Door County residents and growers voiced support for the Peninsula Agricultural Research Station at an open house Aug. 17.
The station, located on Highway 42 just north of Sturgeon Bay, faces reductions that would cut their $260,000 budget by as much as $125,000. It’s one of 12 research stations operated by the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), which is grappling with $3.1 million in budget reduction.
At the open house, representatives from the Door and Kewaunee County boards of supervisors, UW Interim Chancellor David Ward’s office, the UW Extension, and Wisconsin Assemblyman Garey Bies (R – Sister Bay) heard growers’ concerns.
Jim Seaquist of Seaquist Orchards in Sister Bay said even with his years of experience producing cherries, he still relies heavily on the station.
“You wonder where you would be without that service…We really lean hard on the station to help us deal with that,” Seaquist said.
Bies said officials have told him the station is safe from cuts and closure through 2012.
“We were told that this was funded through 2012, so we have some time to work,” Bies said.
UW Extension representative John Shutske said the station should start looking at other ways to make up for the proposed budget cuts, such as public and private partnerships. Another option could be a partnership with the UW Extension.
Door County Board Supervisor Cletus Fontaine voiced support from the county.
“The County Board is very interested in the welfare of this station, not only from a selfish point of view but from a productive point of view,” Fontaine said. “It’s a real asset to Door County, as well as the rest of the state.”
Door County grower Steve Wood of Wood Orchards said if push comes to shove, the county may have to put its money where its mouth is and provide funding for the station if CALS passes the proposed cuts.
The Peninsular Station is one of only two research stations in the state studying small crops such as cherries, apples, grapes and blueberries.