For 25 years the
ARS center in Booneville has been finding new ways to help small farmers
diversify. In photo from earlier study, corn is planted between rows of
loblolly pine to provide fodder and a cash crop while the trees grow to
maturity. Click the image for more information about it.
Arkansas Small Farms Research Center Marks 25th
Anniversary By Luis Pons May 6,
BOONEVILLE, Ark., May 6A quarter-century of service to
grassroots agriculture was marked here today as the
Bumpers Small Farms Research Center celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The center encompasses 2,300 acres of land devoted to research on food
animal production; integrated farming systems; rangeland, pastures and forages;
and conservation practices. Run as a partnership between the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) and Natural
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
and the University of Arkansas'
Agriculture, its researchers develop scientific principles and technologies
that enhance the profitability of small-scale farms.
"This center's scientists strive to help small farmers sustain
themselves by diversifying production and reducing inputs, as well as by
capturing a greater portion of post-farm value," said ARS Administrator Edward
B. Knipling. "This is of great importance, given the challenges modern small
farmers face in attaining profitability while still protecting and enhancing
their land's natural resources."
Knipling made note of the center's growth over the years. "When this
center opened in 1980, it had just four permanent employees. Today, it is the
workplace of 23 permanent employees, including five research scientists and
four support scientists," he said.
Dale Bumpers, a former Arkansas governor and senator, spoke at the
celebration. He was a leader among elected officials and local citizens who
were instrumental in securing funds and developing the center. Bumpers was
Arkansas governor from 1971 to 1975, and served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 to
Also speaking today were Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas and other federal,
state and local officials.
The facility was originally known as the South Central Small Farms
Research Center and was named after Bumpers in 1997. Today, ARS scientists
there pursue a program of basic and applied research that addresses constraints
to successful, sustainable, livestock-forage and agroforestry systems.
In addition, center scientists cooperate in projects with researchers
from Oregon State University, the
University of Arkansas and the
University of Missouri who are seeking
to minimize the economic impact of fescue toxicosis in grazing ruminants. They
also cooperate with scientists at the Shirley, Ark., Community Development
Center and the University of Missouri's
Center for Agroforestry.
The USDA Committee of the Booneville Chamber of Commerce helped
organize today's event.
ARS is the USDA's chief in-house scientific research agency, while
NRCS provides leadership in a partnership effort to help people conserve,
maintain and improve natural resources and the environment.