SWFREC in Immokalee may get a reprieve

10/02/2013 10:49:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Institute of Food and Agricultural ResearchThe Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee may get a reprieve as a research facility.

After extensive meetings with stakeholders and industry leaders, Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, has asked the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to prepare a special legislative budget request that would provide funds to keep the center open.

In a memo from John Dunkelman, coordinator of research programs/services, Payne said the budget crunch stems from mandated salary increases for state employees, including those within the university system.

But the university did not provide money to IFAS to cover those raises.

As a result, Payne said his decision to halt research at Immokalee and transition it to a demonstration site, similar to those at Live Oak and Hastings, was based largely on the funding cuts.

The university also will conduct a national search for a center director for the Immokalee facility, according to the memo.

Jackie Burns, director at the Citrus Research and Education Center, was appointed to also oversee the Immokalee center in July 2012.

In addition, Payne said IFAS will work to recruit faculty to work at the Immokalee center.

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