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Monday, June 6, 2011 - 9:43am

USDA Research Center May Close

The USDA research center in Watkinsville could close later this year, pending federal legislation.

The site opened in the 1930s and studies how environmental integrity affects agriculture.

“We’ve long been working to protect soil and water in Georgia,” says research leader Dwight Fisher, adding “We’ve worked to create sustainable agriculture systems in the south. A lot on the work on soil and water started here.”

Though the House Agricultural Appropriations bill cuts the site’s funding, it allows the University of Georgia to acquire the land “provided the institution agrees to maintain the facility for agricultural and natural resources research for a minimum of 25 years.”

UGA spokeswoman Faith Peppers however urged caution: “It is entirely too early for anyone to be talking about [UGA taking over the research center.] The House bill hasn’t even been passed yet.”

UGA currently is selling its research farm in Oconee County just a few miles from the USDA research center.

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