Federal Funding Supports New Plant Research Facility

Several programs in the University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) will benefit from the $1.5T federal appropriations bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Biden.

The spending package includes $39.7 million for the USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) to build a new plant germplasm facility to be jointly used by scientists in the USDA ARS Vegetable Crop Research Unit and UW–Madison plant scientists. The new federal facility will be located on UW land at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station and will replace the outdated Horticulture Annex and Carrot and Beet Lab. The new building will expand the college’s partnership with USDA ARS, which already involves shared facilities such as the on-campus Dairy Forage Research Center and the dairy research facilities at UW’s Marshfield Agricultural Research Station.

A new plant research facility has been a top priority for the college for many years. In Oct. 2019, several members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation and then-USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue toured the college’s existing facilities with UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and CALS Dean Kate VandenBosch.

“We are very pleased that this new federal plant germplasm facility has been funded, as it will enable us to expand the important plant science research we do here,” says VandenBosch. “On behalf of the college, I want to express my sincere thanks to the members of Congress who supported the appropriations bill, and especially Representative Pocan and Senator Baldwin for their work on the agricultural appropriations subcommittees.”

The 50,000 square-foot building is expected to include dry lab space, three greenhouses, seed storage facilities, driers, and grinding facilities to serve the expanding volume and diversity of plant breeding and genetics work being done to enhance crop quality, productivity and other traits. As a federal building, planning and construction will be managed by USDA.

Many other programs that support agricultural and life sciences research will receive increased or level funding through the new federal spending package. They include:

  • $45 billion for NIH ($2.25 billion increase over FY 21)
  • $8.84 billion for NSF ($351 million increase over FY 21)
  • $7.475 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science ($449 million increase over FY 21)
  • $12 million for the CDC’s vector-borne diseases centers of excellence
  • $10 million to create a new Institute for Rural Partnerships in Wisconsin
  • $2 million for the USDA Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative ($1 million increase over FY 21)
  • $25 million for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiative ($4.8 million increase)
  • $5M for New Beginning for Tribal Students (level with FY 21)
  • $445 million for USDA AFRI ($10 million increase over FY 21)
  • $260 million for the Hatch Act agricultural experiment station formula funding ($1 million increase over FY 21)
  • $36 million for McIntire-Stennis forestry formula funding (level with FY 21)
  • $320 million for Smith-Lever Extension formula funding ($5 million increase over FY 21)