Efforts to establish a USDA dairy research facility date back to the late 1950s. But it wasn’t until the 1970s when planning began for this facility and Congress appropriated the funds. Construction of the farm facilities began in 1980; this same year the first animals were brought to the farm.

The land on which this farm is located has a rich and unique history. First inhabited by Native Americans, European settlers began turning it into farmland in the 1830s. Then, at the dawn of the U.S. entry into World War II, the Department of Defense confiscated the land from 80 farm families in order to build a munitions plant. Known as the Badger Army Ordinance and later the Badger Army Ammunition Plant (BAAP), the facility manufactured gun powder during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. It was put on standby status in 1976.

When the USDA was looking for a site for this research farm, it obtained a special permit through the U.S. Department of Defense to farm about 1,500 acres of the 7,354-acre BAAP site for 20 years at no cost. In 1999 the USDA started making lease payments. And in September of 2004, the USDA received custody of 1,943 acres of the BAAP.

old pic baap buildings
Many of the original animals at the farm were the result of embryo transfer (ET) from cows in the UW herd. This photo shows one cow with her 10 ET offspring.
Abandoned buildings from the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant loom on the horizon.