The $80 billion Agricultural Appropriations spending bill, passed recently by the U.S. House and Senate, provides money for several research projects that should prove beneficial to the peanut industry.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who serves on the Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, reports that Congress has approved $250,000 for a research project on tomato spotted wilt virus, $400,000 for the National Center for Peanut Competitiveness, $500,000 for peanut allergy research, $300,000 for agricultural water use management and $500,000 for the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga.

Tomato spotted wilt virus has cost producers approximately $80 to $100 million in losses to peanut, vegetables, tobacco and other crops in Georgia. The appropriated funds will be used to help further reduce losses in major crops grown in the Southeast. This research includes a risk assessment index that has helped growers reduce losses from $40 million in 1997 to about $20 million in 1998 and 1999.

Other research projects, conducted by the National Center for Peanut Competitiveness, aim to reduce the cost of production, enhance desirability to consumers and improve product safety, handling, drying and marketability.

A research project focusing on reducing peanut food allergy risks is in its second year at the University of Georgia. This project not only seeks to provide conclusive, scientific-based research evidence, but it also supports efforts to reduce the allergenic potential of peanuts by reducing or modifying the peanut proteins responsible for allergic reactions or in developing a vaccine.

The $300,000 appropriated for water use management will be used to develop TMDL levels in streams that will be used in developing acceptable standards for contaminants of various materials. This research then can be used by Georgia's Environmental Protection Divisions and consultants to help predict TMDL levels for non-point sources over the 580 stream segments with impaired water quality in Georgia.

Congress also appropriated funds for Agricultural Research Service projects that support the NESPAL facility in Tifton, Ga. These funds will help researchers improve peanut germplasm with resistance to disease and nematode pests.

The bill also contains $3.5 billion in emergency disaster funds, including $1.6 billion for quality, quantity and severe economic losses for the 2000 crop.