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   from the issue of February 22, 2007

  Study captures positive influence across Nebraska

IANR impacts gauged


The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL annually returns at least $15 in benefits to Nebraskans for every dollar of state support, making it "a primary engine for economic and social sustainability," a new study says.

The study, by Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, was commissioned to capture the benefits of IANR's teaching, research and extension work in Nebraska and to provide solid guidance for setting future priorities. Results are published in a new "At Work for Nebraska" study, available online at

"As our faculty and staff work to meet Nebraskans' needs today and in the future, it's important we take a critical look at our programs and activities and determine how effectively they're serving the state," said John Owens, IANR Harlan vice chancellor and University of Nebraska vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

"We thought it especially important to find a highly qualified, independent consultant to do this study for us, so that we'd get an unbiased perspective," Owens added.

The "At Work for Nebraska" report notes the increasing importance of agriculture in Nebraska, citing a recent finding by the Nebraska Policy Institute that agriculture and agribusiness account for nearly one-third of the state's jobs - up from 25 percent in 1990. As the university's primary arm dedicated to "sustaining, growing and improving agriculture and agriculture-related enterprise in the state," IANR "is key to the long term competitive sustainability of Nebraska's high standard of living," Battelle said in the report's executive summary.

"Much of what is required for 21st century success ... is directly addressed through the mission and operations of IANR," the study says.

IANR was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 1973 as a defined component of the University of Nebraska. It includes the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the Agricultural Research Division and UNL Extension. Headquartered on East Campus, IANR has extension offices in 83 of Nebraska's 93 counties, research and extension centers in Norfolk, Lincoln, North Platte and Scottsbluff and the Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead.

The study points out the importance of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources in preparing the workforce for Nebraska's economy; historically about 70 percent of the college's graduates take their first job after graduation in Nebraska.

The $160,000 "At Work for Nebraska" report captures the economic impact of IANR programs. It points out that the state's investment in IANR pays off many times over - conservatively estimated at 15 to 1. For example, IANR received $71.6 million in state funds in the 2005 fiscal year. Here's what taxpayers got in return:

• More than $750 million in annual benefits from the institute's research, teaching and extension activities. That's measured in improved economic output and savings - in other words, real money in real Nebraskans' pockets.

• About $338 million in annual benefits through the economic ripple effects of IANR doing business in Nebraska - paying employees, buying products and supplies and having that money multiply throughout the state's economy.

According to the study, "IANR has been, is and will continue to be a primary engine for economic and social sustainability and growth in the state of Nebraska.

"Based on the impact examples examined by Battelle, it is the conclusion of this study that the state of Nebraska is receiving an excellent return on its investment in IANR," the study reported.

The report is online at

No state tax funds were used to pay for this report.

Battelle is a nonprofit research and development organization specializing in global science and technology. It operates five national laboratories.

Impact on Nebraska

Access the complete report online at

The Battelle study did not investigate the economic impact of every research and extension program at IANR, but it did delve into a few projects, focusing on IANR's mission areas of agriculture, food production and natural resource systems; nutrition, health and food safety; environmental sustainability; community and entrepreneurial development; building strong families; and youth development. Some programs cited include:

• Research IANR scientists did with University of Florida colleagues led to new beef products that added $50-$70 in value per head over the past seven years. On Jan. 1, 2006, Nebraska had 2.6 million cattle on feed. At $50 per head, that's $130 million more in 2006 alone.

• IANR-developed wheat varieties that perform well in Nebraska fields are worth roughly $30 to $35 million annually to Nebraska producers, based on increased yield alone.

• Since 2000, more than 260 College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources students have partnered with faculty advisers to gain hands-on experience and improve job skills through UNL's Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences program.

• 4-H, part of IANR's extension division, is a national leader in youth participation, reaching 118,000, or one of every three Nebraska youth each year.

• An extension demonstration project in the Republican River Basin focuses on teaching producers to achieve nearly full yields with less water. The project showed a water miser strategy used 31 percent less water while reducing corn yields only 3 percent. Pumping cost savings usually more than offset yield loss. Overall estimated value of knowledge gained in 2006 was $2.4 million, according to 130 producer participants.

• UNL Extension partnered with the Nebraska legal system to develop a curriculum and materials to teach the more than 2,000 people appointed annually as legal guardians for elderly and disabled people and children in our state who cannot make decisions for themselves.

• UNL Extension's Nebraska-EDGE - Enhancing, Developing and Growing Entrepreneurs - program has helped nearly 2,000 Nebraskans transform their ideas into viable business opportunities since 1993.



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