From farm to fork, this complex will be a state-of-the-art teaching and research hub. It will propel vital discoveries and further establish Minnesota as a global catalyst and leader in food and agriculture innovation, advancing the state’s $112 billion economic impact in these sectors.
FAARM will deliver practical solutions for today and forward-looking ideas for tomorrow with the help of cutting-edge technology and tools, including predictive analytics, big data, robotics and artificial intelligence. Educating students on these modern approaches to agriculture will ensure a continued talent pipeline is prepared to become Minnesota’s next generation of tech-savvy food and agriculture professionals.
Through a collaboration with Riverland Community College, in Austin, Minn., FAARM also envisions providing a range of educational offerings for learners of all ages — K-12, post-secondary technical and associate degrees, baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and outreach education to the broader public.
To be the world’s most integrated, advanced food and agricultural complex with a “one health” approach, a nexus for pioneering research, and a convening space for the public, universities, the private sector, and government.
Integrated innovation and instruction
This modern complex, together with our place-based work in our Research and Outreach Centers around the state, will be the foundation for Minnesota to re-establish international leadership in food and agricultural research when our state and the world have never needed it more. The farm complex will:
- Enable research advancing every element of the health intersections between people, animals, crops, plants, soil, water, and environment
- Support innovation and sustainability in Minnesota's cropping, poultry, dairy and swine production systems
- Bring together researchers, instructors, and industry together to focus on all aspects of agriculture and food systems
- Provide a range of educational offerings for learners of all ages, from K-12 to post-secondary technical and associate degrees, to baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and outreach education to the broader public.
- Strengthen Minnesota agriculture and expand, develop, and retain agricultural and food system talent in rural communities and agribusiness
Where we are today
- The Hormel Foundation pledged $60 million in support of FAARM (2022)
- The University acquired options on more than 1,300 acres with landowners in Mower County (Spring 2023)
- The University submitted a $60 million bonding request for FAARM to the state legislature (2023)
- Predesign will begin in the fall of 2023
What is FAARM?
The University of Minnesota is in the exploration phase of developing a world class advanced agriculture research complex in Mower County that will fill an important market need to help farmers and industry meet this crucial moment in sustainable food production for Minnesota’s food and agricultural sector, which delivers $112 billion in annual economic impact for Minnesota.
Through a public-private partnership among the University, the Hormel Foundation, Riverland Community College, the State of Minnesota and other private sector partners, this integrated complex would include several state-of-the art research buildings and several hundred acres of fields and land. This would bring researchers, instructors, and industry participants together to focus on all aspects of agriculture: livestock, the crops used to feed them, and the impacts on soil health, water quality, climate, and the sustainability of rural economies.
The Future of Advanced Agricultural Research in Minnesota (FAARM) presents a bold initiative that will support and strengthen Minnesota agriculture, one of the most important economic engines for our state.
FAARM’s vision is to be the world’s most integrated, advanced food and agricultural complex with a “one health” approach, a nexus for pioneering research, and a convening space for the public, universities, the private sector, and government.
FAARM will feature cutting-edge technology and tools, including predictive analytics, big data, robotics, and artificial intelligence that will help ensure a continued talent pipeline is prepared to become the next generation of tech-savvy food and agriculture professionals.
Why is FAARM needed?
Now more than ever, our farmers and food and agriculture industry are operating in a world that is increasingly fast-paced and driven by rapidly advancing technology. The challenges to reduce the environmental footprint of farming are critical as our climate continues to change and we pursue scientific solutions to adapt.
FAARM will be at the forefront of emerging food and agriculture education and discovery that will transform how we produce food and protect the environment at every step of the supply chain — from raising livestock and planting seeds to placing meals on tables worldwide.
Current facilities are not sustainable, with 76 percent deemed in poor and critical condition.
- Existing buildings constructed between 1917 and 1993
- St. Paul Campus livestock facilities – average year built: 1957
- No alternatives for dairy and turkey facilities
- Redundant support systems
How will FAARM help Minnesota?
The FAARM complex will serve as a Minnesota catalyst for research, innovation and economic development, and will make Minnesota the global leader in advancing food and agriculture research, education, and outreach. With its integrated innovation and instruction, the FAARM complex will catapult Minnesota and propel our state’s leading research portfolio for years to come.
FAARM also will expand, develop, and retain agricultural and food system talent in rural communities and agribusiness. It will open the doors of access and opportunity to broaden Minnesota’s workforce and shape the next generation of researchers, existing and emerging farmers, and entrepreneurs who will solve problems that impact food production, soil and animal health, natural resources, and economic success.
How does this fit into the UMN priorities?
The University’s MPact 2025 strategic plan calls for developing and deploying new techniques and partnerships for smart farming and sustainable food supplies, as well as expanding, developing, and retaining agricultural and food system talent in rural communities and agribusinesses.
How does FAARM impact St Paul campus?
St. Paul campus will remain a vital part of how and where we deliver our place based research and hands-on learning experiences, including work in animal agriculture. Together, FAARM, St. Paul campus, and our Research and Outreach Centers will work in close collaboration to continue to deliver world class research.
What does FAARM mean for the 10 existing Research and Outreach Centers? Does this mean other ROCs will close?
Our Research and Outreach Centers play an important role in delivering critical research across the state, especially given their geographic disbursement, and they will continue to play a role in our research and outreach efforts. ROCs are critical to AFNR competitiveness in Minnesota as they reflect the unique resource base our ag systems are built upon across state geography (climate/water/soils and even pests & diseases). We will preserve areas with unique and critical resources, including those with invaluable place-based historical data.
We are seeking to recapitalize fully depreciated infrastructure and eliminate operational redundancies - this allows us to redeploy those freed annual operations costs as well as capital costs to enhance the entire system through FAARM.
What is Riverland Community College’s role?
Riverland has a synergistic relationship to FAARM. In 2015, Riverland developed a vision to “create a global center of excellence for agriculture and technology in Austin, Minnesota that benefits southeastern Minnesota and the world.” Shared goals include attracting people worldwide for learning and innovation and a place for agriculture and food science and research.
Through this collaboration with Riverland, FAARM also envisions providing a range of educational offerings for learners of all ages — K-12, post-secondary technical and associate degrees, baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and outreach education to the broader public. This collaboration will foster job development opportunities for the food and agriculture sector in need of increased training for its future workforce, as well as nurture entrepreneurs who will play a key role in market innovation.
How is the Hormel Foundation involved? Is Hormel Foods involved?
The Hormel Foundation has made a $60 million commitment to the FAARM complex in Mower County. The foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is a separate entity from Hormel Foods.
How will FAARM be funded?
Why is the cost so large?
This is a visionary project to form and sustain a healthy future. Food and agriculture in Minnesota are critical to our state’s success — the annual economic impact from this sector in our state is $112 billion. In addition, 30 percent of our state’s workforce is in this area; 51 percent of our state’s land is used for food and agriculture; and Minnesota generates $17 billion in annual agricultural sales.
We are seeking to create a first-of-its-kind, best-in-the-world integrated advanced agriculture food and systems research and innovation complex. FAARM will be at the forefront of game-changing disciplines that are transforming how we produce food and protect the environment throughout the entire supply chain. This includes cutting-edge technology and tools such as predictive analytics, big data, robotics, artificial intelligence, genomics, and microbiology.
The investments in FAARM will reap economic, health, and environmental benefits for Minnesotans and beyond for generations to come.
What is the projected economic impact of FAARM?
According to our feasibility study, FAARM could generate $18 million in direct economic expenditure and $33.7 million in total economic impact, annually.
When will this be completed?
The project will be developed over the next five years, with pre-design as the next step, even as we consider financial considerations.
FAARM in the news
- Minnesota can be a global leader in feeding our growing population | AgWeek, April 2023
- A FAARM for the future | Steele County Times, April 2023
- University of Minnesota buys land in Mower County for new farming project | Star Tribune, March 2023
- Future of Advanced Ag Research in Minnesota (FAARM) Complex Getting Closer to Reality | Brownfield Ag News, February 2023
- University of Minnesota out to create new era of ag research | AgWeek, April 2022
- University of Minnesota plans $220M agriculture research center near Austin | Star Tribune, February 2022
- FAARM would take advantage of prime location in Mower | Austin Daily Herald, February 2022