CAHS Revitalizes Its Founding Focus with Groundbreaking of New Meat Lab
By: Taelor Smith
Last week, the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences (CAHS) broke ground on what will soon become the Prairie View A&M University Meat Lab. Surrounded by a host of students, alumni, faculty and staff, the meat lab will be the newest addition to the 778-acre Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Farm and Ranch.
The Meat Lab will be an inclusive learning environment with spaces designed to provide students access to the food processing sequence from harvest to retail sales. In its 8,220 square foot space, the building will house classrooms, administrative offices, a dry lab, and multiple processing rooms for cutting, freezing, and packaging. “This facility will greatly benefit students. It will enhance their skill set through hands-on and experiential learning. Those learning objectives include food handling and processing, adding value to meat products, and working alongside faculty mentors to create exciting new project innovations. It will make them more marketable and ultimately, more productive people,” said Dr. Gerard D’Souza, CAHS dean and director of Land Grant Programs.
Like the original Animal Industries building that was operated on the University Farm for several decades before closing in 2009, there are plans for the lab to be a food source for the university community. Through the CAHS cooperative extension program, surrounding counties will have access to fresh meat products for retail.
The addition of the meat lab also expands the outreach in the community through the student garden on the farm and the Integrated Food Security Research Center. “The Meat Lab will heavily contribute to students’ evaluation of the entire food system, mainly focusing on the meat goats raised on the farm,” said Dr. Deland Myers, endowed professor of Food Systems.
“We have meat goats, so we’re able to experience the production side. This [meat lab] fills that gaps for us to examine the processing aspect. It’s going to put us in a unique position from a research standpoint.”
In the classroom, food systems research scientist Dr. Milton Daley looks forward to enhancing his curriculum by ensuring students earn their Food Handlers License before graduation. “Each student will understand the complexities involving the conversion of live animals into food and by-products,” said Daley. “They will be able to seek better jobs, and their scope and perspective will be wider for agriculture careers.”
The construction of this $6 million facility is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The Meat Lab has a projected one-year construction timeline to be completed by June 2020 and prepared for operation by the Fall 2020 semester.
This work was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, 1890 Extension Formula Program projects under Section 1444.