NCRA Summer Meeting
Lincoln, NE
July 9, 2007


Time Agenda Item Topic Presenter
3:00pm NCRA and NCCEA Joint Session
  J1 Call to Order  
  J2 Sun Grant Initiative Jim Doolittle
3:10pm J3 Joint Research/Extension Ventures and Increased Collaboration Arlen Leholm,
Carl O'Connor
3:30pm J4 CSREES Report Mary McPhail Gray
3:35pm NCRA and NCCEA Joint Session Adjourn to Separate Rooms
3:40pm 1.0 Call to Order Forrest Chumley
  2.0 Adoption of the Agenda Forrest Chumley
  3.0 Approval of the March 2007 Minutes - Approved.  Forrest Chumley
3:45pm 4.0 Executive Committee Report & Interim Actions of the Chair Forrest Chumley
3:50pm 5.0 Executive Director's Report

5.1 Research Awards
5.2 State Visits

Arlen Leholm
4:00pm 6.0 MRC Report

6.1 Remaining New Proposals/Proposal Revisions
6.2 New NC-500 Projects (FYI Only)
6.3 NC7 and NC1100 Budgets
6.4 Other Items

Bill Ravlin




7.0 ESCOP Reports

7.1 Science and Technology Committee

7.2 Communication and Marketing Committee

7.3 Budget and Legislative Committee


Steve Pueppke, Forrest Chumley
Bill Ravlin,
Arlen Leholm
Steve Slack,
John Kirby

4:40pm 8.0 ARS Report Steven Shafer
4:45pm 9.0 NIAS Report David Benfield
4:50pm 10.0 Nominations David Benfield
4:55pm 11.0 Resolutions - none Mary Ann Lila
4:55pm 12.0 Other Items All
5:00pm 13.0 Upcoming Meetings
  • July 22-27, 2007 - All COPs (Philadelphia, PA)
  • September 16-19, 2007 - ESS Meeting and Workshop (Philadelphia, PA)
  • November 11-13, 2007 - NASULGC Annual Meeting (New York, NY)
  • March 26-27, 2008 - NCRA Spring Meeting (Las Vegas, NV)
Forrest Chumley
5:05pm 14.0 Announcements All
  15.0 Review of Assignments Forrest Chumley
5:10pm   Adjourn  


Agenda Briefs

Item J2: Sun Grant Initiative
Presenter: Jim Doolittle

Background: Contact Jim Doolittle for a copy of his powerpoint ( 

Action Requested: None, for information only. 

Action Taken: None. 

Item J3: Joint Research/Extension Ventures and Increased Collaboration
Arlen Leholm/Carl O'Connor


A number of people have expressed the desire to have Extension and Research work more closely together.  Carl O'Connor and Arlen Leholm have met several times to discuss opportunities for enhanced collaboration. 

Two areas of initial focus with a high chance for mutual benefit are obesity the bioeconomy. 


Action Requested: Suggestions for increased collaboration.

Action Taken: Please contact Carl O'Connor or Arlen Leholm with any suggestions. 

Item J4: CSREES Report
Presenter: Mary McPhail Gray


Summary Comments:  CSREES, as evidenced by the Dr. Hefferan’s June 8th. announcement of the Agency’s new Partnership Awards, is encouraging integrated projects as necessary responses to many of today’s critical issues.  Your North Central Regional identification of Bio-fuels and Obesity Prevention as two issues for effective extension and research integration reflect your understanding of this commitment. 

Bioeconomy:  Our agency contributions to the bio-economy discussions in Washington include both research and extension in messages carried by NPL’s and directors to conferences and to the REE Coordinating Committee.  We have developed a White paper on the Agency’s view of this issue—which is being edited and refined.  The Social Science Working Group has had a major contribution to this paper and is planning additional sessions for its members and the agency so that more NPL’s are able to make appropriate contributions to this work in the programs they administer.    

The SBIR call for proposals in Biofuels and Bio-based products was posted July 3rd. and has a due date of Sept. 5, 2007.

This spring the CSREES Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Quality Program co-sponsored with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and USDA-ARS Beltsville on Biofuels and Water Quality.

The Announcement by Secretaries Johannes and Bodman of the jointly funded research projects in Biofuels included two in your region.  Congratulations to Minnesota and South Dakota!

The Newsroom on the CSREES web site has been featuring work of the partnership in this area.  

Obesity Prevention:  This issue continues to attract major news media coverage as evidenced in the recent   meta-analysis of research studies on Nutrition Education which carried headlines noting that all but one of 57 studies failed to show a reduction in obesity.  The AP report is located at

The Kellogg Foundation has initiated their Food and Fitness Initiative  with  half million dollar grants to 9 communities for a two year planning cycle to propose community based practices linking  healthy life styles and healthy food choices in order to reduce obesity.   Dr. Merle Pierson, Undersecretary for REE is a member of the National Advisory Committee with Mary McPhail Gray as an alternate.  Two communities are in the North Central Region: Detroit, MI and five NE Iowa rural counties.  In each of these communities—Cooperative Extension has been in the lead.  The other funded communities are: New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Holyoke, MA, Oakland, CA, and Seattle WA. and Tohono O’odham Native Community in AZ.  CSREES will be in contact with these communities to identify how Cooperative Extension and research are already involved, will encourage sharing of best practices, and identify effective ways the partnership might learn from these pilots.  All 9 communities will be funded for implementation of plans for 7 to 10 years.  The variety of ethnic groups living in these communities, provide arich opportunity for learning. 

The Kellogg Foundation has created a Convergence Project with other major private foundations with intentions of concentrating a great deal of coordinated private funding on this issue.  Robert Wood Johnson has a major funding initiative of five hundred million dollars in grants to reduce obesity.  Kaiser Permanente and other foundations are also engaged in the conversation.  We are positioned to help guide the dialogue and provide opportunities for our scholars to be involved in a number of ways. 

Our EFNEP Programs and our work in the Food Stamp Nutrition Education both give us significant environments to show how best practices which are nested in community support can make a difference.  Attached is a document which summarizes current multi-state projects which will have direct or indirect impacts on the obesity crisis.   The EFNEP project will provide critical information to use in a variety of conversations with your collaborators in Washington.  CSREES and ARS have already discussed integrated studies they might do together.  FNS is very interested in what our system is able to learn and ERS has added personnel to the NCDC211 committee.   Your region could provide valuable leadership in your work with NCDC211 and the Kellogg funded communities. 

Action Requested: None, for information only. 

Action Taken: None. 

Item 4.0: Executive Committee Report and Interim Actions of the Chair
Presenter: Forrest Chumley

Background: There has been little Executive Committee action since the March 2007 meeting except for collaboration with Arlen Leholm re: the status of the Assistant Director position and its job posting. 

Action Requested: None, for information only. 

Action Taken: None. 

Item 5.0: Executive Director's Report
Arlen Leholm

Item 5.1: Research Awards


Experiment Station Section
Awards for Excellence in Multistate Research


The fundamental mandate of the Multistate Research authority allows State Agricultural Experiment Stations (SAES) to interdependently collaborate in projects that two or more states share as a priority, but for which no one state could address singularly. This is a very high standard for any research project, and has become a hallmark of the Multistate Research Program’s management objectives.

The Multistate Research authority allows other non-SAES partners to join in these project-based collaborations. Thus, many multistate projects include extension specialists as members as well as Agricultural Research Service or Forest Service research scientists. In addition many projects even have private sector and foreign participants. Moreover, the majority of multistate projects have participants from more than a single region, with many having representation from all regions such that they are national in scope.

To many the Multistate Research Program is one of the "best kept secrets" of the Land-Grant University System.


The purpose of this program is to annually recognize those scientists who are conducting exemplary multistate activities and in doing so enhance the visibility of the multistate program.



Award and Presentation


The National Excellence in Multistate Research Award will consist of a plaque for the project's group chair and a certificate for each participating scientist to be presented by the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy Chair and

USDA/Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) Administrator during the Awards Program held at the NASULGC Annual Meeting.  ESCOP will contribute 50% of the travel expenses for the national winner to attend the awards ceremony.



Any current Multistate Project listed in the NIMSS ( is eligible for consideration for an Excellence in Multistate Research Award.


Basis for Nomination

Each of the five regional research associations may nominate one Multistate Project chosen from the entire national portfolio of active projects each association.   Nominations shall be made to the Chair of the respective regional multistate review committee (MRC) chair via the regional Executive Director’s office.


Such nominations should describe the:


The documentation for this type of nomination should be sufficient to allow the review committee members to evaluate the Project according to the criteria listed below.


Criteria and Evaluation
Selection of multistate teams for an Award for Excellence will be based on panel evaluations of nominations that demonstrate: high standards of scientific quality; research relevance to a regional priority; multistate collaboration on the problem's solution; and professional leadership in the conduct of the project.  All nominated shall be evaluated using the same criteria including, in descending order of importance.  The Project’s:


  1. Accomplishments, indicated by outputs, outcomes, and impacts,
  2. Added value, from the Project’s interdependency;
  3. Degree of institutional participation (SAES and others as well);
  4. Extent of multi-disciplinary activity; and,
  5. Amount of integrated activities (i.e., is it multi-functional).
  6. Evidence of additional leveraged funding to further the goals of the project.


Selection Process


The ESCOP Science and Technology Committee will select from among the regional nominatees a national winner in time for public announcement and award presentation at the NASULGC Annual Meeting each year. 


Format for Applications or Nominations

An application or nomination should be a very concise statement. It should include:

Number and Title:  
Name(s) and addresses of individuals nominated
(add more lines as needed for additional committee members)

Summary of Project's Significant Accomplishment(s) (should be less than 3-5 pages) noting:

Nominations should be submitted by email to the Office of the regional Executive Director.


Item 5.2: State Visits

Leholm continues his visits to each SAES in the region.  He has been gaining valuable insight and suggestions and looks forward to completing the visits by October. 

Action Requested: None, for information only. 

Action Taken: If you have comments regarding the research awards, please email them to Arlen by July 20. 

Item 6.0: MRC Report
Presenter: Bill Ravlin

Item Proj Type Current Proj # (Temp #) Title NCRA AA MRC Recommendation March 2007 NCRA Recommendation
10.1.0 New Projects
10.1.1   NC1007 (NC_temp1007) Enteric Diseases of Swine and Cattle: Prevention, Control and Food Safety (NC-62) Stromberg  Major revisions due June 1.  The group cited the appropriate literature but provides no evidence of a CRIS search.  The group did not address potential duplication.  The committee plans to tie research findings together in a collaborative manner on a regional basis through a proposed symposium and student training.  The proposal does not describe the significance of the results, showing in what ways the end user will benefit, nor does the proposal adequately explain the potential benefits and impact of the proposed research.  The proposal does not include statements related to milestones; that is, time-linked accomplishments that must be completed before subsequent activities can begin or can be completed.  The proposal responds to reviewer concerns of tech transfer evidence.  However, there is no mention of intent to seek funding opportunities using interdisciplinary approaches.  The proposal needs to incorporate the following: 1) Evidence that a CRIS Search was conducted with comments on overlap with other projects; 2) Outcomes or projected impacts and 3) Milestones. 

Comments 7/9/07: The revised proposal addresses the concerns expressed in the earlier review.  A CRIS search was conducted and the results summarized.  It was determined that the project does not significantly overlap with any existing project.  The committee believes the revision adequately documents project outcomes and milestones; however, the committee notes that these were presented in the form of a long list.  While this meets the letter of expectation the committee would rather see a synthesis or integrated presentation of outcomes.  It is recommended that the participants work with the AA so that an appropriate presentation of outcomes is developed for the midterm review. 

The project is approved as NC1041

10.1.2   NC1009 (NC_temp1009) Metabolic Relationships in Supply of Nutrients for Lactating Cows (NC-185) Benfield  Minor revision due June 1.  This is a highly interactive group of scientists whose interests range from very fundamental to highly applied in nature. This mixture of skills is apparent in the committee’s many successes.  While the committee has demonstrated good productivity and dissemination of research results, the MRC feels that a clearly defined and detailed outreach and extension program needs to be completed before final approval is granted. The group is also advised to clarify the impacts and benefits of this group to stakeholder groups.

Approved as NC1040. 

10.1.3   NC1119 (NC_temp1119) Management Systems to Improve the Economic and Environmental Sustainability of Dairy Enterprises Benfield  Major revision due June 1.  The reviewers and the MRC are very supportive of the basic goals of the project.  Environmental and economic issues are clearly two of the greatest challenges facing the dairy industry.  However, the proposal was judged to be overly inclusive of general information on dairy management and lacking in specific milestones.  In revision we request: 1) the proposal be revised to focus on the key issues that relate to the proposed activities and 2) present specific milestones for the accomplishments of the committee.

Comments 7/9/07: Project has met all expectations.  Approved as NC1042

10.1.4   NC1142 (NC_temp1142) Regulation of Photosynthetic Processes (NC-142) Goldman Major revision due June 1.  The literature review was fine, but evidence of a CRIS search is lacking.  There is not really a plan for how the research findings will be tied together in a collaborative manner on a regional basis.  There is a plan to develop a teaching module for elementary schools but no plan for collaborative effort at dissemination of results.   The proposal does not describe the significance of the results, showing in what ways the end user will benefit, nor does it adequately explain the potential benefits and impact of the proposed research.  At best, this is only accomplished in terms of basic scientific meaning, not practical terms.  The proposal does represent  multistate participation, which builds on specific strengths of the participants into a cooperative and complementary research project.  However, the MRC was surprised that not more than five states have an interest in photosynthesis - the Appendix E needs improvement.  The group needs to provide evidence of a CRIS search.  Also, the group needs to better explain the potential benefits and impacts of the proposal.  

Comments 7/9/07: Project chose not to respond to the MRC's major revision request and thus the project will terminate Sept 30, 2007.  The project may submit an NCDC request if desired. 

10.1.5   NCERA184 (NCERA_temp184) Management of Small Grains Lamkey    Minor Revision including developing more specific and quantifiable objectives and more specifically describing how information will be disseminated.  This group has done a good job of disseminating their information and has had a history of impact however these aspects should be more fully described in the proposal.

Proposal approved as NCER184

10.1.6 NCDC    NCDC208 (NCDC_temp208) Biosecurity Communications Research and Practices Ramaswamy Comments 7/9/07: This project has made significant progress since it's previously-submitted proposal in 2005.  The MRC encourages the project to create linkages with Extension and would like to see results by midterm review. 

Proposal approved as NCERA209

10.2.0 New NC-500 Projects (FYI Only)
    NC507 Midwest Poultry Research Program Wintersteen FYI Only N/A
    NC508 Sustainable Solutions to Problems Affecting Honey Bee Health Ramaswamy FYI Only N/A
    NC509 Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute Wintersteen FYI Only N/A
    NC510 Addressing Hypoxia Issue Associated with the Upper Mississippi River Basin Colletti FYI Only N/A
10.3.00 Other Funding Decisions
10.3.1   NC7 Conservation, Management, enhancement and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources Wintersteen NC7's projects its FY08 to be $522,980.  There is no change from FY07.  Approved. 
10.3.2   NC1100 Rural Development, Work and Poverty in the North Central Region Colletti The NCRA's contract with NC1100 provides $24,000 to support this project through 2009.  Approved. 
10.4.0 Other MRC Items (see below)  

10.4.1: MRC/NCRA Project Expectations:

Background: During its March 2007 meeting, the MRC discussed creating a document outlining regional project expectations of NCRA projects.  This document would be distributed to project participants, particularly those writing new proposals.  This document would serve as a guide not only to the project participants, but also to the NCRA MRC.  The NCRA office will suggest to ESCOP that the highlighted section in the first part of the document below be added to the national MRF guidelines.  Also, the NCRA will share the rest of this document with the other regional associations for their use and input.  



Committee Types and Descriptions  

Multistate Research Projects (NC-type Projects):  The membership of a Multistate Research Project is called the technical committee, and is made up of SAES scientists, an AA, CSREES representative, other public and private sector scientists, and as applicable, extension specialists and/or extension agents. This type of activity involves cooperative, jointly planned research employing multidisciplinary approaches in which a SAES, working with other SAESs, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), or a college or university, cooperates to solve problems that concern more than one state and usually more than one region. In addition, the following must be demonstrated in the project proposal: 

  1. The objectives are clearly focused.

  2. Each participant listed has direct involvement in the accomplishment of the stated objectives.

  3. The project is multistate and multidisciplinary

  4. The project proposal has been peer-reviewed.

  5. The proposed project is oriented toward accomplishment of specific outcomes and impacts and based on priorities developed from stakeholder input.

  6. The project is responsive to CSREES goals.

NC Projects: The "engine" of the multistate research program is the collection of funded, technical committees.  In the North Central Region, these are referred to as NC committees and the associated projects as NC projects. An expected outcome from NC projects is an externally funded sponsored project.  The guidelines and criteria for NC projects are described in the Prioritization Process document (NCRA Guidelines Appendix A-1).  Projects are reviewed, in most cases, every five years with a midterm review within the third year of existence.  SAES-422 Annual Reports are due within 60 days of an annual meeting. 

Multistate Research Coordinating Committees (CC) and Education/Extension and Research Activity (ERA): The membership of a CC or an ERA is made up of an AA, CSREES representative, scientists, and as applicable, extension specialists and/or extension agents. A CC or ERA provides opportunity for scientists, specialists, and others to work cooperatively to solve problems that concern more than one state, share research data, and coordinate research and other types of activities. This is presently one of the most common mechanisms for functionally integrated activities such as the regional IPM programs. These activities are reviewed and approved by the sponsoring regional association.  The steps for development and approval of Multistate Research CCs and ERAs are described in Appendix N of the NCRA Guidelines. 

NCCC Committees:  In the NCRA, CCs are referred to as NCCC Committees and provide a mechanism for addressing critical regional issues where multistate coordination or information exchange is appropriate within a function (ie. research, education or extension); have expected outcomes; convey knowledge; and are peer reviewed.  These activities are reviewed and approved by the sponsoring regional association. The duration of the committee can be up to five years.  Membership of the committee is comprised of scientists appointed by participating state research and extension directors, as appropriate.  There is one voting member per SAES, but participation by others is an option of each director.  Meetings are held annually, with provisions for interim meetings upon authorization by the administrative advisor.  SAES-422 Annual Reports are due within 60 days of an annual meeting. 

NCERA Committees:  In the NCRA, ERAs are referred to as NCERA Committees and serve to integrate education (academic and/or extension) and research on a particular topic where multistate coordination or information exchange is appropriate; have expected outcomes; convey knowledge; and are peer reviewed. The duration of the committee can be up to five years.  Membership of the committee is comprised of scientists appointed by participating state research and extension directors, as appropriate.  There is one voting member per SAES, but participation by others is an option of each director.  Meetings are held annually, with provisions for interim meetings upon authorization by the administrative advisor.  SAES-422 Annual Reports are due within 60 days of an annual meeting.   

National Research Support Projects (NRSP): NRSPs are made up of four AAs (one appointed from each SAES regional association), a CSREES representative, and scientists from SAES and elsewhere, as appropriate. This type of activity focuses on the development of enabling technologies, support activities (such as to collect, assemble, store, and distribute materials, resources and information), or the sharing of facilities needed to accomplish high priority research, but which is not of itself primarily research. NRSPs are eligible for off-the-top funding.  SAES-422 Annual Reports are due within 60 days of an annual meeting.  Specific guidelines for NRSPs have been adopted and may be found at the following website:  

Development Committees (NCDC): Scientist from two or more states may initiate a proposal for a development committee with concurrence of two or more SAES directors.  The duration of the committee is one to two years.  These committees generally are charged to prepare a justification and a proposal outline for a new multistate activity.  Membership of the committee is comprised of an AA appointed by the chair of the regional association and scientists appointed by participating state research and extension directors, as appropriate.  SAES-422 Annual Reports are due within 60 days of an annual meeting.   

Rapid Response Research Activity:  The purpose of rapid response research (Series‑500/ NC‑500) activities is to provide a mechanism to assure responsiveness to acute crises, emergencies, and opportunities using the multistate research approach and MRF.  Activities may range from formally organized research on targeted objectives to very informal research coordination or information exchange activity, depending on the circumstances.  To create a rapid response activity directors from two or more SAES must agree to form the activity.  The proposal is a report of intent which is submitted to the regional association's chair (usually through the ED's office).  The Chair of the regional association approves the project and serves as the AA to the project or assigns that responsibility to another director.  Neither CSREES nor regional association approval is required.  If CSREES does not respond within five working days, the project will be approved.  It would not require review by either the appropriate North Central Administrative Committee (NCA) (committee of department heads/chairs) or the NCRA. The technical committee for a Rapid Response Research activity is made up of an AA, CSREES representative, research scientists, and as applicable, extension specialists and/or extension agents.  These activities have two years from the date of initiation to convert to an association sanctioned activity; thus, the technical committee has the option, at a later date, to obtain approval as a multistate research project or other multistate research activity, through normal procedures.  SAES-422 Annual Reports are due within 60 days of an annual meeting. 

Expectations for Successful NCRA Projects 

In recent years, MRC deliberations have placed a greater emphasis on accountability.  The “bar has been raised” on several different levels.  Each year, the MRC members can plainly see the committees that stand out as “model projects.”

1.        Outputs: Defined products (tangible or intangible) delivered by a research project. Examples of outputs are reports, data, information, observations, publications, and patents)

  • Does the committee routinely publish? Has the committee hosted or taken part in workshops or seminars.

2.        Impacts: Actual or intended potential long-term outcomes and impacts. Committees should build information around the activity's milestones, as identified in the original proposal. The report should also reflect on the items that stakeholders want to know, or want to see. List any grants, contracts, and/or other resources obtained by one or more project members as a result of the project's activities. Include the recipients, funding source, amount awarded and term if applicable. If the committee is filing an annual report, the impacts will cover only the current year of the project; for termination reports, list impacts from the entire span of the project. To aid in understanding the “accomplishment” description, the MRC offers these additional definitions:

Additional Definitions of "Impact":

“The economic, social, health or environmental consequences derived as benefits for the intended users. These are usually quantitatively measured either directly or indirectly as indicators of benefits.”  [Example will be inserted.] Source: National Multistate Guidelines - Glossary  

 “The quantifiable difference a land-grant program makes in the quality of life for its clients and general citizenry.’ Supplementing that brief statement is also the definition of an impact statement: ‘A brief document that describes the social, environmental, and/or economic difference that your research, teaching, or extension efforts have made on the public. Specifically, it states your accomplishments and the payoff to society.” Source: National Impact Statement Writing Team  

Activities: Organized and specific functions or duties carried out by individuals or teams using scientific methods to reveal new knowledge and develop new understanding. 

Milestones: Key intermediate targets necessary for achieving and/or delivering the outputs of a project, within an agreed timeframe. Milestones are useful for managing complex projects. For example, a milestone for a biotechnology project might be "To reduce our genetic transformation procedures to practice by December 2004."  

Indicators: Qualitative surrogate observations or indirect measures of quantitative performance measures which permit monitoring the achievement of outcomes when direct measurement of performance is difficult, too costly, or not possible. An indicator of cultivar adoption might be seed certification records, rather than actual land area planted to that cultivar. Has the committee made quantitative impacts?

3.        Progress since the midterm review based on outputs, impacts and milestones. 

4.        Objectives: Clear, concise, attainable one-sentence statements for each researchable objective arranged in a logical sequence.  Include only objectives on which the committee can make significant progress during the life of the project with the resources committed.  Do not specify the exchange of information, the coordination of research, the development of standardized techniques, or joint publication as objectives, as these are to be organized under other types of activities. 

5.        Timelines and benchmarks to gauge success must be evident in the proposal. 

6.        Participation: Proposal must include participants with sufficient expertise and geographical distribution to adequately address the objectives. 

7.        Outreach/Technology Transfer: Proposals must document stakeholder involvement. 

8.        The committee must write a title clearly, concisely and in lay language. 

9.        The committee must demonstrate a complete CRIS search to ensure no overlap with other committees both regionally and nationally. 

Action Requested: MRC presented this document to the NCRA during the meeting. 

Action Taken: The MRC requests that any changes be forwarded to Arlen Leholm ( NO LATER THAN August 15.  The MRC will present a final version during the September 2007 meeting. 

Item 7.0: ESCOP Reports

Item 7.1: Science and Technology Committee
Presenters: Steve Pueppke, Forrest Chumley

Background: Not much has happened recently.  The group recently held a conference call and is in the process of re-orienting the committee. 

Action Requested: None, for information only. 

Action Taken: None. 

Item 7.2: Communication and Marketing Committee
Presenters: Bill Ravlin, Arlen Leholm


The “Marketing the SAES” white paper is a result of work by the ESCOP Communications and Marketing Committee.  In February of 2007, this committee was asked by ESCOP and some members of the AHS group to develop compelling reasons why our nation’s State Agricultural Experiment Stations need a marketing strategy. Included in this brief, is a list of frequently asked questions and answers concerning the proposed marketing strategy.

This agenda brief can also serve as a resource to the joint meeting of ECOP and ESCOP in Philadelphia. Elbert Dickey, Dean and Director of Extension in Nebraska, has been a key contributor to the ESCOP Communications and Marketing Committee.   

Marketing the SAES 

Despite the vital work and exciting discoveries at the State Agricultural Experiment Stations (SAES), we believe there is insufficient visibility for sustenance of our programs, let alone the growth which the nation needs. We seem to suffer not just from a shortage of fiscal resources but also from a lack of a recognized identity. Too few in Washington D.C. and elsewhere know of us, our mission, and the substance of our research efforts. To remedy this situation, the ESCOP, Communication and Marketing, Committee recommends a marketing (educational) campaign aimed at key federal officials who make the funding decisions upon which our collective destinies depend.  

How do we build upon existing efforts to get better recognition of SAES and turn that into strategic support for our programs? The ESCOP, Communication and Marketing, Committee believes that earlier and repeated use of the media to educate and attract major sponsors for our programs is the best way to go forward. We have to build support in home districts and states of our congressional champions and convert that locally-based support into explanations of and publicity for the national SAES system. 


Over the past fifteen years (F.Y. 1992 to F.Y. 2006), Hatch program funds have been steadily eroded by inflation.  As measured in constant 2000 (inflation adjusted) dollars, Hatch funding was $192 million in F.Y. 1992 and $153 million in F.Y. 2006. During this same time period (and again measured in constant 2000 dollars), appropriations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) increased from $8.6 billion in F.Y. 1992 to $24.0 billion in F.Y. 2006 and funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) increased from $2.2 billion in F.Y. 1992 to $3.6 billion in F.Y. 2006.  

Why have NIH and NSF thrived while funding for the SAES system has withered?

  • NIH and NSF have a strong cadre of congressional supporters who understand the agencies’ missions, support their goals, and champion their causes.

CSREES and the SAES institutions do not have legislative champions who are ready, willing, and/or able to provide the sustained leadership necessary for significant SAES funding growth.

Recommended Solution

The land-grant system (including the Experiment Station Section) has a strong and effective lobbying effort in place. We believe that this existing effort needs to be complemented by a narrowly-focused education campaign aimed at no more than 20-30 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. We need these members to understand:

  • What we do in their state or district.

  • What we do for the nation and the greater global community.

  • How federal SAES funds leverage state, local, and private funds.

  • Why increased SAES funding – both through the formulas and competitive methods – is so important.

The ESCOP Communication and Marketing Committee recommends that the Experiment Station Section retain a nationally recognized marketing firm to help us establish a brand identity and educate federal decision-makers. 

Who, What, Why, Where and When of a State Agricultural Experiment Station Marketing Strategy 

Why do State Agricultural Experiment Stations (SAES) need a marketing strategy?

  • The SAESs lack identity, are difficult to describe, and have not achieved the financial and political support levels necessary to take full advantage of their problem-solving and economic development capacity. The SAESs, a $2 billion per year enterprise, do virtually no marketing at present.

  • The land-grant system’s current lobbying approach has worked well, but is not designed to educate key federal decision-makers at a level more than needed to support the lobby effort. 

What will the SAESs achieve with a marketing effort?

  • It will link state and local-based research impacts to dynamic, integrated and competitive food, agriculture, human systems, forestry, and environment research institutions.

  • Also, a successful marketing effort will allow for a more educated base to support increased, sustainable funding (which must include both competitive and formula/capacity-building resources).  

Who is the key audience for the SAES marketing strategy and where should the SAESs first focus resources to obtain the most impact?

  • In the next few years, ESCOP should focus the primary marketing message on key members of the House and Senate and House Agriculture and Appropriations Committees and their relevant subcommittees. The SAESs might also focus on leaders in OMB, OSTP, and USDA.

  • By initially focusing on key Members of Congress (in their local districts) we would limit the targets and link a national marketing campaign by utilizing experiment station communication expertise already in place to provide access to the local media and other outlets. This would be the most strategic and cost effective approach to marketing the SAESs.  

Should a SAES marketing strategy include teaching and extension functions?

  • A skilled marketing firm will help the SAESs determine how best to craft marketing messages for maximum impact. Clearly, teaching and extension functions need marketing assistance too; an integrated approach would better represent the system’s breath and depth.

  • The advantage for marketing the SAESs includes its ability to develop multistate research teams and rapid responses to national issues.

  • No matter the mission involved, a successful marketing effort must remain focused, simple, economical, and directed at those individuals who affect system budgets. 

Doesn’t our advocacy firm already perform the marketing function as part of its lobbying contract with the SAESs through NASULGC?

  • No the existing advocacy firm, hired to lobby Congress on behalf of the Colleges of Agriculture, Extension, the SAESs, etc. does not have the marketing function in its contract. However, the marketing strategy must coordinate closely with the lobbying effort – a strong marketing effort would complement and strengthen the system’s effectiveness. 

What attributes and experiences must a marketing firm possess if selected to develop and implement a SAES marketing strategy? Where would the firm deliver the messages?

  • The firm must have demonstrated congressional marketing success and it must understand how to influence our key target audience.

  • The firm must be able to deliver marketing messages to the key members in their home districts and to the most important media markets that influence those members but be able to tie local outcomes to a national SAES system. 

How do you hold a marketing firm accountable for performance?

  • ESCOP would identify and carefully monitor outcome measures and objectives stated in the marketing firm’s contract for progress toward the strategy’s objectives and goals.

  • ESCOP will develop a marketing outcome report and present it to the system annually. Additionally, ESCOP will conduct a comprehensive review after three years. 

Who will hold the marketing firm to its milestones and outcomes as stated in the contract?

  • ESCOP charged the Communication and Marketing Committee with developing a strategic marketing plan and thus accepts this responsibility. 

How will SAES marketing efforts complement other attempts to gain new resources?

  • It will enhance our chances for success with efforts such as CREATE-21 and NIFA.

  • It will enhance and be coordinated with the existing lobbying effort.

  • It will cooperate with other parts of the NASULGC system where appropriate. 

How will ESCOP fund this marketing effort?

  • ESCOP initially provided the Communication and Marketing Committee $10,000 to develop a marketing firm proposal.

  • ESCOP must fund and implement successful marketing efforts over the long run.

  • ESCOP needs some off-the-top funding to sustain at least the initial phases of this marketing effort.

  • ESCOP and its member institutions could strategically redirect funds currently spent on fragmented efforts whose impacts are, at best, unknown to fund and sustain much of the proposed marketing effort.

  • At some point, ESCOP could ask SAES stakeholders to contribute to the effort’s funding.

  • A coordinated marketing effort from ECOP and ACOP may also benefit the strategy. 

When should the marketing effort begin?

Ideally, in order to influence the next annual budget/appropriations cycle, the effort should begin no later than October 1, 2007.  A marketing firm should be selected as soon as possible.

Action Requested: None, for information only. 

Action Taken: None. 

Item 7.3: Budget and Legislative Committee
Presenters: Steve Slack, John Kirby


The ESS federal budget priorities for FY2010 will be developed and discussed at the ESS annual meeting this September.  The ESS FY09 priorities discussed by the Budget and Legislative Committee to this point are as follows.

1) Maintain capacity for research through base funds (Hatch, Evans-Allen, McIntire-Stennis, Animal Disease)
2) Increase the National Research Initiative (NRI) with special emphasis on integrated program areas.

ESS FY 09 Subject Matter Priorities for Federal Funding (All agencies)

Broad Category  Rank Issue
Biobased Economy  1 Bioconversion and biofuels
Development and utilization of bioproducts
Economics and policy
Land-Use Issues and policy
Water quality and quantity
Energy security
Food, Nutrition and Health 2 Food Safety
Obesity/Consumer Behavior
Innovative plant and animal technologies and systems
Functional Foods/Nutraceuticals
Environment 3 Water quality and quantity
Invasive species
Rural communities and land use issues
Global climate change
Sustainable agriculture systems
Agricultural mechanization
Food and Agro Security 4 Rapid Detection of Threat Agents
Risk Assessment
Facility and Personnel Security

Biobased Economy: Increase our knowledge of bioconversion of plant and animal feedstocks to bioenergy and bioproducts including plant and microbial genomics, bioprocessing systems, and biomass production..  Enhance understanding of the long term sustainability of bioconversion systems including economics, land use policies, water availability, and energy security.
Food, Nutrition and Health: Develop the knowledge base on the etiology of food safety.  Develop an understanding of the role of diet and consumer behavior on human health including obesity.  Develop innovative plant and animal production technologies and systems.  Enhance the ability to identify foods with physiological activity and apply new, innovative technology to improve food systems.
Environment: Provide a framework for understanding and addressing issues of water quality and quantity and invasive species. Develop a better understanding of rural community vitality including land use.  Contribute to issues of global climate change. Develop sustainable agriculture systems including agricultural mechanization. 
Food and Agro Security: Develop the knowledge base for (1) rapid detection of threat agents and disaster preparedness and recovery efforts, (2) risk assessment, and (3) facility and personnel security.  Provide for facilities as stated in section 1485 of the 2002 Farm Bill that authorizes up to $10M per year awarded to each experiment station on a competitive basis with required matching funds (77 units (SAES and ARD) at $10M each amounts to $250M per year for three years).

Action Requested: None, for information only. 

Action Taken: None. 

Item 8.0: ARS Report - No Report. 
Presenter: Steve Shafer

Item 9.0: NIAS Report
Presenter: David Benfield


At the September 25, 2006 ESS meeting in California, the NIAS Executive Director reported on NIAS activities and developments at the federal level that would impact agrosecurity research and education, focusing on activities of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) and the pending reorganization of Science and Technology (S&T) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  In subsequent teleconferences of the NIAS Board of Directors, there were discussions about the substantial transformations emerging within DHS S&T.  It was determined that it was not feasible to develop a plan of activities for NIAS until such time as the DHS S&T settled into its new organizational structure.  In the absence of a planned set of activities with a high chance of benefiting the NIAS membership, dues were not assessed for 2006 or for 2007.  The NIAS Board determined to “stand by” until a more opportune time.  The NIAS Chair intends to reconvene the Board in the coming months to consider the current status of DHS S&T and to develop recommendations for future NIAS activities.

The two DHS University Centers with food and agriculture missions are represented on the NIAS Board.  The National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center) is a member of the NIAS Board and the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD) is an ad hoc member.  The two Centers have facilitated participation by the NIAS Executive Director in a number of agrosecurity events and discussions with DHS through the ongoing reorganization process. 

Events attended by the NIAS Executive Director since the September ESS meeting include:

The NIAS Executive Director has been an active participant in discussions regarding modeling the food and agricultural sector for the development of homeland security visualization and decision tools, the management of “sensitive” information, and the identification of critical food and agriculture infrastructure.   Based on developments of the NSABB, The NIAS Executive Director has also continued to meet with personnel from CDC, APHIS and the national laboratories to improve the working tool for managing hazardous non-select agents, which will be provided to the Experiment Station Directors prior to the 2007 ESS meetings.   

Early after its formation, NIAS began making requests to DHS, particularly through the Food and Agriculture Coordinating Council (FASCC), that guidelines be developed by which DHS could share “need to know” information with the agricultural research community.  DHS officials indicated that this topic could be addressed, after they worked out a process of communicating with the food and agriculture private sector.  On June 26, 2007, the DHS General Coordinating Council (GCC) and the FASCC met to discuss developing a process to provide guidelines on how to communicate possibly sensitive information between DHS and the food and agriculture private sector.  Working groups were formed and there is an effort underway to complete draft documents for review over the coming months.

Action Requested: None, for information only. 

Action Taken: None. 

Item 10.0: Nominations Report
Presenter: David Benfield

Project/Committee Title Outgoing Incoming
NC1017 Carbon Sequestration and Distribution in Soils of Eroded Landscapes  Pat Walsh, WI Gary Cunningham, NE
NC1019 Control of Emerging and Re-emerging Poultry Respiratory Diseases in the United States Jeff Klausner, MN Don Reynolds, IA
NC1032 Assessing Nitrogen Mineralization And Other Diagnostic Criteria To Refine Nitrogen Rates For Crops And Minimize Losses Gary Lemme, SD Sue Blodgett, SD
ESCOP Chair Elect N/A Bruce McPherson, PA Steve Pueppke, MI
NCRA MRC N/A Bill Ravlin, OH Doug Buhler, MI

Action Requested: Approve above nominations.

Action Taken: Approved. 

Item 12.0: Other Items - None.
Presenter: All

Item 13.0: Upcoming Meetings
Presenter: Forrest Chumley

Background: During the March 2007 meeting, the Directors expressed interest in holding the NCRA March 2008 meeting outside the region.  It was suggested that the location be either San Antonio or Las Vegas.  After conducting some research, the more cost-efficient/easier-to-get-to locale was Las Vegas.  Therefore, mark your calendars for next year's spring meeting to take place March 25-26 at the Excalibur in Las Vegas.  We have reserved a few rooms pre-/post-meeting if you'd like to extend your stay.  Room rates for the group are:

3/21/08: $191*
3/22/08: $231*
3/23/08: $119
3/24/08: $119
3/25/08: $119
3/26/08: $99
3/27/08: $99

*These prices are 1) because it's a weekend and 2) because there are several conventions in town along with the NCAA basketball tournament. 

Action Requested: None, for information only. 

Action Taken: None. 

Item 10.0: Announcements - None