It is easy to take for granted the milk, cheese, butter and many other delicious dairy foods that fill the grocery store coolers here in Wisconsin.
From our first childhood memories, these nutritious and wholesome foods have always been at our fingertips. It’s unimaginable to think they would be anything but abundant forever.
Rest assured, we and our partners in the Wisconsin dairy community are fiercely committed to keeping it that way.
Our non-profit organization was formed 16 years ago when the state’s dairy community stood at a crossroads. California had overtaken Wisconsin in milk production and our dairy herd was rapidly declining. A coordinated and collaborative effort would be needed to reinvigorate dairy farming here.
We created a new model for an agricultural group, bringing together farmers, vendors and business partners.
I am proud to say that the DBA — driven by dairy farmers, milk processors and a host of other supportive businesses — has helped make a positive difference.
Wisconsin routinely breaks milk production records each year, and our per-animal production even topped our West Coast competitor this year.
Our farmers are more progressive than ever, investing millions of dollars in new technologies to recycle waste, keep soil in its place and ensure that their animals are happy and healthy.
And our members’ voices are heard and respected in local town halls, in Madison and in Washington, where we tirelessly fight for sensible and science-based regulations.
Still, the work is not complete. The number of dairy farms continues to decline while threats from activists increase. Finding employees remains a major challenge and fewer young people see dairy farm ownership in their futures.
But we are undaunted.
A year ago, we embarked on a renewal of sorts for this organization. We redoubled our efforts to maximize value for members and to achieve our core mission of helping all dairy farms in Wisconsin succeed.
We made sure our public policy program remains powerful and made new commitments to member, industry and public relations. We are building tighter, more collaborative connections with thought leaders and innovators. And we are strengthening models for sustainability of this organization and the farming community.
The dairy community is the backbone of Wisconsin’s economy and culture.
As a farmer myself, I can tell you that we never lose sight of our responsibility and purpose as representatives of America’s Dairyland.
As an organization, we will never take that for granted.