Dear Rep. Ron Kind:
I read an editorial in the April 10, 2017, Wisconsin State Farmer newspaper and I would like to respond with a single word — hope.
I am an economist and consultant to the banking industry. I am very active in Ag and dairy matters. I know how hard it is for a dairy to survive.
I am very sympathetic to the trials of your constituents. But when I read numerous editorials, I find a lack of workable solutions. So, I offer one here.
Idaho dairymen found themselves in harsh situations about 10 years ago. Several pooled their pennies and built a state of the art processing center. This now exceeds expectations and allows dairymen to further reclaim and own, their future. I have reached out to some of the largest banks in the nation and asked a question: Would any be interested in funding a new processor construction. The answer is a resounding yes!
Idaho Milk Products represents a very successful case study, and lenders want new projects. In your comments, you mentioned the USDA. The USDA is, among other things, a very large lender. It is possible to piggyback various loans. A loan from Rural Energy for an anaerobic digester to consume bovine waste. Now a dairy, with a new processor, is green.
I believe the days of processing a gallon of fluid milk, whole, low-fat, and no-fat, are fading. Most other segments of the retail markets are going private label — meats, nuts, eggs, etc. So why not milk? Processed fluid milk has a short shelf life, limiting the geographic range for shipping.
In my fridge now I have numerous variations on yogurt, including drinks. I live in metro Los Angeles and all the stores are adding branded cheese counters. These are examples of new dairy products, with longer shelf lives, that can travel farther, extending the Wisconsin brand.
As an economist, I find demand for new dairy products growing. I know there are case studies, for your dairies to consider. And finally, I know there are ample sources of funds. A simplified proposal for constructing a new processor could be completed in weeks, and presented to lenders for consideration.
So again, I offer a message of hope.
Alexander is the managing director of Triune