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Executive Director’s Column

We live value-added agriculture at AURI. Whether it’s a new shelf-stable meat product or biodegradable corn-stalk hog mat, or energy powered by crop residue, our goal is to help develop products that bring more money to the people who grow or process them.

While value-added agriculture is our method, we are really pursuing sustained rural wealth. Recognizing and developing emerging opportunities creates positive rural economic activity — where it is needed and where it creates a ripple effect.

Producer-owned cooperatives show us how this works successfully. Local investors, who take the risk, share the rewards of profitable ventures. An ethanol cooperative may have hundreds of members scattered around the region. So profits are spread around and used to support businesses, schools and communities around the area.

It’s not just cooperatives that benefit rural communities. Successful businesses mean jobs and economic activity, and profitable farmers invest in their local communities. That’s why AURI offers unique services to businesses and entrepreneurs with value-added ideas.

However, while nearly every opportunity shows some promise in the beginning, further investigation and analysis may reveal that it’s not a good investment. Shining the light on challenges, as well as opportunities, can prevent money from being thrown at unwise ventures and retain rural wealth.

Whether it is developing ways to create wealth or retain it, AURI’s goal is to keep Minnesota agriculture — and the communities that depend on it — innovative and strong.