On Friday, January 28th, the Arkansas General Assembly approved the one-time use of $6 million from the Restricted Reserve Fund to support two initiatives of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The funding was requested by Governor Hutchinson and approved by the Legislative Council with State Senator Ron Caldwell leading the effort. Of the funding approved, $5 million will be directed to the new Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center South of Jonesboro and $1 million will go to the Division of Agriculture’s Endowment for Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation Research.
The $5 million for the rice center will go towards an endowment from which monies will be drawn to operate the NE Rice Research and Extension Center. It matches the $5 million that the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board has already committed for center operations. In addition, the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board has delivered several million additional dollars to this new center through the purchasing of the land, improvements to land and irrigation systems, the construction of a shop and storage facility as well as the research and education facility, and other personnel costs. The University continues to seek additional funds through private donations, which would be in addition to $2 million in gifts provided by Greenway Equipment.
The $1 million endowment will support work being conducted by Prof. Doug Osborne at the University of Arkansas at Monticello for the Division of Agriculture. It’s research that will benefit waterfowl along the Mississippi Flyway, including research and education in land management for wildlife as well as efforts to restore and better manage bottomland hardwood forests.
Funding for these initiatives was supported by the Ag Council of Arkansas and other statewide agricultural organizations including Arkansas Rice and Arkansas Farm Bureau.