Schulz proposes $150M facility

Research center would focus on food systems

By The Mercury

TOPEKA — Kansas State University could be getting a $150 million food-focused research facility by 2020.

K-State president Kirk Schulz made the proposal for the Food Systems Research and Education Facility to the Kansas Board of Regents Tuesday during a budget meeting.

No decisions were made at the meeting. The proposal would have to be approved by the board, the governor and the Kansas Legislature.

Schulz was not immediately available to comment on the proposal Wednesday morning.

The facility would be a state-of-the-art building that would house programs related to agriculture and food systems, according to the proposal.

It would focus on Kansas agriculture issues and the food system, including wheat, sorghum, beef, food safety and water.

The goals for the proposed facility are to develop higher yielding crops, more intensive crop systems, enhanced beef and dairy genetics and production and improved processing and distribution systems, all to minimize food loss and increase production as food demand increases globally. 

The Food Systems Research and Education Facility would include 110,000 square feet of research laboratory space, 50,000 square feet of research space and nearly 40,000 square feet of space for teaching, extension and distance education.

The facility, under the College of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension, would align with the goal of the university becoming one of the top 50 in research.

It would also address the need for more space because of growth in the College of Agriculture, according to the proposal.

The number of students in the college has grown by 1,000 in the past 10 years, bringing the total to 3,246 in the fall of 2013.

Financially, K-State would ask for $5 million from the state for a planning grant in fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, 2015.

Construction, according to a preliminary timetable, is planned to begin in 2018 and in total, the project would seek $75 million from the Kansas government, $50 million from the federal government, $20 million from private sources and $5 million from fees and other funds.

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