August 3, 2016
A nearly $5 million state investment in agricultural productivity at the University of Minnesota will be used this year to hire scientists and to make campus infrastructure improvements.
The investment effort, known as the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer Program, was announced Wednesday at Farmfest in Redwood Falls.
The program was established by the state legislature in its 2015 session and funding was established with support by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. An advisory panel of university leaders, MDA and industry leaders reviewed options and agreed to the spending plan.
U-M announces $5 million investment in ag research, education, Extension
Under the plan, new faculty, technicians and graduate students will be hired to work in seven key areas: crop and livestock productivity; microbial science; advancing soil fertility and water quality; agricultural technology and decision-making; nutrient recycling and management; agro-ecological innovation; and technologies aimed at pest resistance and climate change.
The new faculty will be hired by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, U-M Extension; and the College of Veterinary Medicine. In each area, new staff will collaborate with others. For example, a new CFANS research and teaching faculty member specializing in manure management and water quality will work with a new Extension Educator in those areas.
Many of the new hires will be based at the St. Paul campus. Others will be located at university research and outreach centers in Morris, Crookston, Grand Rapids and Lamberton, and at Extension regional offices across the state.
The hiring process will take at least several months, according to university officials. Meanwhile, the AGREETT advisory panel agreed to use some funding from the legislation as a one-time source of funds for infrastructure improvements. Those improvements could include upgrades to the soil testing and plant diagnostic laboratories as well as new equipment to improve the university’s ability to detect pests and disease, and to make food safer for consumers.
The AGREETT funding is supplemented by state funds directed to two additional new faculty positions in wild-rice and potato breeding, and by money targeted to a rapid-response fund; to agricultural leadership training; and toward finding the causes of and preventing avian influenza.
The second stage of AGREETT will likely include additional faculty and Extension educator hires, with specifics to be determined by the advisory board. All new scientists are expected to be hired and in place by July 2020.
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