This group identified several main strengths in the grassfed dairy sector. First, they saw grazing as an excellent opportunity for new farmers. They also saw a strength in the ability of the grassfed dairy sector to differentiate their product by taking advantage of the quality of the grass. Next, they pointed out that not everyone can be organic, and thus grass-based dairy can move towards sustainability without requiring farmers to be certified organic. Profitability due to lower cost of production was a strength, as was providing a model for other farmers.
The group also identified a set of challenges. These included addressing the need for new skills, figuring out how to encourage “conventional” farmers to transition to grass-based farming, overcoming the race to increase production, and educating bankers and policymakers to understand the economic advantages of grass-based dairying.
- Can we take advantage of combinations of Driftless flavors? One example mentioned included the creation of a cheese with morel mushrooms and grass-based milk.
- How do we advertise the Dirftless area as a grass-friendly region? This could mean drawing on historical, logistical, and topographic base for grass to draw in new farmers. The group pointed out that Crawford County successfully did this at the Dairy Expo.
- How do we show dairy leaders, farm leaders, and local, state, and federal politicians that encouraging grass-based farming is a long-term strategic opportunity?
- Can we utilize existing processing opportunities, including Carr Valley, Cedar Grove, Mt. Sterling, and Meister?
We would like to encourage your participation in continuing conversations. Please step forward by posting a comment below or by emailing us. If you have suggestions on how we can proceed please don’t hesitate to share them.