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The staff of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) Crookston, MN office and laboratory stand in front of their signage at the Valley Technology Park on Tuesday, June 7, 2016: (from left) Erik Evans, Jimmy Gosse, Toby Magsam, Adam Stratton, Abdou Niang, Shannon Schlecht, Angela Owens, Lisa Reitmeier and Linda Thompson (front right). (Nick Nelson/Agweek)

AURI forum to tackle new uses for ag products

PLYMOUTH, Minn. — New and innovative uses for crops are always important in modern agriculture. But they’re crucial during the current period of low crop prices and poor farm profitability.

So Minnesota’s Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, or AURI, is hosting its first “New Uses Ag Innovation Forum” March 21-22 at the Minneapolis West Crowne Plaza Hotel in Plymouth, Minn.

“There are so many exciting things happening around innovations and opportunities to develop new uses for Minnesota’s diverse crops and agricultural products,” said Shannon Schlecht, AURI executive director. “Participants are sure to leave with a greater awareness of resources and opportunities available and hopefully energized about moving new and innovative utilization ideas forward.”

The event includes panel discussions with question-and-answer sessions, networking opportunities and speakers from universities, commodity groups, financial companies, government agencies and farm membership organizations.

There are two keynote speakers: Chris Mallett, corporate vice president of research and development for Cargill Corp., and Rohit Shukla, CEO of Larta institute, a Los Angeles-based organization that seeks to assist “the  transformation of technology ideas into solutions.”

A welcome session begins at 6:30 p.m. March 21.

Sessions on March 22 begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 5 p.m.

The conference’s primary goal is “to bring people together under the common goal of encouraging new growth and innovation here in Minnesota,” Schlecht said.

AURI provides services in four general areas: food, biobased products, renewable energy and coproducts, also known as byproducts, such as dried distiller’s grain.

The organization has  25 full-time employees, many of them scientists or business experts, and operates sites in Crookston, Waseca, Marshall and St. Paul, Minn. About three-quarters of its $4.5 million annual budget is taxpayer money approved by the Minnesota Legislature, and the rest comes from federal grants and partnerships with other groups.

Attendees must register for the March 21-22 conference. More information and to register:

Agweek profiled AURI and its work in magazine and TV stories last summer: