The cattle, sheep and horse herds are smaller these days on the 700-acre farm operated by Cal Poly Pomona in the rolling foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Buildings and equipment need updating, and the farm and ranch depend more than before on volunteers and donations.
State funding cuts that have resulted in tuition hikes and fewer classes at California State University and University of California campuses are striking deep at college agriculture programs in California and across the nation. Some schools have been forced to close departments, sell farms, reduce animal herds and scale back research projects, even as enrollment in many agricultural disciplines grow.
Agricultural programs like Cal Poly Pomona's face challenges other academic disciplines don't: Animals don't take a break for summer, bug infestations can wipe out crops, farm equipment can break down, and ever-rising costs of feed have to be considered.
And unlike labs in other academic departments, Cal Poly Pomona's farm and ranch must pay for themselves or borrow money from the campus foundation.