July 03, 2003
Dairy farm merger plans accelerated
by Linda Charles
After almost a century, the Iowa State Dairy Farm will close. Its operations
will be merged temporarily with the university's dairy farm in Ankeny until
a new $15 million dairy facility opens south of Ames.
"It's a normal progression," said Mark Honeyman, coordinator of the ISU
research farms and professor of animal science. "Agriculture gets moved
farther from Ames as things spread out."
From 1861 to 1907, cows were housed in barns on campus (where the Agronomy
Building is now). In 1905, the university purchased 107 acres of land south
of Mortensen Road, and the first barn was erected at the Dairy Farm in 1908.
That barn still stands, although several other early buildings were
destroyed in a 1935 fire.
"The main buildings at the Dairy Farm were built in the 1930s. They were
well-suited to the labor-intensive farming of their era," said Doug Kenealy,
university professor in animal science.
However, they aren't very efficient now. Modern facilities will be efficient
and improve research and teaching efforts, Kenealy said.
The new dairy farm will be in operation in about three years, but first, the
university must sell the Ankeny farm. ISU officials await approval to sell
from federal regulators who have been examining the Ankeny land for possible
environmental problems. (A munitions plant was located on the property
during World War II.)
The sale of the Ankeny farm is expected to cover almost all of the cost of
the new dairy farm, Kenealy said. Plans are to sell "a little of the farm at
time" so the new farm can be built while the Ankeny dairy remains in
operation. As areas of the new farm are completed, comparable parts of the
Ankeny dairy will be closed.
The Committee for Agricultural Development, a nonprofit organization
affiliated with the university, has leased land south of Ames where ISU
hopes to locate the new dairy farm, and negotiations have begun on its
purchase, Honeyman said.
Ideally, the campus dairy farm would not have closed until the new farm was
in operation. But decreases in state funding, coupled with a lack of
appropriations to cover mandatory salary increases, forced the College of
Agriculture to make cuts in its budget, said Wendy Wintersteen, Agriculture
senior associate dean.
But, she added, the plan for quite a while has been to merge the campus and
Ankeny farms into a new, modern facility near Ames. The budget problems
expedited the processes.
College officials are creating a "transition plan" to make the move to the
Ankeny farm as convenient as possible for students and faculty, Honeyman
Approximately 500 students take introductory and general animal science
courses each year. Cows will be brought to campus for the four to eight
times they are needed in those classes each semester. And shuttles to the
Ankeny farm will be arranged for the approximately 120 students who take
advanced dairy science courses, Honeyman said.
Half (about 175) of the campus cows will be sent to the Ankeny dairy farm.
The rest may be moved to Northeast Community College in Calmar (where Iowa
State Extension has a partnership for a dairy initiative) or sold at auction
What will happen to the Dairy Farm land has not yet been determined. There
are no plans to sell it, and officials want to determine the historical
value of the buildings, Kenealy said.
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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