Farmers Federation Donations Help Make Meats Lab A Reality
Plans are well underway for a new $7 million meat science laboratory and beef teaching unit at Auburn University thanks to a $200,000 donation from the Alabama Farmers Federation and a $12,000 gift from the Walker County Farmers Federation.The new facility will include state-of-the-art buildings and equipment and 144 acres for beef teaching and research that will benefit students and producers alike, according to Lowell Frobish, head of the AU Department of Animal Sciences. The new facility will be constructed at the intersection of Wire Road and Shug Jordan Parkway on the Auburn campus. Jerry Newby, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, said he’s pleased that the organization is helping fund a program that will help farmers.”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 stated that this 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 “Our current facilities are outdated and in terrible disrepair,” said Frobish.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, not to mention numerous other livestock enterprises. Though Auburn already is a national leader in the meats and animal science fields, Frobish said these new buildings will help AU better address the needs of the meat and livestock industry and consumers. “The new facility is not only beneficial from a research and teaching standpoint, but will also add to the aesthetics of the campus. The buildings will be located on a hill that overlooks campus and their location on one of the most traveled corridors to the Auburn campus will give great exposure to our agricultural program,” Frobish added.The push for a new facility began in 1994 when industry leaders came to Auburn looking for help and discovered the poor condition of the current facilities. 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 leader,” 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 meat and livestock sectors.”Initial funding for the facility came through the Agricultural Bond Issue, which was passed by Alabama voters in 1999. Those monies will cover $6,052,000 of the cost. However, an additional $985,000 is needed to complete the project, and this money must come from donors and other sources. Chris Gary, director of development for the College of Agriculture, said the additional funding must be secured before construction can begin, so an intensive fund-raising campaign is underway. With the $200,000 from the Alabama Farmers Federation and a $12,000 pledge from the Walker County Farmer’s Federation, the College is well on the way to meeting these needs, but more donations are needed. Gary said they hope to have enough funding committed before late spring 2002 when a groundbreaking ceremony is planned. Anyone interested in donating money or equipment can contact Gary at 317 South College Street, Auburn University, AL 36849 or by phone at (334) 844-1136.