Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Dairy, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairman Gil Gutknecht held a public forum Wednesday, May 31, at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota to review the state of the Upper Midwest dairy industry.
"The dairy industry has changed significantly in recent years. It can no longer be looked at from a regional perspective or even a domestic one," says Gutknecht. "I was pleased to hear that Upper Midwest dairy producers and processors are mindful of these changes, prepared to face the challenges before them, and are open to the idea of modernized policies that will help them succeed in the global dairy industry."
Three panels of witnesses offered comments, including Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Lloyd Day, Upper Midwest Milk Marketing Area Administrator Paul Kyburz, Dr. Bob Cropp from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and leaders from the region's dairy associations, cooperatives and processing companies.
The Minnesota and Wisconsin dairy industries have a $23 billion economic impact on their states, including nearly 190,000 jobs. Minnesota and Wisconsin are among the top dairy producing and processing states in the nation. Last year, these leading dairy states combined produced 31 billion pounds of milk from 21,000 dairy farms.
Approximately 90 people attended Wednesday's forum. This is the third meeting Gutknecht has convened this year to gather feedback from producers regarding programs under the Subcommittee's jurisdiction in preparation for reauthorizing farm policy legislation in 2007. On Monday, May 22, the subcommittee held a hearing to review the future of renewable fuels and flex-fuel vehicles in Rochester, Michigan.