St. Paul, Minn. – AURI, along with many other state initiatives, received a major funding reduction by the Minnesota State Legislature this session. A bill signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty in June funds AURI at $1.6 million for each of the next two years; the previous level was $3.7 million. However, AURI will remain an independent nonprofit organization, rather than merge into a state agency or be eliminated, as some earlier legislative measures proposed.
“We recognize that the legislature had a difficult task trying to balance the budget and meet the state’s needs,” says Edgar Olson, AURI executive director. “There remain many opportunities for us to work with rural Minnesota businesses to add value to the crops we grow. We are pleased that legislators and the governor recognized AURI’s value and the need for our services and kept our organization going.”
Earlier this year, the state cut AURI’s funding by $887,000, which forcedÊit to close one office in Morris, Minn. and reduce staff. Further reductions will be necessary with the additional 57 percent cut just passed by the legislature. While reductions will be difficult, “we are still committed to carrying out our mission,” Olson says. “Being independent allows us to react quickly to provide unique technical assistance and help develop ag-based products and markets that benefit rural Minnesota.”
In addition to AURI’s base-funding reduction, hybrid poplar research funding and the Pesticide Reductions Options program were eliminated. The hybrid poplar program supported research into fast-growing poplar trees, and the PRO program focused on research aimed at reducing petrochemical use in farm production.
A troubled rural economy that spurred creation of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute 20 years ago differs from today’s troubles. But AURI’s key tool to help rev the economy is still innovation. The 1980s was a difficult decade for American farmers. In the Midwest, thousands of families lost their homes and farms amid a serious […]
Marshall, Minn. — AURI’s “oilman” retires July 1. Max Norris joined AURI in 1990, soon after it was founded. He organized the Institute’s laboratories and led fats and oils research and technical services for nearly two decades. Norris headed up AURI’s early biodiesel initiatives, the first such efforts in the state. And he guided successful […]
Crookston, Minn. — Fifteen years ago, Teresa Spaeth left suburban Indianapolis for rural Mahnomen to help take over her husband’s family farm. Today she is totally immersed in agriculture and rural life. Her expertise and devotion to rural economic development led to Spaeth’s appointment as AURI’s executive director in February. The position started March 5. […]
The time is right. After more than eight years as AURI executive director, it’s time for me to turn over the reins of this fine organization, move to the next chapter of my life and enjoy retirement. I leave AURI in a position of strength. By focusing on our core strengths of technical and feasibility […]
The phrase ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ is not necessarily true of agricultural products. Corn isn’t just corn. Soybeans aren’t just soybeans. Wheat isn’t just wheat. All these commodities contain smaller components — oil, starch, germ — that may have as much value as the whole grain, sometimes more. And […]