UC Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Glenda Humiston led a delegation from California to meet with congressional members and staff on March 6-11 to discuss specific benefits of UC ANR in their districts and the importance of strong federal funding to support programs, including Cooperative Extension, 4-H youth development, nutrition education, and the research and extension centers.
The California delegation was part of the Association for Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET), which held their annual meeting and (virtually) visited Capitol Hill for the 40th year to jointly request agricultural appropriations that support the land-grant mission.
The UC delegation met with staff from 27 congressional offices via Zoom to discuss the many critical agriculture needs facing California and the nation. They explained how UC is at the forefront of conducting research to understand and solve problems facing the agricultural industry and encouraged Congress to provide the highest possible funding levels in FY 2022 and FY 2023.
“This year, our request included something new – $365 million for agricultural research infrastructure,” said Anne Megaro, UC ANR director of government and community relations. “We have been working with Congress to include significant infrastructure funding in President Biden's Build Back Better legislation, and we are continuing to make this request through annual appropriations.”
Bringing UC's facilities up to modern standards with necessities such as high-speed broadband would provide capacity for cutting-edge research such as precision agriculture, remote sensing and growing space for CRISPR-based research. It would also ensure that U.S. research can continue to meet the agricultural and natural resource needs of the nation.
Humiston was joined by emeritus UCCE advisor Bill Frost, rancher Dina Moore, nurseryman Mike Mellano, Ish Herrera of California Forward, and Alejandra Sanchez of Driscoll's who shared how UC ANR research and outreach have improved their businesses, lives and communities.
“Our local UCCE advisors have given so much to our communities up and down the state; this is just one way I like to give back in support of their efforts. Congress needs to know how valuable ag research and education is, and how much we trust and depend on UC,” said Herrera, California Forward director of regional stewardship.
Rounding out the group were several UC ANR leaders, including deans David Ackerly, Helene Dillard and Kathryn Uhrich.
Missy Gable, UC Master Gardener Program director; Ryan Tompkins, UCCE forestry and natural resources advisor for Plumas and Sierra counties; and Jairo Diaz, director of Desert Research and Extension Center shared examples of their work throughout the state to adapt to living with wildfire, climate change and drought, and to improve Californians' health and wellness.
“As an extension forester, wildfire not only drives our applied research, but also affects the communities we live in and serve,” said Tompkins. “CARET provides opportunities to share real-life experiences of how federal funding supports UC forest and wildfire research, outreach, and education that have meaningful benefit for communities throughout California.”
Vice President Glenda Humiston led a delegation representing California to the virtual annual joint meeting of the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) and the Administrative Heads Section (AHS) of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, March 1-4.
Over a series of Zoom calls, CARET delegates met with California's Congress members to discuss the specific impacts of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in their districts and the importance of strong federal funding to support the programs, including Cooperative Extension, 4-H Youth Development, nutrition education, and the research and extension centers.
“CARET was our last in-person meeting in 2020 so we weren't sure what to expect with virtual visits in 2021, but they were even more productive than in years past,” said Anne Megaro, UC ANR director of government and community relations.
“We had more time with congressional staffers and members in each meeting and our conversations were more detailed and thoughtful. Congress is working hard to meet the needs of their constituents and they were very interested to hear about UC's work in wildfire and everything we've been doing to support communities through COVID, particularly with our communities of color and those where English is a second language.”
Collectively, the group visited 22 congressional offices, including meeting with members Jim Costa, Jimmy Panetta and Ami Bera.
CARET delegates – new delegate Ishmael (Ish) Herrera of California Forward, San Diego County nurseryman Mike Mellano, Humboldt County rancher Dina Moore, and Environmental Solutions Group managing partner Jean-Mari Peltier – explained how their businesses and industries have benefited from UC ANR research and extension. Bill Frost, former UC ANR associate vice president and UCCE advisor emeritus, also served as a CARET delegate.
UCCE forest and natural resources advisor Ryan Tompkins, UC Master Gardener Program Director Missy Gable, and UCCE County Director for Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Madera counties, Karmjot Randhawa, were the UC ANR academics and staff who described how their work and programs impacted members' districts over the past year. COVID-19 was a strong theme, as well as wildfire and forest management.
Building on the success of the virtual CARET visits, Megaro arranged a few more meetings for UC ANR academics and congressional staffers over Zoom.
UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston led a delegation representing California to the annual joint meeting of the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) and the Administrative Heads Section (AHS) of the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities in Washington, D.C., March 1-4.
While they were in Washington, CARET delegates met with CaliforniaCongress members to discuss the specific impacts of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in their districts and the importance of strong federal funding to support the programs, including Cooperative Extension, 4-H Youth Development, nutrition education, and the research and extension centers.
“CARET delegates provided first-hand testimony of UC ANR's impact on their own lives and businesses while UC ANR academics gave a boots-on-the-ground perspective of working in and among community members to build partnerships and deliver content and programming,” said Anne Megaro, UC ANR director of government and community relations.
Collectively, the group visited 36 congressional offices, including TJ Cox, Jim Costa, Jimmy Panetta and Mike Thompson.
CARET delegates – San Diego County nurseryman Mike Mellano, Humboldt County rancher Dina Moore, and Environmental Solutions Group managing partner Jean-Mari Peltier, – explained how their businesses and industries have benefited from UC ANR research and extension. Bill Frost, former UC ANR associate vice president and UCCE advisor emeritus, also served as a CARET delegate.
UCCE advisors Jhalendra Rijal and Marcel Horowitz, UCCE specialist Dan Sanchez and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC director Kamal Khaira were the academics who described their work. Associate Vice President Wendy Powers and Kathy Eftekhari, chief of staff to the VP, also participated.
CARET delegates arrived back in California while the national response to COVID-19 was just developing. They have since reached out to the congressional delegation to share what UC ANR is doing to help communities under the changing circumstances. Specifically, UC ANR is converting educational materials into online formats so they are accessible for families and individuals sheltering in place. UC ANR is also looking to extend internet connectivity to UCCE county office parking lots in rural areas where broadband access is not available.
“All of the California congressmen and staff members were supportive of UC ANR, however given the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, funding priorities are changing rapidly,” Megaro said.
VP Glenda Humiston, AVP Wendy Powers and several UC ANR representatives visited more than 30 congressional offices in March to brief lawmakers and staffers on the latest agriculture and natural resources research and outreach benefiting Californians.
On March 5-8, a UC ANR delegation attended the 36th Annual Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) meetings in Washington D.C. CARET is part of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). With the assistance of Julia Rowe and Marjorie Duske of UC Federal Governmental Relations, they also visited congressional offices to explain the importance of science and research to California.
Keith Nathaniel, UC Cooperative Extension director for Los Angeles County; Katie Panarella, director of nutrition, family and consumer sciences program & policy; and Mark Bell, vice provost of strategic initiatives and statewide programs; joined the deans Helene Dillard, Keith Gilless, Michael Lairmore and Kathryn Uhrich for the visits.
“We had a lot of great meetings with Congressional members and their staff, discussing the need for sustained investments in ag & natural resources programs, research and innovation,” said Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations.
The group split up into teams to visit the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, Representatives John Garamendi, Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Barbara Lee, Ami Bera, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Jimmy Panetta, Raul Ruiz and several other California representatives.
“California CARET representatives Dina Moore, Mike Mellano and Jean-Mari Peltier shared their experiences of how UC ANR research drives innovation and helps California farmers and related businesses remain competitive in the global market,” Megaro said.
“Overall, I felt that the visits were high quality,” said Powers. “I don't envy the elected officials or the staffers that see a revolving door of people through their offices at this time of year.”