The first Dairy Innovation Hub funding decisions were made just three and a half years ago – and we are already seeing impacts across UW-Madison, UW-Platteville, and UW-River Falls. Of the $7.8M in annual funding from the State of Wisconsin, 52 percent comes to Madison and 24 percent each to Platteville and River Falls. Funds are used to build capacity with equipment, recruit top talent, support innovative research, and engage in outreach and instruction.
Looking back, the Dairy Innovation Hub was a top recommendation from the Dairy Taskforce 2.0, convened by DATCP in 2018. In the Spring of 2019, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, alongside Dairy Business Association, Professional Dairy Producers, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, and several other trade organizations, advocated for Hub funding during the biennial budgeting process.
Fast forward to today, the Hub encompasses all aspects of dairy, from the farm to the consumer, as represented by the four priority areas: enhancing human health and nutrition, ensuring animal health and welfare, stewarding land and water resources, and growing farm businesses and communities. This initiative transcends departments and disciplines and has garnered wide interest and collaborators across the three campuses.
What have we been up to?
We are often asked “what’s the Hub been up to?” This is a tough question to answer, and to tell you the truth, it’s been a whirlwind few years!
Since 2020, the Hub has funded nearly 160 projects across the three campuses and four priority areas. These grants represent very diverse research: there are simple ideas born out of necessity on the farm, alongside game-changing and highly technical projects. To remain at the global forefront, the dairy community needs both applied and basic research.
With funding from the Hub, 18 faculty have also been hired across the three campuses. Hiring faculty represents a career-long commitment both from the campus and the individual. It’s a lengthy hiring process, especially considering cross-country (or even international) moves and relocating established research groups.
Getting the word out about Hub-funded research has been a priority since day one. Our in-house communication channels paired with existing campus resources, ag groups, and ag media outlets have been critical to keeping the public informed.
We also host events like the Dairy Summit and Dairy Symposium where the audience hears directly from the researchers. On Nov. 15, UW–Platteville will host the FOURTH ANNUAL Dairy Summit, which is formatted for a public audience and features the Hub’s newest research. Registration opens in August and admission is free. More information is available on our Dairy Summit web site.
Maria Woldt serves as the program manager for the Dairy Innovation Hub. In this role, she assists in the management of the Hub budget, develops, and disseminates communications, and organizes events. Maria and her husband Nick own and operate a small dairy farm in Dane County. They have two girls, Lexington (6) and Giovanna (2.5). They are proud WFBF members who met at a Young Farmer and Agriculturist event!
The Hub represents a $7.8 million per year investment by the State of Wisconsin to keep our dairy community at the global forefront in producing nutritious dairy products in an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable manner. The team behind the Dairy Innovation Hub strives to maintain open and transparent communication about our efforts, funded by the State of Wisconsin. For the Hub’s latest news and to join their mailing list, visit dairyinnovationhub.wisc.edu