DATCP Sec. Sheila Harsdorf (center) with others at the 'Cheese Day' activities at the UWRF College of AG & Food Sciences. Pictured L-R are: Jim Holte, President, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation; Patty Schachtner, State Senator for the 10th district; Dale Gallenberg, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, UW-River Falls; Sheila Harsdorf, DATCP Secretary; Dean Van Galen, Chancellor, UW-River Falls; Vincent Rice, Vice-President, Sector Strategy Development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC); Todd Doornink, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative board member and dairy farmer, Baldwin, WI. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
DATCP Sec. Sheila Harsdorf (center) with others at the 'Cheese Day' activities at the UWRF College of AG & Food Sciences. Pictured L-R are: Jim Holte, President, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation; Patty Schachtner, State Senator for the 10th district; Dale Gallenberg, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, UW-River Falls; Sheila Harsdorf, DATCP Secretary; Dean Van Galen, Chancellor, UW-River Falls; Vincent Rice, Vice-President, Sector Strategy Development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC); Todd Doornink, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative board member and dairy farmer, Baldwin, WI. Photo by Paul J. Seeling

RIVER FALLS, WI – Tenth District State Senator Patty Schachtner whose District includes Woodville and Department of Agriculture, Trade along with Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Sheila Harsdorf visited the University of Wisconsin River Falls (UWRF) College of Agriculture, Food Environmental Sciences to celebrate “Wisconsin Cheese Day” and present a Certificate of Appreciation from Gov. Walker “Honoring UW—River Falls Dairy Pilot Plant.”

This visit was part of Gov. Walker’s statewide tour he and other state executives, area legislators and dairy industry leaders did in celebration of the second annual Wisconsin Cheese Day.

Held in conjunction with Dairy Month, “Wisconsin Cheese Day” (June 25) highlights the importance of the cheese industry to Wisconsin’s economy and acknowledges the cheesemakers’ contributions to the industry.
Both Sen. Schachtner and Sec. Harsdorf presented information about the positive economic impact on St. Croix County and the State of Wisconsin that agriculture and the dairy industry has. The industry contributes $43.4 billion to Wisconsin’s economy annually. It is a driving force both to the urban and rural economy of the state.

Sen. Schachtner and Sec. Harsdorf also praised the UWRF for its valuable contributions as well.

UWRF alumnus Todd Doornink of Jon-De Farm and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative (“The Voice of Milk”) board member of Baldwin, Wisconsin spoke about the need to open up the borders and drop any trade barriers to dairy products.

“Don’t use dairy as a political pawn,” Doornink said at the UWRF Cheese Day presentation.

He also praised the College saying that he is proud that the next generation of dairy producers is going to be graduating from here at the College of Agriculture, Food Environmental Sciences in River Falls.

Other speakers included: Jim Holte, President, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation; and Vincent Rice, Vice-President, Sector Strategy Development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Everyone was welcomed to UW-River Falls by Chancellor Dean Van Galen who thanked everyone for attending Cheese Day at UWRF. He then asked Dale Gallenberg, Dean of College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences to explain the Diary Pilot Plant and its upcoming renovation/expansion.

Dean Gallenberg reported that the mission of the UWRF Dairy Pilot Plant is to be a recognized center of excellence for teaching, outreach, and applied research in dairy product manufacturing with emphases on processing, food safety, and business development. UW-River Falls is committed to training the next generation of dairy industry leaders.

He also stated that the students get the unique opportunity to work in a primarily self-supporting dairy processing facility, which uses milk produced at the University Lab Farm. Under the direction of a full-time plant manager and licensed cheese maker, students produce food products that are served at campus events and in the dining hall and sold in the Falcon Foods Store and to other UW campuses as well as a limited amount of wholesale distribution to local stores and restaurants.

The exciting news the Dean shared with Cheese Day participants was about the project the College has developed to renovate its Dairy Pilot Plant to meet student demand and industry standards. The total estimated value of the project is $3.5 million, of which a budget of $940,000 was recently approved by the Wisconsin State Building Commission to fund physical renovations and infrastructure upgrades. An additional $3 million is being sought from partners for the purchase and installation of equipment.

In modernizing the 30-year-old Dairy Pilot Plant equipment and processes it will help provide more effective teaching and outreach programming but will also allow additional product and processing safety and security features to be introduced. All of this will give UW-River Falls graduates a competitive edge as they enter the industry.

In was noted that UW-River Falls has previously been the recipient of three Collaborative Market Access Grants in the amount of $150,000 each from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). These grants have allowed UW-River Falls to assist Wisconsin businesses in promoting their agriculture goods and services internationally.

It was with this project in mind that UWRF was a regional stop (along with the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamy) for Cheese Day in Wisconsin and Sec. Harsdorf presented the Certificate of Appreciation signed by the Governor to the University recognizing the faculty, staff and students of the UWRF Dairy Pilot Plant.

The Diary Pilot Plant is a sustainable facility where for over thirty years the UWFR students have been proudly hand crafting cheese and ice cream. Students use only fresh milk from the University’s dairy farm of 100 cows. As reported the product produced is used throughout UWRF and sold at the U’s Falcon Foods. For more information about Falcon Foods go to: falconfoods@uwrf.edu or find them on Facebook.

The construction will begin in July and be complete in March, but the store will be open in November.

Congratulations to the faculty, staff and students of the UWRF Dairy Pilot Plant on being honored by the Governor on Cheese Day in Wisconsin!