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How can we incentivize dairy research?

Maggie Gilles, Kansas Dairy Farmer

April 15, 2021

Innovation and research are two of the most important keys to future success of dairy sales. As such, the industry invests heavily in research and development to secure markets of the future. During the April 7 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream, a question was posed to the panelists. Would the dairy be better served by incorporating research and development into the make allowance? The audience member asking the question noted that under this idea, co-ops and processors would have to prove the money went to dairy product research.

“I wouldn’t build it in the make allowance where you’re looking at a just commodity product and a pretty efficient plant cost of processing to determine what you can afford to pay farmers as a minimum price,” Cornell’s Andy Novakovic responded directly.

That doesn’t mean he isn’t a supporter of research. “Where can we incentivize investment in dairy foods processing or dairy farming is an excellent question,” he continued.

Calvin Covington, who is a retired CEO of Southeast Milk Inc., echoed Novakovic’s encouragement of innovation.

“The dairy industry and especially a lot of processing and manufacturing owned by cooperatives need to think more long term,” he advised. “One challenge working with dairy farmers that’s been my experience is that too often the short-term decisions come to the forefront versus long-term decisions,” said Covington, who has worked with and on behalf of dairy farmers for four-plus decades.

This is the important balance that dairy walks each day. Short-term concerns demand a lion’s share of dairy producers’ attention, but the health of the industry as a whole suggests we must consider the future and how we will grow dairy’s influence and improve its products.


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