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National Leader visits UF, Praises UF/IFAS Agriculture and Natural Resources Program

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Posted: Saturday, April 6, 2019 1:45 am

In an indication of the University of Florida's rise toward preeminence, a top federal research official said this week that the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has earned a reputation as one of the nation's best academic agriculture and natural resources programs.

J. Scott Angle, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research arm, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), visited UF Monday and Tuesday to learn about UF/IFAS research efforts funded by the federal agency. Appointed to the post in October 2018, Angle said UF was one of the first stops on his “get acquainted” tour of leading land-grant institutions, because UF/IFAS is so well-respected in the academic community.

“Nowhere in this country does it better than IFAS,” Angle said, referring to the overall guidance of the UF/IFAS enterprise. “You’ve got some amazing teams of very, very disparate disciplines but you’re solving some of the most vexing problems we have in agriculture today with those teams.”

Those words were a much-appreciated confirmation that UF/IFAS efforts to raise UF's stature are succeeding, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

"It was extremely gratifying to hear Director Angle acknowledge our success in those key areas of mission integration and balancing our research portfolio, because these are things we've been working very hard to accomplish," Payne said.

Payne went on to state that UF/IFAS puts considerable emphasis on what’s called applied research – projects that investigate specific production issues and aim to put practical solutions in growers' hands as soon as possible.

To underscore the point, Payne invited three leaders of the Florida

citrus industry – Tom Mitchell, Vic Story and Larry Black – to attend a Monday afternoon presentation and discussion session devoted to citrus greening disease. Also known as Huanglongbing, the bacterial malady eventually kills affected trees and has devastated the state's citrus industry since its detection in the state in late 2005.

"More than anything, we wanted Director Angle to hear directly from some of the people who actually put our research results to use," Payne said. "The director made the most of this opportunity, and asked perceptive questions that drew direct and insightful answers from our trio of growers."

During his two-day visit, Angle heard detailed presentations concerning more than a dozen UF/IFAS research efforts funded by NIFA, visited the new UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory, discussed funding needs for specific initiatives, and spoke with students and faculty members who’d benefited from NIFA programs that support academic fellowships.

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