MANHATTAN, KANSAS, US — A sense of pride and mission infused the May 17 groundbreaking at Kansas State University for the new Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation, a building that will house the College of Agriculture’s Department of Grain Science and Industry.

“This will positively enhance and impact future students, faculty, K-State fans and stakeholders for the College of Agriculture,” said Ernie Minton, Eldon Gideon dean for the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension. “The Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation fits the vision by providing a state-of-the-art facility that will be an integral part of the College of Agriculture’s hub for grain science and animal sciences at K-State. This multi-faceted initiative is part of an ambitious plan to make Kansas State University the next-generation land-grant university, the example of what a land-grant university should be in the 21st century.”

The new building is part of the university’s Agriculture Innovation Initiative, which includes more than $200 million in new construction and significant renovations to Call Hall and Weber Hall, which are located next to the site for the Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation. Call and Weber serve other areas of the College of Agriculture, and the buildings will be connected by enclosed walkways. The proximity and connection will facilitate more collaboration, Minton explained.

“We elected to build new to house the department but to conceptually put them in a place that allows for the opportunity for more multidisciplinary interaction,” he said.

Also speaking at the ceremony was US Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas.

“It’s an honor to stand with you all today at my alma mater, Kansas State University, as we break ground on a truly transformative project, the K-State Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation,” Marshall said. “This center represents not just the future of agriculture and food technology at Kansas State, but as a beacon of innovation and sustainability for the world. The Center for Grain and Food Innovation will serve as a nexus for research, collaboration and education. We’ll bring together the brightest minds in academia, industry and government to foster advancements that improve crop yields and enhance food quality.” 

The center, which is expected to be completed in the summer of 2026, will include new interdisciplinary labs for collaboration across colleges, new industry partner spaces, modern milling and baking research labs and a modern experimental baking and teaching lab, as well as faculty offices, lecture halls and meeting spaces.

Thirty percent of the space at the new Global Center will be allocated for on-site collaboration between public resources and private enterprises, which will foster more effective problem solving.

Kansas State University Global Grain and Innovation Center_©KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY_e.jpg

A computer rendering of the soon-to-be-built Global Grain and Food Innovation Center (highlighted in purple), which will be located next to Weber Hall and Call Hall at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, US.


“The problems that are facing the food system are more difficult, more challenging than they’ve ever been,” Minton said. “We have artificial intelligence, big data, even water considerations for the wheat crop going forward in a changing climate. Things that make those kinds of more-challenging problems easier to tackle is with a lot of different disciplines contributing.”

Private companies working to solve problems can work with faculty and students to develop solutions. It’s an initiative that K-State President Richard Linton is making a priority, Minton said.

“We’ve not done that with our academic space on campus, but again this is something the president is a big fan of,” Minton said. “It is an opportunity for the right kind of project.”

Ardent Mills is among the companies supporting the center. The company has pledged $3.5 million for the Ag Innovation Initiative.

“This groundbreaking, including the shovels and dirt, absolutely represent a new modern, beautiful state-of-the-art facility, but as we’ve said, it’s so much more than that,” said Troy Anderson, vice president for operations at Ardent Mills and a K-State grain science graduate, who spoke at the groundbreaking. “It’s more important than that because it represents a new future, a new beginning that awaits us and most importantly, those that will come after us. It represents a future where our world-class faculty and administration can do what they do best. That’s teach, perform research, solve extremely complicated problems, all while developing more diverse, next-generation agriculture innovators and leaders.”

ADM also recently announced its pledge to donate $1 million to the center. 

“The Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation is set to pave the way for advancements in research and technology, and, as a leader in milling and baking solutions, we’re ecstatic to support this new facility and K-State’s Agricultural Innovation Initiative,” said Sarah Franklin, commercial manager, ADM. “This groundbreaking is just the beginning of what’s to come, and we look forward to the ways this center will support and train students to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation that ultimately unlock the power of nature to enrich the quality of life for people across regions, which is our mission.”

Others donating to the Ag Initiative include Lesaffre, Mennel Milling Co. and Miller Milling Co. 

“Lesaffre is delighted to participate in partnership with Kansas State in its Ag Innovation Initiative,” said Tom Benner, president and chief executive officer, Lesaffre North America. “This important project is critical to the future of our industry.”

Ford Mennel, president of the Mennel Milling Co., said, “Mennel is proud to support the creation of the new Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation at Kansas State University. This project is aligned with Mennel’s core values of collaboration, research and the training and development of future industry leaders. We look forward to the opportunity to partner with the top-notch team at KSU to help ensure the world’s food supply.”

Kevin Sebby, vice president of sales at Miller Milling, said, “We see this as an investment in the future leaders in our industry.”

The Ag Innovation Initiative will also include two new buildings on the north part of the campus, the Agronomy Innovation Center and Agronomy Research Center.

“We’re heavily involved in wheat variety development here,” Minton said. “Wheat variety development has implications in terms of flour and bread quality or even in the future selection for products with particular nutrient profiles derived from wheat or other grains. We’ve got the continuum happening here in total with this Ag Innovation Initiative.”

The agronomy buildings, which are smaller projects than the Global Center for Grain and Food Innovation, are expected to be completed in the summer of 2026.