Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Guest Blog

Read about different aspects of the industry from a variety of perspectives.


Arriving in Pakistan in early December, I have begun my work here as an expeditionary agricultural scientist.

My mandate here is largely agricultural reconstruction and stabilization (R&S), and this work is largely in the realm of the third foreign policy pillar of the three D’s: defense, diplomacy and development.

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Imagine the air temperature is 115ºF; the pastures have browned from lack of water, the cows are comfortably under roof in freestalls with a grass silage-based TMR, and the sound of magpies pierces the air. This sounds like an ordinary U.S. dairy, doesn’t it?

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As I have reported, I am now assigned to the State Department as an active member of the Civilian Response Corps.

There are about 200 of us from 11 federal agencies, including the Department of State, Department of Defense and U.S. Agency of International Development, staffing the majority of our active component. There are eight of us from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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A month ago, much of the world watched as all 33 Chilean miners were rescued after being trapped half a mile underground for 69 days. After the collapse occurred in early August, it took rescuers 17 days to even find out that any of the miners were still alive. Initially, it was estimated that the rescue efforts wouldn’t take place until closer to Christmas. But now, two months later, all 33 have been brought to safety.

Although there are still a lot of details yet to be told, this survival story is nothing short of a miracle. For 17 days, these 33 men survived on a food supply that should have only lasted 48 hours. They carefully rationed the little food they had and made do with the substandard water found within the mine.

So how did 33 trapped miners manage to maintain their sanity and survive underground for over two months? Was it luck, fate, science? I’d have to say it was probably a little of all three. But more than anything, I believe their survival was a result of faith and steady leadership.

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Editor’s note: The following is an editorial opinion submitted to
Progressive Dairyman by the author, who is the nutrition consultant for the dairy discussed. Read more about the incident he describes in this month’s issue of El Lechero.

The news lead looked bland enough: Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested two dairy farm owners in Michigan October 6, alleging the couple failed to fully and accurately complete I-9 forms for new hires. The owners of the Aquila Dairy farm were taken into custody on federal charges stemming from allegations that they “defrauded the government,” following an ongoing investigation by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE is a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

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Editor’s Note: The story of Mr. Gonopolis and his 12 flying cows who must stand in for an ailing Santa Claus has delighted several generations of Midwestern families for the past quarter-century. Originally written and illustrated as a Christmas gift for his six nephews and nieces by Midwestern humorist Charles Smith-Dewey (under the pen name “Uncle Hyggly”), the story has been adapted as a Christmas pageant by numerous elementary schools, and audio versions of the tale have played on radio stations coast-to-coast. See for more.

‘Twas the 24th of the month
that did follow November
When the call did go out
to one special member
Of the Emergency,
Santa Claus Corps
And no one remembered
it happening before!

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