ABERDEEN, Idaho, March 30--A groundbreaking ceremony was held here today for a new high-tech addition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Small Grains Germplasm Research Facility in Aberdeen, Idaho.
"The new laboratory addition will provide much-needed space for our scientists and their University of Idaho counterparts and partners involved in plant genetics and plant breeding experiments," said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is USDA's chief in-house scientific research agency.
"These scientists excel in finding plant genes that provide prized traits, such as superior resistance to disease. Their studies have resulted in better barleys, more nutritious oats, superior potatoes for baking or processing, and wheats ideally suited for growing on western farmland," Knipling said.
The 12,000-square-foot addition will be called the Advanced Genetics Laboratory. Scheduled for completion in about a year, the $5.1 million addition will match the exterior design of the main laboratory, which was completed in 1987 and is located within a research compound owned and managed by the University of Idaho. ARS has a 99-year lease for two acres within the compound.
Scheduled speakers at the event include Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho; Rodney Brown, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics; and ARS Associate Administrator Antoinette A. Betschart.
In addition to breeding superior potatoes and grain-bearing plants, the ARS scientists at the lab manage a renowned collection of the world's wheat, rice, oat, barley, rye, triticale and other grassy plants that collectively are known as small grains. This unique assortment includes these species' rare and wild relatives, and safeguards the genetic diversity of these plants.