Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Forage-Animal Production Research Unit (FAPRU) at the University of Kentucky. The event marked the beginning of the construction of a state-of-the-art research facility that aims to advance agricultural practices, promote sustainability, and address the challenges posed by the climate crisis. The project is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment (UK-CAFE).
During the ceremony, Secretary Vilsack emphasized the critical role of agricultural research in stimulating economic growth, ensuring food quality and safety, and addressing climate change. He highlighted the longstanding partnership between the USDA and the University of Kentucky, expressing confidence that the new facility will push the boundaries of what is achievable in agriculture and foster profitable and sustainable farming systems for years to come.
The FAPRU building, scheduled for completion in 2026, will encompass approximately 52,600 square feet of office and research laboratory space with a collaborative area, headhouse, and eight-bay greenhouses. It will house six ARS scientists, seven university researchers, as well as laboratory technicians, and administrative personnel. This cutting-edge infrastructure will provide the necessary tools and resources for scientists and researchers to tackle the most pressing agricultural challenges of our time.
Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, praised the groundbreaking as a testament to the USDA’s commitment to innovative research and finding advanced solutions to enhance productivity, profitability, and resilience for farmers. She emphasized the significance of partnerships with land-grant universities, such as the University of Kentucky, and the importance of equipping scientists with state-of-the-art facilities to tackle global agricultural challenges effectively.
The ceremony underscored the strong community, state, and legislative support for the collaborative forage research program between ARS and the University of Kentucky. U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, UK President Dr. Eli Capilouto, and Dr. Nancy Cox, Dean of UK-CAFE, joined Secretary Vilsack and Dr. Jacobs-Young as speakers at the event. Dr. Simon Liu, USDA ARS Administrator, also participated, further demonstrating the collective commitment to advancing agricultural research.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Forage-Animal Production Research Unit represents a significant milestone in agricultural research and signifies the commitment of the USDA and the University of Kentucky to advance the agricultural industry. With this state-of-the-art facility, scientists and researchers will have the necessary resources to address the evolving challenges faced by farmers. The collaboration between the USDA and the University of Kentucky sets a precedent for future partnerships and underscores the importance of investing in cutting-edge research facilities to propel the agricultural sector forward.
Image provided by the University of Kentucky
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