A worker processes meat for packaging on the cutting table at Maverick Meats in Denver.

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Colorado State University in Fort Collins has broken ground on a $20 million center for its burgeoning meat science program. Much of the money for the facility comes from Greeley-based meatpacking giant JBS USA. The company and the university say the center will help "advance best practices in food safety, meat sciences and animal handling and welfare."

The head of CSU’s Department of Animal Sciences, Kevin Pond, told KUNC and Harvest Public Media reporter Luke Runyon that there's currently no "space on- or off-campus for students to learn these processes first-hand."

"For educational purposes, the full range of animal handling and processing will take place in the facility,” Pond said.

But the plan has critics, including more than 60,000 signers of an online petition trying to stop what they call a "slaughterhouse" on CSU's campus.

Reporter Luke Runyon has followed the story for KUNC and Harvest Public Media, and spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

Read Runyon's report: