Ground was broken recently on a new $6.3 million Meat Science and Beef Teaching Laboratory at Auburn University, an event that marks the beginning of a new era of accomplishment for Auburn University’s animal science program. The new lab is expected to be completed by spring 2004.According to Lowell Frobish, chair of the AU Department of Animal Sciences, the new facility will be located at the intersection of Wire Road and Shug Jordan Parkway on the Auburn campus. It will include state-of-the-art buildings and equipment plus 144 acres for beef teaching and research.The new facility was made possible through the Agricultural Bond Issue, which the Alabama Farmers Federation supported, as well as donations, including $200,000 from the Federation. Jerry Newby, president of the farm organization, said the money is a good investment in Alabama agriculture.”Beef cattle production is a vital part of the agriculture economy in Alabama,” Newby said. “Beef producers are one of the many commodity groups that the Alabama Farmers Federation represents. This facility will utilize the best technology available to help our existing producers and will train students who will be our leaders of the beef industry in the future.”Frobish said the new facility is badly needed for Auburn to remain competitive in the muscle food and beef industry. “Our current facilities are outdated and in terrible disrepair,” said Frobish. “Some 250 students, almost 30 animal science faculty members and thousands of producers and meat industry representatives in the state rely on these facilities for education, research and outreach programs, but in their current state we are sorely limited in their use.”Alabama is home to approximately 1.5 million head of cattle and 170,000 head of swine as well as numerous other livestock enterprises. Alabama’s beef cattle industry is second behind broilers for cash receipts to Alabama farmers and has a major economic impact on the state.Raleigh Wilkerson, director of the Federation’s Beef Division, said the beef teaching unit and meat science lab represent a significant commitment to the future of Alabama agriculture. “Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders,” Wilkerson said. “It’s important that these students be trained using the latest equipment and technology so Alabama can remain competitive in the beef cattle industry and in the meat and livestock sectors.”In addition to its impact on academics and industry, the new facility also will enhance the aesthetics of AU campus. The facility’s location along one of the most traveled corridors to the Auburn campus will provide exceptional exposure for AU’s agricultural program.The push for a new facility began in 1994 when industry leaders came to Auburn looking for help and discovered first-hand the poor condition of the current facilities. They partnered with AU faculty and administration to improve the situation.Thanks to that partnership, initial funding for the facility came through the Agricultural Bond Issue, which was passed by Alabama citizens in 1999. That money covered $6 million of the cost. However, private funding was need for an additional $985,000 to complete the building project and provide new equipment.Dr. Stanley P. Wilson pledged $200,000 and donated cattle and equipment to the department.These donations provided the base to generate an additional $200,000 from Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Federation, $30,000 from the Federation’s commodity committees, a $12,000 gift from the Walker County Farmers Federation, $10,000 from the Baldwin County Farmers Federation, $25,000 from the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and $20,000 from individuals and other county farmers Federations.
Auburn University Dedicates New Meats Lab