The Southwest Research Center was established in 1959 and serves 22 counties, with a focus on addressing the main agricultural concerns of area industries including beef, forage and horticultural crop production.
Serving as a footprint for the University of Missouri in the southwest part of Missouri, the Center is a meeting place for farmers, producers, Extension regional specialists and students.
A new facility will allow the Southwest Research Center to meet those growing meeting needs even better.
“Our current facility has been here since the 1960s,” said David Cope, superintendent of the Center. “The existing room we have for meetings is smaller and outdated, as far as being able to utilize newer technology. We often have people who want to host meetings at the Center because of our location. We can’t always accommodate them because of the limitations of the existing facility.
“We’re excited that we’ll soon have a place to host larger meetings and conferences.”
The Center broke ground on the new site on Thursday, Sept. 13. Cope said construction is likely to begin toward the end of September.
“We have a wide variety of audiences who use our current space,” Cope said. “This facility will give us the opportunity to further our mission of research, outreach and education with the general public, farmers, producers and students. Being able to have a facility of this size, with updated technology, is incredibly important.”
The Southwest Research Center hosts a variety of meetings, many of which deal with timely agricultural topics. For example, just three weeks ago, the Center hosted a drought meeting. More than 110 individuals attended the event.
“Our current space is too small to have that many people, honestly,” Cope said. “We have a lot of producers who are interested in what we do. This facility will allow us to comfortably host larger events, as well as utilize updated technology, such as multiple overhead projectors.”
The Center is also host to numerous events for students. It hosts an annual agriculture education day and FFA practice contests.
“We have an annual practice contest in the spring for FFA students,” Cope said. “We’re running out of room. Again, this new space will allow us to host at least three more practice contests. It gives us the opportunity to be much more flexible to handle the needs of our stakeholders.”
The Southwest Research Center hosts an annual field day each year as well, where area farmers and producers learn more about the research taking place at the Center.
“I think it says a lot that the University of Missouri and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources have decided to invest here in southwest Missouri,” Cope said. “It shows support to agriculture and to the people in this part of the state. We’re very thankful that they’ve been able to do this. We certainly feel that we’ll utilize this facility enough to make it a worthwhile endeavor.”