Subcommittee Recognizes Contributions of Cooperative Extension Service to Agriculture, Youth Development & Rural Communities
WASHINGTON–U.S. Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, today held a public hearing to review the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 in advance of the 100th anniversary of its enactment on May 8, 2014.
The Act created the Cooperative Extension Service, which is an educational partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nation's land-grant universities. Its purpose is to support research, education, and extension programs at land-grant universities and other partnerships to address problems in food, agriculture, natural resources, youth development, and community economic development.
“The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established an invaluable partnership through the national Cooperative Extension Service between land-grant colleges conducting research and the farmer who was able to apply that information to improve his farming system, thereby improving lives and leading our nation into an agricultural revolution. In my state, the Georgia Extension Services continue to serve as an essential resource for Georgians by providing research-based education in agriculture, the environment, communities, youth and families. I thank each of our witnesses for providing their valuable testimony today and look forward to further evaluation of the state of the Cooperative Extension Service to ensure a successful model of cooperative extension education for many years to come,” said Chairman Austin Scott (R-GA-8).
"Cooperative extension programs, which were authorized by the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, represent the type of achievement in public policy that we should all celebrate and work to replicate here in Congress. The public-private partnerships, community engagement, and cooperation between our land-grant universities and the agriculture community is second to none. In this era of growing budget constraints, I strongly believe this is an area where we should continue robust, leveraged federal investment,"said Ranking Member Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5).
Chairman Scott and Ranking Member Schrader have also introduced a bipartisan resolution commemorating the anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act.
Video from today’s Subcommittee hearing can be found here. Additionally, Chairman Scott’s opening remarks as prepared are provided below.
Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below.
Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Ms. Tess Hammock, National 4-H Council Board of Trustees, Youth Class, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
Dr. A. Scott Reed, Vice Provost, University Outreach and Engagement & Director, Oregon State University Extension Service, Corvallis, Oregon
Mr. Delbert T. Foster, Acting Vice President, Land-Grant Services, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, South Carolina
Opening Statement of Congressman Austin Scott
Chairman, House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture
RE: To Review the Smith-Lever Act on its 100th Anniversary
(Remarks as Prepared)
“Today’s hearing of the Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture will review the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 on its 100th Anniversary.
“Thank you all for being here today to discuss our nationwide Cooperative Extension Service.
“We are pleased to have before us several witnesses who are involved and experienced the benefits of the extension service.
“As we hear from our distinguished panel of witnesses today, we hope to gain an understanding of the role our nation’s land-grant colleges and universities continue to play in providing for the needs of the public through the resources and extension work established in the Smith-Lever Act.
“To better understand where we are, we have to understand where we have come from. A century ago, Congress created a nationwide Cooperative Extension Service through the Smith-Lever Act to address rural agricultural issues. It formally established the partnership between the agricultural colleges and universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a transformative education system.
“Specifically, the Act stated as its purpose, “In order to aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture, uses of solar energy with respect to agriculture, home economics, and rural energy, and to encourage the application of the same, there may be continued or inaugurated in connection with the college of colleges in each State, Territory, or possession . . .”
“At that time, more than 50% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas and 30% of the workforce was engaged in farming.
“Through the establishment of a national Cooperative Extension Service, the Smith-Lever Act helped to create a partnership between land-grant colleges who were conducting research and the farmer who could use the information to improve his farming system, thereby improving lives and leading our nation into an agricultural revolution.
“For example, in 1945, it took 14 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels of corn on 2 acres of land. Today, you can produce 100 bushels of corn on less than 1 acre.
“Over time, the Extension Service has adapted but continues to address a wide range of human, plant, and animal needs in both urban and rural areas.
“Today’s extension educational offerings are in the areas of: 4-H Youth Development; Agriculture; Leadership Development; Natural Resources; Family and Consumer Sciences; and Community and Economic Development.
“Before us today is a panel that will provide their unique perspectives from many of the various components of our country’s extension services.
“We’re honored to be joined by Mr. Delbert Foster, acting Vice President for the Division of Land-Grant Services directly involved in outreach and engagement to the citizens of South Carolina on behalf of SC State University. Mr. Foster also represents the critical contribution of the 1890 land grant community to the overall extension mission.
“We’re also joined by Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture who oversees NIFA awards funds for a wide range of extramural research, education, and extension projects that address the needs of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers.
“Dr. Scott Reed, Vice Provost for University Outreach and Engagement at Oregon State University, also joins us to discuss his involvement the growing number of educational programs within the OSU Extension Service which enhance the economic, environmental and social welfare of society.
“Finally, I’m pleased to welcome Ms. Tess Hammock, a sophomore at the University of Georgia, to share her experiences and insight as a member of the Youth Council for the 4-H National Board of Trustees.
“We appreciate the time each of you has given to prepare for this hearing. Your testimony will be important to evaluate the current state of the Cooperative Extension Service and ensure a successful model of cooperative extension education for years to come.”