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College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Dairy Pilot Plant Renovation

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.

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 over $900,000 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 Science and Technology major and plant renovations will also result in greater student interest and enthusiasm.

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.
  • 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 with updated processing equipment (including a cup filling machine, continuous batch freezer, and additional mixing tank), and separate raw and pasteurized processing areas.
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
List of Proposed Technology
  • Interactive kiosks in hallway for tour groups: $6,000
  • Interactive kiosks (3) in cheese store with stools: $7,000
  • Digital signage and direct marketing displays: $4,500
  • Surveillance cameras in cash and credit cards handling areas: $2,000
  • Card access controllers, door and cooler preps: $19,000
  • Environmental monitoring of coolers and freezers: $6,000
  • Point of sale, cash drawer, credit card systems, equipment, case work: $8,000
  • Production system, movement, inventory tracking, web sales & recall management software: $50,000
Naming Opportunities
  • Dairy Pilot Plant: $1,800,000
  • Cheese Processing Room: $640,000
  • Mobile Ice Cream Truck: $250,000
  • Raw Milk Handling Area: Reserved by Grassland Dairy Products, Inc.
  • Conference Room/Classroom: Reserved by Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association

Naming gifts will receive all benefits of Advisory Committee membership. Recognition will also be given to all donors providing equipment. Appropriate nameplates will be displayed on all donated equipment.

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.

June 2014

Wisconsin State Building Commission approves $940,000 budget for building renovation and infrastructure

June 2015

Architect selection

April 2016

Renovation planning and design

February 2017

Preliminary design

August 2017

Final design

May 2018

Construction begins

January 2019

Renovation Project Substantial Completion

Thanks to our Industry Partners on the Advisory Committee

  • Agropur logo
  • Ampi logo
  • Ellsworth coop logo
  • Foremost farms logo
  • Grassland logo
  • Hilmar cheese logo
  • LOOS logo
  • Milk Specialities logo
  • Mullins cheese logo
  • WI cheesemakers association logo

Read more about the Dairy Pilot Plant Renovation project

THANKS to the generous support of industry partners, we are well on the way to our project fundraising goal.

Commit to supporting the project with a multi-year pledge. Download or print a pledge form. Email completed form to

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Steering Committee

  • Michelle Farner, Dairy Pilot Plant Manager, UWRF CAFES
  • Dale Gallenberg, 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
  • John Umhoefer, Executive Director, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
  • Dean Van Galen, Chancellor, UWRF
  • Purnendu Vasavada, Professor Emeritus, UWRF CAFES

Contact Us

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
Fax 715-425-3785
210 Agricultural Science
611 S. 3rd St.
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