In every aspect of life — from managing time to eating — maintaining balance among competing priorities is key to attaining our goals. At AURI, we strive to strike a balance between serving individual producers and business clients and exploring opportunities that impact entire agricultural sectors.

During the past year, AURI staff have been involved in more than 140 projects, providing technical assistance, feasibility testing, product development and technology transfer. We’ve also provided critical needs assessments, marketing assistance and resource connections for our client businesses. These services make AURI unique.

But we do not simply wait for projects or ideas to come by. AURI takes the lead on examining opportunities that can have a broad-ranging impact on agricultural industries and producers.

For example, AURI recently presented results of our meat processing survey and census to the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors. This study not only examined the industry’s current status but future potential.

We held a series of grower meetings on oilseed processing possibilities. While Minnesota is the country’s third highest soybean producer, our processing capacity lags behind many other states. The oilseed industry analysis found places where grower-led efforts could mean higher value for their crops.

Other broad-impact initiatives include forming an ethanol task force with representatives from all the state’s ethanol plants, commodity groups and state agencies. We’ve looked at producing ethanol from small grains like wheat and barley, we’ve investigated soy-based biodiesel, and we’ve been a long-time participant in hybrid poplar research.

Just as working with individual clients is important, so too is the identification of emerging opportunities that can impact a large number of producers. It’s all a part of finding the right balance for rural economic success.