FARAD receives $806,000, will remain open throughout '09
While the amount is far less that the $2.5 million the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Government Relations Division requested, Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, AVMA GRD director says it is more than he anticipated given the rough economic times.
The perennially cash-strapped FARAD, a computer-based decision support system designed to provide livestock producers, extension specialists and veterinarians with practical information on how to avoid drug, pesticide and environmental contaminant residue problems, was forced to drastically scale back its operation and layoff employees last year as a result of budgetary program. The program almost was shuttered several times and was only able to remain open with a skeleton crew as a result of last minute bridge funding from various agencies.
The news of the 2009 appropriations is a temporary relief for the agency, but its problems are far from over, according to Lutschaunig.
"FARAD can continue to keep its doors open another year, but that doesn't address the long term needs, which is long term funding so we don't have go back every year and ask for appropriations," he says. "The goal is still to find an agency to run it other than the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) because it is not really research and technically it is not education, which is really what CSREES is all about."
Since that home has not been found yet, Lutschaunig's team already has put in its $2.5 million request for the 2010 budget, but whether FARAD will receive funding next year won't be known for several months.
The $806,000 it will receive for 2009 will allow the agency to keep its current staff and to keep the program going.
"We're in talks with the agriculture committee and in preliminary talks with other senate offices," Lutschaunig says. "We're going to push to have something done with this program so we can find someone willing to fund it and keep it going long term."