Wisconsin dairy farm.
May 16, 2019

Wisconsin Dairy Task Force Prioritizes Innovation, Exports

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Thirty-one members of Wisconsin’s Dairy Task Force 2.0 have made 51 recommendations that they believe will push the state to remain competitive and a force both nationally and globally.


The top ten recommendations focus on research and innovation, markets, consumer confidence and rural community vitality.


“One of the first recommendations that the Dairy Task Force 2.0 passed was for increased investment in research through an initiative called the Dairy Innovation Hub,” says Brad Pfaff, Wisconsin’s Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Task Force recognized the need for additional staff, working with companies to develop new cheese varieties and other value-added dairy products, he says.


A second priority would initiate a feasibility study on the creation of a Wisconsin Cheese Brand to marketed state-produced products internationally, similar to what the Irish Dairy Board did in establishing its Kerrygold brand. Small and medium plants have difficulty establishing relationships with foreign buyers, understanding export requirements, and having enough volume to cost-effective shipping and distribution. With more than 200 Wisconsin dairy plants, it’s also often confusing to international buyers what these plants have to offer and who they are. This Wisconsin Export Board could be responsible for logistics, buyer relations, collating loads and so.


Though the recommendations sometimes read like a mix-mash of a cooperative’s annual wish list of resolutions, the state’s first Task Force, convened in 1985, led to a revitalization of the state’s dairy industry. At the time, Wisconsin’s dairy industry was losing cows, milk production and competitiveness to other states and regions. It is now the nation’s Number 1 cheese producer, focusing not only on commodity cheese but specialty cheese products. In effect, the Task Force recommendations serve as a road map for policy makers and other industry leaders.


The task force was made up of 14 dairy farmers, 9 processors and marketers and 8 allied industry officials. You can read the list of recommendations here and the priority of those recommendations here.