Members of Illinois’ congressional delegation called on federal appropriators to save Peoria’s agricultural research center.
President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget cuts funding to USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) buildings and facilities account, which funds, among other things, Peoria’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research.
“If funding is eliminated, the closures of ARS facilities around the nation and in Illinois would jeopardize the competitiveness 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,” according to a letter authored by Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, and signed by Illinois’ 17 members of Congress.
In an interview with RFD Radio Network®, LaHood reiterated the importance of the ag lab.
“The researchers who work there every day, the scientists, and the Ph.D.s, have really helped our agriculture industry over a long period of time,” LaHood said. “And they’ve really done it in a quiet way. I think if there’s one thing that comes out of this – we have to talk more about the benefits and the successes that have come out of the ag lab, and what has been done there, because frankly, I don’t think we toot our own horn enough.”
He also expressed concern about Trump’s proposed cuts to agriculture, calling them “too deep.” LaHood called crop insurance “vital” to farmers and said he plans to fight for it in Washington, D.C.
“It will be important that we send a strong message because we will be renegotiating the farm bill in 2018, and that will start next year,” LaHood. “This seems to always be on the chopping block, but when people see the ramifications and the ripple effect it would have on our agriculture communities – it is significant. I’m optimistic that we will be successful.”