Senator visits Westby’s new cheese store
Oct 09, 2019 (Westby, WI)
Westby Cooperative Creamery was pleased to welcome U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin on Oct. 7 when she came to support the announcement of a $450,000 grant awarded to the Center for Dairy Research and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. The grant is being funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will be used to host a regional Dairy Business Innovation Initiative that serves Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois.
The initiative will offer low- or no-cost workshops designed to grow the dairy industry and allocate grants directly to dairy businesses for product development and marketing. Such funding is critical to sustaining Wisconsin’s dairy legacy, which has been pummeled by low milk prices, oversupply, a trade war and disastrous weather.
More than 500 Wisconsin dairy farms ceased operation in the first half of 2019 due to what Baldwin described as a “perfect storm” of obstacles.
“A key driver of Wisconsin economics is farming, but our farmers – particularly dairy farmers – have faced an array of challenges that have been really, really difficult,” Baldwin said during her visit to Westby’s new cheese store.
The senator said she believes innovation is the key to assuring Wisconsin remains America’s Dairyland. “I’m proud to stand with Wisconsin’s dairy leaders and work together to open up new resources to foster innovation, update manufacturing practices and reach new markets.”
During her visit Baldwin heard from dairy leaders like Westby Cooperative Creamery Board President Tom Schaub, Westby Cooperative Creamery General Manager Pete Kondrup and Darin Von Ruden of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.
Von Ruden acknowledged that the state of dairy farming is unfavorable. “We’re not in very good shape right now,” he said.
But work to overcome such challenges is occurring daily at Westby Cooperative Creamery. Kondrup talked about Westby’s trailblazing efforts to follow consumer demand and preferences. “Preservatives are something that people don’t want to see in their products. Westby
has done great work on developing products that don’t use preservatives,” he said.
Most recently, Westby Cooperative Creamery reduced the sugar in its yogurt recipe while extending the shelf life to 90 days.
Such work will never be totally complete as food preferences change and nutritional science helps consumers make better eating decisions. For these reasons, Westby Cooperative Creamery will continue to look for, and partner with, state and federal officials who advocate for small family farms.
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