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Fortenberry scores additional federal funding for USDA center at UNL
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Fortenberry scores additional federal funding for USDA center at UNL

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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday gave its approval to an additional $20 million appropriation for construction of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture research center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The new recommended funding follows on the heels of an earlier allocation of $11.2 million for planning and design of the multi-year project.

If full funding for a new federal ag research center ultimately is acquired, that would signal the end of a long quest for a USDA presence at Nebraska Innovation Campus that began more than a decade ago.  

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Rep. Jeff Fortenberry speaks at a campaign rally in 2020.

In 2010, former Sen. Ben Nelson had championed the location of a $60 million USDA research center as a vital catalyst and anchor for the new UNL campus, but that effort collapsed when Congress eliminated the use of earmarks to fund projects.

The new USDA center at UNL would focus on "strategic research investments in areas such as agricultural innovation and precision agriculture," Rep. Jeff Fortenberry has said.

Fortenberry, the 1st District Republican congressman and ranking member of the House appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, rural development and the Food and Drug Administration, hailed elements of the ag-related funding proposal that provide "important support for our highly productive farmers and ranchers and those facing food insecurity in America and around the world."

Included in the proposal is a major expansion of rural broadband service and expanded agriculture-related opportunities for students at institutions with higher numbers of minorities. 

An additional $347.4 million would be appropriated to the Agricultural Research Service in the Department of Agriculture to address the impacts of climate change. 

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"These investments are aimed to tackle the climate crisis in farming and rural communities," according to a committee statement.

They would include research funding to monitor, measure and mitigate climate change, accelerate "climate-smart" agriculture practices, reduce greenhouse gases and advance clean energy technologies, the committee stated.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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