State Board of Agricultural Research and Education


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March 13, 2020, Fargo, ND

The State Board of Agricultural Research and Education met for a regular meeting on March 13, 2020 at the NDSU AES Greenhouse Complex, Fargo ND.

Present: Jim Bahm, Doug Bichler, Mark Birdsall, Tracy Boe, Dean Bresciani, Lance Gulleson, Larry Hoffmann, Kerry Klein, Greg, Lardy, Brian Leier, Sarah Lovas, Dean Wehri, and Julie Zikmund. Dick Roland via phone conference. Absent: Doug Goehring

Chair Birdsall called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. He welcomed everyone in attendance and asked that introductions be made.

MOTION: Jim Bahm moved to approve the February 26, 2020 meeting minutes as presented; Larry Hoffmann seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Administrative Updates

Greg Lardy announced that Dr. Chris Augustin was hired as the new Director for the Dickinson Research Extension Center, to begin early April. The search for a department chair of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering was unsuccessful and has been extended. Interviews are coming up for the Extension Central District Director position. The search for the Extension East District Director position is moving forward as well. Dr. John McEvoy, Microbiological Sciences, is chairing the search for Animal Sciences. Dr. David Buchanan, Associate Dean, is chairing the search the for the Associate Director of Extension.

Dean Bresciani reported on recent discussions and decisions in regards to COVID-19. The current plan is by the end of spring break, move in-face instructional activities to an online basis. NDSU Administration would evaluate after two weeks. Campus is functional and operating. President Bresciani shared with the Board, the efforts made to address students abroad and traveling.

Comments from Mark Birdsall, Chair

Chair Birdsall reported that as part of the Governor’s Strategic Review of agencies, NDSU Extension had the opportunity to meet with the Governor on March 10. Chair Birdsall commended Greg and his team (Lynette Flage, Charlie Stoltenow, and Dave Ruhland) that presented, as they were very well received.

Dr. Lardy reiterated that it went well. The Governor has five strategic initiatives as part of his platform. From an Extension standpoint, we had impact stories that fit in well with each of those five areas.

Congratulations to Larry Hoffmann as the ND Ag Coalition met on March 12 and selected him as its 2020 SBARE nominee. His name has been forwarded to the State Board of Higher Education to serve a second four-year term beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2024. The Ag Coalition meeting in Bismarck was well attended. Dr. Lardy presented at the meeting on the Ag Products Development Center, the progress and the need for the facility.

Upcoming meetings/events: March 25 is the Governor’s Strategic Review for the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. April 9 is a meeting with the Agriculture and Transportation Committee.

OnFarm Research

Charlie Stoltenow, Assistant Director, NDSU Extension, presented his findings in regards to OnFarm Research, which involved a survey sent to five other states. He highlighted the responses received from each state. To conduct an official OnFarm Research program, it takes intentionality and personnel. Dr. Stoltenow views it as combined Extension and Ag Experiment Station project. Chair Birdsall raised the question in regards to demonstrations vs research.

Discussion was held regarding potential commodity groups involvement. Ken Nichols from the North Dakota Soybean Council was asked to comment.

Dr. Stoltenow shared his current communication with Derek Pulvermacher, agronomist from Divide County, who presented the idea of OnFarm Research during the input sessions. Chair Birdsall indicated he would formulate a response to Mr. Pulvermacher, thank him for coming forward, and encourage him to work with commodity groups. Board members expressed value in an OnFarm Research, which could be further explored and considered during future Input Sessions.

Resolution to Support a Compensation Package Enhancement

A revised draft of the resolution supporting a compensation package enhancement for all state employees, including North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and NDSU Extension employees was distributed to the SBARE members. Sarah Lovas, Doug Bichler, and Julie Zikmund worked on the revisions. A suggestion was made to better identify a statement in the document. Please send suggestions to Vice Chair Lovas, for further revisions to be presented at a future meeting.

New Publication

Dr. Lardy distributed For the Land and Its People, a new publication from the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and Extension newsletter. This newsletter replaces the Annual Highlights. Currently both electronic and hard copies are available. The plan is to eventually become electronic only.


Dave Ruhland, Director, Ag Budget Office, shared with the board that we are in the midst of a financial audit for both North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and NDSU Extension. This is of a routine nature.

Livestock Facilities

Research Extension Center directors from Carrington, Hettinger, and Central Grasslands each presented information and further explained their respective needs for livestock facilities.

Preliminary Ranking of Initiatives

Dave Ruhland distributed the list of Extension initiatives. Chair Birdsall asked voting members to rank the initiative bundles, with number one being the highest ranking. Member Dick Roland responded electronically, using email. The same process followed for the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station, as well as the livestock building needs. Ruhland reported on the preliminary voting results, and indicated he would also send out the results electronically.

Chair Birdsall asked the wishes of the Board, if there should be a cutoff after today’s vote or wait until dollars are attached to the initiatives. Discussion followed. The consensus was to give the initiative bundles to Administration for monetary considerations.

It was decided to have another meeting in April, rather than waiting until May. The next meeting is to be held on Friday, April 3 in Bismarck. Doors open at 9:00 a.m., meeting starts at 9:30 a.m., and would adjourn prior to lunch. Exact location in Bismarck, to be determined dependent on availability.


Julie Zikmund presented an article published in USA Today, which headlined on the front page next to COVID-19, the stress of Midwest farmers and the emotional toll. She noted the importance given to the current struggles of farmers.

MOTION: Jim Bahm made a motion to adjourn the meeting; seconded by Tracy Boe. Motion carried.

Meeting adjourned at 12:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Wendy Breitbach

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