Our opinion: Down on the FAARM

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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Last week’s announcement by the University of Minnesota that it was looking at basing the Future of Advanced Agricultural Research in Minnesota (FAARM) complex right here in Mower County is an exciting prospect and something worth keeping an eye on, whether you’re in agriculture or not.

The estimated $250 million project would bring together a number of entities, both public and private, to develop the complex within the next five to six years. The U of M has already received a cornerstone commitment from The Hormel Foundation for $60 million, with another request for $60 million of capital funding from the state pending.

It’s not hard to imagine what kind of benefit this would be for our area. Through collaboration with the Foundation, as well as Riverland Community College, FAARM would be a major boost to area education, opening up the world of agriculture-based jobs to a whole new generation who may not necessarily have prior exposure to the field.

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Through private collaboration, it’s easy to see how the research done by graduate students at the complex could benefit groups like the Mower County Soil & Water Conservation District, which already put its stamp on soil and water health initiatives throughout the county.

Most importantly though, FAARM will be a major contributor to healthy agriculture practices that will benefit both animals and humans through better agricultural practices and innovation.

Agriculture is already at the heart of Mower County and southeast Minnesota. Having FAARM setting up shop in our neck of the woods will only reinforce the importance of farming for an area that has already received more than its share of benefits from the farming industry.

In short, FAARM would be a win-win for all involved and its going to put Austin and Mower County on the map in the all-encompassing world of agriculture.