Danforth to chair federal research, education group

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced the appointment of William H. Danforth, chancellor emeritus and vice chairman of the Board of Trustees, to the Research, Education and Economics Task Force. He will chair the group.

The 2002 Farm Bill, signed by President George W. Bush in May, created the task force to conduct a review of the Agricultural Research Service and to evaluate the merits of establishing one or more national institutes focused on disciplines important to the progress of food and agricultural science.

Danforth is one of eight members of the task force.

“Research has in the past and will in the future offer much to farmers and consumers,” Danforth said. “I hope that our task force of can be helpful to the Department of Agriculture and to Congress.”

The task force will report its findings to House and Senate committees on agriculture and to Veneman.

“Research continues to play an important role in all aspects of the food system,” Veneman said. “This task force will provide critical input as we strengthen USDA’s ability to address key scientific research issues for food and agriculture.”

In September 2001, the Bush administration released a publication, Food and Agricultural Policy: Taking Stock for the New Century, which called for the examination of ways to strengthen research activities within USDA and to ensure research initiatives are meeting the critical demands and priority needs of today and the future.

The National Academy of Sciences recently released a report, Frontiers in Agricultural Research, that agreed with the Bush administration’s assessment of the future direction of agricultural research.

Danforth will work with the following from universities and industry: Robert F. Wideman, professor, Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, University of Arkansas; Michael Bryan, president, BBI International; Victor L. Lechtenberg, dean, College of Agriculture, Purdue University;

Harry Alan Wood, director, Life Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, Mississippi State University; Nancy Betts, interim associate dean, graduate studies and research, University of Nebraska;

Richard Coombe, chair, Watershed Agricultural Council of the New York City Watersheds; and Luis Sequeira, professor emeritus, departments of Bacteriology and Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin.