Idaho a step closer to having largest research dairy in US

Sep 20, 2022, 1:06 PM | Updated: 1:26 pm
FILE- In this March 11, 2009, photo, a line of Holstein dairy cows feed through a fence at a dairy ...

FILE- In this March 11, 2009, photo, a line of Holstein dairy cows feed through a fence at a dairy farm outside Jerome, Idaho. The University of Idaho's plan to build the nation's largest research dairy and experimental farm has cleared a big hurdle. Idaho Gov. Brad Little and two other statewide-elected officials on the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, approved the university's plan to use $23 million to buy roughly 640 acres of farmland in south-central Idaho, the heart of the state's dairy industry. (AP Photo/Charlie Litchfield, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Litchfield, File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The University of Idaho’s plan to build the nation’s largest research dairy and experimental farm cleared a big hurdle on Tuesday.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little and two other statewide-elected officials on the Idaho Land Board approved the university’s plan to use $23 million to buy roughly 640 acres of farmland in south-central Idaho, the heart of the state’s dairy industry.

That would be the main focus of the school’s proposed Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, or CAFE.

Idaho’s dairy industry is the third-largest dairy producer in the nation, behind California and Wisconsin. But the industry in Idaho — and in general — faces a range of challenges with greenhouse gas emissions from animals, land and water pollution, and waste systems from dairies that can have thousands of cows that produce tons of manure.

University of Idaho’s president Scott Green, who called the vote a big win for the state, the university and the dairy industry, said the school hasn’t been able to do the large-scale research the industry needs to find solutions for those and other complex problems.

“The research that we do there is going to help us improve the water quality within the state,” Green said after the vote. “It’s going to help us utilize waste products from the dairy industry in a way that’s beneficial to the environment and to agriculture.”

Green said students will get the education needed to work on the cutting edge of agribusiness and dairy sciences. He also said CAFE opens the doors for the school to receive millions in research grant money, potentially leading to new ideas and innovation.

If CAFE succeeds as envisioned, the operation would include an experimental farm and 2,000-cow research dairy in Minidoka County. Classrooms, labs and faculty offices would be constructed in Jerome County near where Interstate 84 and U.S. Route 93 intersect. A food processing pilot plant with a workforce training and education facility would be located at the College of Southern Idaho campus in Twin Falls County.

The state’s dairy industry has supported the plan, donating more than $8.5 million to date, according to state officials.

Specifically, the board on Tuesday voted to use $23 million from the 2021 sale of 282 acres of endowment land in Caldwell benefitting the University of Idaho’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to buy roughly 640 acres of farmland in Minidoka County north of Rupert owned by the university — turning that into endowment land. The school will now use that endowment land and money to build the research dairy.

Endowment land is land Idaho received at statehood and that the Land Board manages to produce the maximum return over the long term for beneficiaries, mainly public education.

Land Board members had other options for the money. It could have transferred the $23 million to a fund that would generate money through investments. It also could have kept the money for potential investments in timberland, the most dependable revenue generator for state land.

Choosing the university option was unique in that it recognized research as an asset.

“If this was more affordable research, private industry would be doing it,” Little said after the meeting. “These are the kinds of things government has to do, these long-term, low-return (investments). If we get research out of this that creates a more sustainable, cleaner way to have a dairy industry in Idaho, that’s a win-win for everybody.”

Immediately after the vote, applause broke out in the meeting room at the Statehouse, an unusual occurrence at a Land Board meeting that typically deals with staid financial management decisions involving the state’s 3,900 square miles (10,100 square kilometers) of endowment land.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs com...
Associated Press

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema defends bipartisanship at McConnell Center

Members of Congress face "intense pressure" to play to the extreme elements of their own party, Kyrsten Sinema argued in a speech.
16 hours ago
Associated Press

GOP attacks Minnesota governor in $250M food fraud case

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republicans attacked Democratic Gov. Tim Walz on Monday after a judge took the rare step of disputing the administration’s claim that the judge prevented it from cutting off payments to Feeding Our Future, which is the target of a $250 million federal fraud case. The GOP candidates for governor, attorney […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Wichita man sentenced in ‘swatting’ case that led to death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison for his role in a hoax phone call that led police to shoot and kill an innocent man in 2017. Shane Gaskill was sentenced after pleading guilty in May to wire fraud, KSN reported. He was originally placed on probation […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Joyce Chiles, chief prosecutor for Mississippi's Fourth Judicial District, is seen in her of...
Associated Press

Prosecutor who worked on 1 renewal of Emmett Till case dies

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — Funeral services were held Monday for the Mississippi prosecutor who worked on one of the renewed investigations into the 1955 lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till, a killing that galvanized the civil rights movement after his mother insisted on an open-casket funeral so people could see her son’s mutilated body. Joyce […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Man arraigned in slaying of Detroit radio news anchor

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 55-year-old man has been charged in the slaying of a Detroit radio news anchor during an attack that also left two children and their mother injured. Arthur Williamson was arraigned Monday in district court in New Baltimore and ordered jailed on murder, assault with intent to murder and unlawful […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. poses for a portrait outside of his home on Dec. 5, 2018, in Blade...
Associated Press

Plea agreements reached by 4 in NC Congress ballot probe

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Four people pleaded guilty on Monday to misdemeanors for their roles in absentee ballot fraud in rural North Carolina during the 2016 and 2018 elections. The convictions stemmed from an investigation that in part resulted in a do-over congressional election. Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway accepted the plea agreements in Wake […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Idaho a step closer to having largest research dairy in US