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The importance of SB 2297 for wheat producers

Posted: Mar 25 2019

North Dakota wheat is known worldwide for its unique quality characteristics and typically superior performance traits of its hard red spring wheat (HRS) and durum, earning price premiums to other classes and origins of wheat.  Quality evaluation of our existing varieties, samples from current year production, and experimental and pre-release breeder samples take place at Harris Hall on the NDSU campus.  Here, very capable and talented scientists and technicians carry out the numerous tests to analyze quality and conduct cutting edge research related to wheat.  However, the building and laboratories are outdated and inadequate to provide the technical assistance required by increasingly sophisticated customers.  Just a few examples of the inadequacies of the Harris Hall and reasons for an updated facility include:

• Plumbing and electrical services are inadequate.  Some labs don’t have running water and certain lab equipment can’t be run at the same time without blowing a fuse.
• Upgrading or modifying labs would cost more than new construction.
• Visiting customers have at times called the building “a museum”.
• Replacing Harris Hall allows ND to showcase its leadership in agricultural products and value added agriculture.
• The outdated facility is a negative for attracting new researchers.

Senate Bill 2297 would provide an appropriation for capital projects of various state departments and institutions.  This bill includes funds for the Agricultural Products Development Center which would provide new space for Harris Hall and the Meats Lab on the NDSU campus. The bill passed the Senate, but more work will be needed for it to pass in the House.  The NDWC encourages producers to contact their representatives to vote yes on SB 2297.

As an industry, North Dakota agriculture is very proud of the amazing accomplishments achieved by all sectors of our industry, but our future is limited by our current and aging quality analysis facilities which date back to the 1950’s and 60’s.  Former NDWC Chairman David Clough perhaps said it best – “When I first started farming in 1968, I put most of the crop in with an 8-foot plow, packer, and pony drill.  If I still farmed like that today, I would be out of business.  But yet, we expect our scientists, researchers, teachers and staff to work in these poor conditions.”

A video highlighting the need for the Agricultural Products Development Center can be found here, or on the Facebook pages of the NDWC and North Dakota Grain Growers.

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