University of Missouri officials announced today a $6.5 million investment in the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station of MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. The investment will enhance the university’s ability to share next-generation agricultural technologies developed by MU researchers with Missouri’s farmers and ranchers.
“CAFNR’s world-class animal and plant researchers use these centers to translate research from the laboratory and evaluate its impact under real field conditions,” MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “Because these projects oftentimes include an educational component, our students also use the research centers for essential field studies. Needless to say, these centers are critical to our ability to deliver innovative applications to Missouri’s farmers and ranchers.”
Cartwright, along with Mun Choi, UM System president; Marshall Stewart, MU vice chancellor for extension and engagement and UM System chief engagement officer; and Christopher Daubert, vice chancellor and dean of CAFNR, made the announcement today at the Fisher Delta Research Center Field Day Breakfast. The joint investment comes from the UM System, MU, CAFNR and MU Extension.
“An investment in the Agricultural Research Centers is an investment in Missouri, especially rural Missouri,” Daubert said. “This is a historic commitment, and shows the university’s dedication to the land-grant mission. Like every industry, good agricultural practice changes rapidly, and it’s imperative that CAFNR’s facilities demonstrate the latest approaches to field and farm management to help our communities remain profitable in an increasingly competitive environment.”
The Agricultural Experiment Station operates a system of Agricultural Research Centers across Missouri in an effort to meet the regional needs of agricultural producers and natural resource managers. With nearly 14,000 acres, these research and demonstration facilities host more than 35,000 people each year for field days, extension activities and other community events.
The Agricultural Experiment Station takes research discoveries involving plants, animals and natural resources from the lab to the field. Many recent advances in Missouri agriculture and natural resources can be traced back to the work conducted at the research centers.
Examples of that research include MU’s internationally recognized Interdisciplinary Plant Group and Maize Genetics Center, both of which partner with plant breeders located at the research centers to develop more resilient, healthy and productive crops. Recently, researchers developed heart friendly, high-oleic soybean varieties through campus labs coupled with fieldwork done at research centers across the state. The Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program, developed primarily through Agricultural Experiment Station research, annually enrolls around 8,500 heifers and generates an estimated $17 million in annual impact.
The investment complements CAFNR’s newly launched strategic plan, Drive to Distinction, and its focus on Empowering Missourians, in addition to current efforts underway by MU Extension and Engagement to meet agricultural challenges facing rural Missourians.
“This support will provide greater collaboration between CAFNR researchers and MU Extension field faculty to deliver higher caliber programming that better meets the needs of Missouri agriculture,” Stewart said.
The immediate impact of new construction and renovation of the research centers stimulate both regional and state economies by hiring construction workers and contractors, equipment suppliers and others to perform onsite improvements. Economists estimate that the $6.5 million investment project will have a more than $11 million economic impact for the state.
“We must invest in modernizing these centers to perform the cutting-edge research needed to grow Missouri’s global presence in agriculture,” Choi said. “Investment in the CAFNR Agricultural Research Center network will stimulate economic development across the state while delivering life-changing advancements to Missouri and the world.”
Agricultural Experiment Station leaders will help determine priority investment areas, such as equipment or facilities, at the network of centers. A new facility currently under construction at the Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon is one example of the type of project helping to modernize research center infrastructure. CAFNR’s Agricultural Research Centers are located throughout the state.