Last week, the 2014 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin drew more than 70,000 dairy farmers, processors and other stakeholders from across the country and around the globe. Attendees explored exhibits featuring elite dairy cattle, the latest in dairy research, the newest farm equipment and innovations from the dairy industry service sector. High school and college students—the next generation of American agriculture—explored career and internship opportunities. And people visiting the exhibit booth of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) learned about the many services we offer, and the work we do to improve and expand domestic and international markets for U.S. fluid milk and dairy products.
Our Dairy Program helps America’s dairy farmers and producers efficiently market high-quality milk and a wide range of dairy products. A prime example is our Dairy Market News and mandatory dairy commodity prices reporting. These services provide timely and accurate market information on milk and dairy products, assisting the dairy industry in making buying and selling decisions and in planning for the future.
We also talked about the new series of market reports on locally or regionally produced agricultural products. The reports—covering products from all commodity areas—are available on the Local & Regional Food Marketing Information web page. Speaking of local food, the Expo’s timing was great because we could also tell booth visitors about USDA’s recent announcement of over $52 million in grants to strengthen local food economies and organic producers.
Dairy farmers, processors and retailers expressed continued interested in the organic milk and dairy product market. Its popularity has increased over the last 5 years that Dairy Market News has covered the sector. We spoke with numerous visitors about the integrity of the USDA organic seal, and how it verifies that producers meet animal health and welfare standards, do not use antibiotics or growth hormones, use 100 percent organic feed and provide animals with access to the outdoors. We also met with organic exhibitors to learn the latest on milk pay prices and marketing.
People visiting our booth also asked questions about our administration of Federal Milk Marketing Orders. These orders are Federal rules requested by industry to make the buying and selling of fluid milk an orderly, dependable process for U.S. dairy farmers, milk dealers and consumers. We let them know some of the many benefits of the program, including pricing, testing and market services.
The World Dairy Expo experience was extremely rewarding, leaving me with a closer connection to our country’s dairy farmers, producers, marketers, distributors and aspiring newcomers. And I know that many of them left with a greater knowledge of how hard USDA and AMS work to help their industry to thrive.
Many thanks to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service for sharing booth space with AMS, saving both costs and staffing. Their hospitality and teamwork made the Expo a great experience.