Brian Rexing of Fort Branch is proud to represent dairy farmers on the board of the co-op where he sells his milk, and to represent dairy farmers in general. “As dairy farmers, we touch consumers three times each day,” he says. “We’re there when they pour milk on their cereal in the morning, when they slap a piece of cheese on their hamburger at lunch and when they use butter on their baked potato in the evening. Sometimes, we’re there again when they eat a bowl of ice cream before going to bed at night.”
Rexing was part of a recent gathering to officially launch the Indiana State Department of Agriculture’s statewide dairy strategy, version 2.0. The original plan was launched in 2015, and bore fruit, with processing plants and other businesses related to the dairy industry locating in Indiana since. Dairy farmers such as Rexing provided input for the new plan.
“It takes a team to operate a dairy farm, and it will take a team to implement this strategy,” he says. “As dairymen, we’re glad to have various leaders in government and in dairy-related organizations fighting for us so we can continue to do what we do.”
Bruce Kettler, director of ISDA, says the goal of the new plan was to obtain good information and updated data to arrive at a strategy going forward that continues to work. “We are confident that we can work together to expand the dairy industry in Indiana,” he says.
Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, also Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture, echoed his comments. “Agriculture is big business in Indiana, adding $31 billion annually to the state’s GDP,” she says. “The dairy industry is a big part of agriculture.
“We developed a Rural Road Map late last year to help us navigate our way through the pandemic, and we believe it dovetails nicely with the new strategic plan for expanding the dairy industry in Indiana. Implementing this plan over time will go a long way toward making Indiana one of the leading states in the country for dairy production and dairy processing. We want the world to know we are open for business when it comes to the dairy industry.”
Doug Leman, executive director of the Indiana Dairy Producers, says Indiana has the infrastructure in terms of roads, the state’s central location, and efficient dairy herds already in place to become an even bigger player in the dairy industry. Like Kettler and Crouch, he believes the new dairy strategy, encouraging both dairymen and processors to expand if they’re already here and locate here if they’re not, will pay off.
“The opportunity is here,” he says. “Everything is in place to make it happen.”