As we collectively navigate the longest government shutdown in United States history, I know that many of you have questions and concerns about the impact on BTI, our United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) colleagues, and the broader research community.
We recognize that impacts have been outsized on our two primarily Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-supported laboratories, which are experiencing serious restrictions in their abilities to conduct research and attend to infrastructure and staff needs. Indeed, labs that are usually abuzz with activity are now uncharacteristically quiet. To mitigate the shutdown’s impact on their research, BTI greenhouse and business office staff continue to support their needs.
We are not alone in our experience, as the ARS employs some 2,000 scientists at more than 90 research sites across the country and overseas, and many federal science personnel are unable to travel to important meetings. Last week, I attended the Plant Science Research Network (PSRN) Workshop on Inclusivity and Equity in the Plant Sciences in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where our sponsors from the National Science Foundation (NSF) were unable to attend. In my travels, I encountered a broader human impact, as business is down across town. In a way, the scientific community has been lucky so far.
I want to assure you that BTI leadership has spoken at length about this issue, and we continue to assess the impact and potential impact on our staff and supporters, with our ARS colleagues currently being foremost in our minds. We continue to hope, albeit against what appear to be somewhat long odds, for a speedy resolution that will let us all get back to our important and inspiring work.
Thank you for your commitment to the BTI mission.