$4.2M grant for USU agricultural program

Aug 27 2010 - 8:02pm

LOGAN -- Utah State University's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program has received a $4.2 million federal grant.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the mission of the program -- known as SARE -- is to promote sustainable agricultural practices across 13 Western states and the islands of the Pacific, including American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Micronesia.

Researchers, educators, farmers and ranchers can apply to the USU-based SARE Center office for grants to develop, study or promote sustainability projects.

USU has hosted the Western SARE office for 16 years and has raised about $55 million in grant funding.

"For a small office, we have a tremendous impact, handling millions of dollars to benefit the agricultural community in the entire Western region, from Guam to Last Chance, Colorado," said USU soil scientist Phil Rasmussen, the Western SARE Center's director. "The program covers roughly half the land mass of the U.S. and climates ranging from tropical to arctic."

In addition to the benefits of bringing millions of dollars through the university, Teryl Roper, head of USU's Department of Plants, Soils and Climate, said, "USU undergraduate and graduate students involved in studying sustainable agriculture gain a broader perspective of the country's agricultural landscape. Their education at Utah State is truly multi-dimensional thanks to their exposure to, and involvement with, the wide diversity of production systems found in these grants."

Rasmussen said the program also creates opportunities for USU's College of Agriculture by providing exposure that extends USU's reach and worldwide impact.

Grants may involve projects like creating sustainable on-farm energy sources, no-till carbon sequestration and high-tunnel vegetable and berry production, with the commodities studied ranging from crabs to cattle and from mangoes to melons.

SARE funds up to 80 projects each year in its region. Since SARE began in 1988, the Western region has funded nearly 1,100 projects. The funding comes from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture under a cooperative agreement with USDA.

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