On November 7 and 8, House Dairy Subcommittee Chairman Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) and New Zealand's Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency John Wood, hosted a Dairy Summit in St. Paul, Minn., to discuss the future of the U.S dairy industry in the global marketplace. More than 40 Minnesota dairy producers, processors and other members of the state's agriculture industry participated in the event.
Leading the roundtable along with the chairman and the ambassador were Don Learmonth, president and CEO of Fonterra USA, and Jeff Williams, president and CEO of Glanbia Foods. The discussion focused on global markets, innovation, opportunities to increase U.S. dairy exports and the significance of the 2007 Farm Bill and current agricultural negotiations in the World Trade Organization's Doha Round.
"The Doha Development Agenda, combined with the Farm Bill renewal process, is an opportunity to be seized," Williams says. "The U.S. dairy industry overall has powerful efficiencies to build upon and can become a much more significant global supplier."
Ambassador Wood stressed the tremendous success that New Zealand's dairy industry has achieved since deregulating in the 1980s. Despite dire predictions of collapse, New Zealand's dairy industry has grown into a global leader since deregulation.
"Once our farmers stopped making their production decisions based on maximizing government support, and instead based their decisions on market signals, dairy took its rightful place in New Zealand agriculture," Ambassador Wood commented. "It is the ability to respond to the market that has led to our vibrant and diversified rural economy."
Incoming IDFA Chairman Jim Green, president and CEO of Kemps, says that he applauds "the remarkable success of our counterparts in New Zealand since deregulation. Their approach demonstrates the power of open markets and the opportunities available to our industry around the world."
IDFA President and CEO Connie Tipton, who attended the summit, adds that "the U.S. dairy industry has unlimited potential, but in order to achieve that potential, U.S. dairy policies must be changed to recognize the realities of the global marketplace."