UC ANR must stabilize and increase funding to serve California
As part of my job, I have the pleasure of talking to many audiences about the marvelous work you do. People are always blown away by the breadth of issues ANR addresses and the impact it has for Californians. From the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture in Washington D.C. to Silicon Valley venture capitalists at the Forbes AgTech Summit, I have met people who were surprised and amazed to learn UC ANR is working with individuals in every county to find solutions specifically suited for their community.
Past budget cuts and rising costs, coupled with serious concerns that our traditional state and federal funding may shrink or – at best – remain flat for the foreseeable future, means that UC ANR must develop new sources of funding. To do that, we have got to start telling our story!
Studies have shown California gets a 20 to 1 return on the state's investment in UC ANR programs and we have multitudes of examples of our impact. Those examples, along with other tools from our communications shop, are available for your use. Utilize them to keep your local decision-makers and stakeholders apprised of the ways Californians benefit from UC ANR's work in their community.
Invite legislators and their staff members to speak at award ceremonies, to attend field days and workshops or send them news articles about the impact of your research. Do the same for current and potential funders of all types. In short, educate them about the valuable contributions we make to the nutrition and food security of families, the sustainability of farms and health of the environment.
In 1990, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources employed 528 UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists. As of July 1, after retirements, we have only 278 UCCE advisors and specialists – barely over half of our earlier academic footprint. Those of you who are covering more than one county can really feel how very stretched we are to provide quality service to Californians throughout the state. These reductions in ANR's workforce were made to accommodate cuts in state support; since 2002, ANR's state support has been cut by $30 million.
To preserve research and extension programs as much as possible, UC ANR has carefully managed its limited resources. We reduced ANR administration, closed facilities and the administrative offices of several statewide programs and offered less in internal grants. At the same time, we have unfunded obligations including increased health care costs, pension liability and academic merit and promotion.
Even though our funding has stabilized in the past two years, it has not grown to meet the needs of the expanding and diverse California population we serve. To achieve our vision of helping the people of California attain a high quality of life, a healthy environment, and economic success in a global economy, we will need more support.
Please look for opportunities to build stronger relationships with policymakers and stakeholders. Personal stories of how UC ANR efforts have improved people's lives are best at conveying a message. If you need help explaining in general what UC ANR does or where we are located, use the video and map at http://ucanr.edu/WeAreUCANR.
It's been said that UC ANR is UC's best kept secret. I, for one, am really tired of hearing that. If you aren't comfortable tooting your horn on your own behalf, please do it for the people and landscapes that we serve. For UC ANR to serve our mission, people need to know what we do – and you are doing some great work. Thanks for all the great work you do!
View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRUpdate/Comments.
This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.