July 13, 2009

Wyden, Merkley Announce Funding for Agriculture Research Included in Appropriations Bill

Projects Will Support Research Done in Oregon Into the Best Agriculture Methods

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D- Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D- Ore.) announced today that an agriculture appropriations bill headed to the Senate floor includes more than $7 million in projects for Oregon. Included in the bill is funding for research into improving Oregon's crops and controlling invasive species.

"Agriculture producers have always played a major role in the success of this state and it is important that wise investments are made to ensure that continues to be the case," Wyden said. "These funds will support investment into research and infrastructure projects that will keep Oregon's agriculture industry thriving for years to come."

"It's critical that our farmers are given all the necessary resources to improve the quality and sustainability of their crops and protect their farms from disease and pests," said Merkley. "These funds will invest in research to help boost the economic livelihood of Oregon farmers, advance our blossoming organic agriculture industry, and increase efforts to support our timber industry."

Projects included in the agriculture appropriations bill include:

Organic Cropping Research for the Northwest - $149,000
Funds will be used for research into the improvement and support of Oregon's burgeoning organic agriculture industry. A panel representing scientists, industry representatives and farmers will evaluate proposals and distribute available funds.

Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research, Small Fruits Initiative Plant Improvement - $275,000

Funds will be used for a Small Fruit Pathology Program, Site Feasibility Study and Phase-one Design for Additional or New Research Facilities, and Competitive Research Grants which involves cooperation between industry, State and Federal research.

Small Fruit Research - $300,000

These funds would provide for competitive grants to enhance profitability and sustainability for a number of crops including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, table grapes, wine grapes, huckleberries, gooseberries, and black currants.

Invasive Weed Management - $500,000

Medusahead, and other annual grasses, are destroying the agricultural sustainablility, ecology, and fire regimes of the Great Basin and surrounding ecosystems. These funds will be used for testing large-scale management strategies for medusahead and annual grass infested rangeland and developing new, sustainable methods for managing medusahead and other annual grass weeds in the Great Basin.

Potato Research (several states) - $1,037,000

The funds are used to develop and identify varieties with high yield, improved processing quality, genetic resistance to major pests and diseases, higher levels of resistance to stresses, increased nutrient use efficiency, improved human nutritional value, and high tuber quality.

Wood Utilization Research (WUR) Center at OSU - $4,841,000
The WUR Program provides innovative science, technology and advanced business practices research and graduate education. Funds will support new initiatives in the development of bioproducts, composite materials, bio-based energy and nanotechnology that can help position Oregon to be a leader in these fields in the Western US and enhance competitiveness of domestic industry.

Grass Seed Cropping Systems for Sustainable Agriculture - $150,000

For research into sustainable production of grass seed, a major Oregon export, aimed at addressing critical environmental and economic challenges including the phase-out of open-field burning. The project covers Oregon, Idaho and Washington, with Oregon-based scientists typically receiving more than half of available funds.

In addition to the funding listed above, the committee included language in its report supporting the following projects:

Benton County Fairgrounds Waste Water Collection and Drainage Project

This project will use green technology solutions to treat surface animal waste through a manmade wetland.

Relocating Seaside School District out of tsunami zone

This project will move Seaside School District facilities out of the tsunami zone, as recommended by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

Spalding Sewer Lift Station

This project will install a sewer system to service a 65-acre piece of land currently zoned for industrial use in the City of Grants Pass. This parcel is among the few suitable industrial areas in the city and lacks only an adequate sewage system in order to be a viable location for businesses.

Old Highway 62/Royal Avenue Water Main Replacement
This is a shovel-ready project to replace an old and aging 6-inch asbestos cement waterline with a 12-inch waterline to provide additional capacity to the City's water system. All funds will be used for construction and construction engineering of the project.

Hubbard Creek Impoundment Improvement Project

This project will enlarge the Hubbard Creek Impoundment, to ensure that the City of Port Orford has sufficient water for the community's needs.

City of Eagle Point Reservoir Retrofit

This shovel ready project will retrofit an existing 4 million gallon reservoir to expand the water system. All funds will be used directly for construction and construction engineering of the project. Design is 100% complete.

The bill will be considered by the full Senate and upon passage will be reconciled with the version passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the President for his signature.