Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and Mississippi State University formed a bond many years ago over a mission to discover the best resources and advancements for Mississippi farmers and ranchers. That bond was strengthened during Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors meeting recently held at Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.
On the second day of the board meeting, Dr. Jeff Johnson, Extension/Research Professor and Head of DREC, gave board members an update on the facility.
“This is an ag research complex unlike any other you could find in other parts of the country,” Johnson said. “There are state, federal and industry (research centers) right here within a rocks throw of each other working together. That really allows us to focus on all aspects of ag research and on the needs of the farmers and ag producers in the state.”
DREC’s research and extension activities are focused on cotton, corn, rice, catfish, soybean, wheat, peanuts and grain sorghum production to increase the yields of commercial agriculture and aquaculture producers. Research and extension faculty work together to solve crop and aquaculture production problems and transfer new information and technology to area producers, Johnson said.
“The folks we have here are not only recognized in the state, but they’re recognized nationally,” Johnson said. “Some of the best scientists in the country are right here and you know their names.”
Despite the important work DREC conducts, the facility faced many challenges due to budget cuts over the last five years.
“Our current research was not impacted because a lot of our funding for research projects comes from promotion boards and other funding agencies,” Johnson said. “We were mostly impacted by not being able to hire faculty members and support staff during that time (to conduct the research). It also affected being able to start new research from the aspect of bringing additional faculty members on board.”
Budget conversations are beginning to look up due to the slight increase Mississippi State University received from the legislature this year, Johnson said.
“That increase was used for salary increases that we’ve not been able to have for the past four years,” he said. “As the budget situation becomes more favorable, our goal is to continue to grow the research here in terms of scientists as well as support staff.”
Johnson credits the Federation for assisting Mississippi State University in obtaining the increase in funds.
“Farm Bureau sees the value in what we’re doing,” Johnson said. “Farm Bureau’s voice is very, very powerful in Jackson and around the country. We thank you for your support.”
Federation President Mike McCormick thanked Johnson for his continued support of Mississippi farmers and ranchers.
“We appreciate the work faculty and support staff at DREC do for our Farm Bureau members and Mississippi farmers,” McCormick said. “Our collaboration allows our farmers to be better equipped to solve problems they facing.”
At the conclusion of Johnson’s update, the Board of Directors toured DREC’s cotton gins, research fields and catfish ponds.