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Partner Profile: North Carolina Dairy Producers Association


In North Carolina, the dairy industry is small and personal. Ranking 28th in the country for milk production, the majority of N.C. dairy farms are family-owned and operated. The volunteer-run North Carolina Dairy Producers Association (NCDPA) formed in 1997 to give dairy producers an organizing body to discuss industry issues, educate one another and the public, promote the NC dairy industry, and work with government leaders, state agencies and other farm organizations on areas of mutual concern. The association also avidly supports dairy-related research projects, NC State Extension programs and youth activities such as dairy judging competitions. To extend their encouragement of innovation in their industry, the NCDPA became an early financial supporter of the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative (N.C. PSI).

“The N.C. dairy industry faces many challenges—volatile milk prices, issues with waste management, labor training and retaining a workforce, a rapidly urbanizing state, and a farm that operates 365 days a year” said Reid Smith, president of the NCDPA. “High quality feed is essential for high milk yields, and it is the number one cost. Dairy farmers need forage crops that have reliably high yields under local conditions and that are highly nutritious to keep the cows healthy and productive.”

NCDPA also supported improvements to NC State’s dairy farm and the creation of the Howling Cow Dairy Education Center and Creamery on Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh.  These facilities support dairy teaching and research and students have the opportunity for hands-on training. The general public can enjoy Howling Cow Ice Cream at the Creamery and arrange to tour the Randleigh Dairy Heritage Museum on the NC State farm.

“The dairymen would like to have a cooperative relationship with N.C. PSI so they can discuss issues of mutual concern, problems and opportunities,” said Smith.

Smith and the association are optimistic that research coming out of N.C. PSI will benefit the industry and keep dairy farms profitable while also solving issues faced by other agricultural commodity groups in the state.  “Reliable yields and high-quality feeds for the cows, that research is key for our industry,” said Smith.

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Dinah Schuster
Senior Director of Development, Plant Sciences Initiative
P: 919.513.8294