Western Pulse: California/Arizona

Dairy industry loses respected radio editor, reporter Roy Isom

FRESNO, Calif. – Roy Isom, who died April 15 after a short battle with an aggressive form of cancer, dedicated 45 years to covering agriculture, including dairy events and news in Central California as an editor and reporter for KMJ radio.

During his career he worked for two radio stations and one television station in Central California. Most recently he worked for 50,000-watt KMJ for 28 years as their farm reporter and editor.

Mr. Isom will be remembered for his love and dedication to his family and to the broadcast industry that helped get agriculture’s message to his listening audience for so many years.

Colleagues say Mr. Isom would rise early in the morning to begin working on his 5 a.m. farm broadcast that could be heard throughout the region.

“As an ag writer/editor in Central California myself for nearly 40 years, it was not unusual to be covering the same agricultural events with Roy,” recalled Ron Goble, editor of Western DairyBusiness. “He was a man of outstanding character and integrity, who brought the real world of California agriculture to the general public on a daily basis. His contribution toward helping educate urban dwellers was unsurpassed.”

As evidence of this commitment to serve his listening public well, Roy was named the California Farm Bureau Federation Agricultural Reporter of the Year in 1994. A native of Kingsburg, Calif., Mr. Isom served in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Pat Isom; son, Richard Isom; daughters Jennifer Isom Schmidtke and Catherine Isom; and seven grandchildren; all of Fresno. Pat said he loved his family, his work and his community.

A memorial fund for a scholarship in Isom’s name has been established at Ag One Foundation/College Development, California State University, Fresno.

The farming community and those of us who write about agriculture will miss Roy Isom.

Nutritionists Terrible and Colburn start Alpha Dairy Consulting, LLC

Joe Terrible and Tyler Colburn, both of Visalia, have partnered to establish Alpha Dairy Consulting, LLC, serving the dairy industry in throughout Central California.

Terrible was formerly a nutritionist with Western Milling LLC, headquartered in Goshen, Calif., and Colburn was formerly a nutritionist with Virtus Nutrition. They made the decision to start their own dairy consulting firm and were open for business in mid-April.

For information on Alpha Dairy Consulting, contact Joe or Tyler at their website: www.alphadairyconsulting.com.

Wayne Conrad joins World Wide Sires

World Wide Sires has named Wayne Conrad to the World Wide Sires team in May, as business development manager. In this role, Wayne will work with the WWS distribution team around the world to develop business and sales plans.

“Wayne has been a leader in the industry and was very successful in his previous work as West Coast manager for another organization. He will be a great asset to the WWS teams around the world with business and sales plans,” said John Schouten, WWS chief executive officer.

Wayne brings 30 years of experience in building solid, sustainable business systems in the highly competitive Western U.S. dairy market. He grew up on a registered beef operation in Colorado and currently resides in Visalia, Calif., with his wife.

Joe & Joey Airoso honored as 2010 Farmers of the Year

TULARE – Dairy farmers Joe Airoso and his son, Joey, were honored recently as Farmers of the Year by the Kiwanis Club of Tulare. Joe’s grandfather came to Central California from the Azores in 1912 with his nine children.

The Airosos milk 2,300 cows at its two sites and has placed in the top 10 Tulare County herds for production for many years. The farming operation consists of about 1,700 of alfalfa, wheat, oats and corn for silage.

Joe has been chairman of the Springer-Heifer Committee at the Tulare County Fair, president of Tulare County DHIA, vice president of the California Holstein Dairy Association. president of the Fatima Celebration, board member for St. Aloysius School and member of the Dairy Cooperative Creamery Association finance board. He is a member of St. Aloysius Church and a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus.

Joey, in partnership with his father on the dairy, serves on the high school farm advisory council and is a member of the College of the Sequoias Agriculture Advisory Committee and the California Junior Ag Advisory Board. He has served on the Tulare DHIA boar for 18 years and is a past president. He also is a past president of the California Holstein Association and the Southern San Joaquin Holstein Club. He serves on the Farm Credit West and Western United Dairymen boards and is a Land O’Lakes delegate.

Joe and wife, Diane, are parents to Joey, Frankie, Julie Locke and the late Charles Airoso. Joey is married to Laurie and have two children, Joseph, a partner with his dad in the dairy, and Amanda, a teacher in the Sacramento area.

Luke Shuh receives Brock Jarrett Toledo scholarship

Luke Shuh, a Lemoore High School (LHS) senior, has been selected the 2010 recipient of the Brock Jarrett Toledo memorial scholarship. Luke is the son of Bill and Diane Shuh. He will continue his education at Cornell University in the fall.

Shuh is ranked number one in his senior class of 457 with a grade point average of 4.57. He is a lifetime member of California Scholarship Federation, National Honor Roll Society and a Bank of America Achievement Award winner. He is a four-year letterman in football and three years varsity golf. He is president of LHS FFA and has raised and shown dairy replacement heifers.

This scholarship was established by the Toledo family in memory of their son Brock who passed away in February 1996. It is awarded annually to a graduating senior who shares Brock’s enthusiasm for agriculture and the love of the livestock and dairy industry.

Dairyman testifies before Congress ag committee, calls for need of ‘fair’ and ‘effective safety net’

FRESNO, Calif. – The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture heard testimony from farmers, ranchers and a dairyman recently in Fresno, Calif., at a field hearing to review U.S. agriculture policy in preparation for the Farm Bill of 2012.

Speaking for the dairy industry, and specifically for Western United Dairymen and California Dairies Inc., was Jamie Bledsoe, a dairy producer from Riverdale, Calif.

He put California dairying into perspective when he told the six-member panel that the California dairy industry is responsible for more than 443,000 jobs and the typical California dairy farm generates $33.1 million in economic activity and 232 jobs.

Bledsoe said the economic situation this past year was “ruinous.” And while things have improve slightly, dairy families are still experiencing negative margins. “Margins haven’t just been low, they simply haven’t existed,” he declared. “Dairy families all over the state are losing what took them years and even generations to build.”

Production costs have climbed steadily – up nearly 20% in California in just the last three years. He mentioned environmental costs with new water and air regulations that cost an additional $45,000 to $65,000 per year per farm.

In addition, while producers have led the way in adopting renewable energy technology to help this country decrease its dependence on foreign sources of energy, state and/or local regulators have imposed new restrictions that resulted in the forced idling of that technology.

“Dairymen have shut down their digesters for more than a year now because of air quality regulations that cannot be met,” Bledsoe said. “State and federal regulators must work together better in order to hasten the march to energy independence.”

“Some commodity prices are moving upward but profitability remains a distant prospect for most dairy farmers…California producers, who felt the impact of lower prices two months before the rest of the country along with the sting of extremely high feed costs, reduced production dramatically in 2009,” he said. “In fact, California milk production has been down…for 20 out of the last 21 months.”

Though prices are expected to increase as we move through the second half of 2010, a return to breakeven simply will not undo the damage done to dairy farmers over the past 18 months. “Whether you’re a 100-cow producer who lost $10,000 per month or a 1,000-cow farmer who lost $100,000 a month, everybody’s equity took a major hit,” he said.

The Riverdale dairyman told the committee that dairy farmers needed an effective and fair economic safety net. They face new challenges from higher input costs. Several factors contribute to high grain, forage and energy costs. An economic safety net based on milk price alone will no longer be sufficient. Going forward, the new economic safety net must be herd size and region-neutral and must not send signals that more production is welcome when farm milk prices are low.

Dairyland, Sweeney dairies take top awards

Dairyland Farms of Tipton captured top herd honors at the 2009 Tulare DHIA awards dinner recently. The dairy had a herd average of 28,846 pounds ECM, slightly ahead of the second-place recipient, Rib-Arrow Dairy of Tulare at 28,787 pounds ECM.

The low SCC herd was once again Sweeney Dairy of Visalia with an average of 90,000 SCC.

The Tulare DHIA annual report was dedicated to memory of the late Max Wayne Corbett Jr., a long-time ag teacher at Tulare Joint Union High School.

The number of herds in California were reduced by 109 during 2009, said Ron Koetsier, president of Tulare DHIA. “Even though the cow numbers are declining, the quality of the herds continues to improve. We had an annual increase of 48 pounds of milk and 4 pounds of fat per cow,” he reported.

Other top herds included:

Ribeiro Dairy Farms, Tulare, 3rd high herd, 28,004 pounds; Machado Dairy & Farming Inc., Tulare, 4th high herd, 26,934 pounds; Riverbend Dairies, Tulare, 5th high herd, 26,926 pounds; Denali Dairy, Tulare, 6th high herd, 26,687 pounds; Oakview Dairy, Tulare, 7th high herd, 26,418 pounds; Tony P. Cardoza Dairy, Tulare, 8th high herd, 26,383 pounds; Sousa Farms, Tipton, 9th high herd, 26,210 pounds; and M.F. Gomes and Sons Dairy, Tulare, 10th high herd, 25,955 pounds.

Seven of the 10 herds honored are 3X milking operations.

Other low SCC herds included: Sweeney Jerseys, 96,000; Curti Family, Inc., 119,000; Shining Star Holsteins, 124,000; Triple H Dairy #2, 124,000; Amstel Farms, 125,000; Oak View Dairy, 125,000; H & T Dairy, 128,000; Terra Linda Dairy, 130,000; and Rob Van Grouw Dairy, 140,000.

Scholarship winners at the event were: Amanda Meneses, Miranda Fernandes, Preston Fernandes, Elizabeth Gerling, Addison Nunes, Andrea Rivera, Morgan Sousa and Andrew Tiemersma.

Renee Rippchen Smith added to Virtus Nutrition  Central Cal sales team

CORCORAN, Calif. – Virtus Nutrition® announced that it has hired Renee Rippchen Smith to be part of their sales team, managing the California sales efforts.

Rippchen Smith, who has spent a significant portion of the last 10 years working with California dairy producers to improve profitability, will provide support for Virtus Nutrition’s line of quality feed ingredients that improve animal performance and reduce the cost of production.

“With her dairy experience and marketing knowledge, Renee is ideally suited to work with California dairy producers in implementing the use of the latest technologies in rumen inert fats for improved health and reproduction,” said Kevin Murphy, technical and sales director for Virtus Nutrition.

Virtus Nutrition, based in Corcoran,
Calif., is a leader in strategic nutrition for dairy producers, providing unique value through its Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid products, called Strata G® and Prequel 21® respectively. Significant breakthroughs in the past five years in research on the feeding of these ‘omega’ products has created new opportunities for dairy producers to improve both reproductive and productive performance. Virtus Nutrition  is also the maker of EnerG II®, a well recognized and used rumen inert fat supplement.

Prior to joining Virtus Nutrition, Rippchen Smith filled a number of roles in the dairy industry, including marketing and sales lead for BioEnergy Solutions and numerous sales and marketing roles for Monsanto Dairy Business. Rippchen Smith is an honors graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in Agricultural Journalism and Dairy Science and is currently located in Bakersfield.