State’s Agricultural Research Center May Be Cut

Ongoing Congressional negotiations will determine the fate of many federal programs with a presence in Alaska.  Among items proposed for cuts by the President and Congress are 10 Department of Agriculture research centers, including Alaska’s. The Sub Arctic research center is headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, with units in Palmer and Kodiak.  U.A.F. Dean of the school of Natural and agriculture sciences, Carol Lewis says a lot is at stake if the agricultural research funding is lost.

Lewis says about 20 jobs could be cut if the Alaska ARS’s $6 million budget isn’t funded.  She says it would affect important research, including a potato project in Palmer.

If the Alaska Agricultural Research Station is cut, Lewis says the direct hit to UAF would be $1.9 million. The proposed elimination of 10 agricultural research stations is not going unnoticed by U.S. legislators from targeted states. Alaska Senator Mark Begich says they haven’t given up on saving the stations as Congress buckles down to sort out the budget.  Begich says the focus is on funding programs with extended benefits.

One possibility being considered to save the Alaska station is a reduced $2 million budget that would fund four research positions, including two in Fairbanks.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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