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University of Nebraska President says colleges are well positioned to further ag

University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter says the U of N campuses could not be better positioned to help farm and ranch families.

He says colleges need to think outside the box when recruiting ag students.

He tells Brownfield they created a tuition-assistance program called Nebraska Promise where student tuition is paid for if families make less than $60,000 dollars a year. “That was a really strong reaction last year, we had over 7,000 students apply for that program,” he said. “About one-third of our students get federal aid or scholarships to help with tuitions.”

Carter says his universities are developing different pathways and majors to attract prospective students to campus to better prepare them for a job in agriculture. “We’re here to serve those students who want to get into that part of the business, which is pretty expansive.”

Carter, in a wide-ranging interview with Brownfield, spoke on a number of topics including how research could propel UNL to the top in its field.

He says a new USDA research facility located in Lincoln could lead the country in innovation and precision ag. UNL received $11 million from Congress, which will help the USDA expand its strategic research.  “This is kind of a one-two punch: a federal amount of money to put together an innovation capability as well as a state and privately supported innovation capability that’s going to really make a huge difference in what we’re doing in ag tech, ag innovation, and ag policy,” Carter says. “It’s all coming here to Nebraska.”

In December, Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, secured the money as part of an omnibus appropriations bill.  

He tells Brownfield the more than $100 million facility will be built in about two years depending on when the University can secure all the funds. “This will not only put us on the map where we already are, but it’s going to elevate us. I’d say this will put us in front of all other agriculture research capabilities in the country,” he said.

Carter says they plan to build it on Nebraska Innovation Campus.

He says the biggest challenge the state’s farmers and ranchers face is sharing their stories. “For people that live here in Nebraska, the beauty of this state is its functionality. Ninety-percent of its landmass is dedicated to agriculture.”

He tells Brownfield the university should listen to their failures and successes to help find solutions to the problems they face. “Look at the trends that have occurred over the last 10 years. I mean look at technology like drone technology, like GPS technology how you can be smart about how you can manage whether you have a couple-hundred acres or a couple-thousand acres.”

Carter’s entire interview on other topics including research and college retention:

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