The Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium has kicked off a fundraising effort to establish a $6 million endowment with a $150,000 multi-year commitment from CoBank and Farm Credit of New Mexico. CoBank has committed $25,000 a year over a four-year period with an additional $12,500 per year provided by Farm Credit of NM.
Professor Michael Tomaszewski, Consortium director and Extension specialist emeritus at Texas A&M University, announced the contribution at a recent Consortium board meeting hosted by Farm Credit of NM in Albuquerque. In addition, Tomaszewski announced the renaming of the group, which will now be know as the U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium as the six-week summer program to train animal and dairy science students moves beyond its original regional concept to a national stage.
“CoBank and Farm Credit of NM’s contributions are the first large commitments toward our endowment goal. When completed, the Consortium will have the financial stability needed to move beyond the regional effort to a national concept,” Tomaszewski said. “This is a logical next step. Consortium students come from all regions of the country and internationally. The large herd best management practices taught at the Consortium are comparable to those used in all dairy regions.”
“As a cooperative, Farm Credit of New Mexico is thrilled to be able to support the U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium,” said Al Porter, chief executive officer, Farm Credit of New Mexico. “The Consortium is built upon the cooperative spirit to provide leadership, support and resources to dairy research and education through academia, government and industry partnership. The dairy industry is a crucial part of New Mexico’s economy and Farm Credit of New Mexico’s business; building and sustaining the industry will have long-term impacts. We are proud to support this Consortium that is dedicated to enhancing the dairy industry and our future operators.”
“The future of the dairy industry depends importantly upon educating and engaging the next generation of dairy farmers,” said Robert E. Engel, chief executive officer, CoBank. “By providing a dynamic program, expert instructors and real-world experience, the U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium will play a major role in ensuring the industry’s long-term success. CoBank is proud to offer its support to this worthwhile initiative.”
In addition to the gifts from CoBank and Farm Credit of NM, the Consortium also has gained significant support from the dairy industry at large to help sponsor the courses, which provides academic credits to participants through their home universities. Allied industry has contributed generously from the very beginning of the Consortium program in 2008, ranging from $50,000 to $65,000 per year.
In its sixth year the Consortium reached capacity at 52 students, and some 20 applicants had to be turned away because of a lack of space. Over the years, animal and dairy science majors have accounted for 72 percent of enrollees. The next largest groups are agribusiness majors with 10 percent, and pre-veterinarian majors at 8 percent.
The Consortium has been hosted by Clovis Community College, Clovis, NM. The two-year school has provided critical laboratory and classroom space for Consortium participants. Consortium member universities include: Abilene Christian University, University of Arizona, Colorado State University, New Mexico State University, Oklahoma State University, Tarleton State University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, University of Florida, Washington State University, and West Texas A&M University.
Consortium program coordinators are Dr. Tomaszewski, Dr. Robert Collier, professor, University of Arizona; and Dr. Robert Hagevoort, Extension Dairy Specialist, New Mexico State University and NMSU Endowed Dairy Chair.
For more information on the U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium, visit http://sgpdct.tamu.edu/