Mission & History

Photo of a cow.

To provide responsive, agile, thorough, and comprehensive research that benefits the U.S. dairy farmer.


To increase the long-term survival and growth of the U.S. dairy industry, ensure its future competitiveness, and develop expertise in dairy foods research.

These will be accomplished through research projects and outreach programs with dairy foods that are important to the dairy and food industry.



The national-check off program (The Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983) was established by Congress to help increase the consumption of milk and dairy products in the U.S. 

Congress also established The National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (Board). The Board is composed of 36 farmer representatives who are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. 

Congress determined that the Board would manage the program and write the checks, but the USDA would have oversight responsibility. 


Dairy farmers started contributing 15 cents for 100 pounds of milk they sell to the national check-off program. 

Congress agreed that farmers could invest 100% of their funds in national promotion, research and educational programs. 

Farmers chose to split their contributions into 2 different funds: 10 cents would be invested in regional programs managed by organizations like the Midwest Dairy Association, and 5 cents would be invested in national and export programs managed by Dairy Management, Inc.


Industry leaders and educators presented farmers with a proposal to establish dairy foods research centers at land grant universities that have strong dairy curriculum and existing pilot plants. 

Their objective was to foster training, research and education in dairy products processing to fill industry’s need for skilled graduates and ensure the continued growth of the dairy industry.

Farmers approved the proposal and agreed to commit $13.5 million to the project. Starting in 1987, and continuing into 1988, six dairy foods research centers emerged.


The Minnesota-South Dakota Dairy Foods Research Center was established between University of Minnesota and South Dakota State University.


Iowa State University joined the Center and the name changed to Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center.


Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) became a regional sponsor for the Center.


The Institute for Dairy Ingredient Processing opens, which gives the capacity for commercial-scale and feasibility studies.


The Center has over 20 faculty who offer expertise in cheese, whey, milk and dairy ingredient process, safety, flavor, and nutrition of dairy products.

Since inception, researchers have issued several patents, authored more than 200 publications, presented over 500 abstracts and posters at national and international scientific conferences, and awarded nearly 150 graduate degrees—both master’s and PhD, all in support of dairy foods research.