WASHINGTON, D.C. — Funding to keep Peoria's Ag Lab open has cleared a key U.S. Senate subcommittee.
Funds for the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria and 16 other facilities were included in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Monday.
President Donald Trump proposed to close the research sites in his budget. The one in Peoria is tied to about 200 local jobs.
“For nearly eighty years, the Peoria Ag Lab has served an important role in research efforts at the USDA, developed new technologies to improve our way of life, and supported a first-rate workforce of scientists,” said Durbin in a prepared release. “The Administration’s proposal to close this lab would have hurt our capacity to innovate, reduced our competitive edge, cut jobs, and hurt farmers and rural America. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to secure this funding.”
Durbin joined a bipartisan group including Reps. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria; Cheri Bustos, D-Moline; and Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon; and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., pushing to keep the sites open.
The Peoria facility, which opened in 1940, is most prominently known as the location where mass production of penicillin was pioneered, though it boasts a number of other developments including Xantham gum, a thickening agent used in most salad dressings and numerous other food products.
The Senate appropriations committee and full Senate still have to advance the funding measures, and they must be reconciled with a similar House funding measure that received committee approval before a final spending package is sent to Trump for his signature.