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Congress Marks $2.57 Million for Research

Congress has allotted more than $2.5 million for research projects at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The funding is included in the Fiscal Year 2001 Agricultural Appropriations Bill, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 6 and the U.S. Senate on Oct. 18. The bill now goes to President Bill Clinton for his signature.

Eight Projects Funded

The UGA CAES, in cooperation with various agricultural commodity and interest groups, submitted funding requests for eight research projects. All eight requests, which impact important Georgia commodities such as peanuts, Vidalia onions and beef cattle, received $2.57 million in congressional funding. The bill was supported by Georgia Senators Max Cleland (D-GA) and Zell Miller (D-GA) and Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA).

"We are encouraged by the commitment Congressman Kingston and other members of Congress have for important agricultural research that supports Georgia's number one industry," said Gale Buchanan, dean and director of the UGA CAES.

Kingston, who serves on the Agricultural Appropriates Subcommittee, was instrumental in obtaining the research funds for the college."With these funds, the University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will remain one of the leading research institutions in the country," he said. "The projects will help farmers find solutions to some of the problems they face and go a long way in ensuring Georgia's commodities remain competitive and strong."

Peanuts and Onions

The bill will benefit two research programs for the peanut industry. Some $500,000 is earmarked for research to reduce peanut food allergy risks. This research will include breeding new peanut varieties, collaborating on the development of vaccines for peanut allergies and reducing peanut allergy risks through marketing, handling and processing methods.

The National Center for Peanut Competitiveness will receive $400,000 to support research on breeding pest- and disease-resistant peanut varieties, studying the peanut's health-promoting qualities and analyzing the industry to keep U.S. peanut farmers competitive. The center is a partnership between UGA CAES, Auburn University, the University of Florida, and the Alabama and Florida Cooperative Extension Services.

Vidalia onion producers will get $250,000 to fund an intensive study on marketing and promoting Georgia's specialty onion. The project will measure factors that determine the market demand for Vidalia onions, both in the United States and abroad.

Tomato Spotted Wilt and Water Quality

The bill also provides $250,000 to fight Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, a disease that causes an estimated $80 million to $100 million in losses to peanuts, tobacco and other Georgia crops each year.

A research project focusing on non-point sources of water contamination in Georgia's lakes and streams will receive $300,000. Researchers will pinpoint the sources of contaminants in 580 impaired stream segments and develop a plan for reducing contaminants.

Safer Food and Better Beef

The bill also provides $285,000 for improving the safety of vegetables grown using animal manure as fertilizer. Manure can contain pathogens that contaminate water and crops. Outbreaks of food-borne illness have been linked to eating organically grown lettuce, drinking fresh-pressed apple juice and swimming in manure-contaminated lakes. CAES researchers, along with USDA scientists, will launch research on reducing the risk of spreading harmful microorganisms to crops through manure.

The Alliance for Food Protection, a cooperative program between UGA and the University of Nebraska, will receive $300,000 to develop and modify food processing and preservation methods. Such methods ensure our food safety by identifying undetected pathogens and chemicals on food and enhancing the quality of processed foods.

The National Beef Cattle Genetic Evaluation (NCE) Program, another UGA cooperative program, will receive $285,000 to improve beef production and quality through genetic improvements. The NCE Research Consortium includes UGA, Colorado State University, Cornell University and Iowa State University. "These UGA projects will be possible because of this funding are vital not only to Georgia's family farmers but to American agriculture as a whole," Miller said . "I am anxious to expand the research being conducted at the university and I look forward to its beneficial impact on the agriculture community."

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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