Earth's Bounty: Federal Agriculture Research Lab Slated to Be Cut

Grass-fed beef and meats from other animals raised on pastures are becoming more popular. But a U-S Department of Agriculture research lab focused on pasture farming has been left out of President Bushís proposed budget. The Allegheny Frontís Jennifer Szweda Jordan has more.

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Sustainable agriculture advocates say the Bush administrationís proposed federal budget would eliminate an important research lab located at Penn State.
Researchers at the Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Laboratory focus on environmental issues such as odor emissions, water quality and erosion, and biofuels on pasture farms. The lab serves twelve states in the Northeast.

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture Executive Director Brian Snyder says the labís work makes farms profitable. Thatís because farmers donít have to spend as much money on additives and supplements when animals graze.

Snyder suggests the proposed budget cut is part of a larger effort on the part of agribusiness to hold on to markets for products sold to farmers.

The USDA's Sandy Miller Hays says that's not true.

MILLER HAYS: I can't imagine saying let's do this so agribusiness can do xyz. That's not how we make decisions.

JORDAN: Miller Hays says the Penn State lab is part of 84 (M) million dollars in proposed cuts to agricultural research services, which overall has a one-point-two (B) billion dollar budget this year. She says ten other agricultural research labs are slated to be eliminated. Miller Hays admitted the work of the PSU lab couldn't be replicated due to unique soils and climate conditions in the area, she said watershed research will continue at other labs.