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July 10, 2009   Email to Friend 

Lewis Lowe
(202) 226-5618
July 10, 2009

Congressman Bobby Bright
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright called the agricultural appropriations bill passed by the House on Thursday a "fiscally responsible" piece of legislation that will help ensure agriculture's future.

"This bill funds the work of the previous Congress on the Farm Bill and provides our farmers and rural communities with the support they need and deserve," Bright said in a statement released Friday by his office. "This is a good, fiscally responsible bill that makes crucial investments that ensure the future of our nation's agriculture community. I look forward to working on the Agriculture Committee to continue to support our farms and farmers and strengthen rural America."

The bill funds vital programs at the Department of Agriculture, including provisions included in the Farm Bill, which was passed last year.

The bill also contains two projects sponsored by the congressman to aid agricultural research in Alabama. H.R. 2997 passed by a 266-160 margin, and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The Farm Bill, or the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, governs the bulk of Federal agriculture and related programs for the next four years. In addition to providing the funds for the Farm Bill, H.R. 2997 provides more than $2.8 billion for USDA programs for rural communities such as rural housing, water projects, community facilities and economic development efforts. These programs help create new opportunities for growth and development in rural areas across the nation.

Other items in the bill include:

-- $881 million to protect American agriculture against animal and plant diseases

-- $2.5 billion for agricultural research

-- $29 million to fund loans and grants for high speed broadband internet.

The bill contains two projects sponsored by Bright that will aid the Alabama peanut industry, including $1.75 million for the Research Center on Detection and Food Safety at Auburn University. This project, requested by Bright in response to the June 2008 salmonella outbreak at an Albany, Ga., peanut processing plant, seeks to improve the safety of the U.S. food system by developing the science and engineering required to rapidly identify, pinpoint and characterize problems that arise in the food supply chain.

The bill also provides $413,000 for the Tri-State Joint Peanut Research Project at Auburn University, an effort to demonstrate the economic advantages of crop rotations and conservation tillage and the profitability associated with well-managed cropping systems that are integrated with grazing systems. Given the 3.25 million acres of cotton and 925,000 acres of peanuts being grown in the Southeast (Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia), livestock and conservation cropping could mean billions of dollars for the region's rural economy.

"These are valuable projects that will see a strong return on investment and will benefit the Second District," Bright said. "The Second District is home to one of the highest concentrations of peanut producers in the country, and I hope these projects go a long way in preserving and strengthening this vital industry. These projects are a wise use of taxpayer dollars because they are cost-effective, address critical needs, and have the potential to create jobs."

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