Durbin Secures Funding For Peoria Ag Lab In Senate Appropriations Bill

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that funding for the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, Illinois was included in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies fiscal year 2018 funding bill.  The Trump Administration’s budget proposed closing 17 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Research Service (ARS) laboratories, including the NCAUR in Peoria. 

“For nearly eighty years, the Peoria Ag Lab has served an important role in research efforts at the USDA, developed new technologies to improve our way of life, and supported a first-rate workforce of scientists,” said Durbin.  “The Administration’s proposal to close this lab would have hurt our capacity to innovate, reduced our competitive edge, cut jobs, and hurt farmers and rural America.  I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to secure this funding.”

In June, Durbin, along with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL-18), Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), and eleven other bipartisan House members pressed President Trump to scrap plans to close the NCAUR in Peoria. 

The NCAUR in Peoria was created by Congress in 1938 as one of four agricultural research labs, and officially opened 1940.  The Peoria lab is the largest of all USDA ARS labs with 200 employees, including 80 Ph.D. researchers.  The Peoria lab is best known for its work to develop the technique to mass produce penicillin, an antibiotic that is considered one of the greatest advances in modern history.  It also discovered Xantham—a thickening agent used in gum, salad dressing, and numerous other food products; the technique to produce high fructose corn syrup; and developed soybeans into a successful row crop.   The lab is currently conducting vital research to advance biofuels, reduce or replace chemical pesticides, and develop sustainable industrial and consumer products using agricultural feedstocks.