Public-private partnership is imperative to help drive the agri-food industry forward. Cutting edge research, innovation, and helping grow and build talent within our industry are all coming together through a proposed new project at the University of Minnesota: The Future of Advanced Agricultural Research in Minnesota (FAARM).
The vision of FAARM is “to create a modern advanced agriculture complex driven by a ‘one health’ approach that studies every aspect of cattle, swine and poultry – from the crops used to feed them, to the intersection of human and animal health, and to the interactions of animals on soil health, water quality and climate.”
Additionally, FAARM will be in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and Riverland Community College in Austin, MN. Bringing together education leaders in agriculture, food and natural resources (AFNR), FAARM will provide educational offerings for students from kindergarten through graduate degrees, helping foster and encourage youth to explore opportunities in our industry and train the next generation of talent.
"Now more than ever, our farmers and industry are operating in an increasingly fast-paced world with rapidly advancing technology," said Brian Buhr, Dean of the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and an AgriGrowth Board Member. "The challenges to feed a growing population while reducing the environmental footprint of farming are critical as our climate continues to change and we pursue scientific solutions to adapt. This complex will allow us to be at the forefront of emerging food and agriculture education and research that will transform how we produce food and protect the environment at every step of the supply chain."
The total project is estimated to cost $220 million and will include grants from the state, as well as a pledge of $60 million from The Hormel Foundation.
Jeff Grev, AgriGrowth Board Member and Vice President of Legislative Affairs at Hormel Foods shared that, “Hormel Foods has called Mower County and Austin our home for more than 130 years. As a Fortune 500 global branded food company with a keen interest in food science and agriculture, we are thrilled that Southeastern Minnesota is under consideration for an advanced agricultural research complex for the University of Minnesota to highlight the robust contributions to agriculture in our area and advance the important research and workforce development so needed in the industry now.”
A major reason why AgriGrowth and other partners in agri-food started the special working group – the Minnesota Ag Talent and Workforce Coalition (MATWC) in 2020 – was to explore ways we can collaborate to address workforce shortages and build a pipeline of talent for our industry. FAARM is certainly an exciting opportunity that can provide modern solutions for our sector from scientific innovation to helping build skills and talent for AFNR careers.
You can read more about FAARM here.
Tamara Nelsen is the Executive Director of AgriGrowth