Got milk? Dairy summit talks of necessary growth
CLEARWATER, Neb. -- This years Nebraska Dairy Promotion & Industry U.S. Delegation Summit was held at Thiele Dairy on Tuesday.
The summit was hosted in Clearwater by Thiele Dairy, Midwest Dairy and the Nebraska State Dairy Association.
Kris Bousquet, Nebraska State Dairy Association Executive Director, led the summit discussions. Twenty-five people were in attendance, six of the 25 were elected officials.
Mary Temme, Midwest Dairy, Nebraska Division Board of Directors Chair, started the discussions with information about the Check Offs program.
Check-offs allows for promotion, education and research, summit organizers said. Each dairy farm pays 15 cents per hundredweight of milk they produce to aid in that support. Five of the 15 cents goes to the BMI period and the other 10 cents stays in the region.
Midwest Dairy covers a 10-state area – Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona, Minnesota and Illinois.
Temme said that a national highlight was that the 15 cents allows for collaborations with food services, retail, and other organizations that have a lot of resources. She said they have already partnered with McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Domino’s.
A near future collaboration that Temme said she was excited for is they will be partnering with the Mayo Clinic.
“One of the most exciting things that we just had a chance to see this summer was what we have done at UNL, in the athletic department in their food service area,” Temme said.
Temme mentioned Midwest Diary has provided pizza ovens, coolers, freezers, and refrigeration units so they can increase the dairy foods they provide for the athletes.
“Just a little anecdote, that brand new football coach in Wayne, Nebraska came from Cross County,” Temme said. “And the first thing he did when he got started coaching was, ‘I’d like to have chocolate milk in the weight room. We had that at Cross County.’”
She said this shows they are getting the message out to coaches that chocolate milk is an excellent recovery drink.
Mike Guenther, president of the Nebraska State Dairy Association (NSDA) said, “We’ve been putting a lot more focus, though, lately on policy and growth.”
Bousquet said there are 102 dairy farms left in Nebraska, with 60,000 cows that produce about 4 billion pounds of milk.
"We ship about 2 million pounds of milk across our borders to get processed somewhere else,” Bousquet said. “That's a missed opportunity for Nebraska, for the state of Nebraska and for our producers here.”
He said growth and development need to be focused on and some ways to do that are: investing in rural Nebraska housing, benefiting both the families of the farmers and their employees; childcare; and broadband on farms.
Broadband on farms is a necessity according to Bousquet because lots of technology goes into farms. He mentioned that technology will advance quickly, so farmers will need to adopt and incorporate robotics into their farms.
Bousquet said he wants people to think about dairy as well when Precision Ag is mentioned.
Bill Thiele is the owner of Thiele Dairy, and he said their facility milks cows 24 hours a day, every day. They have 3,000 cows that they milk three times a day.
Thiele said his farm employs about 35 workers with 90 percent of them living in provided housing.
He said their milk is shipped to Le Mars, Iowa, for processing.
Thiele mentioned that the broadband service on his dairy farm is excellent, and he said they are willing to work with schools and such for tours.