Oregon Department of Agriculture, US Dairy Export Council, and others hold promise in helping advance Oregon's dairy product exports in statewide collaborative effort.

The Oregon Dairy Products Commission announced today the launch of the Oregon Dairy Export Consortium, a new collaborative initiative that holds promise for increasing the volume and value of the state's dairy product exports.

The Commission developed the effort in close cooperation with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Marketing and Development Program), and several organizations and government agencies. Created as a coordinating entity, the Consortium aims to deliver more resources, more often, and more quickly to dairy companies who wish to explore the potential of international markets as part of a sustainable, ongoing export business model.

Oregon State logo "The predominantly small and medium firms of Oregon's dairy industry typically lack the internal resources, knowledge, and experience to fully explore their export potential," said Pete Kent, the Commission's executive director. "While export assistance is widely available from several sources, the discovery of such resources can be a hindrance, in lieu of available time and staff. Those firms that have successfully achieved an export program have usually done so with limited resources on a learn-as-you-go basis."

Created as a virtual entity, the Consortium does not create a new organization. Rather, it is an initiative to coordinate existing resources from various agencies into a simplified, one-stop shopping approach. The focus is solely on dairy, even though supporting and service groups, agencies and organizations may address other commodities and agricultural products.

A key component of that coordinated approach is a first-of-its-kind, newly signed membership agreement with the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC). Primarily funded by the checkoff, USDEC partnered with Oregon as a state in a pilot-test membership to explore the use of grass-roots state and regional dairy promotion organizations to reach smaller dairy product manufacturers with dairy export assistance.

"The size of most Oregon firms is below the range where USDEC membership is often viable," said USDEC President Tom Suber. "While USDEC can serve companies of all sizes, economies of scale can make it more difficult to adequately service the needs of smaller and some medium firms. Through this pilot program, we are enthused about leveraging with local resources to assist smaller manufacturers to ‘catch the export wave' and identify, develop and expand export opportunities. "

USDEC facilitates export market expansion for the nation's dairy industry through programs in marketing, market insights, regulatory assistance and trade policy, as well as domestic marketing programs for U.S. dairy ingredients.

In addition to USDEC and Oregon Department of Agriculture, other initial participant organizations include Western US Agricultural Trade Association, USDA Rural Development, Oregon State University Dairy Processing Extension, and U.S. Department of Commerce, Portland Export Assistance Center.