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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included millions in federal funding for Washington state agriculture research projects. This funding will support ongoing research for a wide range of Washington agricultural goods including wheat, potatoes, wine grapes, organic foods, hops and small fruits. Senator Murray included the funding in the Fiscal Year 2009 Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Senator Murray is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"This bill supports critical research projects that will help our farmers stay competitive in the global marketplace," said Senator Murray. "With gas, food and labor costs all going up, we need to ensure that we continue to provide farmers with the research and technological advances that can give them a leg up. We also need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to create jobs and economic opportunity in our state's rural communities."

The Agriculture Appropriations bill will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

In today's bill, Senator Murray added funding for the following Agriculture programs in Washington state:

Wine Grape Foundation Block -- $ 237, 000

It is critical that vineyards are virus free for national and international markets.  This research will reduce the likelihood of virus transmission within the industry.

Potato Research -- $ 750,000

This research focuses on the development of new potato varieties with better disease resistance, enhanced nutrition, higher yields, and other improvements. 

Asparagus Technology and Production -- $ 184,000

Half of the current asparagus production costs are composed of labor costs associated with the harvesting of the product.  These funds will ensure research and development of technologies to reduce the cost of asparagus production.

Competitiveness of Agriculture Products -- $ 350,000

Agriculture is increasingly dependent on global markets, and improving the competitiveness of U.S. exports in the global marketplace is important to the long-term health of the agricultural sector.  This research will help better understand the changing global agricultural trade environment.

Aegilops Cylindrica/Biomass (WA, ID) -- $ 200,000

Aegilops cylindrical is a grassy plant with potential as an alternative crop and a suitable fuel feedstock for biomass production, and this funding will develop the potential of this feedstock which would require low inputs, to be efficient in water usage, and be resistant to pests and disease.

PM(10) Study (WA) -- $ 150,000

Air quality impairments related to agriculture can result in health risks for individuals and economic hardships for producers.  This funding will help develop farming systems to reduce the threat of these particles.

Organic Cropping (WA) -- $ 264,000

There is a rising demand for organic products, but foreign competitors with lower labor costs are putting organic producers at risk.  This funding will provide research, development and dissemination of organic best management practices in the Northwest and other steps to retain the U.S. competitive advantage in this marketplace.

Cool Season Legume Research (ID, WA, ND) -- $ 250,000

This research project focuses on the genetic identification of superior characteristics in legumes; nematode, insect, and disease management; soil erosion and water quality; and market and product development. 

Grass Seed Cropping for a Sustainable Agriculture -- $ 150,000

The grass seed industry is based in rural communities and contributes to the economic well being of these communities, but the industry is facing some critical environmental and economic challenges, including: public pressure to phase out open-field burning; and alleviation of smoke, dust, and chemical trespass from crop production areas.  This research will develop new grass seed cropping systems that meet environmental regulations and are economically viable for farmers.

Northwest Center for Small Fruit Research -- $ 300,000

The primary goal of the Northwest Center for Small Fruit Research is to enhance the profitability and sustainability of the small fruits industry in the Pacific Northwest and this funding will provide peer reviewed and competitively awarded small fruits research.

Senator Murray also restored over $6.5 million in proposed Bush Administration cuts for Agricultural Research Service (ARS) projects in the Northwest, including:

Land Management and Water Conservation Research Unit, Pullman, WA

This valuable research unit has played a leading role in the development of research  on many important agricultural issues such as, conservation tillage,  integrated pest management, soil erosion prediction, precision agricultural systems, biofuels, and water quality enhancement. 

Microbial Genomics (WSU/Institute of Genomic Research)

This research will reduce the loss of cattle, sheep, goats, bison and horses to infectious diseases and safeguard against import-export restrictions.

Malignant Catarrhal Fever – Research will help provide solutions to the diagnosis and control of this disease, which is carried by sheep bit is highly fatal when transferred to cattle, bison, and other exotic animals in national zoos.

Winter Grain Legume Plant Geneticist Position – This position will ensure continued research into winter legume breeding to develop high-yielding varieties of dry peas, lentils and chickpeas in the Pacific Northwest.

Minor Use Pesticides (IR4) (Wapato/Prosser) – These projects will increase the available information on pesticides for minor crop growers to enable higher quality crop growth.

Potato Research Enhancement – This research will help develop new potato varieties that have improved nutritional value and are resistant to disease.

National Germplasm Resources Program – This program will ensure that our agriculture industry has a safe and adequate supply of new seed resources.

Potato Breeding – Research on potato breeding will result in new varieties that are of higher yield and quality, and are disease, pest, and stress resistant.

Shellfish Genetics –  This project will develop technologies to improve the genetic lines of shellfish, which will help keep the Washington state oyster industry competitive.

Hops Research – This research will produce new hop varieties that are disease and pest resistant, and ensure the continued success of Washington’s hop industry.

Wheat Quality Research – Research will produce genetically-improved wheat for end-use, which will result in higher-quality food products and a safe food supply.

Virus Free Fruit Tree Cultivars – This research will test and identify viral diseases in fruit trees so that viruses can be combated, helping to ensure better tree fruit products for consumers.

Root Diseases in Wheat and Barley – This project will develop biologically-based methods of root disease control in wheat, barely, and biofuels that are sustainable, environmentally friendly, and minimize off-farm inputs.

Regional Molecular Genotyping (Club Wheat) – Research will close the gap between molecular information and applying that information to improve wheat, barley and oats.

Air Quality (PM-10) – This research will assist in developing farming practices that allow for the control of wind erosion and dust emissions while monitoring and controlling air particulates 10 microns in diameter and smaller.

Temperate Fruit Flies – This project will develop new methods to manage fruit flies that are pests of temperate fruit tree crops.

Wheat Stripe Initiative (Emerging Diseases of Livestock and Crops) – Research will help reduce rust diseases, which are air-borne pathogens that can case grain yield losses.

Viticulture Research – This research will help ensure that wine grape growers have continually updated knowledge of various crop management issues to ensure sustainable grape production systems.

Grain Legume Plant Pathologist Position, Pullman, WA – This position will ensure continued research on diseases of pulse crops and help improve varieties of dry peas, lentils and chickpeas.

Northwest Small Fruits Research – This program conducts research on variety development and evaluates new varieties to help the Pacific Northwest growers sustain competitive growth in the world market.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – Research on BSE will assure the success of the current control and eradication programs to protect our food supply and maintain a healthy cattle industry.