The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board (ARRPB) reportedly announced plans to direct $2 million to help construct a seed foundation facility at the Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart.

One of the goals of the facility will be to assist scientists and researchers to bring new higher yielding, high quality rice varieties to market so that Arkansas farmers can continue to profitably grow rice that meets worldwide demand.

The Extension Center is operated by the University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture, as will the new Foundation Seed Facility, which will handle rice, soybean and wheat seed. The new facility is expected to cost $8.6 million, and construction will begin this summer and be completed in 12 months, according to a news release.

The promised $2 million is only the latest contribution to the facility construction from the ARRPB. According to a report by KATV television, the $2 million for the new facility will come through tariff rate quota funds generated for domestic rice research from the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, which established an annual tariff rate quota for U.S. rice exported to Colombia. The funds are reserved only for research efforts and are allocated by the ARRPB.

The facility will contain both seed cleaning and storage capabilities along with the ability to clean seeds to Plant Board specifications. The facility will be able to handle both genetically modified and non-genetically modified seeds. Cold storage will be available for long-term seed storage.

As noted, the facility will be for rice, soybeans and wheat seed. Contributions for the facility have come from other commodity organizations other than the rice industry.

The new facility will continue cooperative research efforts between the promotion board and the Division of Agriculture, which has resulted in the development of new rice varieties and new technologies related to fertility, pest control, irrigation, and weed control.

The ARRPB was formed in 1985 by the General Assembly to administer the rice check-off program. The ARRPB consists of nine rice producers nominated by industry organizations and appointed by the governor.

As explained in media news, under the program, rice farmers contribute 1.35 cents per bushel for rice research and the first buyer of rice contributes 1.35 cents per bushel for promotion and market development efforts. The program provides approximately $2.5 million to $3 million annually for research efforts conducted by the University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture.