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Friday, October 27, 2006

Cheese economics

I did a little further thinking about that Jim Doyle quote where he insists that Wisconsin will not lose its cheese production lead over California while he is governor. I know that being the nation's number one cheese producer is a source of pride for this state, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to get into a production war with California. Cheese, like anything else, is subject to the laws of supply and demand. If the state government offers incentives that encourage state cheese producers to increase their production, not to meet demand but merely so they can produce more than another state, then there is going to be related drop in the price of cheese as a glut starts to form on the market. California is probably going to win that cheese price war because they have larger, newer, more efficient production factories. Governor Doyle is going to do Wisconsin cheese producers no favors by taking them down that road. It is better that Wisconsin cheese producers follow the strategy that it sounds like many have in mind-capitalize on their competitive advantages and dominate the speciality cheese market. Those cheeses can command better margins, and the Wisconsin Cheese brand already stands for quality. It may sting the pride a little to see California pass us in total cheese production, but fighting to keep that crown may not be what is in the best interest of state cheese producers.