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Welcome to the Midwest Area of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural research has a direct impact on our standard of living and the quality of modern life. Our scientists conduct research to develop economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural systems that improve the yield and quality of crops and livestock, improve human health, create crop-based alternatives to petroleum-derived fuels and products, and protect the environment. If agricultural problems arise such as new pests or diseases of crops or livestock, we have the capacity to respond rapidly to protect the food supply. We in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), like all Americans, are very concerned about safe and nutritious food. We develop solutions to reduce food-borne illness and find ways to improve the nutritional value of the food supply.
The Midwest Area of ARS has a long record of achievement in the discovery of new and improved food and non-food products that create new economic opportunities, better nutrition, and "green products for consumers. The National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, IL was opened in 1940. Historically, NCAUR is known as the laboratory that developed the process for large-scale production of Penicillin that saved untold lives during World War II and beyond. A few examples of other products/technologies from the lab include Super Slurper, which is an absorbent material in disposable diapers, bio-based sunscreens, soy ink used in newspaper print, Xantham Gum used as salad dressing thickener, healthy oils that replace trans fats, dextran for medical intravenous applications, and a variety of crop-derived industrial products that reduce our dependence on imported petroleum.
We care deeply about the environment. There are extensive programs in our area focused on preserving and improving soil, air, and water quality. We are finding new and innovative ways to address animal waste management issues, prevent soil erosion and eliminate pesticides from surface and ground water. We are developing agricultural practices that increase soil carbon retention and reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses from farm land. Our research helps farmers cope with production challenges associated with changes in climate and precipitation patterns. Our Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa, plays an important role in communicating and deploying improved climate-resilient production practices that maintain crop yields.
We are just as concerned about animals. We are finding new ways to monitor and promote health and comfort of livestock to ensure that all farm animals are treated in a humane and caring way. Our animal health programs develop new and effective vaccines and disease prevention alternatives that improve well-being while reducing the use of antibiotics and the development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
These examples represent only a few of the research programs in the Midwest Area and ARS that are dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the economic strength of America agriculture while improving the quality of life for each and every citizen.