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1109 PD: Holstein delegates discuss genomic testing, supply management

Lindsey Worden Published on 20 July 2009

More than 600 members from across the U.S., as well as some guests from Canada and Mexico, attended the National Holstein Convention’s 124th annual meeting recently in Sacramento, California. During the two-day business meeting, members discussed relevant topics including genomics and milk pricing.

Genomics panel discussion
Two representatives from A.I. companies and four registered Holstein breeders comprised a panel that discussed genomic technology and how it’s affecting the industry. Some key points included:

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• Bill Peck, a breeder from New York, has tested almost 75 animals in his herd. Most often, full siblings are tested to find the most genetically superior heifers to flush. He feels the information is useful for that purpose and says they are excited about it – though he feels it might have been beneficial to wait another year until the technology was refined further before genomic information was included in official genetic evaluations.

• Angie Coburn, a representative from Genex/CRI stated, “Other countries are very envious of the U.S.’s SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) chip,” and American producers are fortunate to be leaders in this technology.

• Both Coburn and Dr. Marj Faust of ABS Global stated their companies are actively genomic testing all young sires in their programs. With the amount of testing that has been done in the U.S. bull population, all dairymen using artificial insemination are looking at genomic data. The difference is whether or not the young bulls being marketed have daughter data included in their evaluations.

Milk marketing and dairy price stabilization program
Dr. Robert Cropp of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has been a key adviser in the development of the Holstein Association USA’s Dairy Price Stabilization Program (DPSP), was the keynote speaker during the annual meeting. Cropp outlined some of the reasons milk prices have dipped so low in 2009 and why they are taking a long time to recover, and then gave an overview of the current draft of the DPSP’s objectives and provisions.

• Historically, whenever milk production increased by more than two percent, milk prices declined. The current situation is different – milk and dairy product sales have decreased approximately two percent, but not much more milk is entering the market. Wholesale and retail prices are currently coming down, which should help increase sales.

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• Cropp feels that milk prices will improve as the year progresses and that improvement will continue in 2010.

• Delegates discussed the goal of Holstein Association USA’s DPSP which is to help prevent historically volatile prices.

• The association’s legislative affairs committee members encouraged members to not focus as much on specific details of the plan, as they are still subject to evaluation and change, but to embrace the concept and urge others to as well.

Resolution supported by delegates The delegate body approved the resolution brought forward by Gary R. Tubolino of Adams, New York.

The resolution stated that in order to maintain equality and continue improving the breed, the “major A.I. organizations and AIPL immediately terminate their contract preventing the genomic testing of Holstein bulls other than those submitted by said major A.I. organizations.

“And the Holstein Association and the major A.I. organizations, plus AIPL, get back on the path whereby all Holstein breeders and A.I. organizations, big and small, can partake equally in breed improvement programs.” PD

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