Ground Broken on Alfa Ag Services Building
Ground was broken Aug. 29 at Auburn University on a new 24,000-square-foot facility for soil, plant and water testing.The building, to be called the Alfa Agricultural Services and Research Building, is happening thanks to a $5 million gift from Alfa Insurance Companies and the Alabama Farmers Federation.”We are delighted to be part of this building project,” said Alfa President Jerry Newby. “This facility is something that will serve all Alabamians, from livestock producers and row crop farmers to homeowners and weekend gardeners.”According to John Jensen, dean of the AU College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES), the new building combines three separate laboratories that currently are scattered across the AU campus.”For all these years, these laboratories provided vital services to the citizens of Alabama,” Jensen said. “But they have been operating with only limited space and equipment and with little coordination.”The new building will house the AU Soil Testing Lab, the Plant Diagnostics Lab and the Fescue Diagnostics Lab.”I understand these labs collectively run more than 55,000 samples each year and have been doing so under some challenging circumstances,” said retired Alabama Farmers Federation Executive Director Doug Rigney, who helped coordinate the gift and the planning process. “A while back I challenged Auburn’s leaders to make agriculture at Auburn University what medicine is to University of Alabama at Birmingham. This is a big step toward meeting that challenge.”Newby noted that this new facility came about as a way for Alfa and the Farmers Federation to commemorate their own history.”Six years ago, when we at Alfa and the Farmers Federation were celebrating our 75th anniversary, we wanted to do something to commemorate that event–something that would have a lasting impact on agriculture and Alabama,” Newby said. “This building is the result of that vision by our county leaders.”AU President William Walker said the new building will be used for research and education as well as providing a central location for soil and plant testing.”We’ve wanted for years to centralize these services in a high-profile location, but funding has not been available for such a project,” Walker said. “Fortunately, the leaders of Alfa Insurance Companies and the Alabama Farmers Federation recognized the importance of these services and the need for a centralized, high-tech facility.”The building is slated for completion in the summer of 2003.