Purdue University's College of Agriculture went into this legislative session seeking $3.1 million annually in extra funds to beef up certain efforts in their program. Dean Jay Akridge noted just recently that they are still hopeful, but will have to wait and see like everyone else what the legislature finally approves for the budget. Since this is the long session and the only thing the legislature is required to do by state law is pass a budget, the session will likely extend well into April.
"We are still hopeful that they will see what we could do with the funding and grant our request," Dean Akridge says. Besides going to help bolster applied research, part of the money would help Purdue increase its knowledge base and efficiency at delivering information to small farmers who are producing local food. This is a growing trend within the state.
Some efforts are already underway to help those folks, through both Webinars and a conference specifically designed for small farm operations that are producing for local markets. However, the Dean says to do the job properly, they need to invest in the area more heavily, requiring a larger fund.
When the news first broke that Purdue Agriculture would receive $65 million, the largest gift ever given to Purdue University for any reason, questions arose about whether Purdue Agriculture would still need extra funding. Akridge cleared away the confusion.
"We've very pleased with the gift, and that it will be unrestricted, meaning we can use it the best way we see fit when we get it," he says. "However some of the early reports didn't clarify that it is an estate gift. What that means is that the money is dedicated to Purdue Agriculture in a couple's will, but they are still living, and hopefully will be for some time. It could realistically be 20 years before we actually receive the money.
"In the meantime, we need to move forward and need money to do so. Since this is a future gift, we don't believe it will have any bearing on how the legislature looks at our request for funds in this session."