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New Call to Action: May 23, 2017

From the Director of
Minnesota Sea Grant

Dear Readers,

Thank you to our friends, stakeholders, collaborators, partners, supporters and all who wrote, called and expressed their appreciation for Minnesota Sea Grant to our congressional leaders. Due to those efforts, the National Sea Grant College Program survived cuts to the current fiscal year 2017 budget, but we learned on May 23 that we now face elimination in the administration's fiscal year 2018 budget and your help is again needed.

As released Tuesday, May 23, 2017, the President's proposed FY18 budget cuts many government programs related to everything from human health, to the environment and education — in order to immediately move funds to increase defense spending.

Among the FY18 cuts is the President's elimination of the National Sea Grant College Program. If Congress approves of this budget without Sea Grant in it, we and the services we provide Minnesotans could be gone by October 2017. The same will happen in each of the other 32 Sea Grant programs across the United States.

The elimination of the National Sea Grant College Program in FY18 will immediately remove funding dedicated to providing scholarships and fellowships to Minnesota college students, stop us from funding research projects addressing critical issues affecting Minnesota's economy and environment, and stop our ability to provide huge benefits for the state of Minnesota (see our "By the Numbers"). Many people will likely lose their jobs, and we will no longer be able to create or sustain many other jobs and businesses in the private sector.

Minnesota Sea Grant has a greater return on investment of federal funds than any other government program we are aware of, and we are outstanding in our ability to use federal funds, leveraged with private, local and state funds to address issues identified as most important by Minnesotans and Minnesota businesses.

I am optimistic for our future because we have faith in the people we serve, like you and your neighbors, to again contact your representatives and congressional leaders to include the National Sea Grant Program in the administration's FY18 budget and support the program's $80 million programmatic request. This nationwide program has had strong bipartisan support for 50 years and we strive to provide another 50 years of service to the nation.

Importantly, it will take your support to sustain it and us!

If you value the Sea Grant program, you can help. The President only makes requests — it is Congress who takes actions when it comes to the budget. While the strong bipartisan support of Sea Grant by members of Congress has not changed, there are many programs facing potential drastic cuts in fiscal year 2018, which runs from October 2017 through September 2018. If members of Congress receive a huge number of supportive emails and telephone calls from people who deeply value a particular program it will make a significant difference to the outcome.

PLEASE CONTACT your representatives in Congress and ask for their support of Minnesota Sea Grant. If you're unsure about what exactly to say, we have some sample wording to be used in your email that contains specific language that Congressional delegates and their staff will recognize as pertaining to the proposed elimination of the program. If you're not sure who your representatives are, use the link below under "Contact Your Representatives." Hard copy letters can be slow to arrive in Congressional offices, but emails are taken immediately. Some Congressional offices also have online forms to provide comments.

Hard copy letters can be slow to arrive in Congressional offices, but emails are taken immediately. Some Congressional offices have online forms to provide comments.

Thank you,
Dr. John A. Downing, Director
Minnesota Sea Grant
University of Minnesota Duluth
31 W. College Street
Duluth, MN 55812-1198
(218) 726-8715
downing@umn.edu

Contact Your Representatives

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

Letter of Support Template (May 2017 Version)

Download the letter as a Word DOC or copy the text from below ...

Dear Senator ___________ OR
Dear Representative _________________

I urge you to:

  • Reject the Administration's recent proposal to terminate the Sea Grant in fiscal year 2018.
  • Ask that Congress fund the National Sea Grant Program at $80 million.

I support Sea Grant because this valuable federal-state investment contributes to the health and resilience of the United States of America's Great Lakes and seaboard coastal communities. Sea Grant programs and services provide quantifiable economic, social and environmental benefits to Minnesotans and the Great Lakes region. For example, Sea Grant is helping to protect Minnesota's $4.2 billion recreational fishing industry through public education and leadership on aquatic invasive species challenges. Sea Grant-funded science is advancing our understanding of mercury accumulation in sports fish, which is a major source of consumption advisories throughout the state. At the same time, Sea Grant experts are partnering to explore the risks, rewards and hurdles associated with food-fish aquaculture and aquaculture business in Minnesota.

Furthermore, Minnesota Sea Grant supports more than 100 promising university students each year by funding graduate research fellowships in science and providing graduates and undergraduates with a variety of professional development opportunities and activities. Minnesota Sea Grant saves lives (for example, providing education on Great Lakes rip currents) and livelihoods (for example, contributions to solving challenges regarding local port corrosion, national ballast water management standards and Minnesota's wild rice sulfate standards).

I urge you to support this unique program within the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that sends 95% of its appropriated funds to Great Lakes and seaboard coastal states to solve those communities' critical problems. Sea Grant is known as an efficient, cost-effective partnership between state universities, NOAA, coastal communities and businesses that leverages nearly $3 for every $1 appropriated by Congress.

For the United States to be more responsive to the sustainable economic development potential of its coastal states, strengthen domestic aquaculture, improve coastal resilience of the nation's communities, and balance the economic and environmental challenges the country's coastal regions face, the Sea Grant Association is recommending federal funding of $80 million in fiscal year 2018. These funds will support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, resilient communities and economies, healthy coastal ecosystems, and environmental literacy and workforce development. This funding recommendation is consistent with the enabling act which authorizes the Sea Grant program in Public Law 89-688 - the National Sea Grant College Program Act of 1966, as amended (33 USC 1121 et seq).

Thank you for your commitment to serving the public of Minnesota and consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Contact:

John A. Downing
Director

This page last modified on May 23, 2017     © 1996 – 2017 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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