Posted on November 7, 2003
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which passed the Senate late Thursday, includes significant funding for Tennessee agriculture priorities. "Tennessee farmers are major contributors to our state and national economies and represent some of our most committed environmental stewards," said Frist. "These projects support research into some of our state's most vital agriculture resources, like our timber forests and nursery crops. It also takes necessary steps to find cost-effective ways to address pests like boll weevils and fire ants in ways that don't damage farmland or the viability of farming in Tennessee. I applaud the Senate's support for these Tennessee projects." "Agriculture has been the backbone of the economy and way of life for generations of Tennesseans," Alexander said. "Supporting farmers in Tennessee is critical to the stability, health, and culture of our state. This funding will help maintain and grow programs that control pests and provide assistance in new areas of forestry and horticulture." The Tennessee projects in the FY 2004 Agriculture Appropriations Bill include the following: $1.25 million for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and Tennessee State University in Nashville for horticulture research. Research at the Appalachian Horticulture Research unit will support efforts to develop resistant genes in dogwoods and other woody ornamentals, new tissue culture techniques, and techniques to enable rapid deployment of new cultivars for the marketplace. $450,000 for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for wood utilization research. The University of Tennessee's Institute of Agriculture is one of nine centers nationwide participating in this ongoing project. The primary emphasis is the research and development of engineered wood products including composites, strand-oriented materials and other value-added projects that are important to Tennessee's forestry industry. Establishes the University of Tennessee in Knoxville as one of five regional sun grant research centers to promote the use of biobased energy technologies. The five regional centers, including UT, will address the nation's energy security needs through the development of biobased energy technologies and products. Specifically, the bill authorizes $25 million to carry out this initiative beginning in FY 2005, increasing to $75 million in FY 2007. $260,000 for Tennessee to control imported fire ant infestations. The Imported Fire Ant program supports intensive efforts to contain the spread and/or eradicate the current fire ant population. It focuses on finding cost-effective options and the possible use of biological controls to curb the spread of fire ants. $51.72 million nationwide for boll weevil eradication, of which Tennessee will receive a portion of the funding. In Tennessee, the program is a cooperative effort of the Southeastern Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, the Tennessee Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, and the State and U.S. Departments of Agriculture. Boll weevil eradication activities were successfully introduced in Middle Tennessee in 1994 and the lower portions of West Tennessee in 1998. The legislation will now go to a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.