REMARKS by Dr. James P. Clements, President, Clemson University
Subcommittee on Economic Development and Natural Resources
SC House Ways & Means Committee
January 15, 2014
Chairman Simrill, Representative Loftis, Representative Stavrinakis, and Mr. Boan: Good morning and thank you for having me here.
Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate you on your recent recognition as Farm Bureau’s Legislator of the Year!
It is nice to know that the Chairman of this Committee is such a strong advocate for agricultural interests in this State.
Before I begin, I would like to take a minute to introduce the members of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Visitors who are here today. Thank you, Trustee Joe Swann, Trustee Bob Peeler, Trustee Nicky McCarter, Trustee Patty McAbee and Trustee Emeritus Dr. J. J. Britton, along with Board of Visitor member Hank Owen.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and speak on behalf of Clemson University’s Public Service and Agriculture programs.
PSA is the face of Clemson to thousands of South Carolinians who have never set foot in one of our classrooms.
They may be farmers, foresters or landowners. They may be homeowners looking for help with gardening, food safety or pest control. They may be young people looking for after-school or summer enrichment camps and programs.
All of these programs make a real difference. In my opinion, 4H is one of the foremost educational and leadership programs for young people in this country.
The truth is, we all benefit from the research, regulatory and educational services that PSA provides.
I’m excited to be at Clemson for many reasons – One of them is because 2014 will be a landmark year for Clemson.
We will observe:
That federal legislation created the national Cooperative Extension network. Extension helped fulfill the promise of the land-grant college system by taking university-generated knowledge out of the classrooms in order to deliver it directly to the people who need it.
When President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act into law, he called it “one of the most significant and far-reaching measures for the education of adults ever adopted by any government.”
I think he was right!
You all know that Extension is part of Clemson’s mission. What you may not know is that Clemson – and the state of South Carolina – played key roles in its origin.
The legislation was co-authored and co-sponsored by a South Carolina Congressman who was also a Clemson Trustee — Frank Lever.
In fact, the Act is based on what Congressman Lever and Georgia Senator Hoke Smith called “the Clemson model.”
So from the very beginning, Clemson and the State of South Carolina have been leaders . . .
I have the privilege of serving in leadership positions with the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the American Council on Education.
In those roles — I meet many university and government leaders from around the country. I can tell you without hesitation or hype that Clemson is highly regarded nationally.
Clemson is well-known for our strategic planning and our commitment to quality and accountability. In fact, I have frequently used Clemson as a model at other institutions where I’ve served.
I would like to take just a minute to tell you a little bi about myself. I was a first-generation college student – the youngest of four siblings who have 11 degrees among us.
We never had much when I was growing up, but we were taught very early that education is the path to a better life. So to me, this job is about giving back for opportunities that I’ve had because of education.
My background is in computer science, information technology, and project management. I love teaching and research, and I love working with students.
I’m a data guy – I believe in accountability. It’s important to set goals and to achieve them. That’s something Clemson has done very well – We have set, achieved and even exceeded our goals.
That’s a tribute to President Jim Barker’s leadership, to the work of our faculty, staff and students, and to the work and support of the people in this room.
It’s a tradition that we plan to continue, and your support for PSA will ensure that we stay on that path.
I’d like to ask George Askew, associate vice president for Public Service and Agriculture, to report on how your support has been invested this year and outline our state funding requests for next year.
But first, I want to say “thank-you” for the resources you provided this year. I commit to you that we will continue to be good stewards with the funding we currently receive.
I am truly excited to be with you today as Clemson’s 15th president.
I look forward to working with each member of this Subcommittee as well as the other agencies and associations represented here today to make the agriculture industry in this state even stronger.
[ REMARKS of Dr. George Askew, Associate VP for Public Service & Agriculture ]
Good morning, Chairman Simrill, Mr. Stavrinakis, and Mr. Loftis.
First, I’d like to join President Clements in thanking you for your support of PSA programs
As you know, Clemson has a land-grant university mission to serve as a science-based information source for the people of South Carolina – specifically to ensure that our farms, forests and other natural resource industries continue to be positive contributors to the state’s economy.
As we develop our budget request each year, our goal is to identify programs that can keep jobs in South Carolina, add value to existing agriculture and forestry enterprises, and attract new agribusiness investments to the state.
We are committed to ensuring that our programs do not duplicate or compete with other agencies, but instead are supportive and collaborative. I regularly meet with Commissioner Weathers, State Forester Kodama, Mr. Shuler of the Palmetto Agri-Business Council, and Department of Commerce representatives to compare notes, find areas of mutual concern, and develop collaborative strategies to move the South Carolina economy forward.
Last year the General Assembly provided new funding for PSA to refurbish and modernize laboratories at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence, establish a leading-edge plant improvement program, and enhance our ongoing precision agriculture program at the Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville and to hire two needed positions in our Livestock & Poultry Health Unit.
I’ll spend just a minute to give you an update on what we have been doing with those funds.
To date, we have completed the bidding process for an architecture firm and a contract was awarded to Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood of Greenville, SC.
They are conducting the Phase I architecture and engineering work.
A plan to move faculty and staff to temporary quarters at Pee Dee REC during construction has been developed and is being implemented.
A nationally recognized senior scientist, Dr. Steve Kresovich, was hired to lead the APT program. Two additional plant breeders have been hired and are in residence at the Pee Dee REC.
Our initial work is focused on peanuts, soybeans, and sorghum variety development and improvement. Additional scientists will be employed after the laboratory renovation has been completed
Searches are underway to fill four new precision agriculture positions at the Edisto REC: a precision agriculture engineer, a soil nutrient scientist, a sensor engineer, and a precision agriculture Extension specialist. All four positions should be filled and in-residence by spring 2014.
Both positions have been filled: A Quality Manager and a Pathologist were hired to meet the recommendations of our accrediting body.
Let me start by telling you that we developed these requests in concert and collaboration with our constituents.
We have had discussions with our commodity boards as they consider research project requests, the SC Farm Bureau, the Palmetto Ag Business Council and others and it is clear that a new interest in agriculture is underway.
That interest means new people engaged in production, the business aspects of production and the technical and technological aspects of production.
Our requests this year are focused on Clemson’s role as a land-grant university, to meet those needs.
I’ll provide a few details on each of these requests.
We would use this funding for Clemson Extension specialists and agents to develop an agribusiness program to provide budget analyses, marketing strategies, and production technology information to start-up agribusinesses, emerging farmers, and established farmers.
This program will apply to row crops, forestry, livestock, commercial horticulture, and food processing.
The program will be developed in collaboration with Clemson’s agribusiness degree program in the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences; and 4-H and FFA programs to nurture the next generation of industry leaders.
We would use these funds to hire research and Extension scientists to adapt Clemson’s Intelligent River® technology for Intelligent Farm® and Intelligent Forest® programs to maximize productivity and minimize environmental impact by applying fertilizer, pesticide, and irrigation water only in the locations and amounts needed.
The researchers and extension agents will be located across the state to assist farmers and foresters in implementing these technologies.
Precision agriculture research and highly sophisticated sensor-based technology requires advanced and modern equipment to develop new technologies and improve the competitiveness of agricultural production.
The need for modern equipment is statewide at the Pee Dee REC in Florence, Edisto REC in Blackville, Baruch Institute in Georgetown, Coastal REC in Charleston, and on Clemson’s campus farms. Funds are also needed to update equipment at Livestock-Poultry Health in Columbia to continue safe and efficient operation of the state’s only veterinary diagnostic laboratory for livestock.
Finally, we request your support of a bill to codify an increase in the S.C. Fertilizer Law so that Clemson can continue to provide analytical services to the state’s farmers.
Let me end my remarks by again thanking you for your support and giving you our pledge to focus the State’s investment in Clemson PSA to enhance and expand the agriculture and natural resources sectors of the South Carolina economy through rigorous scientific research, science-based outreach and science-based regulatory services.