Prepared Remarks of President James P. Clements & Dr. George Askew
Senate Finance Committee – Economic Development and Natural Resources Subcommittee Budget Hearing
February 26, 2014
Chairman McGill — Senator Grooms — Senator Williams — Senator Campbell and Mr. Hawkins
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to speak on behalf of Clemson University’s Public Service and Agriculture programs.
Even though I am new to Clemson, I am not new to understanding and experiencing the importance of our nation’s Land Grant System. And I am proud to be a part of a University that is highly regarded nationally for our programs in Extension – Research – Animal Health and Plant Regulatory Programs.
PSA is the face of Clemson to thousands of South Carolinians — who have never set foot in one of our classrooms. They are farmers, foresters or landowners. They are homeowners looking for help with gardening, food safety or pest control. They are young people looking for after-school or summer enrichment camps and programs.
In my opinion, 4H is one of the foremost educational and leadership programs for young people in this country. In fact, I will be a keynote speaker at the national 4-H conference next year.
And even if we don’t realize it we all benefit from the research regulatory and educational services that PSA provides.
I’m excited to be at Clemson for many reasons one is because this year is a landmark year for Clemson. We will observe:
That federal legislation that created the national Cooperative Extension network has its roots in South Carolina and specifically Clemson.
It was co-authored and co-sponsored by a South Carolina Congressman named Frank Lever who was also a Trustee at Clemson. In fact, the Act is based on what Congressman Lever and Georgia Senator Hoke Smith called the Clemson model.
So from our very beginning, Clemson and the State of South Carolina have been leaders:
I have the privilege of serving in several national leadership positions with the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the American Council on Education. In those roles I get to interact with a lot of university and government leaders from other states.
I can tell you, without hesitation or hype, that Clemson is highly regarded nationally. We are well-known for our focus, our strategic planning and our commitment to quality and accountability.
In fact, I have used Clemson as a model at the other institutions where I’ve served.
Just so you know, I was a first-generation college student the youngest of 4 siblings, all of whom have sought higher education as a means to ensure our professional success. We never had much when I was growing up, but we were taught the value of hard work and 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 to teach and to perform research andI love working with students. I’m a data guy and I believe in accountability. I believe that it’ is important to set goals and to achieve them.
This is something that Clemson has done very well. We’ve set and we’ve achieved and exceed our goals. That’s a tribute to Jim Barker’s leadership — to our faculty and staff, 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.
Thank you for the resources that you provided. I commit to you that we will continue to be good stewards with the funding we receive.
I look forward to working with each member of this Subcommittee, as well as the other agencies and associations represented here today. Together, we can make the agriculture industry in this State even stronger.
I’d now like to ask Dr. 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.
GEORGE ASKEW COMMENTS:
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee
Let me join President Clements in thanking you for your support of PSA programs over the years.
Clemson has been serving as the science-based information source for the people of South Carolina for over 100 years. Our mission has not changed since our inception – to ensure that our farms, forests and other natural resource industries continue to be positive contributors to the state’s economy in terms of jobs, dollars, and competiveness at the regional, national and international level.
We develop our budget request each year with the end goal of creating and maintaining jobs in South Carolina, adding value to existing agriculture and forestry enterprises, and attracting new agribusiness investments to the state.
Clemson remains committed to ensuring that our programs do not duplicate or compete with other agencies, but instead are supportive and collaborative.
For the past year, Commissioner Weathers, State Forester Kodama, Mr. Shuler of the Palmetto Agri-Business Council, Department of Commerce representatives and I have been meeting regularly to compare notes, find areas of mutual concern, and develop collaborative strategies to move the South Carolina economy forward. We plan to continue this process.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for your leadership to initially bring this group together and task us with ensuring that we work together to serve the agriculture industry of this state.
This morning I’ll spend just a few minutes to summarize what we have been doing with the new funds that we received last year.
Over the past 2 years we received $7M in Capital Improvement funds to upgrade the laboratories at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence in support of the Advanced Plant Technology Program.
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.
Last year we received $1M in recurring funds for the Advanced Plant Technology (APT) Program at the Pee Dee REC
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
We received $500K in recurring funds to support the Precision Agriculture Program at Edisto REC
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 late spring of this year.
The Livestock & Poultry Health Unit received $300K in recurring funds to create 2 needed positions.
Both positions have been filled: A Quality Manager and a Pathologist were hired to meet the recommendations of our accrediting body.
This year we are asking you to consider new recurring funding for two specific programs and for capital improvement funds to that will allow us to replace outdated agriculture and natural resources research equipment.
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.
New 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 to meet those needs of our current and emerging farm and forest industries.
I’ll provide a few details on each of these requests. There are hard copies in your folders.
Our number 1 request is for $2M in recurring funds to support an Agribusiness & Emerging Farmers program.
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.
Our second request is for $2M in support of our Precision Agriculture & Environmental Technology work.
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.
We are also requesting $5M in Capital Improvement Funds for Agriculture & Natural Resources Equipment.
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.
The governor recommended funding $750,000 for this request and the House Ways and Means Committee funded $3 Million in nonrecurring funding for this request.
I would ask with your permission, Mr. Chairman, that some of our partners be called on to speak to our work together and their support for these priorities.