He says delivery systems also may change, especially for urban audiences. “We expect to use more technology to reach people. We will rely on the Web to provide information, and we will investigate opportunities to use communications and technology to be more effective and efficient.”

Smith says combining some agricultural production meetings may also conserve resources. “We may combine two county production meetings, for instance. In rural areas, we will continue to work through traditional education platforms, meetings, etc.; we will just be more efficient.”

Extension may rely on more volunteers to help accomplish its mission, he says.

Nessler says AgriLife Research may have funding opportunities not available to other agencies. “We have options to look for alternate funding to replace government reductions. We look for industry partners to help with research priorities.”

It’s not a new strategy; for example, Texas AgriLife research has worked through seed companies in the past to distribute varieties. And more recently, researchers have worked with energy companies to evaluate bioenergy sources and production techniques.

“We may use industry partners to move technology — germplasm, for instance — into the marketplace,” Nessler says. Texas AgriLife researchers work with a lot of variety development, but “do not control all the traits producers want. We participate with corporate partners so producers will benefit.”

Researchers will be working with industry on Texas problems and Texas solutions, but also on national and international efforts.

Nessler says the cooperative efforts allow AgriLife researchers to develop new products and systems with corporate support, while “retaining the credibility” that end users trust. “Everybody wins.”

Reminding legislators of the importance of agriculture to the nation’s economy and security and the crucial role agriculture research has played in increasing productivity and efficiency remains a challenge, he says.

“We can’t allow others to dictate price and availability of essential commodities. That would be a big mistake. I hope legislators recognize the importance of supporting agricultural research and education.”

Smith says he has a lot of faith and trust in legislators in Austin and Washington, and asks that they look at agricultural budget cuts fairly. “If we are treated fairly and equitably, we will not complain. We just don’t want to be targeted with unwarranted cuts.