Long Overdue
James Dudlicek
(847) 405-4009

It seems dairy is getting left in the lurch, based on early assessments of the Bush administration’s Farm Bill and fiscal ’08 budget proposals.
“This budget does not move dairy policy forward in any meaningful way,” IDFA chief Connie Tipton says, noting that both it and the proposed Farm Bill retain funding for the conflicting MILC and dairy price support programs.
Could it be that the otherwise business-friendly Bush administration, struggling with its Iraq policy and facing a hostile Congress, no longer has the political will to bring dairy policy into the 21st century? It’s not like there are any surprises here; these Depression-era policies should have been changed several administrations ago.
It’s amazing that the dairy industry has been able to innovate to the extent that it has to stay afloat against competitors in other segments that are far less regulated. Often I have heard processors say that resources devoted to deciphering pricing formulas and other government mandates could be better spent on research and development so the industry can better compete domestically and expand markets abroad. Yet R&D dollars end up being redirected toward volatile raw-ingredient costs driven by archaic federal programs, producer herd-culling efforts and rising feed prices brought on by demand for ethanol.
Larger processors have the critical mass needed to simultaneously push ahead with new product development vital to future growth and untangle the red tape. But smaller companies forced to let R&D slide are left vulnerable to takeover or bankruptcy.
Still, new product development efforts continue to be fruitful, as this month’s issue illustrates.
Speaking of new products, Dairy Field has scheduled its first webcast April 23 to discuss the development of new dairy products. Invited to participate on our panel are brand marketing and R&D folks from Kraft and Stonyfield Farm, along with an analyst from Mintel’s Global New Products Database and moderated by yours truly.
We hope you’ll join us online. Meanwhile, as a launching pad of sorts, read more about the latest new products — and what consumers expect them to deliver — starting on page 14.
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