For Second Year In A Row, Durbin Duckworth, LaHood & Bustos Call On President Trump To Support Peoria Ag Lab And Scrap Plans To Shut Its Doors
CHICAGO – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL-18) and Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) today to call on President Donald Trump to once again scrap plans to close the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, Illinois – also known as the Peoria Ag Lab. The Trump Administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposed closing 12 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Research Service (ARS) laboratories, including the Peoria Ag Lab, and partially closing eight. President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget also proposed closing the Peoria Ag Lab, but members of the Illinois congressional delegation were able to secure funding in the House and Senate appropriations bills.
“This proposal would hurt the nation’s capacity to innovate, reduce our competitive edge in the global agricultural marketplace, cut jobs, and hurt farmers and rural America,” the members wrote in a bipartisan letter to President Trump. “We strongly urge you to reconsider your recommendation to close NCAUR.”
Along with Sens. Durbin and Duckworth and U.S. Reps. LaHood and Bustos, the letter was signed by U.S. Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL-01), Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), Dan Lipinski (D-IL-03), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-04), Peter Roskam (R-IL-06), Danny Davis (D-IL-07), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), Bill Foster (D-IL-11), and Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14).
The Peoria Ag Lab was created by Congress in 1938 as one of four agricultural research labs, and officially opened in 1940. The Peoria Ag Lab is the largest of all USDA ARS labs with over 200 employees, including 80 Ph.D. researchers. The Peoria Ag 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.
Last year, Senators Durbin and Duckworth and U.S. Reps. LaHood and Bustos led eleven other bipartisan House members in a letter to President Trump urging him to reconsider plans to close the Peoria Ag Lab.
Full text of today’s letter is available here and below:
March 19, 2018
Dear President Trump,
We write in opposition to the proposal to close the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, in the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request. Closing this important research facility would have devastating effects on agriculture research efforts, our modern farm economy, and on the local economy in Peoria, Illinois.
Since 1940, the National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research (NCAUR) has served a vital role in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) research efforts to create new industrial and food products from our agriculture commodities and develop new technologies to improve environmental quality. The advancements developed at NCAUR have ensured the safety of our food supply while promoting the growth in agriculture and biotechnology.
NCAUR is conducting vital research including efforts to advance biofuels, improve food safety, reduce or replace chemical pesticides, improve crop protection, and develop sustainable industrial and consumer products using agricultural feedstocks. These research efforts are vital in ensuring United States remains the leader in both agriculture technology and the global agricultural marketplace.
NCAUR has a strong history of providing scientific breakthroughs, including the 1941 development of a method to mass produce penicillin, an antibiotic that is considered one of the greatest advances in modern history. The lab also worked to advance innovations that have driven the farm economy, including shifting soybeans from a small forage and rotation crop to one of the most valuable row crops planted by U.S. farmers and developing the technique to create high fructose corn syrup. The research done at this facility has had far reaching impacts on our food supply and has resulted in a number of medical breakthroughs.
NCAUR supports a first-rate workforce of more than 80 scientists and a total of 200 employees at the Peoria lab. Closing this lab would not only hurt agricultural innovation, it would also cut American jobs that are vital to the local economy.
Despite NCAUR’s many breakthroughs and strong history of success, the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request has, for the second straight year, proposed to close the lab. This proposal would hurt the nation’s capacity to innovate, reduce our competitive edge in the global agricultural marketplace, cut jobs, and hurt farmers and rural America.
We strongly urge you to reconsider your recommendation to close NCAUR.
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