Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee, today announced the introduction of a resolution commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, which established the Cooperative Extension System, helping to connect the public to research occurring in the land-grant university system. The resolution recognizes the importance of the legislation in extending the concept of land-grant universities and agricultural research into communities across the country, and encourages people to support an innovative and sustainable future for cooperative extension.
“Cooperative extension has played an important role in American agriculture, bringing research-based knowledge to farmers and ranchers across the country, helping to make America the most productive and efficient agricultural producer in the world,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “Thanks to our nation’s land-grant university system and cooperative extension, American agriculture has set the global gold standard for production and helps to feed the world. As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and alum of the nation’s first land-grant college, Michigan State University, I will continue to encourage more collaboration between federal, state and local governments to maximize the benefits of the extension system.”
“Farmers, ranchers and rural families benefit from the latest in technology and innovation through the Cooperative Extension System. The celebration of its 100th birthday should include a serious commitment to funding its research and educational activities,” Sen. Cochran said.
The Smith-Lever Act, the founding legislation of the Cooperative Extension System, was signed into law in 1914 and helped to create a nationwide educational network bringing together federal, state and local governments with land-grant universities to provide research-based information to people in communities across the United States. Cooperative extension offices are now present in every U.S. state and provide important and practical information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes.
Research is critical to the long-term growth and productivity of American agriculture and was a key priority in the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law by the president on Feb. 7. Under the leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran, the Farm Bill establishes the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research – a non-profit foundation which will raise private funds to be directed toward agricultural research. The foundation will fund opportunities for enhanced collaboration between agricultural researchers from the federal government, institutions of higher education, land-grant universities and non-profit organizations. The Foundation reinforces a national commitment to funding important research and facilitating further collaboration among diverse entities, much like the Smith-Lever Act did in 1914.