Category: Education

Nelson-Jameson Foundation Invests in Nation’s Largest Research Dairy—University of Idaho’s Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment

Distributor provides resources to support dairy education and industry growth


Marshfield, WI, – November 20, 2023 | The Nelson-Jameson Foundation announced its role supporting the development of the nation’s largest research dairy, the University of Idaho’s Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (CAFE) through a $50,000 contribution. Idaho CAFE is being created to support the growth of local Idaho agriculture and the national dairy industry. Future research at the site will develop creative solutions to advance the sustainability of dairy, food processing, livestock, and crop protection.

“We are so pleased to be part of the important work that CAFE is doing to support local agricultural practices and lead the dairy industry into the future. Food systems are facing myriad challenges, and the CAFE Project is solving these challenges with forward-thinking, innovative approaches to food and dairy production and distribution,” says Mat Bartkowiak, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility & Development at Nelson-Jameson.

University of Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (CAFE) construction site
(Courtesy of Nelson-Jameson): Nelson-Jameson Foundation is supporting the development of America’s largest research dairy at the University of Idaho’s Center for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (CAFE). On site, the milking parlor is being built.

CAFE brings together a cross-section of multidisciplinary scientists to study the animal and plant agriculture using a systems approach. Construction for phase one, at $22.5 million, is currently underway. When completed, the facility will be at the cutting edge for the industry and scheduled to be operational by late 2024. Researchers will examine the viability of dairy production in light of evolving economic conditions, cultural preferences, and environmental pressures and also study potential revenue diversification for dairy farmers. Operating as a demonstration dairy farm, it will have the capacity to house 2,000 cows when fully completed – a scale representative of dairying in the West.

“The beauty of Idaho CAFE is the linkages between the research dairy, agricultural production and our partners in industry,” said Michael P. Parrella, Dean of the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “Nelson-Jameson’s commitment to the project underlines industry’s need for sustainability research that will ensure the health and productivity of the industry for generations. We could not accomplish this effort without the support of generous partners like Nelson-Jameson.”

In keeping with the University of Idaho’s mission of research-driven innovation, students at the University of Idaho will have access to educational opportunities and research programs in connection with CAFE.

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How Cultures & Enzymes Move the Dairy Industry Forward

by Steve Funk | Senior Cheese Technologist at Nelson-Jameson

Cultures and enzymes are biological catalysts for dairy product production, but they’re also catalysts for the dairy industry as a whole. These hard-working elements work quietly behind the scenes to strengthen the industry’s brand reputation, increase dairy product market share, and delight consumers. 

As the industry continues to adapt to changes and face new and long-standing challenges, cultures and enzymes help dairy advocates respond with answers. The trend toward plant-based alternatives is answered with vegetarian enzymes. Interest in health and wellness is answered with cultures that stimulate the probiotic benefits of yogurts, kefirs, and other cultured dairy. Here are five ways that cultures and enzymes are helping dairy processors.  

Consumer Trends: Year after year, dairy processors aim to strike a balance between tradition and innovation. Consumers count on the availability of their favorite dairy products, but they also want new flavors and formats. Cultures and enzymes keep consumers happy by providing consistently produced dairy staples as well as inventive products that introduce new tastes and textures. They can also impact how well a cheese melts, browns, or blends, providing additional variety to culinary usages. 

Food Safety: The use of cultures and enzymes is increasing because of its success in maintaining the integrity of dairy products and enhancing food safety. New bioprotective cultures can replace chemical preservatives, providing consumers and suppliers with preservative-free products that also have better shelf stability.  Of course, cultures and enzymes are not a substitute for other safety protocols, such as knowing your milk source, understanding plant sanitation, and carefully following all steps in a cleaning process. Still, ongoing advances in cultures and enzymes allow dairy processors to inhibit yeast and mold growth, prevent spoilage, and better protect their products. 

Health and Wellness: Ongoing demand for the gut-health benefits of probiotics continues to keep yogurt at the top of cultured dairy sales. Cultures and enzymes also support other health-driven consumer preferences such as reducing lactose or increasing organic consumption. Beyond product features, the health and wellness benefits of cultured dairy enhance awareness of and interest in dairy as a category and its place in the famous food pyramid.

Food innovation: Industry scientists continue to find new pathways for cultures and enzymes. Product developers can use a 50-year-old, patented culture and/or a novel culture developed within the last year to expand a product line – the old and new work in tandem with each other.  Technical experts are creating new avenues for culture and enzyme usage, such as the use of non-traditional cultures to transform the effects in long-standing cheeses. Dairy processing operations benefit from culture and enzyme innovations as well. They can be added to help accelerate production or make it easier to utilize equipment. 

Brand Strength: As dairy processors utilize cultures and enzymes to enhance product uniqueness, satisfy consumers, and find creative solutions to challenges, a bonus result is industry brand strength. Consumers stay engaged with a food & beverage category when it’s both consistent and innovative, and fosters trust in food safety and health benefits.  In turn, this brand strength bolsters marketing and selling opportunities. 

Cultures and enzymes continue to be the workhorses of cultured dairy products, but they’re also indirect lobbyists for the industry. Dairy processors can benefit from continued focus on the role of cultures and enzymes in all aspects of production. 

If you need more insight on enzymes for your dairy product production, contact the experts at Nelson-Jameson (

About Steve Funk

Steve Funk is Senior Cheese Technologist at Nelson-Jameson. As a passionate dairy industry veteran with more than 40 years of experience, he provides customers with advice on ingredients, production processes, and manufacturing improvements to enhance cheese and fermented dairy product results. His innovative approach to quality cheese-making has helped dozens of customers create and launch unique cheese recipes that are market favorites today. Steve is an active member of numerous dairy industry associations and serves as a WDPA representative on the prestigious Master Cheesemakers Board. He supports the next generation of dairy innovators by serving as a NE-DBIC Dairy Processor Expansion Grant reviewer and a mentor for its Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition, an inaugural program managed by Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement and the Northeast Dairy Foods Research Center. He holds a B.S. in Dairy Science and Animal Health from the University of Vermont. When not at work, he enjoys skiing, kayaking, gardening, and spending time with his wife of 38 years, Carla, and their daughter and grandson.

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Understanding Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA)

Every year, destructive and deadly dust-related fires and explosions affect a wide range of industries around the globe, including the food processing industry. 

According to the 2021 Combustible Dust Incident Report Summary by Dust Safety Science, in the United States alone, there has been an average of 133 fires, 30 explosions, 39 injuries, and one to six fatalities per year (between 2016 and 2021). 

To help manage dust-related fires, flash fires, and explosion hazards, the NFPA® introduced NFPA 652: Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust

All facilities that handle or produce combustible dust, or particulate solids that may become dust, are at risk of a potential dust explosion. NFPA 652 defines combustible dust as a “finely divided combustible particle solid that presents a flash fire hazard or explosion hazard when suspended in air of the process-specific oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations.” A dust explosion occurs when the following elements combine at the same time: combustible dust, oxygen in air, dispersion, confinement, and ignition. 

To improve plant safety and minimize or mitigate potential risks, NFPA 652 requires facilities to complete a Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA).

What Is A Dust Hazard Analysis?

DHA is a tool used to identify the specific combustible dust hazards associated with a facility’s process to determine where credible fire, flashfire, and explosion hazards exist—allowing a facility to create a plan to minimize or mitigate potential risks.

Who Is Required To Complete A Dust Hazard Analysis?

All facilities that manufacture, blend, package, repackage, convey, or handle combustible dust or particulate solids that may become dust are required to complete a Dust Hazard Analysis per NFPA 652.

Who Can Complete A Dust Hazard Analysis?

NFPA 652 recommends a Dust Hazard Analysis be completed by a team (not required) and led by a qualified person (required). If a facility decides to complete a DHA as a team, Plant Engineers, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) personnel, and Plant Management are frequently involved in the process as they all provide valuable perspectives. Consider including Maintenance and Operations personnel who often have hands-on experience for additional insight to potential combustible dust hazards.

It is highly recommended to have a third-party conduct and complete a Dust Hazard Analysis to avoid the risk of overlooking potential hazards. Contact Nelson-Jameson for third-party referrals in your area.

When Is A Dust Hazard Analysis Required?

NFPA 652 requires a Dust Hazard Analysis to be completed for all new installations or expansions/upgrades to existing installations. A Dust Hazard Analysis should also be completed every five years, even if no changes have been made.

Why Is A Dust Hazard Analysis Required?

Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s) require a Dust Hazard Analysis be completed to comply with NFPA 652. (AHJ’s = OSHA, Insurance Providers, Facility Safety Personnel, & Fire Marshals). The DHA will provide the facility with the areas/environments in which updates are necessary to comply with NFPA 652. Example: combustible dust safe certified industrial vacuums (not including shop-style vacuums or non-certified vacuums).

Currently, NFPA 652 is the standard for dust basics and is a good starting point for combustible dust standards, best practices, and the requirements for a Dust Hazard Analysis (DHA). The other five standards, all of which are commodity-specific, are:

  • NFPA 61: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Products Facilities
  • NFPA 484: Standard for Combustible Metals
  • NFPA 654: Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids
  • NFPA 655: Standard for Prevention of Sulfur Fires and Explosions
  • NFPA 664: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities

A Dust Hazard Analysis varies for each company depending on their specific requirements. Contact Nelson-Jameson for referrals on third-parties to conduct a Dust Hazard Analysis for your facility.

Food Processing Distributor Nelson-Jameson Announces Inaugural College Scholarship Winners


The “Golden Rule” college scholarship program is provided by the Nelson-Jameson Foundation

Marshfield, WI, June 15, 2023 – The Nelson-Jameson Family of Companies recently announced the inaugural winners of its “Golden Rule” college scholarship program through the Nelson-Jameson Foundation. Two students, Kierstyn Kindschy and Nathan Nikolay, were each awarded a $2,500 scholarship for college expenses. The Foundation’s Scholarship Program provides family members of Nelson-Jameson employees the opportunity to apply for scholarships at accredited two- or four-year colleges. 

Kindschy has been accepted to the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and plans to major in Elementary Education and Special Education. Her father is Nelson-Jameson employee Andy Kindschy, an Outside core account manager in the Outside Sales department in western Wisconsin. Nikolay is pursuing higher education at Fox Valley Technical College, with a focus on Agricultural Power Equipment. His father, Jay Nikolay, is a Facilities & Maintenance manager in Operational Support in Marshfield, Wisconsin. 

“We are thrilled to congratulate Kierstyn and Nathan on their Nelson-Jameson Golden Rule scholarships, and provide support for the educational and career dreams they articulated so eloquently in their applications,” says Amanda Sasse, fourth-generation owner of Nelson-Jameson. “We pride ourselves on our Golden Rule workplace culture of honesty, integrity, and kindness, and we’re equally proud to extend these values to our employees’ families as well.” 

An independent committee of former educators reviewed the applications and selected the winners. Criteria included: status as a first-generation college student; active community involvement and/or volunteer experience; and three essays – one describing why the scholarship was important to them, another on career objectives, and a third on how they live Nelson-Jameson’s Golden Rule values.  The scholarship program will run annually, with each year’s winners announced in May. More information on the company can be found at

About Nelson-Jameson   

Nelson-Jameson is a fourth-generation, family-owned distributor to the food and beverage industry. From the company’s roots in dairy production supplies, it grew to offer a broad range of food processing equipment and services that provide customers with everything they need to manufacture safe, high-quality products. Representing over 850 vendors and distributing over 60,000 products, Nelson-Jameson offers everything from standard equipment to custom production solutions and equipment repair.  The company employs more than 260 people in five distribution centers across the United States and at its headquarters in the heart of dairy country in Marshfield, Wisconsin. The dairy industry leader also operates NEXT Logistics, offering delivery services from Wisconsin, California, Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Texas distribution centers.   

For more than 75 years, Nelson-Jameson has supported food and dairy processors with products and solutions that keep pace with changing consumer tastes, manufacturing processes, and distribution channels. The company continues to be the supplier of choice for customers in all 50 states and international markets.   

For more information, please visit:

Media Contact:
Karolyn Raphael

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