NFREC-SV was created by the Florida Legislature in 1947 and began operation on November 1, 1950 as the Suwannee Valley Agriculture Experiment Station. In the early days, the primary objective of the Experiment Station was to serve the producers of flue-cured tobacco, cotton, soybeans, peanuts, corn, and pasture forages in Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, and Union counties. At the time the Experiment Station became operational, it did not own its land but had to depend on area farmers to allow research and demonstration activities on land they owned. Most of this work was done on farms in Columbia, Hamilton, and Suwannee Counties. It was not until 1953 that the Experiment Station had land of its own and a 300-acre farm was purchased near Live Oak.
The NFREC-SV is unique among UF/IFAS Centers, along with the Center at Hastings, in that there is currently no academic/research department faculty assigned to the unit. There are four Regional Specialized Extension Agent positions located at NFREC-SV and its research projects are carried out under direction of research faculty largely from Gainesville, but also NFREC-Quincy and Marianna, and other units around the state. Approximately $30 million in grants and contracts are in part, supported by the NFREC-SV unit. In 2022, at least 75 projects encompassing over 50 different UF/IFAS state and county faculty as PIs and Co-PIs were represented at NFREC-SV and in addition, the Center hosted the work of at least 25 graduate students and college student interns. NFREC-SV also partners with Veterans Florida to provide internships to retiring Military veterans.