Archive for June, 2010

Specialized dairy products key to continued demand

Milk Matters

By Joseph O’Donnell

Milk, fermented products, cheese, butter, nonfat dry milk powder are the stuff of commodities. These products drive milk production, processing, marketing, promotion, economics, nutrition education and, to a degree, research in the areas of nutrition and product development. The dairy world turns on these products and consumer nutritional health depends on these products.

Research, for its part, works to add efficiency at all production levels including extending product lines and most importantly discovering new truth about the nutritional benefits of these products.  Research naturally moves to exploring for new discoveries by looking at the fine details of the core product – milk.

No exaggeration!

It is not an exaggeration to compare the great detail required to put a man on the moon to the engineering that nature invested in designing and producing milk. It took us decades to get to the moon but it took nature hundreds of millions of years to get milk to where it is today.

Unraveling that bit of biology requires a lot of time and effort. So far several generations of scientists have been dedicated to the endeavor. The good news is that we are starting to see some results. The century before us focused on basic nutrition. These scientists established that milk is the most nutritionally complete food on earth. They went on to show how milk efficiently delivers this nutrition with all the nutrients being highly digestible. As a result, once populations increased their milk consumption, deficiency diseases were severely mitigated.

In the U.S. the official recommendation is to consume three servings of dairy products each day.  This is based on science.  This science started through funding from dairy farmer check-off dollars but rapidly spread to include much larger government funding because of its success and importance to national health and security. Countries around the world recognized this and started setting up similar dietary goals for milk.  Notably, China with its 1.4 billion people has a current goal of 2 servings of dairy per day.  What’s next?

Unbelievable technology

Think again about the technology behind putting a man on the moon. Think about all the systems that must be developed and fully integrated. Not only the physics of building a rocket that will get there and back again but the physiology of maintaining a living body in the process.

Milk has to take a wide collection of essential nutrients from one living being and integrate them into a biochemical system that allows each nutrient to operate at top efficiency when ingested into another living being.  That digestive system is a long process in itself so the milk has to be constructed to deliver specific benefits at specific places along the journey. This implies that something like a protein may have a certain effect early on in the digestive process but a very different effect further down the path. Furthermore, these molecules of milk will be doing more than delivering nutrients; they will be triggering physiological responses in the recipient – responses such as satiety, immunity and many others. Expand this to all the hundreds of different kinds of molecules in milk and you can see that comparing this to sending a man to the moon is not hyperbole.

I opened by talking about dairy commodities. The kind of research I describe above pushes our knowledge envelope of milk components to a place that doesn’t address commodities directly. The initial products to come from this type of current and near term research will be from those components of milk that have a marketable nutritional benefit and can be separated or at least enriched in some stream of milk processing. The companies who jump on this bandwagon could make a fortune. What about the initial investors, the dairy farmers?

New discoveries

While these new products will help create huge markets for specialized milk components, markets that will expand each year as new components are developed and new health benefits discovered, volume sales of dairy will likely remain with the commodities – foods affordable by the world’s population. The nutritional advantages uncovered by this research and initially marketed in specialized products will soon be recognized at the commodity level as well. My prediction is that the successful marketing of specialized dairy products will drive consumers from all countries to include commodity products as part of a daily diet. This is the ultimate return for the dairy farmers who believe profoundly in the wholesomeness of their product and who started this research ball rolling – steady, increased demand for milk, nature’s most perfect food.


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

Dairy cow fertility declines

By Dr. Ellen Jordan

Texas A&M University Extension

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Over the last several decades, fertility of dairy cows has declined. A recent study by the Animal Improvement Program Laboratory (AIPL) indicates the historical decline stopped and conception rates, days to last breeding, and calving interval have actually started to improve.

The AIPL study, based on Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) data, provides national and regional averages for a number of reproductive parameters. These numbers provide producers an opportunity to compare their herd’s performance to the average and to set new goals. For this analysis, Texas herds are considered part of the Southeast region, while New Mexico herds are categorized as Southwest.

Several factors may contribute to the improvement in reproduction. From a genetic perspective, productive life (PL) was added to genetic evaluations in 1994 and daughter pregnancy rate (DPR) was added in 2003.  These two additions allowed selection for improved fertility.

On the management side, one very significant change that has occurred is the development of synchronization programs. Nationally, 17% of herds are definitely or probably synchronized, while 10% of Southeast and 17% of Southwest herds adopted synchronization programs according to the AIPL study.  The Southeast has the lowest adoption rate of any region in the nation.

As might be expected, the adoption of synchronization appears greater on first service. In 2006, just over 1 million breeding records were available to calculate days to first breeding. Of those, approximately 51% were not synchronized, 9% were possibly synchronized, 33% were probably synchronized and 7% were definitely synchronized.

For Holsteins, the average days to first breeding has improved from 92 days in 1996 to 85 days in 2007. The trend for Jerseys isn’t as well-defined, but went from 85 days in 1996 to a peak of 88 days in 1998 and 1999, to 83 days in 2007.

On a national basis initially, the conception rate for first breeding and all breedings declined by 7 percentage points, but improvement during recent years has occurred. In 2006, the mean conception rate for first breeding was 31% nationally; while it was only 26% in the Southeast, but 33% in the Southwest.

As would be expected with a declining conception rate, the actual number of breedings required to obtain a pregnancy increased.  Nationally, on average 2.5 breedings are required to obtain a pregnancy.

In the Southeast, 2.7 breedings are needed, while only 2.4 are used in the Southwest.

The actual calving interval for Holsteins peaked at 428 days in 2001, and has since fallen to 422 days in 2006, which is still 12 days longer than it was in 1996. The average calving interval for Jerseys was 398 days in 1996. It spiked to a 415-day average  in  1999  and  had fallen to 410 days by 2006.

Pregnancy rate (PR) was calculated by AIPL based on days open as: PR = 100 (0.25) (233-days open). The days open was limited to include only animals with 50-250 days open; therefore may be higher than reported by record keeping systems that do not exclude animals with extended days open.

Nationally, the pregnancy rate was 24.9%, while the Southeast average of 22.2% was lower and the Southwest (28.3%) was higher than average.

Take time to evaluate whether you too are seeing improvements in herd fertility. If not, consider whether you have adopted the genetic and management tools now available to improve herd reproduction. Work with your consultants to determine how to incorporate these technologies into your herd. Finally, redefine your goals to be “above average.”


To contact Dr. Jordan at Texas A&M, call 972-952-9212 or e-mail

A year to forget

(To see the charts associated with this article, view the online version of Western DairyBusiness at

Dairy Financial Times

by Bruce Miles

We have completed our year-end cost study for what will go down in history as possibly the worst for the dairy industry. It has been well published by now the record numbers of dairy either in default, facing foreclosure or worst yet completely out of business. While cooperatives and manufacturers have been recording double-digit profits, dairymen have lost anywhere from $2.00 per cow per day up to $5.00 per cow per day.

The cost study includes more than 14 billion pounds of milk produced from many of our western dairy clients. With the gross milk price received of $12.40 per cwt, dairymen could not keep up with the total cost of producing milk at $16.10 per cwt. The only positives to come out of 2009 were the fact that feed costs were down from an average cost of $9.22 to $8.26 per cwt and total expenses down from $17.41 to $16.10. With this being said, the milk price was down over $5.00 per cwt from 2008. Thus dairymen found themselves eating though equity and getting their operations pushed to the brink of disaster.

Regionally, dairymen found similar results:

So it’s perfectly clear now, high prices in 2008 did not produce high incomes due to record high feed and production costs. So when milk prices fell in 2009 and feed costs came back down, dairymen felt the pinch. Not shown in any of these numbers is the $1.50 per cwt needed for principal repayment and living expenses. So how did this happen? Why has it been allowed to go on for so long? Who is going to survive? Plenty of questions, but shouldn’t our leaders have better answers than the ones they are giving you?


Bruce Miles, CPA in Costa Mesa, Calif., with Genske, Mulder & Co., LLP, a certified public accounting firm representing clients who produce 12% of the nation’s milk in 29 states. Bruce can be reached at 949-650-9580 or e-mail him at

Incinerators: Yes or no for mortality management?

By Deanne Meyer and Betsy Karle, UC Cooperative Extension

Once again, this year’s World Ag Expo generated what at face value appeared as a simple question. Is it okay to use an incinerator on my farm for mortality management? As it turns out, this is actually a series of questions and the final answer will vary depending on where the dairy is located and the quality of the air in that specific district.

The first question is: “is it legally okay for me to use an incinerator for mortality management?” The second question is: “how do I go about getting an incinerator permitted?”

Depending on the answers to these questions one might even ask another question: “is it okay for me to use a specific make/model of incinerator?” Of course, even if you can get permission to use an incinerator from the local air district, there is an additional consideration – what do I do with the residual material when I’m done (is my Regional Water Quality Control Board okay with me land applying the residue)? Let’s deal with the first questions first!

One important point to note is that an incinerator is a stationary source of emissions and subject to getting permission and potentially permitting in many of our air districts. This is organized by air district since the answers vary by district. If you’re even remotely considering purchase and use of an incinerator contact your local air district BEFORE spending a penny.

San Joaquin Valley Air District: The San Joaquin Valley Air District (SJVAD)currently permits larger dairy facilities. The district is in the process of modifying emissions factors as well as reducing the threshold of emissions necessary to require permits. As a result, nearly all dairies in the district will need permits for components associated with their dairies (most probably by fall, 2010).  The trigger to require a permit to operate is when a facility exceeds the 1/2 major source thresholds for NOx (oxides of nitrogen) and/or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

If a dairy currently has a permit to operate, then submission of an Authority to Construct (ATC) permit application is required. The district staff will review the ATC and identify the Best Available Control Technologies (BACT) required to allow use of the incinerator. This process requires time, permit fees, and vendor supplied data.

Permitting an incinerator also involves performing a health risk analysis in order to evaluate the health risk to the nearest receptors (businesses/residences). Permitting of an incinerator depends on total emissions calculated for the facility including the emissions from the incinerator. The use of the incinerator would be restricted to serving an agricultural/CAF (concentrated animal facility) farm. So, the emissions from the total farm including the emissions from the incinerator would be used to determine if the facility exceeded the 1/2 major source thresholds for NOx and/or VOC before a permit would be required. This is just the dairy permit to operate!

Believe it or not, the SJVAD has a rule just for incinerating too: Rule 4302 – Incinerator burning, applies to any incineration activity or equipment. This rule requires that incinerators contain approved multi-chamber components. BACT (if the use of the incinerator is subject to a permit) requires the use of natural gas fuel and a secondary combustion chamber (after burn component) where temperature exceeds 1,600 F and a 0.5 second residence time. If the incinerator is not currently permitted, then it may need to be if the emissions exceed the 1/2 major source threshold for NOx and/or VOC.

There is an application filing fee of $71 and an hourly processing fee associated with analysis of each project. There is also an annual permit renewal fee which is dependent on the size of the equipment.

How do I know if a particular incinerator is okay to use? Ask the district. Contact the air district staff to identify if sufficient information has been provided to the district on the specific incinerator. Contact Sheraz Gill at SJVAD if you have questions 559-230-5900.

Tehama/Butte County Air Districts:

These districts require potential users of incinerators to file and ATC application and go through the regulatory process, potentially requiring a Permit to Operate (PTO). Included in the analysis is definition of fuel type and consumption patterns allowing estimation of emissions from the incinerator. Analysis of BACT would occur. Tehama County Air Pollution Control District has two applicable rules. Regulation 4:5 deals with reduction of animal matter and establishes requirements for all gases, vapors and gas entrained effluents from such an article, machine, equipment or other contrivance. Additionally, Regulation 4:7 directly regulates incinerating devices. Contact Joe Sunday 530-527-3717 ext. 102 for additional information.

Butte County Air Quality Management District requires an ATC application and obtain a PTO (basis Rule 400; Rule 430 for new source review). Review of BACT would be required. Fuel source would need to be natural gas (propane acceptable here).  For additional information contact 530-891-2882 ext. 113 and ask for Dave Lusk.

Glenn County Air District:

District regulations identify dead animals on-farm as an agricultural byproduct and prohibits the incineration of such material.  If someone is actually interested in pursuing incineration of mortality as a viable option, they would need to contact the District and discuss the process for a potential rule amendment.   (530) 934-6500 Ian Ledbetter.  The District does have an incineration Rule.

North Coast Unified – Humboldt/Del Norte Counties:

The district does not have a specific incineration rule. However, a separate rule is applicable. Rule 102 requires submission of an ATC application ($50 filing fee) and a PTO for any entity wanting to use an incineration device.

Similar information is needed as described in the South Coast Air District section. District staff will analyze the emissions data from the after burner. Analyses will address criteria pollutants, and will include a health risk assessment to evaluate the projects emissions to the nearest receptors (businesses/residences). There is a potential for public notice depending proximity of the incinerator to receptors. For more information contact Jason Davis at 707-443-3093.

So. Coast Air Quality Management District:

If a dairy wants to install an incinerator a permit is needed. An ATC permit application is required before purchase and use of an incinerator. Although there is no incinerator rule within the South Coast, other rules (up to a dozen) do apply. As a new source of emissions BACT is required. Among its list of items, BACT requires multi-chamber components, minimum residence time for the after burn, and monitoring requirements (record temperature, operating of the secondary chamber). The clean fuel policy must be adhered to so emissions must not exceed the concentrations from the burning of natural gas. Permitting an incinerator involves performing a health risk analysis in order to evaluate the health risk to the nearest receptors (businesses/residences). This is potentially a complex analysis (costs time and money). If you reside in the South Coast District and have questions contact Brian Yeh 909-396-2584


Permitting an incinerator involves performing a health risk analysis in order to evaluate the health risk to the nearest receptors (businesses/residences). Interested parties would submit an ATC permit application (fee $226). The application should include information on the type of device, exhaust and combustion characteristics, emissions data, location of unit on farm, proposed throughput, etc. The district requires the use of natural gas as the fuel source. Annual operating fee will be established based on size of incinerator and permitted frequency of use. Contact Alan de Salvio with the district if you would like information 760-245-1661 ext. 6726.

San Diego County Air District:

Currently, agricultural operations are exempt from permit requirements for incinerators (see Rule 11 exemptions). However, if nuisance conditions arise at a facility (complaints made to the district), then a permit may be required. For operators in San Diego County Air District contact Gary Hartnett (858 586-2671) for additional information.

Imperial Air District:

Rule 409 requires use of multi-chamber compartments for incinerators and similar requirements identified as BACT in other districts. The use of an incinerator triggers New Source Review. The permit language would probably include a limit for daily maximum mass of material allowed to be burned. Specifications in the permit may include specifications for the pre-firing period for the primary and/or secondary chambers. Also, consideration for handling/disposition of the final ash residue would be required.  Tracking of fuel type and consumption as well as regular reporting requirements would be established. The Imperial Air District does have one active incineration permit on a dairy. Further information is available from Jaime Hernandez at 760-482-4606.

More regs to consider!

Aside from the logistical question ‘is it legal for me to do this’ additional potential restrictions arise to address handling of ash (being sure it’s not airborne) as well as final fate of ash.

For dairies with Nutrient Management Plans, incorporation of ash into the farming system (land application) will most likely require a modification of the nutrient management plan and potentially review by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The air districts will also need to be informed as to how the ash is being disposed.

California/Arizona DairyBusiness


CMAB kicks off  ‘Family Farms’ ad campaign

MODESTO, Calif. – California dairy producers are appearing on a television near you with the debut of the California Milk Advisory Board’s (CMAB) “Family Farms” advertising campaign.

The campaign features nine 30-second commercials featuring real California dairy families sharing their personal stories and love for dairy farming. The campaign also will include an online element that draws consumers to the site.

The commercials, produced by the CMAB, began airing nationally in May and are an extension of the Real California Dairy Families documentary series originally produced by Deutsch LA in 2009 to give consumers a clearer understanding of where dairy products come from and showcase the people who produce them. The unscripted documentary videos have received hundreds of thousands of viewings since they debuted on the site.

Each commercial features an actual dairy family telling their story, in their own words. “We want to help consumers put the face on the farmer responsible for the dairy foods they enjoy. There’s a family dairy farmer and personal story that comes with every glass of milk, piece of cheese, scoop of ice cream and pat of butter you purchase. These are fascinating people once you get to know them,” said Michael Freeman, the CMAB’s vice president of advertising.

The “Family Farms” commercials along with the Real California Dairy Families documentary series, demonstrate the deep heritage and diversity behind the state’s dairy industry – an industry responsible for producing more than 41 billion pounds of milk and creating approximately 435,000 jobs each year.

“Dairy farming is a vital, important part of California that is made up of people, families and generations of history – not unfeeling corporations,” said Freeman. “In California, 99% of our dairies are family farms. This heritage comes through in the care they take with their animals and in preserving the family farm for future generations. You can sense the real, personal connection that is made with each family when you view these commercials.”

The commercials can be viewed online at ftp://CMAB:CMAB!, and will be available at along with 20 Real California Dairy Families documentaries and three video companion pieces – on sustainability, cow comfort practices and dairy in California.

Dairy products made with California milk can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies that the products are made exclusively with milk produced on California dairy farms. California produces more butter, ice cream, yogurt and nonfat dry milk than any other state. The state is the second-largest producer of cheese, which is available nationally under the Real California Cheese seal.

Did you know?

California leads the nation in total milk production. In 2008, California produced a record 41.2 billion pounds of milk – one-fifth of the nation’s total production.

Currently, 40% of the total U.S. exports of dairy products are coming from California.

California is ranked first in the U.S. in the production of total milk, butter, ice cream, yogurt, nonfat dry milk, and whey protein concentrate. California is second in cheese production, according to California Department of Food and Agriculture statistics.


Brower is Central Cal ABS sales manager

ABS has named Jeff Brower as the new district sales manager for Central California.

Brower has worked in both Idaho and California in several different positions for ABS and another A.I. company. In his roles, he has worked in semen sales, breeding and A.I. training. In addition, from 1999-2001, Brower and his family owned and operated a 150-cow dairy in Buhl, Idaho.

In his new role, Brower will be responsible for growing and developing ABS’ business in Central California. He will support and manage the ABS representatives in the area and will also be active in recruiting, training and retaining new representatives.  Brower will be residing in Visalia with his wife, Melissa and three children, Stephanie, Jennifer and Brandon.

CDRF honors Harold Farrell for dairy research

The California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF) presented Dr. Harold Farrell of the USDA’s Eastern Regional Research Center with the William C. Haines Dairy Science Award in recognition of his contribution to the field of dairy science. at the 12th Cal Poly Dairy Ingredients Symposium in San Francisco. Dr. Farrell, who works as an emeritus research chemist at the Dairy Processing and Products Research Unit at USDA, gave a presentation on the molecular basis for the structure-function relationships of casein.

“It is only fitting to award this prize to someone who has done so much to further our understanding of the chemistry of the milk protein system and biochemistry of the mammary gland,” said Dr. Joseph O’Donnell, Executive Director of the California Dairy Research Foundation.


Card check legislation passes CA state Senate

The California state Senate has approved card check legislation, SB 1474, by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that would allow unions to be certified as the representatives of agricultural employees without secret ballot elections.

If a majority of workers sign union authorization cards, the state would certify the union as their representative. Similar “card check” bills have previously been approved by the Legislature, only to be vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

The bill was approved by the Senate on a 22-11 vote and was sent to the Assembly for consideration.

Editor’s Note: Whether dairy producers realize it or not, this legislation, if adopted, would open the door for union organizing on a scale never before seen.

The late night calls

On the Edge of Common Sense

By Baxter Black, DVM

Late night calls are usually not good news. Especially if it is the police calling to tell you that a car has hit a cow on the highway. Jack got the call at 11:15pm Friday night. The local police all have his number because he knows the country, all the ranches and all the brands and…he’s the one they always call! “The driver’s shaken up but nobody’s injured, the cow’s upside down in the bar ditch on Post Road a mile east of Highway 90, and we can’t get her out.”

It was down the road from Jack’s house.  He got dressed, pulled on his boots and made sure he had a lass rope in the pickup. As soon as he turned onto Post Road he could see the flashing lights in the distance. He arrived quickly and noted that the City Police, the Highway Patrol, and the Sheriff’s department were all in attendance. Headlights lit up the area like a raid on a bootleg tavern!

The vehicle involved was skewed sideways in the center of the gravel road. It was a small quarter-ton oriental vehicle with an odd sounding name like Tonka or Hilo or Crustacean. Three teenagers, a boy and two girls were huddled in the cab. The cow was trying to right herself but the bar ditch held her like a hot dog bun. She couldn’t get onto her side enough to get her feet on the ground.

Jack got a rope around her front leg and head to see if they could manually get her rocking and eventually pull her out.  The three lawmen furnished the muscle but no amount of tugging could dislodge her. It did, however, make her madder! Rethinking his plan, Jack suggested they tie the rope to the little round pipe bumper on the back of the Crustacean. The driver squared the rig around to get good leverage. On the first try the little pickup spun out on the gravel road. Cowboy logic followed and soon the two girls were in the back of the pickup to add weight. Jack stood by the cow, the kids were ready, and the lawmen were standing in front of the city police car. It would have been an interesting scene from the bird’s eye view; a small circle of bright light in a black night on a deserted road with no habitations within two miles.

“You boys better get behind your car,” Jack advised, “When this ol’ darlin’ gets loose she’s liable to come right for ya!

The three stood, arms folded across their chest, wearing Kevlon vests, pistols, handcuffs, Mace, ammo, flashlights, truncheons, Swiss Army knives, walkie-talkies and steel-toed shoes. They looked like the front line of the Oakland Raiders! They harrumphed.

“Give her gas, kid!” yelled Jack.

The cow popped out, righted herself, saw the triumvirate of those who “Protect and Serve,” and charged! If you’ve ever seen a bucking bull clean the gawkers off the fence at a rodeo, you can imagine the scene! In the blink of an eye she wheeled to the pickup and jumped! The girls sailed over the side!  The cow got her front paws up in and slid back, jamming her front legs down between the bed and round bumper.

Miraculously, she lifted out her feet and turned back into the island of light. The law had scattered, the teens were hidden and Jack, The Observer, immediately became The Target! He made toward the pitch-black edge of the stage. In a matter of seconds she ran him down, left him in a clump of cat claw, and left the country! At the bottom of the police report, filed later that predawn morning, was the comment, “It is apparent according to witnesses, that cows can see in the dark.”


Baxter Black is a cowboy poet and ex-veterinarian raised in New Mexico and now lives in Benson, Ariz. He has written 12 books and recorded more than a dozen audio and video tapes, and is a syndicated columnist and radio commentator.

Books, videos, CDs and tapes by Baxter Black can be purchased through www.baxterblack. com.

Coach taught more than basketball

Opinions & sacred cows

By Ron Goble

When John Wooden, 99, died on June 4, the world lost a great man.

Most people knew him as the greatest basketball coach of all time. No one came close to his success. Wooden’s record speaks for itself. He led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships, including an unmatched streak of seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. Over 27 years, he won 620 games, including 88 straight during one historic streak.

But few knew that Coach Wooden spent his first four years at UCLA working two jobs. And it isn’t surprising to me that Mr. Wooden had a dairy connection. From 6 a.m. until noon he worked at a dairy in the San Fernando Valley, as a dispatcher of milk trucks and troubleshooter. At the end of his dairy shift, the not-yet-famous coach, would sweep out the place. Then he’d come into Westwood to coach his Bruins.

While Wooden was famous for his coaching success, his real success was teaching young athletes how to live life. His former players don’t talk about his coaching as much as how he instilled in them the importance of good character. Coach Wooden developed “The Pyramid of Success,” a graphic laundry list of character and personal traits that he used to inspire his players and  thousands of other athletes, well after his coaching career ended.

Each athlete learned Wooden’s “pyramid,” which summed up his personal code for life. The base and foundation of the pyramid is industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation and enthusiasm. The second level is self-control, alertness, initiative and intentness. The third level is condition, skill and team spirit. The fourth is poise and confidence, which all lead to the top block of the pyramid – competitive greatness.

It doesn’t stop there. The left side of the pyramid mentions ambition, adaptability, resourcefulness, fight and faith. The right side includes sincerity, honesty, reliability, integrity and patience – all essentials in life’s journey.

My youngest son, Ryan, recalled how Coach Wooden inspired him as a young basketball player. Later in life, Ryan was blessed to work at UCLA as an assistant men’s golf coach for five years, and crossed paths on several occasions with Coach, who he respectfully addressed as “Mr. Wooden.”

We can all learn from Coach Wooden because his message is timeless and will impact the lives of individuals for years to come. Here is some of my favorite Wooden wisdom:

•“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

•“Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow.”

•“Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.”

•”The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.”

•”Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

Even with his staggering accomplishments, Coach Wooden remained humble and gracious. He said he tried to live his life by advice from his father: “Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible – build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”

That pretty much says it all. Thanks Coach!

Have an opinion or response? E-mail Ron Goble, Associate publisher/editor, Western DairyBusiness at:

DairyProfit Seminars at Empire Farm Days


The latest innovations in dairy management practices and as well as a focus on the consumer make an exciting agenda at this year’s DairyProfit Seminars at Empire Farm Days. The seminars will be held Aug. 10, 11, and 12, in the DairyProfit Seminar Center on the showgrounds at the Ralph Lott & Sons Farm in Seneca Falls, NY.

Panels of dairy producers and experts address calf care, animal care and milk quality. The seminars are free, and include a complimentary lunch.

They are presented by DairyBusiness Communications and Cornell’s PRO-DAIRY.  Sponsors are APC Inc., Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) Northeast Division, Dairylea Cooperative, Farm Family insurance companies, New York Beef Industry Council and Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

Monday, Aug. 9

The seminars will be preceded by a tour of manure management systems and technologies on three Western New York dairies on Mon., Aug. 9. The drive-yourself tour is coordinated by PRO-DAIRY and moderated by Tim Shepherd, manure management specialist, PRO-DAIRY.

The dairies are Noblehurst Farm, Pavilion, NY, Mulligan Farm, Avon, NY, and Van Slykes’ Dairy Farm, Portageville, NY.

The tours are free.  For more information on the schedule and directions to each farm, email  Please RSVP by August 2 by e-mail or by calling Heather Howland at 607.255.4478.

Tuesday, Aug. 10

Strategies to Maximize Calf Health and Performance

Dr. Jerry Bertoldo of Cornell’s Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team moderates a panel of producers and experts who discuss the latest advances in calf care, including automated calf feeders and pasteurized milk:

  • • Jeanne Wormuth, CY Heifer Farm, Elba, NY
  • • Jon Beller of Beller Farms, Carthage, NY
  • • Erin Cook, calf manager for Aurora Ridge Dairy, Aurora, NY
  • • Dr. Mike Van Amburgh, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University.
  • • Dr. Terri Ollivett, Large Animal Internal Medicine Service, Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.

Wednesday, Aug. 11

A Symposium on Contemporary Farming:  Helping the Food Chain Understand Agriculture

This special, day-long session will help farmers and the Ag community understand consumer concerns about modern Ag practices.  Attendees will learn how to develop proactive and positive relationships with mainstream consumers. This program begins at 10:30 a.m. and continues until 2:30 p.m.

Carrol Campbell, Kansas dairy producer and named 2010 Outstanding Dairy Producer of the Year by Western DairyBusiness magazine, is the lead-off speaker.

Also on the morning’s agenda:

  • • Kathleen O’Donnell, food scientist with Wegmans, a prominent regional grocery store chain.
  • • Julie Berry, Ag Outreach Coordinator of the New York Animal Agriculture Alliance’s (NYAAC) will present results of its 2010 Consumer Attitude Benchmarking Survey, a survey of farm neighbors in central and northern New York.

An afternoon session offers practical information for producers on how to deal with public perception and their obligation to speak for their industry. Speakers are:

  • • Mike McMahon, McMahon’s EZ Acres, Homer, NY
  • • Meghan Hauser, Table Rock Farm, Castile, NY
  • • Dr. Rodrigo Bicahlo, assistant professor of dairy production medicine, Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine

This program is presented and supported by Dairylea/DFA, NYAAC, NEDPA, NY Holstein Association, Eastern DairyBusiness and Empire Farm Days.

The 11th Junior DAIRY LEADER graduation ceremony will take place at 2:30 p.m., with 28 members graduating. The program is coordinated by Deborah Grusenmeyer, Junior DAIRY LEADER program coordinator, and program assistant coordinator, Kim Skellie.

The Cornell PRO-DAIRY Junior DAIRY LEADER is a statewide program for youth between the ages of 16-19 who are interested in learning about careers in the dairy industry and gaining hands-on experience in the field.   The yearlong program combines a series of hands-on workshops focusing on specific facets of the dairy industry in veterinary science, dairy nutrition, production management, and on-farm production analysis.

Thursday, Aug. 12

Achieving Long-Term Milk Quality and Presenting Super Milk 20-Year Winners

Coordinated by Empire State Milk Quality Council

Moderated by Dr. Michael Capel, a Perry, NY, veterinarian, the panelists will talk about ways they achieve high-quality milk day after day. Producers who have won Super Milk awards, given by the Empire State Milk Quality Council, for 20 years will receive awards.

The panel:

  • • Brian Getty, Gettyvue Farm, Granville, NY
  • • Jackie Bennett, Bennett Farms, Inc., Holcomb, NY
  • • Larry Bertram, Hi Hope Farm LLC, Mannsville, NY

DairyBusiness Communications produces multi-media for the dairy industry including three monthly magazines (Western DairyBusiness, Eastern DairyBusiness and Holstein World), a quarterly magazine for consumers (Say Cheese), DairyProfit Weekly newsletter, several custom annual publications, DairyLine Radio Network, five active web sites and DairyProfit Seminars.   A division of Multi Ag Media, LLC, it’s based in East Syracuse, NY.

For more information on Empire Farms Days, scheduled for Aug. 10-12, at the Rodman Lott & Son Farms, Seneca Falls, N.Y., visit; phone: 877-697-7837 or e-mail:

DFA advocates supply management, dairy policy reform

In a national conference call on Thursday, (June 10), Dairy Farmers of America CEO Rick Smith offered a ringing endorsement of the new dairy policies proposed a day earlier by the National Milk Producers Federation, calling for, among other things, supply management.  He explained that as dairy prices are now determined by global factors, the resulting extreme price volatility never allows dairy farmers to succeed.

He called the current dairy down cycle “unparalleled” in both its severity and its length, causing many farmers to lose a generation of wealth.  He went on to say that even in high price cycles, farmers lose because demand for dairy products is curtailed, reducing market opportunities.

“We are in a global dairy economy and if it’s to be survival of the fittest, not even the fittest can survive,” he emphasized.

“We really need to take the risk of new dairy policy,” he said, “and we can’t wait for the 2012 Farm Bill.”

He termed the vote “historic” at NMPF in support of the program called “Foundation for the Future” because there were only two dissenting votes, and he said even those two were not in opposition to the production management aspects of the plan.

Smith said there is a national dairy farmer consensus advocating change, citing support not only from the cooperative members of NMPF but also from a coalition of dairy groups such as the Milk Producers Council in California, Dairy Farmers Working Together in the Northeast and the Holstein Association USA.

Also during the hour and a half long call, Smith explained that in the second half of 2008, during a period of high dairy prices, DFA had alerted its members to coming price difficulties.  He said no one, however, predicted the extreme depth and continuing duration of the current down market.  He said that while there are some signs of improvement, he couldn’t say that the near term will show any marked improvement.

He described a DFA member survey taken in mid-2009, the depth of the crisis, with 25% of the members responding.  He said it was a tribute to dairy farmer persistence that 90% said they saw the global market as an opportunity but that over 80% also said a change in dairy policy was needed to manage the resulting volatility.

The status quo isn’t working, Smith said.  The existing U.S. safety nets are not working.  The safety net that exist currently only helps those competitive exporters around the world but that does virtually nothing for us here at home.

He said producers do not want to receive direct payments from the government.

He advocated his strong support for the key elements of the NMPF program including reform of the Federal Milk Marketing Orders, disincentives for producers when there is not market for their milk with some form of price stabilization.

Also during the call, Smith reviewed DFA operations, saying the balance sheet is stronger than it’s ever been, the direction is to derived more income from the value added manufactured dairy products, allowing farmers to share in those higher margins.  He explained that during 2009, special payments of over $40 million had been made to members but he said they were only tokens and could not do enough to stem producer losses on the farm.

He described the cooperatives business units designed to help farmers reduce operating costs, including divisions for risk management, lending, on-farm energy, grazing and dairy supplies.

He says DFA remains focused on its core values of member service, integrity and quality while acknowledging that some “legacy issues” remain, a carry-over from past aggressive operating practices.

Based in Kansas City, MO, DFA is the nation’s largest dairy cooperative with 18,000 members producing 20% of the U.S. milk supply.

NMPF board overwhelmingly approves multi-faceted dairy policy change proposal

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The National Milk Producers Federation’s Board of Directors overwhelmingly agreed to move forward with a variety of changes in federal dairy policies the organization says will better protect dairy producers, and position them more favorably in an increasingly volatile global marketplace.

The NMPF Board voted, June 9, to support the package of concepts contained in the Federation’s approach to reforming dairy policy entitled “Foundation for the Future.”  NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak said that package will be used as the basis for the future direction of the dairy provisions in the next Farm Bill, or in some other form of federal legislation that Congress may consider in the future.

“If there is anything good that has come out of the past 18 months of economic struggle, it’s the shared feeling among NMPF’s members that we can use this experience as the catalyst to make needed changes in dairy policy,” said Randy Mooney, NMPF Chairman and dairy farmer from Rogersville, MO.  “’Foundation for the Future’ is a carefully and meticulously prepared set of  programs that not only will help our industry prevent a repeat of what happened in 2009, but also provide for a most prosperous future for dairy producers and their cooperatives.”

The features of NMPF’s plan include:  transitioning the existing safety nets of the Dairy Product Price Support and Milk Income Loss Contract programs into a new Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program to guard against periods of severe financial pressures; establishing a Dairy Market Stabilization Program to help address periodic imbalances in milk production and demand; and reforming the Federal Milk Marketing Order program.

Kozak said that the Foundation for the Future is the result of 12 months of detailed deliberations concerning the most appropriate course to follow in reforming federal dairy policies, some of which have been in place for many decades.

“It’s clear we need a new safety net that focuses on margins, not just milk prices,” said Kozak.  “It’s also clear we need a system that sends timely, unmistakable signals to farmers that less milk is needed during periods of relative imbalance.  The Foundation for the Future addresses both of those key issues, and it does so in a fiscally responsible, politically-realistic fashion.”

The Federation’s proposal to revamp the federal safety net involves creating an insurance program tied to the margin between the national average cost of feed, and the national average all-milk price.  After farmers choose to enroll in the base level of the Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program at no cost to them, they would receive indemnity payments during periods when their margins are severely compressed, as they were for most of 2009.  In addition, farmers would have the option of purchasing supplemental coverage to protect a higher margin level between feed costs and milk prices.

Another key element of the Foundation for the Future will be a Dairy Market Stabilization Program that sends a signal to producers that an imbalance in the marketplace could result in lower farm-level margins.  Like the Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program, the Stabilization Program is tied to farmers’ margins that could be reduced either by low milk prices and/or high feed costs.

The Stabilization Program was shaped by some key principles:  that it allows for the growth of U.S. production, doesn’t encourage imports or hinder exports, and keeps government intervention at a minimum.

Lastly, the Foundation for the Future also calls for changes in the Federal Milk Marketing Order program to create a competitive milk price, maintain Class I differentials, and eliminate unpopular aspects of the current system, such as make allowances.   The changes in the Federal Order system are intended to be revenue neutral so that farmers’ milk checks are not adversely impacted.

Kozak said that NMPF will now begin a comprehensive education effort to inform the entire dairy producer community, as well as policymakers, about the merits of Foundation for the Future.

The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance the well being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own.  The members of NMPF’s 30 cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making NMPF the voice of more than 40,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies.  Visit for more information.