Construction is underway in Lexington, Kentucky, on a facility that will focus on forage research for the livestock sector.

The new Forage-Animal Production Research Unit will be operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service on the University of Kentucky campus. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and University of Kentucky leaders were on hand for the event Tuesday. 

In a release, Vilsack said the groundbreaking “builds on more than two decades of partnership with the University of Kentucky, while demonstrating USDA's latest commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible for agriculture, and to creating profitable and sustainable systems, rooted in science, that will advance farmers' production for years to come."

For his part, McConnell said he has "firmly focused my career on supporting agricultural communities across the Commonwealth, and this research facility builds on that commitment in a big way."

Once completed, FAPRU will include a research laboratory space, a collaborative area, a headhouse and eight-bay greenhouses. The facility will employ six ARS scientists and seven UK researchers, and several lab technicians and administrative personnel.

Don’t miss a beat! It’s easy to sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country in agriculture, just click here.

Chavonda Jacobs-Young – USDA’s chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economics – said FAPRU “underscores the importance of our partnerships with land-grant universities and USDA's efforts to ensure today's scientists and researchers are working in state-of-the-art facilities equipped with the tools they need to take on the world's greatest agricultural challenges."

The new facility is expected to finish construction in 2026.

The groundbreaking was the first of two major facility events on Vilsack’s calendar for the week; he’s also slated to be in Manhattan, Kansas, Wednesday for the opening of the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. That complex will be operated by ARS and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and will work to “protect the United States and the world through cutting-edge research, vaccine and anti-viral development, and enhanced diagnostic and training capabilities,” USDA said in a release.

For more news, go to