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Central Oregon Agricultural Research Center – Who We Are and What We Do

Posted by: | January 25, 2013 | 2 Comments |

The Central Oregon Ag Research Center conducts research and outreach that has economic value to the local agricultural community focusing on high priority issues and opportunities facing growers in central Oregon.
At the present time, COARC has 2 faculty onsite and two vacant faculty positions, one of which is in the process of a hiring search. These positions are all split between research and extension. In addition to faculty, there are 6 additional positions at the station including research assistants, seed certification personnel, farm foreman and others.
The COARC is located in the center of over 60,000 acres of irrigated cropland focused largely on seed production. For example, central Oregon is the largest producer of hybrid carrot seed in the world. Other vegetable seed crops include onions, parsley and coriander. Grass seed production is largely Kentucky bluegrass and rough bluegrass. Peppermint production has historically been for oil, but more recently the majority has been going into the tea leaf market.
COARC is responsive to local industry in solving production problems, developing new crops for the central Oregon region and in providing outreach through product registration, educational programs and services, and by looking to new ways to engage with the local community. For example in 2011 COARC’s demonstration garden became operational, this allows COARC to interact with the Master Gardener program based in Deschutes County and to bring school aged children to the station to participate in agriculturally based learning programs.
In response to the CAS challenge for industry to provide 25% of branch stations base budgets, COARC developed a multi-pronged approach in cooperation with the COARC Advisory Council, local seed contractors and agricultural dealers. This voluntary plan includes $10/acre for carrot seed, $3/acre for grass seed, a suggested $1/acre for non-contracted crops, and donations by seed contracts or agricultural dealers. The total support for FY11-12 was $111K in local industry support and an additional $26K from statewide commodity groups for a total of $137K. These funds are placed into an OSU Foundation COARC Support Fund. Money is transferred by a group of 6 that includes the Dean, COARC Director and four industry representatives.
The purpose of this account is to create an ongoing support fund for COARC not to continually grow the account. As funds are needed, a formal request from the Director is made and funds are only transferred to COARC upon a vote from the group of 6. This voluntary program is designed to ensure COARC is using the funds in a manner that shows responsibility and transparency.
The current COARC budget is supported by $451,000 in AES funds and $106 in Extension funds. Other income includes an estimated $30,000 from rotational crops, land use fees and operational fees. Historically, grant funds have averaged around $200,000 per year, but are currently at the $100,000 level based on two faculty positions that are temporarily open. However, these funds are controlled by individual researchers to support specific research projects and are not available to cover base budget shortfalls.
As COARC fills vacant faculty positions, expenses will increase. The current support we enjoy from local industry is expected to assist COARC in covering base budget decreases. However, COARC’s long term success will ultimately be dependent upon its ability to meet local industry’s need for quality research-based information, educational programming and by taking a proactive approach to insure the relationship with industry is strong and vibrant.

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