Ground is broken for the over $6.5 million swine facility on SDSU campus

 On Friday, Oct. 3, the groundbreaking of the new Swine Education and Research Facility took place.

Governor Dennis Daugaard, Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch, SDSU President David Chicoine and College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Dean Barry Dunn spoke at the groundbreaking about several benefits of the improved unit.

According to Dunn the Swine Education and Research Facility will cost around $6.5 million and will hold slightly more swine than the current unit. The modern facilities will greatly impact education experiences.

“The main thing here on campus that it will do is improve our teaching and research. It will totally modernize the facility,” Dunn said. “It will have a classroom.”

The new swine facilities have had contributions from neighboring states including Minnesota and Iowa. The Minnesota Pork Producers, Minnesota Soybean Association and Iowa Pork Producers donated funds to build the modern swine units.

“It was really generous of them and they kind of reached across state lines to invest in us because they know a lot of their sons and daughters come here and a lot of the research that is important to them will be done here,” Dunn said of the out-of-state donations.

The Swine Education and Research Facility will give agriculture students, not just from SDSU, the opportunity to learn more about swine production than ever before. Mitchell Technical Institute and Lake Area Technical Institute both have two-year agriculture programs that could utilize the facilities.

“We’re all about education; that’s our goal here,” Dunn said. “We’ve invited them to participate with us and use the facility so that when they get into their animal science program and the teacher is talking about swine production they could spend a day down here … look at a modern facility and actually get some hands on training.”

According to Governor Daugaard, the CEO of Bel Brands chose to invest in Brookings because of the SDSU dairy research facilities. He believes that the state-of-the-art swine unit will have a similar effect on both the college and the community.

“Because of SDSU’s Dairy Research and Education Facilities, a large, very large, company established their largest in history investment in Brookings, South Dakota.” Daugaard said. “There’s no reason that, in the same way, the Swine Research and Education Facilities can’t attract that kind of attention and investment just like that.”

Swine have a strong economic impact in South Dakota. John Morrell & Co. owned by Smithfield, employs over 3,200 people in their Sioux Falls plant. According to Dunn, the new swine unit could greatly impact the swine industry in years to come.

“Agriculture starts on a farm but we think of it going all the way to someone’s plate. We do product development, teach kids how to harvest animals, so absolutely we had a lot of support,” Dunn said. “The Governor was supportive of the project because it did impact one of our state’s largest employers.”

The swine facility was funded through donations. A unique aspect of this funding is that there is not a single major donor. First Bank and Trust and the South Dakota Pork Producers made significant donations early, helping begin the project, according to Dunn.

“We would love to have it [swine facility] done by the end of 2015 but it might be after the first of the year into 2016. The freshmen that started this fall will, certainly in their time here, have access to that facility and their classes,” Dunn said.