View from the Top: What California’s Industry Leaders Say

February 3, 2010 08:13 AM

"We have a wonderful opportunity emerging internationally for California as Pacific Rim economies continue to grow. But as an industry, are we up to speed to take advantage of that? No. We've got to open our minds to produce products for different taste buds.”
- Stan Andre, CEO, California Milk Advisory Board

"I see California as the nation's No. 1 milk producer for the next five to 10 years, but beyond that, it's less certain. We need to figure out, as a California industry, how to become a world supplier of choice, not of last resort.”
- Bill Schiek, economist, Dairy Institute of California

"There are opportunities for the people who adjust. California is in a great position to be a good exporter. If the industry invests in the skills and knowledge to do that, it will be more successful.”
- John Jeter, president and CEO, Hilmar Cheese Co.

"The challenge for California processors is to better manage the risk. We need to partner with customers who will be there. We should not play the export market opportunistically but be there for the long haul.”
- Alan Pierson, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Land O'Lakes

"California dairy families must improve their knowledge and understanding of risk management. I encourage them to use a professional adviser who understands hedging and futures markets. I recommend that one family member be put in charge of risk management for inputs and milk prices to help stabilize their net farm income. And dairies must build and retain their business capital.”
- Cornelius Gallagher, global agribusiness executive, Bank of America; chairman, Agricultural Lending Committee, California Bankers Association

"I see a recovery coming in 2010 as world demand comes back and helps strengthen prices. Export opportunities are limitless. But our problems are not going away. Environmental regulations will continue to be a challenge. And it will take a while to climb out of the hole created in 2009.”
- Michael Marsh, CEO, Western United Dairymen

"There's real opportunity for California with increased world demand for specialized dairy products and milk fat. California is uniquely positioned for efficient transportation to other seaports. But our dairies have got to survive first.”
- Tony Mendes, dairy producer and board chairman, California Dairies Inc.

"I'm guardedly optimistic about the future of California's dairy industry. The days of growing 5% to 6% are probably gone. We're not the cheapest place to dairy anymore. We've got to be able to raise our own feed and get our air regulations mitigated somehow. Overall, our industry will survive, but it won't grow.”
- Domenic Carinalli, dairy producer, Sebastopol, Calif., and Western United Dairymen board member

"California's two biggest challenges are the dramatic increase in feed costs and the boom-and-bust cycles of price volatility. We've got to do a better job of getting more value out of the milk we produce.”
- Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager, Milk Producers Council

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