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Last updated: Saturday, 14-Mar-2009 19:11:01 Central Daylight Time

UW-RF Ag Dairy Facility Planning Underway

March 30, 1999


Planning is under way for a new dairy teaching facility that will support the educational needs of the largest undergraduate college dairy program in the nation.

A UW-River Falls faculty committee has been meeting weekly to work out the design of the University's $3.4 million new Dairy Teaching Facility. The new structure was approved for construction recently by the State Building Commission.

Groundbreaking is expected at UW-RF's Mann Valley Farm in the spring of 2000, according to UW-RF campus planner Dale Braun. It will include seven structures featuring a milking parlor and rapid exit stalls, a modern free stall barn for the 80-cow milking herd and heifers, a special needs barn for maternity stalls, bunker silos for forage storage, a feed shed for hay storage and commodity bins for feed storage, a building for a new technology nutrient managment system, teaching classroom and laboratory facility and a pavilion/arena for shows and contests.

An additional $500,000 was added to the project for siting and to construct a model waste handling facility to reduce the possibility of groundwater and air pollution. That component will serve as a demonstration model to Wisconsin's dairy farmers, particularly in western Wisconsin where rapid development is placing homes and businesses in closer proximity to farms.

The center represents a major investment in the dairy industry, which comprises the largest component of Wisconsin agriculture, according to Dean Gary Rohde of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences.

Rohde noted that dairying represents 60 percent of all Wisconsin agriculture income. "That underscores why Wisconsin is called 'America's Dairyland,' " Rohde added.

He noted that UW-RF offers the largest undergraduate dairy program among the 110 programs offered universities nationwide. According to Rohde, 144 students are enrolled in the dairy option program, which soon will be upgraded to the status of a dairy science major because of the state's commitment in the new facility.

Another 300 animal science majors will routinely use the facility, with virtually all of the College's 1,350 students taking courses that utilize the Mann Valley Laboratory Farm.

"Each year up to 50 of our graduates, from among the 250 who earn a degree, will go into production agriculture. Most of them will enter the dairy industry," Rohde said.

"The importance of that is that these are the future rural leaders. They will be managing and operating these important farm businesses throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota," Rohde said. "They will become the rural leaders in the next 20 to 30 years, serving on the schools, county and town boards. I, for one, am pleased that they are going into dairy production."

The Dairy Teaching Center, according to Rohde, also will be used for training programs for dairy farm employees, education workshops for industry personnel, regional dairy judging contests for high school students, applied research projects, extension out-reach activities and field days, livestock and dairy cattle sales, dairy-related educational activities for grade school children, and farm tours for the public, foreign visitors and special interest groups.

According to campus planner Braun, once plans are completed this fall the public will be provided an opportunity to comment on the project through three environmental impact public hearings. Written comments also will be taken.

They will be reviewed by the University of Wisconsin System Administration, which must approve final siting and construction plans. The Wisconsin environmental impact process mirrors federal requirements.

Braun noted a final site on the laboratory farm has not yet been selected since the planning team is exploring whether the waste treatment system also can be designed to accommodate the farm's swine, beef and sheep operations.

Rohde notes that regardless of the final location the laboratory farm, the 293 acres, provides a significant buffer to surrounding property.


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