USDA is trimming its budget and at least one area is being eliminated - weed science. At a time when resistant weeds and other issues are plaguing production agriculture, a cut of this level could have major ramifications, asserts the Weed Science Society of America.
USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture is making the cuts which WSSA President John Jachetta could eliminate research on areas that impact food and water supplies, and natural ecosystems.
Along with WSSA, several groups are appealing to USDA to restore funding including the Aquatic Plant Management Society, North Central Weed Science Society, Northeastern Weed Science Society, Southern Weed Science Society and Western Society of Weed Science.
In a letter to Roger Beachy, NIFA's director, the group pointed to several urgent, near-term challenges weed science needs to address.
The top areas identified include herbicide resistance, organic weed control, climate change and protection of water supplies.
"Weed scientists are mystified and disappointed by USDA's decision," Jachetta says in a prepared statement. "If officials consider weed management a solved problem, nothing could be further from the truth. Today, well over half of all pest-related crop losses can be attributed to weeds. Abandoning our commitment to weed science at a time when our weed management challenges are growing is a potent recipe for a crisis of national proportions."
This latest move is one of a long line of slices to USDA research budgets that have - over the past 20 years - gutted ag research. Readers who want to let their worries over these cuts be known can write to the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate. The NIFA email address for stakeholder comments is RFP-OEP@nifa.usda.gov.