Surplus crops and a chronic farm depression were the economic realities of the agricultural industry in 1938. In response, Congress authorized the USDA to build and staff four regional research laboratories for the purpose of finding new uses and markets for farm commodities.
Peoria, Illinois was selected at the site for the Northern Regional Laboratory (NRL), with a focus on corn, wheat and agricultural waste products. Congress appropriated $1 million to build and equip the lab, and a tract of land was received for the price fo $1 from Bradley Polytechnic Institute, later to become Bradley University.
Operations began December 16, 1940.
1938 Agricultural Adjustment Act Section 202
The secretary (of Agriculture) is hereby authorized and directed to establish, equip, and maintain four regional research laboratories, one in each major farm producing area, and at such laboratories conduct researches into and to develop new scientific, chemical and technical uses and new and extended markets and outlets for farm commodities and products and byproducts thereof. Such research and development shall be devoted primarily to those farm commodities in which there are regular or seasonal surpluses, andtheir products and byproducts.
In 1990, the Peoria lab's official name was changed to the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), reflecting a successful research history generating far more than regional impact and the direction of research yet to be done.
The NCAUR Mission
Invent new uses of agricultural commodities for industrial and food products
Develop new technology to improve environmental quality
Provide technical support to Federal regulatory and action agencies