Catching Up with CALS — May 1, 2019
Dean's Message — A Major Step
The announcement in Boise drew 50 people to celebrate a generous $2 million commitment that provides the foundation for U of I’s campaign. The company requested that we name the new facility the Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard.
Ron Richard was such a positive force in the region’s meat industry that Agri Beef officials asked that we add his name to the building. We were joined by his sons during our announcement April 22.
Vandal Brand Meats provides the ideal experience-based education for Department of Animal and Veterinary Science students largely through Ron’s efforts for three decades.
Our students learn about cattle from birth to harvest, then beyond that to safe food handling, product innovation to the ultimate goal, customer satisfaction.
With outstanding meat scientists on our faculty, the new Agri Beef center will allow CALS to attract more undergraduate and graduate students and encourage our researchers to compete more effectively for grant funding.
The commitment from Agri Beef was quickly followed by a $200,000 commitment from Northwest Farm Credit Services. With the $1 million the college plans to contribute to the project, that puts us nearly halfway to our $8 million ultimate goal.
Several other major forces in Idaho’s cattle industry strongly support the project and are considering their level of support for it.
With beef cattle and dairy supplying about two-thirds of Idaho’s agricultural cash receipts each year, the new center is a necessary addition.
It is no coincidence that the college’s Seed Potato Germplasm facility will be sited right next door to the Agri Beef center along Perimeter Drive. The new $5.5 million project will provide a much-needed home for the tissue culture and laboratory space needed for our nuclear seed potato program.
That project is fully funded through investments from the Idaho Legislature, Idaho Potato Commission, Northwest Farm Credit Services, CALS and other potato industry partners.
It is unfortunate that Ron Richard, the longtime face of meat science and Vandal Brand Meats, isn’t able to see his vision come to fruition.
Our task now, with the help of Agri Beef, Northwest Farm Credit Services and many others in the cattle industry and beyond, is to do it for Ron, for our students and for those who will benefit from its contributions years from now.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
$1.64 billion in cash receipts generated by cattle and calf sales in 2018 was a drop of 1 percent from 2017, according to CALS economists Ben Eborn and Garth Taylor in their publication, “The Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture: 2018.” That’s about midpoint in the past decade. Cattle sales hit the floor at $973 million in 2009 and soared to $2.04 billion in 2014. Strong export markets supported higher than expected beef prices in 2018.
Our Stories — Agri Beef Supports New Center
The University of Idaho announced plans April 22 to build a new meat science and innovation center that will house Vandal Brand Meats on the Moscow campus with the help of Agri Beef Co. of Boise.
The new Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard will replace the existing outdated meat science facility on campus and create a modern teaching, research and retail sales center.
The new building will honor the legacy of Ron Richard, who supervised Vandal Brand Meats student employees and taught meat science classes for three decades before his death in October 2018. Richard’s students learned the science and the practical aspects of supplying nutritious, safe and innovative meat products to businesses and the public.
Agri Beef, one of Idaho’s best-known integrated meat processors, committed $2 million toward supporting the $8 million project on the U of I campus near the iconic ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center.
The U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences proposed the new building to modernize its processing, research and education options. In addition to enhancing the only local USDA-inspected processing plant, the new building will offer expanded facilities to meet a growing interest from students and industry.
“This commitment provides the foundation for the college to meet the demand for more educational opportunities in meat science,” CALS Dean Michael P. Parrella said.
Other regional companies and individuals in the livestock industry have shown strong interest in supporting the project financially including a $200,000 commitment from Northwest Farm Credit Services. The college will use internal funding for the project as well, Parrella said.
The college’s Department of Animal and Veterinary Science provides strong undergraduate and graduate education programs in meat science that supply highly sought-after employees. More than 90 percent of meat science graduates find jobs in the field.
Employers value the department’s hands-on experience for students through the Vandal Brand Meats program, Parrella said. Each year, the retail shop sells more than $325,000 worth of meat products: sausage, steaks, hot dogs and hamburger produced by students.
The new facility will capitalize on a highly visible location to expand the public’s ability to buy products and learn about the college’s meat science program.
This development underscores the economic importance of the livestock industry in the northwest and complements other college-led efforts to expand the university’s livestock-related activity across the state.
Those efforts include a new classroom and office building nearing completion at the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center near Salmon. The U of I is also leading development of the $45 million Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment near Rupert and Jerome and the operation of the Rinker Rock Creek Ranch near Hailey.
Faces and Places
Gordon Murdoch, a CALS animal and veterinary science professor, received the U of I Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Efforts Award for 2019 as part of a team.
Mark McGuire, Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station director and CALS associate dean, was honored as a distinguished university professor April 23.
CALS alumnus John Ruhs, who received a bachelor's degree in range livestock management from AVS in 1990, is the new U.S. Bureau of Land Management state director for Idaho.
CALS engineer Martin Baker received the U of I 2019 Outstanding Staff Award for the Technical/Paraprofessional category. He works with the University of Idaho Clean Water Machine team.
Chris McIntosh was selected as a 2019 Western Agricultural Economics Fellow by the Western Agricultural Economics Association. He will be honored at a meeting in Coeur d’Alene in July.
- May 2 — CALS Awards Banquet, RSVP before April 29, reception 5-6 p.m. banquet 6-8 p.m., International Ballroom, Bruce M. Pitman Center
- May 4 — Bee Hotel Workshop (pdf), Purchase tickets, 2-4 pm., by the U of I and WSU's entomology students, Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute, Moscow. Please contact Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org or Abby at email@example.com with any questions.
- May 6-10 — Food for Finals, Agricultural Biotech Interaction Court
- May 11 — Spring Commencement, ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center, 9:30 a.m.; commencement reception immediately following ceremony on Ag Biotech lawn.
- May 31 — 2019 Heritage Orchard Conference, Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center, Register, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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