In 2001, I set about the task of identifying programs at BARC that are at the forefront of their fields and which form the core strengths of the Center. Since BARC has approximately 80% of the US Department of Agriculture systematics resources and scientists and their associated internationally pre-eminent biological collections, our systematics research programs clearly fall into this category. Systematics research at BARC includes entomology, nematology, botany, mycology, animal parasites, and Rhizobia. Providing research and information on the systematics of agriculturally important organisms is a unique Federal responsibility, and these programs benefit not only the entire nation, but have global impact.
With increasing concern about invasive species and biosecurity for our nation's agriculture, we have even more reasons than in the past to strengthen these vital programs. As I am sure you are aware, obtaining adequate funding to maintain, let alone expand, this vitally important area of science has been difficult. With your ideas and those of the other attendees at the Systematics Summit, our goal is
to generate a vision for the future of systematics here at BARC over the next ten years, and which will effectively chart the course for agricultural systematics in the 21st century.
Using that vision, we will be able to prepare a plan that will enable us to make a case to USDA for increasing resources devoted to supporting our systematics programs and directing their activities to minimizing both current and emerging threats to US agriculture. Ultimately, this will allow us to serve our customers better, including the organizations you represent, and, most importantly, the agricultural community of the United States.