Greenway Equipment donates $2 million to Northeast Rice Research center
The new Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center in Poinsett County is getting a $2 million boost from Greenway Equipment.
Greenway executives John Conner, Jr., Chairman; Marshall Stewart, Chief Executive Officer; Steve Smith, Chief Financial Officer; and Bill Midkiff, President, announced the donation Friday (April 16) with a check presentation at the station in Poinsett County, about 8 miles south of Jonesboro on Arkansas Highway 1.
The $2 million gift provides $1 million for agricultural equipment at the station and $1million toward the construction of the NERREC exhibition hall, which will be a community resource.
The center is being built by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and will provide new research into rice production practices for northeast Arkansas and beyond.
Arkansas is the nation’s leading rice growing state and growers are expected to plant more than 1.2 million acres this year. Over the last few years, rice production in Arkansas has expanded northward. Differing soils in northeast Arkansas require different production practices from the rest of the state and that’s among the challenges researchers will tackle at the station.
“With having such an extensive family presence at the University of Arkansas, along with the importance of the rice market to our region, the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center is a great fit for this area and the communities involved,” said Conner, whose family has grown cotton, soybeans, and rice.
“It will also open doors to new segments for our community to gain a better understanding of the importance that agriculture, specifically rice, plays in our region, state, and world,” Stewart said. “Greenway is proud and honored to have the opportunity to help promote the positive narrative of agriculture.”
“We are very pleased to have the support of Greenway, another entity that works hard to support Arkansas agriculture,” said Mark Cochran, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System. “These private-public partnerships are extremely important in moving forward research that can benefit not only our growers, but also help Arkansas agriculture in its important economic role as the state’s largest industry.”
“This generous gift from Greenway is a foundational for the new station to begin its research and outreach missions,” said Tim Burcham, director of the NERREC, which is part of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. “I greatly appreciate the commitment Greenway has made to enhance the division’s programs that provide Arkansas producers with the unbiased information they need to continue to lead the nation in rice production.”
Burcham said that when complete, the station will also have “research labs, facilities for community and industry meetings, and importantly, a learning space dedicated to educating grade school children and the general public on rice production in Arkansas.”
Research to be conducted at the center includes water management from both surface and ground sources; remediation of fertility of recently leveled fields and the coordination of rice production practices to meet goals associated with conservation and sustainability.
Greenway Equipment, established in 1988 in Newport, Arkansas, now has 32 locations in Arkansas and Missouri and more than 700 employees.