December 2018 vol. 1
Brought to you by Dairy's Professional Development Organization®

Opportunities to learn...

USDA UNDER SECRETARY GREG IBACH TO SPEAK at the 2018 Dairy Food & Policy Summit, set for Dec. 19-20 in Madison. Ibach is responsible for facilitating domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products and ensuring the health and care of animals and plants. He joins several top-notch presenters from food industry, dairy industry, government and regulatory systems at the two-day meeting. Don't miss your chance to hear updates on the most pressing issues to face your business.  Click here or call 800-947-7379 to register.  

POSITIONING THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN THE RIGHT ROLES for a smooth business transition is the focus of the next PDPW World Class Webinar, scheduled for noon CT on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Nicole Bettinger, Consultant with Family Business Consulting Group will present "Continuing the farm succession and defining team roles".  Registered participants can watch the webinar live or watch the recorded version later.  For additional information or to register, click  here or call 800-947-7379.

LEARN AND PRACTICE EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP SKILLS during the PDPW Visible Voice training session set for Thursday, Jan. 10, in Madison, Wis.  Renea Heinrich of MorganMyers will lead this interactive session focused on engaging in conversation and listening so you can respond more effectively.  Open to dairy farmers and allied industry professionals, the one-day training will strengthen your leadership skills, help avoid conflict between team members, and organize your thoughts and engagement when listening and sharing your story with consumers.  For additional information, call PDPW at 800-947-7379 or click here.

SAVE THE DATE FOR THE 2019 ACE REGIONAL MEETING set for Tuesday, Jan. 29, in Madison, Wis.  Join PDPW, the Wisconsin Counties Association, and Wisconsin Towns Association for engaging discussions to build strong, vibrant communities in the state.  The 2019 theme is "Leading Wisconsin Forward," with the full lineup of speakers to be announced soon.  Find more details here.

KICK OFF 2019 AT PDPW MANAGERS ACADEMY in Charleston, South Carolina, Jan. 15-17, 2019.  Coming to you at a critical time, this three-day program will challenge executives and managers to streamline processes and eliminate waste by using the methods of Lean. Trainer Ray Davis will also teach attendees the secrets of Six Sigma by outlining how to improve accuracy and reduce losses that occur through errors. Every dairy manager needs to implement these concepts to stay the course in today's economy. In conjunction with Ray Davis and out-of-industry tours, Tom Thibodeau will equip you with the leadership tools you need to propel your team to success.
Managers Academy is for those with the heart of a leader and the mind of a manager. If you want to be part of a viable business for years to come, attend this program. Register today and learn more here or call 800-947-7379 for details.

Here's what past attendees have to say about Managers Academy:
"I have attended every Managers Academy for 11 years. Each Academy is unique, which has helped me build different aspects of my management and leadership portfolio, it is kept smaller and is very interactive. The executive-level tours have been very interesting and relevant to what the classroom curriculum is focusing on.  If you're interested in developing your leadership skills and want to stay on the leading edge in the dairy business, you NEED to attend the Managers Academy."

-Walt Moore, Walmoore Holsteins, West Grove, Pennsylvania
  "Managers Academy offers a huge degree of professionalism with some of the best speakers and subjects relevant to our world as dairymen, people, servants, employers and family members. One of the benefits of attending is receiving personal advice from the speakers even after we're back home. Having those relationships with world-class presenters in your back pocket is a definite advantage."

-Walt and Will Gladstone, Newmont Farm, Bradford, Virginia
If you've been thinking about attending Managers Academy, make this the year. The program is packed with relevant content that will help you be the best leader you can be. Learn more here or call 800-947-7379 for details.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THE 2019 PDPW BUSINESS CONFERENCE! Scheduled for March 13-14, 2019 in Madison, Wis. at the Alliant Energy Center, dairy's premier educational event is just over 12 weeks away. Click here for more details and plan to dairy forward with the best in the industry. In addition to a dynamic agenda, speaker line-up and entertainment showcase, members will elect new candidates to the PDPW Board of Directors. Stay tuned for the full details.

CHECK OUT DAIRY ADVANCE  - Find, track and report your Continuing Education (CEs).  ind more details at
For your dairy...

BENCHMARKING COSTS OF RAISING REPLACEMENT CALVES against similar dairy farms can help producers find efficiencies and opportunities.  An evaluation of the costs of raising calves using the traditional system (bottle and bucket) or automated milk feeding system was conducted by University of Wisconsin Extension. While automated feeder systems had higher feeding costs, lower labor costs offset the difference.  Management costs were similar in both systems, emphasizing the need for protocols and effective calf management in all systems.  Read the series of articles and fact sheets  here.

CONSIDERING COVER CROPS FOR YOUR FARM? A new online tool developed at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University is designed to help farmers evaluate expected annual net returns from cover crop adoption and serve as a benchmark for farmers who are already using cover crops and want to improve the return on their investments.  Developers hope the tool will allow farmers to evaluate a variety of scenarios and overcome the uncertainty around adoption of cover crop practices.  Read more here
Dairy currents...

SAVE MONEY AND BE SAFE with an $865 tractor roll-bar rebate from the Wisconsin Rollover Protection Structure (ROPS) Rebate Program.  The program reimburses up to 70 percent (up to a maximum of $865) toward the total cost of purchasing, shipping and installing individual ROPS. Roll-bars can protect farmers from injuries caused by overturns or tractor rollovers, which are the leading cause of death on farms, accounting for nearly 100 fatalities each year. Learn more by calling 877-ROPS-R4U (877-767-7748), or visit the  website and choose "Wisconsin."  Read the full article here.

AMERICAN CHEESE IS BEING REPLACED BY OTHER OPTIONS on the plates of millennials and in many restaurants, according to a Bloomberg News article. While the number of U.S. cheese factories grew from 40% between 2000 and 2017, that growth is primarily from small, specialty cheesemakers, while demand for processed cheeses like Velveeta and Kraft Singles has been on the decline for years. Read the full article here

UPDATED NUTRITION LABELS INCLUDE MORE DETAILS ON SUGARS as well as more realistic serving sizes and a change in listed vitamins.  The labels were announced by the FDA in 2016, will be required for some companies beginning in 2020, and are being seen on packaging already.  To reflect updated thinking on healthy diets, the labels no longer list calories from fat but now show added sugars.  Instead of displaying percent daily values for iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C, the new labels show vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium.  The labels also reflect the serving size people are likely to consume, such as an entire 20-ounce bottle of soda instead of just 12 ounces from the same size bottle.  Read more in this article or the FDA website
For your business mind...

GATHERING MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES CAN SET YOU APART as a great leader when making business decisions. Knowing who on your team to ask in which situation is a critical skill that will allow you to see a problem from a variety of angles. Being receptive to ideas from superiors, peers and those who report to you, and having the ability to draw out thoughts of everyone on the team are important. Other tips include:
  • Be curious
  • Be encouraging
  • Be humble
  • Be equal
  • Be flexible
  • Be passionate
Learn more about each of these in the full article here .

WOULD LABOR SAVINGS OFFSET PRODUCTION DECLINE enough to switch to two-time-a-day milking from 3-time-a-day milking during low milk prices?  An analysis from Michigan State Extension compares multiple scenarios using an average production loss of 10 to 20%, the commonly reported gain for milking three times a day over two times.  It's critical to work through budget worksheets and scenarios to understand the impact that milking frequency change may have on the bottom line as well as herd health and milk quality.  Learn more  here.

Words to live by...

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. 
The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."

---Thomas A. Edison
Meet fellow PDPW members... 

Stephanie, Alan, Bryce, 
Gavin and Derek Hughes
ALAN AND STEPHANIE HUGHES of Pittsville, Wis. are proof positive that dairies can be successful in all shapes and sizes. Sunsett Dairy is a rotationally grazed, registered 65-cow herd of Jerseys, Holsteins and Milking Shorthorns. Their farm name was coined in tribute to the name of the road that led to Alan's boyhood farm.

Both grew up on Clark County farms and are graduates of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls; Alan earned a degree in broad-area agriculture with a minor in animal science while Stephanie earned a degree in dairy science with a management option. Her passion for cow pedigrees and genetics led her to a job mating and breeding cows with Genex after graduation. She later worked at Farm Credit Service for 6 years; she considers her work as a loan officer incredibly valuable to owning and operating a dairy today.   "It was the best job I could have had to learn about the finances of dairying," Stephanie said.

Alan and Stephanie bought their herd in 2007, and began renting Alan's dad's facilities to begin farming. Not long after, they became parents and in 2015, they purchased the farm they're currently on.

In the midst of managing dairy farming and parenting, Alan was presented an unexpected opportunity to serve in the Air National Guard - a prospect he was excited to pursue. Though basic training would take him away from the family and farm temporarily, Stephanie encouraged him to "go for it."   Today, Alan is an F-16 crew chief for the 115th Fighter Wing Unit in Madison and the couple owns Sunsett Aircraft Maintenance, LLC. Alan is employed as an aircraft mechanic at the Wausau Municipal Airport where he works on single-engine, small passenger planes.

Despite his off-farm responsibilities, he's in the barn each morning and most evenings. He feeds, does field work, cleans the barn and fixes whatever breaks. Stephanie manages the breeding program and mating choices for the herd. Their sons Bryce and Gavin enjoy helping where they can. At 8 and 6 years old, they move cows from one paddock to another and help with other jobs as needed. At 22 months old, Derek is still growing into his roles on the farm.

Rotational grazing as a management choice was a natural option for the Hughes. Though Alan was raised on a conventional dairy near Thorp, his dad converted the operation to incorporate rotational grazing while Alan was in high school.   Today, with Alan frequently working off the farm, the rotational grazing style makes for a simple, efficient management style for the family. It's also a perfect fit for raising their children. "My passion is to be able to raise our children on the farm," Stephanie said. "Being raised on a farm makes such a difference in their work ethic and experiences they'll gain - and the kind of people they'll become."

The Hughes aren't merely committed to their own family but also to the dairy industry as a whole. They're active on industry committees with PDPW and Farm First Young Cooperators, they mentor youth who are considering careers in dairy, and they're devoted to continuous education.

"Attending educational programs is so important," Stephanie said. "Whether we learn about breeding, feeding or milking procedures, we all have to do these things. It's so important for us to learn from one another."

The Hughes look forward to developing a herd of good quality cattle and to continue to produce high quality milk. And even more, they're eager for a future that allows them to raise their boys on the farm and hopefully pass it on to at least one of them some day.
A BIG Thank You...  

TO THE PDPW SPONSORS who are supporting your professional development organization! As a producer-led group, we extend a heart-felt "Thank You!" to those that stand alongside our nation's dairy farmers.  Their support allows PDPW to execute best-in-class producer training and has enabled us to become the go-to resource for unified outreach initiatives. If you or a company you know is interested in participating as a sponsor, please contact us at or call 800-947-7379.
See the full list of generous sponsors here.