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
vineyard grapes winter snow
Citrus
July 19, 2016
Funds Allocated To Address Impact Of Climate Change On Agriculture
NIFA announces $8.4 for study and development of new approaches to mitigate effects of climate change. Read More
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Citrus
July 18, 2016
USDA Awards More Than $26 Million For Affordable Farmworker Housing
The funding is to support more than 400 rental units in four states. Read More
Basic tractor on the horizon
Business Planning
July 18, 2016
Financial Fortitude Key For Small Farm Success
Local threats like citrus greening create additional challenges for many of Florida's more modest enterprises. Read More
fanned out 100 dollar bills
Citrus
July 18, 2016
Bayer Ups Bid To Buy Monsanto
Reports indicate new offer at nearly $65 billion. Read More
Florida Department of Citrus marketing video screenshot featuring Aaron Himrod and his wife Kristi
Citrus
July 17, 2016
Millennial Moms, Florida Orange Juice A Good Mix
Learn what new marketing strategies are being employed by the Florida Department of Citrus to reach this vital consumer segment. Read More
Citrus variety development white board illustration
Varieties & Rootstocks
July 16, 2016
For Citrus Variety Development, The Drawing Board Is Full
Progress apparent in pipeline of promising sponsored projects. Read More
AGERpoint Inc.'s aerial LiDAR platform drone
Citrus
July 14, 2016
Look Up! Farming’s Future Is Coming In For A Landing [Opinion]
FAA's recent ruling regarding unmanned aircraft systems is good news for business. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
July 21, 2016
Farm Labor Delays Taking Toll On Crops […
When it comes down to it, we have a choice to make. We either have to import our labor, or we'll have to import our food. Read More
Citrus
July 20, 2016
My First Trip To Cuba Proves Fruitful
The five-day journey was enlightening, providing participants with a better perspective of the state of agriculture in this country 90 miles off Florida’s coast. Read More
Citrus
July 19, 2016
Funds Allocated To Address Impact Of Cli…
NIFA announces $8.4 for study and development of new approaches to mitigate effects of climate change. Read More
Citrus
July 18, 2016
USDA Awards More Than $26 Million For Af…
The funding is to support more than 400 rental units in four states. Read More
Business Planning
July 18, 2016
Financial Fortitude Key For Small Farm S…
Local threats like citrus greening create additional challenges for many of Florida's more modest enterprises. Read More
Citrus
July 18, 2016
Bayer Ups Bid To Buy Monsanto
Reports indicate new offer at nearly $65 billion. Read More
Citrus
July 17, 2016
Millennial Moms, Florida Orange Juice A …
Learn what new marketing strategies are being employed by the Florida Department of Citrus to reach this vital consumer segment. Read More
Citrus
July 14, 2016
Look Up! Farming’s Future Is Comin…
FAA's recent ruling regarding unmanned aircraft systems is good news for business. Read More
Citrus
July 13, 2016
Farm Credit Celebrates 100 Years Of Serv…
Lending institution plays a critical role in sustaining Florida agriculture. Read More
Citrus
July 12, 2016
Florida Citrus Season Ends On Up Note
Challenging campaign typified by forecasts influenced by the negative impacts of HLB. Read More
Citrus
July 8, 2016
Yara Seeking To Make Splash With New Wat…
Unique plant-based sensor technology is being tested in California and Florida citrus groves. Read More
Citrus
July 6, 2016
Algal Bloom Crisis Forcing Florida Farme…
With state of emergency actions underway, growers and industry stakeholders are having to face, respond to critics. Read More
Citrus
July 5, 2016
At Least $4.1 Million Lost In South Flor…
UF/IFAS researchers take optimistic route, say damage from last summer’s invasive pest onslaught could have been much worse. Read More
Citrus
July 5, 2016
Citrus, Pistachio Researchers Named Firs…
Extension advisors named University of California Cooperative Extension Presidential Chairs to study pistachio production systems. Read More
Citrus
July 4, 2016
Politicians Often Seek To Leave Legacy […
Keep a close eye on what is happening at all levels of government; it’s time for all hands on deck to protect the value of agriculture in society. Read More
Citrus
June 28, 2016
Panama Canal Expands For New Trade Oppor…
First vessel passes through new, larger locks as country celebrates. Read More
Citrus
June 24, 2016
Is It EPA’s Intention To Help Or H…
A common theme I see in complaints about the government agency is it appears to be taking action more and more based on ideology and public opinion rather than sound science. Read More
Citrus
June 23, 2016
Survey: Consumers Hungry For More Info O…
University of Florida researchers find learning opportunity among poll results regarding genetically modified foods. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]