March 15, 2005
The Honorable Saxby Chambliss
United States Senate
Russell Building Suite 416
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Chambliss:
Re: Restoration of USDA Pecan Research Funding for FY2006
Our National Pecan Growers Council would like to thank you and the Agriculture Committee for your past and present support of the U.S. pecan industry. You have ensured that federal funds were available to help our industry to solve critical problems and to enable pecan farmers to remain a viable portion of U.S. agriculture.
We understand that the President’s FY2006 Budget makes cuts in USDA-ARS pecan research. One of those is a $1,074,000 cut from the USDA-ARS program headquartered in Byron, Georgia. Other cuts of specific concern to us include two research projects under the direction of the USDA-ARS Pecan Breeding Program at College Station, Texas: “Genetics and Improvement of Pecan” ($211,623) and “Conservation and Characterization of Genetic Diversity in Pecan” ($34,389). These two projects total $246,012.
Our group of pecan research scientists in Byron, Georgia, College Station, Texas, New Mexico State University and the University of Arizona are doing a great job for the industry and those cuts would hinder their efforts significantly.
It is our opinion that this budget reduction is not in the best interest of U.S. agriculture.
We have many challenges in our industry:
Severe alternate bearing
Universities losing pecan scientist
Competition from other nuts
No federal subsidies
Competition from other countries (primarily Mexico)
Rapidly rising production costs (especially fuel and energy costs)
Our industry is relatively small by U.S. standards; however, when we consider the number of growers, processors and employees and the number of dollars generated (including taxes) pecans are indeed a significant part of the U.S. economy. Pecan is also one of very few U.S. crops that is a Native American — i.e. native to North America. When we consider the dollar amount of U.S. imports, (including oil), we believe it makes good common sense to do everything reasonable to keep the U.S. pecan industry viable and competitive. This includes fully funding the USDA-ARS pecan research budget. Our national organization encourages you to continue as you have done in the past, to work for satisfactory funding of this important crop. We hope you will be able to ensure the restoration of this $1,074,000 for pecan research, and hope that the program might also receive a funding increase.
Please feel free to call or write if you have any questions regarding this important issue. I would be available to travel to Washington DC to discus further if necessary. We again thank you and the Agricultural Committee for your past and present help.
President, National Pecan Growers Council