WEB_4266 Dairy Pilot Plant R2D

Dairy Pilot Plant Mission

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 product development, processing, safety, and business development and entrepreneurship. 


In order to best prepare tomorrow's industry leaders, the UW-River Falls Dairy Pilot Plant is in need of new equipment and ample space. To meet student demand and industry standards, UW-River Falls has developed a project to renovate its Dairy Pilot Plant. The total estimated value of the project is $3.5 million, of which approximately $500,000 will come from State, University, and external grant sources to fund physical renovations and infrastructure upgrades. An additional $3 million is being sought from partners for the purchase and installation of equipment.

The growing student interest in dairy product processing and manufacturing is demonstrated by the nearly 20 students now working part-time in the Dairy Pilot Plant during the academic year. We foresee at least doubling that number, with the renovated plant facilities that allow for concurrent production of cheese and ice cream and an increased production throughout the year. The new Food Processing Technology minor and plant renovations will also result in greater student interest and enthusiasm.


The Dairy Pilot Plant Renovation project is a part of the UWRF Rising to Distinction campaign, launched in 2012. This $20 million fund raising campaign is focused on supporting and achieving the following goals:

  1. Attain distinctive excellence,
  2. Promote global education and engagement, and
  3. Foster innovation and partnerships.

Dairy Pilot Plant Renovation Project Goals

  • Modernize the Dairy Pilot Plant equipment and processes to help provide more effective teaching and outreach programming; overall space dedicated to the Dairy Pilot Plant will be more than 6,000 square feet.
  • Introduce additional product and processing safety and security features by integrating separation of raw product handling and whey processing.
  • Separate cheese and ice cream production into divided and independently functioning spaces and thereby allow concurrent production.
  • Enlarge the cheese manufacturing area and include dedicated space for raw milk processing and separation, increased HTST capacity, additional cheese vats (including a HCV), and a cheese aging room.
  • Enhance ice cream manufacturing through temperature control of the production space, updated processing equipment (including a cup filling machine, continuous batch freezer, and an additional mixing tank), and separate raw and pasteurized processing areas.
  • Construct a classroom/training area overlooking the cheese processing area and create a worker entrance into the plant.
List of Proposed Equipment
  • Open cheese vat
  • Horizontal cheese vat
  • Separator
  • Membrane filtration system
  • HTST pasteurizer
  • Pumps and valves
  • PLC control system
  • Homogenizer
  • Holding tanks
  • CIP system
  • Continuous batch freezer
  • Cheese and ice cream packaging equipment
Naming Opportunities
  • Dairy Pilot Plant: $1,800,000
  • Cheese Processing Room: $640,000
  • Falcon Foods Store Seating Area: $200,000
  • Ice Cream Processing Room: $200,000
  • Ice Cream Processing Room: Reserved by Grassland Dairy Products, Inc.
  • Raw Milk Handling Room: Reserved by Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association

Project Timeline

June 2013

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association kick-starts fundraising with $100,000 gift.

September 2013

Dairy Pilot Plant Steering Committee formed. Fundraising begins.

December 2014

Final design due to UW-System.

May 2015

Renovation begins.

October 2015

Substantial completion.

January 1, 2016

Full occupancy.


Steering Committee

  • Michelle Farner, Dairy Pilot Plant Manager, UWRF CAFES
  • Dale Gallengberg, Dean, UWRF CAFES
  • Jim Harsdorf, Secretary Emeritus, DATCP
  • Jim Mildbrand, Secretary, Central Wisconsin Cheesemakers & Buttermakers
  • Chris Mueller, President, UWRF Foundation
  • Gary Rohde, Secretary Emeritus, DATCP; former Dean, UWRF CAFES
  • John Rosenow, Rosenwolf Dairy, Cochrane, WI
  • Lucy Schwartz, Dairy Farmers of America
  • John Umhoefer, Executive Director, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
  • Dean Van Galen, Chancellor, UWRF
  • Purnendu Vasavada, Professor Emeritus, UWRF CAFES