By Clint Thompson
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on agricultural research programs at the University of Florida/IFAS. Some research has been halted since quarantine and social distancing rules were put in place in early March.
“It is definitely having an impact on our research. We are slowing down many of the projects because there’s not a safe way to continue in them. We are reviewing case by case, options request for being able to continue research. This is a university-wide directive, so we are following university policy,” said Jeanna Mastrodicasa, University of Florida associate vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “We’re just really trying to make sure we’re maintaining things as best as they can be maintained.”
She said that several hundred research projects have been affected this year. The financial impact is staggering.
“Based on the financial implications, I think the initial projection of the University of Florida is $33 million in losses. This is just based off all the revenues and refunds and things already. That was from a few weeks ago at a trustee’s meeting,” Mastrodicasa said. “We’re just trying to keep track of all the different financial implications, but it’s going to be big.
“We are doing our best to work with sponsors of our research to make sure they know the status. Everybody’s in this weird holding pattern right now. We’re just not sure how long it’ll be. Probably the biggest impact for IFAS that’s unique is a lot of our work is on an annual basis because it’s a planting cycle. So, we’re going to be 12 months instead of just two or three months behind in some cases.”
According to the UF/IFAS website, IFAS provides research and development for Florida’s agricultural, natural resources and related food industries. It made value-added contributions of $123.2 billion to the gross domestic product of the state economy in 2013.