JEROME, Idaho — The University of Idaho has bought land in southern Idaho for a public visitor center, classrooms and other facilities supporting what officials say will be the world's largest research dairy.

Bill Loftus with the university's College of Ag and Life Sciences told The Times-News the new property at the intersection of Interstate 84 and U.S. Highway 93 near Jerome represents a significant step for the planned Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, or CAFE.

Work on the CAFE began over a decade ago, and the university plans to have the dairy up and running in 2024. The project spans three sites: a food processing research and training facility at the College of Southern Idaho; the dairy which will hold 2,000 head of cattle; and the Discovery Complex, which will be built at the newest property and include classrooms, the visitor center, faculty offices and housing.

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Other research dairies typically have no more than a couple hundred cows, while Idaho's average dairy is about 1,300 cows.