PLATTEVILLE, WI (SPECTRUM NEWS) — A dairy innovation hub is closer to being a reality in Wisconsin this week after the Joint Finance Committee recommended funding for it move forward in the state budget process.
The $8.8 million proposal would go to three different University of Wisconsin campuses for dairy research. Those would be UW-Madison, UW-River Falls, and UW-Platteville.
At the Pioneer Farm at UW-Platteville they do a lot of research into ways to help dairies run more efficiently.
“The dairy industry is always evolving, everybody is looking for ways to either cut cost, or be more productive,” said Charles Steiner, director of the pioneer farm.
It's a facility that would gain nearly $1.8 million if the JFC funding proposal for the dairy innovation hub goes through.
Funding Steiner says they can use to expand research and share information to help dairies run more efficiently.
“If we can find things that we can share with dairy producers and others in the industry to help them save on either end, even those small things can make a difference,” Steiner said.
Wayne Weber, UW-Platteville dean of the college of business, industry, life science and agriculture, said that the dairy industry is a more than $40 billion economic driver in Wisconsin, so he calls the $8.8 million for dairy research small in comparison.
“We look at this as a reinvestment and a re-prioritization of dairy innovation,” Weber said.
He says while there's no overnight solution to stop the hemorrhaging of farms in Wisconsin, this could help
“By universities and industry and producers working together then we can address those issues and find out sustainable solutions for the future,” 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.
“[We] really appreciate their work to help move this thing forward,” Weber said.
For Alexandria Biroschika, a student researcher at the Pioneer Farm, it's an issue that hits home, her family works in the showing industry for dairy cows back in illinois.
“So I see the struggles that they go through and i just want to be able to contribute in any way that will be able to help the small farms to continue to grow and prosper,” Biroschika said.
The funding and the rest of the state budget still needs to pass the legislature and then be signed by the governor if the funding for the innovation hub is to become a reality.