Food and agricultural research, including that of fresh produce, will suffer greatly from the elimination of funding in the Illinois state budget for fiscal year 2010, said Kraig Wagenecht, executive administrator for the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research, Urbana.
“It’s going to affect research across the board,” Wagenecht said. “This was the line item in the budget for comprehensive research in agriculture. It’s not only going to affect research on traditional crops, it’s going to have a bearing on all items.”
Wagenecht said the decision to eliminate the funding was made on the administrative, not legislative, level.
“The budget the general assembly approved earlier was different,” he said. “They took line items each at a time and allocated money. This year, they took blocks of money and allocated it as they saw fit.”
Jeff Squibb, a spokesperson for the Illinois department of agriculture, said, however, that the state was still working on budget details, and that no final budget had been worked out.
“Details about how lump sums are going to be spent are still being worked out,” Squibb said.
Without the funding, Wagenecht said critical ongoing research would cease, current research programs would be in disarray, and the Council on Food and Agricultural Research will be unable to continue.
The C-FAR appropriation began in 1996 and was $15 million from fiscal years 2000-02.
Illinois ranks 24th in the nation in food and ag research funding, according to C-FAR.
Wagenecht said he wasn’t certain of recourse by C-FAR at this point.
Gov. Pat Quinn has been allocated some discretionary funding, and he was supportive of ag research when he was lieutenant governor, Wagenecht said. He said the general assembly also could take action when it reconvenes later this fall.
“We’re troubled that, while many agricultural programs took a cut, the food and agricultural research funding was completely eliminated,” he said. “We could stand a reduction, but a complete elimination presents a much different scenario.
“Being zeroed really caused a problem.”