“These are not the first cuts we’ve made — we had big cuts in 2003, so we have already taken all the fat out of our budgets.”

He said he was not surprised at the proposed reductions. “But, it puts more stress on moving forward with things we are already doing. We are people- and service-oriented, so we will continue to do the best we can. We will still be Extension — our programs will not look much different.”

Nessler says needs for agricultural research continue, despite budget shortfalls. Water issues are critical throughout much of Texas, he notes, and “We need research to keep agriculture viable with less water availability. We will continue to do the research we need, but we may not use as many research sites.”

AgriLife Research and Extension will continue to work closely together—developing information and new products, disseminating it to users and then using information gathered from Extension to direct research to complete the circle.

“We conduct research the people want,” Nessler says. “But, we also look long-term and conduct basic research for future needs.”

Hussey says students “who want to make a difference,” should consider agriculture. Apparently they are. “Our enrollment is up,” he says.

Nessler says agriculture needs “the best and the brightest — we’ve always attracted them, but we need more. Agriculture is a way to help people.” The late Norman Borlaug is a perfect example, he says. “He saved more lives than any medical research. Agriculture is a noble profession.”

He says people involved in agriculture are, by nature, optimistic.

Government funding for agriculture is a sound investment, Hussey says, offering an “unbelievable 30 percent return on investment. That’s a key message to our legislators. They also should remember that agriculture accounts for 9 percent of our gross domestic product and one in five jobs.

“Agriculture is extremely important to the Texas economy. We have to convey that message and continue to talk about the impact our programs have.”

Other agricultural schools also face stiff budget cuts. Hussey says, and Texas A&M is “indebted to Texas farmers and ranchers for their support.”