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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 — Feb. 20, 2019

Dean's Message — A Very Good Week

Last week was a very good week in Boise.

The Idaho State Board of Education approved the U of I request to move forward on the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment by purchasing a parcel of land near Rupert from the Whitesides family.

When the deal closes, U of I and CALS will finally have a site to put a stake in and more fully develop the plan that has been in play for 15 years. The Idaho Dairymen’s Association and the Whitesides family were the two elements crucial to success.

The meeting in Boise was my first experience with the State Board of Education. On Wednesday, we met with members of the board’s executive committee.

I was impressed. The questions were challenging, thoughtful and on-target. The university team of President Chuck Staben, Vice President for Finance Brian Foisy, University Counsel Kent Nelson, CALS Director of Government and External Relations Brent Olmstead and I were prepared.

When a university undertakes a $45 million project, it must build a case for why the request for support is necessary. We had prepared our arguments, anticipated questions, gathered evidence and partnerships.

On Thursday, the board as a whole considered our plan and unanimously approved our request to purchase the property.

Spending $2.5 million for property is a big request. On the flip side, I believe part of the board’s comfort was that it is land that will retain value. We also will sell other university property to pay for the new purchase, sales vetted and planned for years.

The board’s approval is a welcome and necessary step forward in CAFE planning. The land will help make ideas become real. We anticipate our multitude of discussions over the past two years with other partners including food processors, livestock and crop interests and many others will carry new weight.

The first piece of the regional plan for CAFE is in place — purchase of the dairy site in Rupert. The next step in the evolution of CAFE will be the purchase of a site for the outreach/education/classroom/laboratory facility.

We are finalizing plans for the purchase of property that will front U.S. Highway 93 near the cross-roads of Highway 93 and Interstate 84. This site affords both access and visibility where we will tell the broad story of Idaho agriculture.

It is satisfying to finally have a location for CAFE. It is exhilarating to have strong support from our partners as we hope to enlist help from them.

We all have weeks where things go right. Last week was one of those, and one that will set the stage for more to come.

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

Michael P. Parrella

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

By the Numbers

68 million bushels in Idaho was the total of all wheat stored in all positions on Dec. 1, 2018, up from 55.8 million bushels a year ago, according to a National Agricultural Statistics Service report Feb. 8. Off-farm stocks were up 17 percent, while on-farm stocks were up 30 percent compared to the previous year. Barley stocks in all positions on Dec. 1, 2018, totaled 44.8 million bushels in Idaho, up from 40.9 million bushels a year ago. Off-farm stocks were up 9 percent, while on-farm stocks were up 10 percent compared to the previous year.

Our Stories — CAFE Land Wins ISBOE Nod

A plan to create the nation’s largest research dairy advanced Feb. 14 with the Idaho State Board of Education’s vote to allow the University of Idaho to buy land for the $45 million project.Holsteins are the dominant breed in Idaho's dairy industry. Steven Martine photo.

The U of I and Idaho dairy industry-led effort will create the Idaho Center for Agriculture Food and the Environment, commonly referred to as CAFE. The project took a major step forward with the go-ahead to finalize purchase of land in Minidoka County near Rupert.

The U of I and Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA) will jointly purchase 540 acres from members of the Whitesides family, who will in turn donate another parcel of land.

The university will pay $2.5 million and IDA will pay $2 million toward the purchase.

“Today’s vote and the support from the Idaho Dairymen’s Association moves Idaho agriculture a giant step forward in providing a transformational education and research opportunity,” said Michael P. Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “With a site chosen and land acquired, we are confident this will accelerate the project.”

“For us, the focus is on the environmental aspect of the research and being able to meet consumer expectations,” said Rick Naerebout, chief executive officer for IDA. “That really is the major value and benefit of this facility we see as an industry, helping us meet those expectations and continuing to innovate in how we handle the manure produced on our facilities.”

IDA members first began working with U of I 15 years ago on this project and dedicated funding to the project a decade ago. Since then, Idaho’s dairy industry grew dramatically to rank third nationally in milk production. Much of that growth took place in south-central Idaho’s Magic Valley, principally in Jerome, Gooding, Twin Falls, Cassia and Minidoka counties.

U of I economists projected last month that milk sales in 2018 totaled $2.36 billion, a third of Idaho agriculture’s total cash receipts.

“One of our key focuses will be to have this dairy represent what this industry looks like in the West,” Naerebout said. “Being the largest research dairy in the country will help support the industry and put Idaho on the map as a premier location for environmental research.”

IDA will celebrate the progress on CAFE during its annual legislative banquet Monday, March 4, in Boise.

Brandon Whitesides, who is selling the property with his sister Stacey Jackson and father Brent, said the family’s goal is supporting the dairy industry.

As a student at Brigham Young University, he worked at the 500-cow university dairy there, Whitesides said. BYU no longer operates that dairy, so the U of I effort will fill a vital educational need at the state and local levels.

“There’s a big need for education. This will be a great thing for students from our area,” Whitesides said.

In meetings with Idaho legislators last month, Parrella outlined plans for CAFE that reach beyond the new research dairy. Those plans include an outreach and education center near the Interstate 84 and U.S. Highway 93 interchange and greater focus on food processing through a partnership with the College of Southern Idaho and its existing facilities.

In 2017, the Idaho Legislature appropriated $10 million from the state’s Permanent Building Fund to help finance the project with an additional $5 million investment anticipated as the project progresses.

“We have enjoyed strong support from Idaho’s elected leaders, businesses and others,” Parrella said. “Buying property will move us beyond talking about an idea to making it a reality.”

Play Maps Families' Farmland Transfer Issues

Map of My Kingdom, Mary Swander's play about farm families and land ownership changes.“Map of My Kingdom,” a play written for farm families deciding who should inherit their land, will take the stage Thursday, Feb. 28, in Colfax, and Friday, March 1, in Moscow.

The Palouse-Clearwater Food Coalition and University of Idaho Extension will sponsor performances of Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander’s play from 7-8 p.m. Feb. 28 at The Center, 104 S. Main St. in Colfax, and 7-8 p.m. March 1 at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre, 508 S. Main St., Moscow. An opening reception is planned for 6-7 p.m. before the Moscow performance.

A 30-minute discussion with playwright Mary Swander will follow each performance.

Practical Farmers of Iowa commissioned “Map of My Kingdom” to explore a common issue facing many families with property owned by those 65 and older. The play explores land transition disputes and stories of how farmers and landowners approach transitions through the experiences of Angela Martin, a lawyer and mediator. Minnesota actor Maria Vorhis will play the lawyer.

Swander intended the play to resonate with those who face challenging land-transfer issues that include division of property among siblings, selling to neighbors or preserving the land's integrity against urban sprawl. She hoped it will inspire those hesitant and fearful to start conversations that cannot wait.

“Map of My Kingdom” is produced by Swander Woman Productions, a touring company that creates and performs dramas focused on food, farming and the rural environment.

Tickets for each performance are "pay what you can” pricing. Suggested rates are $10 per person or $20 per family.

Colfax tickets are available for advance purchase at and at the door. Reservations may be made by calling the Colfax Library at 877-733-3375. Moscow tickets for the Friday workshop and performance are available at: and at the door.

Those registered for the “Cultivating the Harvest and Seeding the Future: Inland NW 20th Anniversary Small Acreage Farming Conference” will receive a free ticket to the play. The conference is planned March 1-2 at the University of Idaho Bruce M. Pitman Center.

Swander will also lead a two-hour workshop on farmland transfer for farmers, ranchers and farm families from 1-3 p.m. March 1 at the Gritman Federal Building second-floor conference room, 220 E. Fifth St. in Moscow. The workshop is $15.

Small Farm Conference Marks 20th March 1-2

The world of small-scale farmers from pollinators to profits will occupy those attending the Cultivating the Harvest 20th Anniversary Inland Northwest Small-Scale Farm Conference March 1-2 at the University of Idaho in Moscow.Small farms grow most of the produce found at farmers markets across the state. Steven  Martine photo.

Sponsored by U of I, Washington State University and nonprofit Rural Roots, the conference begins at 1 p.m. Friday, March 1, with Palouse-area tours and workshops. Topics range from insects and pollinators to small-scale raw milk cheese processing, livestock and meat processing and farmland transfers for families.

Conference registrants will receive a ticket to “Map of My Kingdom,” a play written for farm families about deciding who will inherit their land, planned for 7 p.m. March 1 at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre, 508 S. Main St., Moscow. The performance includes an opening reception from 6-7 p.m. and a post-play discussion with its writer.

Sessions continue Saturday, March 2, in the U of I Bruce M. Pitman Center with a farmer-to-farmer session and panels focused on farm research, marketing, farm profits, livestock and regenerative grazing, insects and pollinators, and soils.

Speakers will include Bill Snyder of WSU; Laura Garber of Homestead Organics Farm in Hamilton, Montana; and Beth Robinette of Lazy R Ranch and LINC Foods in Spokane, Washington.

A panel of Inland Northwest farmers and leaders in sustainable small farming and ranching will also talk about changes they have experienced.

Registration will include conference materials, light breakfast snacks, a catered lunch and a ticket to the play. The cost is $60 for the first person and $40 for each additional family member or partner. Student registrations are $25. Registration and the detailed conference agenda are available online.

More information about the conference and potential student scholarships is available from Colette DePhelps, community food systems area educator with University of Idaho Extension, at or 208-885-4003.

Faces and Places

Becky Hutchings, Amy Robertson and Surine Greenway from University of Idaho Extension will demonstrate how to get the most of the Instant Pot during the Idaho Press Instant Pot Cooking School Feb. 27 from 7-9 p.m. at the Nampa Civic Center auditorium at 311 Third St. S. in Nampa.


  • Feb. 27 — Idaho Press Instant Pot Cooking School featuring UI Extension educators at the Nampa Civic Center auditorium at 311 Third St. S. in Nampa, 7-9 p.m.
  • Feb. 28 — “Map of My Kingdom,” Mary Swander’s play about farm families and land ownership changes. Tickets available online. The Center, 104 S. Main St., Colfax, 7-8 p.m.
  • March 1 — ”Map of My Kingdom,” Mary Swander’s play about farm families and land ownership changes. Kenworthy Performing Arts Center, Moscow. Tickets available online. Opening reception 6-7 p.m., performance followed by discussion with playwright 7-8:30 p.m.
  • March 1-2 — Cultivating the Harvest 20th Anniversary Inland Northwest Small-Scale Farm Conference. U of I Bruce Pitman Center, March 1-2 at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Register online.
  • March 7 — “The Center for Health in the Human Ecosystem IVIS Imaging Service Center: Your Research in Living Colors" by CHHE director Shirley Luckhart, IRIC Atrium, noon-1 p.m.

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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