By MITCH LIES
The Oregon Dairy Products Commission has started an export consortium to help increase dairy exports for small- and medium-size firms.
The consortium will tap existing resources from various agencies to create a one-stop shopping approach, said Pete Kent, executive director of the commission.
"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," Kent said.
The smaller firms that do obtain export sales typically have done so "with limited resources on a learn-as-you-go basis," Kent said.
"It could take an individual company five or six years (to enter new export markets)," Kent said. "By pulling resources together, we can maybe compress that to six months or a year to get them up and running. It shortens the time to market."
A key component of the consortium is a first-of-its-kind membership agreement with the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Kent said. The new arrangement, operating under a pilot program, will enable small- and medium-size firms to access information compiled by the council on trade barriers, tariffs and other information.
"They are getting membership benefits under this umbrella at almost no cost," Kent said.
Companies with more than $50 million in annual revenue will not qualify for the program, Kent said.
"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," said USDEC President Tom Suber.
Other partners in the consortium include the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association, USDA Rural Development, Oregon State University Dairy Processing Extension and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The Oregon Dairy Farmers annual convention starts at 1 p.m. Feb. 25 and runs through dinner on Feb. 26.
Among a full slate of seminars is an export panel, which will discuss the Dairy Products Commission's participation in a governor's trade mission last October to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo.
The convention is being held at the Salem Conference Center, 200 Commercial St. SE.