CHICAGO –(ENEWSPF)—March 19, 2018
By: Rosemary Piser
For the second year in a row, 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 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.
As the members wrote in a bipartisan letter to Trump,
“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.”
The letter was also 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.
The Peoria AG Lab 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.
Full text of today’s letter is available here