Klobuchar visits AURI, talks food, energy

MARSHALL – U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar stopped at the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) facilities at Southwest Minnesota State University on Monday for a tour of the laboratories.

Klobuchar, D-Minn., was wrapping up a two-day listening and discussion tour about the importance of renewable energy production for the state’s economy and national security.

AURI is a non-profit corporation that works with businesses and entrepreneurs to develop new ideas in agriculture focused on four key areas: food, renewable energy, bio-based products, and co-products.

Klobuchar toured three labs at SMSU dedicated to biomass and renewables, analytical chemistry, and meat science.

“AURI has four missions and one of them is renewable energy,” said Douglas Root, senior scientist of biomass and renewable products technologies. “This is our chance to show her what we do here. I deal with co-products such as distillers grain feed, soy wax, what used to be called ‘waste.'”

Analytical chemist Ranae Jorgenson led a tour of her lab and showed some of the equipment she uses to determine the fat, moisture, and nutritional content of biomass and food products.

“I can also take fat I’ve extracted and analyze how much is saturated fat, unsaturated, or Omega 3 fatty acids.”

Jorgenson explained her lab also serves small food producers by analyzing their products’ nutritional content for commercial labeling.

Meat scientist Carissa Nath show Klobuchar and her staff some of the work the meat lab is currently doing with turkey products.

“Poultry is a lot of fun to work with because it has a milder taste than beef,” Nath said. “So you can do things with spices and they’re not overwhelmed.

The tour ended with a brief discussion of educational, agricultural, and ag-based business issues, and a briefing by Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes on the state of the local economy.

“I’m really impressed,” Klobuchar said. “This is such a great place for southwest Minnesota, being able to match where the business and the jobs are with the research.”