I recently read the below letter from Louis A. Magnarelli, the Director of the CT Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) describing concerns about funding. There is a general concern that President Bush's 2006 budget recommends changing or disbanding the Hatch and McIntire Stennis formula funds program. This could be disastrous for CAES, and especially the important American chestnut research work done by Dr. Sandy Anagnostakis. Those of you familiar with Dr. Anagnostakis' work need no introduction. It is truly seminal work on chestnuts and deserves protection in the name of scientific research.
I encourage you to read the message below, and call or write your congressman to voice your opinion. I've put congressional contact information on the bottom of the page with a link to a letter I wrote to my Representative. Please consider taking the time to call or write.
Continued Pressure on Federal Formula Funds
February 14, 2006
Louis A. Magnarelli, Director
Phone (203) 974-9440
On Monday, February 6, 2006, President Bush?s proposed budget was released. The document recommends shifting major portions of the Hatch and McIntire Stennis formula (base) funds into a competitively awarded, multi-state/institutional program. The suggested phase-in period for the transfer of funds from the current system to the new program would be 4 years. Fortunately, a similar proposal made last year was rejected by Congress, and research programs remained stable. Funding for the productive Hatch program has been in place since 1887, while the successful McIntire Stennis program for forestry has existed since 1962.
The attached summary highlights successes in some of the research programs at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Well-known initiatives on the studies of ticks, Lyme disease, and other infections; mosquitoes/encephalitis viruses; invasive aquatic plants in lakes and ponds; Ramorum Blight (formerly Sudden Oak Death); integrated pest management practices to reduce pesticide use; and on food safety and forestry issues all had support from formula funds. We have collaborations with scientists in 44 states. Our analytical chemists are participating in the US Food and Drug Administration?s Food Emergency Response Network and assisting Connecticut?s Civil Support Team (National Guard) on counter-terrorism programs. There has been national recognition of our discoveries on biological control of the hemlock woolly adelgid and on the birds and mosquitoes harboring and transmitting the West Nile encephalitis virus, respectively. The January 2006 issue of Discovery Magazine rated the top 100 science stories of 2005 and ranked the Station?s discoveries of the American robin as a probable reservoir for West Nile virus and the identification of a bird/mammal-feeding mosquito at #43.
There are currently several competitive grant programs for scientists to seek funding. Even if successful in receiving an award, it is usually several weeks or months before money is actually received. Formula funds are allocated annually to all states and provide stability for agricultural, forestry, and other important research programs, opportunities to leverage other financial resources, and provide a mechanism to immediately respond in emergencies. Research for local needs can be extremely important but may not fit nicely into the scope of changing priorities for a particular competitive grants program.
The proposed changes in the use of formula funds would have a severe impact on The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. The loss of about $500,000 would force the layoffs of several well-trained technicians, who play a critical role in conducting field and laboratory experiments and would significantly decrease funds for equipment, reagents, and scientific journals. The loss of research capacity during the 4-year phase-in period would be crippling. Moreover, the extra time required to write multiple grant proposals would cause a decline in scientists? interactions with stakeholders and impede their ability to directly solve problems. Simply put, successful research programs require stability and balanced funding from several sources.
This budget problem is now being reviewed by members of Congress. Our senators and representatives need to protect formula funds for research under the current system so that each state can be assured of receiving a share of the appropriation. Letters from the public will help our Congressional delegation justify making the necessary corrections.
You can identify your representative by going to http://www.house.gov and entering your zip code. Or if you know their name, use this list of CT House Representatives to contact the appropriate Representative.
Larson, John B.; Connecticut, 1st
District Office: 221 Main Street, 2nd Floor | Hartford, CT 06106 | Phone: (860) 278-8888 | Fax: (860) 278-2111
D.C. Office: 1005 Longworth HOB | Washington, D.C. 20515 | Phone: (202) 225-2265 | Fax: (202) 225-1031
Rob Simmons; Connecticut, 2nd
D.C. Office: 215 Cannon House Office Building | Washington, DC 20515 | Phone: (202) 225-2076 | Fax: (202) 225-4977
District Office: 2 Courthouse Square | Fifth Floor | Norwich, CT 06360 | Phone: (860) 886-0139 | Fax: (860) 886-2974
DeLauro, Rosa L.; Connecticut, 3rd
D.C. Office: 2262 Rayburn House Office Building | Washington, DC 20515 | Phone: 202-225-3661 | Fax: 202-225-4890
District Office: 59 Elm Street | New Haven, CT 06510 | Phone: 203-562-3718 | Fax: 203-772-2260
Shays, Christopher; Connecticut, 4th
District Office: 10 Middle Street, 11th Floor | Bridgeport, CT 06604-4223 | phone: 203/579-5870 | fax: 203/579-0771
D.C. Office: 1126 Longworth Building | Washington, DC 20515-0704 | phone: 202/225-5541 | fax: 202/225-9629
Johnson, Nancy L.; Connecticut, 5th
D.C. Office: 2409 Rayburn Building | Washington, DC 20515 | 202.225.4476 phone | 202.225.4488 fax
District Office: 1 Grove Street | New Britain, CT 06053 | 860.223.8412 phone | 860.827.9009 fax