Local lawmakers are pushing back against President Trump’s budget proposal which would close the doors on Peoria’s Ag Lab.
Representatives Darin LaHood and Cheri Bustos are working together, sending a letter to the president about the devastating impact they say it would not only have on central Illinois, but on the world.
“It would literally be devastating, killer, to the family farmer and our Ag economy.” Bustos explained.
The threat of closing the doors on Peoria’s Ag Lab, the largest of 4 agricultural research labs in the region, is opening the door for local leaders to work together to prevent that from happening.
“Who you have standing up here, we represent different political philosophies, but when it comes to something like looking at the Ag future and the economy right here in Peoria and this region, we all stand together on this.” Bustos said.
“It is important to Peoria, it’s important to our country to make sure that we keep that here.” LaHood said.
Agriculture is the number one economic driver in the state. The Ag Lab employs around 250 people.
“We’re not just talking about 85 plus PhD’s and their cohorts across the street, who are our neighbor,s who live in our neighborhoods, who go to our churches, who spend money, we’re talking about the impact of well over $100 million just here, but worldwide implications.” Peoria Mayor, Jim Ardis, said.
Since 1940, the largest Ag Lab in the nation has made discoveries that impact our everyday lives, from the mass production of Penicillin to Xanthan Gum in nearly every bottle of salad dressing and now mosquito research against the Zika Virus.
“To be honest if these doors close tomorrow and all the research that happens there ends it’s an incredible waste not only of the resources that were put into that to establish it but also to the future discoveries that can change the world.” Dean of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Science, Kimberlee Kidwell, said.
Leaders say they’ll do what it takes to push back against the budget’s proposed 21% cut to the USDA, that would stop the more than 40 ongoing projects at the lab in their tracks.
“It’s absolutely devastating there will be another country you can bet that will step in and take over and we will lose what we started.” Bustos said.
Members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation have joined Lahood and Bustos in signing the letter.
WMBD reached out to the White House’s press line, but our call went unanswered.