Increased staffing realized at the USDA-ARS Cereal Crops Research Unit

The USDA-ARS Cereal Crops Research Unit (CCRU) in Madison, WI realized pandemic related shutdowns most of 2020 and had been operating with only 25% staffing in 2021. The lab is critical infrastructure for the barley industry by providing malting quality analysis for public breeding programs in the US. The reduced staffing has resulted in a large backlog of breeder’s samples from the 2019 and 2020 crop years. On October 1, the USDA-ARS announced that the 25% staffing would continue until January 2022. AMBA contacted the ARS Area Director, Dr. Alberto Pantoja, explaining our concerns and pointed out the large building footprint in relation to the modest staff number. We are happy to report that the CCRU has been given permission to expand to 100% staffing. We are grateful that USDA-ARS has responded to our request. Employees may opt to continue with remote work, so not all staff will return immediately. Acting Research Leader, Dr. Mali Mahalingam, is allowing for expanded hours and staggered shifts to increase individuals comfort/willingness with returning to on-site work. AMBA recognizes the burden the pandemic has placed on many of our members and researchers, and we are here to support and help navigate these challenges.