The focus this week was on the National Ag Day celebration on Capitol Hill, but also in Washington this week was a team of Hoosiers lobbying for agricultural research. Members of the Purdue Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (PCARET) were on Capitol Hill this week trying to explain the importance of agricultural research to people who have no idea why it is important. “Some people are not very well-versed on the programs of research and extension that take place at Purdue,” said Donya Lester, director of engagement for PCARET. “There are people in positions to make decisions on policy who may not know as much about where these monies go, how they are used, and the impact they have on the communities in Indiana.”
She said that selling ag research when budgets are being cut is a tough job, “It is hard and we recognize that it is hard when there are not enough dollars to go around, but we want to show that we leverage the dollars that are spent on agricultural research.” She told HAT federal dollars that come to Purdue are matched with grants and donations from both the public and private sectors several times over.
She said the group of volunteers meets with lawmakers to explain how the federal dollars invested in ag research benefit Indiana. Lester said much of the research at Purdue would not take place in the private sector, “We focus on how things work, and then folks in the private sector can do additional research on how to turn this knowledge into a new product or a new business.” Innovation is the key to the future of agriculture, and the research being done at Purdue and other Land Grant Colleges is the building block of that innovation.
Were they successful in reaching key policy makers? “I certainly hope so,” said Lester. “I hope the advocates were successful this week in communicating on how funding ag research has a direct impact on their lives and livelihoods back here in Indiana.”