It's time to save extension programing

Hoard's Dairyman: 

It's time to save extension programing

Date: 
Tue, 02/15/2011

We understand that in our roles at a magazine, the good news and the bad news is going to come our way. Unfortunately, it seems that in recent years the people who bring us much of the good news are facing some bad news. We're talking about extension and we are absolutely dismayed by the amount of dairy and agricultural extension programs that have faced the chopping and trimming block in recent years. Most recently, we received word that Cornell's PRO-DAIRY program may be facing a grim fate. We are told that the next 10 days are critical in saving this world-class dairy extension program. If nothing is done, the program will have no funding after March 31, 2011.

I suppose you could make the case that universities need to join forces to accomplish a common goal by blurring state lines and sharing in research activities, especially if universities are in a similar area. But I don't think many can dispute the fact that Cornell's PRO-DAIRY program is a mainstay of applied dairy research and extension. It is not only a vital part of New York's dairy industry but the dairy industry of our country. It was founded more than 20 years ago and supports New York's largest agricultural industry that generates nearly $3 billion dollars in farm gate revenue and upwards of $9 billion dollars to the overall state economy.

Supporters of the PRO-DAIRY program find it easy to note the impact of it. In the past six years, 116 farms that participated in PRO-DAIRY's Dairy Farm Business Summary and Analysis project reinvested a total of $214,753,816 into their farms — a majority of which stayed in local New York economies. The extension group also coordinates 45 dairy discussion groups throughout the state. Participants of the groups were surveyed, and 86 percent reported beneficial changes to their businesses because of the groups. The benefits to the state of New York continue and if you want to know more about them, we've attached a one-page summary below.

But, for us at Hoard's Dairyman, a loss of Cornell PRO-DAIRY means something to us, too. That program churns out practical information for dairy farmers everywhere, and we find ourselves linking to their website often. Their staff is a great resource of information and authors for us. Most recently, it's the air emissions calculator they have developed for dairy farms. One look around their well-maintained website and you can see that a wealth of knowledge is at your fingertips.

PRO-DAIRY supporters are asking for support in the coming days to convince lawmakers to include PRO-DAIRY in the new budget. On a bigger scale, we encourage all of you to show support of your local extension programs by telling your lawmakers what extension means to you and your farm. We know that without extension, our magazine likely wouldn't be what it is today.