Agricultural research to benefit from stimulus program grants

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON — Several agricultural research centers related to the grain-based foods production chain will receive funding as part of $176 million in grants announced June 19 by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The prospective funding is part of the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus program. The $176 million will be used to upgrade laboratory buildings and support facilities at research locations around the United States.

"President Obama is committed to ensuring that the U.S. stays on the cutting edge of research in food safety, nutrition, producing food and preserving the quality of our soil and water," Mr. Vilsack said. "This funding will ensure that our labs can carry out the critical research that enables the U.S. to have the safest, least expensive food supply in the world."

James A. Bair, vice-president of the North American Millers’ Association, said the allocations do not eliminate the need for stepped-up research funding.

"This is for ‘bricks and mortar’ projects and specifically to catch up on deferred maintenance," he said. "Of course it’s better to do research in capable labs, so we’re not complaining. But we’d also like to see dollars for projects, too."

Lee Sanders, , senior vice-president of government relations and public affairs at the American Bakers Association, expressed the view that this funding could free up more overall funding for research.

"This is good news for all of the U.S.D.A.," she said. "A.R.S. facilities that were included, including the wheat labs that were included in Albany, Calif.; Manhattan, Kas.; Peoria, Ill.; and Fargo N.D. It will assist in bringing up funding that has been flat for the past several years, in effect the lack of funding has really been limiting to these labs. Being able to make these administrative upgrades should assist other appropriated funds go to program activities."

Among the 36 facilities that will receive grants ranging from $40,000 to $40.1 million, the largest will go to the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill. The N.C.A.U.R. focuses on inventing new uses for crops and developing new technology to improve environmental quality and food safety. The second largest grant, $28.4 million, is slated for the Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif. The

W.R.R.C. focuses on creating crop plants, food products and food processing methods that are healthier as well as safer for consumers and the environment.

Among other grants announced by Mr. Visack are:

•Central Grain Plains Research Station, Akron, Colo., $550,000;

•National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, Fort Collins, Colo., $290,000;

•Grain Marketing and Production Research Center, Manhattan, Kas., $440,000;

•U.S.D.A. Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Center on Aging, Boston, $3 million;

•Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Md., $10 million;

•Cereal Disease Laboratory, St. Paul, Minn., $1.88 million;

•Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo, N.D., $1.17 million; and

•Horticultural Crops Research Unit, Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit, National Clonal Germplasm Repository Unit, Corvallis, Ore., $355,000.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Milling and Baking News, July 14, 2009, starting on Page 29. Click here to search that archive.

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