Brookings, S.D. (KELO AM) - Kevin Kephart, vice president for research at South Dakota State University, said Friday that university leadership is pleased with the progress of the new farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014, that passed the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday. The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the bill for consideration in the next few days.The legislation includes language reauthorizing the Sun Grant Program, a national network of land-grant universities and federally funded laboratories working together to further establish a bio-based economy.
"The Sun Grant Program began as an idea at SDSU in 2001," said Kephart. "It has grown into a national research initiative that builds capacity at land-grant universities to conduct key basic and translational research on ag-based renewable energy."Kephart said outcomes have included numerous research findings, commercialization of innovations and inventions, and dissemination of research information to the public and among countless undergraduate and graduate students who have been trained to lead the nation toward a bio-based economy."The reauthorized program will be stronger and more focused," he said. "My colleagues and I look forward to continuing this essential research and are grateful for the strong leadership of South Dakota's congressional delegation in making that happen."The Sun Grant Program was authorized in the 2008 farm bill.South Dakota State University is recognized as the leader of the Sun Grant Program, which has received continuing support and guidance from the state's congressional delegation.Sen. John Thune serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and Rep. Kristi Noem serves on the House Agriculture Committee. Thune and Noem were instrumental in assuring inclusion of the Sun Grant Program in the 2014 farm bill when it passed through their respective committees, Kephart said.Sen. Tim Johnson serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Agriculture sub-committee. Johnson has provided consistent leadership and support for continuing the Sun Grant Program and offered insights on how the program could be strengthened in the new farm bill, according to Kephart.