UF/IFAS: A Pillar Supporting Ag

Soon after I came on as editor of Florida Grower, I quickly realized how important a role the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) plays in the state’s agricultural industry. Countless times I have tapped into their expertise to help bring you stories that will inform and hopefully help you build successful operations. I am not alone in relying on the important work of IFAS, and I have heard many stories from growers who have specific examples of how they have benefited from the school’s research and advice. In many ways, IFAS is like a pillar that helps build up and support Florida agriculture.

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Reaction Loud And Clear

Like many, I was dismayed when I heard that UF’s President Bernie Machen was quoted saying that ag was dying in Florida and that IFAS might be up for large cuts in its budget. The galvanized reaction by the state’s ag community to Machen’s comments is unlike anything I’ve seen in my years editing for magazines. President Machen’s office was flooded with letters from growers, associations, and big boosters of the university. We feel very strongly that we help out and speak on behalf of IFAS as well, so much of this issue is dedicated to the matter. Look for the IFAS pillar logo throughout the magazine for stories on the issue.

One of the challenges of monthly publications is timing as news breaks and unfolds. As we wrote this issue, the amount of budget cuts that will be targeted at IFAS was unknown. By the time you have the magazine in hand, that decision may have already been made for better or worse. So rather than focusing so much on the budget itself, we share how important IFAS is to Florida agriculture and the good things many growers and associations have to say about the organization.

Get Updates Online

For news as it breaks, check out our Web site at www.GrowingProduce.com. Online, we will report how big the IFAS budget cuts will be and how growers and ag leaders react. Also, I’d encourage you to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter, Florida Grower To Go where we’ve been covering the IFAS story closely. You can sign up for the newsletter at http://www.growingproduce.com/subscribe.

The response to the suggestion that IFAS carry a disproportionate share of the necessary budget cuts at UF has been huge. If in fact those cuts are unfair, I suspect the chorus from the state’s ag industry will grow even louder in support of IFAS. We will keep you informed in the pages of Florida Grower and our Web site and e-news.