Dairying in California developed to the point where it could be considered a major industry about 1890: the first creamery was erected in 1889 near Ferndale in Humbolt County; the centrifugal cream separator was introduced about that time and a rapid expansion in the amount of creamery-made butter was made possible; and nearly 300 creameries were constructed in the 1890's as well as several condensed-milk factories. Thus, dairying expanded rapidly during the decade 1890-1900. Along with this expansion came a growing realization or the need for dairy education if this fast growing industry was to prosper. The California Dairy Association and the Dairymen's Union strongly supported the establishment of a dairy school. The California Creamery Operators' Association, organized in 1900, added its support as did the rural press, particularly the Dairy and Produce Review under the editorship of W. H. Saylor, and the Pacific Rural Press.
The Pacific Rural Press in 1904 reported an action by the California Livestock Breeders Association in drawing up a bill to be presented to the state legislature providing for the purchase of a farm to be known as the "University Farm." It was to be under the control of the Regents of the University and to consist of not less than 250 acres of the best agricultural land in the state. The State Grange and the California Creamery Operators' Association also actively supported the recommendation. Funds for such a purchase were proceeds by the legislature in 1905 and an appointed commission selected 786 acres near Davisville, now Davis, Yolo County. This land was purchased from M. V. Sparks in April, 1906, and was occupied by the University September 1, 1906. Four buildings including a creamery were constructed in 1907.