Eye On Boise

UI announces new wheat research endowment

Gov. Butch Otter joins University of Idaho President Duane Nellis, Idaho wheat growers and others to celebrate a new $2 million endowment for wheat research. (Betsy Russell)
Gov. Butch Otter joins University of Idaho President Duane Nellis, Idaho wheat growers and others to celebrate a new $2 million endowment for wheat research. (Betsy Russell)

The University of Idaho, the Idaho Wheat Commission and Limagrain Cereal Seeds have announced  a new $2 million effort to boost wheat research at the university, including two faculty research endowments. The project will allow restoration of five research-related positions in Moscow, Aberdeen and Lewiston that had been cut or kept vacant during the recession and budget cuts, and will launch new research on breeding wheat varieties. "It is a great day, and what we're celebrating today we'll be harvesting for years and years to come," declared Gov. Butch Otter.

UI President Duane Nellis praised the Wheat Commission and Limagrain, and called the partnership "a great example of the relationship between the University of Idaho and the agricultural community here in the great state of Idaho." He said, "I believe this is a catalyst for other growers in our state and other agricultural leaders to step forward."

The agreement grew from talks generated by concerns over deep cuts in agricultural research and extension services as Idaho's universities weathered state budget cuts. "These past few years, we have seen severe cuts to our state universities' budgets," said Gordon Gallup, chairman of the Idaho Wheat Commission. "Although cuts were necessary to balance budgets, those reductions have caused an erosion of our ability to fund research that is necessary to keep agriculture healthy. Idaho's wheat growers are hopeful that the state of Idaho will continue to invest in agriculture. We encourage other agricultural related industries to join in this effort to keep our land grant university's research programs healthy and productive."

The Idaho Wheat Commission, which will take the money from its assessments on wheat growers - which may have to rise in the future, partly as a result - presented a check for $500,000 to the University of Idaho Foundation for the first payment toward the endowment, which will total $2 million; it goes to the UI's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to support Idaho's 4,500 wheat growers, whose harvest totals $766 million a year.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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