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: FY2002 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).
The management of nonfederal forestlands has become a critical economic and environmental issue. Owners and managers of nonfederal forestlands are simply not equipped to deal with the tremendous changes in forest land use and management that have occurred in the last decade nor the pressures of the 21st century. The programs outlined below are key to addressing the stewardship of these lands. These programs are: 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 newest program - IFAFS - a competitive grants program, offers great potential for developing new uses for forest products, improving natural resource management, and building multi-state and multi-university partnerships for research and outreach activities.
USDA - CSREES FORESTRY RELATED PROGRAMS
FY2001 ENACTED FY2002 BUSH BUDGET FY2002
The Case for Enhanced Forestry Research Funding -
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.
The 1998 Farm Bill and various subsequent reports and conference proceedings have identified the need for greater attention on the emerging issues confronting non-federal forest landowners. NAPFSC is pleased to be one of the cofounders of the National Coalition for Sustaining America's Nonfederal Forests. The founding of the Coalition and its subsequent report emerged from a Forestry Summit held in 1999 that brought together key forestry leaders and landowners from across the nation. The outcome of the Summit confirmed the need for increases in forestry research funding focused on non-federal lands and for an increase in collaborative efforts between university-based research and the federal agencies.
The forests and other renewable 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.
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.
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. These challenges can be substantially addressed by the university community through the building of integrated research and extension programs assisted by McIntire-Stennis, RREA, and NRI.
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 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. 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.
McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research
The Cooperative Forestry Research Program (McIntire-Stennis Act), is the lead forestry effort administered by the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES). This program is the foundation of forestry research and scientist training efforts at universities. Funding this program provides for cutting-edge research on productivity, technologies for monitoring and extending the resource base, and environmental quality. The program is critically important today since universities provide a large share of the nation's research. Additionally, universities train nearly all of the nation's scientists in forestry. The main categories of need are:
- Significantly enhance sustainability and productivity of nonfederal forests;
- Increase the financial contributions of nonfederal forests to benefit landowners, the rural community, state and national economies, and environmental values; and
- Conserve and sustain the nonfederal forests and other natural resources for future generations.
The Cooperative Forestry Research Program is currently funded at $21.932 million and matched more than three times by universities with state and nonfederal funds. The program is currently funded at little more than one-fifth its authorized level. We recommended funding McIntire-Stennis at a level of $30,000,000 for FY2002. The requested additional funding would be targeted at:
- sustainable and productive forest management on private lands to address issues of competitiveness and economic growth ($3.0 million);
- forest inventory, monitoring, and assessment with emphasis on new technologies ($2.1 million);
- new products, improved processing technologies, and utilization of small trees to extend the forest resource and improve environmental quality ($1.1 million); and
- assessing social values and tradeoffs to facilitate the understanding of policy options, economic impacts, and informed decisions at all levels of government ($1.9 million).
The NAPFSC schools further recommend that CSREES provide this support to universities with direction to focus on new or existing approved projects for the explicit purpose of near term progress in addressing one or more of these research targets in each school's state or region. It is recognized that progress will be dependent on a critical mass of scientific effort, and collaboration among schools is thus encouraged. Additionally stakeholder advisory mechanisms should be a part of the funding allocation process. In the process of funding these projects, NAPFSC would also recommend that portions of this funding be used to build research capacity, including a provision calling for training of much needed new forestry scientists.
Renewable Resources Extension Act
The Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA) is the lead forestry extension effort administered by the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES). This program is the foundation of outreach and extension efforts at universities.
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.
Audiences for the products of outreach and extension are as diverse as are the stakeholders. Of highest priority are the owners of nonfederal forestlands and those involved in implementing forest management. These groups would be best served by outreach programs that (1) solve immediate problems; (2) transfer research technologies and new knowledge; and (3) increase their awareness of the benefits of active management.
It is vital that Congress increase funding for this important program for distributing the knowledge gained through our research institutions to the private landowners. NAPFSC recommends funding RREA at a level of $15 million for FY2002. This increase would take RREA to its full authorization level.
With nearly ten million nonfederal forest landowners, the most compelling priority areas for extension and outreach are:
- Develop databases of landowner information to customize educational efforts and their delivery to address owner values and goals ($2.5 million);
- Increase landowner awareness through new communication technologies, volunteer leadership, and localized programming ($2.5 million);
- Identify management alternatives with readily accessible new information on programs, services, and benefits of management and planning to integrate water, fish, wildlife, timber and other products and services ($3.0 million);
- Address local issues and needs within the framework of landowner's objectives using special forums, experts, and case study approaches to sustainable forestry ($2.0 million); and
- Identify and follow up on organizational opportunities including the establishment of landowner organizations linked to professional services, price reporting systems, and cooperative marketing ($1.8 million).
The NAPFSC schools further recommend that CSREES provide this support to universities with direction to focus on new or existing approved projects for the explicit purpose of near term progress in addressing one or more of these outreach/extension targets in each school's state, region, or nationally. It is recognized that progress will be dependent on a critical mass of extension educator effort, and cooperation among schools is thus encouraged. Additionally stakeholder advisory mechanisms should be a part of the funding allocation process. In the process of funding these projects, NAPFSC would also recommend that portions of this funding be used to build outreach/extension capacity, including a provision calling for training of much needed new extension educators and associated technical support staff.
National Research Initiative Competitive Grants
The National Research Initiative Competitive Grants program (NRICGP) is a significant source of funding for basic cutting-edge and applied research in categories important to sustainable forest management. Among these categories are (1) natural resources and the environment, (2) plants, (3) markets, trade and rural development, and (4) processing for value added/new products. This program is administered by the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES).
This program is currently funded at $106 million of which approximately ten percent goes to successful forestry research proposals. Building to address the full set of research needs of nonfederal forests will take several years and steps as described in the Coalition's planning document. However, we urge a significant step in the first part of this new century. NAPFSC recommends this program be funded at $150 million for FY 2002 with at least $20 million directed to forestry and forest products research priorities in categories (1)-(4) above under existing and/or new research opportunity areas. We further urge the targeting of funding of research on the most compelling needs.
Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems
The Initiative for future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) is a new research, extension, and education competitive grants program designed to address a number of critical emerging issues in the broad area of agricultural. These issues encompass future food production, food safety, environmental quality, natural resource management, and farm income. Priority program areas include (1) the agriculture genome; (2) new and alternative uses and production of commodities and products; (3) biotechnology; and (4) and natural resource management, including precision agriculture. Priority for funding is for those proposals that were multi-state, multi-institutional, or multi-disciplinary, or that integrated research, extension, and/or education. This program, administered by CSREES, was funded at $113.4 million in FY 2001. NAPFSC strongly supports this new competitive grants program and urges your Subcommittee to provide the full $120 million for FY2002.
The needed investment for these programs is substantial, but the potential returns are enormous and crucial to our society's future. Disciplined and rigorous implementation of research on forestry issues will contribute greatly to attaining our vision for America's nonfederal forests for the future. NAPFSC urges cooperation at federal, state, and University's levels to make this research and the vision it will support a reality.