$53 Million Granted to Michigan State for Dairy Cattle & Greenhouse Operations - Cowsmo

$53 Million Granted to Michigan State for Dairy Cattle & Greenhouse Operations

The newest state budget includes more than $300 million in funding for Michigan State University, with more than $50 million supporting MSU agriculture improvements.

feedcows_cowsmo22The $19.6 billion education budget Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed on Thursday — the first half of the $76 billion 2023 fiscal year budget that is expected to be approved next week — includes $303.7 million in base funding for university operations at MSU. That is a 4% increase from last year and the largest in more than a decade.

An additional $53 million was earmarked for renovations at the MSU Plant Science Greenhouses along Farm Lane and its Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center on College Road in Lansing, which was damaged in a fire last year.

Earmarks, or pork as they are sometimes referred to, are one-time funding for projects or initiatives championed by state legislators to address needs in their districts.

The greenhouses and the dairy facilities are both aging, with the dairy farm at more than 60 years old, while the greenhouse complexes were mostly built prior to 1978.

“We’re so grateful to our partners who advocated for us to receive this funding: the agricultural commodity groups, legislators and industry leaders,” said Kelly Millenbah, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, in a press release. “Generations of our students will benefit from this investment. When we have improved, state-of-the-art facilities, we’ll be able to do more in support of Michigan’s farmers and consumers.”

George Smith, director of MSU AgBioResearch, called the funding a “transformational investment by the state of Michigan,” that will support cutting-edge research and educate the next generation of students going into agriculture.

MSU was founded as an agricultural college in 1855 and, throughout the name changes, agricultural research and education has remained a top program.

The greenhouses, which lack modern design features and adequate environmental control, will see major renovations that ultimately will allow for further plant and advanced agricultural research, Smith said.

The existing greenhouses are in various conditions, with some requiring improved environmental control systems that would allow for more control over the temperatures and conditions inside. Some greenhouses are not currently cooled, others get cold in the winter. Improving the control systems allows for increased research year-round, Smith said.

Research conducted inside the greenhouses impacts all aspects of agriculture, Smith said, with a host of different crops — specialty crops, row crops and crops that become feed for livestock — and agricultural commodities that are found in Michigan grown inside. Improved conditions inside the greenhouses will improve that research, Smith said.

Currently, some of the research involves breeding the next generation of crops that may have proven nutritional quality, he said, or that could be resistant to climate change.

According to Smith, the Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center was constructed in the 1960s and does not have the capacity to house enough cattle to meet the needs of researchers. It often means delays in research.

A fire that destroyed the dairy feed barn at the facility in May 2021 stopped before reaching the barn area that houses cattle and staff, but, Smith said, as a result of the damage, some of the building’s silos had to come down.

“It’s an old building with significant infrastructure issues,” Smith said. “The fire accelerated the need to find a solution.”

In addition to creating more cattle and research capacity, the funding will cover new infrastructure for the facility. That work is currently in the planning phase and it will take time to determine the exact improvements, he said.

The work inside the facility contributes to advancements in the field and trains the next generation of farm managers and continues the research that supports dairy production and environmental sustainability in dairy, which has become the leading contributor to the agricultural economy in Michigan.

“It will increase research capacity and the quality of research,” Smith said. “It will help us retain top talents in ag science that are here and recruit additional talent to MSU to continue to lead in plant sciences in the country.”


Source: Lansing State Journal

Scroll to Top