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Meat Science Lab Gets Grant

November 29, 2023

University of Idaho has received a large federal grant to help build and equip a new meat science laboratory to be located on its Moscow campus.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently announced it is awarding $481,755 toward U of I’s planned 12,750-square-foot abattoir, to be called the Meat Science and Innovation Center Honoring Ron Richard.

U of I’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for the estimated $14.1 million facility on Oct. 14. The laboratory was among seven projects nationwide to receive a share of $2 million the agency invested through its Research Facilities Act Program, which is intended to “assist in the construction, alteration, acquisition, modernization, renovation or remodeling of an agricultural research facility to enhance the institution’s long-term impact on food and agricultural research.”

U of I met a required 50% match to be eligible for the grant with dollars brought in through prior fundraising efforts. Some of the grant funds will go toward construction and overall project management costs, but the bulk of the dollars will be used for purchasing equipment. For example, grant funding will help buy a hoist to lift carcasses, a platform for trimming carcasses, a bowl chopper used to make beef franks, a vacuum packaging machine and a smoke house used in the production of bacon, sausages and ready-to-eat products.

The new abattoir will replace a facility built in the 1960s, providing dedicated spaces to host multiple functions simultaneously, cutting-edge equipment and far greater operational efficiency. It will also be the new home of the Vandal Brand Meats retail store. The new facility will serve livestock producers, meat processors and meat merchandisers with technical, marketing and business development assistance. The project is targeted for completion by May 2025.

“Really, it’s going to help make this facility a state-of-the-art facility we can use to train students and do work with Extension programs, and we’re going to be able to continue to do some high-quality research with more modern technology,” said Michael Colle, an assistant professor of meat science and project director of the grant. “Having this facility will hopefully allow us to receive more grants than we currently do. We’ve been very successful in that realm, but this should open more opportunities for successful grants and cutting-edge research.”

Colle hopes to further leverage the funds by convincing some of the vendors who are awarded contacts to supply equipment to donate additional equipment.

Debbie Gray, interim director of grant and project development within CALS, was instrumental in submitting the grant, piecing together information from prior grant applications regarding the meat science lab.

USDA-NIFA funded the three-year grant under award No. 2023-77046-41255.

Published in Catching Up with CALS

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for the estimated $14.1 million facility on Oct. 14.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at uidaho.edu.


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