BROOKSVILLE — The Subtropical Agricultural Research Station got some good news Thursday: It is in line for $1 million to help restore some of its beef cattle research programs.
Sam Coleman, who directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture facility known as STARS on Chinsegut Hill Road north of Brooksville, said the procurement will most likely go toward bringing back jobs lost to budget cuts in recent years.
"It's going to help us gain back some of the ground we've lost," Coleman said. "That will get us back on track in some of the research projects we've been wanting to complete."
The funding was included in a 2010 congressional agriculture appropriations bill at the initiation of U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite.
"Cattle are one of the most important agricultural resources in my district,'' Brown-Waite said in a statement. "The STARS facility in Brooksville is invaluable for subtropical cattle research and the only one of its kind in the United States.
"Each year, this facility faces funding shortfalls which jeopardizes the facility's ability to operate as well as the livelihoods of everyone who depends on the facility,'' the statement continued. "This funding ensures the long-term success of a local industry and I am proud to have, once again, secured enough funding for them to keep their operation up and running.''
Coleman noted that the funding is only for one year, and won't eliminate all of STAR's long-term budget challenges.
"It gets us out of a big pinch and that's good," he said.
With an annual $1.2 million budget, the 3,800-acre site is the only government facility conducting long-term research on Southern cattle breeds and forage grasses. In addition, the program also studies methods of mitigating the effects of cattle operations near sensitive wetland areas.
Although the Southern cattle industry considers the research invaluable, the 78-year-old facility has had budget problems the past few years.
In 2008, the Bush administration called for eliminating it and 10 other research centers across the country. Though spared at the last minute by an omnibus spending bill sponsored in part by Brown-Waite, Coleman said he had to cut two laboratory positions from the 13-member staff.
The new funding, Coleman said, will enable him to rehire an agronomist for forage research as well as another cattle genetics specialist. He also hopes to expand efforts in other areas as well.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 848-1435.