Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

New $6 Million State Allocation to Firmly Establish WT As Global Food Animal Production Leader


CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University is cementing itself as the primary resource for ensuring the resiliency of the global food supply chain, thanks to recently announced state funding.

As part of a record $1.19 billion in new spending approved by Gov. Greg Abbott for The Texas A&M University System, WT will receive $6 million to continue establishing the Center for Advancing Food Animal Production in the Panhandle—$3 million per year over the next two years.

CAFAP enables WT students to specialize in animal health, animal care, animal nutrition and pre- and post-harvest food science/food safety.

The annual economic impact of beef and dairy cattle in the Texas Panhandle exceeds $20 billion.

“WT has been committed to partnering with the State, The Texas A&M University System and Texas A&M University to address and solve issues related to the production of food, fuel and fiber,” said WT President Walter V. Wendler. “I am grateful to our elected officials for recognizing the important role WT faculty and student play in conducting research to prepare future leaders in our region, state and nation. The $6 million is an important investment in the commitment WT has made in the long-range plan WT125: From the Panhandle to the World to serve locally first and address issues of our region.”

The new funding will help ensure a steady and affordable supply of essential food products to consumers; address beef, dairy and pork producer needs; and optimize water-use technologies in the High Plains by funding an academic and industry team, with post-graduate students, to provide solutions.

The requested funding also will allow the Center to expand its nontraditional agricultural education services through partnerships with state and federal agencies, producer groups and local school districts.

“Beyond the training of University students in the classroom, WT’s exceptional faculty and facilities are used in partnership with youth organizations such as FFA, 4-H and educational camps, as well as commercial entities and industry groups for educational programs and events,” said Dr. Kevin Pond, dean of the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.

Pond said that WT, located in the heart of food animal production, has an obligation to serve the people and industries in this region.

“This funding helps meet the large and expanding number of students studying various aspects of food animal production and allows for additional research and personnel to meet the demands for efficiently and sustainably producing safe food,” Pond said.

In 2019, the 86th Legislature provided $4 million in funding to prepare undergraduate/graduate students, pre-veterinary students and post-DVM students for careers in all parts of the food animal industry in the heart of one of the most productive animal agricultural regions of the world.

The additional $6 million approved in June will allow for a 35 percent increase in undergraduate and graduate students training in beef, dairy and pork agriculture in WT’s Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, as well as Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Veterinary Education, Research and Outreach. VERO is the unique 2+2 veterinarian training program housed at both WT and Texas A&M University.

WT also should see significant gains in enrollment in other areas of its Department of Agricultural Sciences.

The funding also will make possible expansions in research for the food animal industry, in the use of water in animal production and other high-impact areas, through a combination of personnel from WT, VERO, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension, and the Charles W. Graham DVM Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.

Since 2016, more than $100 million has gone into expanding WT’s agricultural programs, including the construction of WT’s Agricultural Sciences Complex, which contains the Happy State Bank Academic and Research building; the Caviness Meat Science and Innovation Center; the Piehl-Schaeffer Pavilion and the Bain Event Center; and The Charles W. “Doc” Graham ’53 DVM, The Texas A&M University System Center, which encompasses VERO and TVMDL.

Relatedly, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center of Amarillo announced in May 2022 that it would move to the northeast corner of WT’s campus, thanks to $30 million in funding from the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Construction is slated to begin in early 2024.

CAFAP has earned the support of Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas Association of Dairymen, Texas Pork Producers Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association and High Plains Veterinary Medical Association, among other regional commercial food, meat processing and fabrication companies, and other agriculture producer groups.

Since 2019, WT’s Department of Agriculture has grown through the addition of four new faculty members in animal genomics, meat science, research statistics and risk management; three instructors in animal science and agricultural sciences; two staff; and 12 graduate students.

CAFAP is one of several research facilities housed within WT’s Department of Agricultural Sciences, including the Caviness Meat Science and Innovation Center, which also incorporates the Beef Carcass and Research Center and the USDA Cattle and Carcass Grading Correlation Center; the WT Research Feedlot; and the Semi-Arid Agricultural Systems Institute.

CAFAP is one of the crucial programs that makes WT a Regional Research University, the primary goal of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.


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