TESTIMONY SUBMITTED TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE
ON AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FDA,
AND RELATED AGENCIES OF THE HOUSE
DR. PERRY J. BROWN
DEAN, SCHOOL OF FORESTRY
UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
on behalf of the
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL FORESTRY SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES (NAPFSC)
re: FY2001 CSREES BUDGET
The National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges (NAPFSC) is comprised of the 67 universities that conduct the Nation's research, teaching, and extension programs in forestry and related areas of environmental and natural resource management. NAPFSC strongly supports increased funding for federal forestry research programs, including those operated by the USDA's Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) and the Forest Service. We appreciate this opportunity to comment on the four programs administered by CSREES which greatly enhance the abilities of our member institutions to effectively address forest and natural resource issues facing our nation: the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program (McIntire-Stennis), the Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA), the National Research Initiative (NRI), and the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS). The first three of these programs have stimulated the development of vital partnerships involving universities, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and private industry, and the new program - IFAFS - a competitive grants program offers great potential for developing new uses for forest products and to improving natural resource management.
USDA - CSREES FORESTRY RELATED PROGRAMS
FY1999 ENACTED FY2000 ENACTED FY2001 CLINTON BUDGET FY2001
The National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges (NAPFSC) believes that university-based education is central to providing the research and landowner education that is needed to address NIPF issues. Last year, NAPFSC co-hosted, along with USDA, a major Forestry Summit in Washington, D.C. with over 90 key forestry leaders from across the nation, including tree farmers, representatives from forest landowner associations, forest industry, forestry consultants, and representatives from state and federal agencies and universities.
The outcome of the Summit confirmed the need for increases in forestry research funding with a particular focus on non-industrial private forestlands and forest productivity and an increase in collaborative efforts between university-based research and that of the Forest Service.
The Case for Enhanced Forestry Research Funding
NAPFSC continues to believe that a quiet crisis is rapidly approaching in the nation in terms of the need for more university-based forestry research and extension. The forests and other renewal natural resources of this country are primary contributors to the economic health of the nation; are reservoirs of biodiversity important to the well-being of our citizens; are significant to the maintenance of environmental quality of our atmosphere, water, and soil resources and provide diverse recreational and spiritual renewal opportunities for a growing population.
Tremendous strains are being placed upon the nation's private forest lands by the combination of increasing demands for forest products coupled with dramatic changes in timber policies concerning our National Forests. Because of the changes in federal forest policy, private forest lands in the United States are now being harvested at rates not seen since the beginning of the 20th century.
Until recently, wood and wood fiber demands have been met in significant part from federal lands. The changes in federal forest timber harvesting policy means the bulk of supply requirements has shifted to privately owned forest lands. To meet this challenge, research priorities must be adjusted to better address the needs of private landowners, and to specifically enhance the productivity of such lands through economically efficient and environmentally sound means. Increased fiber imports are not a viable option as the Nation cannot afford the trade imbalance, loss of jobs, loss of rural economies, or the importing of potentially serious plant, animal, and human diseases and pests. These challenges, however, can be substantially addressed by the university community through the building of integrated research and extension programs assisted by McIntire-Stennis, RREA, and NRI.
Non-industrial private forest (NIPF) landowners provide a large array of goods and services throughout the country. For example, in the East, NIPFs are projected to increase their timber harvests almost 30% from the 1986 levels until 2010. Hardwood timber harvests on NIPF lands in the South are actually projected to increase more than 60% from 1986 to 2010. These spectacular increases will require larger investments and enhanced public educational programs - and hopefully much more regeneration and intensive timber management - at a scale never before realized on NIPF lands in the U.S.
There are currently approximately 10 million private forestland owners in the U.S. These landowners control nearly 60% of all forestland in the country. And it has been to the universities, with strong support from CSREES, that landowners traditionally look for new information about managing their lands. The combination of research conducted by the forestry schools, combined with the dissemination of that research through the cooperative extension network, has never been more essential.
The overwhelming majority of the 10 million private landowners are not currently equipped to practice the sustained forest management that is critical to the health of our environment and economy. Not only are these lands important to the nation's supply of wood and fiber, these same lands provide other substantial benefits to their owners and the nation, including wildlife habitat, clean water and recreation. Enhanced forestry research and extension activities is essential to reach these landowners. Although the McIntire-Stennis, RREA, and NRI programs can help address these concerns, these programs are inadequately funded.
McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research
NAPFSC is pleased that Congress has recognized the importance of the McIntire-Stennis program; however there has not been a corresponding emphasis on improving the funding levels. The program is currently funded at little more than one-quarter its authorized level. President Clinton's FY2001 budget does not provide for an increase in the McIntire-Stennis program. We recommended funding McIntire-Stennis at a level of $25,000,000 for FY2001.
For more than 25 years, McIntire-Stennis funds have been a critical part of University-based forestry research. McIntire-Stennis funds leverage significant additional state and private support and assure long-term forest resource research, graduate training, and outreach across the country. Each dollar in federal appropriations has been leveraged by a factor of up to five in non-federal dollars in support of research programs having state, regional, and national significance.
Importance of Forestry Research and Extension - Research has improved the understanding of (1) the biology of forest organisms; (2) the structure and function of forest ecosystems; (3) human-forest interactions; (4) wood as a renewable raw material; (5) economics, environmental policy, and business management related to the forest industry; and (6) international trade, competition, and cooperation. McIntire-Stennis programs have advanced our knowledge of the forest ecosystem including the basic chemical, physical, and biological forces that influence forest health and productivity. These programs have also expanded the marketing horizons for environmentally friendly and renewable wood and fiber-based products. Very recent work has examined the economic and ecological benefits of combining agricultural and forestry practices into integrated land-use systems termed "agroforestry". Furthermore, these programs have significantly aided the development of new forest management systems for multiple-uses including timber, water, wildlife, grazing, recreation, and aesthetic purposes.
Renewable Resources Extension Act
The Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA) provides funds for technology transfer and educational outreach to ensure that the benefits of forestry research are made available to private forestland owners and forest industries through CSREES. More than ever before this program is needed to help private landowners address the increasing challenges facing non-federal forest lands. President Clinton recommended a funding level of $3,192,000 in his FY 2001 budget. NAPFSC recommends funding RREA at a level of $8 million for FY2001. This increase would take RREA to slightly over 50% of its authorization level.
RREA funds have created programs and provided expertise that benefit private forestland owners and the forest product industry throughout the country. Funding for this program addresses critical forestry and related natural resources extension and stewardship needs in states, and would address the critical issues of forest management for productivity and environmental quality on non-federal lands brought about by diminished harvest levels on federal lands.
It is vital that Congress increase funding for this important program for distributing the knowledge gained through our research institutions to the private landowners.
National Research Initiative
Lastly, we urge your support of the Competitive Grants Program administered under the National Research Initiative of the USDA. Peer competition for grants is at the heart of the university system and this program has become very important to natural resource scientists working within NAPFSC institutions. Though closely associated with agriculture, approximately ten percent of this funding goes for research in forestry. Research funds from NRI enable NAPFSC institutions to build upon the base provided by McIntire-Stennis. We are pleased that President Clinton's budget calls for a funding level of $150 million for FY2001, a level also recommended by the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC), and we urge your Subcommittee to fund the program at this requested level.
Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems
This program, as defined in the Agricultural Research, Extension and Education Reform Act of 1998 calls for the establishment of a new initiative to address critical emerging agricultural issues. One of the top priorities under this program is natural resource management. NAPFSC strongly supports this new competitive grants program and urges your Subcommittee to provide the full $120 million for FY2001.
The past, present, and future success of forestry research and extension activities arising from the NAPFSC member institutions results from a unique partnership involving federal, state, and private cooperators. Federal agencies have concentrated on large-scale national issues while state funding has emphasized applied problems and state-specific opportunities. University research in contrast, with the assistance of federal, state and private support, has been able to address a broad array of applied problems related to technology development and fundamental biophysical and socioeconomic issues and problems that cross ownership, state, region, and national boundaries. Schools and colleges with programs in forestry, forest products, and natural resources have the expertise in-house to address a broad range of problems and opportunities related to the forest resource and its use.
We encourage expanded federal participation in this partnership with NAPFSC institutions through McIntire-Stennis, RREA, and NRI. We respectfully urge you to provide much needed increases for fund the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program, the Renewable Resources Extension Act, and the National Research Initiative in your FY2001 Agricultural Appropriations bill.