I am in Washington D.C., where a team from IFAS has spent time meeting with congressional representatives and their staffs, visiting with alumni, and making other connections. It has been a very productive few days and I have met some wonderful people. I also got to see several former students of mine who now are living and working in the nation’s capital.
Much of the buzz around what’s happening in D.C. is around the 2018 Farm Bill. The major component of the bill that impacts IFAS is funding for research and Extension, which comes through USDA. Right now there is a lack of clarity of when it might advance and if the House version will be accepted by the Senate.
We are fortunate that UF has hired a director of federal government relations, Sarah Mathias. She helps us be informed and to contribute information back to elected officials when they need it. There are a lot of moving parts in our federal government; I have been enjoying a daily newsletter from Politico that gives me good information specific to agriculture.
As always, I talk about my pet topic of deferred maintenance needs for agricultural facilities in higher education. While I got to talk about the national Sightlines study once again that shows a $8.4B need across the country, no dollars have been allocated for this issue yet (although the new Farm Bill does provide some groundwork for a future allocation). Some day this will happen!