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What does change look like?

PD Editor Walt Cooley Published on 27 April 2010

Since my last writing, the USDA Dairy Advisory Board has held its first meeting in Washington, D.C. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack gave the 17-memember committee an opening charge to evaluate the most difficult challenges in the industry and present some solutions by the end of the year. Other meetings are scheduled in June and September. Now is the time to review all of the industry’s proposals for change.

In upcoming issues of Progressive Dairyman we will help you do that. We’re contacting plan proponents across the country. We are asking each plan to answer a uniform set of questions. These answers should help each dairyman understand what each plan is proposing to do, how it will impact milk prices in the future and what critical problems are facing the industry. We’ll put each plan side-by-side to show how each stacks up against another. In the end, we hope the comparisons will foster debate about the real issues and how well each plan addresses those issues.

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In addition to covering these important matters, we will not diminish our coverage of production-related topics.

Why are will still writing articles about improving efficiency? Haven’t producers done all that they can to be efficient? I’d encourage you to read the final installment of my editorial commentary series on why and how the U.S. should become more of a global dairy export player. This issue’s article focuses more on the how-to part of becoming a global player and what will need to change. It’s a good primer to read as discussions about dairy policy begin. The bottom line is that even with all of our resources and technology advancements, our dairy industry must continue to become more efficient to compete with up-and-coming low-cost dairy industries around the globe. I see the global dairy market as an opportunity. Sure, it comes with more risk, but don’t most great opportunities?

I’m sure many of you have opinions on whether or not we should be worried about increasing exported dairy products. I’ve heard from the vocal minority. I’d like to hear from more of you. Please keep your calls and e-mails coming.

In this issue are two other interesting articles I would highly suggest reading. We interviewed HumaneWatch.org’s David Martosko. Read our question-and-answer session with him . Earlier this year, Martosko took the stage in California at the Western United Dairyman convention to speak to attendees. He said it was his largest dairy audience ever. You’ll want to read why his organization is focusing its watchdog attention on HSUS and why he thinks something drastic must be done to prevent this NGO from gaining Red Cross-like political and social status. Find out how soon he says that could happen if the status quo is maintained.

If you’re at all interested in crossbreeding, we have a rare opportunity to share some early results from an ongoing study. Researchers, allied industry and dairymen in Minnesota are studying a three-way crossbreeding program using the Holstein, Swedish Red and Montbeliarde breeds. Read about the early observations . The program seems truly fast-forward.

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I’ve always called our readers forward-thinking dairy producers. And if ever this country’s dairy industry needed forward thoughts, it is now. I look forward to hearing more of them from you in the months to come. PD

  • Walt Cooley

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