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Smith advocates for Morris Soils Lab in USDA Undersecretary's Senate confirmation hearing: Watch the video

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith made sure President Donald Trump's choice for the USDA Research Undersecretary understood about the USDA ARS North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory in Morris.

During a Nov. 28 confirmation hearing Smith asked nominee Scott Hutchins if he'd be committed to keeping the Morris Soils Lab open. The Soils Lab has been slated for closure in President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget but has remained opened as the U.S. House has not approved proposed cuts.

"I think it's a good response," Dan Perkins said of Smith's questions and comments during the Nov. 28 hearing. Smith has shown awareness of the important work being done at the research lab, Perkins said. Perkins is a member of the the Barnes-Aastad Soil and Water Conservation Research Association which is a non-profit organization of farm managers and agri-business supporting the research mission of ARS in general and the Morris lab in particular.

Hutchins is nominated as the USDA's chief scientist. The post oversees several USDA agencies that are responsible for numerous types of research projects such as crop protection, food safety and the impact of agriculture on the environment. Hutchins as been the global leader of integrated field services for Corteva Agriscience and also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska.

Hutchins said he could not commit to keeping the Soils Lab open but he would commit to visiting it and learning more about it.

Perkins said Hutchins will be receiving an invitation to visit the Soils Lab in Morris.

Click the link to hear the exchange between Smith and Hutchins.