To the editor: I have worked my entire career to help diversify Alaska’s economy through agricultural development. I am very proud of the research and education that I and other University of Alaska faculty, staff and students have conducted to start the peony industry in Alaska.
Right now, thousands of peony stems are being shipped to markets all across the U.S. and Canada as well as stores and farmers markets in Alaska. This industry would not exist without the research at the UAF Agricultural Experiment Station in partnership with the Alaska Division of Agriculture.
With Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s cuts, about the only thing remaining of the Division of Ag is a director. This new industry would be significantly hurt by elimination of the Agricultural Revolving Loan Fund, Alaska-grown marketing programs and the federal research dollars that are administered by the division. Even more critical is the state inspection program that is required if Alaska wants to ship peonies to foreign markets and some states. These programs cannot be outsourced to private entities.
I ask all legislators to help override the governor’s vetoes of both the University of Alaska and the Division of Agriculture and help support a diversified economy in Alaska.