Iowa State to address future use of former dairy teaching farm site

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University has begun the process of "decommissioning" the former site of the Dairy Teaching Farm, located at the south end of campus.

Iowa State officials will provide a site evaluation of the land and its buildings to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, at its June 15-16 meeting.

"We plan to retain the farm's 170 acres of land for future university activities, consistent with our land management plan," said Warren Madden, vice president for business and finance. "We will continue to make use of some buildings to meet teaching needs in animal science and for equipment storage. The pastures will be converted to grazing for some horses used in animal science programs. Some sheds will be relocated to other facilities."

University officials are recommending that several sheds, silos and other structures be torn down to address liability and security concerns. "These structures are either unsafe, unstable or unusable," Madden said.

Buildings with potential historical significance will remain, including the original "north" dairy barn built in 1907, a barn and milking parlor built in 1917 (with additions dating to the 1930s) and a teaching pavilion built in 1921.

University officials are recommending further study of the remaining farm buildings, which are in serious disrepair.

"Our goal is to develop a plan for the future use of the land," said Madden. "It's critical that we identify the most appropriate programs and priorities before further decisions are made."

The Dairy Teaching Farm, which operated for nearly a century, was one of three ISU farms that closed last year as a result of severe budget cuts. The College of Agriculture had planned to merge the Dairy Teaching Farm and the dairy at ISU's Ankeny Farm into a new, modern facility. But budget problems forced the closing of the Ames farm sooner than expected.

In a transition that began last fall, dairy science students now travel to the Ankeny Farm for some of their classes, and at times dairy cows are brought to campus for class.

Iowa State is moving forward on establishing a new, modern dairy farm. Last fall, the Board of Regents approved a plan to proceed with development of the new facility. An architect will be hired this year.

"We envision the new dairy farm will be a central asset for our nationally recognized dairy teaching, research and extension programs," said Maynard Hogberg, chair of the animal science department.

"The Dairy Teaching Farm is the source of many memories for our alumni," Hogberg said. "Now we're looking ahead to new facilities that will help us attract a new generation of animal science students and that will provide us with a state-of-the-art venue for addressing the needs of our dairy producers."

Iowa State will pay for the establishment of the new dairy farm from proceeds of the sale of its Ankeny Farm. State legislation requires the university to sell the 1,031-acre farm to accommodate the City of Ankeny's development needs. The sale is pending an environmental assessment of the site by the Environmental Protection Agency. Part of the site was a federal munitions plant during World War II.

The site for the new farm has yet to be determined, but the university anticipates it will be located on agricultural land south of Ames, close to other ISU livestock facilities.

A copy of the decommissioning report is available from the ISU News Service, (515) 294-3720.