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USDA grant to help Minnesota's AURI market ag products

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, awarded the $500,000 grant to Agriculture Utilization Research Institute during a visit to Ten Finns Creamery, a family-owned business in Menahga, Minnesota.

Shannon Schlecht, executive director of Minnesota's Agricultural Utilization Research Institute
Agweek file photo
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Minnesota’s Agriculture Utilization Research Institute will use a $500,000 federal grant to help develop and market agricultural products, creating an Agriculture Innovation Center.

The Agriculture Innovation Center is expected to launch later this year. AURI says the center will focus on:

  • Creating educational programming to help producers focus on future activity and investment;
  • Assisting producers in gaining skills related to marketing and creating value‐added products; and
  • Supporting producers as they develop next steps and identify technical assistance needs.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small on Tuesday, Aug. 23, awarded the $500,000 grant to AURI during a visit to Ten Finns Creamery, a family-owned business in Menahga, Minnesota, that has received technical assistance from AURI.

USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small
Jeff Beach / Agweek

The Agriculture Innovation Center is separate from AURI's Ag Innovation Campus being developed at Crookston. Instead, the Agriculture Innovation Center is part of the USDA Rural Development Agriculture Innovation Center Program , which provides funding to innovation centers that provide technical assistance to agricultural producers.

“Ag producers in Minnesota have the expertise it takes to expand into new and better markets with innovative, value-added products, and USDA is committed to partnering with organizations like AURI to support that work,” Torres Small said in a news release.


AURI partners with businesses and entrepreneurs to help them develop new uses for agricultural products through science and technology. The organization will use the $500,000 grant to provide a variety of assistance to producers, including engineering and business development services. AURI also will help producers connect to distribution systems, processing facilities and commercial kitchens.

AURI will provide $250,000 in matching funds.

“This program and funding creates a meaningful opportunity for AURI to further its mission in supporting value-added agriculture opportunities,” AURI Executive Director Shannon Schlecht said in a news release.

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