Signing landmark legislation at the pioneer land-grant university


President Obama signs landmark legislation.

I was pleased to learn that President Barack Obama had chosen Michigan State University as the site to sign the landmark new federal farm bill. But when you think about it, there really is no better place.

MSU is a natural choice given our position as the nation’s pioneer land-grant university, a place where since our inception we have applied research to real-world problems. Michigan State is an equally appropriate location to sign major basic research legislation, as the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and soon the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams push forward the frontiers of theoretical isotope research in ways that allow practical applications yet to be imagined.

Of course this farm bill has a direct green and white connection, as well. It was sponsored by a Spartan, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MSU.

MSU programs and, ultimately, Michigan farmers benefit from passage of the farm bill. The bill includes funding for special crops research, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, organic agriculture research and extension initiatives, biomass research, and many other important initiatives. These programs enhance the well-established investment in innovation that begins in MSU laboratories and research centers and is delivered to the state’s agribusiness community through MSU Extension.

MSU research also focuses on land-use policy and management, air quality, soil conservation, waste management, landscape ecology, ecosystem management, and water research, including water quality, watershed management, and water use for agriculture and natural resources businesses. This research is critically important to informing best practices in conservation and resource management for farmers and ranchers in Michigan and across the nation, who manage more land and water than any other resource managers in the country.

At MSU, we recognize that our place in Washington, whether securing research funding or informing policy, is truly about creating value: for citizens of our state, our nation, and indeed, the globe. So why sign the farm bill at Michigan State? Because people know Spartans Will. And, through discovery and innovation, we will continue to contribute to the common good with uncommon will.


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