research on this, but this is definitely something that's new to us," Wichmann said.
Last month, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture announced the creation of its new grant funding program, called the "Agriculture Producer Research Grant Program."
The program has $200,000 to offer for agriculture research, with each project grant not exceeding $20,000. An applicant may submit more than one project proposal.
Applications will be reviewed and scored by an independent review committee, which will provide its recommendations to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture director.
Wichmann said about a dozen applications have already been received.
The deadline for applications is July 19.
A match is not required for the grant funding, but a 20 percent or greater match will provide preference in the selection process, according to Wyoming Department of Agriculture officials.
If approved, a progress report will be required annually on the status of the project and its budget, and a final report must be submitted at the completion of the project.
Also, a detailed outreach plan must be included in order to disseminate the research findings to the widest possible audience of affected agriculture producers, state agriculture officials added.
"It'll be exciting to see how it all goes," Anderson said of the grant dollars stemming from his bill. "With the grants going toward local, smaller research projects, I think there's a lot of opportunity for 4-H or FFA students in the area to get involved with this … and plenty of other exciting opportunities.
"We'll just see how it goes."
For more information about the program, go to agriculture.wy.gov/divisions/nrp/aprg-program. ❖