GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

9-Misc: Budget cuts at U.S. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture



-----------------------
genet-news mailing list
-----------------------

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  LEOPOLD CENTER SUSPENDS KEY PROGRAMS, RESEARCH
SOURCE: The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, USA
        http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/budgetcut02.html
DATE:   July 15, 2002

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Two years ago, I reported the results of a study that showed crops in
   Iowa planted with genetically modified seeds provided no significant
   difference in economic returns to farmers based on the 1998 crop year
   (see Fall 1999 Leopold Letter). I repeated the study this year using
   information from 2000, and found the same results: use of genetically
   modified seed did not appear to impact a farmer's bottom line for
   either corn or soybean production.
                                       Michael Duffy, Associate Director
                              Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
----------------------------------------------------------------------------


LEOPOLD CENTER SUSPENDS KEY PROGRAMS, RESEARCH

AMES, Iowa-The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has suspended its 
annual request for new research project ideas and will not be supporting 
educational events or conferences this year, dealing a severe blow to 
sustainable agriculture efforts in Iowa.

The program changes are the result of a $1 million transfer of funds 
earmarked for Leopold Center work from the Groundwater Protection Fund 
(GWPF). The groundwater account was established in 1987 and is supported by 
fees charged on the sale of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides to Iowa 
farmers. Iowa legislators approved the transfer, representing an 86 percent 
reduction in what the Leopold Center would have received from that fund, 
during a May 28, 2002 special session to help balance the state's 2003 
budget.

"This will be the first year in the Center's 14-year history that we 
haven't issued a call for new proposals," said Leopold Center director Fred 
Kirschenmann. "Given our budget restrictions we have few choices other than 
to drastically scale back programs, including funds for new research."

Kirschenmann added that the Center has maintained a financial reserve to 
complete research projects already underway at the time of the budget cuts.

"This will allow researchers time to finish the projects or to find 
alternatives for their valuable work," he said. "Many of our funded 
projects involve two or more years to collect data from field experiments 
or develop networks or partnerships."

Since 1988, the Leopold Center has funded more than 250 competitive grants 
totaling more than $10 million. The research and education projects covered 
a variety of topics including water quality, forages and livestock systems, 
pest management, marketing and community linkages to agriculture. The 
research program has involved hundreds of scientists, educators and farmer-
cooperators, who were informed of the program suspension in a July 8 letter 
from the Center.

The Leopold Center's educational and outreach efforts also are severely 
affected by budget cuts. Eliminated are the Center's pilot educational 
program and its educational events program, which offered mini-grants to 
other groups planning workshops, camps, conferences and meetings about 
sustainable agriculture issues.

"Education is one of the Center's mandated missions, and our presence at 
these events has been an important way to reach Iowans throughout the 
state," Kirschenmann said. From 1993 to 2002, the Leopold Center provided 
funds for more than 150 regional conferences, workshops, tours, and youth 
camps that involved more than 21,000 people.

This is the second year that the Leopold Center has dealt with significant 
cuts. To make up for a $250,000 transfer in 2001, the Center eliminated 
support of four long-standing multi-disciplinary issue teams and issued a 
scaled-back request for proposals (RFP). The Center also receives a direct 
educational appropriation through Iowa State University, and has 
experienced a 16 percent cut over the past two years.

"Slashing the Leopold Center's budget does far more damage than simply 
crippling the Center's ability to fund projects to support midsize farms," 
Kirschenmann said. "It sends a message that Iowa has given up on the long-
term vision of an agriculture that is economically and environmentally 
sound."

"We do not believe that the demise of midsize family farms is inevitable, " 
he added. "We believe in another future for Iowa agriculture, and are 
working within the university community and with organizations outside that 
community to secure funds to keep the Leopold Center in operation." ##


For more information, contact Fred Kirschenmann, (515) 294-3711; Michael 
Duffy, (515) 294-6160; or Laura Miller, (515) 294-5272.


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Study shows no economic advantage for Iowa farmers to plant GMO 
        crops
SOURCE: The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, USA
        http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/newsletter/2001-4leoletter/gmo.html
DATE:   April 2001

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Study shows no economic advantage for Iowa farmers to plant GMO crops

By Michael Duffy
Associate Director

Two years ago, I reported the results of a study that showed crops in Iowa 
planted with genetically modified seeds provided no significant difference 
in economic returns to farmers based on the 1998 crop year (see Fall 1999 
Leopold Letter <http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/newsletter/99-3leoletter/99-
3gmoduffy.html>). I repeated the study this year using information from 
2000, and found the same results: use of genetically modified seed did not 
appear to impact a farmer's bottom line for either corn or soybean 
production.

The information that I analyzed was collected by the USDA's National 
Agricultural Statistics Service as part of its annual Cost and Return 
survey. It was gathered in the late fall and early winter during personal 
interviews with approximately 350 Iowa farmers. They were asked what crops 
they grew, and whether the seed they planted contained a genetically 
modified organism (GMO). The survey covered all aspects of crop production 
including yields, pesticide and fertilizer use, seeding rates and the type 
and nature of machinery operations performed.

My analysis used information from a random selection of 172 soybean fields 
and 174 corn fields from the USDA survey. These numbers and the selection 
methods employed provide statistically reliable estimates at the state 
level. Although this analysis is only a cross-sectional survey and not a 
side-by-side comparison of GMO and non-GMO crops, it represents a picture 
of what Iowa farmers experienced, under varying conditions and situations, 
during the 2000 crop year.

Following is a summary of my analysis. I recently presented more details at 
the American Seed Trade Association meeting in Chicago. My speech, and 
accompanying charts <http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/pubinfo/papersspeeches/
biotech.html>, are posted on the Leopold Center web site. Copies also are 
available by contacting the Leopold Center.


Herbicide tolerant soybeans

Approximately 63 percent of the Iowa acres planted to soybeans in 2000 were 
varieties that had been genetically modified to tolerate herbicides used in 
weed control. In 1998, just over 40 percent was grown from GMO seed. Use of 
herbicide-tolerant varieties resulted in lower herbicide and weed 
management costs. However, they also had higher seed costs and slightly 
lower yields.

Yield.
The herbicide-tolerant soybeans averaged 43.4 bushels per acre while the 
non-tolerant soybeans averaged 45.0 bushels per acre. The percentage 
difference in yields is identical to the difference found in the 1998 crop 
year. In 1998, the yields were 49.2 and 51.2 bushels per acre for herbicide-
tolerant and non-tolerant soybeans, respectively.

Seed costs.
The seed cost for herbicide-tolerant soybeans averaged $5.69 per acre more 
than the non-tolerant fields. In 1998, the difference was $7.53 per acre. 
The expense for non-tolerant soybeans was lower in 1998 while the expense 
for the tolerant varieties was slightly higher.

Herbicide costs.
The non-tolerant soybeans averaged $26.15 per acre for herbicides, which 
was $6.17 higher than the herbicide costs for the tolerant fields. This 
cost difference is similar to what was found in 1998 even though the 
herbicide costs, in general, are higher in 2000 when compared to 1998.


Bt corn

A genetic modification used in corn production is the addition of bacillus 
thuringiensis (Bt) to fight a major pest, the European corn borer. The 
study included 128 non-Bt cornfields and 46 Bt fields. Similar to herbicide-
tolerant soybeans, Bt corn produced a return essentially equal to the non-
Bt corn.

Yield.
The average yield for Bt corn was 152 bushels per acre. The average yield 
for the non-BT corn was 149 bushels per acre. This yield difference is less 
than the difference found in the 1998 studyŃ160.4 bushels per acre for Bt 
corn and 147.7 bushels per acre for non-Bt corn

Fertilizer costs.
The Bt cornfields had slightly higher total fertilizer costs per acre. The 
Bt fertilizer cost was $53.30 versus $48.67 for the non-Bt fields, much 
similar to the results found in 1998. Although no production reason exists 
for the higher fertilizer costs, it is hypothesized that the Bt fields are 
managed more intensively which leads to the increased fertilizer costs.

Seed costs.
The costs for seeds vary depending on number chosen. Seed costs for the Bt 
corn averaged $4.31 per acre higher using the conservative assumptions 
employed in this study.

Other considerations.
If returns are not significantly different, why have we seen such an 
increase in the use of GMO technology? For herbicide-tolerant soybeans, 
farmers answer that question by saying they can cover more acres more 
quickly and that they do not have to worry about weed management as they 
did in the past. For Bt corn, farmers view use of GMO seed as an insurance 
policy if there's an insect infestation. There are many such non-
quantifiable benefits and costs associated with using GMO seeds.



--


|*********************************************|
|                   GENET                     |
| European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering |
|                                             |
|             Hartmut MEYER (Mr)              |
|               Kleine Wiese 6                |
|           D - 38116 Braunschweig            |
|                 Germany                     |
|                                             |
| phone:  +49-531-5168746                     |
| fax:    +49-531-5168747                     |                      
| mobile: +49-162-1054755                     |
| email:  genetnl@xs4all.be                   |
|*********************************************|