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Babcock rebuilding campaign kicks off with $6 million in early pledges

Dairy industry leaders and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker officially kicked off fundraising efforts April 12 for the Campaign to Secure Wisconsin’s and North America’s Dairy Future, which will renew and renovate Babcock Hall, home to the Center for Dairy Research and UW Food Science program.

At a luncheon during the International Cheese Technology Expo in Milwaukee, Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch offered support for the project.  “Dairying and cheesemaking are vital to our future. We are supportive of this worthy project,” Walker stated.

The Governor thanked the industry for their efforts to partner with the State on this project. Dairy contributes more than $27 billion dollars to Wisconsin’s economy each year and employs more than 146,000 people state-wide.

Dave Fuhrmann, CEO of Foremost Farms, Wisconsin’s largest dairy cooperative, announced at the April 12 luncheon that more than 13 companies and organizations have already committed to the fundraising campaign bringing the total pledged so far to more than $6 million dollars.

The building project will cost around $32 million dollars.  Industry is being asked to partner with the State of Wisconsin with the fund raising goal of at least $16 million from industry and the remainder being requested from the State.

“There is a high level of enthusiasm for this state-of-the-art project,” said Dave Fuhrmann, the campaign co-chair and CEO of Foremost Farms. “Donors are embracing the fact that Wisconsin’s CDR will be given the facilities needed to broaden our global footprint in dairy research and new product development.”

The proposed facility will include 67,000 gross square feet with more than 20,000 square feet of that dedicated to new research, training and processing spaces for CDR. This state-of-the-art facility will include more space for training and education, specialty ripening rooms, a cultured products suite, a modern milk processing plant and intake area and much more.  All of the processing areas will also be designed as “plug-in-play” spaces to accommodate continued changes in technology allowing staff to easily move equipment or replace it with newer equipment as the science changes in the future.

“This world-class facility will position Wisconsin at the forefront of innovation, product development and education in dairy foods,” said John Lucey, Director of the Center for Dairy Research. “It’s an excellent example of the power in collaboration between the University, State and the dairy industry.”

Supporting the campaign are donors, such as, Foremost Farms (Dave Fuhrmann, CEO and campaign co-chair), Sargento (Lou Gentine, CEO and campaign co-chair), Agropur, Baker Cheese, BelGioioso Cheese, Brewster Dairy, Hennings Cheese, Klondike Cheese, Masters Gallery Foods, Sartori, Schreiber Foods, Soft-Trace, Dr. Bill and Hallie Wendorff, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.

The dairy education efforts of CDR and the University of Wisconsin-Madison also play a vital role in the continued success of the industry, Lucey noted.  Annually, more than a thousand industry personnel come to Babcock Hall to learn about recent advances in dairy processing. In fact, at the 2012 World Champion Cheese Contest more than 89 percent of all United States winners were graduates of at least one UW/CDR dairy foods short course.

“The dairy industry is excited to participate in the fundraising effort,” said Fuhrmann. “We are very proud that the CDR facility at Babcock Hall will be world-class.”

For more information on the Campaign to Secure Wisconsin’s and North America’s Dairy Future visit http://www.cdr.wisc.edu/building/index.html.

The Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, are dedicated to supporting the U.S. dairy industry through innovative research, technical support, training and education.