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ARS sheep research station closure averted

Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

The House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee has blocked USDA's request to reprogram funding for the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, and close the facility. The action, however, does not address the long-term threat to the research facility.

Research will continue at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho — at least in the near term, an Idaho congressman says.

The House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee on July 16 denied USDA’s request to reprogram funding for the facility and close it.

Announcement of the subcommittee’s denial was made by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who with other Western House members had urged Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt not to approve USDA’s request.

Simpson Deputy Chief of Staff John Revier said he had not yet seen the subcommittee’s letter of denial to USDA but said the decision was probably grounded in USDA’s lack of appropriate outreach and notice and significant concerns from Western House members in leadership roles.

In addition, the sheep station performs a lot of unique, important work that can’t be done elsewhere, such as research on the interaction between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep, he said.

“Hopefully that spoke to the committee,” he said.

Denial of USDA’s request to close the research facility solves the near-term crisis, but there is work to be done on the long-term threat to the sheep station, he said.

“USDA is showing its hand in the desire to close the facility,” he said.

Simpson was not at all satisfied with USDA’s explanation that the decision was simply financial and frustrated that USDA did no outreach to anyone, including House members on the relative subcommittees, he said.

If it is a budget problem, committee members would have liked the chance to work on that and see what can be done, he said.

USDA-ARS Director of Information Sandy Miller Hays was not aware of the subcommittee’s action and said she doesn’t know what action USDA might take in response.



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