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The following is a discussion I recently had with Joe Sparrow, a sales representative with Alltech. Joe graduated from Virginia Tech this year. He is currently one of Alltech’s youngest sales representatives and works in Kentucky.

PD EDITOR: For those young dairy producers out there that you work with or maybe that were classmates of yours and are now in the industry, what would be your recommendations to help young people prepare to become leaders in the industry?

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In 1984, 12 central California dairy families who owned Jersey cows created the Hilmar Cheese Company. More than two decades later, while the company finishes final preparations for another cheese factory in Dalhart, Texas, Hilmar owners recently opened a new ranch that will eventually raise 30,000 heifers in the Texas Panhandle.

The Hilmar Cheese Company is currently the world’s largest single-site producer of American-style cheese. Although the company has flourished in California, its owners were looking for areas that would be more accommodating for raising cows, especially Jerseys, whose milk and butterfat are used in the company’s cheese production. They looked east for a site for the calf and heifer ranch.

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While agricultural employment in many Idaho counties has fallen in recent years, seven south-central Idaho counties are reaping the benefits of a vibrant dairy industry that has brought jobs and money to their economies. A study conducted by Boise State University looked at the economic impact of the dairy industry in Idaho, in particular the seven south-central counties of Cassia, Elmore, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties, where the majority of dairy employment occurs. In fact, from 1997-2005, these seven south-central Idaho counties represented 27.0 percent of the total agricultural employment in Idaho; however, they were responsible for 48.2 percent of the growth in the state’s total agricultural employment.

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Since my arrival at Utah State University last August, I have been putting together a statewide bulk tank milk culture survey for detection of mycoplasma mastitis. It has now been funded, and the project will take place, probably during the spring or summer of 2007. Many Utah dairy producers are signing up for participation in the project. However, I want to contact as many of the 291 dairy producers in Utah as possible to encourage all to participate. Notice of the study, eligibility and other details include:

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Dairy producer Kay Carter recently signed an affidavit saying his farm wouldn’t supplement its 180 cows’ milk production by using rBST. Carter of Preston, Idaho, says the processor accepting milk shipped from his farm made the request for “rBST-free” milk last fall.

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