NGWI Members Meet with Leaders in Washington, DC
The National Grape & Wine Initiative's spring Board of Directors' meeting convened for two days of meetings in the Nation's Capitol and at the headquarters of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) on March 20 and 21, 2013.
Leadership from the USDA's research programs updated the NGWI Board on initiatives, and sought the Board's input on some key pending research ideas. In addition, NGWI Board members had the opportunity to talk with key Congressional representatives about the importance of investment in specialty crop research.
Taking advantage of time in Washington DC, a team of NGWI research committee members explained the critical need for research to develop crop estimation and other precision agriculture tools to Dr. Deborah Sheely and Dr. Dan Schmoldt, individuals charged with administration of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. Work in this area - to date funded by individual NGWI member organizations - will require computational assistance to interpret images and develop management tools, a process described as "big data" within research circles.
NGWI member Ann Heidig arranged for a group of Board members to
|The Honorable Eric Cantor|
participate in a half hour session with her Congressman (and HouseMajority Leader) Eric Cantor. Listening
carefully to research needs of the grape industry, Representative Cantor expressed support to work with House Leadership to extend SCRI into the future.
Other Congressional meetings were held in the offices of Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, as well as Congressmen Jeff Denham, Sam Farr, Jim Costa and freshman member David Valadeo.
Highlights of the Board's morning program included the following:
|Dr. Cathie Woteki|
Dr. Cathie Woteki, Assistant USDA Secretary of Research, Education and Economics: Presentation on a wide range of research activities, as well as USDA's plans to implement two initiatives. The first is an "open data" plan initiated by the White House, and presented at an international meeting of the G-8 to provide open access to data generated by US government science agencies. The second is a plan to create new research institutes, as a result of a report of the President's Council of Advisors on Science & Technology (PCAST) about Agricultural Preparedness and the Agricultural Research Enterprise. That report suggested an emphasis on competitive grants, more private-public partnerships, and an infusion of $800 million more on agricultural research.
Dr. Ed Knipling, Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service:
|Dr. Ed Knipling |
Reported on an ARS analysis of facilities, including proposed elimination of redundant sites and
improvement of labs around thenation. Dr. Knipling indicated that the genomics lab in Geneva, NY, (an important site for grape work) was one for which additional resources will be requested. He also asked NGWI for input on the top ten problems the grape industry would like to solve through genomics, as well as for input on the national program on pests and diseases.
Ven Neralla, Congressional Affairs, REE mission area: A lively report on the view from Capitol Hill, which complimented NGWI on its easy-to-navigate website and suggested additional education of new members of Congress on specialty crop research needs.
Dr. John Goldberg and Lauren Sturgeon, House Committee on Agriculture: Predicted a Farm Bill vote in 2013, and continued support for changes needed to make the Specialty Crop Research Initiative more responsive to the pressing needs of agriculture.
Finally, with the assistance of ARS National Program Leader, Dr. Sally Schneider, NGWI spent a full day meeting with the heads of national research programs ranging from genetics and genomics to crop protection. The meetings reflected a convergence in viticulture research approaches to reflect the study of GENOTYPE in the ENVIRONMENT and adaptive MANAGEMENT (GxExM).