Opinion

My commitment to Fort Valley State University hasn’t changed

Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., speaks in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2015.
Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., speaks in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2015. AP

In a recent letter to the editor, my commitment to Fort Valley State University (FVSU) was questioned.

Representing FVSU, and getting to know, work with, and advocate for its students, staff and programs, has been one of the great privileges of serving in Congress.

FVSU, led by President Paul Jones, is an invaluable resource to our state, providing much needed agricultural leadership and research. My staff and I meet regularly with President Jones and his staff — most recently a couple of weeks ago. Over the years my office has provided unwavering support to ensure FVSU’s continued success and prominence in the region, including millions in grants and appropriations.

Earlier this month, I was proud to announce that FVSU received a grant from the National Science Foundation to help underrepresented populations find opportunities to build and share their research.

This follows a grant from last year of more than $230,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to provide aid to underrepresented students at FVSU to further their graduate education.

And last week, I voted in favor of the Department of Defense spending bill that includes language I spearheaded providing $40 million for science programs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), such as FVSU.

Similarly, I am proud of my relationship with the University of Georgia and its College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and of the support I have been able to provide over the years through my position on the House Agriculture Committee and now the Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

Just as I am a proud and vocal supporter of FVSU and UGA, I am also an unequivocal supporter of our farmers, ranchers, producers, consumers and agribusinesses.

As a member of Congress from a large agriculture producing district, and as the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, it is my responsibility to ensure these constituencies are served effectively and efficiently by the federal government.

While some may disagree with my opinion, I do not believe the agriculture community would be best served by moving the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and splitting up the important work these agencies perform.

NIFA and ERS work closely with research institutions around the country, and collaborate with numerous other federal agencies in the Washington, D.C., area. Abruptly relocating these agencies will disrupt the important work they are doing, and could cause an unnecessary loss in valuable expertise through staffing losses. None of this would be helpful at a time when our farmers are facing retaliatory tariffs and years of declining commodity prices.

Finally, I have the highest regard for my friend of longstanding, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. We work well together to enhance the quality of life in rural communities and to keep American agriculture the highest quality, safest, most abundant, and most economical in the world.

However, my responsibility with the House Appropriations Committee is to provide congressional oversight to the Executive Branch agencies in their spending of American Taxpayer dollars. And opinions to the contrary notwithstanding, I do not take that responsibility lightly.

Congressman Sanford D. Bishop Jr. is serving his 13th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Georgia’s Second Congressional District.

  Comments