The U.S. Department of Agriculture marked on Oct. 20 the transfer of more than 3,800 acres of land and facilities that comprised the former Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Subtropical Agricultural & Research Station to Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (Florida A&M).
This is one of the largest single land transfers to one of the 19 historically black land-grant universities established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890.
"A new chapter in the history of this land begins as we transfer from Agricultural Research Service to Florida A&M University," said ARS administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young. "We look forward to our Florida A&M University colleagues continuing a fine legacy of agricultural research here and teaching the next generation of growers and producers as part of a new Beginning Farmers & Ranchers Program."
Florida A&M president Elmira Mangum said the transfer will greatly enhance the university's research capacity.
"We are grateful to USDA for entrusting us with this land," Mangum said. "It will enable (the university) to develop educational training and developmental programs for new and beginning farmers and ranchers, and to teach them the latest biotechnological innovations and other key initiatives."
The site housed the ARS station in Brooksville, Fla., from 1929 until it closed in 2012. Among landmark findings there, ARS researchers demonstrated that genetic and environmental interactions exist in beef cattle. They also showed that locally produced cows generally outperform cows introduced from another environment. Researchers at the station also established the first herd of Romosinuano cattle in the U.S.
Also, based on studies conducted from 1988 to 2002, ARS researchers demonstrated that managed cow/calf operations were not major contributors to excess phosphorus loads in surface water in west-central Florida.
Since Brooksville is located in a subtropical region, the property will enable Florida A&M to expand into new research related to subtropical fruits and animals and conduct research of significance to Central and South America and the Caribbean.
The transfer includes 3,812.5 acres with 19 buildings, 2,830 sq. ft. of laboratories, 3,600 sq. ft. of office space and a variety of other support structures constructed between 1932 and 1987.