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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi, both R-Wyo., helped the Senate pass an Agriculture Appropriations bill today that would provide funds for projects ranging from animal disease research, to rangeland management to food programs for children. Wyoming receives a share of the $100 billion as it is allocated out to specific agencies and programs.

The Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2006 Agriculture Appropriations bill, H.R. 2744, by a vote of 97-2. The bill provides about $100 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, rural development and other programs.

“Our livestock producers depend on this funding for research to fight brucellosis, chronic wasting, and other diseases. Our ranchers livelihood is severely impacted by these diseases. In addition, many people depend on the important programs administered by the USDA and supported by this funding. Wyoming is made up of rural communities and rural development programs play a significant role in our local economies,” Thomas said.

“This bill is the bread and butter of our nation’s federal agricultural system,” said Enzi. “It provides nutritional food for women and children, funds agricultural research, and helps expand rural development. Wyoming can benefit in these areas and also from specific funding to help wipe out brucellosis and perform other important animal disease research.”

The state would receive about $5 million for state specific needs. Thomas and Enzi worked to include various projects for Wyoming including:

• $350,000 for the Wyoming Wildlife/Livestock Disease Research Partnership to assist studying diseases that are passed between livestock and wildlife;

• $1.374 million for a Tri-State Predator Control Program for Wyoming, Idaho and Montana

• $300,000 for soil surveys to assist with better land management in areas affected by coal bed methane development;

• $1 million for the Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee to help the coordination of federal, state, and private actions aimed at eliminating brucellosis from the areas of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho;

• $500,000 for the Rift Valley Fever Virus Research at Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Laboratory in Laramie. The funding would be used to expand the research program to develop new vaccines, detection methods and validation of existing vaccines for bioterror agents as well as to determine susceptibility of North American animal species to the Rift Valley Fever virus.

• $494,000 for a ruminant nutrition consortium in Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas

• $298,000 for wool research in Wyoming, Texas and Montana

The legislation also includes the continuation of funding research for the Rangeland Resources Management program at the High Plains Research Station in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Additionally, the legislation provides about $3.1 million for the Agricultural Marketing Service to employ specialists who provide standardization, grading and market news services for country of origin labeling (COOL).

The senators continue working to fully implement mandatory COOL. They believe it will benefit consumers by giving them the choice to buy American meat, which will in turn benefit Wyoming ranchers by increasing domestic meat sales.

The bill provides about $1.5 billion for the Food and Drug Administration, about $40 billion for the Food Stamp program, about $5 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, about $3 billion for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, and about $2.5 billion for rural development programs.

The Agriculture Appropriations bill provides funding for a wide array of federal programs, mostly for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These programs include agricultural research, education, and extension activities; natural resources conservation programs; farm income and support programs; rural economic and community development activities, and telecommunications; and various export and international activities of the department.

The bill is now ready to go to a Senate-House conference committee where the two chambers will work out the differences between the Senate and House bills. On June 8, the House passed its version of H.R. 2744 by a vote of 408-18.