Valley dairy farm goes educational

by Stephen Forgacs
Staff writer

UBC researchers, including faculty members and graduate and undergraduate students, are gaining greater access to research opportunities as UBC formalizes an arrangement to take over management of an Agassiz dairy research facility.

"The new Dairy Education and Research Centre will serve researchers in the areas of animal welfare, nutrition, reproduction and waste management and will attract Canadian and international scientists from other universities, government and industry," said Prof. Jim Thompson, associate dean of Research in UBC's Faculty of Agricultural Sciences.

Thompson said UBC assumed management of the facility about one year ago from the federal government and that UBC researchers have a long history of collaboration with staff and government researchers in Agassiz.

The final agreement, signed March 23, allows UBC to establish the new centre on leased facilities at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre (Agassiz).

UBC plans to develop a world-class centre housing enough animals to meet the needs of a large number of researchers and produce enough milk to enable the centre to be financially self-sufficient.

AAFC will provide $350,000 towards the $1.5 million development. The university is exploring options to complete funding.

The decision to locate the centre at Agassiz was based on the benefits of collaborating with AAFC scientists and proximity to the major sector of B.C.'s dairy industry, said Thompson.

Undergraduate students will work at the centre to learn dairy industry skills and research techniques. Canadian and international graduate students from UBC and other universities will reside at the centre to perform research required for their degrees.

The centre will also be available for use by organizations such as the B.C. Artificial Insemination Centre at Milner and University College of the Fraser Valley.

The centre will provide continuing full-time employment for at least seven local residents. Short-term employment will also be available to those interested in assisting various research projects. The centre also hopes to provide full-time continuing employment for several research technicians, Thompson said.