LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY, U.S. — Siemer Milling Co. is making a gift of $1 million to the University of Kentucky Grain and Forage Center of Excellence to support initiatives to improve grain quality and agronomic productivity of wheat in Kentucky and the region, the university announced on Jan. 25.

The gift will be given in five annual installments of $200,000 to support the Siemer Milling Company Wheat Production Program Fund. The fund will be used for programming, equipment, outreach, and faculty and student support. The conference center at the soon-to-be completed Grain and Forage Center will be named the Siemer Milling Company Conference Center.

Siemer Milling opened a flour mill in Western Kentucky 23 years ago to be closer to its largest customer and discovered that wheat growers in the region were among the most sophisticated in the business, said Rick Siemer, president.

“Because of the knowledge base, geography and weather patterns in Kentucky, growers can get three good crops in two years,” he said. “These growers are interested in growing quality wheat and essential to that is optimizing production techniques. Innovative agricultural leaders in the area brought in best practices developed in the United Kingdom to improve growing skills in Kentucky and the university utilized and expanded on those skills.

“When university officials showed me their plans and vision for the Grain and Forage Center and I shared it with our board of directors, they said it sounded like a great idea. We are excited about deepening our relationship and support of wheat cultivation and growing techniques in Kentucky.”

Siemer Milling is a 136-year-old family and employee-owned company operating wheat flour mills in Teutopolis, Illinois; West Harrison, Indiana; and Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The grain milling operations purchase 25 million bushels of locally-grown wheat and produce 750,000 tons of processed wheat products annually, including flour, wheat bran and wheat germ.

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Dean Nancy Cox said partnerships with industry are crucial to the success of a facility like the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence.

“The agriculture industry in Kentucky has been supportive of our college’s research and outreach efforts for many years,” she said. “This wonderful gift from Siemer Milling continues this legacy. We are very fortunate to have a company in our state that provides a market for our farmers and understands the value of ongoing research and educational efforts.”

Facilities for the Grain and Forage Center are under construction at the university’s Research and Education Center in Princeton, Kentucky, as part of a renovation and expansion project. Among the improvements are updated and state-of-the-art meeting facilities, laboratories and offices, and a boost to the center’s high-speed internet capabilities to allow graduate students stationed at the center to remotely participate in classes in Lexington. These improvements are expected to be completed this summer and will enhance the college’s extension, research and teaching missions.

Chad Lee, grain crops specialist and center director, said grain and forage industries play key roles in Kentucky’s economy and the investments made in the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence will move those sectors forward in the state.

“We appreciate the partnership that the Siemer Milling family has developed with growers, crop consultants, farm supply providers and the University of Kentucky,” Lee said. “Their commitment to sustainably grown wheat and strengthening the local communities where wheat is grown is an idea appreciated by all involved. We are humbled by their investment and look forward to our partnership for generations to come.”