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USDA proposes an office of science

10:57am, February 20, 2007

The Department of Agriculture has proposed a plan to streamline its research activities. The Bush administration's proposed 2007 farm bill, unveiled by USDA Secretary Mike Johanns on Jan. 21, would merge two existing USDA research agencies into a single office of science.

Currently, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) employs some 2,100 scientists and another 6,000 support staff at 107 laboratories around the country. Nearly 500 more people—mostly administrators—make up the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), which funds research at universities and other nongovernmental facilities. The two agencies split a $2.4 billion annual research budget.

"The goal of this merger [is to] get more coordination and collaboration" in federally funded agricultural research, says Lowell Randel, USDA's legislative-affairs director in Washington, D.C. "We currently have . . . staff within ARS and CSREES that handle research in similar are

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