Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center, Booneville,
Local Chamber of Commerce (now USDA Committee) appointed a select
committee on colony land utilization. A study was secured from the
Western Arkansas Planning and Development District and recommendation
as to the best usage of this acreage. Priority #1 was a Small Farms
The local committee contacted Senator John L. McClellan; Senator
Dale Bumpers; Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt;, Congressman Bill
Alexander; Governor David Pryor; Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton;
State Senator Clovis Bryant; State Representative Frank Willems; MRDDS
Board, Dr. James Martin, University of Arkansas (UofA); and Dr. Lloyd
Warren, UofA. All of these were instrumental in securing funds and
development of the Center.
The U.S. Congress authorized and allocated funds for a task force
to consider the feasibility of establishing a center at Booneville,
A feasibility study was completed for a Small Farm Research and
Extension Center to serve the needs of small farmers in the mid-south
region of the U.S. and Congress approved funds for the Center.
The initial research thrust at the South Central Small Farms Research
Center would be: (1) a ruminant animal-forage research program; and
(2) a small fruit and vegetable research program, with an initial
staff of a federal Program Coordinator, two federal research scientists,
a farm manager, and an administrative clerk. An agreement between
the State of Arkansas Children=s Colony and the University of Arkansas
made available approximately 2,000 acres for leasing by USDA-REE-ARS.
The task force recommended a headquarters building, headhouse/greenhouse,
farm shop, water-well house, and other needed support facilities be
constructed, repaired, or renovated at a proposed site along Highway
23 approximately 6.5 miles southwest of Booneville.
A Program coordinator and Program Planning Committee were composed
of representatives of the University of Arkansas, USDA-REE-ARS, and
USDA-EXT. Temporary offices were established downtown in Booneville
until office space was available on the leased property. There was
a ground breaking ceremony establishing the start of the Research
Center of approximately 1000" acres.
Actual Center development began. The Center grew from ca 1000"
acres to ca 2300" acres in 1993.
The USDA Committee met with USDA, Soil Conservation Service (SCS)
representatives to discuss the concept of a Plant Materials Center
in Booneville at the Small Farms Research Center already established.
A proposal was written and a resolution passed by the Arkansas Soil
and Water Commission supporting the establishment of the Plant Materials
Center at Booneville. The proposal was sent to SCS Chief in March
and in June the Arkansas Congressional Delegation in Washington gave
the project its complete support. Concerns were voiced about finances.
The Agricultural Appropriation Bill contained instructions for USDA
to review the proposal of a Plant Materials Center at Booneville.
By May over 60 percent of the Center was in use for experimentation
and the remainder to support our cattle herd. Perimeter fences and
cross fences have been replaced or rebuilt.
Funds were unavailable for the Plant Materials Center until Congress
appropriated funds in August. An agreement was made between ARS and
SCS to lease office facilities and approximately 120" acres.
Since their establishment in 1987, the Booneville Plant Materials
Center has grown to approximately 282 acres.
Changed from South Central Small Farms Research to South Central
Small Farm Research Center, to South Central Family Farm Research
Center to South Central Family Farms Research Center to Dale Bumpers
Small Farms Research Center.
The Center Staff has grown from four permanent employees in 1980
to 23 permanent employees (5 Research Scientists; 4 Support Scientists;
7 technicians, a Location Administrative Officer, 5 agronomy and livestock
support, and a program assistant), and 4 temporary employees.