August 2020 Vol. 2
Brought to you by Dairy's Professional Development Organization®
For your business mind
SHARING IDEAS IN THE WORKPLACE is an important part of lifelong learning and engaging employees on today’s dairy farms. An article from Penn State Extension lists some strategies that can boost on-farm learning in cost-effective and easy-to-implement ways. Ideas include hosting monthly lunch-and-learn sessions featuring an outside speaker or sharing farm-performance data, taking time each week for employees to share something they learned or observed and providing regular performance updates and “did you know” facts on whiteboards. Read the full article here
PLAN AHEAD, ASK QUESTIONS TO ENSURE TECHNOLOGIES DON’T INCREASE RISK. Most technologies for today’s farms are designed to reduce risk by decreasing the number of unknowns or simplifying processes, such as autosteer on tractors. However, farmers must still be diligent when adopting new technologies, including reading the fine print in cloud data-storage agreements and double checking that recommendations from an app are consistent with product labels and company recommendations. In addition, artificial intelligence technologies require accurate data inputs and testing before they can be reliably released across an operation. Read this blog post for more insights.
The Dairy Signal
THE DAIRY SIGNAL: TUNE IN LIVE OR DOWNLOAD EPISODES. The Dairy Signal™ continues to bring relevant insights to producers and industry members from leading dairy and agriculture experts as well as government officials, university experts and fellow producers. Each educational session is free and episodes are aired live at noon CT every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Click here to listen to the live broadcast. You can also listen to or download free recorded episodes shortly after each live broadcast.

Here’s a look at this week’s topics and presenters:
Tuesday, September 1
Software programs and apps can help farmers determine yield data, map out profitability and consider conservation opportunities. In this episode, learn more about such programs and an app called FeedScan. A new function within the FeedScan app maps out real-time moisture and quality results for freshly chopped corn, specific to any region the user selects, using geotagged feed-analysis results. Episode presenters include:

  • Scott Stipetich, Precision Ag and Conservation Specialist, Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever
  • Dr. John Goeser, Director of Nutritional Research & Innovation at Rock River Lab, Inc., and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Dairy Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Wednesday, September 2
It’s important to have a global perspective on sustainability and the environment. Discover who the leaders in sustainability are and what practices farmers can control and manage. Episode presenter:

  • Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., Professor and Air Quality Extension Specialist with the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis
Thursday, September 3
Know your numbers is a popular phrase this year. Learn what financial numbers lenders are looking for and why that info is vital to the success of your business. Episode presenter:
  • Dr. Kevin Bernhardt, Professor of Agribusiness at UW-Platteville School of Agriculture and Farm Management Specialist with UW-Extension and Center for Dairy Profitability

Presenters and topics covered recently include:
Tune in for updates on the second round of applications and grants for the Food Security Initiative through the Wisconsin Farm Support Program, as well as discussion on dairy-research funding through the Dairy Innovation Hub.
  • Randy Romanski, Secretary-Designee of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
  • Senator Howard L. Marklein, Senate District 17, Spring Green

Understand how hot temperatures can affect you and your employees. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be dangerous; listen to the episode for tips to stay cooler.
  • Jose Carmona, Research Coordinator at Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health (PNASH) Center
Hear the latest on U.S. and global dairy markets, including the U.S. milk market seasonal highs set recently. Economist Dan Basse will also share a glimpse of what’s on the horizon for dairy demand, pricing and government activities.
  • Dan Basse, Economist and President of AgResource Company

Learn about the on-farm research projects on water-quality monitoring and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) that Discovery Farms® conducts with farmers across Wisconsin.
  • Amber Radatz, Co-Director, Discovery Farms

Transmission of zoonotic diseases between dairy cows and humans can be avoided. Tune in for best practices.
  • Jeff Bender, DVM, Professor and Hospital Epidemiologist and Director of the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH), University of Minnesota

Take a look at the global economic factors impacting the current agricultural industry, and discover which ones will have the most significant impact in the future
  • Mary Ledman, Global Sector Strategist for Dairy, RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness Group

If you have suggestions for future program topics or presenters, email [email protected].
Have you been tuning in to The Dairy Signal? The speakers and topics are vital to your work as a dairy producer – here’s a sample.
Dairy currents
DAIRY PERMEATE DELIVERS FLAVOR AND NUTRITION BENEFITS in a versatile and cost-effective manner, driving demand for the ingredient around the world. Permeate – often labeled as dairy product solids – is a high-lactose, mineral rich, dairy ingredient produced through the removal of protein and other solids from milk or whey. It lends a salty flavor to consumables, making it an ideal replacement for more expensive ingredients. The US leads the world in permeate production; new product introductions containing permeate were 11% higher in 2019 over 2018 with a total of 531 products. For a news release published by the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and more about how permeate is impacting food categories such as bakery, confectionery, hot drinks, dairy and snacks, click here.
COVID-19 MAY PROVIDE OPPORTUNITY FOR INDEPENDENT GROCERY STORES to differentiate themselves and provide local services to small communities and rural residents. Over the last several months, online ordering and curbside pickup have increased as consumers took precautions and quarantined themselves. Independent grocers and retailers have implemented ways to personalize services through delivery, phone orders and social-media outreach. Read the full article here.
COALITION FORMED TO TACKLE FOOD WASTE with a goal of cutting global food loss per capita by 2025. The coalition includes 14 leading consumer packaged-goods companies and retailers including General Mills, Kellogg Company, Nestle and Walmart. According to the United Nations, about one-third of the food produced in the world goes to waste, totaling about 1.3 billion tons each year. The priorities of the coalition are to encourage members to share food-waste data and to collaborate to minimize post-harvest waste throughout the food system. Read more here. 
Producer profile
Fifth-generation dairy producers John and Kim Koepke carry on their dairy-farming heritage of caring for their cattle and land near Oconomowoc in a way that attracts the notice of producers and community members alike. Part of the family team having earned the prestigious Aldo Leopold Conservation Award, John and Kim also operate a flourishing farmstead cheese business.

LaBelle Cheese is a Gouda-style cheese that combines the mellow richness of Gouda with the texture of German Butterkäse for a rich, buttery flavor. Named for a prominent lake and geographical landmark in their community, LaBelle cheese is crafted from milk produced by their 350-cow registered Holstein herd, then aged to perfection for six months to a year or more.

“Our family started looking at the value-added cheese process in 2008 as a way to become more visible within our community,” said Kim, who oversees the cheese business.

The Koepkes are strong proponents of community engagement and participating in educational programs. Regular hosts of PDPW’s Agricultural Professional Partnerships® (APPs) training, a full-immersion program for dairy-industry professionals with limited on-farm experience, the Koepkes share openly the management practices of their dairy through this program.

“The APPs training gives us a chance to talk on the frontlines with people who work for our industry representing the animal health and welfare side and explain to them how we fit into the community,” John said.

While the Koepkes have a 145-year-old dairy-farming heritage, the cheese-making business has involved a new level of learning. John and Kim partnered with specialty-cheese experts at Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to work through the developmental process. The couple received assistance to establish a business and marketing plan through a federal grant that helped launch the initial LaBelle flavor.

The Koepkes determined it was most sensible to produce a cheese that could be stored and aged directly on the farm. They also wanted to build a brand that bears the Koepke name on their cheese to nurture a direct connection from their farm to consumers’ kitchen tables.

LaBelle Cheese has grown to include seven different flavors distributed to 30 retail stores in the Milwaukee and Madison areas, along with a holiday gift-giving sales program. More information on current cheese varieties and distribution sites can be found on their website:

“We’ve also been promoting LaBelle locally with road signs on our property containing fun themes with original ideas created by John,” Kim added. “Part of the enjoyment of marketing our cheese is coming up with different approaches to make LaBelle visible in fresh ways.”
“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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