More federal money will flow into University of Illinois food and agricultural research projects next year.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin stopped by the National Soybean Research Laboratory at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences on Monday to announce $3.7 million in new funding through fiscal year 2006 appropriations.
The money will go toward a variety of research projects, from introducing soy protein to Third World countries to sequencing the swine and cattle genomes.
Durbin said he wanted the money to go toward not just buildings, "but on what goes on inside the buildings."
The appropriations were divided among four main initiatives. All are long-term, collaborative initiatives that have received funding in previous years.
"These are not new projects, but new ideas coming out of them," Durbin said.
The college received $3.5 million for agricultural and food research in fiscal 2005 and $2.8 million in fiscal 2004.
Food and agricultural research funding is such a small part of the federal government's overall budget, but it's an important part and it's becoming more and more vulnerable as the federal deficit grows, Durbin said.
"You have to fight a lot harder for money to bring back home," he said, adding that "agriculture is critical to the future of our state."
President George Bush signed the agriculture appropriations bill into law on Nov. 10.
The money for UI food and agricultural research was also announced earlier this summer when House and Senate subcommittees approved earlier versions of the ag appropriations bill.
Durbin is a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
Of the $3.7 million:
– $1.17 million will go for the Illinois-Missouri Biotechnology Alliance. This is a competitive grant program that funds research on corn and soybeans. Among its goals are developing new and improved uses for corn and soybeans and lowering the costs of producing corn and soybeans in the Midwest.
– $1.076 million is earmarked for the Soybean Disease Biotechnology Research Center. Researchers are exploring disease tolerance and resistance, and they aim to reduce the risk of soybean diseases.
– $815,000 will go toward the Livestock Genome Sequencing Initiative. This is an international consortium of researchers, led by the UI. Those involved are working to create maps of the complete cattle and swine genomes and identifying every gene in each of the two species.
– $666,000 is for the Future Foods Initiative. Researchers in this multidisciplinary program investigate certain compounds within foods, before and after processing and storage, plus consumer acceptance and marketing of future foods. It also focuses on world food and health needs, plus outreach activities on diet and nutrition.
At Monday's press conference, Durbin also spoke of his continued commitment to "a sound national energy policy." The policy includes supporting businesses like ethanol producers through tax credits, and promoting conservation efforts and fuel efficiency, rather than drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or ANWR.
After the press conference, Durbin toured greenhouses on campus and spoke to a leadership class at the UI's Institute of Government and Public Affairs.