Vilsack Making Changes to U.S. Dairy Export Council’s Marketing Strategy

The leader of the U.S. Dairy Export Council says he’s making changes to the organization’s marketing strategy. CEO Tom Vilsack says he’d like to increase export sales by five-percent, bringing the total to 20-percent of U.S. dairy production.

“To do that requires us to have more presence in some of these emerging markets, more people on the ground figuring out what the market needs, what the market wants, figuring out ways in which we can innovate appropriately to meet that market demand,” Vilsack said.

Although the boost in manpower in developing markets will cost money, Vilsack is promising producers they won’t see changes in the dairy checkoff program.

“This is not about increasing the checkoff. This is about using the resources that are available from the checkoff in the most efficient and effective way possible,” Vilsack said. “And, certainly within our own USDEC budget, we are re-prioritizing to be able to put more resources, for example, into that Mexican market which is so important.”

Vilsack added along with cutting ineffective marketing programs, the council will examine revenue streams.

“We also have dues-paying members, 120 members or so of our organization. There hasn’t been a dues increase for at least 10 years, so there’s a possibility that we would look at our dues structure. That’s a small percentage of our budget, but an important part of it,” Vilsack said. “And, we obviously want to make a case to the U.S. Government to continue to fund and maybe even increase the MAP (Market Access Program) funding, the foreign market development funding (and) the market assistance programs.”

Vilsack served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for eight years before starting his new job with the U.S. Dairy Export Council in February. Vilsack was Iowa’s governor from 1999 to 2007. He made his comments in an interview with Brownfield Ag News at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Iowa typically ranks among the top 15 states in terms of annual dairy production.

(story courtesy of Radio Iowa/Brownfield Ag News)