June 5, 2017
Congress and the Administration are working on a proposal for the federal government’s new budget year, which begins on Oct. 1 and is known as Fiscal Year (FY) 2018.
The Administration’s FY 2018 proposal would eliminate funding for Wisconsin Sea Grant, and its fellow programs in coastal states around the nation.
If sustained, this elimination would have an immediate and drastic effect on Wisconsin’s Great Lakes communities. It would choke off lakes Michigan and Superior research, and the application of the research to ensure the sustainable use of these crown jewels that underpin the quality of life and economy of our state.
As you know, our research, outreach and educational efforts are a “bottom-up” response to Wisconsin coastal citizens’ needs. We have ongoing efforts to ensure public safety and human health. While headquartered at UW-Madison, Wisconsin Sea Grant has a system-wide reach, which we use to train and educate students – providing research and communication skills to Wisconsin’s emerging workforce that will strengthen our economy. From discovery to application, we transfer science to support industries such as shipping, commercial fishing and aquaculture, as well as ensure sustainable coastal habitats that enrich our quality of life.
Wisconsin Sea Grant is a highly efficient program. From 2014 to 2016, it received $3.6 million in core federal dollars and which were matched by $1.8 million in state investment. That leveraged investments of $3.9 million in additional state, federal and outside funding. Currently, those funds are supporting 22 Sea Grant research projects on 10 Wisconsin campuses and provide statewide outreach through our extension programming. Initiatives include conducting research on and providing awareness training related to dangerous waves and rip currents; assessments of flood risk; providing assistance to the shipping industry to maximize its infrastructure; exploration of new harvest methods for commercial fishermen; and the transfer of skills and knowledge to the state’s growing $21 million-aquaculture industry.
Historically, Sea Grant has received strong bipartisan support from Congress. We believe that support is still there. We are seeing many hopeful signs that the Administration’s proposed elimination will not be acceptable to Congress. However, we cannot rest. We are working with our campus Office of Federal Relations to connect with Congress as the House and the Senate are in the initial stages of developing their federal budget plans for FY 2018.
What you can do. If interested, you can contact your Representative and Senators by phone, email or attend one of their town hall meetings to voice your support for the National Sea Grant College Program and share how it has helped you or your community. You are welcome to use the sample language below or personalize a message as you see fit.
Director, Wisconsin Sea Grant
For the House of Representatives you can easily search for names of members of Congress and contact information here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/
For the Senate you can search here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Dear Senator ___________ OR
Dear Representative _________________
I am writing to urge you to reject the Administration’s proposal in the FY 2018 budget proposal that would eliminate the National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant).
Sea Grant is a cost-effective, competitive, merit-based partnership program that helps local, state, and regional ocean and coastal entities address economic and environmental challenges through research, extension, and education. The federal funding provided by Sea Grant is matched with other non-federal resources and 95% of all federal funding leaves Washington, D.C. to fund research and other activities that assist coastal businesses and communities in addressing critical issues affecting their economies and environments.
[Insert personalized text here reflecting your perspectives about the program as you have experienced it in Wisconsin]
On the national scale, in 2015-16 the Sea Grant program helped generate an estimated $575 million in economic impacts; created or sustained nearly 21,000 jobs; provided 33 state-level programs and 534 communities with technical assistance on sustainable development practices; worked with about 1300 industry, local, state and regional partners; and supported the education and training of almost 2000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Sea Grant program achieved this with a Congressional appropriation in FY 2016 of $73 million, which, as mentioned previously, is leveraged with matching funds provided by states, universities, and other sources.
In 2015, the Wisconsin program tallied $6.2 million in economic impact. From 2014-16, it created or sustained 5,101 jobs and helped create or sustain 66 businesses. The program reached 32,631 people through 638 events and presentations. Currently, federal, state and outside funds are supporting 22 research projects on 10 Wisconsin campuses. Some recent initiatives include conducting research and raising awareness about dangerous waves and rip current; assessments of flood risk; assistance to the shipping industry, which generates nearly $623 million in annual wages in the state, to maximize its infrastructure; exploration of new harvest methods for commercial fishermen, in an industry worth $5 million; and the transfer of skills and knowledge to the state’s growing $21 million-aquaculture industry.
We urge you to reject the Administration’s FY 2018 proposal to eliminate the NOAA Sea Grant Program—a valuable federal – state – local partnership program.