President Donald Trump’s latest budget aims to cut a large chunk from U.S agriculture, including a shutdown of one of the country’s largest USDA labs in Peoria.
Illinois Congressmen from both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are doing what they can to persuade President Trump to reconsider these cuts.
U.S. Congress members Darin LaHood, Cheri Bustos, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth sent a letter to President Trump, explaining why the Ag Lab in Peoria is so vital not only to Illinois, but the entire country. Congressman LaHood explains some of the research that’s done at the Peoria lab, and what their letter spells out.
“When you see the scientists and the researchers and the PhDs that work at this facility in Peoria, they work every single day on projects on important topics such as food safety, agriculture research, and looking at how we can invent new products coming from agriculture, particularly corn and soybeans. Really our letter is to educate the administration on the important work that goes on there, and the fact that this isn’t necessarily parochial to Peoria or central Illinois, this is for the entire country,” says LaHood.
LaHood explains that the Peoria Lab is one of four regional labs in the US, and that all of these four would close under President Trump’s proposal. LaHood believes that consolidation, rather than closure, may be the better solution.
“What I’ve said to the administration is that the Peoria lab is the largest, it’s been around the longest. If there’s some consolidation that needs to be done, which we can always look at in the federal budget, then I would recommend that they look at the Peoria lab as a place to consolidate some of the smaller labs. The (Peoria) lab has had a strong reputation for the quality work and products that are produced there,” LaHood says.
LaHood says another important aspect of the USDA lab is the positive effects it has on taxpayers.
“In the end, the work that goes on in the Ag lab saves taxpayer money in the long run because of the work that goes on with preventing diseases, food safety and agriculture research. Agriculture is the number one industry in the state of Illinois. We have the fifth largest state in the Union and Ag is number one, it’s not anything up in Chicago, it’s agriculture, and we have to make sure that we let the (Trump) administration know the importance of this facility in Peoria,” LaHood explains.
Congress ultimately holds the power when it comes to the federal budget, but the President’s recommendations do hold weight. Illinois’ Congressional members will have a meeting with the Trump administration in the near future to discuss the Ag cuts, as well as the Peoria Ag Lab.