University of Illinois has entered a public-private partnership to fund a new Feed Technology Center near its Urbana, Illinois, campus for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).
It was previously reported that the university would break ground in September on a new, $11 million feed mill, but later the school said it was still raising funds for the mill.
According to a press release, plans for the Feed Technology Center have existed for more than 20 years, but the funding has not been available. A novel public-private partnership, similar to a lease-to-own arrangement, will enable this long-awaited construction project to proceed quickly. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2019 and the entire project is expected to be completed in early 2020.
The University of Illinois and the College of ACES have raised $6 million for the project. Approximately $14 million in private contributions are still needed to reduce the financial burden of the construction on the department and college.
“Our donors are making an investment in the livestock industry in Illinois, and are committing to continuing the university’s pre-eminence in animal nutrition and feed manufacturing,” says Kimberley Meenen, assistant dean for advancement in the College of ACES, in a press release. “But this facility won’t be just for us. Together, we will move the industry forward. This facility will make possible animal nutrition innovations that may not have even been considered at this point.”
The facility will have capacity of 8,000 tons of specialized small-batch research diets per year, along with numerous interdependent capabilities integrated to provide full system services, including production and storage of grain and forages; storage of specialized diet ingredients; precise diet formulations; milling; ingredient processing; and pre-mixing, mixing, pelleting, extruding, crumbling, bagging and delivery of animal diets for research.
“The new Feed Technology Center will significantly expand our capabilities in the animal nutrition space, which is critical for developing new diets that utilize novel ingredients, improve production efficiency in livestock and poultry, and enhance the health and wellbeing of animals, including dogs and cats,” said Rodney Johnson, head of the Department of Animal Sciences at U of I, in the release.
Researchers in the Department of Animal Sciences and other university departments will use the facility to prepare and test animal feed ingredients.
“The Feed Technology Center is a game-changing asset that will elevate our ability to conduct innovative research while training the next generation of experts in feed science and animal nutrition,” Kim Kidwell, dean of the College of ACES, said in the press release. “This facility, along with increased capacity in precision animal management, will advance our capabilities to perform industry-relevant research designed to support food production while ensuring animal well-being.”
In addition to serving as the site of faculty research, the Feed Technology Center will offer opportunities for students to safely gain hands-on experience with the latest feed technologies, positioning them as strong contenders for leadership positions within the industry. New undergraduate and graduate courses are being created to expand the curriculum in animal nutrition, including a new undergraduate concentration in feed processing technology.