Fall 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 3 // Commentary // 3LET1

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More Production Agriculture, Not Less


Sauer's "To the Point" (Spring 1990) contained considerable food for thought about the future for Cooperative Extension. Clearly, how much of their resources Extension Service directors should allocate to the problems of production agriculture is of major importance. We'd like to see a representative sampling of Extension directors' attitudes, and more importantly, their plans relating to such a major departure from Extension's historical mission. Perhaps one of the Journal's readers would undertake such a study.

Rather than a diminished role, many of us on the agricultural side of Extension see a more challenging and demanding role for technology transfer to resolve the problems of production agriculture. The questions of ecological and economic sustainability, public anxiety about food safety, chronic problems with pests, concerns about the environment, groundwater quality, global competition in agriculture, and the increasing need for greater technical competence at the county level all spell out MORE not LESS resources for production agriculture.

We hear so often, "We can't be all things to all people!" For those of us in agriculture, who may be sympathetic with the need for social changes and educational directives aimed at social ills, we ask, "Given the massive financial investment of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the many private and nonprofit organizations that direct their efforts at substance abuse, child welfare, illiteracy, etc., can the land-grant institutions afford to direct their limited resources at social issues while setting aside the needs of production agriculture?"

Ralph E. Franklin
Professor and Head
Department of Agronomy and Soils
Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina