PEORIA (WEEK) – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin was at Peoria’s Ag Lab Thursday announcing a new proposal to up public funding for farm research.
The America Grows Act is sponsored by Democrats, and proposes an increase in annual funding for research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by 5% over a five year period. Durbin said the ag research budget is about $1.3 billion. Durbin said a 5% bump would be about $65 million.
Here’s why Durbin said this is important.
“Whether it’s medicine or agriculture, the Chinese have decided this is a priority for the future of their nation, it should be a priority for America,” he said.”
Durbin said he has not talked to his colleagues about signing onto the act, but said, “I think I’m gonna have good luck.” Durbin said ag is usually a cause supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
Durbin was asked about more than research at Thursday’s announcement. When asked what he thought of critics who claim farmers are overpaid when they have losses, Durbin said he does think farmers need help in light of the U.S. trade war with China.
“We gotta take care to make sure that the help we give to farmers, particularly in extraordinary circumstances, isn’t questioned or corrupted by the largest producers who tend to get the lion’s share.”
Durbin said the highest priority shouldn’t be the big ad businesses, but farmers caught in the middle.