The following letter was sent from MSGA President Tom Hougen today to the Montana Board of Regents regarding a proposal from the administration to cut ag research and extension budgets by over 10%. A meeting of the Board of Regents will be held in Helena tomorrow April 15th at 1:30 P.M. MSGA will be at this meeting.
April 14, 2010
Montana Board of Regents
Office of Commissioner of Higher Education
Montana University System
2500 Broadway Street
P.O. Box 203201
Helena, MT 59620-3201
Dear Montana Board of Regents Members,
On behalf of the Montana Stockgrowers Association I am writing to you to express our concern with the governor’s base budget reduction plan of roughly $1.2 million for the Montana Agriculture Experiment Stations (MAES) and $600,000 for the Extension Service. This is a severely disproportionate reduction to our agriculture research agencies under the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.
These permanent base budget reductions will forever diminish the critical research component to Montana’s world renowned beef industry. These research and education tools are vital to ranching in Montana. Montana ranching matters because of its economic impact; the ethics and integrity and social values it brings to our state; providing a safe and healthy product to feed people in the U.S. and around the world.
We understand the need to cut back during tough economic times. However, please consider that a level playing field is vital when making budget reduction decisions. MAES and the Extension Service have been cut significantly in the past and future cuts are going to affect the viability of these programs and the services they provide to Montana’s largest segment of the economy.
We must preserve and enhance Montana family ranches through research and education, not eliminate our capability to grow and provide nutritious and healthy food for the world. The Montana public needs family ranches to ensure greater food security, maintenance of open space and environmental resources, as well as the preservation of valued traditions and lifestyle. Please make the decision to invest in Montana’s family ranches and rural communities.