Western United Dairymen Leadership Class IX goes to Washington DC

I recently had the opportunity to visit Washington DC with 7 classmates to get updates on what is happening in the dairy industry and meet with Legislators.  This was an amazing experience!  One of our experiences was trying various plant based pruducts that are labeled as milk products.  They were not the same!  Everyone was encouraged to friend “they don’t got milk” on facebook, which also has a lot of nutritional value comparisons.  What are you eating?  We also learned what is being done with biotechnology to help fight disease and be more efficient as we try to help feed the world’s growing population.  Some of the topics we discussed with Legislators are international trade issues, energy policies, “AgJOBS”,  estate tax reform, milk marketing reform and federal milk quality standards. 

There is a huge opportunity in the global market, such as S. Korea, for us to market milk.  The United States needs to seize these opportunities where we can fulfill a need and boost our export market.   We also need to get the situation settled with the stalled truck crossing across the Mexico border, retaliatory actions against the dairy industry are having a huge negative effect. 

 It is becoming increasingly difficult to meet ever changing environmental regulations.  One area of concern that we dicussed are the number of methane digesters that are not in use because of changed air quality regulations that cannot be met and the inability to get the power produced on the grid.  If we work together we will all be much more efficient and productive, noone wants to waste time and resources. 

Also of concern in the agriculture industry across the country are finding enough employees to fill agricultural jobs.  “AgJOBS” would provide a way for foreign employees to work toward permanent status and also train in animal care.

  Estate tax reform is vital for the farming industry.  Most of our assets are tied up in the land we operate on.  If the estate tax reverts back to the $1 mil. exemption and top tax rate of 55% many farmers and small business owners will have to sell of their assets and land to pay these taxes.  Our land and assets are already taxed. 

 It is encouraging that an effort is being made to develop a farm policy cooperatively in the dairy industry before the new farm bill will be implemented in 2012.  This is an evolving process and more work needs to be done.  We spent quite a bit of time discussing the Foundation for the Future by NMPF.

One last point of interest.  Milk Quality Standards are higher in CA, meaning there are more nutrients in our milk (“more milk in our milk”).   Under discussion is developing a national milk standard.  For mere pennies on the dollar California milk standard could go nationwide.  This would be a winning situation for everyone.  More nutrition in a smaller serving and it would boost milk prices nationwide.

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Our Dairy leadership class on the California Senate floor.

It was an amazing experience.  Thank you to our leaders who support healthy eating through our farming and dairying!

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It’s a Girl! Zoe had her Calf.

Early in the morning on July 8 I had a heifer calf.  The whole family is so excited and all came out to meet her!  She is beautiful ( and not just because I am biased; she really is!).  After much discussion she was named Bluebelle, which suits her perfectly!  The girl who took such good care of me asked if she could raise her, and they moved her to a pen in their backyard.  I am off to the milking pen, there is work to be done, milk to produce, people to feed.  Life is good and I don’t mind the milk barn at all, that has been a smooth transition.  I have a lot of friends here and good food to eat.  Maybe you will get to hear more from Bluebelle also as she gets older, I think the girl wants to take her to 4-H next year.

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Lack of Mercy on Ohio Dairy

“I watched a video about abuse on a dairy in Ohio.  Have you heard about that, it is soooo disturbing? I actually cried.  After the emotions settled I got really mad!  First of all at the abuse, they were even stomping on newborn calves, who in their right mind would do that?!  And the organization that released it, Mercy for Animals, didn’t put an immediate stop to it.  I just don’t get it!  If they have so much mercy how could they just keep filming, editing and waiting for release while these employees are beating the crap out of cows and calves.  Wouldn’t it be so much more merciful to turn in this illegal activity to the authorities and put a stop to it?  Maybe it is just another stunt to promote their vegan agenda because it sure wasn’t merciful!  I am still pretty mad.”

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Antibiotic Use on our Dairy

“I was talking to someone recently who only buys organic milk out of concern for antibiotics in their milk. First, it is important to realize that every tank of milk is tested for antibiotics. There are no antibiotics in your milk. Second, there are controls at the dairy to ensure that antibiotics don’t get into the milk supply. On our dairy, we only give antibiotics to cows that are sick, out of concern for their health as well as yours. When antibiotics are administered to a cow a red plastic band is put around their ankle to alert everyone that this cows milk must not be put into the milk tank. We also write down the date of administration and keep careful track of how long the milk out time is (the amount of time that has been tested and is on the label for there to no longer be antibiotics in the cows system). As an added precaution we keep these animals in a separate pen (that we call the hospital pen) so that they can be closely monitored and to again reduce the risk of getting any antibiotics into the milk tank. All of these precautions are for the benefit of everyone, for public safety and because if antibiotics accidentally get into the tank, it has to be dumped, that is a huge loss.”

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A few words from Zoe (our 4-H dairy heifer)

Hi, my name is Zoe and it is almost my 2nd birthday.  It was a crazy day, but mom did a great job and really cleaned me up, then this really nice man came with a funny looking white thing, turned out it was some colostrum, let me tell you, that was some GREAT stuff.  I really needed a long nap after that so he took me and put on some sort of soft stuff that felt really good.  The next morning they took me for a ride and I got this new space, I had some great neighbors.  They fed us real good and we stayed there for awhile. When we started to get too big for our space they took us on another ride back to the place where I was born (they took my neighbors too, we really do like to all hang out together) We started to get some new food here, at first I didn’t know what to think, then I tried it, it was great!  There was some corn, hay, and someone said something about making sure we got all of our vitamins and minerals.

Everyday there are some kids who walk by and say hello, sometimes they are on these funny things with wheels, I think they called them bikes, but they went by pretty fast, that is always a quick hello.  Then one day, a couple of those kids stopped and really looked close at me and my friend Éclair.  They put something on our head, they said it was a halter, we were a little bit scared at first, but the kids were nice and we got our own pen right by the place where they stayed.  Everyday those two kids would come out and give us some delicious hay and fresh water, after a while we got used to that halter thing and they even took us on walks.  The fair was pretty exciting.  I liked everything except the baths; really, I prefer rolling in the dirt, what kid doesn’t?  Éclair was pretty shy but her kid, Laura, really took a lot of extra time to try to help her not be scared.

After the fair they took us home again.  It was really great to get back out in the pen with all of the heifers, we ran around for quite a while and got really worn out.  The kids and their mom came out to find us everyday; their mom even told me that she loves me.

I’ve grown up quite a bit since then.  I’m getting ready to have my own baby later this summer.  The kids are pretty excited about that.  Right now I am out on a grassy pasture until I get ready to have this baby, they said that they will want to keep a closer eye on me then, but the kids still come out sometimes to say hi, it makes me happy and I run over to see them when I’m near the driveway.  The scratching on my neck feels especially good!  Éclair is still kind of shy, but she’ll come on over for a treat and a quick hello once in a while.  I’ll let you know in a couple of months whether I have a boy or a girl, my kids kind of want another girl.  Their mom tried to get a picture of me to show you, but I was hanging out with my girlfriends, she said that was okay, she’ll just get a close up another day.  TTYS

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