It isn’t easy being a dairy farmer these days. With low milk prices, brought on by production increases, consolidation and a federal pricing system unfavorable to Upper Midwest producers, small dairy farms are struggling to stay in business. Minnesota and Wisconsin no longer lead the nation’s milk production — California does, and other western and southern states are gaining.
Still, dairy is Minnesota’s largest agriculture sector, with 7,500-plus producers feeding millions into our state’s economy every year. Dairy farmers are a stubborn bunch. Some are determined to control their destiny by bottling and processing their own milk, cheese, butter and ice cream. They want to take advantage of the substantial price difference between raw milk and retail dairy products.
AURI recently co-sponsored feasibility studies on producer-owned dairy processing operations, from on-farm bottling to cooperative-run creameries that have worked in population-dense regions. Studies show prospects are dim — the current milk processing distribution system is too well established for small newcomers to enter easily. However, there are niches in natural food markets for producers willing to work long hours in a high-risk, shoestring venture.
AURI does not advocate or discourage any particular approach to dairy farming. Rather, we present here a look at producers’ challenges and attempts by some to sustain their operations with unconventional dairy marketing schemes.
This past October, during the first-ever Food Ag Ideas Week, AURI along with partners MyFormulary and Larta Institute co-hosted a special event called The Nexus of Food & Health. Minnesota has a rich history in both food science and medical innovation and advancing functional food innovations is a perfect fit to capitalize on the expertise […]
The path to commercial success is rarely linear. Instead, it’s often chock full of twists, turns and unexpected challenges, something to which Tom and Jenni Smude can likely attest. The Smudes, who own Smude Enterprises, makers of Smude’s Sunflower Oil, have turned necessity into a thriving business that is being recognized as AURI’s 2018 Ag […]
For 2019 AURI categorized the research priorities into three broad, but distinct groups: Coproducts/Biobased/Renewables, Multi-Disciplinary and Food.
This quarter, Ag Innovation News is highlighting Larry Johnson. When we last spoke to Johnson in April of 2017, he was just getting settled into his new role as a Director. This time around we will delve into what he’s learned from his experiences so far and the role he plays on AURI’s Board of […]
By AURI Entrepreneurship in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry This edition of Ag Innovation News brings you an interview with Tera Johnson, a serial entrepreneur whose mission is to create the next generation of regenerative food and farming businesses. The founder of Tera’s Whey, Tera participated in the full arc of creating and selling a […]