Archive for May, 2009

VT producers: Save money on workers comp

 

The Vermont Legislature passed legislation in 2008 that gives employers, including dairy producers, with two options to reduce workers compensation premium costs:
1. The ability to pay for “minor” injuries and reporting those injuries to the Department of Labor.  Health care for minor injuries totaling less than $750 can be paid by the dairy producer, who reports the injury to the Department of Labor.
There is no legal requirement to report the injury to the Workers Compensation insurance company, but it must be reported to the Department of Labor.  Reporting the injury to the Department of Labor covers the producer if further claims arise from the injury.
2. Request a deductible as low as $500 for your Workers Compensation policy, similar to the deductible on car insurance. Each person has to request a deductible for Workers Compensation.  Once requested, under law, the insurance company has to provide a deductible.  A deductible policy should lower your Workers Compensation rate.
Using either option described above will save the employer money, but reducing the number of injuries in its workplace is the real key to saving money on Workers Compensation Insurance, says the Vermont Agency of Food and Agriculture. Implementing a safety program on your farm is another way to reduce accidents and, potentially, premiums.
For more information, contact your Workers Compensation Insurance provider to discuss the changes.  Contact the Vermont Department of Labor to discuss general Workers Compensation issues, at 828-2138.

Sunshine powers Scott brothers dairy

This article appears in the California/Arizona edition of the May 2009 issue of Western DairyBusiness

 

By Ron Goble

SAN JACINTO, Calif. – The sun is shining bright in Southern California and dairymen Stan, Brad and Bruce Scott plan on making the most of it.

The owners and operators of Scott Brothers Dairy in San Jacinto, have embarked on a solar project that they see has already softened the financial bite of energy bills on their dairy.

Brad Scott said they installed 312 solar panels on the roof a commodity barn as Phase I of their project to reduce their energy costs. They also added a couple shade structures around the corrals. Scott said they made sure the new construction was engineered to handle the weight of solar panels when they were able to continue Phase II of the project.

“With the climate in California concerning renewable energy and with AB32 requirements, we decided this was a step we needed to take,” said Scott. “Being in Southern California, we are in the perfect spot for getting a lot of sun year-round.”

The Scott brothers are working with solar engineers who determined the first phase of their project would include 312 panels, each one generating 175 watts of power. The total output produces 54,600 watts.

They officially started using their solar system Nov. 17, 2008. When this story was written in mid-April, the system has generated just under a total of 25,000 kilowatts and produced CO2 emission offset totaling 30,369 lbs.

Special power inverters – tucked away in a room behind the large commodity barn – convert DC current from the solar panels into AC current, which is used at the dairy or credited back to the local power authority.

“All that technical stuff I leave to the experts, but we need to make sure we do it right the first time,” Bruce Scott said. “I don’t want to have to come back and make expensive adjustments to the system.

“The current capacity of the solar installation should take care of 25% to 35% of our total daily energy needs,” he said. “Some days are bright and sunny and some are overcast and cloudy. It all evens out in the end.”

As an incentive to use alternate energy, the California Solar Initiative rebate pays so much per-kilowatt generated daily over a fivey-ear period and will gradually decline over the span of the program. Currently the incentive is 22-cents per kilowatt. Scotts expect to receive about $1,000 a month for five-year program life span, he said. Power companies won’t pay companies like Scott Bros. Dairy for the electricity they produce. Instead, they credit the amount produced toward their bill. If a private installation produces more than they use, the utility keeps the excess. For that reason most private systems are designed to run at 99% of the facilities needs when completed.

“You can have greenest power in the world and the utility won’t buy it from you. But you can use all you produce yourself and the higher the cost for energy, the more efficient your system becomes and the more significant our savings will be, Bruce explained.

In his case, Southern California Edison will balance out their account annually. “Other than that, we look for a reduction in our power bill because we use less kilowatts. Calculation of rates is continually changing with peak hours, off-peak hours, winter rates and summer rates,” he said. “Seasonal pricing causes the payback to fluctuate extensively. Another positive is that solar generates power at the most expensive times of the day. Our system is generating between 150 to 200 kilowatts per day during winter – the lowest sunlight time of year. During summer the days are longer and the system will generate substantially more power.”

The total cost of this project still isn’t precisely clear to Scott. “There are so many variables. You have the facility costs, engineering costs, panel costs, installation costs, converter costs, and the list goes on,” he says. “I estimate Phase I will cost between $300,000 and $400,000 for the 55-kilowatt project. We did a lot of the trenching, utility upgrades for the system ourselves so there wasn’t an exact contract price for the project. The panels are guaranteed by the manufacturer for 25 years at the rated output. However, the system should function effectively much longer.” The energy-producing capacity of the system originally proposed for Scott Brothers Dairy was 150 kilowatts. Phase I produces about one-third of that.

Scott estimates that with the incentive program and tax credits available from federal and state governments, payback should take them about five years with the reduction in power costs. As with many dairy infrastructure projects, Phase II at Scott Bros. Dairy is being delayed until after the milk markets return to profitability. System maintenance is minimal. It is recommended by manufacturers that the solar panels be washed regularly to maintain highest performance.

Brad Scott said they spent a lot of time researching the solar system options and think the one they selected will work well in their situation.

Scott Brothers Dairy milks 1,000 Holsteins 2X in a double-18 herringbone parlor. Their cows boast a rolling herd average of 23,800 pounds of milk. They process their milk at their own creamery in Chino and accept additional milk from a few select dairies in the region. They farm 700 acres on their ranch and grow about 50% of their own forages. The farmland provides adequate area to spread manure from the dairy operation.

 

Being proactive

Scott says they are doing several things at the dairy in an effort to be more sustainable or environmentally proactive.

“New regulations are coming at us all the time concerning air and water quality and we need to demonstrate to the consuming public, regulators and politicians that we are doing things right,” stressed Bruce Scott, who added that they have just begun receiving “reclaimed water” from a nearby municipality replacing all their irrigation water needs on their cropland acreage conserving groundwater. Like other California dairies, Scotts have also instituted an effective nutrient management program and completed their waste discharge requirement plan as well.

 

Dairy history

Scott Brothers Dairy was founded in 1913 when Ira J. Scott came to Southern California from Iowa in a 50-foot railroad car. He brought with him seven registered Guernsey’s, a horse-drawn carriage, milk wagon, a flock of chickens, and household goods. As the dairy grew, it wasn’t long before Ira’s sons, Leonard and Millard, took over the business, hence the name Scott Brothers Dairy.

Leonard’s son, Stan Scott, took over the dairy and creamery in 1970. By the late 1970s the business had grown and Stan was eager to focus on the newly acquired farm in San Jacinto. He turned to his old college friend, Rene Peauroi, who like Stan had a long history of working in the dairy industry. Rene was just a young boy while working alongside his father for the Pellesier Dairy in what is now the City of Industry and later became owner of Little Home Dairy in LaHabra.

In 1978, Stan entered into a partnership with Rene to take over the processing facilities in Chino.

Today, this family-owned business continues to grow. Stan’s sons, Bruce and Brad Scott work alongside their father, managing the farm and the dairy in San Jacinto. Peauroi, his son, Mike, and his son-in-law, Vince Sartain, work together managing the creamery.

They process fluid milk, egg nog and chocolate milk, sour cream and buttermilk. Frozen dessert mixes are one of their specialties.

They produce all types of mixes including ice creams and frozen yogurts with varying fat contents. They can provide any flavor and packaging from half gallon to tanker truck.

Scott Brothers Dairy has been producing and distributing high quality dairy products for nearly a century. This latest upgrade in their operation is another way to continue their family’s tradition of excellence. 

FYI

Contact Brad or Bruce Scott, Scott Brothers Dairy, San Jacinto, Calif., e-mail: brad@sbdfarms.com or bruce@sbdfarms.com.



Stocking density impacts cow comfort, production, health

This article appears in the May 2009 issue of Western DairyBusiness

By Ron Goble

RENO, Nev. – Stocking density on dairies of all sizes has been researched and scientists determine that a crowded corral or freestall barn is not a good thing for herd health or the bottom line. Rick Grant, researcher with the W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, NY, painted the big picture for attendees at the large herd Western Dairy Management Conference recently in Reno.

“According to the “Stall Use Index” from University of California, Davis, as stocking rates (SR) increase, resting time decreases,” Grant said.

He shared the following basic concepts on stocking rates:

• Overstocking reduces cow’s ability to practice natural behaviors.

• Overstocking improves economic returns on facility investments.

• Social, group dynamics and facilities influence response to stocking rate.

Grant noted some basic behavioral needs:

• 5 to 5.5 hours per day eating.

• 12 to 14 hours per day lying (resting).

• 2 to 3 hours per day standing and walking in alleys where grooming, agonistic, estrous activities take place.

• 0.5-hours per day drinking.

• 20.5 to 21.5 hours per total needed.

• 2.5 to 3.5 hours “milking” = 24 hours per day.

Grant explained that some of the common ways of disturbing time budget on-farm included mixing of primi- and multiparous cows and leaving them for an excessive amount of time in holding pens or the parlor. That relates to too much time away from resources.

More than an hour per day in headlocks – especially where fresh cows are concerned.– and uncomfortable stalls impact performance.

Overcrowding will make the negative response worse, he said. Grant reported on the response to stocking rates with primi- versus multiparous cows. He found there were numerous natural behavioral differences such as heifers taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, and spending more time feeding. Heifers that are typically less dominant are more easily displaced from the manger area and avoid stalls previously occupied by more dominant cows.

 

Livestock fears

Researchers observed what he termed “neophobia – fear of a new environment.”

“As stocking density increases we see greater aggression and displacements. Time of eating shifted and fewer meals were noted. Eating rate increased and cows showed a greater potential for sorting. The most noted effect was on subordinate cows.

“Within limits, cows can adjust feeding behavior in response to variable stocking rates,” Grant said. “Cows can eat faster, although they ruminate less. Overstocked cows also may experience greater somatic cell counts due to greater teat-end exposure and immune suppression.”

SCC at 100% SR was 135,000 compared to 236,000 SCC at 142 SR.

Grant noted that milk quality is affected as stocking rates increase. Milk fat levels are depressed as stocking rate increases. At 100% SR milk fat was 3.84% compared to 3.67% at 142% SR.

 

Rumination affected

In studies cited by Grant, 100% vs 130% stocking rate of stalls and headlocks, 4-row barn (Batchelder, 2000) showed rumination decreased by 25% at 130% stocking rate, resulting in 2 hours per day less rumination time.

Another research study (Hill et al., 2006) showed ruminating times and lying times for cows housed at 100%, 113%, 131%, and 142% stocking rate of stalls and headlocks in a 4-row barn.

Cows spent the following hours per day at each different stocking rates strictly ruminating: 8.5 hours per day at 100%, 8.5 hours at 113%, 8.1 hours at 131%, and 7.5 hours per day at 142%.

Researchers recorded the time cows would ruminate lying at: 6.6 hours per day at 100%, 6.5 hours at 113%, 6.1 hours at 131%, and 5.7 hours per day at 142%.

 

After the midnight hour…

Activity from midnight to 4 a.m. in research by Hill et al., 2009, showed a significant difference in cows resting, feeding and standing in the alley during the early morning hours. At 100% SR 71.1% resting, 11.8% feeding and 3.9% standing in alley. At 113% SR those figures were 70% resting, 12.6% feeding and 5.4% standing in alley. At 131% SR the figures were 63.7% resting, 14.6% feeding and 8.7% standing in alley. At the highest SR of 142% the numbers were 58.7% resting, 15.4% feeding and 12.6% standing.

Grant summarized research showing there is a positive relationship between stall availability, resting, and milk yield. Miner Institute data showed a significant relationship between resting and milk yield. Dairy producers can look for about 3.7 lb/day more milk for each extra hour of rest.

 

Stocking rates and repro

In their look at stocking rates and reproduction, Grant reported the following:

University of Wisconsin data from 153 farms used to identify factors affecting reproduction demonstrated that when bunk space in breeding pens was decreased from 24 to 12 inches, the percent of cows pregnant by 150 DIM decreased from 70% to 35%.

Grant reported that cows display territoriality in use of freestalls and social rank determines a cow’s location. Stalls nearest the feed alley are preferred (Gaworski et al., 2003), but subordinate cows avoid freestalls previously occupied by dominant cows.

Overcrowded conditions (from subordinate perspective) may exist even at lower stocking densities, Grant explained.

In summary, Grant concluded that changes in these behaviors: altered feeding behavior, greater aggression/displacements at feed bunk, reduced resting time, increased idle standing in alleys, decreased rumination, and subordinate cows (i.e. primiparous and lame cows) were most affected by high stocking density.

Such changes and behaviors caused by high stocking rates may result in the following performance (economic) losses: less milk yield, lower milk fat, greater SCC, greater health disorders, reduced fertility and lower average dairy gain.

Physical and social environments are additive, Grant pointed out. Heat stress and overcrowding contribute to reduced rumination, increased sorting, increased feeding rate and increased standing time. All of which can lead to acidosis, low percentage of fat and lameness.

Grant concluded that optimal stocking density could be:

• Close-up and fresh cows: ≤80% of bunk space (30 inches per cow) and may be a function of stall availability.

For lactating cows he suggested, not to exceed 115% to 120% of stalls in a 4-row barn. For mixed heifer and older cows optimum would be 100%. In a 6-row barn: 100% of stalls.

He stressed that dairymen need to ensure good access to feed, water and stalls.

 

FYI

To contact Rick Grant at the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy, NY, call 518-846-7121, Ext. 116, or e-mail: grant@ whminer.com. For additional information you may visit their wibsite: www.whminer.org.

5/09 Opinions & sacred cows: Consumers disconnected…

By Ron Goble

 

I attended the Central Plains Dairy Expo recently in Sioux Falls, S.D., and one of the headliners on the program for dairy producers was Trent Loos. Trent was raised on a diversified farm near Quincy, Ill. He entered the hog business at a young age and has been involved in livestock production ever since. He and his wife Kelli operate a purebred Limousin and Angus herd. They enjoy working cattle, training horses and raising their three daughters on their ranch in Central Nebraska.

 

Have an opinion or response? E-mail Ron Goble, associate publisher/editor, Western DairyBusiness at: rgoble@dairybusiness.com.

Have an opinion or response? E-mail Ron Goble, associate publisher/editor, Western DairyBusiness at: rgoble@dairybusiness.com.

“Today, I recognize why I have a passion for production agriculture,” Loos explained. “It provides us a teaching opportunity for kids that kids do not get anywhere else in this country – at our dairy farms and ranches. Our kids at an early age, truly understand the cycle of life and we must find a way to explain the cycle of life to non-farm folks so that we don’t become the EU (European Union).”

 

Loos said when he and Kelli are working cattle, or doing anything on the farm, their children are right there with them. They learn things they need to know and they understand the cycle of life. He made the point because his presentation was to focus our attention on the consumer disconnect in understanding agriculture and the cycle of life.

“What can you and I do to bridge that gap and tell the story? If we all don’t take some level of responsibility for telling our story, we only have ourselves to blame for what we end up with,” Loos chided. “We need to bring back to center stage the importance that food production is a means of national security.

“We haven’t built an oil refinery in the United States for 30 years and Katrina should have taught us that we shouldn’t be 65% dependant on foreign lands for our energy; we’re vulnerable,” he declared. “It’s the same level of disconnect and (lack of) understanding that ribeye came from a cow and electricity doesn’t just come from an outlet in the wall.

“At the same time people are talking about switching over to electric cars, we are closing coal-fired power plants that generate 50% of the electricity in the United States. There’s obviously a major consumer disconnect and lack of understanding.”

In trying to express how dyer our circumstances are in the political arena, Loos cited the appointment of Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein, as President Barack Hussein Obama’s regulatory czar. Sunstein wrote a white paper last year at Harvard stating that “we’ve reached a point in time when animals should be able to sue their owners,” Loos declared. “I’m not talking about some PETA wacko here. I’m talking about a person who has been placed in a key regulatory position…Until we can understand where consumers are at, I don’t think we can explain these things properly.” 

Loos shared this story: He was arriving for a speaking engagement in San Francisco – about six months before the November 2008 elections – to help educate the public about Proposition 2. He met someone in the hotel elevator who asked him what brought him to town? He said he was there for an agricultural meeting. What is agriculture? the person asked. How can anyone in the state of California – the most productive agricultural state in the world – not know the important role agriculture plays in the state’s economy.

Well, that’s our challenge – and not just in California. As dairy producers, farmers and dairy industry specialists, we need to be ready to speak up and tell our story, whether during a brief elevator ride to the 14th floor of some big city hotel, or just standing in the aisle of a local supermarket. Our task to overcome consumer disconnect is more critical than ever!

DHS Fact Sheet: Worksite Enforcement Strategy

Editor’s note: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a “Fact Sheet” outlining updated worksite enforcement guidance for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. The guidance reflects a renewed department-wide focus targeting the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, in order to target the root cause of illegal immigration. 

 

Press Office

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Fact Sheet

April 30, 2009

Contact: DHS Press Office, 202-282-8010

Worksite Enforcement Strategy

• The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a vital responsibility to enforce the law and engage in effective worksite enforcement to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce.

• An effective, comprehensive worksite enforcement strategy must address both employers who knowingly hire illegal workers as well as the workers themselves. Of the more than 6,000 arrests related to worksite enforcement in 2008, only 135 were employers.

• This week, updated worksite enforcement guidance was distributed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which reflects a renewed Department-wide focus targeting criminal aliens and employers who cultivate illegal workplaces by breaking the country’s laws and knowingly hiring illegal workers.

• Effective immediately, ICE will focus its resources in the worksite enforcement program on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers in order to target the root cause of illegal immigration.

• ICE will continue to arrest and process for removal any illegal workers who are found in the course of these worksite enforcement actions in a manner consistent with immigration law and DHS priorities. Furthermore, ICE will use all available civil and administrative tools, including civil fines and debarment, to penalize and deter illegal employment.

• ICE officers will be held to high investigative standards including:

               o ICE will look for evidence of the mistreatment of workers, along with evidence of trafficking, smuggling, harboring, visa fraud, identification document fraud, money laundering, and other such criminal conduct.

               o ICE offices will obtain indictments, criminal arrest or search warrants, or a commitment from a U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) to prosecute the targeted employer before arresting employees for civil immigration violations at a worksite.

• Existing humanitarian guidelines will remain in effect, impacting worksite enforcements involving 25 or more illegal workers. This reflects a change from the previous threshold of 150.

• DHS is committed to providing employers with the most up-to-date and effective resources to comply with our nation’s laws.

• DHS will continue to work with partners in the public and private sectors to maintain a legal workforce through training and employee verification tools like E-verify, which improve the accuracy of determinations of employment eligibility and combat illegal employment

• As a former border state Governor, Napolitano signed into law one of the toughest employer sanctions laws in the country in 2007 to target employers who knowingly hired illegal workers.

5/09 Milk Matters: Keep your eye on the prize, even if the chips are down

By  Joseph O’Donnell

 

Over the last decade or so, dairymen have come under great fire by groups supporting the notion that milk production practices are harmful to the environment. This movement has been especially active in California, which has the highest population as well as the highest milk production in the states. 

Dr. Joseph O’Donnell is executive director of the California Dairy Research Foundation. He can be reached at 530-753-0681. Information on the California Dairy Research Foundation can be obtained from the organization’s web site at www.cdrf.org.

Dr. Joseph O’Donnell is executive director of the California Dairy Research Foundation. He can be reached at 530-753-0681. Information on the California Dairy Research Foundation can be obtained from the organization’s web site at www.cdrf.org.

True to its innovative roots, the California dairy industry responded by forming the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) to help producers understand and comply with existing and new environmental regulations. As is typically the case, what gains ground in California later migrates across the country. 

 

Facing environmental concerns

Today environmental concerns face everyone involved in dairy, regardless of what state they live in. The dairy industry will always be a target for such groups because of its sheer size. Having a thoughtful, proactive response is essential for not only retaining our business but building it as well. Challenges like this can only make our industry stronger.

This is a good thing to keep in mind as consumer attitudes and involvement become more critical of all food sources. Take animal welfare. Last year two incidents thrust animal welfare to the forefront as an issue for all animal agriculture – the Hallmark slaughter video and the passage of Proposition 2 by a two-to-one majority. 

 

Hallmark case

In the Hallmark case, there were clear, illegal practices and the company paid the ultimate price by going out of business. Consumer outrage and fear based on concerns about food safety were understandable. It was a case ready made for the media and the fallout affected far more than just the beef industry. 

Prop. 2

Proposition 2 was heavily supported by emotional arguments that tugged at consumer heartstrings. The fact of the matter is, most consumers have no personal connection to the food they eat but they do understand animals and animal cruelty. 

Who is to argue against treating animals better? As with the environmental issue – these are not challenges that will go away if ignored, the only way to stay ahead is to already be ahead of the issue in the first place. This takes constant diligence.

 

Third rung

Animal health/food safety is the third rung to this ladder. Consumers don’t want food from sick animals. Makes perfect sense, they don’t eat rotten vegetables and don’t eat food from sick animals. 

Consumers have confidence in the safety of our milk supply. Heroic efforts on the part of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the universities and industry programs like the CDQAP, California has not suffered from a large, widespread epidemic in the dairy industry in recent years. 

 

We have been lucky

We have been diligent and we have been lucky. Don’t forget the hit the lettuce and spinach industries took recently with food safety incidents. Even cows were once considered as a source of the pathogenic organism that caused so much trouble. 

The only way to stay ahead of these incidents is to keep our systems operating and research constantly moving forward. Taking our eye off the prize is not an option. 

With milk prices down and the economy putting even more stress on all areas of business, it’s easy to get distracted. 

 

Short-term worries

All producers, especially small family farms, are worried about making it to the next month, yet alone long term goals like five or 10 years. Tough times make it tempting to relax that guard, loosen up on environmental, animal welfare or animal health practices. Is it worth risking the game to win one inning? 

No. 

So, what can you do? The infrastructure exists to manage these issues supported through checkoff dollars and additional funds from partners. 

 

Leverage funds

The CDQAP has been exceptionally adept at leveraging producer funds with government funding and will continue to do so. The same holds true for research programs at the University of California where the expertise is second to none. The main objective here is to help you, the producer, do what you love – making a delicious, nutritious product that is appreciated by consumers and in a way that is cost effective. 

That’s the prize – let’s keep focused where it counts.

(Details about the CDQAP are available at www.cdqa.org.) 

5/09 It’s Your Money: Hard times, teachable moments

 

Verlyn De Wit helps successful dairy producers make smart decisions about their money. He can be reached at 888-468-1728 by e-mail at vdewit@sammonsrep.com.

Verlyn De Wit helps successful dairy producers make smart decisions about their money. He can be reached at 888-468-1728 by e-mail at vdewit@sammonsrep.com.

A few weeks ago, I received a call from a long-time client. Sue just turned 70, and has been forced to assume responsibility for financial decisions since her husband’s death 10 years ago.

Sue worries a lot. She is under stress in good times and bad.  Sue has invested very conservatively, and has suffered little damage through the market’s decline, but she continues to worry.

 

Poor Sue 

While I try to be as supportive as I can, she feels very lonely and insecure when it comes to making a decision. I tried to put her mind at rest. “Find a nice sunny spot in the house.” I told her. “Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and read Psalm 46.” She said she would take my advice.

Sue’s relationship with her money, in good times and bad, is one of fear.

 

A movie message

Do you remember the 1987 movie, Wall Street? Put it in your Netflix queue, and forgive me for the blue language – but this movie is a 22-year prophecy fulfilled. The film’s immortal line was uttered by the ultra-rich villain, Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas); “Greed is good.”  

Gekko (not to be confused with the little green lizard) is the company take-over artist that corporate-types fear and loathe. Speaking of the 33 vice presidents at Teldar Paper making over $200,000 per year (remember this is 1987) Gekko says, “All together, these men … own less than three percent of the company. And where does Mr. Cromwell (the CEO) put his million-dollar salary? Not in Teldar stock; he owns less than one percent. … You, the stockholders… are being royally screwed over by these bureaucrats, with their luncheons, their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes.”  Apparently Gekko doesn’t think the bureaucrats’ greed was good – only his own.

 

How much is enough?

Gekko’s relationship to his money is demonstrated when he says, “I create nothing. I own.” When asked, “How much is enough?” He replies, “It’s not a question of enough, pal.  It’s a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made. It’s simply transferred from one perception to another.”

Gekko hasn’t been gripped by the command to “be fruitful and multiply”.  He is simply a genius thief operating within the law – unlike the Madoffs operating outside it. Watch out!  Be on your guard! They both want a relationship with your money. New regulation won’t change the human heart.

I remember my economics professor telling us, “General Motors is not in the business of making cars, they are in the business of making money.” That is a chilling indictment, but it seems to get at the core of meaning. Who are you? What do you do?  What does it mean? Is it important? Those are the big questions that seem to be asked more in bad times than in good.

 

Teaching moments

Hard times provide teachable moments.  I’ve learned at least three things in past months.  

• The creation is inconceivably productive.  In spite of the Gekkos, the bureaucracy, the laws, the required permits, the regulations and inspections, the taxes and all types of waste at every level of our society, we have an extremely high standard of living and the ability to help others.

• Having work and enjoying it is a magnificent blessing.

• It is easier to identify greed in someone else than in myself.

 

Keep…perspective and learn

I wish you justice in the market place as you go through this very difficult time. I also encourage you to consider that your intrinsic value to your family, your community and others has to do with more than your success as a diary producer. May we keep these difficult times in perspective, and learn from them.

It’s your money. Carefully consider your relationship to it.

OSU Extension fact sheets address issues facing dairy farms and how to manage them

   “Reducing costs to improve short-term cash flow” is the theme of a series of Ohio State University Dairy Issue Briefs launched by OSU Extension’s Dairy Working Group to aid livestock producers facing critical economic issues.

    ”Plummeting prices in the dairy industry are creating critical cash-flow and long-term survivability issues on Ohio’s 3,328 dairy farms,” said Dianne Shoemaker, OSU Extension dairy specialist. “Cost-cutting decisions must be made with full awareness of both short and long-term production and economic consequences.”

    Through a series of 26 Dairy Issue Briefs, OSU Extension’s Dairy Working Group is addressing five key areas impacting Ohio dairy producers: nutrition, crop and feed costs, reproduction and health, calf and heifer management, business issues, and people and stress management.

    So far, nine briefs have been completed. They include:

    * Information on using corn silage in dairy cattle diets to reduce cash feed costs.

    * Tips on re-evaluating the culling policy when lactating cows may no longer be profitable.

    * Changing from a confinement system to a grazing system to potentially reduce short-term costs.

    * Lowering feed costs in management intensive grazing systems.

    * Exploring the option of removing additives from the diet to reduce short-term costs.

    * Evaluating whether dollars should be spent for silage crop inoculants.

    * Determining if weaning calves earlier would save a significant amount of money.

    * Observing signs of stress and depression among farm family members.

    * Information on the status of dairy exports.

    OSU Extension educators, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Science specialists, and researchers with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center author the briefs.

    The completed briefs, as well as future briefs, can be found at http://dairy.osu.edu, or by contacting Dianne Shoemaker at 330-263-3799 or shoemaker.3@osu.edu.

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