Dairy leaders look at ways to improve industry
WAVERLY, Iowa — Iowa dairy leaders met last week in the Waverly Civic Center to talk about how to improve the industry.
Dairy farmers Larry Shover of Delhi and G. Joe Lyon of Toledo, both Iowa Division of Midwest Dairy Association board members, were in charge of the meeting. Shover was chairman of the meeting. It was sponsored by Midwest Dairy Association in cooperation with the Iowa State Dairy Association, Iowa State University Extension and the Iowa Dairy Coalition.
"We wanted to bring together all the dairy industry stakeholders," said Shover.
Jessica Bloomberg, ISDA industry relations manager, said 55 people representing 29 groups attended. Everyone had the chance to talk about what they do and offer perspectives on challenges and opportunities.
"The spirit in the room was cooperative and positive," Bloomberg said. "Mike Kruger, CEO of Midwest Dairy Association, summed it up by saying that all groups had three things in common — a different perspective on Iowa's dairy industry, resources that they can bring to Iowa's dairy industry, and a common interest in the future economic vitality of Iowa dairy farmers."
"We all agreed that we need to do better," Shover said. "We want to reverse the downward trend of our dairy numbers and increase our efficiency so that we can create opportunities for young people."
Iowa’s dairy industry is more than cows and milk, Shover said.
"Our most valuable asset is our people," Shover said. "They drive the business and maintain the spirit. Our good hard-working people add to the social fabric of our communities. To remain a part of and grow Iowa’s dairy industry, they need to see opportunities."
The meeting gave stakeholders a chance to meet each other and talk about how they can work together more closely to strengthen Iowa’s dairy industry, Shover said.
"This meeting was put together with the idea of what is good for the dairy farmer," said G. Joe Lyon. "The bottom line for me is what is good for the Iowa dairy farmer? If we take care of that, we will fulfill our responsibilities."
Bloomberg said the next step is to consider putting together a study on where the Iowa dairy industry needs to be and how to get there.
Lyon said funding for such an effort could come from MIdwest Dairy Association and various industry stakeholders.
"It won’t take a huge amount of money because we already have a lot of expertise right in this room," Lyon said.