The U.S. House of Representatives has included the entire $3-million funding request for turfgrass research in their FY2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill, for projects in USDA-ARS. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has not taken up their Agriculture funding bill yet but this is an exciting first step. National Golf Day attendees and GCSAA's government affairs team have been working with the National Turfgrass Federation to secure additional federal funding for turfgrass research across the country.
Specific language says, "The Committee provides an additional $3,000,000 above the fiscal year 2019 level to conduct research on new grasses that require less water, fertilizer, and other inputs; genomic sequencing of grasses to identify drought, heat, and pest resistance; maximizing the amount of carbon captured by turfgrass systems and reducing carbon output through enhanced maintenance systems; and enhancing turfgrass contributions as a foundation for landscape enhancements."
See page 20 of the bill for specific mention of the NTFI initiative funding ask.
Bob Helland, director of congressional and federal affairs, recently joined representatives of the National Turfgrass Federation for meetings in Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture. The purpose of these meetings was to build recognition and support for projects benefitting turfgrass research and development. This includes appropriating $3 million for the National Turfgrass Research Initiative, which would fund turf research at six USDA labs across the country.
The group met with the offices of Sens. David Perdue (R-GA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), David Price (D-GA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Steve Watkins (R-KS), Andy Harris (R-MD), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Stacey Plaskett (D-ViI). The group also met with staff from the House Agriculture Committee, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the non-profit Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research. The message was the same: More money is needed for turf research.
Turfgrass covers approximately 60 million acres in the U.S., making it the third largest crop in total value. Turf mitigates soil erosion, absorbs carbon dioxide and provides cooler temperatures in urban areas. In addition, the 2 million acres on the nation’s golf courses promote health and well-being, while serving as important greenspace. Helland stressed how this additional focus on turf science would supplement best management practices that superintendents use every day that have reduced water usage by 21 percent and nitrogen use by 33.6 percent, as well as achieved other significant environmental improvements during the past decade.
GCSAA has consistently supported the National Turfgrass Research Initiative, including during the 12th annual National Golf Day. The association will continue to work to advance turf science with decision-makers in Washington.