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Supporters tell lawmakers about benefits of OSU statewide services


Capital Press

SALEM -- Charley Coury drove to Salem from his wood products company in Springfield March 27 to urge lawmakers to increase funding for Oregon State University's Forest Research Laboratory.

Coury, general manager of 9Wood Inc., displayed to lawmakers in the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education a wood-ceiling product his company has developed with the help of the laboratory.

"As a small company of $13 million in revenue, we don't have the luxury of having our own laboratory or many engineers," Coury said. "But we've been able to partner with the Forest Research Laboratory to bring innovative secondary wood products to export out of Oregon.

"This is a product that we developed from wood in Oregon that would not exist if it weren't for the forest research laboratory," he said, holding up the ceiling product. "They are an important resource for us."

Coury was joined by farmers, members of the environmental community and high school 4-H participants in urging lawmakers to increase funding for Oregon State University's statewide public services.

Rachel Rodecap, a junior at North Salem High School and a 4-H participant for 11 years, spoke about what 4-H has meant to her.

"I have learned various things through 4-H," Rodecap said. "It has taught me dedication, confidence, public speaking skills, self advocacy and much more.

"The main thing is 4-H has taught me (to have) confidence in myself," she said. "Whatever you guys can do to support 4-H is greatly needed."

OSU's statewide public services include the Extension Service, which oversees 4-H; the Experiment Station, the agricultural research arm of OSU; and the Forest Research Laboratory.

Funding for the statewides is maintained at 2011-13 levels under Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed budget. In the Ways and Means co-chair's budget, developed by legislators, funding is $5.7 million above the governor's budget, but still $1.3 million below the $7 million in additional funding needed to keep the statewides at a continuing service level.

At the co-chair's level, two experiment station professorial positions would be lost, approximately two extension positions and one Forest Research Lab professorial position, according to OSU.

The loss of the positions would cost the state approximately $2.6 million in lost research grant revenues, more than 2,000 family wage jobs, and $180 million in economic benefits for Oregon, according to OSU.

Allison Hensey, program director for food and farms for the Oregon Environmental Council, said that in addition to the economic benefits they bring Oregon, the statewides are vital in helping farmers produce "healthy, delicious, safe food .... in a way that protects the water resources."

"The statewides make sure that we have solutions to our environmental problems that work on the ground for real Oregonians, and that means they are lasting solutions," Hensey said.

The committee took no action on the budget.


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