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$2 million gift to ag college is 'transformational'

By: Sean Ellis
Published in Blog on  February 22, 2021

By Sean Ellis

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

A $2 million gift to University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will be a big benefit to the state’s farming and ranching community, UI officials say.

CALS Dean Michael Parrella recently announced the gift from Northwest Farm Credit Services. 

“It will do an enormous amount of good,” he said. “Any time there is a $2 million gift, it is obviously transformational.”

In addition to the cutting-edge, ag-related research done by CALS researchers, the college also provides direct support to Idaho farmers and ranchers through its Extension offices in 42 of the state’s 44 counties.

UI’s ag college has been an excellent resource for Idaho producers, said Doug Robison, the Idaho president of Northwest Farm Credit Services, which is part of Farm Credit System, the largest provider of credit to American agriculture.

He told Idaho Farm Bureau Federation that NFCS’ board of directors and management team recognize the positive impact the university has on Idaho’s agricultural industry. 

“The university’s essential research supports increasing production trends across nearly all of Idaho’s commodities,” Robison said. “The university provides excellent educational programs for producers of all sizes, from beginning farmers to the state’s largest agribusinesses.”

NFCS supports agriculture and rural communities by providing credit and financial services. The customer-owned financial cooperative provides billions of dollars in financing to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and rural home owners in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. 

NFCS has a long history of supporting CALS financially, Parrella said, and the group’s contributions have helped boost the college’s research and problem-solving efforts conducted on behalf of the state’s farming and ranching communities.

“The investment in student opportunities helps provide agriculture with the engaged and educated workforce the industry will need to meet future challenges and sustain its role as Idaho’s economic foundation,” he said. 

NFCS’ recent $2 million gift includes $925,000 to support the planned Agri Beef Meat Science and Innovation Center on UI’s Moscow campus that will serve as the new home for Vandal Brand Meats and conduct research and training that will benefit the state’s meat industry. 

It also includes $500,000 for CALS’ planned $45 million Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE), which will include the nation’s largest research dairy.

The gift also provides $350,000 for the Wayne Thiessen Potato Research Professorship Endowment, which helps support efforts to improve potato storage technology, and $175,000 for a planned $7 million renovation of CALS’ Parma Research and Extension Center.

The NFCS gift provides $25,000 for student scholarships, as well as $25,000 to establish a chapter of the national student organization, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. 

“We are proud to work with the University of Idaho and look forward to seeing the positive impact this gift has on the university’s research and projects,” Robison said. 

CALS has nine agricultural research and Extension centers located throughout the state where a wide variety of research is conducted that benefits the state’s agricultural industry.

Because agriculture is the most important sector of Idaho’s economy, according to UI studies, the $2 million gift will benefit the state’s overall economy.

According to UI studies, agriculture directly and indirectly accounts for one in every eight jobs in the state and 13 percent of Idaho’s total gross state product. It is also responsible for 18 percent of total sales in Idaho. 

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