The wheat industry received rare positive budget news last week when the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI) informed researchers that 66 percent of the funding cuts from the Initiative’s FY2012 budget are being restored. Universities receiving funding through the initiative include North Dakota State University, University of Minnesota, Kansas State University, Virginia Tech and University of Kentucky.

As reported in March, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) sought to close an estimated $40 million budget shortfall tied to the closure of 12 labs by cutting funding for extramural supported research and in-house programs and by restricting hiring. The original cut to USWBSI from this effort was around 30 percent of FY2012 funds, or $1.464 million. ARS is returning $965,000 to the USWBSI so that total funding for FY2012 for the USWBSI will be $4.53 million. All FY2012 USWBSI ongoing projects that were part of an extramural agreement between ARS and state universities will be fully funded. Many new projects that were priorities for the initiative will also now be able to be funded.

Since many of the costs associated with the congressionally-mandated closures were not incurred this fiscal year, complete closing costs still need to be covered in subsequent fiscal years. That plus looming sequestration budget cuts could impact both ARS research programs and extramural funding in FY2013 and future years.