The Ag Innovation Campus board of directors certified its elected officers during a virtual board meeting Friday. Mike Skaug, vice president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, was named chair of the AIC.
“I’m honored my fellow directors have elected me to this position,” says Skaug, a Beltrami farmer. “The Ag Innovation Campus is a game-changer for Minnesota’s ag economy, and we couldn’t be more excited for the future of this project.”
Gene Stoel, a Lake Wilson farmer and director with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, was named AIC vice chair. MSR&PC director Tom Frisch will serve as treasurer. Jimmy Gosse, a microbiologist with the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, was tabbed as secretary.
The Ag Innovation Campus in Crookston will host a specialty crushing facility, allowing universities, commodity groups and private seed developers access to affordable processing that aims to lower costs while promoting growth of value-added products. Once established, the AIC will host private industries to create products from the co-products of the facilities, benefiting all parties from farm gate to consumers.
During the 2020 Legislative Session, Minnesota lawmakers clarified language for the Ag Innovation Campus, ensuring $5 million will be directed toward soybean research and value-added agriculture. The funds for the AIC will be available in July with a tentative groundbreaking date projected for late 2020.
Agriculture contributes roughly 25 percent to Minnesota’s GDP, and northwest Minnesota is home to one of the country’s largest soybean-rich areas. In 2019, the 11 northwest Minnesota counties near Crookston produced more than 50 million bushels of soybeans.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but we have a board that’s very pragmatic, and we’re all working in the same direction,” Skaug says. “We are really determined to make the Ag Innovation Campus a success.”