The Roundup -

Tester Fights For Sidney ARS Funding


U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., last week voted to increase investments in agriculture research and critical rural water infrastructure for Montana family farmers and ranchers in an annual funding bill approved unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Tester’s language also ensures the lab in Sidney will continue to research the impact of the Wheat Stem Sawfly, which causes over $250 million in crop damage every year across the nation, including $80 million in damages in Montana.

“Sawflies are a serious threat to the bottom line of Montana producers. The hard working folks at Sidney’s research lab do outstanding work, and this bill gives them certainty to continue to provide local farmers with the most up-to-date research available,” Tester said.

The senator included many Montana priorities in the 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which funds farm and ranch, conservation, rural development, and food initiatives across the nation. Tester’s funding requests received support from Republicans and Democrats on the Appropriations Committee.

“Agriculture is Montana’s largest industry, and it is important that farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to be successful,” said Tester, a farmer from Big Sandy. “This bill increases agriculture research for family farmers and ranchers, invests in infrastructure in rural communities, and boosts initiatives that protect our western way of life.”

The 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill provides more than $2.5 billion for agriculture research, including increases of $34 million for the Agriculture Research Service and $38 million for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Both of these U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiatives support research grants and coordinate research on behalf of Montana producers.

The bill also provides $546 million to construct and upgrade water and wastewater infrastructure in rural communities, which is an increase of $23 million compared with the current year.

Tester, a member of the subcommittee that authored the bill, was able to secure language in the 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill that guarantees the Northern Plains Research Lab in Sidney will remain fully staffed and operational.


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