PEORIA — U.S. Reps. Darin LaHood and Cheri Bustos have renewed their push to restore funding to Peoria's Ag Lab.
For the second year in a row — after President Donald Trump's proposed budget called for eliminating funding for the Department of Agriculture's facility here that employs about 200 people — the two lawmakers who represent the Peoria area have penned a letter to the House Appropriations Committee seeking full funding for it.
Their effort was successful last year.
“Targeting research facilities like this is not the way to rein in our government’s spending problem," LaHood said in a prepared release.
Bustos noted that targeting the facility for closure two years running has prevented it from filling research openings there.
"I am committed to fighting for this lab, which has kept Peoria at the center of our agricultural economy — developing technology that has benefitted our troops, our farmers and touches the lives of Americans every single day,” she said in the same release.
The National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research here is the largest of all USDA ag research labs, and opened in 1940. Of the 200 employees, roughly 80 are Ph.D. positions.
Work at the lab in recent years has focused on biofuels, reducing or replacing chemical pesticides and developing industrial and consumer products with agricultural feedstocks.
Sixteen members of the state's 18-member U.S. House delegation, including all local lawmakers, signed on to the letter.