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April 06, 2012   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
April 06, 2012

Federation and Auburn University leaders cut the ribbon on the new Alabama Farmers Federation Administrative Building (top photo) at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center Friday in Belle Mina. Bottom photo, from left are Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan, Federation Board Member Ted Grantland, Federation and Alfa President Jerry Newby, Research and Extension Director Chet Norris, Auburn University College of Agriculture Dean William Batchelor, Director of Outlying Units Jim Bannon and Alabama Cooperative Extension System Director Gary Lemme.

BELLE MINA, Ala. - Researchers and Extension System specialists who serve Alabama farmers now have a modern, efficient place to work thanks to the new Alabama Farmers Federation Administrative Building at the Tennessee Valley Research and Experiment Center. The building was dedicated today 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.

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. Last year, the center conducted 95 agricultural experiments on everything from grain crops and soybeans to cattle and ornamentals.

Auburn University College of Agriculture Dean William Batchelor said a report will soon be released showing that 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.

"There's no way on earth this (building) would have happened without the support of Alfa," he added.

Gary Lemme, director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said the new administrative building is a great example of how researchers, farmers and the Extension System work together to benefit Alabama agriculture.

"Even though we are here to celebrate the new building, it's really a reflection of the relationship that exists here in the Tennessee Valley between the experiment station, the Extension Service, producers and the Alabama Farmers Federation," Lemme told local farmers gathered for the event. "Research takes money and converts it to knowledge. The Extension Service takes that knowledge and transfers it back into money through your activities and through education."

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 plague, which honors Webster for his service and cooperative spirit in support of Alabama agriculture, will be placed in the new administrative building.

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