Wisconsin will fund Dairy Innovation Hub at UW for $8.8m

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

Officials from UW on a recent visit to a local Wisconsin dairy farm.
Officials from UW on a recent visit to a local Wisconsin dairy farm.

Related tags Dairy farmers Dairy farming wisconsin dairy business association Funding

The Wisconsin state legislature announced new funding last week for dairy programs within the University of Wisconsin (UW), following a tough year for the industry state-wide.

The funding allocated through the 2020-2021 school year will help hire dozens of faculty and researchers, as well as create an Advanced Dairy Management Academy, improve research labs and farms and purchase equipment.

UW’s Dairy Innovation Hub is growing the farm economy, caring for animals, improving human nutrition and ensuring clean water, according to UW. When finished, it will be spread across the UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls campuses.

Dale Gallenberg, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at UW-River Falls, said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for increased collaboration among our campuses. We look forward to serving as a model for other collaborative initiatives within the UW System.”

At the time of the Hub’s formation following the 2017 UW System Dairy Summit, Wayne Weber, Dean of the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture at UW–Platteville, said, “Our industry supporters are vital to the success of our programs. We greatly appreciate their support and we will continue to work with them in setting priorities for the Hub.”

“In fact, one of our first items of business is to establish an advisory council that will consist of members of each of the three campuses along with equal representation from industry.”

In April, the Dairy Business Association (DBA) of Wisconsin proposed that the state invest $7.9m annually into the Hub, calling the UW system a global leader in dairy research. This would be just a fraction (0.2%) of the nearly $44bn the dairy community generates for Wisconsin’s economy every year.

The Hub hopes to expand research in stewarding land and water resources, enriching human health and nutrition, ensuring animal health and welfare and growing farm businesses and communities.

Kate VandenBosch, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison, said, “We are excited for the possibilities this funding will provide our faculty and staff to work together on research and talent development for the state.”

Specific challenges the Hub hopes to improve are increasing capacity for groundwater and runoff monitoring, repurposing waste from cheese production for bioenergy and developing new products for people with allergies to traditional dairy products.

UW System President Ray Cross said, “The Dairy Innovation Hub holds great promise for assisting Wisconsin’s dairy industry. It’s another example of the way the UW System is meeting the needs of Wisconsin.”

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