Increased support leads to better focus on dairy economics

MINNEAPOLIS -- Midwest dairy economics will receive a more intense focus because of increased support from a partnership between Midwest Dairy Association, the Midwest Dairy Food Research Center and the University of Minnesota.

The three organizationssolidified their commitment to dairy economics research last month,officially placing dairy economist Marin Bozic on tenure-track in his assistant professor position with the U of M's Department of Applied Economics. In addition, Bozic has been named an associate director for the MDFRC, where he will oversee dairy economics as well as strategy and development. Although his general work won't change significantly, the structure that supports it has.

Midwest Dairy Association provided funds so the university could hire Bozic in 2011. There hadn't been anyone dedicated to dairy economics at the university for a number of years, said Mike Kruger, chief executive officer for Midwest Dairy Association.

"We saw it as a gap and we had some funds available that we dedicated to filling that gap," Kruger said. "The university wasn't able to fund that kind of position, so with our help (the partnership was) able to fill that gap until the university found a tenure-track position they could offer to Marin."

Under the new support structure, Midwest Dairy Association granted $500,000 to support Bozic's research efforts for 2014-18.


"It's an excellent example of a partnership that works for producers, that works for industry and that works for the university," Bozic said. "We've set a template that others can follow that want to support research programs at the University of Minnesota."

The university's backing will allow dairy checkoff dollars to now go more directly to needed research instead of salaries.

"It's a much more direct return for the checkoff investment," Kruger said. "This frees up funds for us to fund specific research projects and frees up availability for what Marin can do."

When Bozic was funded by checkoff dollars, his work only could fall under the scope of what is allowed under checkoff guidelines, which could not include, for example, utilization research.

With the university funding his position, Bozic is free to study topics like utilization, which would otherwise be off-limits, as well as all manner of topics for the checkoff, particularly the economic components of new market and new product development. He is already looking at ways to increase fluid milk consumption and different ways dairy byproducts may be used, particularly whether lactose could be used to create a dietary fiber.

Bozic's other areas of expertise include risk management and policy analysis. With a new farm bill in the works, Bozic is part of a team developing an online education platform that will help producers understand new programs and how they can used.

Bozic is glad his work regularly brings him into contact with everyone from producers to policy makers to processors.

"A lot of researchers tend to only work on one part of the supply chain," Bozic said. "I get exposed to the entire chain. It's a privilege to serve dairy producers and dairy consumers in Minnesota."


The researcher has been well received thus far in his work for the University of Minnesota, said Ken Herbranson, a Clitherall dairy producer who is on the advisory committee that helped develop the partnership.

"Bozic has just been an excellent addition to dairy research," Herbranson said. " He's made a name for himself already."

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