University leaders thank federal delegation for USDA ag research facility investment

· 3 min read

University leaders thank federal delegation for USDA ag research facility investment

Aerial rendering of the $160 million USDA laboratory building and greenhouse facility that will be built at Nebraska Innovation Campus. Work is scheduled to begin in 2024.
Aerial rendering of the $160 million USDA laboratory building and greenhouse facility that will be built at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

University of Nebraska Interim President Chris Kabourek was joined March 11 by NU leaders in issuing statements on the bipartisan federal spending bill approved by the House and Senate and signed by the President.

The budget package includes $25 million for construction of a USDA Agricultural Research Service facility located at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Innovation Campus, part of a broad vision at the university to advance agricultural research and development for the future.

The federal funding was championed by Sen. Deb Fischer in the Senate and Rep. Mike Flood in the House. All members of Nebraska’s federal delegation have supported the facility being located in Nebraska.

“This is a remarkable investment that will further Nebraska’s status as a world leader in agriculture,” Kabourek said. “Sen. Fischer has been a true champion and partner in this effort from the start, and all of us at the University of Nebraska are grateful for her leadership. Nor would this be possible without the leadership and advocacy of Congressman Flood. We’re eager to continue working closely with our federal delegation to make the USDA ARS facility a reality and are excited to break ground this spring.

“Agriculture has always been, and will always be, foundational to the University of Nebraska’s work. I could not be more pleased that all of Team Nebraska — from our Board of Regents, to our federal partners, the Governor and Legislature, donors, farmers and ranchers across the state, and our incredible faculty, staff and students — is working together to keep us on the forefront in meeting the needs of our state and feeding the world for generations to come.”

UNL Chancellor Rodney Bennett said: “UNL is so grateful for the leadership of Sen. Fischer and Congressman Flood, pushing us one step closer to hosting the ARS National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture, the only federal center in the United States focused on climate-smart, sustainable, digital and precision agriculture. The research conducted at the center will benefit Nebraskans and many, many others across the country.”

Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said: “This project is an amazing example of Nebraskans working together to strengthen and grow the heart and soul of our state – agriculture. The USDA could have placed this National Center anywhere in the United States, but they chose Nebraska, where we are driving innovation in regenerative, resilient and precision agriculture.”

The $160 million National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture envisioned at Innovation Campus will be home to world-leading research and development in ag tech, precision agriculture, and other areas crucial to the future of agricultural innovation. It is expected to house four USDA ARS research units, including two new teams focused on precision production and water, climate and resilience – growing the number of high-wage, high-skill and high-demand jobs in Nebraska’s most important industry.

A companion to the USDA ARS facility, the Ag Tech Incubator and Accelerator, will serve as a business incubator and accelerator and ensure that the research and discovery taking place at the national center moves quickly from discovery to real-world solutions for farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers. The Legislature and Governor in 2022 approved $25 million in state funding for that facility, contingent upon the university raising $25 million in private funding. Kabourek said fundraising is moving forward in earnest and is one of the key priorities of the ongoing Only in Nebraska campaign.

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