Ag Bill contains funding for Black Belt farmers

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 4, 2005

Staff report

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-AL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced funding for Alabama agriculture projects included in the Fiscal Year 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

The legislation passed the Senate today by a vote of 81 to 18.

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It will now be sent to President George W. Bush, who is expected to sign it into law.

“I believe the Agriculture Appropriations Bill goes a long way toward helping farmers and rural communities in Alabama and across the country,” Sen. Shelby said, “by funding advanced research methods with the ultimate goal of eliminating devastating diseases and increasing agricultural productivity levels.”

The bill contained a number of programs

Fish Vaccine and Microbe Research – $1.08 Million

Sen. Shelby secured funding for aquaculture and fish disease research to be conducted at the Agricultural Research Service facilities located at Auburn University. This bill includes $1.08 million in funding for the project which will provide greatly needed scientific research for the development of safe and effective vaccines for the prevention of diseases in catfish to increase productivity, fish efficiency, and reproduction.

Sen. Shelby said, “I am pleased to provide funding so that Auburn can continue its important research activities into the diseases that affect our catfish.”

Food Safety and Detection Program – $1.146 million

Sen. Shelby said, “This bill includes funding for Auburn University’s ongoing research to ensure consumer access to safe food supplies.

These funds will allow Auburn to continue research to improve the safety of the U.S. food system by developing the science and engineering required to rapidly identify, pinpoint and characterize, through an integration of sensor and information technology, problems that arise in the food supply chain.”

National Soil Dynamics Laboratory – $1.12 million

Sen. Shelby said, “This bill includes funding for research activities, including studies in soil hydrology, weed ecology, and soil physics to be conducted at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Soil Dynamics Laboratory at Auburn University.

Historically, droughts have resulted in millions of dollars in losses to Alabama’s row crop producers. It is imperative that we investigate ways to reduce drought related risks and find ways to address them in an effort to increase production and producer’s profitability.”

“This funding represents a $120,000 increase over the fiscal year 2005 bill and will be used to conduct research on cropping systems practices.

The goal of this research is to raise the level of water quality to federal standards particularly in the Sand Mountain region of Alabama.

This research will enable us to move closer to a disposal method of poultry litter that is more ecologically-sound and economical,” Shelby added.

The bill also includes language allowing ARS to conduct a study on the feasibility of relocating the laboratory to a periphery location on Auburn’s campus.

Improved Crop Production Practices – $1.45 million

Sen. Shelby said, “This funding will allow Auburn University, Alabama A&M and Tuskegee University to conduct joint research of conservation tillage, precision agriculture and management of poultry litter.”

Tri-State Peanut Joint Research – $591,000

Sen. Shelby said, “This bill includes $591,000 for Tri-State Peanut Joint Research. These funds will allow continued research into several factors affecting the peanut industry including pests, soil quality, water quality, nutrients, and overall production environments. The goal is to increase yields with crop rotations and conservation.”

Catfish Genome

– $925,000

Sen. Shelby said, “I am pleased these funds were included in the bill to conduct important research at Auburn University to identify genes that convey virulent traits, to identify pathogens and to identify factors that influence expression of traits in catfish.”

AlabamaWildlife Federation Conservation Education Center- $446,000

Sen. Shelby said, “This bill includes $446,000 for a cooperative program with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for conservation education.

The DCNR will work cooperatively with the Alabama Wildlife Federation to provide a hands-on education about a variety of ecosystems and how they can be conserved. The center will teach environmental responsibility while understanding the opportunities and uses of our natural resources.”

Alabama Beef Connection – $850,000

Sen. Shelby said, “This bill includes funding for the Alabama Beef Connection program.

This program allows us to track cattle as they move from farm to market and will provide greater information to public health officials who monitor beef products.”

Horn fly research – $200,000

Sen. Shelby said, “This funding will assist Auburn University in their efforts to develop a horn fly vaccine.

Economic losses due to horn fly stress on beef and dairy cattle continue to be significant, proving the necessity for this invaluable research.

This anti-feeding vaccine in development is easily administered, species targeted, long lasting and environmentally acceptable.”

Precision Agricultural Partnership – $599,000

Sen. Shelby said, “This bill includes $599,000 for the Precision Agricultural Partnership, which conducts research to increase farm and forest productivity. This project uses technologies such as remote sensing, geographic information systems and global positioning systems to aid traditional methods of farming and forestry.”

AlabamaAssociation of Conservation Districts – $100,000

Sen. Shelby said, “I am pleased the legislation includes funding for this program, which aims to educate students about rural and urban conservation practices.”

Seafood Antibiotic Testing – $500,000

In the report language, the Senate acknowledged their concerns regarding seafood safety issues posed by banned antibiotic contamination in farm-raised shrimp imports.

Sen. Shelby said, “I am pleased our bill includes $500,000 for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop, in cooperation with state testing programs, a program for increasing the inspection of imported shrimp for banned antibiotics, including chloramphenicol.”

Pine Barren Watershed Extension

Sen. Shelby said, “I am pleased the legislation includes language stating that funding will be provided for completion of the next phase of the Pine Barren Watershed Extension.

This project will greatly reduce flooding in the Atmore, AL area.”

The following nationwide programs will also be funded through the Fiscal Year 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill:

Circuit Riders – $13.75 million

Sen. Shelby said, “This bill includes funding for Circuit Riders, or on-site field assistance, to provide information to small communities so they are able to better comply with EPA water regulations regarding arsenic, radon and other chemicals that may be in water.”

Rural Water and Wastewater Grants and Loans – $530.1 million

Sen. Shelby said, “I am pleased our bill includes $530.1 million for communities in Alabama and across the country to apply for funding, through a competitive grant and loan process, to ensure they have a clean and safe water supply.

A safe, potable water supply leads to economic development and important growth opportunities for our communities.”