House Committee reviews Smith-Lever Act

By Sarah Gonzalez

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WASHINGTON, March 5, 2014-- A House Agriculture subcommittee on Tuesday held a hearing to review the Smith-Lever Act, the legislation that established agriculture's Cooperative Extension System in 1914, 100 years ago in May.

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The system was funded through a partnership among USDA, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, state land-grant universities, and local governments. Rep. Austin Scott, R.-Ga., the chairman of the Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, said the Smith-Lever Act established an “invaluable partnership” between land-grant colleges conducting research and the farmer who was able to apply that information in his fields.

Dr. A. Scott Reed, with the Oregon State University Extension Service, said nearly seven million young people are enrolled in the 4-H youth development program and local offices are open in more than 3,000 counties.

Recognition of the first 100-year legacy of the Smith-Lever Act is important -- but this isn't about looking in the rear-view mirror,” he said. “More critical is the windshield view of continual adaptation to new issues, audiences and approaches.”

Additionally, Delbert Foster, Acting Vice President of Land-Grant Services at South Carolina State University, noted that starting fiscal year 2015, NIFA will require all states to submit a Joint Land-Grant State Plan of Work, to ensure universities are providing the most cost effective services.

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