Catching Up with CALS — Oct. 7, 2020
Dean's Message — Celebrate Ag
It will be a pleasure to welcome Scott Hutchins as the keynote speaker for Celebrating Idaho Agriculture on Friday.
The pandemic shuffle that forced us to move his program online offers more people the opportunity to hear from a top U.S. Department of Agriculture leader and someone for whom I have deep respect. My hope is a wide spectrum of Idaho’s agricultural community will join us.
From his abstract, we know Dr. Hutchins will remind us of some self-evident truths. U.S. agriculture has a remarkable track record of providing safe, affordable, and abundant food, fiber, and fuel, albeit tested by pests, diseases, extreme weather events and a growing world.
As deputy under secretary of agriculture, he oversees several agencies key to extending ag’s winning streak: the Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Economic Research Service and National Agricultural Statistics Service.
CALS maintains close ties with the ARS and NIFA because they largely set the nation’s agricultural research agenda. The ERS and NASS provide critical economic and production data and analysis that underpin agricultural risk management to help growers and producers stay solvent.
His keynote will give us insights about how the USDA plans to maintain U.S. agricultural productivity and stability.
One key, he noted in his presentation abstract, is the agency must continue to build on generations of successful innovations.
“USDA recognizes the role scientific research plays in spawning innovation and supports maintaining a vigorous research infrastructure as an ‘Ag Innovation Ecosystem’ with public- and private-sector goals aligned,” he wrote.
Our goals as a university and a college clearly align with this view.
Our basic strategy is three-fold: hire and retain excellent faculty, offer our researchers the resources and the leadership to succeed and develop programs capable of addressing large-scale issues of importance to Idaho producers but that also have national impact.
Our researchers’ success in attracting large grants from both local and national sources show we have talented people with the skills and resources to succeed.
Our initiatives to create the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment with the nation’s largest research dairy, and the Rinker Rock Creek Ranch provide unrivaled opportunities to study key issues on a large scale.
We are on the right course, and I believe Scott Hutchins’ presentation will reaffirm that and help us continue our commitment.
And finally, I am personally enthused about hearing his insights because of our shared experience as presidents of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). I give Dr. Hutchins considerable credit for helping the 131-year-old ESA reorganize itself during his presidency in 2007. When I took on that role in 2018, I fully appreciated the benefits of his efforts a decade before.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
66% of Idaho’s potatoes were harvested by Oct. 4. That’s substantially ahead of last year’s 54% and the 5-year average of 57%, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service records show. 59% of the state’s wheat is planted, ahead of last year’s 54% but lagging slightly behind the 5-year average of 61%. 92% of dry edible beans are harvested, ahead of last year’s 69% and the 5-year average of 86%. 85% of onions are harvested, slightly behind last year’s 86% but ahead of the 5-year average of 79%.
Our Stories — CALS Celebrates Ag This Week
A top U.S. Department of Agriculture leader will explore the promise of new technologies and innovative practices for the nation’s agricultural production and its future capability during CALS’ Celebrating Idaho Agriculture Friday.
This year’s event will feature Scott Hutchins, USDA deputy under secretary for research, education and economics. His speech, “Igniting Agricultural Innovation,” will take place online from 4-5:30 p.m. PDT and will be free and open to those who register in advance. He is the scientific leader of the USDA.
“We are fortunate to have a key U.S. agricultural policy leader as our keynote speaker,” said CALS Dean Michael Parrella. “Dr. Hutchins occupies a unique position to offer a broad perspective of our nation’s incredibly diverse agriculture and its opportunities ahead.”
Hutchins is responsible for key USDA agencies, including the Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Economic Research Service and National Agricultural Statistics Service.
”Our scientists are researching ways to increase productivity, enhance efficiency and develop methods to adapt agriculture to changing conditions of all types affecting producers and consumers in the future,” Hutchins said. Those changes include climate, market and nutrition, among others.
Hutchins and Parrella both trained as entomologists and served as presidents of the Entomological Society of America. Hutchins’ earlier efforts to reorganize the 131-year-old society created the path to success the group now enjoys, Parrella said. He led the society in 2018.
More information about registering for Celebrating Idaho Agriculture and Hutchins’ address is available online at uidaho.edu/cals/celebrating-ag.
The CALS also sponsors Ag Days for high school students each fall to allow them to explore future careers in agriculture. This year’s Ag Days will also shift to virtual events on Instagram. More information is available online at uidaho.edu/cals/ag-days.
Faces and Places
UI Extension educators and specialists brought home a multitude of awards from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. Award winners included:
Extension Educator of the Year: National and Western Region winner, Joey Peutz
Florence Hall Award: Western Region second place, Katie Hoffman
Greenwood Frysinger Award: Western Region winner and National second place, Lance James Hansen
Innovative Youth Development Programming Award: Western Region second place, Lance James Hansen and team members Surine Greenway, Amy Robertson, Julie Buck, Becky Hutchings and Sendy Martinez
Master Family and Consumer Sciences Volunteer Program Award: Western Region and National winners, Surine Greenway and team members Amy Robertson, Bridget Morrisroe-Aman, Joey Peutz, Sendy Martinez and Nikki Telford
Past Presidents’ New Professional: Western Region third place, Andrew Bingham
Program Excellence Through Research Award: Western Region third place, Julie Buck and team members Jang Ho Kim, Laura Sant, Shelly Johnson, Bridget Morrisroe-Aman and Grace Wittman
Continued Excellence, Western Region, Luke Erickson
- Oct. 7-9 — Ag Days
- Oct. 9 — Celebrating Idaho Agriculture, 4-5:30 p.m. PDT
- Oct. 21 — Heritage Orchard Conference, “Apple Identification with DNA: Identity and Pedigree Revelations using New Tools” by Cameron Peace of Washington State University, 10-11:30 a.m. PDT
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