Laura Ginsburg is the Center Director for the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC), the funder for the Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition. In this short Q&A, you will learn more about the NE-DBIC and Laura’s passion for all things dairy!
What is the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center and how does it encourage and support innovation in the dairy business community?
The NE-DBIC is funded through the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service and is one of four nationwide centers. We have prioritized and focused on elevating the region’s dairy sector, whether conventional cow dairy, farmstead sheep dairy, and everything in between. With regular conversations and feedback from regional stakeholders, we can develop programs that are responsive to current needs while keeping an eye on the future. This is frequently through grants but also through the research we do to help us answer pressing regional questions. How do we better distribute dairy products across the region? What is the consumer demand for sheep and goat products? In what ways can we develop talent in the workforce?
Why is it essential to create a strong and sustainable regional dairy system, and what role does innovation play?
From our perspective, taking a regional approach is key to success. Every state in our region relies on other states for processing and consumer demand. By working collaboratively, we can start to address issues that create a more positive future for everyone. Innovation on farms and in processing is a key part of this equation. By supporting new approaches, technologies, and systems, we are working to create a resilient dairy sector, appealing to the next generation, and meeting consumer demands. We also value innovation as a way to be proactive about climate change, with the understanding that innovation doesn’t always mean robotics and equipment. It could be offering technical assistance in a new way or adopting new cropping strategies to keep the sector looking forward.
The Northeast is known for producing high-quality dairy products. What makes our dairy exceptional?
The region has a long history with dairy, focused on producing high-quality, creative, and competitive products in the marketplace. I think a lot of this comes from the can-do attitude of the farmers and processors in the region. We have so many creameries that were started with a belief and commitment that dairy can and should be better, and this goes across all scales. From the smallest farmstead creamery to the larger regional processors, products are made with care and attention to quality. Much of this also goes back to the quality of the milk, the abundant, high-quality forages, and the care animals receive.
How does the Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition address some of the big challenges dairies face in our region?
The Dairy Product Innovation Competition is a really exciting way to reach out into the world and have people tell us what their big ideas are. To stay relevant in the market, dairy needs to evolve, just like every other product category. While we have excellent processing and production in the region, the next big idea is out there that will support additional value-added use of our high-quality dairy. By creating new product lines, we are supporting an expansion of consumption which has numerous impacts – increasing milk value for farmers, displacing domestic or international imports, supporting regional opportunity, and being able to elevate ideas and concepts that are novel to build energy and interest in dairy.