Groundbreaking for new building named for former Sen. Roy Blunt held at Fisher Delta Research, Extension and Education Center

The Roy Blunt Soil Testing and Research Laboratory located in Portageville, Missouri, will strengthen research support for southeast Missouri producers.

A row of 21 people stand near a long mound a dirt. They are each holding a golden shovel and have scooped up some dirt. Behind them are trees with green leaves and a blue sky with puffy, white clouds.
Robert Cook, Don Rone, Paul T. Combs, David Haggard, Patrick McHaney, Aaron Brandt, Gary Wheeler, Chris Chinn, Jason Bean, Roy Blunt, Keith Holloway, Shelly Fisher, Trent Haggard, Charlie Kruse, Dave Blakemore, Mun Choi, Justin Rone, Rob Kallenbach, Chad Higgins, Shibu Jose and Chris Daubert.

A groundbreaking was held Friday, April 5, for the Roy Blunt Soil Testing and Research Laboratory at the University of Missouri’s Fisher Delta Research, Extension and Education Center (FD-REEC) in Portageville, Mo.

“As a longtime Delta Day attendee and Delta Center advocate, I’m pleased to have been part of spearheading a new facility that will support existing university programs while inspiring research among future generations of students,” former Sen. Blunt said. “It is an honor to have my name connected with this world-class facility right in the heart of the region that will benefit from the research the most.”

This $4.6 million facility will enhance agriculture research programs housed at the center, offering advanced resources for soil, water and plant-tissue testing.

“Senator Roy Blunt’s deep roots in agriculture have benefitted our state and our university’s research mission tremendously,” said Keith Holloway, a member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators. “Born into a farming family, Senator Blunt understands the challenges and aspirations of our farming research community like few others. Throughout his career in public service, he consistently championed the cause of agriculture research, advocating for policies that strengthen Missouri’s agricultural industry. This groundbreaking event today is also the day we dedicate the naming of this new research facility in his honor.”

FD-REEC is part of the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Agricultural Experiment Station, which provides locally relevant research and demonstrations to support Missouri’s producers and landowners.

“The Roy Blunt Soil Testing and Research Laboratory brings the latest technologies and research-based recommendations directly for Missouri farmers to use,” said Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri. “Senator Blunt and the Fisher Delta Research, Extension and Education Center were instrumental in supporting this innovative facility, and it will serve as an enduring example of the strong advocacy for Missouri agriculture.”

Former Sen. Blunt spoke at the event and participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking, in addition to Jason Bean, Missouri senator representing District 25; Chris Chinn, Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture; Choi; Christopher R. Daubert, vice chancellor and dean, MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and Chad Higgins, vice chancellor for extension and UM System chief engagement officer.

Rendering of the new Roy Blunt Soil Testing and Research Laboratory

“The addition of this laboratory at the Fisher Delta REEC will be crucial to enhancing the quality of research conducted at the center, thus enhancing the agricultural production and profitability of Missouri farmers,” Daubert said.

The new building will offer technologically advanced soil sample and water and plant-tissue testing and provide lab space to house the FD-REEC’s rice production and entomology research programs while accommodating additional greenhouse operations. The testing services to be offered by this new laboratory are currently unavailable in this region of Missouri.

“The significance of this new facility for Missouri’s farmers cannot be emphasized enough,” Higgins said. “MU Extension’s Soil Testing Program serves as a cornerstone in supporting Missouri farmers by delivering critical insights into soil health and nutrient management. Through its science-backed recommendations, this program annually contributes to savings exceeding $60 million for Missouri farmers, resulting in reduced fertilizer expenses and enhanced crop yields.”

Former Sen. Blunt was integral in bringing together federal, state, and local funding sources to build the new facility.

“I appreciate and respect former Senator Blunt for his hard work and track record of bringing federal dollars back to Missouri,” Bean said. “This investment in our region will enhance the educational programs and research offered by the University of Missouri in support of our farmers and agricultural community.”

Construction on the 6,200-square-foot building will begin this spring.