Dear Editor,

Today I write to encourage support for the North Dakota Agriculture Experiment Station (ND AES) and NDSU Extension budgets in Senate Bill 2020.

The agriculture industry accounts for a quarter of the state’s jobs, and the economic impact of agriculture is felt in every county, city, town and township in North Dakota.  

Contributions from the ND AES and Extension help make North Dakota’s agribusiness thrive.

The ND AES conducts unbiased, applied research that is critical to the future of agriculture. 

The research is geographically relevant to the diversity North Dakota’s agriculture. 

The main station is in Fargo and Research Extension Centers are located around the state in Hettinger, Dickinson, Streeter, Carrington, Langdon, Williston and Minot.

The Agronomy Seed Farm is located near Casselton.

The ND AES conducts research on major commodities such as wheat, soybeans and corn, along with livestock.

The research conducted by the ND AES on these major crops is critical to the success of them in our northern climate. 

ND AES is essential for conducting research on specialty crops, like dry beans, sugar beets and pulse crops.

The information produced from the ND AES is primarily communicated to the people of North Dakota through NDSU Extension’s educational programming. 

However, NDSU Extension does so much more than that. They provide 4-H programming for youth, leadership education for rural community leaders, family and community wellness programming and, of course, agriculture information for farmers, ranchers and agribusiness. 

Extension works collaboratively with all the counties on a cost share basis.

The State Board of Agriculture Research and Education (SBARE) is responsible for the ND AES and Extension’s policy and budgetary considerations. 

SBARE is comprised of 10 North Dakota citizens, the NDSU president, NDSU vice-president for agriculture, two members of the North Dakota Legislature and the North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner.

This board helps keep the ND Agriculture Experiment Station and the NDSU Extension Service relevant and responsive to the needs of the people of North Dakota.

 I had the honor of serving on this board and was chairman for four years, so I have an intimate knowledge of its importance. 

This session, the budgets for the ND AES, Extension and Research Center have been identified for cuts totaling $12.9 million.

Two sessions ago, they endured a 15 percent budget cut. Another similar cut would be devastating for recruiting and retaining quality people to do this important work.

This amounts to losing approximately 33 positions because salaries are the main expense. 

This will greatly reduce ND AES ability to conduct research and Extension’s ability to deliver information.

I urge you to contact your legislators and the legislators on the appropriation committees and encourage them to support the ND AES and Extension in Senate Bill 2020 so that we can keep these entities strong for the benefit of North Dakota.

Sincerely,

Mike Beltz

District 20 House representative