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Eye On Boise

Mon., Jan. 24, 2011, 9:51 a.m.

Ag Research & Extension suffers from budget cuts

John Hammel, dean of the UI Agricultural Research & Extension Service, is now giving his budget presentation to lawmakers; the agency has seen its base budget cut by 20 percent in the last two years, he said, plus another $7.5 million cut in one-time funds. "Expertise lost through budget-cutting will most probably never be regained," Hammel said, so the service has tried to maintain its research faculty as it's made the cuts, from cutting graduate assistantships by 50 percent cut to cutting 70 positions while reorganizing and merging offices. The positions cut were mostly classified staff; nearly two-thirds were on the Moscow campus, while the other third were in research and extension offices around the state.

The governor's proposed budget for the agency for next year is flat; he didn't call for additional reductions in its base budget. However, Hammel said there are more than a dozen vacant faculty positions that are considered "at risk," because the program currently is underfunded. Just an additional 5 percent budget cut would slash those key faculty positions by 50 percent, he said; he emphasized that it's the faculty positions that generate external funds, and if they go, so do the other funds.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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