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USDA Gets $600 Million For Agriculture Research

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WASHINGTON--The Agri culture Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act signed into law by President Clinton June 23 authorizes $120 million a year for five years for agriculture research. Six areas targeted by the bill include genomics and agricultural biotechnology. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Undersecretary for Research Education and Economics Eileen Kennedy told BioInform the new money will enable investment "now rather than later" in areas slated for future activity in USDA's nearly finalized Agricultural Genome Initiative.

Kennedy said bioinformatics "will be a big area of investment with the new money." She said the department intends to invest in bioinformatics beyond creating databases. "We're looking at how we can engage in investing some of our funds in better training, better dissemination of a database, and development of a more user-friendly database," Kennedy said.

But first, the funds have to be appropriated. "Now we have to ensure that when the House and Senate go to conference we in the department are clearly supportive of the Senate language, which has funding for the new initiative in it," Kennedy said. If they succeed, the money will be available in October, 1999.

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