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Wild rice, forestry research funding clears Senate committee

WASHINGTON -- Funding for wild rice and forestry research cleared a Senate committee hurdle last week, said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn.

The Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved $5.5 million in agriculture and economic development initiations that include new product research for wood and wild rice research.

A $300,000 appropriation would develop new and hardier strains of wild rice, Klobuchar said. It would fund research to tackle some of the most critical problems for wild rice producers, including shattering resistance, disease resistance, germplasm retention and seed storage.

Wild rice is the only cereal grain native to North America. Minnesota is the nation's second-largest producer of wild rice, with production concentration near the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Democratic senator said.

Also, $4.84 million would be appropriated for Wood Utilization Research Centers, including at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Klobuchar said. The research will help develop new products, technologies and business models in the forestry industry, so Minnesota can continue to lead in wood products manufacturing, she said.

"This funding is vital for the rural economy and the farm families of Minnesota," said Klobuchar. "Minnesota's farmers produce food for us all and these programs will help ensure their continued success."

The fiscal year 2010 agriculture appropriations legislation includes funding for research on soybeans, wild rice and poultry, which would help farmers increase productivity and combat disease. It includes $200,000 for soybean genomics research at the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus and $250,000 for the Midwest Poultry Consortium to support research programs.