Cooperative Extension programs

Boosting scientific literacy key to good public policy

Six months ago University of California regents hired Glenda Humiston to oversee the land grant’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) after Barbara Allen-Diaz retired in 2015.

Already I’ve had a couple opportunities to personally chat with Humiston – first at an event to mark a $1 million donation by the California Pistachio Research Board that will leverage an additional million dollars in university funds to create two endowed chairs for tree nut research. My latest visit with her happened during the World Ag Expo in Tulare.

Humiston is on a mission to promote ANR for its applied research and the wealth of scientific knowledge contained among the hundreds of academic researchers, extension agents and others in the organization.

She is to be applauded for her effort to raise public awareness of the university’s agricultural research and improve the scientific literacy among the general public and policy makers who control the public purse strings.

After the opportunities to talk with Humiston and hear her ideas I personally think she will be a great asset to ANR.

During the latest chance to meet with the new ANR vice president Humiston shared with Western Farm Press some of the efforts she is working on to lead the world-class institution through the 21st Century.

My personal support of what our land grant colleges are trying to do is no secret. Applied agricultural research is vitally important to this nation and the public good served by the research conducted within these colleges is incalculable.

Last year’s visit to Sacramento by Dr. Oz and the trail of television cameras and media vans left in his wake made it apparent that people still don’t understand the remarkable research and breakthroughs being made just 20 minutes from California’s State Capitol.

Our quest for knowledge about food and agriculture needs to be sought through the kinds of peer-reviewed programs Humiston now leads, not through television and internet activists.

Agriculture faces a host of challenges, not the least of which is water availability for agriculture and the public policy decisions necessary to make it happen.

American agriculture does well because we have chosen to fund a land grant university system of agricultural research that deserves to remain a high priority among public policy makers.

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