Revolution In Education

2011 Florida Ag Expo Finds Room For Growth

This year, land grant universities will celebrate their 150th anniversary. These schools were established by an act supported by Congressman Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont. The bill passed through Congress in 1859, but was vetoed by President James Buchanan. When Abraham Lincoln was elected, Morrill submitted the legislation again, and Lincoln signed it into law in 1862.

According to Jack Payne, senior vice president of UF/IFAS, the Morrill Act was revolutionary in scope. UF/IFAS is one of Florida’s land grant universities, along with Florida A&M.

“Back in the middle 1800s, higher education was based on the European model, which was basically education for the leisure classes and professionals,” says Payne. “But, with the majority of new Americans being farmers and mechanics, there was concern about the future success of the country if we couldn’t get these folks educated.

“Passage of the Morrill Act is considered revolutionary by people who know about and study higher education. When we think about our American Revolution from England, this was on the same scale in terms of higher education. It transformed access to economic opportunity.”

30,000 Acres

The law granted 30,000 acres of federal land back to the states for each congressman in individual states. The states were to take this land and build a public university on it or sell the land and use the funds to build a university.

Some 150 years later, many of the important public research universities in the country have grown out of the Morrill Act. The University of Florida, University of California-Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Texas A&M, and many more are important land grants. “You can argue that what the land grant schools did back then and continue to do today has really helped build this country,” says Payne.

Following the Morrill Act, which created education, two other acts helped create the “three-legged” stool that we think of today. In 1887, the Hatch Act created the experiment stations, which added the research element of the stool. The Smith-Lever Act created the Extension element in 1914.

Major Reach

The impact of land grant universities is significant, with more than 3 million students enrolled in these schools each year. About a half million students graduate from land grants each year and a third of bachelor and master degrees come from these colleges. When you look at higher degrees, the numbers are even more impressive, with 60% of all PhDs and 70% of all engineering degrees originating from land grant universities.

In Florida, the impact of its land grant education, research, and Extension has been significant. Consider the state’s blueberry industry, which has grown into a $70 million industry. Today, 98% of blueberry varieties grown in the state have been developed by UF/IFAS. Strawberries make up a $300 million industry, with 60% of varieties developed by the university.

“You can look at the Citrus Research and Education Center station in Lake Alfred,” says Payne. “This citrus station that has been there for more than 90 years and science that has been developed there has really enabled the citrus industry in our state to become such an important part of our ag sector. And, it continues to support the industry.”

Future Demands

In October 2011, the world population surpassed the 7 billion mark. In the next 50 years, the population is projected to grow to 9 billion. These people must be on fed on existing arable lands, which presents a tremendous challenge.

According to Payne, agriculture must experience a second green revolution. The “father” of the first revolution is the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, whose wheat varieties are credited with saving 2 billion people from starvation.

“I like to repeat Borlaug’s famous quote that we have to grow more food in the next 50 years than we have grown in the past 1,500 to feed the increase in world population,” says Payne. “We have the challenge of growing more food when there is no more land to grow it on. This second green revolution will be in the hands of ag scientist like those at UF/IFAS and other land grant universities.”

Payne adds that he hopes lawmakers remember the critically important role of land grants in meeting the food demands of the global population when making decisions on funding and budgeting issues. “Understanding the troubled budget situation, people must appreciate the role that science has had in providing an abundant and cheap food supply.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
Operation Outdoor Freedom participants
CitrusFlorida Proud To Be Home Of The Brave [Opinion]
May 25, 2015
Operation Outdoor Freedom invites wounded service members and veterans of the U.S. military to enjoy recreational activities in state forests and on private lands. Read More
Spraying indoor citrus
Protected AgricultureInterest Continues To Grow In Protected Citriculture
May 20, 2015
Inside move could put producers in prime scoring position. Read More
Expansion groundbreaking for Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
CitrusSouthwest Florida Research And Education Center Embracing New Expansion
May 20, 2015
A 7,000-square-foot addition to the UF/IFAS facility will house labs and offices for potential new faculty members. Read More
storm clouds
CitrusSouth Florida Rainy Season Could Wind Up On Drier Side
May 20, 2015
National Weather Service anticipating El Niño to play a hand in possible below-normal conditions. Read More
CitrusBad Weather Or Not, Preparation Always On Radar For Florida Farmers [Opinion]
May 19, 2015
You cannot prevent a natural disaster from taking everything you have, but you can lessen the blow if and when it happens. Read More
CitrusSave Your Greenhouse Structures From Storms
May 19, 2015
Make sure your protected agriculture components are prepared for whatever may blow this way. Read More
BB Hobbs Inc. warehouse in Plant City, FL
CitrusBB Hobbs Bolsters Business In Central Florida
May 18, 2015
Irrigation specialists celebrate opening of new branch warehouse in Plant City. Read More
The Latest
CitrusEPA Announces Final Rule On New Clean Water Act’s Juris…
May 28, 2015
Landmark redefinition of “waters of the U.S.” called a land grab by opponents. Read More
CitrusPMA Comments On FDA’s Proposed FSMA Implementation Work…
May 27, 2015
In written comments submitted today to the FDA proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation work plans (Focus on Implementation Read More
CitrusSenate OKs Trade Priorities And Accountability Act
May 26, 2015
Late on the evening of Friday, May 22, the U.S. Senate approved the Trade Priorities And Accountability Act (TPA) of Read More
Operation Outdoor Freedom participants
CitrusFlorida Proud To Be Home Of The Brave [Opinion]
May 25, 2015
Operation Outdoor Freedom invites wounded service members and veterans of the U.S. military to enjoy recreational activities in state forests and on private lands. Read More
Expansion groundbreaking for Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
CitrusSouthwest Florida Research And Education Center Embraci…
May 20, 2015
A 7,000-square-foot addition to the UF/IFAS facility will house labs and offices for potential new faculty members. Read More
storm clouds
CitrusSouth Florida Rainy Season Could Wind Up On Drier Side
May 20, 2015
National Weather Service anticipating El Niño to play a hand in possible below-normal conditions. Read More
CitrusBad Weather Or Not, Preparation Always On Radar For Flo…
May 19, 2015
You cannot prevent a natural disaster from taking everything you have, but you can lessen the blow if and when it happens. Read More
CitrusSave Your Greenhouse Structures From Storms
May 19, 2015
Make sure your protected agriculture components are prepared for whatever may blow this way. Read More
BB Hobbs Inc. warehouse in Plant City, FL
CitrusBB Hobbs Bolsters Business In Central Florida
May 18, 2015
Irrigation specialists celebrate opening of new branch warehouse in Plant City. Read More
CitrusHouse Votes To Stop “Flawed” Waters Of The United State…
May 15, 2015
The U.S. House of Representatives approved this week bipartisan legislation that requires the withdrawal of the Waters of the United Read More
CitrusPointers On How To Save Money, Increase Sprayer Efficie…
May 15, 2015
Using clean water when calibrating a pesticide sprayer and carrying extra nozzles for quick repair of simple problems in the Read More
Wes Roan of Lipman Produce talks with participants of FFVA's Spring Regulatory Tour.
CitrusFlorida Farming Show & Tell Earns Regulators’…
May 15, 2015
FFVA's annual Spring Regulatory Tour allows those who write regulations controlling water, crop protection chemicals, food safety, and more an opportunity to see production practices firsthand. Read More
CitrusUSDA Announces $11.9M In Assistance For Organic Certifi…
May 14, 2015
Following on the heels of the USDA’s announcement of record growth in the organic sector, the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service Read More
CitrusBeekeepers Lost 40% Of Bees In 2014-15
May 14, 2015
Beekeepers across the U.S. lost more than 40% of their honey bee colonies from April 2014 to April 2015, according to the latest results of Read More
CitrusLabor Update: The Battle To Harvest
May 13, 2015
The need for comprehensive labor and immigration reform is as critical as ever, but industry experts don’t predict any legislation will be passed in the near future. Read More
CitrusReport: Florida Agriculture Property Values Remain Firm
May 12, 2015
Lay of the land confirms farm tracts are good investment. Read More
CitrusFlorida Orange Crop Now Projected To Be Lowest In Nearl…
May 12, 2015
Not since the 1965-1966 season have production numbers looked so bleak. Read More
CitrusImportant Crop Insurance Deadline Nearing For Growers
May 12, 2015
Specialty crop, other producers need to certify conservation compliance by June 1. Read More