Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Hello and welcome to Dairy Defined. The International Dairy Federation World Dairy Summit. You may not have heard of it, but that will dramatically change. For the first time in three decades, the US will host this event in Chicago next October 16th through 19th. That’s a big opportunity for US Dairy, which is setting a string of export records and has a world leading story of sustainability and innovation that’s ready to go global. To help tell it, our three leaders of next year’s event, Nick Gardner is the chairman of the US International Dairy Federation and the Senior Vice President for Sustainability and Multilateral Affairs at the US Dairy Export Council. Shawna Morris is the Senior Vice President for Trade at the National Milk Producers Federation and US Dairy Export Council, and along with Nick is the co-chair of next year’s summit. And Jamie Jonker, NMPF’s Chief Science Officer is chair of IDF Science Program Coordinating Committee, which runs through the heart of the event. Thank you all for joining us. Nick, let’s start with you. What is this event and why is it important in the dairy universe?
Nick Gardner, USDEC: So as you said, folks may not be as familiar with the International Dairy Federation given its international focus and its strong scientific and technical background, but it’s really a key backbone for the global dairy sector represented through national committees to work together to advance important scientific and policy objectives in international organizations, in standard setting bodies and throughout the rest of the universe that helps us to export dairy products.
So founded in 1903, the International Dairy Federation hosts a meeting every year called the World Dairy Summit. Each year, the World Dairy Summit is hosted by an IDF member country in a different country around the world. And as you said, the United States has the opportunity to host next year’s World Daily Summit for the first time in the United States in really a generation. So this is a huge opportunity for us.
So again, Alan, really a unique opportunity for us that doesn’t come around often and what the summit really represents is a global get together of key experts from around the world. We’ve got about a thousand plus different key dairy stakeholders in one place. There is programming really reflecting the diversity of the global dairy industry. Programming focusing on dairy farming innovation and dairy production, and processing all the way to topics that folks who are really focused on certain scientific or technical topics can geek out on, like methods of analysis, like residues and chemical contaminants. And importantly for folks that work more on the policy side, a great opportunity for us to explore some of the big policy challenges that are facing dairy globally and potentially hampering dairy exports from countries including the United States. It’s a great chance to network. It’s a great chance to bring point of use forward, and it really reflects a critical opportunity for us to demonstrate that global leadership that you alluded to in your intro.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Shawna Morris. It took a lot of work to get this event and it’s going to take a lot of work in the next year to get us to Chicago. Tell us how the US ended up hosting this event and what has to happen in the next year for it to be successful.
Shawna Morris, NMPF: Sure. Well, it was sort of fortuitous that this opportunity fell in our laps. China was actually scheduled to host in 2023. Due to the pandemic challenges that they’ve been grappling with, last year, they let the International Dairy Federation know that unfortunately they had to pull back out of that, leaving the 2023 spot open with a very short planning time window. Happily, this is something that the US International Dairy Federation and a number of the key dairy players here in America have been talking about wanting to do for quite a while, but the line to get in and be able to put in a bid to host is several years long. Usually, it’s four to five years before you have the chance to be selected to be a host country, and that planning window was pretty tough for us. But being able to put this together in two years and get the sign off and buy-in from all the key players that we have in place right now, well, that felt doable. And so that’s what we did.
We got buy-in and we secured support from all of the major US dairy organizations that are active in this space and made the commitment to move forward with the US hosting next year. As you mentioned, there is a long road ahead of us and a lot of work left to do. That’s because we’re putting so many different pieces together. This isn’t just a meeting, it’s also a convening, as Nick said. So a chance to celebrate dairy together with so many friends around the world and make sure we’re getting our messages across. So we’re working on speakers, session topics for the heart of the program of the conference, and then some exciting evening events as well to be able to socialize and actually focus on the networking that Nick mentioned earlier. We’re also looking to take folks on a number of different tours to farms, to processing plants to some other avenues as well so that they get the chance to get out of Chicago and actually get to see some of our dairy operations on the ground.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Jamie Jonker, you’ve been active on the global stage for several years now, and you’ve seen this event evolve. It was in India this year, it’s often in the developing world. How does having the US hosting this year mix it up a little bit in a good way?
Jamie Jonker, NMPF: I think because we have not hosted a World Dairy Summit in the US in a generation, there’s a lot of misconceptions about what the US dairy industry looks like from the farms through our processing and innovation all the way to what we get our dairy products to the consumer. And so this is an excellent opportunity for the US dairy industry to highlight its world leading dairy productions from the farm through our cooperatives and processors and out to the consumers. It’s a way for us to step on the world stage, reintroduce us dairy, its innovation and technology to the global marketplace, and demonstrate how we are world leaders in such things as sustainability, nutrition research, product development. We’re becoming an important exporter and an exporter of choice around the world.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: I’d Like to open this up to the whole group. What are you most looking forward to with putting on this event?
Shawna Morris, NMPF: Well, I think what I’m looking forward to is that a lot of the time we’re spending time going out to others to sort of chase them and try to get our message across in so many other parts around the world and so many other settings. And it’s not often that you’re able to convene people right in your own backyard and sort of have a captive audience for what you want to say. A lot of what we want to say is certainly going to be common ground with dairy folks around the world where we’re looking to get the message across to some of the anti-dairy voices, but there’s some unique US perspectives in this discussion. So this is our opportunity to put those center stage in a way that we just don’t have with as large a megaphone most of the other time.
Nick Gardner, USDEC: I think there’s a critical opportunity here in addition to the convening that Shawna talked about. Really to show, not just to tell. So bringing all of these folks to the United States creates an opportunity to get folks into facilities, to get them out to farms, to really show the rest of the global dairy industry what the US dairy industry is all about, to take them through our sustainability commitments to show them how we are driving sustainable productivity growth approach, where we are going to be proud to be the supplier of choice for the world going forward, but we’re going to do so producing a very nutritious dairy that is produced sustainably.
Jamie Jonker, NMPF: And I think it’s good to remember that the dairy community around the world is facing many of the same issues, whether it’s in sustainability, in animal welfare, in the attacks on the nutritional superiority of dairy products. What we have in the US is an opportunity to show to our collaborators around the world is our take on how we’re dealing with this, how the US dairy industry is being viewed as an environmental solution, how we have world class leading animal welfare program through the National Dairy Farm Farmers assuring responsible management program, the first ISO accredited dairy cattle welfare program in the world, and delivering what our global customers want and expect not only from US dairy, but from dairy producers around the world.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Shawna, talk a little bit about the theme for next year’s event, which is Be Dairy. Boundless potential, endless possibilities.
Shawna Morris, NMPF: Sure. I think the theme is really fitting not just for our industry, but for IDF in particular, because it doesn’t do just one thing in the same way that when we thought about our industry, it’s really so many different pieces, a lot of which aren’t immediately called to mind for a lot of consumers and frankly for a lot of policy makers either. We’re actively feeding the world, particularly delivering high quality nutrition. You have the work that dairy’s doing at our farms and plants to be sustainable and help the planet. And then you have the major role we play as a significant rural employer. That and so many other pieces that really come together to really describe who we are as dairy collectively, globally. And that’s why we wanted to pull through here, that multifaceted aspect to our sector. And in particular, with the positive forward looking aspect to it.
There’s sometimes some doom and gloom, I think given the number of challenges and kind of naysayers nipping at our ankles here. But it’s a really exciting time for our industry and we think that there’s a tremendous opportunity, a tremendous amount of potential that dairy globally has here. And looking at how we tap into that together is what we’re focused on doing through the conference.
Nick Gardner, USDEC: Yeah, Shawna, as you said, I mean, I think that Be Dairy to me really speaks to the optimism that our industry has for the future, certainly from an export potential for growth, but also in terms of our ability to deliver against our sustainability objectives while continuing to be that nutritious source for the world. And also, as you said, continuing to support so many rural economies and so many family farms around the country. So it really is truly an opportunity to show the world how optimistic we are and how we can lead into the future.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: It would seem as if with the variety of events and the range of programming at this conference, that there would be a lot of opportunities for folks in the dairy community to get involved. How can dairy support this event?
Nick Gardner, USDEC: So Alan, I think that the most important way they can support is show up and certainly support the conference through sponsorship. Those dates are October 16th through the 19th. Again, the location, the venue is Chicago, Illinois, right in the middle, right in the heart of U.S. dairyland. So great opportunity for people to join us in Chicago. Also, a great opportunity for organizations to get their name out there and to use the conference as an opportunity to engage their global partners, their global customers through sponsorship. We’ll have opportunities during the program itself. But also we’ll have a large exhibit hall where folks can bring in booths similar to a commercial trade show, but really access an audience of key global dairy leaders, which is unique, I think, when you look at the suite of promotional opportunities that are out there. So again, come the 16th through the 19th to Chicago and certainly consider sponsoring the event itself.
Jamie Jonker, NMPF: And Alan, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation today if it wasn’t for the important support from Dairy Management Inc., which is the platinum sponsor for the World Dairy Summit next year. Through their generous support, which is funded by every dairy farmer in the US, we’re able to bring this important global meeting to the United States for the first time in a generation.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Well, we’ll certainly do our best to do those dairy farmers proud. That was Shawna Morris, Nick Gardner, and Jamie Jonker, all key leaders in an incredible opportunity for US Dairy next year, the IDF, world Dairy Summit. Thanks again for joining us.
Nick Gardner, USDEC: Thank you, Alan.
Jamie Jonker, NMPF: Thank you, Alan.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: And that’s it for today’s podcast. For more on the World Dairy Summit and the International Dairy Federation, visit IDFWDS2023.com. For more of the Dairy Defined Podcast, you can find and subscribe to it on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, and Amazon Music under the podcast name Dairy Defined. Thanks for joining us.