By JOHN O'CONNELL
TETONIA, Idaho -- University of Idaho officials and agricultural representatives attending the first Tetonia Research and Extension Center field day July 26 celebrated the formal announcement of a new endowment to support a barley research position.
The Idaho Barley Commission has pledged a $1 million endowment, over five years, to get the UI position started. The commission presented the university its first endowment check on July 1.
To fund the position, Idaho's barley growers have increased their assessment to the commission by a penny, to 3 cents per hundredweight.
"The position will be a permanent position. We will continue to support the position in other ways," UI interim President Don Burnett said at the field day.
Burnett emphasized that Idaho is the nation's top barley producing state, with more than $300 million in barley revenue generated last season, which was up 32 percent from the previous year. The Tetonia station's high elevation and short season provide an important opportunity for evaluating new barley lines.
Burnett pledged that the new endowment won't be subject to "vagaries of the state budget" that threatened to close the Tetonia facility before the Idaho Barley Commission and others intervened.
"This endowment will enable us to invest in expertise that will produce generations of benefit to Idaho and will help the whole agricultural sector in Idaho continue to lead the nation," Burnett said. "All of these sectors in the agricultural economy have driven Idaho to a place of promise, and the UI into a position of special responsibility in helping to carry out that economic development mission."