The timing just seemed right. That was the consensus of those who helped organize the first tour of the University of Missouri’s Foremost Dairy Research Center by members of the Missouri Dairy Association and the Missouri Dairy Growth Council – and several other dairy farmers across the state June 19.
“The stars aligned for us this year to be up here,” said Missouri Dairy Association executive director Dave Drennan. “It just seemed like a good opportunity to focus on what Foremost means to the dairy industry in this state – not only the research, but what’s in the pipeline.”
Those stars included June being recognized as National Dairy Month and the recent approval of the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act earlier this year, which was sponsored in the Missouri House of Representatives by Bill Reiboldt from District 160, Neosho, and later signed by Gov. Jay Nixon. The landmark legislation, the first to be passed by any state, provides additional support to the dairy title provisions of the federal Farm Bill.
The Act includes the addition of 80 scholarships at $5,000 each toward tuition at any college or university in the state for students who major in agriculture-tied degree programs, as well as the continuation of a loan program for large-animal veterinary students.
In the spirit of the act’s approval, the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Division of Animal Sciences joined forces with MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine to show how both schools can provide invaluable resources to the state dairy industry. The MU Extension Dairy Team includes faculty from both colleges and MU Extension. In addition to student-guided tours of the facility, students from each of the programs displayed posters of recent findings and discussed their research with attendees.
“What we’re really looking forward to doing with you folks going forward is to have a much higher level of awareness of what we’re doing in our programs here at the University,” said Tom McFadden, director, Division of Animal Sciences, to the gathered crowd of approximately 80 people. “We really emphasize experiential learning, which means not just theory while you’re sitting in the classroom, but getting out and learning how you apply that theory and really develop the skill set, so that we can improve our supply of employees and future managers and owners of the dairy industry in Missouri as well as our dairy animal veterinarians.”