Rapid Agricultural Response Fund Background

The Nature of the Problem

The Minnesota State Legislature has a strong history of responsiveness to the concerns of citizens involved with our state's natural resources. A recent example is the devestating impact "scab" has had on small grain crops such as wheat and barley. Growers who depend on those crops appealed to the legislature for special funding of control and eradication research, and breeding efforts to develop resistant varieties. In a few short years, promising advances have taken shape as a result of that initiative.

Often, however, attention to such problems has been piecemeal; they are insufficiently coordinated with activities already underway within Minnesota's research institutions. Every group with a need for assistance has had to press its case individually, tying up legislative time and attention.

The University of Minnesota, particularly the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, has long been a focus for research related to our natural resources. Recognizing this, the legislature looked to the University and MAES for direction and coordination of research initiatives needing special emphasis or rapid response.

The Legislative Response

To improve speed of response and organize the decision making process, in 1998 the Minnesota State Legislature authorized a program and created a fund to enable rapid responses to urgent issues and challenges that have arisen and face Minnesota's agriculture and natural resource based industries. An initial allocation of $1.5 million was provided for designated projects in 1998, and a recurring allocation of $1 million was created in 1999.

Under the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the Rapid Agricultural Response Fund has enlisted the support of faculty in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, College of Education and Human Development, and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the support of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Projects that have been funded to date include efforts to:

  • Reduce the severity of root rot in kidney beans
  • Aid decision making and problem solving within farm family businesses during these times of change
  • Eradicate Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome from large swine systems
  • Control and eradicate avian diseases associated with Minnesota's turkey industry
  • Improve the viability of canola as an alternative crop for northwest Minnesota
  • Develop effective approaches for managing aphid transmitted viruses in seed potatoes
  • Eliminate scab infestation of wheat and barley