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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654



Catching Up with CALS — Nov. 13, 2019

Dean's Message — Budget Realities

The U of I budget issues dominate a lot of discussions these days, and rightly so.

CALS is affected by the larger issues that affect teaching across campus and the services provided by the university like facilities and IT. No one envies the decisions ahead for President Scott Green.

We are unique as a college in that we benefit from three sources of funding including 1) General Education or “GE funds” from the university, 2) Agricultural Experiment Station funds and 3) Extension funds that originate at the federal level and are augmented by the state and are collectively referred to as “ARES funds.” In recent years, the ARES portion of our budget has received strong support.

The current budget concerns are focused on rectifying the deficit in GE funding. Thankfully, GE funds constitute the smallest part of our overall budget and we reserve these to support the teaching performed by CALS faculty. While this area will be affected by current budget constraints, we are fortunate that many of our teaching faculty also receive support from ARES funds given the research and outreach activities they perform.

During this uncertain time, we remain committed to our diverse initiatives that integrate with industry like the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE), renovations at the Parma Research and Extension Center, the Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard and other needed improvements at our facilities across the state. These projects are still high priority for CALS and the university and we will continue to seek contributions from stakeholders and from state and federal sources.

A double dose of good news recently advanced plans CAFE. A $1 million donation by the J.R. Simplot Co. demonstrated the progress in raising private support that Permanent Building Fund officials wanted to see. They in turn released the $10 million designated for the project by the Idaho Legislature in 2017.

We are optimistic that plans to modernize the Parma Research and Extension Center are approaching the same point. Private funding is moving steadily toward the $3 million goal and state officials view the project as necessary to meet the agricultural industry’s needs.

CALS will know more when the governor submits his budget to legislators in two months, but the support generated from industry to date has underlined the importance of this project.

The Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard continues to attract the private support essential to making it a reality. At their annual meeting in Sun Valley, the Idaho Cattle Association announced a partnership with CALS in fundraising for this project that includes a matching program for their members. More details to come.

These efforts all began years ago. They are based on hard work that reaches back a decade or more for some of them. Their progress reflects a broad understanding that U of I and CALS must invest in facilities to help our researchers answer difficult questions critical to the state’s success.

The university’s budget is in a tough spot, and we will share that pain. But we are also reflecting President Green’s philosophy that we must continue to invest in the future to serve the public and to emerge from these challenges as a stronger institution.

Michael P Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Michael P. Parrella

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

By the Numbers

49.5 degrees, 11.4 degrees below normal, was the average high temperature in Fairfield, Idaho, during October, the community’s coldest October on record. It was Idaho’s coldest October on record, too. The National Weather Service Boise Field Office reported Fairfield’s average low of 19.1 degrees was 9.2 degrees below normal. The average daily temperature was 34.3 degrees, 10.3 below normal. On Oct. 29, Fairfield recorded its record low for Oct. 29, and for the month, when the temperature dipped to minus 21 degrees.

Our Stories — Simplot Gives Key CAFE Gift

Design of the nation’s largest research dairy begins as University of Idaho secures an additional $11 million for the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment.

Earlier this month, U of I received a $1 million gift from the J.R. Simplot Company to bring the university commitment for the project to $10 million. This gave momentum to the release of the $10 million state appropriation to the university to begin the design and construction phase of the project.

“We support this project given the overall focus to improve the sustainability of agriculture across Southern Idaho through a deeper understanding of 'how we farm' and its impacts on our soil and water,” said Scott Simplot, Chairman of the J.R. Simplot Company Board of Directors.

Led by U of I, the project’s footprint will span three counties, with the research dairy located near Rupert, a discovery complex near Jerome and collaborative food science efforts with other institutions like the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.

“Projects like CAFE demonstrate the importance of our land-grant mission and the impact it has on the state,” U of I President Scott Green said. “The university is grateful to the Simplot Company for helping us release this funding and to the state of Idaho for its commitment in support of agriculture and our dairy research.”

U of I plans to seek Idaho State Board of Education approval in December 2019 to begin design work on the research dairy. The timeline calls for construction to begin in mid-2021, with completion in 2023.

CALS began work on building a large-scale research dairy in the Magic Valley more than a dozen years ago at the request of the industry, but progress stalled during the Great Recession. CAFE was reinvigorated in 2017 with a plan to acquire the $45 million needed for the project from internal U of I resources, partners in industry and state funds.

U of I and the Idaho Dairymen’s Association partnered in early 2019 to purchase a 540-acre site for the dairy near Rupert from the Whitesides family, who donated an additional 100 acres to the project. The 640-acre parcel will be home to the research dairy and an agronomic demonstration farm.

“We are extremely pleased to reach this milestone and believe it reflects the many positive steps we have taken as a university,” said Michael P. Parrella, CALS dean. “Our partnership with the dairy industry and a wide range of other groups to plan and fund this project underlines its importance to Idaho agriculture.”

Research at CAFE will address constraints on water usage and environmental quality while supporting the agricultural sectors of the dairy, livestock, cropland and food processing industries and exploring solutions for long-term sustainability.

Despite a completion date in 2023 for construction of the dairy, research has already begun, including a recent project to collect more than 800 soil samples at the dairy site to establish an environmental baseline for future research.

In June, CALS acquired the property in Jerome County for the discovery complex which will tell the story of all Idaho agriculture. The location will also include faculty laboratories and housing for visiting researchers and students.

Green Gives All-CALS Meeting Update

U of I President Scott Green thanked CALS faculty and staff for their accomplishments in educating students, conducting research essential to the state, sharing that knowledge with the public and fulfilling the university’s land-grant mission during his talk at the all-college meeting Nov. 5.

Four months into his role as the U of I’s 19th president, Green emphasized his recognition that the college and agriculture are critical to the U of I’s mission.

He also acknowledged that budget challenges will create trying times in the near future, but encouraged attendees to help the university work through them. “These budget issues are short term,” he said. “They don’t define us, how we respond to them does.”

Green's top priorities are student success, research and telling the U of I story across Idaho, an opportunity he had early on while spending his first month as president traveling the state, meeting with stakeholders and visiting Extension offices and research centers.

He took a couple of things from those trips. "The reason we really are on the map and in the discussion in many parts of the state is because of the energy Dean Parrella has brought to this (college).”

CALS many initiatives have raised U of I's profile statewide, Green said. Initiatives he mentioned include the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment; Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center; renovations to the Parma Research and Extension Center and the Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard in Moscow.

He also emphasized CALS’ role educating students who are highly valued by employers all over the state. “Our kids come out prepared because of what they learn in our classrooms, and what they come away with from the research they’re doing all across the state,” he said.

He thanked faculty and staff in CALS for the ways they are executing the U of I's mission and their role as a critical piece in the land-grant landscape.

CALS Dean Parrella next offered a detailed look at the state of the college’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges.

Student recruitment was a major focus. While CALS leads the campus in retaining students, more work needs to be done in recruiting new students.

CALS' strengths, Parrella said, highlight its role as the land-grant university’s anchor college. Others include CALS' hiring of 80 new faculty that increased its overall diversity during the past four years, UI Extension’s full roster of faculty across the state, restructured departments with many new heads and directors and the college's role as campus leader in extramural support.

Following President Green’s comment that Utah State University attracted a lot of buzz as a top agricultural college, Parrella noted that one ranking by Pittsburgh-based data analytics company Niche put CALS at 29th among the 100 or so agricultural colleges nationally.

In comparison, Washington State ranked 36th, Utah State ranked 38th, Oregon State 42nd and Montana State 49th, Parrella noted.

Faces and Places

Sarah Baker, UI Extension educator and associate professor in Custer County, received the Distinguished Service Award for Idaho at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents conference held in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in September.

Shirley Luckhart, CALS professor and co-director of the Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem, won the Alumni Award for Excellence Inspirational Mentor. Her student Anna Rodriguez, an entomology and doctoral student, won the Alumni Award for Excellence for her outstanding academic record, campus accomplishments and community involvement.


  • Nov. 21 — CALS weed scientist Tim Prather will talk about the invasive grass ventenata’s effects on native grasses and agriculture. Idaho Native Plant Society White Pine Chapter meeting, Moscow’s 1912 Center, 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 22 — UI Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program pesticide recertification class via Zoom webinar, More information is available from Kimberly Tate, 208-364-4581. Ronda Hirnyck, UI Extension Pesticide Coordinator, will discuss “Glyphosate Usage – Fake News?” and UI Extension PSEP updates, 10-11:15 a.m. MT
  • Nov. 25 - 29 — U of I Fall Break

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College of Agricultural & Life Sciences

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2331
Moscow, ID 83844-2331

Phone: 208-885-6681

Fax: 208-885-6654