Ag Secretary Announces Lab Funding Boost

US - Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, has announced $176 million in Recovery Act funding to improve research capacity at laboratories in 29 states.
calendar icon 22 June 2009
clock icon 5 minute read

Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, announced last week that the USDA is distributing $176 million in Recovery Act funding to upgrade laboratory buildings and support facilities at research locations across the country. Not only will these projects further important research being conducted at USDA laboratories in 29 states, these funds will help revitalize local economies by creating jobs and supporting local businesses that supply needed construction products and services.

"President Obama is committed to ensuring that USDA 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."

The Recovery Act funds will improve the safety and health aspects of the laboratories, enhance the energy efficiency, and reduce the cost of operation and maintenance. These benefits will improve the working environment, resulting in improved productivity, and generate maintenance savings that will be captured and returned to directly support the research programme. All of the projects selected are at locations conducting research of the highest priority.

The Western Regional Research Center (WRRC) in Albany, California, which is receiving $28.4 million, focuses on creating crop plants, food products, and food processing methods that are healthier and safer for consumers and the environment. For example, WRRC scientists discovered that microbes thought to live only in animals can also exist on plants such as lettuce and spinach, and the researchers are now working on ways to prevent produce contamination. WRRC will use the Recovery Act funds to make electrical and plumbing systems repairs, fire detection and suppression system renovations, roofing systems replacement, and other repairs that will keep the lab's research moving forward.

The National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, Illinois, which is receiving $40.1 million, focuses on inventing new uses for agricultural crops and developing new technology to improve environmental quality and food safety. For example, NCAUR has developed a series of new food products that expanded markets for U.S. cereal crops. One of them, Calorie-Trim, is an all-natural, fat replacer. Derived from whole oats and barley, C-Trim contains 20 to 50 percent beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that helps the body regulate blood sugar and lower bad cholesterol, diminishing the risk of heart disease. NCAUR also developed a vegetable oil-based elevator hydraulic fluid for elevators that is now being used in the Statue of Liberty. This new biobased hydraulic fluid has high fire resistance and could replace the conventional mineral oil-based product, which has major flammability, is environmental toxic, and has disposal problems. NCAUR will use the funding announced today to address critical deferred maintenance of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to enable the lab to continue to develop new products.

Projects receiving funding are:
Aberdeen, Idaho, Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit: $40,000
Akron, Colo., Central Great Plains Research Station: $550,000
Albany, Calif., Western Regional Research Center: $28.4 million
Ames, Iowa, National Animal Disease Center: $10.5 million
Athens, Ga., Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory: $2.3 million
Beltsville, Md., Beltsville Agricultural Research Center: $10 million
Beltsville, Md., National Agricultural Library: $7.4 million
Boston, Massachusetts, USDA Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging: $3 million
Clay Center, Neb., Roman L. Hruska US Meat Animal Research Center: $1.3 million
College Station, Texas, Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center: $1.3 million
Corvallis, Ore., Horticultural Crops Research Unit, Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit, National Clonal Germplasm Repository Unit: $355,000
East Lansing, Mich., ARS Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory: $430,000
El Reno, Okla., Grazinglands Research Laboratory: $130,000
Fargo, N.D., Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center: $1.17 million
Florence, S.C., Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center: $230,000
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory: $475,000
Fort Collins, Colo., National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation: $290,000
Geneva, N.Y., Plant Genetic Resources Unit and Grape Genetics Research Unit: $650,000
Ithaca, N.Y., Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health: $275,000
Kearneysville, W.Va., Appalachian Fruit Research Station: $650,000
Kimberly, Idaho, Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory: $50,000
Logan, Utah, USDA-ARS Forage & Range Research Laboratory: $55,000
Madison, Wis., US Dairy Forage Research Center and Cereal Crops Laboratory: $650,000
Manhattan, Kan., Grain Marketing and Production Research Center: $440,000
Miles City, Mont., Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory: $4 million
Mississippi State, Miss., Poultry Research Unit & Crop Science Research Laboratory: $1.8 million
Newark, Del., Beneficial Insects Research Laboratory: $470,000
Pendleton, Ore., Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center: $150,000
Peoria, Ill., National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research: $40.1 million
Riverside, Calif., United States Salinity Laboratory, National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Citrus & Dates: $625,000
St. Paul, Minn., Cereal Disease Laboratory: $1.88 million
Stoneville, Miss., Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center: $26 million
Tucson, Ariz., Carl Hayden Bee Research Center: $455,000
Washington, D.C., US National Arboretum: $9 million
West Lafayette, Ind., National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory: $775,000
Wyndmoor, Pa., Eastern Regional Research Center: $20.1 million

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