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The Introduction of Create-21

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

THE INTRODUCTION OF CREATE-21 -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 21, 2007)

* Mr. BARROW. Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to introduce CREATE-21, a measure aimed at ``Creating Research, Extension, and Teaching Excellence for the 21st Century.''

* America has arrived at a critical juncture with respect to the food, agricultural, and natural resource sciences. Ahead of us are two paths. The first is the path of the status quo. It is not a bad path--after all, it has provided the Nation and the world with bountiful and affordable food and numerous other benefits. No, this path is not bad; it's just not as good as it should be.

* The other path--the CREATE-21 path--recognizes that the status quo, when it comes to the Federal-State Partnership in the Food and Agricultural Sciences (as that term is broadly defined by statute), is no longer sustainable and thus no longer acceptable. This Nation and the whole planet face both daunting challenges and tremendous opportunities that will require structural and funding improvements. Here are some examples:

* Challenges such as the effects of changing climate on farms and forests cannot be solved with an inadequate USDA science organization and woefully inadequate funding.

* Opportunities for replacing a substantial portion of U.S. petroleum consumption through increased production of renewable fuels (without raising grain and livestock prices unduly) cannot be attained without a major increase in funding for basic research and applied research and ``integrated'' efforts (where research is combined with education and technology transfer through extension agents).

* Efforts to boost the U.S. specialty crops and organic food industries will not come to fruition in a timely manner--thereby threatening America's world leadership positions--if part of the responsibility for research continues to lie within one USDA agency and part in another, with inadequate coordination between the two!

* Problems such as the twin (and related) epidemics of obesity and diabetes cannot be overcome with Federal research, education, and extension efforts divided among two USDA agencies (and some 105 land-grant universities) unless the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics has under his immediate supervision a national program staff that can provide overarching vision, guidance, and leadership for those two agencies.

* Madam Speaker, these are only four examples--among dozens that I could have chosen--but they make the case for the comprehensive approach embodied in CREATE-21. They demonstrate that the opportunities and challenges we face demand both an improved organizational structure and enhanced funding.

* When the House Committee on Agriculture sits down in the next few weeks to develop the 2007 Farm Bill, I am hopeful that the foundational precepts and specific provisions embodied in the legislation I introduce today will form the basis for the Committee's Research Title. Therefore, I want to take a few minutes to highlight three key provisions:

* CREATE-21 will increase planning and implementation across intramural (e.g., ARS and ERS) and extramural (e.g., land-grant) facilities through a single national program staff working directly for the USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

* CREATE-21 will also establish a new National Institutes for Food and Agriculture (replacing the current Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service) to provide continuing and expanded support to America's land-grant and other universities and related institutions.

* Finally, CREATE-21 will double authorized funding for the food, agriculture, and natural resource research, teaching, and extension programs currently administered by Cooperative State Research, Education, and Economics Service in order to address the enormous opportunities and daunting challenges that face the country and the greater global community.

* Besides these distinctive elements, CREATE-21 has three other unique attributes:

* CREATE-21 will strengthen the land-grant system with its integrated, National network of State Agricultural Experiment Stations, more than 3,000 Cooperative Extension offices, and universities in all 50 states, DC, and the U.S. territories.

* CREATE-21 will augment ``integrated'' USDA funding programs so that many more grants which integrate research with extension and/or education are awarded through competitive, peer-reviewed procedures.

* Lastly, CREATE-21 will bolster university capacity, especially for the historically black (1890), tribal (1994), insular area, and small 1862 land-grant universities and members of the American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources (AASCARR).

* In addition to these provisions, the legislation I am introducing today contains many other amendments to USDA research, extension, and teaching statutes, reflecting the best thinking of a broad cross-section of America's land grant community. These provisions include critical updates that will enhance, among other things, the basic programs providing sustenance for the 1890 land-grant institutions and critical food, health, and nutritional information to low-income families and youth through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. In fact, this legislation addresses ALL of the Farm Bill priorities outlined by the Presidents of the 1890 colleges.

* While I support the key tenets of this legislation and am pleased to introduce it in the House, we all recognize that difficult problems require consensus-based solutions and I remain open to suggestions. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee as we develop a Research Title for the 2007 Farm Bill that truly has at its core mission: ``Creating Research, Extension, and Teaching Excellence for the 21st Century.''

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