Yogurt-maker Chobani is giving $1 million to the University of Idaho-led Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) to help fund construction of the nation’s largest research dairy and advance scientific research center — one that is intended to ensure a sustainable future for the U.S. dairy industry.
Chobani has a long history of giving back to farmers and working to support the dairy industry, from scholarship programs to charity flavors of its products. In this latest endeavor, Idaho CAFE will conduct research and deliver education that will support a sustainable future not just for Idaho’s dairies, but also for its livestock operations, crop production, and food processing industries. The center will link research, education, and outreach in a public-private partnership to support the state of Idaho, generate jobs, and support economic progress.
Located in Idaho’s Magic Valley, Idaho CAFE spans three counties with a 2,000-cow research dairy and 640-acre demonstration farm in Rupert, a public outreach and education center in Jerome and collaborative food science efforts developed in partnership with the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.
As the third top dairy producing state in the nation, Idaho’s dairy industry plays a critical role in the health of the state’s economy. But efficient agricultural production that also protects Idaho’s natural resources and the environment requires research-based information to succeed.
“Sustainability is part of the fabric of Chobani. Caring for our people and animals, conserving resources, putting back what we take — this is how we operate, and this is how dairy farmers operate,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani Founder and CEO. “As more and more people — consumers, investors, and regulators focus on sustainability, the dairy industry must be part of the conversation. The dairy industry has a deep history of commitment to and leadership in sustainability, which must be honored. This is why the University of Idaho’s leadership to establish this comprehensive and groundbreaking CAFE project is so important, and why we are so proud to support it.”
The research dairy will be operated like a commercial farm and will host a variety of ongoing research experiments managed by U of I faculty and staff. The dairy is designed to represent an average dairy in southern Idaho, so the research conducted at the site will be immediately applicable to dairy farms in Idaho and throughout the region. The Western U.S. is a uniquely different region for producing dairy products than the Midwest or Northeast, both areas that are already served by research dairies.
U of I will break ground in June on the first construction phase of the $22.5 million research dairy, which includes facilities to house the milking and nutrient management operations. Plans call for completion of the first phase of construction in 2023 when U of I will begin milking cows at the Rupert location.