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Jim Palmer and Beverly Durgan

Jim Palmer, executive director of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, and Beverly Durgan, dean and director of the University of Minnesota Extension Service

Growing strong

Partnership between U, soybean growers yields benefits for all

Oct. 6, 2006

The fruits of the strong partnership between the University of Minnesota and the state's soybean growers are springing up everywhere.

On the St. Paul campus, construction is underway on the new BL3-certified Plant Pathology Research Facility--the only facility with its level of bio-safety security and air filtration in the Midwest. Minnesota soybean growers took the lead in securing funding for the $5 million facility, which will allow scientists to research pests that, if they reach Minnesota, could cause diseases such as Asian soybean rust, sudden oak death and new strains of stem rust on small grains.

In addition, financial support from growers helps support a broad range of research and outreach efforts by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, including:

The strong partnership was officially recognized in September when the Extension Service awarded its prestigious Dean and Director Award to the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. The award honors the organization for its support, including funding for research and programming, as well as lobbying activities and volunteerism. It was presented at Extension's Annual Conference Sept. 28 and 29.

"Soybean growers volunteer their time on local and statewide committees to improve the flow of research-based information from the University to the field."

"Research-based information plays a key role in agriculture," said Bev Durgan, Extension Dean and Director. "The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association understands this, and their partnership with the University of Minnesota helps us fulfill our land-grant mission and make a difference in Minnesota."

Soybeans are a major economic driver in Minnesota. Growers sell $1.4 billion of soybeans each year; that value is multiplied as the raw soybeans are used in margarine, animal feed, biodiesel fuel and other products. University research and extension activities focus both on techniques for raising soybeans and new or improved ways to use them.

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council represent 30,000 growers statewide. Since 1999, these organizations have provided the University with a total of $6 million of support for research and $2.5 million for Extension positions and programming.

"In addition, individual soybean growers volunteer their time on local and statewide committees to improve the flow of research-based information from the University to the field," Durgan said.

Further reading Pathogens will be 'locked down' in new U of M quarantine facility Improving the state of soybeans A growing ministry