It’s wonderful to learn of record attendance at the American Dairy Products Institute conference in Chicago, following up on record attendance at the International Cheese Technology Expo, the “Cheese Expo,” in Milwaukee.
By the numbers, dairy production, dairy exports, and even dairy product prices are setting records, and industry gatherings this spring reflect a bullish industry, eager to learn, network and embrace the future.
Here’s a list of dairy industry metrics gleaned from the 2014 Cheese Expo in Milwaukee.
3,193: The number of attendees at the April 22-24 Cheese Expo, 353 more people than the 2012 Cheese Expo and including 1,078 dairy processing personnel from 237 dairy companies and cooperatives.
$30,000: A commitment made by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association board of directors at the Cheese Expo. WCMA will officially partner with the Center for Dairy Research to build and support the new Certificate in Dairy Processing, a training program for line workers at dairy processing plants. WCMA’s $30,000 will be an annual commitment and assure this “basic training” is a hit.
$115,435: The dollars raised at the Auction of Champion Cheeses, April 23 in Milwaukee. Generous bidding at this auction has allowed WCMA to make bold investments in the future of the dairy industry, such as our contribution to the Babcock Hall building fund, the University of Wisconsin–River Falls dairy pilot plant renovation and the new cheese facility at South Dakota State in Brookings. The Certificate in Dairy Processing, noted above, and other numbers on this list are made possible by this extraordinary auction.
4,692: Pounds of cheese served at the Cheese Expo in Milwaukee. Few may know that WCMA sets aside the fourth place cheeses and the fifth place cheeses from the World Championship Cheese Contest to serve at the Cheese Expo. We’d serve the gold, silver and bronze medalists, but they’re on display.
66: The number of graduates from WCMA’s exclusive Management Skills for Dairy Professionals Program, initiated five years ago. At the Cheese Expo, the WCMA board of directors voted to continue with Year 6 of this world-class training for dairy industry plant managers and supervisors. This unique program, four two-day training modules occurring in September, November, January and March receives rave reviews from our cheese industry CEOs.
$50,000: The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association’s commitment to a research study on nitrogen treatment in dairy plant wastewater streams. The WCMA board of directors voted to partner with Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and Midwest Food Processors Association to execute a research study with the University of Wisconsin soil science department. The goal: a study to show how nitrogen is abated in soil treatment systems such as spray irrigation on cropland and ridge & furrow systems.
67: The number of $2,000 student scholarships WCMA has awarded at our Cheese Expo and Cheese Conference. In 1997, WCMA initiated a single scholarship, but quickly grew this to two, then four and now five. At the Cheese Expo in Milwaukee, the WCMA board voted to increase the award for these five scholarships to $3,000 each.
39 and 21: The US states and number of nations, respectively, represented at the Cheese Expo in Milwaukee.
$230 million: Keynote Speaker Governor Scott Walker’s figure for private investment in Wisconsin’s dairy industry in cooperation with $11 million provided by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. WEDC has spurred dairy processor growth and now an annual $200,000 grant program within the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture will help dairy manufacturers pay for expansions, food safety training and new technology.
22: The number of entries in the first-ever Student Cheese Showcase at the Cheese Expo in Milwaukee. The Showcase was a success, with hundreds of industry decision-makers trying cheeses produced by students at University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Penn State University, University of Minnesota, University of Idaho, Washington State University and University of Wisconsin. The student received a professional evaluation of their cheeses and industry leaders grabbed student resumes.
2,619: Entries in the 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest. And while the gold, silver and bronze cheeses were on display at the Cheese Expo, and attendees enjoyed the fourth and fifth place cheeses, WCMA set aside
2,502 pounds of cheese and butter to give to Second Harvest Food Bank in Madison, WI.
2015: That’s next year, featuring the US Championship Cheese Contest March 17-18 and the Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference April 22-23 in Madison. JU
John Umhoefer has served as executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association since 1992. You can phone John at (608) 828-4550; Fax him at (608) 828-4551; or e-mail John Umhoefer at
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