After avoiding shuttering the government by agreeing to a short-term resolution to continue funding through 18 March, the focus is again on adopting permanent funding for the current fiscal year that would include cuts ranging somewhere between $6.5 billion and $60 billion. Vice-President Biden and democratic and republican leaders from the House and Senate have begun negotiations. This week the Senate will vote on the House-passed continuing resolution, HR 1, that would include significant cuts in research and plant health programs.
Now is the time to send an email to your Senators and to the President and Vice-President about the importance of agricultural research and plant health programs. Most Senators have web-based forms that allow you to send your email immediately. You can find your Senators and link to these forms at this link: Email Your US Senators. The following link will take you to the White House website where you can send an email to the President and Vice President: Email the White House.
What should you say? First and foremost, for agricultural research and plant health programs, the devil is not in the details right now because these programs are so small compared to the billions of dollars that will be shaved off the budget. The important aspect is that your Senators and the Administration hear that someone is concerned about cuts in agricultural research and that they know that it is a personal request and not merely signing off on a letter that someone else has written (a form letter). Don’t expect a reasoned response. You will get a form letter back. But, that after all is not the point. The point is for elected officials to start hearing from a lot of different sources in a lot of different ways that agricultural research and plant health programs are important.