Agriculture and the dairy industry have driven the state’s economy for over 175 years, but there is and will also be new, uncharted territory to discover. For more than 50 years, the first week of October has been designated to celebrating where the industry has been and what the next frontier is for agriculture’s future. That celebration is known across the globe as World Dairy Expo.
When I was younger, going to World Dairy Expo seemed a lot like going to a theater. There were lights and cameras everywhere. Cows were constantly primped and pampered for their time on the colored shavings. Snacks (including many cheese varieties) were sold around every corner. One year, I even met a celebrity, Elsie the cow. I had no idea how quickly the wheels of industry were turning beyond those spectacles that caught my eye.
As I grew older, my view of World Dairy Expo changed. I had the chance to walk across the colored shavings with two of my beloved Jersey cows. I was humbled by the quality of the show and amazed by how quickly dairy cattle improved in each passing year with the help of advanced bovine genetics. Once I entered the professional world in agricultural communications, the Expo grounds became an unending source of content and stories to share. Although the focus was on dairy, Expo brought together several industries in agriculture that work together for the common goal of feeding the world.
Once called the World Food and Agricultural Foundation in 1967, World Dairy Expo’s mission is to serve “as a forum for dairy producers, companies, organizations and other dairy enthusiasts to come together to compete, and to exchange ideas, knowledge, technology and commerce.” Crowds of nearly 70,000 people from 100 countries visit Madison. A nearly 900-company trade show gives producers the chance to see the latest in technology and dairy equipment. It is truly an honor to have such a display of achievement take place in America’s Dairyland.
The opportunity to network with leaders in agriculture across the world is one that cannot be taken for
granted. Farmers and processors are continuously becoming more efficient in providing a safe, wholesome food supply for families. New domestic and international markets are constantly sought for Wisconsin’s high-quality products. In 2017, Wisconsin exported $3.5 billion of agriculture products, a 3.6 percent increase compared to the year before. Top agricultural export products include bovine semen and other dairy-related goods. Showcasing the finest cows in North America and the latest in dairy innovation is a chance to find our next frontier in potential markets across the globe while learning from leading researchers and technical experts. The future of Wisconsin agriculture quickly becomes our past. As my life continues in the industry, I look forward to seeing what uncharted territory we can uncover with partners around the world.