CORVALLIS, Ore. – Investments by private industry coupled with university funding will propel Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences to build a $20 million state-of-the-art dairy processing facility that will further advance the university and Oregon’s dairy industry as national leaders in dairy quality, innovation and sustainability.
The new dairy plant will provide researchers and students a facility to address some of the most pressing issues facing the dairy industry. The plant will be located in OSU’s Withycombe Hall where an original dairy – now known as the Arbuthnot Dairy – was built in 1952.
“This facility will provide us the tools necessary to work toward a sustainable future for the dairy industry,” said Alan Sams, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station and Reub Long Professor. “OSU is perfectly positioned to lead that effort with its scientific expertise, eager students and innovative artisan and large-scale dairy industry partners.”
The Oregon dairy industry has an estimated value of more than $2.6 billion statewide and is responsible for more than 12,000 jobs and $500 million in wages, according to the 2019 Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council’s annual report.
“We may not be the largest dairy manufacturer in the country, but we can put a stake in the ground on quality and diversity,” said Pete Kent, executive director of the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Further investing in that will only advance the industry as a whole, creating more opportunities for Oregon dairy.”
The $20 million dairy plant renovation includes investment from industry partners, the university and the College of Agricultural Sciences. The three lead donors, who made gifts through the Oregon State University Foundation, were Tillamook County Creamery Association, Northwest Farm Credit Services and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.
“Oregon State University has been a key partner in the development of dairy in Oregon,” said Patrick Criteser, president & CEO of the Tillamook County Creamery Association, which sells dairy products under the Tillamook brand name. “This new facility will help us establish Oregon as a leader in the nation in developing innovative dairy practices and products vital for the future of the industry.”
With access to state-of-the-art equipment, students will be better positioned to pursue careers in many aspects of the dairy industry, said Lisbeth Goddik, department head for Food Science and Technology at OSU.
“We are one of the largest dairy processing research programs in the nation,” Goddik said. “This new facility will significantly enlarge the area of our dairy plant and set us up to do an even better job training students for careers in the industry while also expanding our ability to provide critical research in sustainability, dairy innovation and product quality.
“Our students are heavily recruited by industry. This new facility will only expand their expertise while also providing them a larger home to continue to research, work and study together."
The college already produces Beaver Classic cheeses and with the new facility will be able to add new dairy products such as ice cream. A recent donation of a blast freezer from the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association has given students and faculty the ability to experiment with making ice cream.
The dairy plant is a key component of a $51 million renewal of Withycombe Hall that also will address seismic safety, energy efficiency and accessibility, and modernization of the 70-year-old research and academic building.
The new plant will allow the College of Agricultural Sciences to expand research collaborations with other units on campus to address questions such as how dairy cow feed influences the flavor of cheese.
Led by the OSU Foundation, additional fundraising is underway to supply the facility with equipment and other tools. Other donors to the renovation include: Benjamin P. Forbes Company, Eberhard’s Dairy Products, EverFresh Fruit Products, First Interstate Bank, Hiland Dairy Foods Company, Ingredient Resource Incorporated, Lochmead Dairy, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, Oregon Dairy Industries, Pascal Affinage, Quality Chekd Dairies, Rogue Creamery, Springfield Creamery and Umpqua Dairy Products.
“This project is a great example of university-industry partnerships that benefit our entire state,” said Shawn L. Scoville, OSU Foundation president and CEO.
About the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences: Through its world-class research on agriculture and food systems, natural resource management, rural economic development and human health, the College provides solutions to Oregon’s most pressing challenges and contributes to a sustainable environment and a prosperous future for Oregonians.