Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:36 pm
By Jamie Johansen
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.
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.
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.
Posted: September 10, 2012 at 10:47 am
By John Davis
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 email@example.com. Sign up for the webinar at the Virtus Nutrition website at www.virtusnutrition.com/thefattyacidforum.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted: August 16, 2011 at 6:49 pm
By Cindy Zimmerman
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
Last 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.
Posted: September 28, 2010 at 12:09 am
By John Davis
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.
Looking for a fun way to learn more about the dairy industry? Then check out the new website “Dairy Fun” created by Dairylea Cooperative Inc. and Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) Northeast Area Council.
The website will teach consumers about all the benefits that dairy farmers provide – from producing high-quality, nutritious products to supporting the economy and creating a ripple effect on both the agricultural and economic well-being of rural America.
“Dairy farmers are the fabric of rural America,” said Karen Cartier, Vice President of Communications for Dairylea Cooperative and DFA’s Northeast Area Council. “They are dedicated to the care of both their animals and natural resources as well as production of a quality product. Our goal is to bring an increased awareness of the importance of dairy in a healthy diet.”
To salute farmer members, increase public awareness on the value of milk and dairy products, and therefore support milk markets for the 2,300 Dairylea member farms and the 1,900 DFA’s Northeast Area Council member farms, a series of initiatives are underway.
* An interactive website to share the positive health benefits of milk and dairy products.
* A free, educational DVD, VRROOMMM! 2 Dairy Farming for Kids. This movie, available to elementary schools, takes a look at life on a 700-cow dairy farm.
* A visit with a local elementary school to educate children on the dairy farming process and provide fun dairy treats.
* Various dairy tours and events around the region – inviting people to take a firsthand look at life on a dairy farm.
What better timing could there be to meet a dairy farmer from California? You know what I’m talking about. Let’s meet Ray Prock, Ray-Lin Dairy. Ray serves with me on the board of the AgChat Foundation. We got together on the phone today to talk about the Foundation and farmer use of social media. He’s one of the ones who’s walking the talk. We also talked about this week’s animal abuse video from Ohio. If you want to hear from a real dairy farmer on the subject then give a listen to our interview.
Ray is a second generation dairy farmer in Central CA working to secure a future for the third and future generations to one day help feed the world as farmers. Ray sees social media as a great way to connect with others and to have conversations about what, why and how farmers feed, clothe and fuel today’s ever growing population. He says, “The Agchat Foundation is a way to focus social media efforts across all segments of Agriculture in one coordinated effort whether farmers or ranchers, veterinarians or Extension agents, salespeople or bankers.” You can follow Ray on his blog, on Twitter or on Facebook.
You can listen to my interview with Ray below and also watch a video from the AgChat Foundation YouTube Channel of him talking about our plan for technology scholarships.