Pryor to chair agriculture spending panel


WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., will have a larger role over federal farm spending this session as chairman of a key subcommittee.

Pryor will lead the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees roughly $21 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and several other agencies.

“I think this is going to be great for Arkansas,” Pryor said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters.

The position, he said, should help ensure that the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson is adequately funded.

“We are working with them on enhancing their nanotechnology abilities. So, I hope we can help there,” Pryor said.

Congress last year enacted legislation that would authorize $25 million annually for the FDA to assess nanomaterials used in drugs and other products. The research center near Pine Bluff is equipped to conduct such scientific research.

Aside from the NCTR facility, Pryor said the subcommittee oversees spending on agricultural research, agriculture extension services and other programs that are critical to Arkansas’s rural economy.

Pryor takes over as chairman of the subcommittee from former Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl, who retired.