The University of Vermont welcomed Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to the Miller Research Farm on July 17 to highlight some of the research projects and programs developed with the $15 million in grants and funding Leahy helped secure as a lead negotiator of the 2014 Farm Bill.  

The funding, awarded through a wide array of Farm Bill programs that is continuing to flow in, has supported cutting-edge agricultural research and extension projects throughout the state. Since the passage of the Farm Bill 16 months ago, Leahy said more than 35 innovative projects have been launched at UVM, including critical agricultural water-quality projects in the Lake Champlain Basin conducted by UVM Extension agents Heather Darby and Jeff Carter. 

Leahy, the senior-most member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, also drew attention to the establishment of farm-led work groups to tackle conservation issues; the advancement of rural economic development; the demonstration of cover crops; youth risk behavior prevention programs in rural communities; and research into sustainable pest control, hoof-and-mouth disease prevention and the impacts of climate change.

“The relationship between the University of Vermont and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is so rewarding and successful that it defies a quick snapshot,” said Leahy. “This federal support enables the university and its partners to deliver real benefits to our farmers, our rural communities and to our watersheds through applied research and the best Extension work in the country.”

Doug Latagne, dean and director of UVM Extension, introduced Leahy and was joined by Tom Vogelmann, dean of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and Nancy Mathews, dean of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, in highlighting the work their faculty has conducted with Farm Bill funding. 

Vogelmann said CALS has obtained at least 23 awards totaling $4.4 million over the past 16 months, including year one funding for the largest grant in the history of the CALS: a five-year $7.5 million grant for “A Human Behavioral Approach to Reducing the Impact of Livestock Pest or Disease Incursions of Socio-Economic Importance.”

“A vibrant research enterprise at this Land Grant Institution is absolutely essential for creating a bright future for agriculture, our communities, and for providing a strong and vibrant economy for our young people,” said Vogelmann. “Through opportunities in the Farm Bill, our scientists have competed successfully for funding against the top tier of scientists at other land grant institutions across the nation. Since the passage of the Farm Bill we have done very well indeed.”

Mathews emphasized the long-term support of USDA, which has heavily funded the Rubenstein School and its predecessors since the School of Natural Resources was launched at UVM in 1973. Over the past five years, USDA funding has accounted for nearly 23 percent of all Rubenstein grant awards totaling of $5.2 million. Mathews drew attention to a number of USDA-funded research projects including the most comprehensive study ever conducted on the impacts of climate change on critical pollinators by Leif Richardson.

“Without the support and collaboration with USDA’s various research programs, made possible by Sen. Leahy’s long-term support, our precious Vermont landscape -- not to mention the world’s landscape -- could be quite different,” Mathews said.


Jon Reidel