Tag Archives: farmers

Every Day is Earth Day for Dairy Farmers

earth_dairy_farmers_care

Earth Day may be celebrated each year in late April, but for Oregon dairy farmers every day is Earth Day on the farm.

Most dairy farm families live and work where they farm. Each day they walk out their back door to take good care of their animals and land. It’s a responsibility they take seriously, and they’re proud of the work they do to bring nutritious food to our tables in a sustainable way.

Dairy farming has become advanced and innovative in Oregon and across the country.  For example, between 1944 and 2007, the dairy industry used 90 percent less land, consumed 63 percent less water and emitted 63 percent less carbon while quadrupling the milk supply. Today, the dairy industry is responsible for less than two percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The dairy industry is also great at recycling. Almost 20 percent of everything dairy cows eat is an agricultural byproduct inedible by humans. One major byproduct of milking cows – manure – is a valuable resource. Farmers use manure as a natural fertilizer on their crops, and some farms use methane digesters to recycle manure into clean, renewable electricity. Several farms generate solar power, and reusing water many times over is standard practice on today’s dairy farms.

Sustainable diets with low environmental impacts contribute to food and nutrition security and to a healthy life for present and future generations. Dairy provides substantial nutritional value in a single affordable package, has continually reduced its environmental footprint, and has committed to additional improvements industry-wide.

So whether you’re enjoying dairy foods on Earth Day or any day, you can feel good about how they’re made.

Seven Things You Should Know About Large Dairies

Larger Farms

Oregon has 228 family dairy farms, ranging from fewer than 100 cows being milked each day to more than 30,000. Regardless of the size of the farm, there are certain values, standards and management practices that every Oregon dairy farmer has in common.

Farm size does not determine farm quality. It’s a misperception that larger farms are somehow not as good for the animals, environment, employees or community. Here are seven things you should know about large dairy farms:

environment1 They are good stewards of the air, land and water. No matter how many cows they milk, farmers care for their land and their natural resources. It’s important to them to do the right thing and be good neighbors and members of the community and they take the initiative to do so by voluntarily implementing best management practices on their own.
farmers work with nutritionists and veterinarians2 Their cows are well cared for. Dairy farmers’ commitment to providing high quality milk begins with taking good care of their cows. On farms of all sizes, farmers work with nutritionists and veterinarians to provide a nutritious diet, great medical care and healthy living conditions. Cow comfort is key to a farmer’s livelihood.
State and federal standards3 They follow the rules. Large farms must meet state and federal standards, and they face the same kinds of regulations and oversight as smaller farms. They have regular inspections of their operations to check for and ensure compliance. Dairy is one of the most highly regulated industries in the U.S.
Sustainability and efficiency4 Sustainability is not just a buzzword. Farmers are innovating and working toward a sustainable future. They are increasingly working smarter with robotics, automated feeders, methane digesters, precision agriculture, solar panels and beneficial use of waste to increase efficiency and reduce impacts. Large scale farms allow optimal use of scarce resources such as water, energy and land.
Milk testing5 Food safety starts at the farm. Milk is one of the most tested and regulated food products, and all farmers employ rigorous standards, practices and procedures to ensure that it is kept pure, cold and safe. Farmers are held personally responsible for the quality of the milk that comes from their farms.
Josi family6 Oregon dairies are family owned. Even the largest Oregon dairies are family owned. Dairy farmers take great pride in their work, and they want to continue working on the same land so they can continue providing the nutritious food that we enjoy and depend on. It is their legacy.
Milk cheese yogurt7They coexist alongside smaller farms. Large farms support smaller farmers and vice versa. Not all farms produce milk for the same processors or the same dairy products or the same consumer markets. There is room for farms of all sizes and types – organic and conventional – to thrive.

RELATED INFORMATION

Meet the Miramontes Family: First Generation Oregon Dairy Farmers

In agriculture, farms are typically passed down from generation to generation – and dairy farms are no exception. These days, it’s unusual for a dairy farmer to start their own dairy. But that’s just what Jesús and Emma Miramontes did eight years ago.

Jesús at Miramontes DairyAfter spending 27 years caring for other dairy farmers’ cows, Jesús looked at his wife Emma one day and said, “Why don’t we just get our own cows and go for it?” So they did. They started Miramontes Farm with 80 cows and through hard work, excellent cow care, and teamwork, they are now milking 400 cows in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Before coming to the United States as teens, the Miramontes’ farming roots started in Mexico where Emma’s grandmother had a few farm animals. Jesús really enjoys the cows. He’s had strong mentorship from dairy farmers along the way who taught him about animal husbandry. For Emma, she loves caring for the calves. “I read a lot of [trade] magazines for information. It’s how we learn. There’s something new to learn every day,” she said.

When asked about some important lessons they have learned over the years, Emma responded without hesitation, “Working as a team.” Jesús and Emma have built their dairy while raising their three children, Manuel, Nancy, and Noah. She said there are good days and bad days in the dairy industry, but regardless the Miramontes family comes together as a team.

RELATED STORY
Outstanding in His Field: Noah Miramontes on Dairy Farming and Soccer

Outstanding in His Field: Noah Miramontes on Dairy Farming and Soccer

Soccer Ball Miramontes Dairy

What’s black and white and can be found in a field? A Holstein cow or a soccer ball would both be correct answers – and ninth grader Noah Miramontes knows his way around either one.

As the son of first generation dairy farmers Jesús and Emma Miramontes, Noah has grown up on his family dairy near Grants Pass, Oregon. In addition to working hard alongside his parents on the farm, Noah Miramontes is now a freshman varsity soccer player for North Valley High School.

Making the varsity team wasn’t easy, especially as a freshman. He attributes his success to the lessons he’s learned on the farm and to eating healthy.

Noah Miramontes“The values I learned growing up and working with my family have helped me with success on the soccer team,” said Noah. “Values such as being a team player, keeping an open mind and not trying to control fellow teammates.”

There are so many tasks to complete in any given day on a dairy farm, Noah understands that routine is important as is every pair of hands and feet. Just like soccer. Farm work has also helped him prepare for any weather conditions as well as the hard work and physical demands that comes with playing competitive soccer.

When he’s not working, practicing or playing in a game, Noah enjoys snacking on fruit with peanut butter and washes it down with plenty of milk. In fact, Noah’s favorite dairy product is milk – especially chocolate milk. He recognizes the importance of nutrition to help make him strong so he can continue to improve.

While his big brother and sister have both left the farm to pursue their own passions, Noah knows he has at least a few more years of farm chores ahead of him. But he’s not complaining.

“If we didn’t have a farm, I don’t think I would get to hang out with my mom as often,” said Noah. “Growing up on a farm gives me some great moments with my mom.”

RELATED STORY
Meet the Miramontes Family: First Generation Oregon Dairy Farmers

Community Inspired to Live Stronger, Healthier and Happier

livebest-with-yogurtWho doesn’t want to live a stronger, healthier and happier life?

All were elements of Judy Barbe’s Eating Well, Being Well workshop in Tillamook on Saturday, March 11. Barbe is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a nationally-known author and speaker, and her appearance was sponsored by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.

Organized by the Tillamook County Year of Wellness Nutrition Committee, and led by Oregon State University Extension Professor Jessica Linnell, PhD, the event drew more than 70 attendees, including all ages and walks of life. In addition to Tillamook Mayor Suzanne Weber and Commissioner Bill Baertlein, dairy representatives included local dairy farmers Julie Lourenzo and Joanne Seals, as well as Dairy Extension County Leader Troy Downing.

Judy-Barbe-TipsJudy Barbe engaged the audience in exercises aimed at assessing their food and lifestyle choices along with some goal setting activities to make improvements. She made an impression. One of the attendees said, “I am going to lose the prejudices I’ve formed about several food groups.” Another later posted a picture of his notes from the presentation posted on his refrigerator at home. Still another Tweeted about her meal prepping after the workshop.

Barbe gave positive “dairy deliciousness” food suggestions and addressed the health benefits of consuming real dairy. She answered questions about dairy fat and alternative beverages. Hallie Hopkins with Oregon State University Extension Service provided a tasty and instructive food demonstration with bulgur, roasted vegetables and a yogurt sauce made with donated Tillamook yogurt.

“The workshop concluded with participants sharing the goals they set for themselves based on what they learned,” said Anne Goetze, Senior Director of Nutrition Affairs for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “People left motivated to make positive changes.”

THE TILLAMOOK COUNTY YEAR OF WELLNESS NUTRITION COMMITTEE INCLUDES:
Michelle Jenck, Year of Wellness
Laura Swanson, Tillamook Pioneer
Sue Phillips-Meyer, Adventist Health
Hallie Hopkins, Oregon State University Extension
Mis Carlson-Swanson, Oregon Food Bank
Dawna Roesener, Tillamook County WIC
Lauren Sorg, Food Roots
Joyce Trogdon, Rinehart Clinic

RELATED LINKS:

Tillamook County Year of Wellness

LiveBest – website for Judy Barbe, RDN

21st Century Dairy Farm, 21st Century Dairy Farmer

Today’s modern dairy farm is a far cry from what many people envision. Technology plays a very important role in dairy farming — from caring for cows to caring for natural resources. In Oregon, more and more dairy farmers are installing robotic milking systems for their cows.

With robotic milking systems, the cows are responsible for their own milking. They voluntarily enter a safe and clean stall when they’re ready to be milked — usually two to three times daily. Using an optical camera and lasers, the robot cleans and preps the cow’s udder, attaches and retracts the vacuum milking cups, and treats the udder post-milking to prevent infection. A meter continually monitors such things as milk quality and content or milking intervals — how often a cow comes through the stall.

The system’s software management alerts the farmer if anything is amiss. So if there’s anything abnormal about the milk quality, it’s automatically diverted away from the main milk supply. Or if a cow isn’t following her normal schedule, it may be an indication she’s not feeling well and the farmer is alerted. It’s real-time insight to each cow, individually. The cows also respond exceptionally well to the predictability and routine of the robots.

Robotics is just one of many ways that modern dairy farmers are evolving. Dairy farms across Oregon are already using RFID ear tags to monitor herd health, in addition to automated feeders, solar panels, methane digesters, GPS driven tractors, observation drones, computerized irrigation and much more. Technology is used not only to help make dairy farmers more efficient, but also to better care for their cows, the environment and their communities.

You can read more about robotic milking systems at two Oregon dairies in these recent headlines:

Mechanized milking
Local dairy goes high-tech with robotic upgrade

The Argus Observer
Dairylain Farms | The Chamberlain Family | Vale, OR

Tilla-Bay Farms celebrates five years as a robotic dairy with open house
Tillamook Headlight Herald
Tilla-Bay Farms, Inc | The Mizee Family | Tillamook, OR
Full text of the article available here for those without a subscription.

Louie Kazemier: Dairy Farmer, Humanitarian, Heart of Gold

Louie-Kazemier-working-in-Uganda

As a teenager, Louie Kazemier may have never envisioned becoming a dairy farmer as he was decorating wedding cakes, but he has always had a huge heart for helping people. From special needs kids and their families at Camp Attitude in Oregon to farmers in Uganda, Louie and his family continually give of their time and talents.

“The whole experience is very rewarding.” —Louie Kazemier

CAMP ATTITUDE, “CHANGING LIVES ONE CAMPER AT A TIME”

In 1998, Camp Attitude was nothing more than a shared dream between two men, a dairy farmer/youth pastor and a quadriplegic who wanted to make a positive difference.  Two years, countless volunteer and manual labor hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars later, Camp Attitude became a reality under Louie’s leadership.

Over the next several years, Louie, his family and hundreds of volunteers poured their hearts and souls into Camp Attitude and its campers. Camp administration was run out of the same office as the dairy farm. Registrations doubled every year (there’s no cost to attend). In between caring for his dairy cows and farm, Louie spent his off-season recruiting high school volunteers to serve as “Buddies” for his special needs campers. “It was fun to sit back and see how the Lord was going to work it all out,” said Louie.

Today the camp is a thriving, fully accessible facility where special needs kids and their families come and actively participate in an uplifting outdoor environment. Camp Attitude’s vision is to help people become emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, physically well and spiritually alive.

While Louie has stepped down as Director, he maintains many of the special relationships he developed with campers and their families during his time with Camp Attitude. He makes himself available to them whenever he is needed—and sadly, for these families, sometimes that means a midnight hospital visit or funeral. But there are happy visits too.  For example, when Bryten, a 16-year old girl with Brittle Bone Disease, gets to visit his farm and help in the milking parlor.

FARMING IN UGANDA

With a heart for the welfare of others, it wasn’t long before Louie found another opportunity where he could serve—halfway around the world.

Louie met Wilfred Blair Rugumba, Executive Director of Mercy Child Care and a young pastor from Uganda, when Wilfred visited Faith Christian School in Dallas, Oregon.  After a few minutes of visiting, Wilfred asked to see Louie’s “American dairy farm”. After asking dozens of questions, Wilfred was blown away by the technology, efficiency and expertise of Louie and his farming operation. Wilfred said, “You need to come to Uganda and teach us how to do this.”  One thing led to another and Louie found himself in Uganda about eight months later.

Louie was unprepared for what he would experience: a country slightly smaller than Oregon but with ten times the population, no or limited basic utilities, hand-dug wells, an average income of $3 per day, not even an address/postal system.

He recalled the time when he first arrived in Uganda missing some luggage, “There is no address system. So we instructed them to bring the baggage to Light the World Church along Hoima Road between this landmark and that landmark.”

“I thought to myself, ‘I’ll never see that luggage again,” laughed Louie. “But the next morning, the luggage was there.”

Louie’s first trip to Uganda was spent meeting the people, learning the culture and scoping out Mercy Ministry’s farm. He learned that Uganda has only two growing seasons for corn because of the rains.  During the off-season, this food staple is too expensive for Ugandan families.  So Louie’s first order of business is to help build an irrigation system to grow corn year-round and to raise money for a tractor.

Mercy Ministries also has seven dairy cows and Louie is sharing his knowledge and expertise in dairy production.  Baby formula imported from the United States is terribly expensive.  There are other dairies in Uganda, but only the wealthy can afford the fluid milk they produce. Nutrient-dense foods like dairy are in high demand in Africa and most experts think that the key to reducing hunger in Africa is to increase the food supply locally.

Not only does Louie lend his expertise and experience in farming and agriculture, he and his son, Nate, helped to build the Ministry’s Medical Center which opened in Summer 2016.  His son-in-law, a student at The College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lebanon, Oregon, plans to join Louie and Nate on one of their upcoming trips to Uganda to help out in the Center.

“The whole experience is very rewarding,” says Louie, “and I’m very close with the people there.”

Meanwhile, back on the dairy farm in Rickreall, ask his employees (aka extended family) what they think of Louie’s humanitarian efforts and they’d tell him “we do what we do here so you can go do what you do there.” Louie’s next trip to Uganda is planned for April 2017.

MORE INFORMATION

casmileyguyheader1

Camp Attitude
mcm-logo

Mercy Childcare Ministry

 

Oregon’s Josi Family Featured by National Organization

The Josi Family

One of Oregon’s 228 dairy farm families, Derrick and Kaycee Josi of Wilsonview Dairy in Tillamook, was recently featured by the National Milk Producers Federation on their website and email newsletter. As a fourth-generation farmer, Derrick is a member of Tillamook County Creamery Association and operates the dairy alongside his parents.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), established in 1916 and based in Arlington, Virginia, represents the policy interests of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The organization often profiles the various members of NMPF’s cooperatives that produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply.

You can visit the NMPF website to learn more about the Josi family, how they farm at Wilsonview Dairy and what their future plans include:

The Josi Family

Photo courtesy of National Milk Producers Federation

Fifth Generation Dairy Farmers Representing Industry

oregon dairy princess

Since 1959, the Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador (DPA) Program has been raising awareness about the dairy industry through classroom presentations, county and state fairs, community events, summer camps, school assemblies and more. The DPAs develop valuable experience with presentations, networking and life skills during their tenure.oregon diary princess

Sara Pierson, daughter of Steve and Susan Pierson of Sar-Ben Farms in St. Paul was crowned the 2016 Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador in January. Sara is a fifth generation dairy producer and a sophomore at Oregon State University studying Agricultural Business Management.

Gina Atsma, daughter of Gerald and Nancy Atsma of Atsma Dairy in McMinnville was crowned the 2016 Dairy Princess-Ambassador First Alternate. Gina is also a fifth generation dairy producer and attends Chemeketa Community College with plans to transfer to Oregon State University’s veterinarian program.

Six other DPAs represent Oregon counties including Washington, Linn-Benton, Columbia, Tillamook, Marion and Yamhill. Together, they will provide 135 days of classroom presentations, public appearances, civic engagements, and more throughout the state of Oregon.

The Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council provides financial support, coordination, training and materials to the Dairy Princess-Ambassador program to help raise awareness about dairy nutrition.

RELATED ARTICLE: Dairy Farms Come in All Shapes and Sizes