Deans of three University of Wisconsin (UW) campuses heralded the final approval Oct. 2 by the Joint Finance Committee of plans for a Dairy Innovation Hub, a move that releases $45 million in funding to the UW System.
The deans said the vision for the hub was originally crafted by industry partners following the UW System-sponsored Dairy Summit in 2017 and was further refined by members of the state’s Dairy Task Force 2.0.
"This reinvestment will allow the agricultural programs within UW System to train current and future industry leaders and transfer new knowledge to farms, processing plants, fields and beyond," said Dale Gallenberg, dean of the UW-River Falls College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences; Kate VandenBosch, dean of the UW-Madison College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, and Wayne Weber, dean of the UW-Platteville College of Business, Industry, Life Science & Agriculture.
"The long-standing partnership between faculty in our colleges and the Wisconsin dairy industry is special. In the 1880s, Gov. W.D. Hoard called on professors at the University of Wisconsin to assist struggling wheat farmers with the conversion to dairy," the deans said in a joint statement. "The discoveries and innovations researchers made in partnerships with farmers made this 'America’s dairyland.'
"In the 1980s, UW researchers worked with innovative producers and processors to map the course for Wisconsin to be a home for high-value specialty cheese. Today, we have a similar opportunity to create an industry-wide shift in our agricultural economy," they added. "During this time of great stress for our state’s dairy farm families, our faculty and staff are dedicated to expanding our research and teaching to help bring new technologies and approaches to strengthen the industry and the communities that depend upon it."
The deans noted that Wisconsin’s now-finalized commitment "will ensure we are well positioned to ask innovative research questions and deliver high-impact and novel solutions."
Separately, UW System president Ray Cross said, “This funding will allow us to continue our focus on meeting Wisconsin’s needs, especially in the high-demand fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The UW System’s emphasis on student success is leading to more graduates than ever, and we remain the best investment Wisconsin can make.
"Funding the Dairy Innovation Hub will help our experts address the challenges facing Wisconsin’s dairy industry,” Cross added.