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Agriculture Committee Passes Agricultural Research Reauthorization Bill

By a unanimous voice vote, the House Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday, October 29th approved the Agricultural, Research, Extension, and Education Reauthorization Act of 1997 (H.R. 2534), approving the first comprehensive overhaul of agricultural research programs since 1997 for consideration by the full House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, October 29th, the Committee adopted by voice vote a substitute reauthorization measure offered by Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), the Committee's Chairman. Chairman Smith's substitute, which incorporated minor changes from the bill that cleared the Agriculture Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource Conservation, and Research on September 25th, passed the full Committee without amendment. The bill reauthorizes numerous agricultural research programs through 2002, including reform provisions which ensure peer and merit review of agricultural research and which provide for input into the priority setting process by those who benefit from agricultural research.

"Strong agricultural research programs have enabled America's farmers and ranchers to produce the highest quality food and fiber in the world at competitive prices. Our agricultural research reauthorization bill updates and modernizes our research programs so that American farmers will maintain their competitive edge in an increasingly global marketplace," said Smith.

"From the start, I have worked to pass an agricultural research bill that does more with our research dollars in a tight budget environment. This bill provides a new direction in agricultural research, helping American farmers and ranchers to maintain their access to the best scientific support in the world," said Rep. Larry Combest (R-TX), Chairman of the Forestry, Resource Conservation, and Research Subcommittee.

"Agricultural research has played a crucial role in stimulating our nation's dynamic economy and, as we look toward a future with greater reliance on international competition, it is even more critical that we maintain our technical and scientific leadership in agriculture," said Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), the Committee's ranking Democrat. "Additionally, I continue to remain interested in using excess funds from the food stamp administrative budget to provide funding for research, rural development, nutrition, and crop insurance."

Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which includes most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Combest represents Texas' Nineteenth Congressional District, which includes the Panhandle, South Plains, and the Permian Basin. Stenholm represents Texas' Seventeenth Congressional District.