WOOSTER, Ohio Ã¢â¬â After touring the Wooster campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) Ã¢â¬â which is recovering from a Sept. 16 tornado that destroyed buildings, greenhouses, equipment and invaluable research Ã¢â¬â U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said itÃ¢â¬â¢s time Ã¢â¬Åto healÃ¢â¬Â and to move forward with projects that are crucial to agriculture and the countryÃ¢â¬â¢s future development.
Merrigan visited the campus on Oct. 27, accompanied by U.S. Rep. John Boccieri of OhioÃ¢â¬â¢s 16th District, which includes Wooster. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack visited OARDC back in July to tour a renewable energy facility built on the campus through a public-private partnership (details here: http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~news/story.php?id=5825).
Ã¢â¬ÅIÃ¢â¬â¢m saddened by the important loss of facilities and equipment,Ã¢â¬Â said Merrigan as she walked by mangled greenhouses and laboratory equipment rescued from collapsed buildings. Ã¢â¬ÅI wanted to come here and see what happened so that when issues come up (at USDA) regarding this institution, I can make informed decisions.Ã¢â¬Â
Though most of its scientists are with The Ohio State University, OARDC is also home to a number of researchers and technicians working with USDAÃ¢â¬â¢s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) on projects ranging from insect pests to crop diseases to spray technology. OARDC also receives funding from USDA through competitive grants.
Ã¢â¬ÅWe were very pleased with the visit by USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan and Representative Boccieri,Ã¢â¬Â said OARDC Director Steve Slack. Ã¢â¬ÅThey were very focused on how the facility losses are impacting Ohio State University and USDA research scientists and their programs, and how these losses ultimately impact society because of delayed or lost research activity. They both expressed strong support for getting these research programs moving forward as soon as possible.Ã¢â¬Â
Merrigan pointed out that the future of OARDC is important to USDA because Ã¢â¬Åthis is a key place for educating the scientists of tomorrowÃ¢â¬Â and Ã¢â¬Åone of the leading agricultural research institutions in the country and the world.Ã¢â¬Â
Added Boccieri, referring to OARDC projects and partnerships involving renewable energy, fuels and industrial products: Ã¢â¬ÅThis is the place where the future jobs of Ohio are being developed.Ã¢â¬Â
The research arm of Ohio StateÃ¢â¬â¢s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, OARDC (http://oardc.osu.edu) is the largest university agbiosciences research center in the nation.