In a move to address the dramatic global demand for safe, high-quality protein-based food sources, Colorado State University has announced the creation of a first-of-its-kind collaborative to support profitable, sustainable and healthy livestock production.
According to the announcement, the "Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative" is designed for Colorado State livestock and animal health experts to work alongside industry, government and other stakeholders in addressing 21st-century challenges as well as training current and future livestock industry professionals.
Spearheaded by the university's College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS), the collaborative will look at enhancing sustainable and healthy livestock systems through the examination of new technologies and disease treatments as well as soil, plant, animal and atmospheric microbiomes, among other areas, the announcement said.
Colorado State has tapped into expertise from across the university and industry in the design of the collaborative. This includes the Colorado Beef Council, Colorado Cattlemen’s Assn., Colorado Farm Bureau and Colorado Livestock Assn. as well as the Warner College of Natural Resources, the School of Global Environmental Sustainability and Colorado State Extension.
As part of the initiative, Colorado State has launched a national search for a director who will lead a cadre of new faculty members in areas such as epidemiology, meat science, infectious disease, diagnostics, nutrition and livestock production. The new director, who will oversee the collaborative, is expected to be on board this summer, with as many as a dozen faculty members to be hired over the next four years.
“This new university center of excellence represents a unique collaboration between multiple areas within the university, government and industry partners to help support advances in livestock health and sustainability,” CVMBS dean Mark Stetter said. “We recognize that agriculture is a key economic driver in Colorado and that, as the state’s land-grant university, we need to be a national leader in discovering new ways to help feed the nation and the world.”
James Pritchett, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, added that the collaborative works hand in hand with the 21st-century land-grant mission.
“The collaborative is an intentional and impactful collection of scientists, educators and industry professionals all aligned to meet society’s greatest challenges,” he said. “We are using innovation and creativity to pose important questions, co-create science with diverse partners at the table and then ensure that all have an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of our shared endeavors. It’s knowledge creation at its best. Success is not only answering the questions of today but is also building a nimble and adaptive collection of talent to meet tomorrow’s challenges.”
Dr. Susan VandeWoude, CVMBS associate dean for research, said the collaborative will produce practical research and training into how agriculture will be conducted in the next century while also taking into consideration environmental and production stresses and technological advancements.
Colorado State “is committed to contributing evidence-based knowledge in support of sustainable livestock production because it’s critical for the future of the livestock industry,” said VandeWoude, a leadership team participant who has spearheaded the collaborative’s development. “We are very committed and open-minded to using all of the resources of the land-grant university.”
The committee that helped take the collaborative from a recommendation to reality is composed of more than two dozen individuals.
In addition to Pritchett, Stetter and VandeWoude, the steering committee includes Keith Belk, head of the department of animal sciences; Jan Leach, associate dean for research in the College of Agricultural Sciences; Wayne Jensen, head of the department of clinical sciences, and Ajay Menon, former College of Agriculture dean who now serves as president and chief executive officer of the Colorado State University Research Foundation.
“We’re trying to envision what society’s problems will be,” said Belk, who is leading the search for the collaborative’s director. “As the population continues to grow and as land and water become more valuable resources, we have to figure out how we are going to still produce enough food for up to as many as 12.3 billion people by the year 2100.”
Both Belk and VandeWoude stressed the importance of closely working with the livestock industry to provide research and training that meets its needs.
VandeWoude said CSU Extension will play a critical role in providing outreach and engagement with the livestock community in sharing research and information from the collaborative. She added that the collaborative will bolster educational opportunities for students interested in livestock and equine sciences — animals the profession of veterinary medicine is rooted in serving.
“This is going to be a significant expansion of our expertise in livestock and production systems,” VandeWoude said.