LaHood discusses Peoria USDA lab, potential consolidation

By Gary Scott on July 15, 2017 at 12:27pm

Peoria’s agriculture lab is staying put after fears that it could be closed as part of President Trump’s budget cuts.

The USDA lab in Peoria is being saved in large part by the efforts of Congressman Darin LaHood, along with Congresswoman Cheri Bustos from Illinois’ 17th District.

LaHood and Bustos announced earlier this week that the House Appropriations Committee included funding for the Peoria lab in their makeup of the agriculture appropriations bill.

LaHood says this is just an initial step, and that he hopes to increase awareness about the vital research conducted at the lab.

“We have to do a better job of promoting what the ag lab does. The scientists that work there, the researchers and the PdDs, really in a quiet way are doing phenomenal work. We haven’t talked enough about those good works and we need to highlight that. We need to build a narrative and explain to taxpayers what that money is going towards.”

LaHood says he favors consolidating other smaller labs into Peoria’s. He added that the work to save the Peoria ag lab is far from over.

“We’re going to have to continue to educate and talk to our colleagues, my Republican colleagues on the Senate side — particularly the chairman of the agriculture committee over there — and work with our two senators, Senator Duckworth and Senator Durbin. They also signed on to the letter. So again, working in a bi-partisan way to make sure we keep this in there. Additionally, working with Secretary (Sonny) Perdue, secretary of agriculture, and his staff to make sure they’re well aware of what we’re trying to do.”

Several weeks ago, LaHood and Bustos penned a letter urging the Appropriations Committee Chairman and Ranking Member to include federal funding for Peoria’s Agriculture Research Lab, which was proposed for closure under President Trump’s budget.