They are: Robert F. Wideman, professor, Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, and Harry Alan Wood, director, Life Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, Mississippi State University

The 2002 farm bill created the task force to conduct a review of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and to evaluate the merits of establishing one or more National Institutes focused on disciplines important to the progress of food and agricultural science.

“Research continues to play an important role in all aspects of the food system,” said Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. “This task force will provide critical input as we strengthen USDA’s ability to address key scientific research issues for food and agriculture.”

In September 2001, the Bush administration released a publication, “Food and Agricultural Policy: Taking Stock for the New Century,” calling for the examination of ways to strengthen research activities within USDA and ensure research initiatives are meeting the critical demands and priority needs of today and the future, said Veneman.

The National Academy of Sciences last month released a report, “Frontiers in Agricultural Research,” that agreed with the Bush administration’s assessment of the future direction of agricultural research.

Other members of the task force include:

Michael Bryan, president, BBI International; Victor L. Lechtenberg, dean, College of Agriculture, Purdue University; William Danforth, professor, Internal Medicine, Washington University; Nancy Betts, interim associate dean, Graduate Studies and Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Richard Coombe, chair, Watershed Agricultural Council of the New York City Watersheds; and Luis Sequeira, professor emeritus, Departments of Bacteriology and Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin.

Danforth, who lives in St. Louis, will chair the group. The task force is required to report its findings to the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture and to Veneman no later than May 2003.

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