Bustos and LaHood are Co-Leading a Letter to the House Appropriations Committee Fighting for Federal Funding
PEORIA – Today, Rep. Cheri Bustos, Rep. Darin LaHood and Mayor Jim Ardis visited the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria. This visit comes after President Trump’s budget proposed ending federal funding for the facility, which would result in its closure.
Following the tour, Rep. Bustos, Rep. LaHood and Mayor Ardis gave brief remarks across the street at the Peoria County Farm Bureau highlighting the work being done to keep funding for the facility. Other supporters and attendees included Adam Nielsen of the Illinois Farm Bureau, Peoria County Board Chair Andrew Rand, Peoria City Councilmen Sid Ruckriegel, Dennis Cyr, Chuck Grayeb and Zach Oyler.
“Protecting good paying jobs and ensuring a better future for hardworking families in Peoria shouldn’t be a partisan issue, so I’m pleased to join with Congressman LaHood as we pressure the Trump Administration to drop its proposal to eliminate Peoria’s Agriculture Research Lab,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “For decades, this lab has kept Peoria at the center of our agricultural economy – developing technology that has benefitted our troops, our farmers and touches the lives of Americans every single day.”
“The National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research has a long history here in Peoria of doing terrific work. Agriculture is the number one industry in the state of Illinois, and the work done at this facility helps not only our farmers, but farmers across the entire country,” said Congressman LaHood. “That is why I am happy to be the author of a letter with Congresswoman Bustos calling for continued funding of the facility. As we move forward with the true budget and appropriations processes, I will continue to work as hard as I can in the House to ensure that we keep this facility open and provide it with the funding it needs.”
Reps. Cheri Bustos and Darin LaHood will send a letter to the House Appropriations Committee calling for maintained funding of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Buildings and Facilities account, which funds the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria.
**LETTER TEXT AND SIGNATORIES NOT FINAL**
May XX, 2017
Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen, Chairman Aderholt, Ranking Member Lowey, and Ranking Member Bishop,
As you begin work on the fiscal year 2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, we urge you to maintain funding for the United Sates Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Buildings and Facilities account. Cuts to this program would endanger the modern farm economy and we urge you to preserve ARS laboratories as well as the invaluable work performed at each of these facilities.
The ARS has been a vital agency within the USDA for over a half century. Authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture in 1953, the ARS has acted as the principal USDA in-house agency conducting research focused on developing solutions to high-priority, national-scale agricultural challenges and providing access to scientific information that works to ensure high-quality, safe, and sustainable products that serve the needs of our nation. Additionally, the ARS utilizes its research to find new ways to sustain a robust agricultural economy and provide opportunities for America’s farmers, our rural communities, our nation, and the world.
The ARS operates through 17 national programs across 43 states and employs 5,522 permanent employees across the country, including 235 employees in two research facilities in Illinois. The vital research that is conducted at ARS facilities cannot be understated. For example, the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, Illinois houses innovative research in novel industrial and other food products and agricultural commodities. Additionally, the NCAUR is the designated lead technology transfer facility for the USDA. Historically, the work done at this facility has improved the lives of countless Americans, and includes the accomplishment of developing the mass production strategy for penicillin in the 1940’s by Nobel Prize-winning scientists and was designated an International Historic Chemical Landmark in 2001. This magnitude of important work can be exemplified across the nation at each ARS facility.
As we look to prioritize spending on high-value federal agencies and programs, we respectfully advocate that the ARS supports this mission and does so in a manner that is efficient, effective and accountable with taxpayer money. Not only does the ARS provide scientific advancement tools to our rural communities, it also supports vital research for other USDA programs and agencies and supports the scientific research needs of all federal, state, and local agencies as well as private industry partners to advance the United States interest in the global agricultural marketplace. Innovation has driven the farm economy for decades. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $17 worth of economic impact. The benefits of this research touch every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat to the energy that powers our cars. Crop viability, medical breakthroughs, food safety improvements, and agricultural product development are among the innumerable results of our nation’s continued investment in agriculture research.
While we understand there are difficult fiscal challenges ahead for our nation, underscoring the work done within ARS and its example of efficient, effective and accountable federal spending to enhance national priorities is something that cannot be understated. If funding is eliminated, the closures of ARS facilities around the nation and in Illinois would jeopardize the competiveness of our agricultural research and send a strong message to our competitors abroad about our national priorities. Furthermore, cuts could have immediate impacts on our struggling farm economy. These facilities are drivers of economic growth across the country and it is critical that research at these facilities continues uninterrupted.
With the national interest in mind, we appreciate your consideration as you continue your work on the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2018.
Darin LaHood Cheri Bustos
Member of Congress Member of Congress