By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- Oregon's top state agriculture official said lawmakers can't afford to scale back funding for Oregon State University's statewide public services.
In testimony before the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education, Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba said the future of agriculture depends on investments made by lawmakers today.
"Investments in the statewides, in terms of how we expand production, how we deal with pests and diseases, how we deal with drought and climate change, these are all coming at us faster than I think any of us realize," Coba said.
"Where our agriculture future is going depends on the investments that we make today," Coba said.
In earlier testimony, Oregon State University President Ed Ray thanked lawmakers for increasing funding above what Gov. John Kitzhaber proposed in his recommended budget.
"The $5.7 million addition will get us substantially there," Ray said.
But, he said, the add-back leaves the statewides short of continuing-service-level funding.
"My understanding is the joint chairs proposal might leave us short $500,000," Ray said. "That would require eliminating several positions from the statewides.
"From $250,000 to half a million dollars in research dollars will be lost, as well," he said.
A $7 million add-back would bring OSU's statewide public services to parity with the rest of the Oregon University System, which is funded at a continuing service level.
OSU's statewide public services budget is part of the overall Oregon University System budget.
Public testimony on the budget is scheduled March 27, beginning at 8:30 a.m., in Hearing Room F.