World Dairy Diary

DFA Meeting Emphasizes Dedication to Dairy by Members, Cooperative

DFA-4-colorMore than 1,400 Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) members and guests convened in Kansas City for the Cooperative’s 16th Annual Meeting. In recognition of the dedication by its farmer-owners, DFA explored the diverse ways the Cooperative and its member-owners are committed to the dairy industry.

This year’s meeting theme — Dedicated to Dairy — recognizes DFA’s members and their commitment to their cows, their operations, their communities and their families. The meeting highlighted how DFA is working with customers and the industry to build a Cooperative that, from the moment milk leaves members’ farms to the moment it is served on family tables around the world, brings members value through every step in the process.

“One thing you learn very quickly in our business is that dairy farmers and their families are passionate about what they do. That they are indeed dedicated to dairy,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “As owners of our cooperative, (DFA member-owners) control our own destiny. We have choices. Together, we can move proactively to invest in our shared future, in new milk processing factories, in expanded dairy product lines, in exciting consumer brands, in growing overseas markets — all driven by our mission to deliver value to members.”

The meeting kicked off with the chairman’s report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy in Rogersville, Mo. He focused on the steps DFA has taken to advance the dairy industry around the nation and world. Mooney also discussed issues, such as the new Farm Bill, that are affecting farmers every day at home.

An overview of the Cooperative’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His report also discussed how the Cooperative has increased its commercial business focus during the past several years, in an effort to better serve and provide value to its members.

“As a national milk marketing cooperative that is owned by dairy farmers across the nation, DFA is committed to bringing value to our members,” Smith said. “That means we are committed to innovation and success by operating first-rate commercial businesses and investing in elite dairy companies. We also want to provide on-farm services that make it easier and more profitable for our members to farm.”

Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting program included:
– Lowell Catlett, regents professor and dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, discussing the world’s increased need for agriculture, now more than ever
– “Maintaining the Global Momentum for U.S. Dairy,” a presentation by Tom Suber, president, U.S. Dairy Export Council
– A summary of DFA’s global strategy by Jay Waldvogel, the Cooperative’s senior vice president of strategy and global development
– An update on National Milk Producers Federation’s work for the dairy industry by Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer
– An overview of the latest dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.

The Cooperative’s Annual Banquet will bring a host of recognitions, including the 2014 Members of Distinction. Every year, one member farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas is recognized for their service to their dairy, their families, communities and the industry.

In addition, outgoing Board Director Donnie Fisher, who has served the Cooperative in a leadership role since its formation, will be recognized for his contribution to DFA.

Winners of the 2014 DFA Cares Foundation Scholarship will be announced at the banquet. DFA Cares Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. This year’s record-breaking 36 recipients will receive a combined total of $42,500 toward their undergraduate and graduate level studies.

Also at the banquet, guests will meet employees who have been awarded the Cooperative’s elite Be More Employee Awards. The program encourages employees to demonstrate DFA’s core values and reinforce the meaning of “More Cooperative.”

The Annual Meeting concludes with the resolutions process, which brings together 250 elected delegates from across the nation to vote on a slate of issues that guide the policy position and business activities of DFA for the coming year.

Dairy, Beef Producers Get Free Quality Certification

BIVIlogoDairy and beef producers can get free quality certifications. Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. is offering to producers who sign up by April 15 free Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certifications, funded by the checkoff and giving producers tools to provide the safest and highest quality beef to consumers.

BIVI will pick up the $25-50 certification fee for beef or dairy producers who are interested in becoming certified or recertified during this period. Visit www.BIVI-BQA.com to take advantage of the open certification period. BQA is important to the cattle industry as it gives producers a set of best practices for producing a safe and high-quality beef product. It also gives consumers the assurance that the beef they eat is both healthy and wholesome.

“Some of the challenges that beef producers face is having all of their employees become BQA certified,” says Dr. Jerry Woodruff, Professional Services Veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. “BIVI’s partnership with BQA helps offset some of those expenses, and we encourage producers and their employees to use the web-based training programs.”

The certification modules are customized for each segment of the cattle industry, including dairy operations. It covers best management practices, such as proper handling and administration of vaccinations and other products, eliminating injection site blemishes, and better cattle handling principles.

Last year, more than 3,500 producers signed up for and got the BQA certification through BIVI. More information is available at www.BIVI-BQA.com.

DFO Spearheads Industry Innovation Partnership

AboutUs-DFOLogoDairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) has a long-standing commitment to supporting research and innovation. This commitment is being realized as DFO spearheads an effort to create an industry innovation partnership that will help ensure a healthy long-term future for the Ontario and Canadian dairy industry.

Construction of a new state-of-the-art dairy research facility at the Elora Research Station begins this summer. This is a joint project involving the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO), the University of Guelph and Ontario dairy industry stakeholders. The new facility is designed to address the research, education and training needs and priorities of the dairy sector for the next several decades.

“Innovation and research are essential to the continued success of the dairy industry. This partnership recognizes the commitment to continuous improvement on behalf of our industry partners,” said Wes Lane, Special Advisor to the 2050 Dairy Industry Innovation Partnership.

The ARIO has committed $20 million to the project. DFO has made an initial commitment of $1 million, as a first step, and is now reaching out to industry stakeholders to demonstrate their commitment to the industry by becoming a partner in this project. The goal is to raise an additional $4 million. The industry fundraising effort is being conducted in conjunction with the University of Guelph. Charitable tax receipts will be available for contributions made to the project.

Dairy Producers Unite For Alltech’s Global 500

It is just a week before Alltech’s 5th Annual Global 500 kicks off. Dairy and beef leaders from across the world will come together to share ideas and educate themselves on new and cutting edge technologies.

They are expecting over 500 dairy producers to attend this year’s event. Robert Brouwer, owner of a 2,800 cow diary in New Mexico, has attended the event every year since it’s beginning.

“This is a must attend event for me. Alltech continues to outdo themselves with timely and relevant topics, presented by great speakers,” Brouwer said. “It is also great to meet and interact with dairymen from across the world. The event gives me new ideas and provides an opportunity to see things from a global perspective.”

This year’s agenda will feature presentations on branding milk, social media, employee training, decreasing carbon footprints and mycotoxins as well as many presentations that will address the core theme for the event, the EPS principle: Efficiency, Profitability and Sustainability.

“As the global demand for dairy products continues to grow and our climate becomes less and less stable, the pressure to innovate is on the shoulders of today’s farmers. However, the question of how to remain profitable is a question that does not have a clear answer anymore,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “Branding is much more important now as consumers are developing strong loyalty to brands and are more concerned about the origin of their food. Our answers must address efficiency, profitability and sustainability.”

I am excited to attend this years event and during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s (NAFB) Trade Talk I had a chance to talk with David Butler, Web Marketing Manager for Alltech. He offered insite to the upcoming event and shared what hot topics will be discussed. Check my interview with David here.

Also during NAFB I spoke with Ann Kopecky, Alltech’s North America Field PR Coordinator, about Alltech’s recent launch of their 37+ Program. This new mass spectrometry technique investigates 38 different mycotoxins allowing for a broader analytical approach into the contamination.

Listen to my interview with Ann here: Ann Kopecky - Alltech

‘Dedicated to Dairy’ Launches

A new campaign launched Nov. 12, focusing on the hard-working dairy farm families and the nutritious products they produce. Named “Dedicated to Dairy,” the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association Inc. campaign includes multi-media efforts featuring regional dairy families and their stories.

Who better to tell the story regarding the dairy industry, its impact on local communities and the vital role this industry plays in providing consumers with a quality product than the dairymen themselves? Consumers will have the opportunity to become a virtual part of the farm, learning about all aspects of the dairy industry in a fun, interactive way.

The website, dedicatedtodairy.com, features stories about life on the farm and show where and how dairy foods are produced with focus on economic impact, environment practices and animal husbandry. Interactive features, social media links and blogs will also be included. QR codes will also be developed so visitors can have easy access to specific sites and information.

Generational Differences Among Dairy Producers

New research shows how the management style of younger dairy producers and corn growers compares and contrasts with that of their older counterparts. The survey, commissioned by McCormick Company, considered management practices, ownership structures, decision-making processes, business and transition planning, and the role of information — including digital media — in running respondents’ operations.

What the study found was that younger managers embrace the same values and reasons for farming, but they often consider new ways to get information and manage their operations.

McCormick’s goal is to share proprietary insights from this research with select companies seeking innovation as they connect with key customers.

An independent research firm interviewed more than 600 corn farmers and dairy producers, half of which were younger than 45 years of age. The vast majority of their farms were owned by two or more family generations; but one in four of the younger dairy producers were first-generation owners.

The survey also showed that industry trends and issues transcend age differences. For corn growers of all ages, interest in the environment and sustainability is what affects their management most. Dairy producers are influenced most by interest in animal welfare and the environment.

Webinar to Address Nutrition Issues Raised by Drought

This year’s severe drought in corn country, and the subsequent high prices and lowered availability of corn, has prompted a lot of questions from dairy producers about whether they can substitute fats for cereal grains. Virtus Nutrition will try to answer some of those questions during a webinar entitled “Fat vs. Corn: Time to Re-evaluate” hosted by Dr. Tom Jenkins of Clemson University this Thursday, September 13th at 4 pm EDT:

The webinar is appropriate for dairy producers and nutrition professionals and will feature an interactive session with Dr. Jenkins on the following topics:

1) Methods for evaluating fat vs. corn for your ration.
2) Strategies for improving ration ROI with fat.
3) Corn vs. Fat comparisons of energy density and availability for milk production.

Dr. Jenkins, a highly regarded animal nutrition researcher and a consummate teacher, has devoted the last 30 years to exploring important areas of lipid metabolism in dairy cattle.

The free, 20-minute webinar will be followed with questions and answers. You can send your questions in advance to thefattyacidforum@virtusnutrition.com. Sign up for the webinar at the Virtus Nutrition website at www.virtusnutrition.com/thefattyacidforum.

Iowa Begins Testing Milk for Aflatoxins

Concerns over drought-induced aflatoxin in milk has prompted the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey to call for state screening and testing of milk starting today and running indefinitely. This Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship news release says the order requires milk processors to screen all Grade A and Grade B farm bulk milk pickup tankers and farm can milk loads for aflatoxin on a weekly basis.

“We were well aware that aflatoxin could be an issue this year due to the historic drought conditions,” Northey said. “Now that farmers are starting to harvest silage, and corn in some cases, it is appropriate to begin this screening process to make sure our milk supply remains safe.”

A statewide corn sampling program has also been instituted in Iowa. Federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines for acceptable aflatoxin levels in corn say concentrations of greater than 20 ppb cannot be used for human consumption and cannot be used for feed for dairy animals or for immature livestock of others species. Corn containing aflatoxin at 100 ppb or less can be used in breeding cattle and swine and mature poultry. Corn with 200 ppb or less can be used with finishing swine greater than 100 lbs. in weight and corn with 300 ppb or less can be used in finishing beef cattle. Iowa officials are asking the FDA to allow for corn with more than 20 ppb of aflatoxin to be blended with non-aflatoxin containing corn for animal feed. Similar requests have been granted in the past.

Missouri Dairy Farmers End Raw Milk Sale Case

Missouri dairy farmers Armand and Teddi Bechard have entered into a consent agreement with the State of Missouri, ending a case over their selling of raw milk in 2009. Three years ago, undercover agents from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department allegedly bought raw milk from the Bechard family at a central delivery point, a health food store parking lot in Springfield. Missouri’s State Milk Board had insisted that while the law allows raw milk and cream to be sold by unlicensed farmers, it had to be delivered only to the customers’ residences. This news release from the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund says the Bechards were acquitted in a criminal action filed by the local district attorney’s office and now are able to sell raw milk again after entering into a consent agreement.

[T]he Bechards are free to sell raw milk to anyone they want and, after the sale has been arranged, can deliver the raw milk anywhere they want. In fact, the Bechards are allowed to deliver the raw milk to the customer’s home, to a central distribution point like a parking lot in a shopping center, or to the customer at the Bechards’ own farm.

The agreement prohibits the Bechards from selling raw milk to strangers who walk up to them while they are making a delivery to a known customer.

You can see Armand Bechard tell his story in the video below.

Milking Parlor: Farm Bill Dairy Debate Moves to House

Last month, we talked about what was in the Senate’s version of the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, better known as the Farm Bill. The process moved over to the House, where the bill has a new name, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management or FARRM Act. The debate in the Agriculture Committee focused on an amendment proposed by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) and David Scott (D-Georgia), which would have eliminated the market stabilization program for milk pricing and provided a safety net for dairy producers without requiring them to participate in a supply management program, such as the Dairy Security Act that is already in the Senate’s version of the bill. That amendment ran into stiff opposition from Ranking Member of the House Ag Committee Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), who called the amendment a recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile, USDA officials are concerned about some of the proposed cuts to reports vital to dairy producers. We’ll hear from Jim Robb, the Senior Agricultural Economist and Director at the Livestock Marketing Information Center, who spoke during a recent Farm Foundation webinar on the proposed cuts.

Finally, the FARRM Act ran into trouble on the House floor, as leadership has proposed a vote on a one-year extension of the old farm bill, a moved opposed by the National Milk Producers Federation.

It’s a lot to talk about and you can hear more about it in this edition of the Milking Parlor: Milking Parlor Podcast Farm Bill in the House

To subscribe to the Milking Parlor podcast, click here.

Nat’l Milk Producers Urge Rejection of Farm Bill Extension

Although the U.S. House Agriculture Committee has a new farm bill ready to go to the floor for a vote, leadership decided late on Friday to instead vote this week on a one-year extension of the current legislation, coupled with an extension of disaster aid for livestock producers. According to Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), drought fears are prompting the extension talk. “It is critical that we provide certainty to our producers and address the devastating drought conditions that are affecting most of the country and I look forward to supporting and advancing this legislation,” Lucas said in a statement.

The move prompted opposition from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today to extend the current farm bill and reiterated support to include the Dairy Security Act (DSA) in any final farm bill package:

“The current safety net for dairy farmers is not sufficient in dealing with scenarios like we are currently facing from high feed costs associated with the ongoing drought,” said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF. “If we are going to be serious about providing better protection for the nation’s dairy farmers while at the same time providing taxpayer savings from current programs, then we should pass a new farm bill which includes the DSA, which was included in both the Senate-passed farm bill and the farm bill recently passed out of the House Agriculture Committee.

“Under the proposed extension, the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC) would not pay out for the remainder of 2012 or for 2013 while the nation’s dairy farmers are experiencing razor-thin margins. The proposed 2008 farm bill extension does nothing to ensure dairy farmers and their bankers that they will have any safety net to deal with the present and future periods of tight margins and extreme volatility.”

The group urged both the House and Senate to reject the extension.

High Feed Prices Prompt SDSU Strategy Meeting

The high cost of feed compared to what producers are getting for their milk prompts the South Dakota State University Science Department to offer a a public “Options and Ideas” meeting on Tuesday, July 31st, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the SDSU Alfred Dairy Science Hall on the campus in Brookings, SD.

“Market globalization has resulted in higher price volatility for inputs and outputs,” said Alvaro Garcia, SDSU Extension Dairy Specialist. “With today’s prices dairy producers cannot afford to contract their milk price and allow corn, corn silage, and soybean meal prices to float freely. Producers must consider how to manage current and future production economics.”

“Our goal is to invite producers to brainstorm, and offer input on future research priorities,” Garcia said. “With producer input, we can better understand these challenges based on producer experiences, and allocate resources where they will have the greatest positive impact on dairy producers.”

With no formal presentation planned, the meeting is expected to give attendees plenty of time to brainstorm solutions. Contact Garcia at 605-688-5488 for more information.

Long Live Those Dairy Cows!

Research in Texas is looking into the relationship between the breed of dairy cows and the longevity of the herd.

This article from Texas AgriLife (and this story from the USDA’s Rod Bain) talks about how researcher Dr. Pablo Pinedo, AgriLife Research ruminant animal health scientist in Amarillo, is conducting a year-long study funded by the American Jersey Cattle Club Research Foundation looking into the declining longevity of dairy cattle:

“Today’s high involuntary culling rates are a concern on dairy farms from both an animal well-being and an economic point of view,” Pinedo said.

While Holstein herds have been predominant in Texas and New Mexico, large cheese-processing plants in the northern Texas Panhandle and in Eastern New Mexico have prompted the use of Jersey genetics, increasing the number of large, pure Jersey and multi-breed herds in those areas, he said.

In his study, Pinedo intends to use Jersey, Holstein and crossbred cattle all under the same conditions in the same operations to provide what he characterized as “a unique opportunity to analyze and compare the dynamic of culling in different breeds.”

Pinedo hopes his work will give a better understanding into the dynamics of culling risk of Jersey cows considering age, stage of lactation, milk yield, reproductive status, herd milk yield and herd size, as well as looking at associations between culling dynamics and some breed traits. In addition, he’ll be comparing the productive lives of Jerseys, Holsteins and their cross-breeds and identifying management-related risk factors throughout the Texas High Plains region.

“We hope our results will help dairy producers implement efficient strategies to manage critical points affecting cow survival,” he said. “This information will also provide a precise comparison on the productive life between Jerseys and Holsteins under the same conditions, supporting the decisions process regarding the future replacements.”

New York Hosts Veal/Dairy Tour

The New York Beef Industry Council (NYBIC) once again invited more than 50 industry influencers to an educational veal/dairy tour of New York State. The dynamics of this year’s tour was different than the tour of 2010 as this year’s attendees were a mix of chef educators and their students. Six different culinary schools, along with food service, retail, dietitians and media, were present for a farm-to-fork look at the veal and dairy industries.

The tour discussed how the dairy industry impacts the veal industry, the aspects of group housing and feeding, veal nutrition, Veal Quality Assurance, Veal Issues Management, and Packer Processing, including inspection and grading. Center-of-the-Plate expert Steve Olson and Executive Chef Dave Zino conducted a 90-minute veal cutting and cooking clinic. After the lectures, attendees were sent to the “hands-on kitchen”, tied on aprons and cooked up a veal storm creating eight culinary dishes to be served for lunch.

Tours such as the one hosted by the NYBIC are a way for farmers and ag groups to showcase the transparency of the industry on a local level. It gives industry influencers (such as bloggers, media, foodservice reps, chefs and dietitians) a chance to freely ask questions and express their concerns over myths and misconceptions that are often portrayed about agriculture, which enables them to then communicate the FACTS with the consuming public.

DFA Chairman Honored for Agriculture Achievement

Randy Mooney, chairman of Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.’s (DFA) Board of Directors, has been honored by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon with the Governor’s Award for Agricultural Achievement, which honors outstanding farmers, growers and processors in a variety of agriculture commodities.

During a visit to Mooney’s M&M Dairy in Rogersville, Mo., this week, Gov. Nixon toured the dairy and presented Randy Mooney with a certificate recognizing his hard work and accomplishments.

Mooney, his wife, Jan, and partner Kent Miller milk 300 dairy cows at M&M Dairy, which utilizes an innovative grass-based dairy system. This pasture management system was adopted in 1992 and is designed to maximize forage use by intensively managing plant growth and grazing time.

In addition to his role with DFA, Mooney is chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation and serves on boards of several dairy organizations including the Missouri State Milk Board.

He was presented with the 2009 Dairy Leadership Award by the Missouri Dairy Hall of Honors. The award was established in 1971 to honor those who have rendered outstanding service and provided leadership for the Missouri dairy industry over a period of time.

Mooney was born and raised on a Missouri dairy farm, which has been owned by the Mooney family since 1850. It was recognized as a Missouri Century Farm in 2010 by University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Farm Bureau.

Learning About The Dairy Business In Canada

Last week I joined with other members of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) for the 2011 IFAJ Congress. We meet every year in a different country to learn about agriculture there and for professional improvement sessions. This year we were in Canada and visited some dairy farms. My tour group visited Claynook Farms where we met owners, Wayne and Dennis Wagler.

The conversation with the dairy operators covered just about every topic you could imagine from genetics to marketing. I recorded part of a conversation with reporters in which I asked about their thoughts on the Canadian supply management system (more on that later). You can listen in on that Q&A here: Claynook Farms

I also recorded a video clip with part of the discussion too.

2011 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

Governor Heineman Pledges Support for Nebraska Youth Initiative

In a press conference yesterday, Governor Dave Heineman joined Nebraska dairy industry representatives to highlight a national program designed to encourage healthy food choices and physical activity for Nebraska school students. Gov. Heineman, along with Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joann Schaefer and other state representatives, outlined the “Fuel Up to Play 60” program, which aims to raise awareness of healthy choices and empower students to choose healthy foods and be physically active through play for at least 60 minutes per day.

Listen to Gov. Heineman’s press conference comments.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school program launched by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League in collaboration with the USDA. In Nebraska, the program is provided by the Midwest Dairy Council and is supported by dairy farmers who pay checkoff funds to the Midwest Dairy Association.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The Fuel Up to Play 60 program is important as Nebraska and the nation continue to address childhood obesity concerns. According to the recent Division of Public Health report, Nebraska mirrors national statistics in that almost one-third of Nebraska children, 10 to 17 years of age, are considered overweight or obese.

Learn more about the program here.

Conservation Tour Features Ohio Dairy

One of the stops on the 2011 CTIC Conservation In Action Tour in northwest Ohio last week was Bridgewater Dairy in Montpelier, where tour participants heard from owner Dr. Leon Weaver about the conservation practices they use to protect water quality in this area so close to Lake Erie.

“We explained the operation of our large dairy farm where we milk about 3,000 cows and how we house and care for the animals to maximize their health and productivity and also make them comfortable,” Weaver said. “And then how we protect the environment through the treatment of our manure in an anaerobic digester and the nutrient balance of our fields to produce crops to feed back to our cows.”

Weaver says they try to recycle as much as possible on the operation. “For example, water gets used a minimum of three times,” he said. “First to cool our milk, second to irrigate our crops, and third to wash something.” In addition, the manure which is used to produce electricity and fertilizer is also used to make cow bedding. “When the manure comes out of the digester, it’s nearly bacteria-free. We press the solids out to create something that feels and looks about like peat moss and we put that back in as bedding for the cows.”

A family owned business, Bridgewater Dairy includes three separate entities – Bridgewater Dairy LLC, Bridgewater Farming LLC, and Oakshade Dairy LLC. Together the operations milk 4200 Holstein Dairy Cows and farm over 4000 acres of ground in Northwest Ohio. Find out more about them on BridgewaterDairy.com and listen to or download my interview with Leon here: Dr. Leon Weaver on CTIC Tour

CTIC 2011 Conservation in Action Tour Photos

ZimmComm New Media coverage of the CTIC Indian Creek Watershed Field Tour sponsored by AGROTAIN

Dairy Farm Conservation

CTIC TourLast week the Conservation Technology Information Center conducted a field tour as part of their Indian Creek Watershed Project in Livingston County, IL. This project is funded in part by the Illinois EPA and other stakeholders. I participated and was pleasantly surprised to find a dairy farm on the tour!

We visited Kilgus Dairy. The family dairy farm is the only one in the state bottling their own milk. They also grow corn and soybeans and have land for the cows to graze on. They move those cows periodically, allowing the paddocks to grow back. In the picture you can see Matt Kilgus showing our group how to pour our own ice cream in the on-farm dairy products store, Kilgus Homestead.

Matt says they started the grazing system which got them involved with watershed management. Matt’s uncle was on the steering committee for the CTIC project so they’re conducting several tests and programs, including the use of different types of cover crops. He says that they hope to see some results that will benefit them while also becoming better stewards of the land.

You can listen to my interview with Matt here: Interview with Matt Kilgus

CTIC Indian Creek Watershed Project Field Tour Photos

Dairy Farmers Help Rebuild New Orleans Gardens

Just more than five years after Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans is still trying to rebuild. To help those efforts, the Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) recently took some time from an annual training conference to help put in two community gardens in the city’s Ninth Ward.

The cooperative says it was coordinated and managed by HandsOn New Orleans through a partnership with NOLA Green Roots, a greenspace development organization:

“With the help of 250 volunteers, we were able to transform two lots into community gardens in the matter of a few hours,” said Kertrina Watson Lewis, executive director for HandsOn New Orleans.

DFA farmer leaders and employees began transforming two vacant lots into vibrant, beautiful community gardens that will supply Ninth Ward residents with a variety of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables, as well as a positive social hub.

In addition, the Cooperative introduced a fundraising initiative among employees at the conference. As a result, DFA presented a check for $5,000 to NOLA Green Roots to help fund additional development at the Ninth Ward Community Gardens.

“To see the smiling faces of the neighbors in the Ninth Ward as the garden was being constructed was just overwhelming,” Joe Brock, executive director of NOLA Green Roots. “What we did today brought back their belief in the American spirit and restored not only the land but also their hope. And it created an opportunity for fresh fruits and vegetables that will bring rewards for years to come.”

This project is the latest effort by DFA to help the Gulf Coast area. Others include DFA Cares, which assists Gulf Coast dairy farmer members and others, and the DFA Cares Hotline, DFA’s Member Assistance Program and the DFA Scholarship Program.


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