After a receiving a significant donation from JBS USA, Colorado State University (CSU) has begun construction on the JBS Global Food Innovation Center in Honor of Gary & Kay Smith, a $15 million facility that will advance best practices in food safety, meat sciences and animal handling and welfare. Professor emeritus Gary Smith, who, along with his late wife Kay, were honored in the naming of the new building, held one of CSU’s oldest endowed chairs, the Monfort Chair, and spent more than 20 years as a professor in the CSU department of animal sciences.
The investment from JBS USA to create a strategic partnership with CSU on the facility is currently valued at $12.5 million, which includes a $7.5 million philanthropic contribution to build the JBS Global Food Innovation Center at the university and an employee educational programming investment valued at $5 million.
The state-of-the-art facility will enrich CSU’s teaching and research in meat sciences, as well as offer a space for industry collaboration through continuing education and training, equipment development and testing and a place to engage in meaningful dialogue to advance the animal agriculture industry. Students will learn about meat processing in a hands-on environment that is not currently available in existing CSU facilities.
The new facility will have spaces dedicated to testing packaging and developing food products, reflecting the fact that ready-to-eat foods and packaging are a growing area within the meat industry. Additionally, the new building will have a culinary kitchen and demonstration area, as well as a retail meat and dairy store with a café.
The facility will include an educational space designed by CSU professor Temple Grandin in which students can learn about animal handling and welfare in a hands-on setting.
“We have had a long-standing research and academic partnership with JBS, and this gift will allow us to cement that relationship for years to come,” said Ajay Menon, dean of the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences. “This facility is designed to provide our students with the hands-on experiences that will position them for careers in industry and academia, especially as they work alongside faculty members who are producing innovations in food safety, food security and animal welfare."
Wesley Batista, global chief executive officer of JBS, said the company's gift to CSU is “an investment in the future competitiveness of food and farming in the state of Colorado and across the United States.”
Batista added, “JBS is a people-focused company, which means that empowering and creating opportunities for young people is at the heart of our culture. We envision this facility as a place that will allow the best and brightest CSU students to innovate, discover and explore as they prepare for future careers in the industry.”
Training the next generation
“Many of our most promising young team members come to JBS from Colorado State University,” said Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS USA. “While we enjoy a global presence, the location of our North American headquarters in Greeley (Colo.) makes Colorado a special place for our company. The innovation and education that will take place in this new facility will help to train the next generation of dynamic food and agricultural leaders in Colorado and across the nation.”
Brett Anderson, vice president for University Advancement, said the gift solidifies the long-standing partnership CSU and JBS have built over the years. “It helps us create a platform to deliver the world’s leading science and education in food, food systems and food safety," he said. "It allows CSU to continue to pursue excellence and innovation in agriculture and prepare future industry leaders."