Capitol & State

Simpson: Idaho sheep research station closure blocked

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson said Wednesday that the Department of Agriculture's move to begin closing the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station has been halted by the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

The USDA had announced plans to begin shutting down the nearly 100-year-old station near Dubois in eastern Idaho on Friday if appropriators didn't object.

Simpson said in a news release that the Agriculture subcommittee denied the Obama administration's request to reprogram funds and close the station.

“I’m pleased that we have avoided shutting down the Dubois center for now, but I recognize that this decision does not eliminate the potential threat of future closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station,” Simpson said in the release. “I will continue to work with the USDA, University of Idaho, and members of the sheep industry to ensure the long-term viability of the sheep center at Dubois. It is critical that the sheep industry have a voice in future USDA decisions affecting their economic vitality.”

The full release follows:

House Committee Blocks Sheep Station Closure

Simpson Praises House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson applauded the decision to stop USDA’s planned closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho. Simpson, who is working with other western representatives to prevent closure of the facility, recently urged the chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to deny a request by the Agricultural Research Service to reprogram funds from the sheep station, which would result in its closure. Simpson was pleased to learn that the request has been denied.

“Because of its location and expertise, experts at the Sheep Experimental Station Dubois are conducting research that no other facility is currently able to do, including unique research on the domestic-wildlife interface that is vital to the future of the sheep industry,” said Simpson. “Closing down the Dubois station would effectively end this important research, and it would be a huge loss to American agriculture, which is why my western colleagues and I are fighting so hard to keep it open.”

Last week Congressman Simpson also sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, expressing disappointment that neither the USDA nor ARS notified Congress of their intent to close the Dubois center. In the letter, Simpson and other western Members of Congress expressed concern that neither agency has explained how research currently underway in Dubois would be continued.

“I’m pleased that we have avoided shutting down the Dubois center for now, but I recognize that this decision does not eliminate the potential threat of future closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station,” Simpson said. “I will continue to work with the USDA, University of Idaho, and members of the sheep industry to ensure the long-term viability of the sheep center at Dubois. It is critical that the sheep industry have a voice in future USDA decisions affecting their economic vitality.”

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