USDA broke ground in Salinas on Wednesday for a new center dedicated to ag research and technology. The building will add new labs and greenhouses to support an existing crop protection lab in the Central Coast city.

An administrator for the USDA Agricultural Research Service said this will expand on longtime partnerships with UC Davis in fruit and vegetable research.

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The Western Growers Association has crowned downtown Salinas with its Center for Innovation and Technology. The addition of the ARS facility will increase the tech and research foothold in a region where automation is often seen as the next evolution in food production.