2014 VFBF Critical Legislative Issue #5: Virginia Tech Dairy Research Facilities Replacement Funding

Earlier this month, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation announced its critical legislative issues for 2014. These are the issues Governmental Relations staff believe will be at the forefront during the next year’s General Assembly.  These issues are also discussed at Senatorial District meetings, regional legislative briefings for legislators held across the state during November and December. Each critical issue will be highlighted on Plows and Politics every day this week. If you are a producer member and would like to attend your region’s Senatorial District Meeting, please contact your Field Services Director for dates and locations.

Virginia Farm Bureau is urging legislators to:
  • Continue to support inclusion of $7.6 million for Phase-2 research dairy facilities at Virginia Tech (VT) in the capital expenditure authorization.
A fully functioning, modern dairy complex is an important component of Virginia Tech’s mission of education, research and extension and vital to the Commonwealth’s $960 million dairy industry. Virginia’s dairy farmers look to Virginia Tech to provide the most current research in animal, dairy and veterinary sciences to keep the industry competitive.  Unfortunately, much of Virginia Tech’s dairy compound is deteriorating and badly in need of replacement. 

Most of these research facilities are more than 60 years old and include rotting barns, leaking roofs, makeshift research laboratories and antiquated facilities.  These dairy buildings have long outgrown their usefulness and lifespan. These facilities are not part of the herd barn built in 2004 but are the buildings/facilities surrounding the herd barn that make up the current dairy complex.  The herd barn is being relocated to nearby Kentland Farm and will be paid for by Virginia Tech.  This will be a fully operational modern 230-cow dairy.  The relocation of these facilities is due to an expansion of the airport and the VDOT relocation of the Route 460/Southgate Drive intersection. 

The university is requesting $7.6 million in General Funds from the state to relocate the remaining components of the dairy complex and to replace six dilapidated buildings with three modern research, teaching and extension facilities.  Students, researchers and professors from two departments — dairy science and animal and poultry sciences — as well as the college’s Ag Tech program and Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinarian Medicine — use the dairy complex for teaching and research. Dairy science has been an important part of the university for more than 115 years.

Virginia Tech is one of only three universities in the country that offer a B.S. in dairy sciences, carving out a unique niche for the university and the Commonwealth. The VT Dairy Science Department’s scholarship and external funding place it among the top 25 percent in the country.

Phase 1 (herd barn) will be paid for by Virginia Tech.  Planning funding for Phase 2 was approved by the 2013 General Assembly.  Now, the funding for Phase 2 needs to be continued in the Commonwealth’s capital expenditure authorization process.

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