By MATTHEW WEAVER

Capital Press

U.S. barley representatives say their industry has already sustained all the cuts it can, and they hope the 2013 fiscal year won't see any more.

Members of the National Barley Improvement Committee recently pushed for research funding from Congress and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

The committee is led by the American Malting Barley Association.

Congress reduced agricultural funding in 2011 and 2012, and the barley groups want no further cuts for the 2013 fiscal year.

"Agricultural research has already made its contribution to deficit reduction," said Michael Davis, president of the malting barley association and executive secretary of the improvement committee. "Any further cuts will hurt the capacity of the United States to conduct the needed research that has great economic research for barley and for all crops."

In meetings with members of Congress, the association received feedback indicating strong support for agricultural research. Davis said he is "guardedly optimistic," but notes the election and overall budget deficits make it difficult to predict the outcome. No action is expected on the 2013 fiscal year budget until after the election, he said.

The barley industry directly provides funding to barley researchers, but Davis expects those funding levels to remain static.

Cuts to the ARS in the 2012 fiscal year were made through closing nine ARS research laboratories and reducing funding for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, which will have its its 2012 grant program cut from $5 million to $3.6 million.

Congress did not provide funding to cover the costs of the closings, Davis said, so ARS had to make cuts across the board and reduce funding to state university scientists by 30 percent. That affected barley, wheat and other crops, he said, including in Ug99 and stripe rust research.

The impact for farmers won't be immediate, but long-term it will affect delivery of varieties, Davis said, including development of resistance to Ug99 and rust.

The barley groups hope to see funding returned to current 2012 levels, Davis said. That would allow ARS to restore funding to state universities, he said.

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