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WSU Seeks $7.5-Million for Food Safety, Agriculture

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University’s College of Agriculture and Home Economics has submitted a request for $7.5-million in new state funding to address a broad list of food safety, agricultural and environmental issues.

The College’s Safe Food Initiative is part of WSU’s legislative request for the 1999-2001 biennium.

“Public concern over food safety and threats to the state’s agricultural economy in the form of reduced exports to Asia and low commodity prices make this an important time to invest state resources in agricultural research,” says James J. Zuiches, dean of WSU’s College of Agriculture and Home Economics.  “This research will keep Washington’s agricultural industry competitive.”

The funding would allow WSU to hire 20 new faculty and 20 technical support staff to fill critical gaps in research and extension teams.  The College of Agriculture and Home Economics would hire 17 faculty and 13 technicians; the College of Veterinary Medicine would hire three faculty and three technicians, and the College of Sciences would hire four technicians.

New employees would fill critical gaps in existing teams of researchers and WSU  Cooperative Extension educators.

Three major objectives of the initiative are to:

  • Ensure safe food products for domestic and global markets by reducing risks from food-borne pathogens;
  • Protect food crops from devastating pests through new crop protection techniques and materials; and
  • Help farmers and ranchers produce safe food safely, and economically while minimizing the environmental impact of agricultural practices.

In food safety, teams of scientists and educators will create better on-farm management methods, such as use of diagnostics for on-farm diseases and education of producers and processors about best management practices.

Others will work to protect food crops from devastating pests while reducing environmental impact of farming practices.

“We believe this $7.5-million investment will produce a $200 million annual boost to the state’s economy within five years,” Zuiches said.  “It also will increase consumer confidence in Washington’s agricultural products and improve the quality of our environment.”

Additional information on the Safe Food Initiative is available on the World Wide Web at http://ext.wsu.edu/SafeFood/

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