The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board has directed $2 million to help construct an innovative Seed Foundation Facility at the state’s Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart.
The facility will assist scientists and researchers to bring new higher-yielding, high-quality rice varieties to market so Arkansas farmers can profitably grow rice that meets worldwide demand.
The center, along with the new Foundation Seed Facility, is operated by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The new facility is expected to cost $8.6 million, and construction will begin this summer and be completed in 12 months.
“The Rice Research and Promotion Board has always been forward-thinking in how it applies research to advance Arkansas agriculture, and we sincerely appreciate their commitment to ensuring Arkansas will remain the epicenter of rice production and rice research,” said Mark Cochran, vice president for the UA System’s Division of Agriculture.
“The board has been a valuable partner with us for more than 30 years now, and our united partnership means better results for our state’s economy and all Arkansans.”
The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board consists of nine rice producers nominated by industry organizations and appointed by the governor.
“The cooperative relationship between the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, the Rice Research and Promotion Board and the rice farmers of Arkansas is alive and well, as evidenced by the construction of this new Foundation Seed Facility,” said Marvin Hare, chairman of the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.
“This commitment is an excellent example of the great things we can accomplish when the entire rice industry works together toward the common goal of sustainable rice production in Arkansas.”
The $2 million for the new facility will come through tariff rate quota funds generated for domestic rice research from the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, which established an annual tariff rate quota for U.S. rice exported to Colombia.
The funds are reserved only for research efforts and are allocated by the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board. The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board and the Arkansas Wheat Promotion Board have both previously made contributions to the new facility as well.
Seed facility will support farmers
The facility will contain both seed cleaning and storage capabilities with the ability to serve more than 25 rice, soybean and wheat varieties each year. Along with the ability to clean seeds to Plant Board-specified guidelines, the facility will be able to handle both genetically modified and non-genetically modified seeds. Cold storage will also be available for long-term seed storage.
The new facility will continue cooperative research efforts between the promotion board and the Division of Agriculture that have already resulted in the development of new technologies related to fertility, pest control, irrigation, and weed control, in addition to the development of new rice varieties.
Board support for ag research
The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board was formed in 1985 by the Arkansas General Assembly to administer the rice checkoff program. Under the program, rice farmers contribute 1.35 cents per bushel for rice research and the first buyer of rice contributes 1.35 cents per bushel for promotion and market development efforts.
The program provides approximately $2.5 million to $3 million annually for research efforts conducted by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.