–by Amanda Wanke

The USDA awarded AURI a Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) of $200,000 for fiscal year 2014. The grant, which AURI will match with $70,000, will help several rural cooperatives across Minnesota. Funds will be used to assist those co-ops in the creation and improvement of products and processes that use commodities and will result in economic growth and creation.

The story on pages 2-3 highlights a previous project that resulted from an RCDG grant. Thanks in part to those funds, AURI, the Minnesota Valley Alfalfa Producers (MnVAP) and the University of Minnesota were able to work together to develop a lower-cost, blended-fiber feed pellet to help address the high cost and low availability of alfalfa in recent years. Thanks to this work, MnVAP will manufacture 5,000 tons of the new feed pellets in 2014, and plans to triple production in 2015.

“AURI has worked with co-ops since our inception 25 years ago,” explains Senior Project Strategist Michael Sparby. “The Rural Cooperative Development Grant is another tool in the toolbox to help those cooperatives as it allows us to leverage funds to have a greater impact.

“There are some really exciting projects coming about as a result of this grant, and we look forward to sharing more about those in the future,” explains Sparby, who emphasizes that details of the work with the cooperatives is confidential at this point for competitive reasons.

Those with a need related to rural cooperative development should contact AURI at 800.279.5010.