The first time Indiana Prairie Farmer asked Purdue University College of Agriculture dean Jay Akridge about possible cut to Extension in the Indiana General Assembly, the House had already restored half of what the Daniels budget proposed to take out, at least for Field Extension and Crossroads line items. The original budget Daniels submitted called for a 15% across-the-board cut to all three categories elated to Extension. The third leg is the Animal Disease and Diagnostic Lab, and even the House originally left it at a 15% cut.
Akrdige was very calm, very collected. He knew people were working hard on Purdue' Extension's behalf to convince legislators that the money was truly needed. The cuts would hurt, but he would do whatever it took. He didn't hide his disappointment, though, in the 15% proposed cut on the Animal Disease and Diagnostic Lab. The main complex is located on the Purdue campus next to the Veterinary Medicine School in West Lafayette. There is also an office at the Purdue farm in Dubois County.
The Dean didn't think it seemed like a wise thing to be cutting an animal disease lab when two situations, a cow with a TB case, the first confirmed case in an Indiana cow in decades, and PRRS in hogs was causing controversy. If anything, those two situations alone could lead to the need for additional testing and cost.
The Dean and Purdue staff relied on people in the field, many of them likely the people reading this, some of whom belong to county Extension boards and others who just believe in what Extension does, to connect with legislators. "We've heard time and again from the legislators that many of their constituents engaged them in conversations about why Extension funding needed to be restored in the budget," Akridge says.
In the end, it was. The two-year budget passed before the Indiana General Assembly adjourned leaves the three line items at the same levels as they were in the 2009 fiscal budget. None of the three were cut.
"It's tremendous news, but it's only because of the hard work people did in the field," Akridge stresses. "What we need you to do now is thank those legislators. They listened and found other ways to balance the budget. It's very important to make sure they understand how much we appreciate what they did.
"It's also up to us too realize the trust you have placed in Purdue Extension, and we do," the Dean comments. "We pledge to continue to do all we can to focus our state and county resources on important issues where we can truly make a difference. The work for the next biennium session starts today, and we will have a great Extension and applied research message to share with legislators over the next two years."