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Diverse Corn Belt project seeks feedback from Midwestern farmers

The research project, supported by the USDA and many Midwestern institutions, wants to know what's working and not working for Midwestern farmers.

URBANA, Ill. — A Midwestern agriculture initiative is looking for input from local farmers as part of its research into alternative farming strategies.

The Diverse Corn Belt project is a five-year-long, wide-ranging, $10 million research initiative into exploring new opportunities in the Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana farming space, like alternative crops, longer rotations, and livestock integration, just to name a few.

The project is emphasizing its commitment to listening to the input of local farmers, asking farmers and other stakeholders to give their feedback about what's working and not working in Midwestern agriculture through a variety of avenues.

Farmers can participate in focus groups, host in-field research and join Reimagining Agricultural Diversification Teams to engage in conversations with researchers, community leaders, and agricultural advisors.

"We are seeking farmer involvement at every stage of the Diverse Corn Belt project, starting with understanding how different producers define diversity, and getting their direction on the questions they want us to explore," says Purdue University's Dr. Linda S. Prokopy. "We want to know what is working for them in the current system and what the barriers are to diversification.”

"We are developing a vision of a Corn Belt beyond the corn-soybean system and its infrastructure, a future that provides farmers and communities with a more profitable and resilient agriculture," says J. Arbuckle at Iowa State University. "To do that, we're working with farmers with highly specialized systems that are prevalent today and with highly diversified farmers who provide examples of what's possible.

The Diverse Corn Belt Project is funded by the USDA National Institue of Food and Agriculture and is working with many Midwestern institutions, like Purdue University, Iowa State University, and the University of Illinois.

Farmers interested in volunteering can learn more information and access a participation survey here.

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