It’s been tough covering the news in this industry over the past two and a half years. Tough economic times have made it difficult on everyone.

But I was inspired this week when I read a commentary by Michael Marsh, CEO of Western United Dairymen, based in Modesto, Calif. Marsh said he was optimistic about the future for several reasons, including:

  • Rising global demand for food.
  • A possible end to most of the subsidies for corn-based ethanol.
  • Recent events in California, including Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of card-check legislation that would have given unions more sway over farm workers.
  • And, finally, good things come to people who are honest, who work hard, and care for their families.

Gee, I thought, why haven’t I written a similar commentary by now?

I have attended many conferences over the past year where people have commented about the rising global demand for food. In fact, there was a meeting a year ago, sponsored by the chemical company BASF, where I really got fired up and posted a video entitled, “One Hungry Planet.” Then, in March, I had the opportunity to interview Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco Animal Health. Simmons pointed out the challenge of feeding an extra 2 billion-plus people by the year 2050 and suggested that we make good use of technology to get the job done.

I keep hearing these things and, frankly, I am in awe of the farmers who currently get the job done. Those farmers will become even more important in the years ahead. 

Food production is a growth industry!

More specific to dairy, we are seeing a huge success story unfolding in terms of exports. Last year, the U.S. exported 12.8 percent of its milk production (on a milk-solids basis), which was a record. So far this year, export volume and value are tracking very strongly as U.S. suppliers continue to respond to strong world demand.

The U.S. is in a prime position to supply dairy products to other countries because of its reputation for quality.

There is much to be optimistic about. Often, it is just a matter of looking.

I am glad that I took this opportunity to look. But Michael Marsh still beat me to the punch.