Guest Columns

Industry Issues

Dairy Forum – a good idea that’s become great with age

Connie Tipton

Connie Tipton is president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. She contributes this column exclusively for Cheese Market News®.

Dairy Forum was launched in 1985 to provide an opportunity for leaders in all segments of the dairy industry to come together and discuss important issues affecting the health and growth of the industry. That doesn’t seem like such a novel idea today, with our current emphasis on collaboration and cooperation, but in those days it truly was.

Prior to that first step, dairy farm leaders and their cooperative management teams held their own meetings where they talked among themselves, and the dairy processors and manufacturers held similar, self-focused meetings. Each looked at the issues of the day from entirely different and separate perspectives and simply ignored the views of others, or worse, they locked into opposition with one another.

I joined the associations representing dairy foods companies in the early 1980s, so I have seen the evolution of the industry, watching it move from opposing camps to an industry that essentially understands the importance of collaborative approaches to industry issues. There is now an appreciation among most that we are all in the same industry and that it makes sense to work together. That doesn’t mean we always agree industrywide, but discussing our differences and finding common ground where we can come together to develop effective solutions has changed the nature of how we work on issues, policies and politics.

The Dairy Forum has played an important role in this change by bringing people together and fostering dialogue and discussion, even bringing up “the elephant in the room” when the issues are controversial. The significance of what has taken place isn’t lost on industry leaders, as attendance has grown from a couple hundred people (mostly processors) to about 1,200 leaders from farms, co-ops, dairy foods companies and their suppliers, as well as from government and academia.

More recently we’re seeing greater involvement from dairy leaders around the world as the industry moves to meet growing demand for milk and dairy products in the global marketplace. It’s an evolution that we’ve been proud to foster and lead at the International Dairy Foods Association.

We’re well into planning for the next Dairy Forum that will be held Jan. 24-27, 2016, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, and the program will undoubtedly be the “best ever” as my late husband, Tip Tipton, liked to proclaim each year.

Here’s a preview of how the agenda is shaping up.

As always, the program will offer a good mixture of politics, perspectives and the nuts-and-bolts issues that shape how the industry is reacting and where it’s headed in the future. We’ll launch on Sunday with an evening session featuring Karen Hughes, who is worldwide vice chair of Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm, and former Counselor to President George W. Bush. She will provide her insights on communications in the swirl of public policy and politics, which surely will be helpful for sorting out all of the crazy things going on in the world today.

On the opening morning, we’ll get a fresh global perspective from some of the top dairy leaders around the world, then move to new research conducted by McKinsey & Company specifically for release at Dairy Forum. The results and analysis, delivered by McKinsey consultants, will provide the backdrop for a top-level discussion about how best to position our dairy industry for growth. That’s a surefire topic of interest no matter what segment of the industry you represent.

We’ll also cover the details of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership and what it means for U.S. dairy, discuss consumer trends you should have top-of-mind, offer tips on responding to activists coming after your company, and demonstrate how to guard against some very real cybersecurity threats to your business.

The program will include a luncheon session with an energetic political duo who will offer insights from both ends of the political spectrum. Donna Brazile, a renowned Democratic political strategist and commentator for CNN and ABC, will face off with Ana Navarro, a well-known Republican strategist and political analyst for CNN. It will be the perfect launch to what’s bound to be a wild election-year ride.

Be sure to join us at this event that offers opportunities for business relationships, mutual respect and understanding to prosper and grow. Like great wine and cheese, the Dairy Forum keeps getting better with age!


The views expressed by CMN’s guest columnists are their own opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Cheese Market News®.

CMN article search

© 2019 Cheese Market News • Quarne Publishing, LLC • Legal InformationOnline Privacy PolicyTerms and Conditions
Cheese Market News • Business/Advertising Office: P.O. Box 628254 • Middleton, WI 53562 • 608/831-6002
Cheese Market News • Editorial Office: 5315 Wall Street, Suite 100 • Madison, WI 53718 • 608/288-9090