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Federal Budget Cuts Strike NY Genomics Plans

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Two planned agricultural genomics research centers planned in New York State will have their federal funding pulled when the 2011 budget continuing resolution is signed into law.

As part of a large $230 million cut to the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in the bill, the planned Center for Grape Genetic Research in Geneva, NY, and Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca, NY, have had their funding rescinded dating as far back as to 2005, the office of Representative Maurice Hinchey (D – NY) told GenomeWeb Daily News today.

The grape genetics research center, which was scheduled to begin construction this year, lost appropriations in the budget totaling $14.3 million and dating back to 2005 that would have gone to the building of the new facility. The crop-based health genomics center at Cornell University's Ithaca campus, which is envisioned to focus on using genomic information from plants to study their compounds for applications in health, nutrition, and biofuels, had $10.4 million in funding rescinded in the 2011 budget resolution.

"I voted against this bill because it cuts key investments in programs that help spur economic development," Hinchey said in a statement. "Agricultural innovation, especially in the Finger Lake's growing wine industry, is essential to our local economy," he said, adding that he will "do everything I can to restore this critical funding."

Before the funding was cut, the grape research center in Geneva needed another $12 million to $15 million for the construction phase, including the $8 million it received in the New York State budget this year.

According to Hinchey's office, New York's $7 billion wine and grape industry supports 900 vineyards and makes the state the third largest wine-producing state in the country.

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