Our Opinion: Agriculture education too important to decimate
During the next three months, the University of Nevada’s Board of Regents faces some excruciating decisions.
Based on the recent legislative action during the Legislature’s special session in Carson City, the university system must trim $44 million from its budget, affecting seven academic institutions and the Desert Research Institute.
Yet, before the ink dried on the approved legislation coming out of Carson City, University of Nevada, Reno President Milton Glick had already released his list of budgetary hits.
One of the victims is the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. Rather than have a cohesive college dealing with Nevada’s multimillion-dollar agricultural industry, it appears the UNR hierarchy is willing to gut out the college, shift classes to within other colleges and piece together a dysfunctional program that may or may not survive this move.
Meghan Brown, executive director of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, said the university wants to eliminate CABNR because of the little impact agriculture provides to Nevada. No matter what happens with a designated college or a consolidation of programs under another roof, the NCA said “there still needs to be a department status or some other institutional framework to collect the teaching and research talents needed to provide education and research outputs that matter.”
Furthermore, Doug Busselman, executive vice president of the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, laments the proposal, saying in essence the same programs afforded to earlier generations during the “Golden Age” of the College of Agriculture are no more. The level of available programs has diminished during the years causing many students who want to pursue agricultural education to leave Nevada for greener pastures.
The Morrill Act of 1862 provided land for states to provide agricultural, mechanics arts and military programs. Although the provisions of the Morrill Act did not stipulate the university build a specific college for agriculture, it made it clear the university must have these programs.
Agriculture encompasses more than just livestock and crops. The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, which may or may not be severely affected by proposed cuts, provides assistance in other areas such as natural resources, horticulture, health and nutrition and community development.
Before making any decisions, we encourage Glick, his staff and Chancellor Dan Klaich to take a trip to the rural side of the Silver State. Once they do, Glick, Klaich and the others may discover that agriculture is integral to the state and so is the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources.
Hopefully, they will change their minds to save CABNR as a college in one form or another.
• A version of this editorial also appeared in the Lahontan Valley News.