Sandra Fiser | 4/19/2005 10:29:07 PM
BATON ROUGE – Stressing that production agriculture alone is not enough to sustain rural economies, a leading food science expert this week said farm productivity needs to be converted to consumer-ready products.
Dr. Daryl Lund, executive director of the North Central Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors, spoke Wednesday (May 19) at a food science summit, that brought together LSU AgCenter faculty members who work with various aspects of food research, education and outreach programs.
Suggesting they go through a "strategic positioning process," Lund told the audience, agriculture is shifting from commodities to food and that the LSU AgCenter’s research and outreach programs must have impact and accountability.
He said federal agricultural research support is moving toward basic science, leaving the funding of applied science to the states and private industry.
Likewise, researchers should put more focus on consumers, considering food quality, convenience, safety and nutrition, said Dr. Frank Flora, national program leader for product quality and utilization with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md.
Flora said he sees no increase in federal funding for agricultural research. "The pie isn’t growing," he said. "It depends on how you slice the pie."
To compete for federal funds, Flora suggested the LSU AgCenter faculty members build coalitions with other researchers and develop support from stakeholders, other federal agencies and state government.
"Do things that are important to stakeholders and relevant to their interests," he said.
The LSU AgCenter invited Lund and Flora to Baton Rouge to provide national perspectives and visions for examining the LSU AgCenter’s food science programs, according to Dr. David Morrison, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor.
"We’ve brought together our scientists and extension people who work in the areas of food to examine where we are and to look ahead to determine how we can improve our programs," Morrison said. "We want to be able to provide the greatest impact on how our research and extension can contribute to economic development in Louisiana."
Morrison added that the LSU AgCenter’s food science efforts span the range of programs from production agriculture to food processing and other value-added activities to human health and nutrition.
"Our goal is to establish strategic plans for future activities," Morrison said.
LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson said the two-day summit is a follow-up to an earlier review of the AgCenter’s Department of Food Science conducted by the UDSA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.
"We want to know where we are today and where you see us going," Richardson told the faculty members. "Focus what we’re trying to do in the food science program in the AgCenter."
Richardson charged the group with considering how to assemble its resources and define goals and objectives.
The LSU AgCenter departments with activities related to food science include dairy science, agricultural economics and agribusiness, the Audubon Sugar Institute, human ecology, animal sciences, horticulture, biological and agricultural engineering and food science.
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