The proposed Dairy Innovation Hub bill moved two steps closer to reality this week when the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate both passed the proposal that the Wisconsin Joint Committee on Finance originally recommended in the 2019-21 state budget. The budget now goes before Gov. Tony Evers.
The original bill provides $7.9 million annually to UW System to increase offerings at UW-Platteville, UW-Madison and UW-River Falls. More than $1.8 million of that would fund approximately four UW-Platteville Dairy Science faculty positions, research opportunities and equipment in the Russell Hall laboratories and at Pioneer Farm. The JFC recommended $8.8 million for the next two years.
“Wisconsin is already recognized as a dairy superpower, and this is a reinvestment to reprioritize dairy innovation,” said Dr. Wayne Weber, dean of the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture. “This will increase the capacity to help the farmers meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
Weber noted that the dairy industry accounts for $43.4 billion in yearly economic activity in the state, yet at the same time Wisconsin lost 691 dairy farms last year, the most since 2011.
“These are complex issues that need long-term answers,” he said. “Building this hub provides the infrastructure for problem solving, innovation and education to address these issues.”
UW-Platteville has approximately 700 agriculture students that make a statewide impact in majors such as animal science and dairy science. The Dairy Innovation Hub would help UW-Platteville faculty and student research and regional business and industry engagement opportunities by:
- expanding ruminant production research
- expanding edge-of-field and groundwater monitoring
- collecting data on robotics vs. conventional milking
- expanding research on grazing vs. conventional dairy herd management and milking
- studying animal welfare in bedding systems, milking rotations and nutrition
“There are huge amounts of opportunities here to positively impact the farms of Southwest Wisconsin and in turn have an impact statewide, nationally and globally,” Weber said.
The proposal was introduced in May by local representatives Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) among others.
The Joint Finance Committee budget proposal will be presented to the state legislature for voting. Gov. Tony Evers must then sign off on the entire Wisconsin budget.