With the addition of more than 50 large dairies opening in the past five years the Southern Great Plains is rapidly becoming the land of beef and milk. This growth has brought a different size and scope of farms to the region, which has created demand for new research and extension programs. As a result, the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium has been created.

The Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium is a multi-university, interagency group. Cooperating institutions and agencies are: New Mexico State University, experiment station, extension, Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, West Texas A&M University, Tarleton State University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University and cooperating dairy organizations from Texas and New Mexico.

The consortium will coordinate research, education, extension and diagnostic service programs. It also will develop and enhance technology, as well as deliver educational programs to enhance the efficiency and quality of milk production and reduce environmental effects.

A dairy producer's forum conducted by the consortium partners has identified environmental quality, production, products/quality, marketing, human resources, extension and educational programs and water availability as some of the key issues.

The consortium will be funded by the respective institutions and agencies, and education and research grants. Special federal or state legislative initiatives also are being pursued.

During the past 10 years, a shift in milk production has transformed the West Texas/New Mexico milkshed into one of the top producing regions of the nation, says John Sweeten, director of the Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and ExtensionCenter in Amarillo.   In addition to all of the new dairies Southwest Cheese in Clovis, N.M., opened in 2005, and Hilmar Cheese is being built in Dalhart. This changing landscape means changes are needed to meet the needs of new, large dairy producers who have migrated to the area.

TexasA&MUniversitypress release