Published: March 14, 2019

USDA Director Scott Angle visits MSU

By: Beth Bonsall IT Services office: (517) 432-7241

U.S. Department of Agriculture Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, Scott Angle toured facilities and farms at Michigan State University on Feb. 26.

Angle met with MSU leaders from AgBioResearch, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Veterinary Medicine and MSU Extension to learn more about agribusiness, food and environment factors relevant in the state of Michigan.

Angle's background includes leadership positions with the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station and the Maryland Cooperative Extension at the University of Maryland. He was also dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia.

From 2014-2017, NIFA awarded $173 million in grants to Michigan State University in areas including rural development, drone technology to tailor water and fertilizer strategies, dairy management and nutritional sciences, field crops webinar training, blueberry varieties and breeding, floriculture lighting, and plant diagnostic facilities.

"MSU researchers are supporting the next big discoveries in food, health and the environment” said Ron Hendrick, dean of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “This visit is our opportunity show some ways USDA and NIFA funding makes a difference in important initiatives on campus, in Michigan and nationally. His participation with the Tribal Leaders collaboration kickoff brings light to our land-grant mission. We are grateful to be able to draw everyone together for this meeting."

NIFA's visit to East Lansing included stops at the MSU South Campus Farms and the Horticulture Teaching and Research Center with a focus on the MSU Potato Breeding and Genetics program.

A drone demonstration took place at the MSU Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education to show how technology can improve crop yield. The group also visited the Plant and Pest Diagnostics Services Lab Tour, which is part of the NIFA-supported National Plant Diagnostic Network.

Additionally, Angle visited with the College of Veterinary Medicine to talk about pathobiology, diagnostic investigation and large animal clinical sciences.

In the afternoon, Angle addressed CANR students, faculty and staff, saying he felt at home at land-grant institutions and was even born in East Lansing while his parents were students at MSU.

He said NIFA's goal to support the work MSU does in meeting the needs of the state and nation and commended MSU Extension for its competitive funding process.

MSU received over $10.8 million in NIFA grants in 2018, and Angle encouraged the crowd to remain focused on profitability. He said in future proposals it will be important to show increasing yields and quality along with ways to reduce input costs, especially when tied to rural stress and the problems farmers are facing. 

"We're all in this together. Your success is our success and vice versa", Angle said. "With your good faculty, your leadership that has driven things in the right direction, the political influence that the state has nationally, you're in a very envious position for the future. Make sure you're telling your stories to your elected officials. Make sure they know the good work that's being done."

The next day, Angle met with Tribal Leaders from across the state during a meeting hosted by MSU Extension and Bay Mills Community College, with nine of the 12 federally-recognized tribes registered to participate. Leaders from all four Michigan land-grant institutions were on hand for that meeting.

Scott Angle, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture director, learns about potato research with David Douches, director of the MSU Potato Breeding and Genetics Program, while visiting the MSU Horticulture Teaching and Research Center.