TESTIMONY SUBMITTED TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FDA, AND RELATED AGENCIES OF THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
DR. C.P. PATRICK REID
AND DIRECTOR, SCHOOL OF RENEWABLE NATURAL RESOURCES UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
on behalf of the
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL FORESTRY SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES (NAPFSC)
re: FY2003 CSREES BUDGET
The National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges (NAPFSC) is comprised of the 69 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, environmental, and security 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.
NAPFSC Recommendations -
FY2002 ENACTED FY2003 BUSH BUDGET FY2003
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 Coalition has documented a plan of action to conserve, protect, and sustain our nation's nonfederal forest lands. The nation's recent experience with international terrorism heightens the importance of this plan. The plan stresses the importance of cooperation among the public universities, state forestry agencies, federal agencies, and the many stakeholders in the natural resources arena. Key elements of this plan are research capacity and concerted action on stakeholder priorities.
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.
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 $21.884 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 FY2003. The requested additional funding would be targeted at:
· Sustainable and productive forest management on private lands to address issues of competitiveness and economic growth ($2.8 million);
· Forest inventory, monitoring, and assessment with emphasis on new technologies ($1.9 million);
· New products, improved processing technologies, and utilization of small trees to extend the forest resource and improve environmental quality ($1.0 million);
· Forest health and risk to address issues of fire, pest species, and other disturbances affecting domestic resource security and downstream impacts ($1.0 million); and,
· Assessing social values and tradeoffs to facilitate the understanding of policy options, economic impacts, and informed decisions at all levels of government ($1.4 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. NAPFSC is pleased that the House and the Senate, during their discussions of the 2002 Farm Bill, have both agreed to increase the authorization level of RREA to $30 million.
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. 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 would best serve these groups.
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 FY2003. This increase would take RREA to its current full authorization level.
With nearly ten million nonfederal forest landowners, the most compelling priority areas for extension and outreach are:
· Develop databases and communication systems for landowner education and the delivery of information tailored to address owner values and objectives ($4.0 million);
· Identify best management practices together with readily accessible information on programs, services, and benefits of natural resources management and planning to integrate water, wildlife, timber, fish, recreation and other products and services ($3.5 million);
· Identify opportunities such as landowner cooperatives and other organizations linked to professional services, price reporting systems, and cooperative marketing to address local issues within the framework of landowner's objectives ($1.9 million); and
· Use these databases, communication systems, and opportunities to communicate information on managing the risks from fire, pests, and other disturbances to simultaneously address local and larger scale issues of environmental and resource security (1.5 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 $120 million of which approximately ten percent goes to successful forestry research proposals. NAPFSC supports the Administration's efforts to greatly increase the funding for this program for FY 2003- with at least 20 percent of the increase directed to forest resources related research priorities in categories (1)-(4) above under existing and/or new research areas. However, we urge that part of the Administration's proposed increase be directed to base programs, particularly to move the Cooperative Forestry Research Program to the above noted $30 million level. Addressing the base program needs will in turn build the capacity to compete effectively for competitive grants.
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, but was suspended for FY2002. NAPFSC strongly supports this competitive grants program and urges your Subcommittee to provide the full $120 million for FY2003 with an expansion of the focus to allow greater consideration of forestry and related natural resources issues.
The needed investment is substantial, but the potential returns are considerable. Disciplined and rigorous implementation of research and education on forest resources issues will contribute greatly to attaining our vision for America's nonfederal forests for the future. NAPFSC urges cooperation at federal, state, and University levels to make this investment and the vision and security it will support a reality.