Construction is scheduled to start by mid-April on a cattle-handling barn and classroom at the University of Missouri Thompson Farm, according to David McAtee, manager of the farm.

A pre-construction meeting was held at the farm between the bid winner, Quinn Distributors, Inc., of Marceline, MO, the MU faculty who will use the facility, members of the farm advisory committee and McAtee.

"We have been told the building will go up in about three weeks, once construction starts," said Jerry Nelson, Columbia, MO, MU agronomist and superintendent of the farm. "We are excited about the potential for new research and education at the farm."

George Gates, Bethany, MO, chair of the advisory committee, said "The new facility will greatly enhance the research and outreach from the farm.

"It will allow researchers to validate their studies and show that it works at the farm level."

Gates said that there is no other University farm in Missouri with the number of beef cows and land area needed to provide herd-size research. "We want to become known as the Missouri Beef Research Center with a herd of 500 cows."

Nelson said, the new facility will expand the capabilities to do research with a larger herd.

Construction funds came from a special appropriation passed by the Missouri General Assembly in the last session.

The Thompson Farm has 900 acres of pasture and a beef herd with 240 mother cows, McAtee said. The farm, donated to MU by Dr. George Drury of Trenton, MO, is located on Highway C, 7 miles west of Spickard off Highway 65.

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