Some might call it “pork,” but agricultural officials in Georgia prefer to think of it as much needed funding. Funds for agricultural projects in the state were included in the nearly $375 billion 2004 omnibus spending bill signed into law recently by President Bush.

The U.S. Senate passed the bill on Jan. 22, after the U.S. House approved it in December. A joint statement released by Sens. Zell Miller and Saxby Chambliss outlined Georgia-specific funds included in the bill.

Numerous projects were funded relating to agricultural water use, including the following: $900,000 to establish a program of excellence in agriculture water policy research and teaching at Georgia State and Georgia Southern Universities through the Cooperative State Research Education and Commission Cooperative Agreement with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) for construction or renovation of agricultural water storage facilities and to improve efficiencies to irrigation applications; $450,000 for Water Use Efficiency and Water Quality Enhancements to be studied through CSREES at the University of Georgia; $262,000 for agriculture water use for the CSREES at UGA; $225,000 for water use reduction and producer enhancement research at the USDA/Agricultural Research Service in Dawson;; and $225,000 for the ongoing cooperative research between the Flint River Water Planning and Policy Center and the National Peanut Research Lab in Dawson.

Other Georgia agricultural research projects funded include: $350,000 for an NRCS study of community nutrient management; $223,000 for information technology with Georgia Southern; $450,000 for cotton fiber quality research being conducted by the CSREES at UGA; $268,000 for the Alliance for Food Protection (90 percent of the funding will be for a cooperative agreement with UGA for integrated fruit and vegetable research through the CSREES); $225,000 for a UGA extension agreement for a special grant with the National Turkey Federation; $225,000 for nematode research at the USDA/ARS station in Tifton; $135,000 for peanut research at the Dawson ARS laboratory; $270,000 for peach and pecan entomology research at the Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Lab in Byron; $270,000 for New Castle Disease research at the ARS in Athens; and $270,000 for poultry disease research at the Athens ARS.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our state's economy. I am extremely pleased with this important funding, which invests heavily in agricultural research,” says Sen. Miller.

“These important funds will benefit every corner of our state by providing resources critical to keep our agriculture and rural communities strong,” adds Sen. Chambliss.

e-mail: phollis@primediabusiness.com