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Hatch, Bennett claim victory in passage of agriculture bill

Utah's U.S. senators are claiming success in delivering the bacon in an agriculture bill passed by the Senate.

The Fiscal Year 2006 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Bill passed by 97 to 2, noted Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah.

Because the measure differs from the House version, added the release by Bennett, conferees from both chambers will need to work out their differences before the appropriation becomes law.

In separate press releases, Bennett claimed victory as "the floor manager of the bill," while Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, noted that he helped secure funding for several important agricultural projects in Utah.

"Utah's agriculture industry is critical to the state's economy, and this money will help our farmers and ranchers continue in their important role as some of the best producers in the nation," Hatch is quoted in the release. It notes that Bennett managed the bill.

Utah projects requested by Hatch that were included in the measure are:

$3 million for the Washington Fields Canal Lining Project.

$1 million for the Utah Botanical Center at Utah State University, Logan, providing research on home landscaping plants for use in desert climates.

$1 million for the Drought Management Initiative by USU.

$970,000 for plant gene and genetic discovery research at USU.

$225,000 for plant pasture and forage research at USU.

Bennett noted that his efforts obtained more than $51 million for Utah agriculture projects. In addition to those cited by Hatch, Bennett's release includes these projects:

$1.3 million for air quality research, USU.

$1.5 million for the Biotechnology and Genomics Research Center, USU.

$1.34 million for the Jack Berryman Institute, a research facility at USU that evaluates wildlife disease threats and wildlife economics. It is a cooperative project with Mississippi State University.

$800,000 for vegetation manipulation research at USU.

$1.67 million for the USU Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory.

$500,000 for the Logan university's Herdsman Pilot Demonstration Project.

$350,000 for the USU Center for Public Lands and Rural Economies.

$3.53 million for the USU Poisonous Plant Lab.

$3.57 million for the Forage and Range Research Lab at USU.

$20 million for the statewide Environmental Quality Incentive Program.

$1.5 million for the Predatory Ecology Research Center at the Wildlife Research Center, Millville, Cache County.

$300,000 for the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation and Animal Feeding Operation Pilot Project.

$246,000 to study chronic wasting disease in deer and elk in various regions of the country, including Utah.

About $1.5 million for flood prevention at Coal Creek, Ferrin, Muddy Creek and an area identified as "Tri-Valley."

$5 million for the Utah Conservation Initiative.

At least $1 million for cricket and grasshopper control in Utah.

$1.25 million for the National Agriculture Imagery Program, Farm Service Agency.

A study, cost not announced, by the Agriculture Research Service on the feasibility of constructing a new greenhouse and herbarium facility for biology and botanical studies at Utah Valley State College, Orem.

Bennett also noted projects of interest to the state but not necessarily based in Utah, including at least $5 million to study sage grouse habitat conservation; $2 million for the National Sheep Improvement Center; $19 million for eradication of scrapie, a disease affecting sheep and goats; and more than $28.1 million for the nationwide Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.


E-mail: bau@desnews.com