Selling Wisconsin dairy technology to China - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Selling Wisconsin dairy technology to China

MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin dairy leaders are back from China, where they helped that country modernize its dairy industry.

At first, it may seem like a bad idea -- selling our dairy technology and trade secrets to the most populous country on earth.

But when you've got more than a billion consumers hungry for your products, it could provide a huge boost for the state's economy.

America's Dairyland is going international.

"Dairy milking equipment, dairy genetics, artificial insemination, the embryo transfer industry -- all our companies could benefit," said Karen Nielsen, with the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development.

Wisconsin company Cooperative Resources International (CRI) is partnering with a Chinese milk company, Flying Crane Dairy, helping them build 10 dairy farms housing 10,000 cows each.

When it comes to agriculture, China is already Wisconsin's 5th biggest customer. In 2008, China spent $62 million on Wisconsin ag products, $10 million in dairy alone.

"I'm amazed when you go to Beijing, how modern the city is, with new buildings, new highways, new infrastructure," said Keith Heikes of CRI. "If all those 1.3 billion people start to drink a glass of milk a day, it's great for our industry."

Even though Wisconsin is divulging its dairy innovations, industry leaders say there's little chance China would be a serious competitor down the road.

"Theyr'e not as good at health protocols, they don't have as many veterinarians," Nielsen said. "The cows can get sick much more often."

China has few refrigeration tools to preserve perishable products like dairy. Roads are bad shape, and then there's the geography problem.

China's arable land is shrinking -- 121.73 million hectares in 2007, down from 127.6 million hectares in 2001. Most of the best farming lands are located on the country's east coast, but that's also where most Chinese people live, in huge cities. The west part of the country is mountain and desert terrain.

Now, Wisconsin dairy leaders are hoping the Asian nation will develop an urge for dairy delicacies.

"We're trying to teach Chinese people to like cheese, because right now they don't like cheese very much unless it's on a piece of pizza," Nielsen said.

E-mail Jeff Angileri --


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