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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

The world is changing fast but Virginia is still in top 20 states for milk production

Dairy Pipeline: August 2001

Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition

The internet, consolidation, biosecurity, genetic modified organisms, and environmental concerns are a few of the issues facing the Virginia dairy industry. All of these have come into the picture in the last ten years. We will be dealing with them for the next ten years plus other unseen factors that will change how we do business. No doubt the internet has changed how most of us go about getting information and communicating. It is not uncommon for me to receive a communication from Europe or Asia and have a reply back to them within the hour. Consolidation of milk coops and processors has changed milk marketing. Biosecurity is now on every ones radar screen now with foot and mouth in Great Britain. We must now ensure that no one goes around the Virginia Tech herd within five days return from foot and month infected regions. GMO's are a bigger issue in Europe especially with our U. S. produced soybeans and corn and will continue to be a factor in world trade. Certainly environmental awareness will be an issue in a state like Virginia that has a large urban population. OK, so what has not changed? One is the fact Virginia is still 19th in total milk production in the U. S. We have been in the top 20 milk producing states for more than 20 years. Only Florida and Texas are above us when considering the southeast region. What is clear is the western states of California, Idaho, and New Mexico are gaining market share. The states east of the Mississippi River are losing. The exceptions when comparing 2000 to 2001 milk marketing are Indiana (17.3% increase) and Michigan (3.0% increase). Virginia decreased 1.8%. What is clear to me is that we will continue to have a viable dairy industry for the foreseeable future. It will not be like the industry in the west with mega herds, although herds will continue to expand. Our dairy industry will use existing resources such as pasture, limited cropland, family based farms, and ready access to byproduct feeds to produce a high quality product. As always the future is still before us.

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