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USDA awards Auburn $9.3M for rural technology program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $9.3 million to Auburn University to establish an Institute for Rural Partnerships.

(Auburn University/Flickr)

According to a news release, the money through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will go toward developing technology to assist producers and the processes of poultry and forest products.

“I am deeply excited that Auburn University has received this competitive award from NIFA,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa). “By establishing Auburn as Institute for Rural Partnerships, Auburn’s College of Agriculture and College of Engineering will work together to strengthen and support rural Alabama, particularly production and forest products.”

The project will also aim to reduce water pollution in rural Alabama by developing systems that manage upcycling waste streams emanating from agricultural processing facilities.

Paul Patterson, dean of Auburn’s College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, said the institute will combine the tools and legacies of the College of Agriculture and College of Engineering.

“This project will allow researchers from agriculture to leverage the manufacturing and cybersecurity expertise in engineering to advance some of Alabama’s most important agricultural and natural resources sectors,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for the two founding colleges at Auburn University to deepen their collaborative work to advance Alabama’s economy.

“In addition, faculty members in Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology will be investigating alternative enterprises that offer potential for additional growth for the agricultural sector and rural Alabama.”

Steve Taylor, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, said he is excited for the two colleges to work with each other.

“As part of the land-grant mission to improve the lives of the people of our state, this institute is the perfect intersection of what both our colleges do best,” he said. “It’s only fitting on this 150th anniversary of our two colleges at Auburn that we move boldly forward, together, through this partnership.”

Auburn University is among three land grant universities receiving funding from NIFA to establish an Institute for Rural Partnerships. The other universities receiving these funds are the University of Vermont and the University of Wisconsin. The combined estimate for the donations to the three schools is nearly $28 million. This donation was provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act.

The project funded by NIFA will also aim to reduce water pollution in rural Alabama. developing systems that manage upcycling waste streams emanating from agricultural processing facilities.

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