Foremost Farms CEO Dave Fuhrmann is leading a $32 million campaign to renovate a Wisconsin research and training facility essential to the state’s dairy industry.

The dairy plant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is also home to the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. The campaign has raised $6 million of the $32-million goal and Fuhrmann expects to reach the halfway mark by July or August.

The 60-year-old facility is used to train cheesemakers and produce award-winning gourmet ice cream.

The internationally known Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research plays a crucial role in the state’s 27-billion-a-year dairy industry which employs 146,000. The Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports the center is squeezed into the facility but renovations will allow the center to expand into a 37,000-squre-foot building in an adjacent parking lot.

Other dairy research facilities across the country have recently undergone renovations. Cornell University started construction last May, spending $105 million to update its 88-year-old dairy facility, and South Dakota State University did a $10 million renovation to its 50-year-old dairy plant.

Lou Gentine, chairman and CEO of Sargento Foods and co-chairman of fundraising expects at least half of the money for the Wisconsin facility’s renovation will come from members of the dairy industry.

"We're sharing in the cost for renovations and expansion, paying at least half the cost. We see it as a good investment," he told the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

According to the Associated Press renovations for the Wisconsin facility require approval from UW regents, the Legislature and the governor before it’s listed on the 2013 state budget.

Dairy leaders raise funds to update antiquated facility