Oct. 30, 2012 – The United States is rapidly approaching a financial crossroads that could have devastating impacts on the research and agricultural communities. Under current law, drastic, across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, will go into effect on January 2, 2013.
Without action by lawmakers, science funding agencies such as the USDA, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Geological Survey face an automatic 8.2% budget cut. Cuts of this level will mean fewer grants for researchers, lab closures, and staff layoffs—changes that will ultimately have major effects on our ability to generate new scientific knowledge, develop innovative products and services, grow our economy, and maintain our global competitiveness.
These budget cuts are avoidable, however, if Congress can agree on a balanced deficit reduction plan. And this is why the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), are now urging the research and agricultural communities to engage Congress on this issue.
“We’re asking our members, certified professionals, students, and others to tell Congress that these draconian budget cuts must be avoided at all costs,” says ASA, CSSA, SSSA Chief Executive Officer, Ellen Bergfeld. “Nearly everything we do as a community will be affected by these cuts, including training the next generation of scientists and professionals, discovering new knowledge, and disseminating that information to the people who depend on it: land managers, farmers, ag businesses, the public—and, yes, lawmakers.”
Toward this end, the ASA, CSSA, and SSSA asked their members to sign a petition at their annual meetings in Cincinnati, OH, in October, urging Congress to agree on a balanced plan for deficit reduction to avoid these catastrophic cuts. The Societies’ student members were given the chance in September to sign onto a multidisciplinary letter on this issue, and all members were encouraged to participate in a national “tweet day” earlier this fall.
The Societies’ science policy group has also now created a new web page of resources on sequestration, including information on the potential effects on federal agencies that fund science, as well as the possible impacts on every state in the country. Visitors will also find sample emails, messages—and even tweets—that they can use to encourage Congress to act.
“We’re urging our members, as well as the broader public, to make a solid case to Congress on this issue,” says Bergfeld. “It’s up to all of us be a voice for science.”