New USDA Cereal Crops Laboratory Dedicated
By Erin Peabody
April 5, 2007
MADISON, Wis., April 5The
U.S. Department of Agriculture today dedicated a state-of-the-art research
laboratory where scientists will work to improve barley, oats and other cereal
crops. The new facility will be operated by the Agricultural Research Service
(ARS), the USDA's chief intramural scientific research
"This laboratory has been the country's only public research facility
for evaluating malting barley cultivars based on their quality and
usefulness," said ARS Associate Administrator
Betschart. "For nearly 75 years, it has provided an important link
between barley growers, plant breeders and the malting and brewing industries.
This new facility will further strengthen this function."
In fact, most of the malting barley cultivars that Americans encounter in
foodstuffs or beverages have, at one time or another, been scrutinized by ARS
cereal researchers in Madison. Barley malt, which contains natural sugars, can
be found in a variety of foods, including breakfast cereals and bakery goods.
It is the basic fermentable ingredient in beer.
The new Cereal Crops Research Unit (CCRU)
building is located on more than three acres of federal land on the
University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
Built at a cost of $11 million, it will house 35 employees, including seven
scientists and their staff.
In addition to Betschart, speakers at today's event included U.S.
Representative Tammy Baldwin;
Shafer, ARS Midwest Area director;
Henson, research leader, CCRU; Irwin Goldman, vice dean of the University
of Wisconsin's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences; and Michael Davis of
the American Malting Barley Association.
In addition to the critical service that CCRU scientists provide barley
breeders, ARS researchers in Madison are working to better understand the
biochemical processes that control the conversion of starch into sugars, which
is a crucial value-added trait for malting barleys. They're also focused on
identifying health-promoting compounds found in oats and barley, and on better
ways to bolster cereal crops against attack from persistent and costly fungal
diseases, like Fusarium head blight on barley and blast on rice.
The new CCRU facility has double the square footage of the original
laboratory, which was built in 1948. It will provide the ARS scientists with
needed research and office space, including an up-to-date laboratory for
fulfilling the unit's important function of evaluating malting barley.