At the Indiana Livestock, Forage and Grain Forum on Monday, Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann announced a new strategic plan for the state’s dairy Industry. Indiana ranks 14th in the nation in milk production and currently has 7 dairy processing plants, but Ellspermann said over 4 million pounds of raw milk is being shipped out of the state each day. Thus, the new state strategic plan calls for increasing the amount of in-state dairy processing, “Like cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and even powered milk plants. Our goal is to add value to that product before it leaves our borders by increasing our dairy processing capacity in our existing 23 plants as well as by attracting new facilities. As the strategy notes, Indiana’s geographic location and transportation infrastructure provides a competitive advantage for Indiana-based plants shipping dairy products to East Coast markets.” She said, by increasing the number of dairy processors, local communities will benefit from more jobs and dairy farmers will benefit by greater demand for their product.
While there are no new deals to announce immediately, Ellspermann is confident that it will not belong until new plants will be attracted to the Hoosier state. ISDA and EDC officials are working right now to put the word out that Indiana is ready for new processing plants.
But, is rural Indiana ready for more processing plants and more and larger dairy operations? Ellspermann admits there is some work that needs to be done, “We feel there is a lot of potential for economic development in rural communities, and we will work with the dairy industry and local communities to help them understand the benefits of an expanded dairy industry to their county.”
Over 97% of Indiana dairy farms have 500 cows or less. “With a renewed and united focus, we can make Indiana an even more productive dairy state,” said ISDA Director Ted McKinney. “ISDA staff, along with our key partners from around Indiana, will help inform the public and dairy industry on the long term benefits of investing in milk production and dairy processing in the state of Indiana.” AgriNovus, the organization that fosters innovation in agriculture in Indiana, has innovation in the dairy processing and production sector as one of its core principles. Ellspermann says this will help attract dairy processing facilities to the state.
The strategy was commissioned by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture with the assistance of a national agricultural consultant who conducted research and market analysis working with the Indiana dairy industry. The report also suggests that Indiana continue to protect and support the ability of dairy farms to operate productively with reasonable environmental guidelines that protect Indiana’s land and water. Furthermore, it identifies the need for Indiana to maintain both the transportation infrastructure and transport policies that facilitate moving milk from the farm to the processor and then out to the broader markets, including such issues as weight limits on tanker transports.
For more information on the Indiana Dairy Strategy, please visit ISDA’s website at www.isda.in.gov.