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MU agroforestry prof named to USDA council

Margaux Henquinet

Shibu Jose is the H.E. Garrett Endowed Chair Professor in agroforestry at MU’s School of Natural Resources. He is also director of the Center for Agroforestry at MU.

Recently, Jose was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to the Forestry Research Advisory Council. According to an MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources news release, the council advises the secretary of agriculture on matters related to natural resources. It also provides advice related to the McIntire-Stennis Act of 1962, which makes funding available for forestry schools and research programs, including the one at MU.

Jose says he has been dealing with forestry and natural-resources-related issues throughout his whole career, and he is well connected to the forestry community throughout the state, region and country.

I spoke to Jose about the appointment.

Can you give us some examples of some of the things you think you’ll talk about with them? Some of the information that you plan to share?

If you look at the McIntyre-Stennis program, that has been labeled as the lifeline of many of the forestry programs, I mean the university forestry programs, in our country. Those kind of programs train our future natural resource professionals, particularly foresters, so it is critical that we continue to have a solid pot of money for the MS program, and with our economy the way it has been, it has been challenging, so one of the areas in which we will provide advice to the secretary of agriculture is about the funding and its importance and how critical it is to keep that funding and perhaps even increase that funding.

What is some of the research that you’re working on now? What are some of your projects?

I am mostly involved in examining the ecological sustainability of natural forests, planted forests, as well as what we call agroforest. And agroforestry is all about combining trees and crops and livestock on the same piece of land. In other words, it is a way to diversify the farm income. Especially when you are talking about making our farms, particularly small farms, competitive at a global market, they need to diversify the products. But by diversifying the farms, we also gain resiliency. The farms, they will be better equipped to handle some of the extreme weather events that we’ve been facing and some of the challenges that we will face down the road as a result of climate change.

In that term, or by the end of it, what are some of the things that you hope to accomplish?

All of us serving on this committee have background, but various backgrounds related to forestry and forestry research and forest industry. So I’m hopeful that I can represent a diverse group of forestry professionals ranging from foresters working in our forester landscape all the way to administrators running some of our forestry schools and faculty and researchers from diverse backgrounds, and my own perspectives about forestry-related issues. So I’m hopeful that I can better educate the committee members as well as provide some feedback to the secretary of agriculture about all these issues that are relevant and important in keeping our national resources sustainable in the long run.

This story originally aired as part of Under the Microscope, a weekly program about science, health, and technology in mid-Missouri.