Artist's rendering of
the new Cereal Crops Research Laboratory at Madison, Wisconsin.
Work Begins on New USDA Cereal Crops Lab
Peabody July 7, 2005
MADISON, Wis., July 7--The U.S.
Department of Agriculture broke ground here today for a new laboratory
where federal researchers will work to improve barley and oats. The laboratory
will be operated by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA's chief scientific research
"This facility will provide much-needed work space for
Agricultural Research Service scientists
who provide a critical link between barley growers and breeders and the malting
and brewing industries," said ARS Administrator
B. Knipling, who participated in today's ceremony. "The new lab will be
important because it is the country's only public research facility that
evaluates malting barley cultivars based on their quality and usefulness."
Barley malt, which contains natural sugars, can be found in a wide
range of foods, including breakfast cereals, beverages and bakery goods. It is
the basic, fermentable ingredient in beer.
In 2004, ARS scientists at Madison assessed more than 5,000 different
malting barley breeding lines, providing data that will help breeders develop
high-quality cultivars for U.S. farmers. ARS research at Madison is also
focused on finding new ways to bolster crop plants against attack from
persistent and costly fungal diseases, like Fusarium head blight on
barley and blast on rice.
The ARS scientists are also studying the unique, health-promoting
compounds found in oats, which they hope to someday enhance to make the hearty
grain an even more significant heart-healthy food.
ARS scientists in the
Crops Research Unit share an outdated 1948 laboratory. The new facility
will have more than twice the square footage of the current one, and will house
about 50 employees, including seven full-time research scientists. Estimated to
cost $11.3 million, the new building is due to be finished in July 2006.