We all know the role agriculture plays in providing the delicious food we enjoy all year round, but are especially attuned to during the holidays. At some point, most of us will celebrate the season with a healthy meal shared with friends and family.
Minnesota farmers produce a wide variety of ag products we use for food every day. Minnesota leads the nation in turkey production and is also a major producer of corn, soybeans, wheat, hogs, dairy and dozens of other agricultural products.
Minnesota leads the nation in sugar beet production as well as sweet corn and green peas for processing. We are also the nation's seventh-largest agricultural exporting state. The state's farmers sold $6 billion in soybeans, corn, livestock, wheat and other food to foreign markets last year, a 50-percent gain in five years.
But to think of agriculture solely in terms of food is to severely minimize one of Minnesota's biggest and brightest industries.
Agriculture also is a source for biofuels, bio-based products and bioenergy. Many of those items are produced by small and medium-sized businesses located in rural areas of the state. The success of those businesses means economic activity in communities. Growth in those areas equates to jobs.
Agribusiness is Minnesota's second largest industry, with about one-fourth of the state's labor force employed in agriculture or agriculture-related industries. Two-thirds of those agriculture jobs in Minnesota today are in processing, distribution, supply and service sectors.
At AURI, we provide support and assistance to entrepreneurs as well as small and medium-sized business for the development of innovative food, biobased products, coproduct utilization and renewable energy development. By offering hands-on, scientific technical assistance, we are helping Minnesota businesses identify and respond to emerging opportunities that move agricultural products into entirely new areas and result in the creation and retention of jobs.
It's the most important thing we do because the impact of those innovations reaches far beyond those immediately involved.
The agricultural entrepreneurs supported by AURI build rural communities and the economy of the entire state.
So this holiday season, Minnesota agriculture should be thanked for far more than the food on the table.
To learn more about what AURI does to support entrepreneurs, ag processors and cooperatives, visit us online at www.auri.org or give us a call at 507-537-7440.