For 55 years now, World Dairy Expo has been recognized as where the global dairy industry meets, so it should be no surprise to witness the number and diversity of dairy farmers, scientists, enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs that come together from all across the globe to celebrate dairy.
Since its inception, FarmFirst has always been supportive and incredibly involved with the annual event, from volunteering with school groups, helping commercial exhibitors check in, sponsoring youth judging contests and supporting the National 4-H Dairy Conference. In addition, we have our booth in the tradeshow which gives us a terrific opportunity to connect with members from around the Upper Midwest.
Each year during this celebration Expo attendees have the chance to learn about the latest developments in technology and genetic advancements and get up to speed on the issues affecting the dairy industry. After a whirlwind week, here are a few of my reflections on this year’s Expo and what makes World Dairy Expo so unique.
Dairy is a Global Community
On my way into the Judging Contests Banquet, I was pleasantly reminded of the global importance of Expo as I followed a group of young adults and what appeared to be their coach who were going to the banquet. I could not understand their conversation but I quickly realized that they were speaking Dutch, and participated as a team from the Netherlands.
Seconds later, as I made my way to the reception, I overheard a family speaking Spanish. I imagined their conversation included what time the cattle shows were to start the next morning.
The judging contests and its banquet take place ahead of the cattle shows and the tradeshow, so it was only fitting that the international aspect of Expo would be so prominent upon the first few minutes of being on the Expo grounds. World Dairy Expo published at the conclusion of this year’s event that 1,375 international guests were registered in attendance, representing 86 different countries.
Dairy truly is an international community, and World Dairy Expo helps bring everyone together.
We All Must Work Together to Achieve a Vibrant Future
During the Global Dairy Symposium, four industry leaders from the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands took to the stage to share their perspectives on all the global dairy industry and the challenges of providing dairy protein to consumers around the world.
Marilyn Hershey, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer and Chair of Dairy Management Inc. discussed the far reaching impact of U.S. Dairy Export Council, its trade missions and their work with U.S. companies to enter into and expand dairy exports.
Sheryl Meshke, Co-President and CEO for Associated Milk Producers Inc., commented on how her Midwest dairy cooperative is addressing issues with respect to securing talent, supply chain issues, being a reliable supplier of specialty cheese for buyers.
Ad Van Velde, a dairy farmer in the Netherlands and President of Global Dairy Farmers, spoke about his own farm and how they are meeting the challenge of farming in…
a highly regulated environment with respect to the European Union’s position on climate change and the requirements to implement sustainable farming practices.
The most thought-provoking information came from, Torsten Hemme, a dairy economist from Germany and President of the International Farm Comparison Network. In his presentation on the capabilities of countries to meet worldwide dairy demand, Hemme stated that the U.S. has a comparative advantage over the EU, New Zealand, and Australia. Later, Hemme was asked about the Ukraine war and its effect on the EU. He was greatly concerned that increased energy costs would severely limit growth in the global dairy industry.
I came away from the symposium encouraged that the U.S. has a fantastic opportunity for increased exports provided we have favorable trade policies and have a balance between meeting environmental stewardship goals and dairy farm profitability. FarmFirst will need to continue to be diligent in these and other dairy policy areas.
It Takes All Kinds of Kinds
World Dairy Expo would not be possible without the efforts and participation by a diverse array of talented individuals. Expo brings farmers, artists, business professionals, cattle breeders, mechanics, scientists, economists, and educators together – the same people that the industry relies on for its success.
FarmFirst looks forward to World Dairy Expo every year as a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with members, but more importantly to support those that make the industry what it is today: dairy farmers.