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Dairy pilot plant project receives $1 million

February 28, 2014

Dairy industry leaders at UW-River Falls have kicked off fundraising efforts to make needed updates to the university’s Dairy Pilot Plant.

UWRF is one of few campuses in the nation delivering a 360-degree experiential-learning opportunity for undergraduate students to work in a dairy plant production environment and participate in new product development, from testing to marketing, from production to final retail, in addition to being able to access the key academic components in the classroom.

Launched in June 2013, the fundraising effort has reached $1 million in gifts and commitments, one third of its goal to raise $3 million in private contributions to update and upgrade equipment in the Dairy Pilot Plant. UWRF will also seek to secure an additional $500,000 in institutional and state funding for facility renovation and modernization.

“This transformational renovation of the Dairy Pilot Plant is a high priority project for the university,” UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen said. “The renovation will modernize our facilities, expand our capacity to support business and industry and enable us to provide high-quality hands-on experiences to a new generation of leaders in Wisconsin’s signature industry.”

“This is a very important project for UWRF and the Wisconsin dairy industry,” said Dave Fuhrmann, president of Foremost Farms USA, Wisconsin’s largest dairy cooperative. “The demand for trained dairy processing and product development personnel will continue to grow in the future. Foremost Farms will look to UWRF for qualified candidates for the positions we’ll have open in the future. We are confident the investment that is made today will provide the expertise our business needs.”

Specific outcomes of the renovation project will include an overall modernization of the equipment and processes and an increase in space dedicated to the Dairy Pilot Plant, bringing the facility from 1,600 square feet to 6,000 square feet. This will allow for the separation of raw product handling and whey processing and the creation of independently functioning spaces for cheese and ice cream production.

Space will be added for raw milk processing and separation, along with increased HTST capacity, additional cheese vats and a cheese aging room. An improved ice cream manufacturing space will feature temperature control, updated processing equipment and separate raw and pasteurized processing areas. A classroom and training area overlooking the cheese processing space will also be added.

For more information on the dairy plant renovation, visit go.uwrf.edu/dairyplant or contact Dean Gallenberg at 715-425-3784.