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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654



Research and Publications

Learn about the grant funded research projects and publications awarded to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Research Projects

AFRI Competitive Grant. Agreement No. 2022-68006-36434
Investigators: Saul, D., Newman, S., McCormack, A., Mahoney, P., Gunn, D., Nomee, S., Peterson, S.

This project is a collaboration of University of Idaho researchers and extension faculty and representatives from the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and the Nez Perce Tribe to research and implement activities that promote agriculture-based economic development, improve food security for tribal members and increased food sovereignty for the tribes.

In this project, we will research reservation-scale development strategies in terms of tribal member interest, resources available, return on investment (both financial and social), and role in advancing economic and community development goals. The strategies will include

  • A livestock enterprise that supports production, processing, storage, transportation, branding, marketing and sales;
  • A food hub that provides similar services for horticultural products; and
  • A small farm incubator that provides direct marketing services, such as a farm stand and an online market, for its own products and those of tribal members.

The research will identify and localize strategies for agricultural development based on context specific resources and constraints (e.g., economic capital, cultural capital and market setting). These facilities will include capacity for tribal members to process and store traditional foods for their own consumption but will not support marketing and sales of traditional foods as defined by each tribe.

In this study, we will research the types of resources tribes and tribal businesses have access to and use to succeed in funding agricultural infrastructure as part of a broader development approach. We will identify and evaluate opportunities that not only support agricultural business and economic development but food security and food independence goals as well. We will research financial and business aspects of alternative systems and strategies and assess economic contributions.

For non-traditional foods, which includes most livestock and produce products, the potential for product branding that leverages tribal cultural capital and identity to bring a price premium is visible anecdotally, but no one has quantified or examined it systematically for multiple tribes. Therefore, we will evaluate the opportunity to develop tribally branded livestock and horticultural value-added products for high-margin markets in the west, specifically in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

Extension educators will work with project researchers and staff at the tribes to offer a tribal youth exchange program and a regional intertribal food summit. The youth exchange program will build tribal youth capacity to pursue agriculture-related careers, preserve traditional foods and food practices and fill leadership roles as they enter adulthood. The intertribal food summit will facilitate intertribal food system collaboration and coordination. A new food sovereignty coordinator at each tribe will help facilitate these activities.

AFRI Competitive Grant. Agreement No. 2021-68006-34028
Investigators: Higgins, L., Saul, D., Tifft, K., Newman, S., Hamilton, M., Daniels, J.

As with other sudden and dramatic changes in circumstances, ameliorating impacts of the pandemic necessitates innovation. Though the redesigned Community Review programs are proving to be effective, they are formatted to be delivered over the course of three to six months with five to 15 facilitators visiting the community at least twice.

Montana, Idaho and Wyoming delivery organizations involved in this project each have one staff person dedicated to community reviews. They are responsible for coordinating community reviews with "home team" organizers from each community, recruiting and training "visiting team" members (i.e., the expert facilitators), writing two reports for the community, and in two cases, also running the delivery organization.

Partner organizations provide some support, but currently only three to five reviews are possible per year, a number that will fall far short of serving the number of rural communities that will need assistance as the Coronavirus threat subsides. Thus, the 17-member tri-state design team is turning its attention to developing an assessment process that can be delivered wholly or partially via virtual technology and to many more communities in a reduced period of time.

In addition, design team members will begin developing online tools for communities and a repository of disaster-relief resources for communities and businesses on the project website. We will initiate a peer network among communities that have participated in community reviews in the last four years to share, learn and collectively troubleshoot community challenges. State design teams infuse additional resources including content experts, case study communities, and dialogue to discuss "hot" topics and needs rural communities are facing.

While using the considerable knowledge and resources of the design team to support participating communities, the peer network will also act as an ad hoc advisory committee as the design team develops the R3 process. This will ensure the resulting program changes and innovations effectively help communities address their most pressing social and economic recovery needs once the worst of the Coronavirus crisis has passed.

This project team will continue the integrated research and Extension approach used in the former project and will build on the adaptive work now being undertaken by the 17-member tri-state design team. Its focus is to support communities that have had community reviews, connect them so they can help each other, and utilize their expertise to inform development of a rapid response community review program that can be deployed quickly and to a large number of communities within a short time frame.

This program will be designed to help communities engage, plan and implement projects as quickly as feasible. Communities will be supported with coaching, technical assistance, and capacity-building training to maximize their opportunities to recover from the pandemic-induced recession. The driving theory of change and recovery is that sustaining and strengthening local social capital — typically a defining strength of rural communities — is critical to both community development and disaster recovery.

In order to build and sustain local social capital, engage citizens in determining immediate and future priorities, and quickly help mobilize resources for communities during and after the Coronavirus pandemic, we will conduct the following research and Extension activities:

  • Work with community review alumni communities, primarily via peer learning networks and regional trainings, to help them sustain community economic development efforts, redirect efforts in response to the pandemic crisis, and facilitate peer-to-peer discussions so they may help each other and advise the project design team on program design and identifying impediments to recovery;
  • Implement a community review program with multiple communities in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming using virtual technology, abbreviated community visits or a hybrid combination of formats;
  • Provide leadership development workshops, funding community projects training and other capacity-building activities to communities participating in community reviews;
  • Augment the existing project website and resource database ( to include emergency health, economic and other types of resources to communities trying to recover from effects of the pandemic;
  • Provide video and other kinds of do-it-yourself tutorials on the project website in order to assist communities more quickly and help them get started until teams are available for more intensive intervention;
  • Conduct Ripple Effects Mapping with different groups to
    • continue evaluation in alumni communities having community reviews between 2018 and 2020;
    • conduct pre-community review evaluation to establish baseline measures for communities prior to participation;
    • conduct post-community review evaluation one year after participation to measure social and financial capital changes and other community review activity impacts, and
    • evaluate the value of a "Mastermind" group comprised of formal and informal leaders from community review alumni communities involved in the peer-to-peer network.

Develop a program replication guide with an emphasis on working with rural communities post disasters.

AFRI Competitive Grant. Agreement No. 2019-68006-29638.
Investigators: Lewin, P., Saul, D., Rumel, J., Fisher, M., Newman, S., Ford, J.

This project will enhance economic opportunity and well-being of women entrepreneurs and small businesses in rural Idaho communities. We will research and provide education to entrepreneurial women, with an in-depth focus on Hispanic and Native American women, to increase economic self-sufficiency and resilience. Currently, few organizations in north Idaho offer support tailored to the unique needs of women, Hispanic and Native American entrepreneurs.

This project will research how demographic and local economic characteristics affect the decision to engage in entrepreneurship and the financial performance of minority women-owned small businesses. It will investigate strategies for communicating with, recruiting and supporting minority women.

Researchers also will investigate the role technology and digital resources play in the success of minority women's entrepreneurial endeavors.

University of Idaho Extension will identify opportunities and constraints to minority entrepreneurism that can be adequately addressed via appropriate culturally responsive modifications to new or existing entrepreneurism programs. Then, UI Extension will develop and implement new curriculum and online courses to facilitate women entrepreneurship.

This project will engage students from the College of Law, the College of Business and across the university in research, service activities and a business plan competition to support women entrepreneurism. We will also support the creation of a nonprofit center for women entrepreneurism in northern Idaho, which will be a future partner to university programs.

Involving public and private stakeholders throughout the project ensures the analysis and programs are realistically grounded in challenges and opportunities facing our rural communities and Hispanic and Native American residents.

AFRI Competitive Grant. Agreement No. 2014-68006-21866.
Investigators: Saul, D., Newman, S., Johnson, A., Watson, P., Lewin, P., Liao, F., DePhelps, C., Williams, C., Xu, S., Dezzani, R., Gordon, B.

This project will conduct research to develop optimized strategies for small and medium-sized producers in Idaho to access local and regional markets.

Through a survey of restaurants and grocery stores, we will estimate how consumer demand for local and regional products manifests in demand at restaurants and grocery stores. This effort will also estimate the market size for vegetable and livestock products, including the market for local and regional products and factors that influence demand for such products.

A second research component will conduct supply-chain analysis to identify optimized strategies for aggregation, storage, processing and distribution for small and medium-sized farmers to access local and regional markets.

A third effort will develop a geo-spatial database and model to determine the optimal spatial allocation of crop and livestock production based on the market-demand structure and supply chain configuration.

This research will help small and medium-sized farmers make better strategic and operational decisions in terms of market positioning, supply-chain strategy, pricing and benefits of collaboration with other producers.

Outreach components will integrate research findings into education materials and training efforts as part of the University of Idaho Extension Small Farms Program. A workshop will be delivered to those involved in community, regional and state-level food-systems economic development, including Extension faculty and educators, community and state staff and policy makers, economic development professionals, producer and community groups and others engaged in economic and community development. A second producer-specific training day will focus on preparing for entering new markets.

AFRI Competitive Grant. Agreement No. 2013-67010-20399.
Investigators: Saul, D., Peterson, S., Devadoss, S., Metlen, S., Salant, P., Keefe, R., Newman, S.

This project aims to support development of a liquid biofuel industry that benefits rural communities in the northern Rockies, while meeting regional and national liquid biofuel production goals. The specific project goal is to determine the optimal strategies and technologies for integrating woody biomass feedstocks from the northern Rockies into liquid biofuel production in the larger northwest region.

In determining which approaches are optimal, our analysis will consider the current supply, accessibility, and uses of woody biomass in the northern Rockies, as well as local needs and priorities as identified by community leaders and economic development professionals.

To make sure that local knowledge and perspectives help shape the project, we are forming an advisory board that includes local stakeholders along with technical experts. In addition, as we develop alternative scenarios for using the regions woody biomass for liquid biofuel production, we will interview local and state elected officials, economic development professionals, industry, and other key stakeholders about their knowledge and perceptions of benefits, obstacles and tradeoffs of different bioenergy development scenarios.

AFRI Competitive Grant. Agreement No. 2011-67024-30075.
Investigators: Saul, D., Devadoss, S., Shook, S., Lee, T., Shrestha, D., Sanyal, N., Peterson, S., Newman, S.

This project integrates economic and environmental research on local and regional livestock production, processing and consumer markets to determine optimal system configurations for increasing the economic and environmental sustainability of small farms.

Growing interest in local and regional foods represents an opportunity for small producers to enter higher profit market niches, thereby increasing farm revenues. Marketing to local markets also provides economic support for rural areas.

The benefits of producing and processing cattle in smaller volumes also can have environmental and social benefits, including avoidance of air and water pollution and increased quality of life for farmers, their employees, livestock and communities. To take advantage of this opportunity much work needs to be done to identify the optimal strategies and configurations of the livestock production, processing and marketing system to maximize benefit for small producers while minimizing environmental impacts.

While growing interest in local and regional livestock production, processing and marketing exists, the feasibility of establishing USDA-certified local processing in every local area is doubtful. For this reason, the feasibility of livestock food systems in a variety of configurations, including both local and regional options for finishing, processing and marketing, will be researched.

The result of this research will determine which circumstances and conditions will most benefit small producers and rural communities economically, while offering the most significant environmental benefits.


  • Saul, D., Newman, S., DePhelps, C. and F. Liao. 2022. Exploration of Values and Agency in Place-Based Food Systems. Journal of Rural Studies. 89. 337-347.
  • Saul, D., Newman, S., and C. Dearien. 2021. Capital in Context: Funding U.S. Inland Northwest Food Hub Development Before and During COVID-19. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. 11:1. 153-169.
  • DePhelps, C., Newman, S. and D. Saul. 2019. Telling a New Story: Working Together to Build Place-based Food Systems in the Palouse-Clearwater Region of the U.S. Inland Northwest. Journal of Agriculture Food Systems, and Community Development. 9:A. 233-234.
  • Liao, F., Gordon, B., DePhelps, C., Saul, D., Fan, C. and W. Feng. 2019. A Land-Based and Spatial Assessment of Local Food Capacity in Northern Idaho, USA. Land. 8:8. 121.
  • Roop, D., Shrestha, D., Saul, D. and S. Newman. 2014. Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment of Regionally Produced Beef in the Northwestern US. Transactions of the ASABE. 57:3. 927-935.
  • Saul, D., Newman, S., Lee, T., Peterson, S., Devadoss, S., Shrestha, D., and N. Sanyal. 2014. Increasing Prosperity for Small Farms Through Sustainable Livestock Production, Processing, and Marketing. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. 5:1. 21-37.
  • Roop, D., Shrestha, D. and D. Saul. 2013. Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment of Locally Produced Beef in the Palouse Region of the Northwestern U.S. Transactions of the American Society of Biological and Environmental Engineers. 56:5. 1933-1941.

  • Newman, S., Saul, D., Dearien, C. et al. 2022. Self-Employment or Selfless Employment? Exploration of Factors that Motivate, Facilitate, and Constrain Latina Entrepreneurship from a Family Embeddedness Perspective. Journal of Family Economic Issues.

  • Saul, D., Newman, S., Peterson, S., Klosse, E., Devadoss, S., Jacobson, R., Keefe, R., Laninga, T. and J. Moroney. 2018. Evaluation of Three Forest-Based Bioenergy Development Strategies in the Inland Northwest, United States. Journal of Forestry. 116:6. 497-504.
  • Newman, S., Saul, D., Keefe, R., Jacobson, R., Laninga, T. and J. Moroney. 2017. The Devil is in the Details: Inland Northwest Stakeholders’ Views on Three Forest-based Bioenergy Scenarios. Forest Science. 63:6. 614-620.
  • Jacobson, R., Keefe, R., Smith, A., Metlen, S., Saul, D., Newman, S., Laninga, T. and D. Inman. 2016. Multi-spatial Analysis of Forest Residue Utilization for Bioenergy. Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining. 10:5. 560-575.


College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654