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New ideas, strategies proposed at 2010 PA Dairy Summit

Sarah Caldwell Published on 22 February 2010

Dairy producers and industry professionals at the 2010 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit looked for opportunities and strategies to plan for a new year. After reflecting on a difficult 2009 for the industry, the outlook for the future was optimistic. On the schedule were some of the key issues facing the dairy industry now: feeding a growing population, planning for the future of the business, reacting to the media and growing the market for dairy products.

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The summit was held February 3-4 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Hosted by the Pennsylvania Dairy Stakeholders and the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, the conference partnered with the Penn State Dairy Alliance, the Center for Dairy Excellence and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

After an early-bird session on the dairy herd benchmark program, Rob Aukerman, vice president of U.S. Operations for Elanco Animal Health, opened the general session with his presentation, “Food Economics and Consumer Choice: Why Agriculture Needs Technology to Help Meet a Growing Demand for Safe, Nutritious and Affordable Food.”

His message was easy to remember: “50-100-70.” In the next 50 years, the agricultural industry will need to produce 100 percent more food than it is producing today, and modern technology will enable 70 percent of that increase.

Aukerman also spoke about consumer choice. Ninety-five percent of the population chooses “conventional” foods, and the other five percent chooses “lifestyle” foods, such as organic and natural foods. Aukerman believes that although consumers have the right to this choice, policy directly affecting the 95 percent is ordered by the 5 percent.

With his presentation, “From Strategy to Action: Building for the Future,” Jim Austin, director of Executive Education for Decision Strategies International, gave three key messages: 1) Beware of decision traps and seek options; 2) Decide where you want to be in three to five years and how you will get there; 3) Execute your plans.

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Producers then attended two of four possible breakout sessions on several topics. One session focused on immigration, an increasing concern in dairy businesses today.

Tom Maloney, senior extension associate at Cornell University, offered “A Look at Immigration Policies and Your Dairy Business.” He explained the Immigration Control and Enforcement program and the new administration’s immigration plan, noting the plan will strengthen border control, remove incentives to enter our country illegally and help illegal immigrants obtain the necessary forms to stay in the U.S. legally.

Maloney also suggested policies for producers to ensure their employees meet the necessary authorization requirements. He recommended employers complete an I-9 form for every new hire and keep those forms on file for three years after hiring, re-verify employees every three years and emphasize good record-keeping practices.

The summit also featured two producer showcases: Rosendale Dairy of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, and the Kulp Family Farm, LLC of Martinsburg, Pennsylvania.

Jim Ostrum, CEO and President of MilkSource Holdings Inc. who will own more than 15,000 cows this year in three locations, discussed the newest project, Rosendale Dairy. Ostrum focused on some of the challenges he faces as a large operation, including working with the local government to have all of the correct permits and satisfying the community. “Know the law and minimize your cooperation with government,” Ostrum said to producers, referring to avoiding added meetings and inspections by complying with regulations.

“Allow more time and ramp up your budget for legal, engineering and public relation costs.”

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Phil Kulp was also featured in the showcase. After explaining his expansion process, Kulp offered ways that a growing business contributes to the dairy community. His business presented an exit plan for those that wanted to sell, provided an opportunity for young people to enter, brought new technologies and ideas to the industry and supplied a base for dairy infrastructure in his area. In the future, Kulp plans to focus on what his farm is doing well and find ways to manage the challenges of the Chesapeake Bay.

An evening session titled, “The Late Show Dairy Style: Dairy in the News,” was hosted by Letterman-double, Kirk Sattazahn of Select Sire Power Inc. Sattazahn introduced special guests Harold Brubaker of The Philadelphia Inquirer; Kim Lehman, public relations director of Pavone; and Dan O’Donnell, news director of WGAL-TV. Each guest offered tips on interacting with the media and encouraged producers to educate media sources on dairy practices.

“Don’t assume I’m going to understand,” O’Donnell said. “Don’t assume we’re going to relate, because we don’t.”

Motivational speaker Roger Crawford summed up the conference theme with three questions: Where are you coming from? How long have you been there? Where are you going?

Using his own experiences, Crawford encouraged producers to use the challenges they overcame in the past to plan for their future. PD

PHOTO: Pennsylvania Dairy Princesses Krystal Wasson, Crystal Hitz and Karla Stoltzfus share what makes them Proud to Dairy. Photo by Sarah Caldwell.

Sarah Caldwell
  • Sarah Caldwell

  • Junior
  • Agribusiness Management and Communications
  • Penn State University

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