The Arizona Desert Lamp

White Paper: Pest Management

Posted in UA Transformation Plan by Connor Mendenhall on 27 October 2008

The 2008 farm bill was a bloated disgrace to democracy in America, but the Arizona Pest Management Center’s white paper describes a little abnormal polyp of hope deep within its porky bowels: 

In federal FY08-09, the national Extension IPM (EIPM) program announced the discontinuation of the federal 3(d) IPM program, which formerly allocated Extension IPM funds according to a fixed formula established in the 1970’s. In its place, as mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill, EIPM will implement a nationally competitive program for this IPM resource estimated to be ca. $9.5 million. 

Take heart, taxpayers—your money will no longer be automatically doled out to support research in Integrated Pest Management, “a long-standing, science-based, decision-making process that identifies and reduces risks from pests and pest management related strategies” (read:”killing bugs without pesticide”). Instead, it’ll be automatically doled out as part of a nationally competitive program.

The majority of this proposal describes our intrepid exterminators’ suggestions for grabbing a greater share of government cheese. Some of these come at no cost, like asking the university to recognize Pest Management as UA’s “interdisciplinary center for IPM” (is there another one?), and making sure that the center gets to draft pest management grant proposals for the program. Others are more expensive, like hiring four new faculty to “synergize an academic program of distinction” and quadrupling the salary of the Center’s director, Dr. Al Fournier. The latter is described in terms so oblique they must be shared:

We expect to triple, at least, the amount of money from this program, i.e., to $300,000 per year. This will require a show of significant and symbolic leverage of Dr. Fournier’s salary. Thus, we will need to invest an additional 0.8 FTE in the Fournier line (with ERE) or: $72,000. 

I’m never asking for a “raise” again—just “additional investment in the Mendenhall line.” 

As for the budget, there are no cuts offered, but plenty of hope that an additional $676,000 of university spending will “leverage” about $1.3 million in government subsidies and private grants. This is a common theme among many of the white paper proposals—spending begets spending. I don’t doubt that there are many ways that UA could invest its resources more wisely, but without any ideas for saving, there’s not a whole lot here.

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