Researchers and Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialists who serve Alabama farmers now have a modern, efficient place to work thanks to the recently opened Alabama Farmers Federation Administrative Building at the Tennessee Valley Research and Experiment Center in Belle Mina.
Federation President Jerry Newby said the organization is proud to support the facility because the work done at the experiment center provides an immediate return for the farmers who utilize the research.
“I’ve always been an advocate for supporting facilities and projects that would help our farmers be more successful on their farms,” Newby said.
The research center at Belle Mina has been serving the farmers of Alabama for more than 80 years. The center’s work is vitally important to the health of the agricultural community in the Tennessee Valley, Newby added.
“The addition of this facility will help sustain agriculture in this area and throughout the state as this center continues its mission to improve the profitability of farmers,” Newby said.
The new 4,000-square-foot facility includes 12 offices and a small conference room with video conferencing capabilities. It was funded with annual donations totaling $1 million from the Federation since 2007.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, a plaque was presented to W.B. “Dub” Webster who served as the center's superintendent from 1977 to 1995. The plaque, which honors Webster for his service and cooperative spirit in support of Alabama agriculture, will be placed in the new administrative building.
Established in 1927, the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center is nationally recognized for its long-running cotton programs, but it also is a leader in precision agriculture and irrigation research. In 2011, the center conducted 95 agricultural experiments on everything from grain crops and soybeans to cattle and ornamentals.
William Batchelor, dean of the College of Agriculture at Auburn University, said a report is being prepared to show the precision agriculture research done at Belle Mina and other experiment stations in Alabama has generated $30 million for the state’s farmers. That kind of result, he added, is the mission of Alabama's land grant universities.
“We've got to be relevant; we've got to be serving the needs of our stakeholders — of our farmers and agribusiness industry — in order to get support back for all that we do,” Batchelor said. “There's no way on earth this (building) would have happened without the support of Alfa.”