More than 95% of the world’s population lives beyond U.S. borders and many countries can’t produce enough milk to meet their citizens’ growing demand for dairy.
In media interviews this week, U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack didn't sugarcoat the negative impact COVID-19 is having on the U.S. dairy industry, calling it a "gut punch."
But Vilsack also expressed confidence that exports will bounce back with creative innovation that serves markets around the world, particularly Southeast Asia, where USDEC is opening a U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence in Singapore.
"We are a resilient bunch," Vilsack told news media participating in a Friday teleconference. "We will get through this. We are committed to reimagining the new normal to promote U.S. dairy products."
USDEC's chairman Larry Hancock sent an email message on Friday offering "some words of hope for all USDEC member organizations as well as my fellow dairy farmers who are the primary funders of USDEC through the dairy checkoff."
Hancock runs a dairy farm in Muleshoe, Texas, about 70 miles northwest of Lubbock. It’s a family-owned and managed operation, with his wife, Pam, and two of his children.
"Every farmer knows calamity can strike suddenly. Around a month ago, our industry seemed to be on an upward trajectory with six straight months of positive export growth and projections that milk prices were finally poised to rise."
Today, milk prices have plummeted and exports are projected to go down, not up, the rest of 2020.
"More than 95% of the world’s population lives beyond U.S. borders," Hancock said. "Many countries can’t produce enough milk to meet their citizens’ growing demand for dairy products and ingredients. Our message to the world is we’re open for business and we’re ready to go."