BOISE — The dean of University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will host a listening session March 8 to garner industry input on the future of UI’s Parma Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
The 200-acre Parma center was targeted for closure in 2009 during the last recession but a coalition of agricultural groups helped save it.
Now, the university is looking at expanded investment in the Parma center, CALS Dean Michael Parrella told Food Producers of Idaho members Feb. 21.
Parrella invited ag industry members to the listening session, which is titled “Visioning for the Future” and will be held at Parma Ridge Winery, located at 24509 Rudd Road near Parma.
“We are going to invest in that facility but we need to engage the industry,” he said. “We’d like as many people there as possible.”
Created in 1925, the Parma facility conducts research on multiple crops, including beans, onions and other vegetables, hops, mint, tree fruit, wine and table grapes, cereals and seed crops.
Parrella said CALS plans to look at investing in facilities at all nine of its ag research centers and Parma is the starting point.
Some facilities at those centers are more than 50 years old “and we need to invest in them and bring them up to date,” he said.
Parrella said CALS will aggressively move forward with its plans to modernize research center facilities and equipment.
“I’m not the dean of the college to maintain the status quo,” he said. “I want to move things forward.”
Parrella said he hopes to create a three-way partnership between the farm industry, agribusinesses and the state to come up with the funding that will be needed to modernize the facilities.
“Let’s do it together rather than in a piecemeal fashion,” he said.
Parrella’s plan to invest in the university’s research and extension facilities was well received by industry members.
“We support the university and what they’re doing and we look forward to this conversation about re-investing in buildings and structures and equipment at our research facilities,” said Stacey Katseanes-Satterlee, executive director of the Idaho Grain Producers Association.
Most of UI’s wheat and barley research is conducted at the university’s Kimberly research center.
“It makes sense to start with a visioning session at Parma but we’re looking forward to having this discussion about all of the research stations,” Katseanes-Satterlee said.
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation “certainly looks forward to this discussion,” said Dennis Tanikuni, the group’s assistant director of governmental affairs. “The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation strongly supports research and recognizes its importance to Idaho agriculture....”
The listening session, which is free to attend, will take place from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and UI will provide lunch. People who plan to attend are asked to contact Carly Schoepflin ahead of time at (208) 885-4037 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.