The Kimberly Research and Extension Center was established during the winter of 1950-51 to address concerns of the Idaho bean producers on genetic impurities in their bean lines. The Idaho Legislature funded the establishment of the center through a 2-cent-per-hundredweight tax on dry beans. The primary focus of the Kimberly Branch Station (as it was known then) was bean production research and variety development and evaluation. Initially, the station consisted of an 80-acre farm with a small laboratory and office building, farm shop, and a residence for the station superintendent.
As the station developed, research activities expanded to include work on potatoes, sugar beets, cereals, and alfalfa. In the early 1960's, the USDA Agricultural Research Service established the Snake River Conservation Research Center, now known as the Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory, across the road from the University Farm. The research activities expanded to include irrigation, soil fertility and crop management. Many of the research programs evolved into cooperative programs between the ARS research scientists and the University of Idaho scientists.
Today, major program emphases include research in dry beans, irrigation and water resources, and potatoes. Additionally, the center is home for the Foundation Seed Program which produces and cleans foundation class seed for the state in cooperation with the other research and extension centers.