Building the nation’s largest research dairy has been a goal for the University of Idaho and our industry partners for more than a dozen years.
This week, we announced an important milestone.
A $1 million gift from J.R. Simplot Company, combined with other contributions from industry, helped U of I unlock $10 million appropriated by the state of Idaho so our Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) research dairy could begin the design and construction phase.
The Magic Valley project will span three counties. The research dairy is located near Rupert, while a complementary discovery complex is located near Jerome and a collaborative food science program will be developed with the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.
A 640-acre parcel will be home to the research dairy and demonstration farm. The Idaho Dairymen’s Association partnered with U of I in early 2019 to purchase a 540-acre site near Rupert from the Whitesides family, who donated an additional 100 acres to the project.
As the third-largest milk producing state in the country, it’s important we support sustainable dairy production across southern Idaho. Building from the ground up enables research never before conducted on dairy operations at scale and will provide insight into the industry’s impact on land, water and its surrounding environment.
Research at CAFE will explore long-term sustainability in the region by addressing water usage constraints and environmental quality while also supporting the dairy, livestock, cropland and food processing industries.
This week was an important step, but we still have work to do. The university will take our plans to begin design on the project to the State Board of Education in December for approval. Construction is expected to begin in 2021 and will be completed in 2023.
U of I and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are grateful to the Simplot Company and other industry partners for their support in putting us over the top. We’re also thankful for the state of Idaho’s commitment to this project in support of agriculture and our dairy research.
Projects like CAFE demonstrate the importance of our land-grant mission and the impact it has throughout the Gem State and the world. CAFE’s influence through research and collaboration with the agricultural community will reach far beyond our borders. It’s through the help of our many partners that we are able to make it a reality.