Oregon agriculture is a $50 billion industry and nearly 14% of Oregonians rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. As a leading economic engine for the state, with communities in every county dependent on agricultural products, the donation of $1.58 million from Northwest Farm Credit Services aims to enhance existing programs in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University that can have immediate impact on the diversity, innovation and sustainability of the industry.
“As the founding college of this land grant institution, it is our responsibility to serve the people of Oregon with teaching, research and outreach that can advance our communities and drive new opportunity for all people,” explained Alan Sams, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “Investments from partners like Northwest Farm Credit Services help us to live up to that responsibility.”
Given the importance of the agricultural sector to many facets of economic, social and environmental sustainability, Northwest Farm Credit Services noted that it was eager to make a significant investment that would create meaningful opportunity for the most people.
“We have the opportunity to work with the front line of Oregon’s agricultural community every day,” explained Brent Fetsch, the Oregon president for Northwest Farm Credit Services. “We’ve seen first-hand the impact our land-grant University has on these communities and when considering opportunities to invest, Oregon State is an excellent way to stretch the value of that investment.”
The funding, secured by the OSU Foundation, is geared to address a number of critical needs in agriculture, the diverse communities that depend on it and the long-term sustainability of the industry. The key programs that the $1.58 million donation aims to support, include:
Dairy Processing Plant
The College of Agricultural Sciences is home to a major research hub for dairy in the nation, helping to drive innovation that has led to Oregon’s global reputation for high quality dairy products. A portion of this investment will support the development of a new pilot plant that will be utilized for teaching OSU dairy processing courses, teaching extension courses to dairy industry professionals, serving as a business incubator for dairy entrepreneurs, providing an exceptional facility for research, and as a home for the commercial production of Beaver Classic cheeses by OSU students.
North Willamette Research and Extension Station
Located just 20 miles south of Portland, the North Willamette Research and Extension Station (NWREC) brings agriculture to the metro region and is aimed at producing better quality crops at lower costs, and with reduced environmental impact. The only agricultural experiment station serving the Willamette Valley, one of Oregon’s most productive agricultural regions, NWREC provides research and extension services to an area that accounts for 40% of Oregon’s $5.7 billion farmgate value. A portion of this investment will support critical facility needs to advance those efforts.
Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center
With facilities in Pendleton and Moro, the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center (CBARC) emphasizes the production of wheat and rotational crops such as barley, legumes and canola. Scientists at CBARC specialize in dryland agriculture research and extension work important to soil health and the production of field crops on 2 million acres in north-central and northeastern Oregon. Wheat and barley in this region generate more than $300 million annually. A portion of this investment will support critical facility needs to advance those efforts.
Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences
The OSU College of Agricultural Sciences is home to one of the most active chapters of the nation’s Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) program. OSU-MANRRS provides a framework for academic, professional and social development of underrepresented students in fields of agriculture, natural resources and related sciences through leadership, community service and professional development activities. A portion of this investment will support expanding the program to reach more students who have been underrepresented in the disciplines of agriculture and natural resource sciences.
Educational Opportunities Program
The Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) provides a welcoming environment that supports the full development of the personal and academic potential of students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education. A portion of this investment will support EOP’s student success fund, with a preference for students from rural populations and those interested in careers in agriculture and natural resources.
Food Innovation Center
The Food Innovation Center (FIC) in Portland was the nation’s first urban agricultural experiment station. The FIC is a resource for entrepreneurs and business development through client-based product and process development, packaging engineering and shelf-life studies, food safety and consumer sensory testing. A portion of this investment will support continued advancement of innovation in food, markets and access.