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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 23 / 53

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Authority.  I would like to thank Congressman Gutknecht and Steve Wensel  for their accurate support in our projects.

MODERATOR:  It’s not something we tend to think about, it’s so many different programs of USDA that are involved.

Yes, sir.

MR. STEVE RENQUIST:  Good afternoon.  My name is Steve Renquist.  I am from Caledonia County, north and west of here.  I am the immediate past chairperson of the University of Minnesota Citizens Advisory Committee for the Extension Service here in Minnesota.

Mr. Secretary, I would like to just advise you that a lot of people will tell you how you ought to spend your money and I guess I would like to tell you who your friends are.  The Extension Service touches somewhere, somehow all portions of this great country.  Every congressional district in every state is somehow reached by the Extension Service.

In this information and technology society that we live in, the effective delivery of information and the dissemination of that information in a usable format is absolutely a prerogative for all of us, especially in the rural sector.

One hundred and 40 years ago when President Lincoln formed the Department of Agriculture, he envisioned an education role.  That led some 30 years later to the Land University Land Grant System, which led about 40 years after that to the Extension Service which has eventually led to the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service.  That is funded each year partially by the Department of Agriculture by something that you call and we call “formula funding.”

          Now, that formula funding gives the basis that every organization needs to leverage its money to go out to the states and to the counties and to the municipalities and to make that money work.  We are talking about going to a possible competitive grant situation.  Minnesota has nothing to fear in that regard.  In fact, the other 49 states may be angry when we take all the money.

Having said that, I would like to advise you that we need that formula funding because we need to continue our programs and we need that basis.

Thank you very much.

MODERATOR:  Thank you for your comments and let’s go to this side.  You are on.

MR. RANDY OLSON:  (sp) My name is Randy Olson.  I am a four-generation farmer from the Willmar area.  I should clarify that.  I am a farmer by default, as a January farm accident with our breeding bull got me into farming.

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