The Cereal Crops Research Incorporated could serve as a model of collaborative effort between private organizations and Land Grant universities across the nation, agrees CCRI President Ben Scholz and Texas A&M-Commerce President Dr. Dan Jones.

CCRI has been around since 1987, when it began as an organization of farmers in northeast Texas, supported by some industry funding. “We were interested in getting crop demonstrations established to provide data on yield, disease, weed and insect issues in a timely manner,” Scholz said.

“We also wanted to get institutions working together, primarily Extension and A&M-Commerce. And we hoped to promote better communication between the research station and growers.”

Jones said the long-term cooperation between CCRI and A&M-Commerce benefits all involved — growers, the university, and the region. Progress, Jones said, “takes a partnership. We can’t do it alone. I see a tangible advantage for the university in collaborating with CCRI. We can attract more students. But the benefits are more than just budgetary, although that is important. We also want to serve the people of this region, and this region is growing so we have to grow, too.”

Collaboration also improves opportunities for research. “We’re trying to expand our research capabilities. Our new provost was hired with that goal in mind. We have strong research goals and we want to ramp up research efforts in science, agriculture, humanities, social sciences and education.

“Agriculture is a natural place for partnerships and with CCRI we get a tremendous boost with funding opportunities.”

Jones said funds may be available that the university has not taken advantage of. He mentioned potential USDA research programs that would fit well with joint A&M-Commerce/CCRI projects. “We stopped by USDA last year when we were in Washington, just to touch base. Partnerships help with USDA funding.”

“USDA needs to see stakeholder input,” said Jim Swart, Texas AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist who works out of Commerce and has worked closely with CCRI since its inception.

“Federal government agencies want to see sustainable projects,” Jones commented. “And they like to see some local funding.”

CCRI has 19 members and gets some funding from wheat and other crop checkoff programs. They also have strong regional industry support.

Scholz said the most immediate goal for CCRI is to work with Texas A&M-Commerce and Texas A&M at College Station to fund a research farm near the Commerce campus. He and several other growers representing wheat, soybeans, corn, grain sorghum and other crops will meet with AgriLife Research officials in College Station sometime in October to discuss the possibilities.