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Last month I had the opportunity of being on board for a week-long dairy tour sponsored by Alta Genetics that comprised 12 dairies in five Midwestern states. In addition, the tour included two days at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. The two bus loads of dairymen were from 22 countries, and of that number about 40 percent spoke Spanish, 20 percent from Europe and the balance sprinkled among other locations. There was truly an international flavor present. At first, the group seemed a little reserved; however, as the week wore on, they became increasingly more communicative, even jovial. And that’s okay.

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Though the plant broke ground in February 2004 and has been running since last October, Southwest Cheese Co., LLC (SWC), celebrated its official opening on October 6, 2006. Hailed as one of the largest cheese and whey processing plants in the world, SWC is a joint venture between Glanbia PLC and the Greater Southwest Agency. Glanbia, whose global headquarters are located in Kilkenny, Ireland, handles cheese and whey sales and management of the plant, while the Greater Southwest Agency supplies raw milk through Dairy Farmers of America (DFA); Select Milk Producers, Inc.; LoneStar Milk Producers; and Zia Milk Producers.

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When small-scale Gooding cheesemakers Stacie and Steve Ballard left the American Cheese Society’s July awards ceremony with a first-place ribbon for their Pepper Cheddar and a second-place ribbon for their Idaho Garlic Herb curds, Steve Morgan wasn’t surprised.

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With the World Dairy Expo just a month away, I spent some time with the folks at World Dairy Expo to see what would be happening with this year’s 40th anniversary show. In particular, I was able to ask Tom McKittrick, the expo’s general manager, a few questions about himself and what we can expect this year. The following is a summary of the questions I posed to him.

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First celebrated in 2000, World School Milk Day is an international, annual event held on the last Wednesday in September. Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the day provides an opportunity for the international community to focus on the importance of school milk and its health benefits for growing children.

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