March 15, 2005

Full Senate Supports Idaho Agriculture

Funding for ag-research, rural development, and combating brucellosis included

WASHINGTON, DC â?? Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo announced Senate support for a number of programs important to university research and Idaho farmers in the Fiscal Year 2004 agriculture funding bill approved by the United States Senate today.â??Iâ??m pleased to report that many programs essential to Idaho agriculture are supported by this appropriations bill,â?? said Senator Larry Craig, a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee member. â??Essential agricultural research and development is provided for, and critical rural development programs and noxious weed control is also included. This legislationâ??s success in meeting these needs is all the more notable because it is a very fiscally disciplined bill, which is actually smaller than last yearâ??s.â??Senator Mike Crapo, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, supported the agriculture spending measure that dedicates substantial resources to agriculture, rural development, and nutrition programs important to Idaho communities. â??Agriculture research is vital to the success of Idaho agriculture, and this legislation includes funding for much-needed research projects including potatoes, aquaculture, sugarbeets, viticulture, barley, legume, wood products, pest and disease control,â?? said Crapo. â??It also increases resources for food safety and animal inspections that are essential to ensure the protection of our crops and livestock from diseases and the safety of our food supply. Additionally, we are dedicating additional funding to child nutrition programs and rural housing assistance.â?? The bill contains critical support for research on crops vital to Idahoâ??s agricultural economy. Research funding includes: nearly $1.1 million for small fruit research, $600,000 for the states of ID, WA, and ND for cool season legume, $679,000 for barley, $650,000 for sugarbeets, $408,000 for grass seed cropping systems, and $840,000 for canola research.The University of Idahoâ??s extension center in Post Falls, Idaho would receive $790,000 for the Improving Safety and Shelf Life of Agricultural Commodities project. The primary goal of this project is to develop bioelectronic detectors that can quickly detect the presence of microbial pathogens in foods and food products. This will allow quick detection of microorganisms, allowing development of new methods for shelf-life preservation of these products as well as preventing distribution of contaminated food products. Moreover, bioelectronic detectors can be deployed to target bioterrorism issues encountered in agricultural commodities. The Committee approved $1.416 million for the Potato Variety Development Research project. Most of the money goes to Idaho and will help scientists develop improved varieties of potatoes more resistant to disease and drought.Over $1 million for aquaculture would be provided for the National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture to raise trout strains at the University of Idaho Hagerman Station. $150,000 is included for the Aberdeen station for continued work on value-added processing of barley and oats to produce high-protein concentrates suitable for use in feeds for fish.Several programs aimed at controlling predator, disease, and weeds were also funded including $1.3 million to be shared between Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming for Tri-State Predator Control. Funding for weed control research includes $342,000 for jointed goatgrass and $250,000 (a $150,000 increase over last yearâ??s funding) for the Nez Perce Bio-Control Center for pest and disease management programs. In addition, $900,000 is included for the Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee for brucellosis eradication.$666,000 is included for the Solutions to Environmental and Economic Problems program (STEEP), which helps individual farmers adjust to changing environmental regulations. Idaho also will share â?? with nine other states â?? nearly $6.786 million for wood utilization research.$200,000 was earmarked for the Idaho OnePlan Process Re-engineering project. The Idaho OnePlan is a unique collaboration of agencies, industries, and associations assisting Idaho farmers and ranchers in their continuing natural resource stewardship responsibilities. The program highlights efficiencies provided by computer networking, emphasizes problem-solving, and helps fulfill regulatory obligations. The bill includes $780,000 for the Lower Payette Ditch Irrigation Diversion in Emmett, ID. Appropriated funds will be used to construct and complete a collapsible rubber dam on the Payette River to replace the current flood-damaged diversion that has been in place since 1921. The new dam will serve to improve water quality, improve fish passage, increase compatibility with recreational passage on the river, and utilize a new fish ladder for upstream fish passage. $1 million is also secured to continue assisting in the conversion to sprinkler irrigation in the vicinity of Minidoka, Idaho, in order to reduce water quality impairments resulting from the return of water runoff to the aquifer by way of agricultural drain wells.The Eastern Idaho Sandhill Crane Lure Crop Program Endowment Fund in American Falls, Idaho is included at $300,000. Southeast Idaho producers have experienced significant crop damage due to the federally managed sandhill crane. The program endowment serves to assist in establishing safe havens for greater sandhill cranes, to protect farmers from crop damage and to promote the conservation of the sandhill crane species. The Eastern Idaho Sandhill Crane Lure Crop Program Endowment Fund will be used to expand the program to Caribou and Bear Lake counties in eastern Idaho. The Committee also directs the Secretary of Agriculture to charter an interagency group to address rangeland assessment and monitoring issues in Idaho. $500,000 is provided to the NRCS for the purposes of organizing and providing administrative support for this group and to begin a long-term needs assessment and plan for inventorying and evaluating rangeland in Idaho. This project is intended to develop a model that could be useful on the national level. The NRCS is directed to carry out this project in consultation with the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts.The bill now goes to a House/Senate conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate passed bills.[30]