USDA research center in Coshocton may close next fall due to budgets

COSHOCTON, Ohio — After 75 years of conducting research, the USDA Agricultural Research Service at the Coshocton location could come to an end if provisions in the fiscal year 2010 budget proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama are approved.

The proposed budget calls for $44 million in budget cuts for the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The closing of the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed center in Coshocton will erase $1.39 million from that loss.

Closure list

There are 10 other ARS centers like it on the closure list. A total of 100 ag research centers similar to Coshocton exist in the United States. A total of 12 people work at the central Ohio center.

There is also a proposal to close the Beaver, W.Va., Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center. It will cut $6.036 million from the budget.

If closed, the centers would close sometimes after the fiscal year 2012 begins, which is in October.

However, as of now the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives haven’t issued their proposed budget, which could change the closings.

No budget yet?

In addition, it should also be noted that currently, the fiscal year 2011 budget hasn’t even been passed.

The Coshocton site was originally selected for research because it represented land conditions prevalent in many states in this part of the nation, and because it was in an area of active interest in large-scale flood control, recreation, and water management.

Loss

One big item that will come to an end if the center is closed is the capturing of climate data for the area.

“75 years of climate data will end,” said Leah Miller, with the Ohio-based Small Farm Institute and the North Central Ohio Grazing Council.

She explained the climate information helps farmers understand what will work in the worst of times — a drought or too much water.

The agriculture community is not the only group that benefits from the center’s research. Miller said the manufacturing, mining and natural resources industries also benefit.

“It’s bigger than the farming community,” Miller said. “Most of their research has to deal with soil and water. It’s the building blocks of everything we do.”

She added it is necessary for business leaders, farmers and others to know the basics of how the soil works and what it does for us and the Coshocton ARS site provides that knowledge.

Miller said some of the research also shows us how our climate is changing and how the soil and water react to it.

“It’s research that goes on in real time,” Miller said.

Research

The center is studying erosion and the importance of cover crops or a covering on top of the soil. The studies also look at the soil’s ability to absorb water.

Another important avenue the center focuses research on is water quality.

She added instead of doing small scale studies, the center allows for full scale research that can show different weather conditions, soil conditions and insect damage.

Data collection

The center conducts gathers different types of data, but some of it has included the environmental impacts of grazing, crop rotations, carbon sequestration, watershed science, urbanization and flooding and long-term no-till and conservation tillage research.

Keeping silent

Attempts were made to talk with someone from the Coshocton research center but calls were referred to the director of information for the USDA- Agricultural Research Service, http://www.ars.usda.gov/Aboutus/docs.htm?docid=8680, in Beltsville, Md. She was not able to answer questions but told the Farm and Dairy to get information from the USDA-ARS website, http://www.ars.usda.gov/AboutUs/AboutUs.htm?modecode=36-05-00-00.

USDA Agricultural Research Service sites targeted to close
in proposed FY2012 budget:

Watkinsville, Ga.
Southern Piedmont Conservation Research
$598,000 (annual savings achieved)

Ames, Iowa
Air Quality
$615,000

Bowling Green, Ky.
Waste Management
$357,000

Oxford, Miss.
Acoustics
$816,000

Oxford, Miss.
National Center for Computational Hydroscience
and Engineering
$893,000

Coshocton, Ohio
Northern Appalachian Experimental Watershed Research
$1,392,000

Weslaco, Texas,
Kika de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Research Center
Integrated Farming and Natural Resources Research
$3,316,000

Logan, Utah
Locoweed
$164,000

Beaver, W.Va.
Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center
$6,036,000

(USDA-ARS)

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

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