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Through the Fire: Oregon Dairy Community Shows Resiliency, Generosity

As if the year wasn’t already challenging enough, 2020’s wildfire season has been named one of the most destructive on record in the state of Oregon. Burning more than one million acres, the fires destroyed thousands of homes, and blanketed the entire state in heavy smoke for many days.

In early September, unusually high winds combined with an extremely dry summer caused multiple wildfires to expand quickly throughout the entire state, including Southern Oregon, the coast range, and the Willamette Valley. The fires caused level 3 “go now” evacuations for about 40,000 people and placed 500,000 people in evacuation zones, including more than 10% of Oregon’s dairy community.

As evacuations levels were announced, 20 of Oregon’s dairy farms were faced with the terrifying realization that they could lose their homes and livelihoods to a wildfire. Many packed up family members and moved some cattle, but in most cases the difficult decision was made to not evacuate the milking cows. Instead, farmers worked hard to create fire breaks around their farms, using their tractors to plow the ground to mineral soil, moving combustible materials, and using sprinklers designed for crop irrigation to keep the fields surrounding their barns wet and therefore safe from floating embers.    

The decision to wait out the fires was not made lightly, and it was based on the best care for the cows. Milking cows require a specially formulated diet, a comfortable place to rest, and consistency. Darleen Sichley, one of Oregon’s dairy farmers faced with evacuation orders shared her story online stating that care for their animals was, and always will be, their top priority:

“Long term, yes, these conditions are not good for us and them. But honestly the stress of trying to move them to another farm at this point would be worse… I know that seems like a crazy concept to not evacuate the cows and we pray we are making the right decision, but conditions in our whole area make us confident they are safer staying then maybe having to move them multiple times as these fires continue.” – Darleen Sichley, Farmer, Abiqua Acres

In Southern Oregon, thousands of families lost their homes to the Almeda fire. Among those thousands were several employees of Rogue Creamery.

“After a harrowing night of wildfire blazing through our community, we are heartbroken and devastated to learn this morning that several members of our team have lost their homes. Many others are waiting to return home to see what’s left … For now, Rogue Creamery has been fortunate as our cows are safe and our facilities have been spared. But our hearts ache for all those in our community that have lost everything.” – Rogue Creamery

And yet, through this tragedy, the farming community demonstrated their dedication to their families, farms, and communities through their bravery and resiliency. Some spent long nights sleeping in their barns or offices, others helped their neighbors evacuate animals, and many farmers donated hay and feed to local fairgrounds housing evacuated animals.   

As Mister Rogers is famously known to say, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

In Tillamook, one helper was dairy farmer Derrick Josi, who called on his 400,000 Facebook followers to support their local first responders. His call to action resulted in a Tillamook coffee shop receiving over $1,000 to cover breakfasts for firefighters working to save homes and dairy farms threatened by the Pike Fire.

Also in Tillamook, the helpers were at Tillamook Creamery, where they provided free boxed meals to families in their community who were required to evacuate.   

In Saint Paul, the helper was dairy farmer Brandon Hazenberg whose farm was safe from evacuation zones. He spent his days hauling feed and bedding to nearby shelters and offered his dairy to neighboring farms in need of a place to house their animals. 

In Rickreall, the helpers were from Darigold where single-serve milk was donated for food boxes provided to evacuees. In Central Point, the helpers were located at the Rogue Creamery, where, after several of their own teammates faced unprecedented tragedy, they offered fresh, hot food and women’s necessities to those displaced by the fires.

And in Scotts Mills, the helper was Darleen Sichley, whose farm was only miles away from the fire. She quickly shifted from saving her family’s farm to caring for her community as evacuation zones were downgraded and her neighbors returned to find unhealthy air conditions both inside and outside of their homes. Within a day, Sichley was able to secure 72 difficult-to-find air filters for her community to use to help purify the air inside their homes.    

Many farmers are volunteer fire fighters, which proved extremely valuable with preparing for the approaching wildfires. Sichley’s husband, Ben, has been a volunteer fire fighter for over 16 years, and her father, Alan, has been serving the department for 39 years. “I think volunteer firefighting and that farmer mentality just go hand-in-hand in serving our neighbors in their time of need. It’s that sense of community service that has us not only caring for our farms and cows, but the future generations of our community.” 

“Farmers just know about helping other people. You help your neighbor, it’s just what you do.” – Steve Aamodt, former dairy farmer and volunteer firefighter for over 28 years. 

As summer came to an end and rain provided a much-needed assist for fire fighters, the smoke has dissipated and flames and hot spots are being extinguished. This has been yet another surreal chapter in the book of 2020 that we hope is behind us. Once again, it showcased an enduring theme of the Oregon dairy story – the resiliency and generosity of our farmers and processors.

RELATED LINK

Oregon Wildfires Response and Resources

The Melt Down: Grilled Cheese Event Goes Bigger Than Ever

It’s a dream come true for fans of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and it’s bigger and better than ever in 2020.

There’s a popular month-long event called “The Melt Down,” where sales of signature grilled cheese sandwiches throughout February support YCAP regional food bank efforts to fight hunger. This year’s “Deluxe Edition” includes 68 participating restaurants and businesses in Yamhill County and 13 sponsors. The restaurants are in a friendly competition for the title of the “Biggest Cheese.”

Each restaurant has their own unique take on the classic grilled cheese sandwich, many with clever names to match. Some examples include: Diet Starts Tomorrow, The Triple Texan, Play with your Food, Ooey Gooey Tomato Grilled Cheesy and Check Yo Self Before You Raclette Yo Self. While there are options for the strict grilled cheese purists, some other ingredients include peanut butter, jalapeños, pineapple, pesto, potatoes, marinara, brisket, avocado and quince chutney.

But how to decide with so many options to choose from? Easy. There’s a passport with details on the sandwiches available at each stop, including their address and business hours. Those who show their passports get stamps or signatures to make them eligible to win prizes donated by 40 area businesses.

Local restaurants in the community are also winners since the event generates increased business thanks to The Melt Down. “It is hard to believe that a small idea just a few years ago has grown into such a successful fundraiser and has provided a much needed economic boost to so many businesses here in Yamhill County,” said YCAP Development Specialist Diane Longaker.

In 2019, more than 6,280 sandwiches were sold, raising approximately $20,000. That equals more than 65,000 meals for the people served by YCAP and its food bank. Oregon dairy farmers and processors including Tillamook and Organic Valley are supporting The Melt Down: Deluxe Edition with hopes for record-setting results. You can help by ordering a grilled cheese from participating restaurants through February 29.

RELATED LINKS:

The 2020 Melt Down: Deluxe Edition

YCAP Regional Food Bank

Wow Your Holiday Guests with These Cheese and Chocolate Pairings

This holiday season, we recommend you introduce your friends and family to a new power couple: cheese and chocolate. That’s right, two individual favorites combine to give you an unexpectedly compatible taste that is sure to impress at your next holiday party. If you’re in a hurry, skip to the bottom for suggestions on pairings.

But, why pair cheese and chocolate together?

You have heard the saying that opposites attract, but in this case it’s the similarities in cheese and chocolate that make them pair well together.

1. Both are indulgent.

Typically cheese or chocolate are among the top snacks Americans will reach for when they want some decadence. Pair them together and you get a luxury hors d’oeuvre perfect for special occasions.

2. Both flavor profiles can be sweet.

Typically, cheese is considered to be a savory treat, and chocolate a sweet snack. However, depending on your cheese type, it can have a sweeter aftertaste and the darker the chocolate the more savory the taste.

3. Both chocolate and cheese are fermented.

Most people understand the cheese making process of fermenting milk, but did you realize the cacao bean must first be fermented in order to make chocolate? The fermentation process makes cheese and chocolate a winning combination much like our traditional preference to pair cheese and wine.

4. Both cheese and chocolate can contribute to your health.

Cheese has the nutritious benefits of protein, calcium, and phosphorus, along with vitamins A and B12. And although chocolate isn’t always known for its nutritional benefits, the main ingredient in chocolate, cacao, is abundant in the antioxidant flavonoids and theobromine.  Now, we aren’t suggesting that cheese and chocolate can replace your greens at dinner, but we are saying the combination can be part of an overall healthy diet.

cape mears_dk cherry almond_h

Make the most of your tasting experience.

Turns out there is an art and science to pairing foods, however, there are no rules when it comes to pairing cheese with chocolate; it’s a matter of personal preference, so feel free to experiment! And, if you are wanting to pair like the professionals, here are a few tips:

1. Smell both the chocolate and cheese before tasting.

Did you ever wonder why sommeliers smell the wine before tasting? It’s because aroma and taste combine to create a flavor profile through the nose and mouth that is interpreted to the brain for a more thorough tasting experience. When you smell your chocolate and cheese combination, it will give you a more complete flavor.

2. Resist the urge to chew the chocolate.

We recommend tasting the chocolate first, and make sure to release the flavors slowly by pressing a small piece to the roof of your mouth and running your tongue along the bottom of it, allowing it to melt. This will help you appreciate the texture of the chocolate, along with the specifics of flavor. With many chocolates, the flavor will change as it melts in your mouth. Once you have enjoyed the taste of chocolate on its own, add a small bite of cheese and notice the flavor change again.

Setting up your tasting

You can try any number of combinations to determine your favorite flavors and textures, but here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Choose high quality cheeses and chocolates.

Although it may be tempting to reach for your leftover Halloween candy and your regular cheddar for a pairing, we recommend thinking outside of the box. Consider buying your cheese from a cheese counter, or a local creamery. For the chocolate, look for chocolates made with high quality cacao and fewer ingredients. You may be surprised to find quality, local chocolates with a simple search.

2. Bring the chocolate and cheese to room temperature.

Once you have selected your cheeses and chocolates, cut them into bite sized pieces and let them sit at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. This will help you appreciate their aromas and taste.

3. Offer a palate cleanser.

Be sure to offer crackers or fruit in between pairings to give your guests’ taste buds a rest.

4. Organize your pairings.

Order the pairings from mild in flavor to bold in intensity.  This will help you guide the tasting and prevent taste buds from being overwhelmed.

Now you’re the expert.

That’s it! You are well on your way to becoming a cheese and chocolate connoisseur at your next holiday party. However, if you are need of some inspired combinations, here are some our favorites to get you started.

monterey jack_chili chocolate

Monterey Jack with Milk Chocolate

Both the milk chocolate and the Monterey Jack will bring out the other’s soft and creamy texture to create a classic and delicious pairing.

vintage xsharp white_dark chocolate raspberry

Vintage Extra Sharp with Dark Chocolate Raspberry

This specialty aged cheeses are known for robust flavor, creamy and buttery with a bite, so it pairs with the tartness of the Dark Chocolate Raspberry. The brightness of the raspberry balances the slight bitterness of a vintage white.

smoked black pepper_sea salt chocolate

Smoked Black Pepper with Sea Salt

This paring is a tribute to the classic salt and pepper pairing. Did you know salt is the only rock that we eat? And, the enduring popularity of black pepper may owe itself to one picky eater, French King Louis XIV who preferred only salt and pepper, to the extent that he banned all other seasonings.

cape mears _salted almond

English cheddar with Salted Almond Dark Chocolate or Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond

English cheddars tend to be a slightly sweet and creamy cheddar. See what chocolate pairing your friends prefer! Whether they go with more sweet or savory, the almonds will add texture and bring out a nutty flavor to the cheese.

hot habanero jack with milk chocolate

Hot Habanero Jack with Milk Chocolate

And end your tasting with a paring where opposites attract. Milk chocolate is chosen to pair with a habanero in this Monterey Jack cheese to cool the spice on your tongue, while still bringing out the creamy texture in both the chocolate and the cheese creating a classily delicious pairing.

When it comes to pairing chocolate and cheese, it is all about personal preferences. Doing some “research” with family and friends can bring some fun and tasty pairings to your next holiday get together.

RELATED LINKS:

Cheese and Chocolate Pairings | Cabot Creamery

Tasting Chocolate | Ghirardelli

How to Pair Flavors, According to Science |Tasting Table

Cheese Pairing with Chocolate: a Winning Combination | The Wisconsin Cheeseman

How to Pair Chocolate with Cheese | wikiHow

Crowdsourced Oregon Ice Cream Trail Showcases Top Shops

How do you create a new food trail that showcases the top ice cream shops across an entire state? Simple. Ask the experts! And that’s just what the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council did when they crowdsourced the new Oregon Ice Cream Trail.

Crowdsourcing is the process of enlisting the services of a large number of people, typically via the Internet. In this case, it was ice cream aficionados. Starting with an assortment of 10 landmark ice cream shops, people were encouraged to submit and vote for their favorite shops in Oregon. The result? You can now choose your own ice cream adventure to include more than 50 stops clustered within seven geographic regions.

“Building this trail reaffirmed something we already knew – people are passionate about their ice cream,” said Josh Thomas, Senior Director of Communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Thanks to the hundreds of votes we received, this trail showcases the top shops and some of the best ice cream you’ll find anywhere in the world.”

The Oregon Ice Cream Trail includes all varieties of scoop and soft serve ice cream, custard, gelato and even frozen yogurt – all made in Oregon. All stops are featured on a free, downloadable map at OregonIceCreamTrail.com.

So that’s the scoop on the Oregon Ice Cream Trail. If you’re still looking for a good excuse to hit the trail, National Ice Cream Cone Day is coming up on September 22.


RELATED:

You Can Help Build the New Oregon Ice Cream Trail

VOTING CLOSED. CLICK HERE FOR FINAL TRAIL MAP AND SHOP LIST

Here’s the scoop on 10 great ways to celebrate National Ice Cream Day and July Ice Cream Month! Today we’re unveiling the first stops on the new Oregon Ice Cream Trail.

These are 10 quintessential destinations for acquiring frozen happiness (aka ice cream) by the cone or cup. As it stands, the trail includes:

PORTLAND

Cloud City Ice Cream
4525 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland     cloudcityicecream.com
Flavors based on family recipes, made on the premise that ice cream makes an ordinary day into something special.

Fifty Licks
2021 SE Clinton Street #101, Portland    fifty-licks.com
You may have seen the truck around town. The owner loves food science and making ice cream from scratch with local ingredients.

Ruby Jewel Mississippi Scoop Shop
3713 N Mississippi Ave, Portland     rubyjewel.com
Known for distinctly original, artisanal ice cream sandwiches, since 2004. This location was their first shop, which opened in 2010.

Salt & Straw
2035 NE Alberta St., Portland     saltandstraw.com
Characterized by inventive flavors, this small batch shop began in 2011 as a food cart not far from this first brick and mortar location.

WILLAMETTE VALLEY

K & R Drive Inn
201 John Long Rd, Oakland     krdriveinn.com
Located just off of I-5 at Rice Hill, and a favorite pit stop for Umpqua ice cream on road trips since 1970.

Prince Puckler’s Ice Cream     www.princepucklers.com
1605 E 19th Ave, Eugene
With more than 40 flavors, this gourmet ice cream has been made with quality local ingredients since 1975.

Serendipity
502 NE Third Street, McMinnville     serendipityicecream.com
This shop gives job experience and training for adults with developmental disabilities, in addition to great ice cream and a player piano.

CENTRAL OREGON

Goody’s
57100 Beaver Dr., Sunriver     goodyschocolates.com
The ice cream counter at this store continues to be a visitors’ favorite during busy vacation times and a locals tradition year round.

Sno Cap
1053 NW 6th St., Redmond
Originally Peden’s Ice Cream back in the 60s, Sno Cap is an institution and a locals favorite serving Eberhard’s Ice Cream.

OREGON COAST

Tillamook Creamery
4165 Highway 101 North, Tillamook     tillamook.com
With more than 1.3 million guests annually, this is consistently one of Oregon’s top tourist attractions, and many go straight for the ice cream.

And as a bonus seasonal favorite, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include the Oregon Dairy Women’s Red Barn at the Oregon State Fair in Salem (open August 23 to September 2).

VOTING CLOSED. CLICK HERE FOR FINAL TRAIL MAP AND SHOP LIST


RELATED:

How We Celebrated June Dairy Month

Since 1937, June has been designated as a special month to celebrate milk and all things dairy. National Dairy Month is an annual tradition that recognizes the contributions the dairy industry has made to health and happiness around the world.

Oregon has a lot to celebrate, and what better way to kick things off than World Milk Day? After all, milk is Oregon’s official state beverage. On every day of June, we served up some cheesy, dairy-themed jokes on social media. As an example, this was one of the crowd favorites: Why was the dairy farmer the slowest player on the baseball field? You’d be slow too if your jersey weighed 1,000 pounds!

Cloverdale dairy farmer Ron Hurliman served as Grand Marshal of the June Dairy Parade in Tillamook

June Dairy Parade Grand Marshal Ron Hurliman (right), with wife Vonnie. Courtesy of Tillamook Headlight Herald.

There were several dairy events and observances throughout the month as well. Cloverdale dairy farmer Ron Hurliman served as Grand Marshal of the June Dairy Parade in Tillamook. With more than 120 entries, the parade is a centerpiece of the June Dairy Festival alongside the Tillamook County YMCA Milk Run and the Tillamook County Rodeo. You can read all about the festivities in this special insert from the Tillamook Headlight Herald. Capital Press also had this special section for June Dairy Month with several great stories.

On Father’s Day, we shared a poetic tribute to dairy dads called “Until the Cows Come Home,” and on the first day of summer we shared a delicious recipe for Yogurt and Dill Smashed Potatoes. Our partner Food Hero made milk the featured food of the month and shared this great handout.

We sponsored the Milk Carton Boat Race in partnership with the Royal Rosarians, the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassadors, Darigold and many others. A Rose Festival tradition since 1973, the family-friendly event features kids, adults and teams racing across a pond on boats that float atop empty milk cartons and milk jugs. KGW television’s Drew Carney highlighted the event on his Sunrise show and KATU’s Katherine Kisiel was an event announcer.

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At the national level, a running theme throughout the month involved dairy’s contributions to fighting food insecurity and child hunger. The “Real Love Convoy” brought Undeniably Dairy branded trucks to New York, Washington D.C., Detroit and Cleveland for media opportunities and public events featuring dairy. This included an appearance with spokeswoman Laila Ali and dairy farmer Katie Dotterer-Pyle on Good Morning America. Locally, we helped promote summer meals programs in Oregon with this special video featuring Oregon’s Fuel Up to Play 60 spokesperson Anthony Newman.

While National Dairy Month may be over, we’ll continue to celebrate dairy year round. Oh, and did we mention that July is National Ice Cream Month? Stay tuned for a fun announcement on National Ice Cream Day (July 21)!

If You’re in Business for 100 years, You’re Doing Something Right

Farming is not just a business, it’s a legacy. Passed down from generation to generation, it’s a timeless tradition of caring for land and animals.

On Saturday, August 25, at the Oregon State Fair, this great heritage was celebrated by recognizing twelve farms and ranches from eight different Oregon counties as Century Farms. Two farms even reached Sesquicentennial status, which marks 150 years.

Farms are recognized as Century Farms when the same family has worked the same land for at least 100 years. There are now 1,212 Century Farms and Ranches and 41 Sesquicentennial Farms registered in the state of Oregon.

Two of the farms awarded Century status this year have been dairy farming in Tillamook since 1918.

Wilsonview Dairy was founded by Alfred Josi when he and his brother John, who immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland, made a lease to own agreement with George and Mary Durrer. The farm’s main focus for 100 years has been dairy farming, and is now run by Alfred’s grandson Don, and great-grandson Derrick.

Just down the road, and distant cousins to the Wilsonview Farm, Tilla-Bay Farms was founded by Fred and Gotfried Josi with 24 cows and 34 acres. They added the first free-stall barn and parlor in Tillamook County, and have continued to farm on the cutting edge, also being the first farm in the western U.S. to install robotic milking machines in 2010. The farm is now run by Bart and Terry Mizee and Kurt Mizee. Terry is the granddaughter and Kurt is the great grandson of founder Fred Josi.

 

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At the ceremony, guest speaker and century farm owner Peter Sage said, “The farm begins, not with a deed, but with a family. These families demonstrate the perseverance, determination and providence it takes to create a legacy.”

Dylan Westfall, Vice President for Oregon’s Future Farmers of America, encouraged those in attendance to celebrate their past, while looking toward the future. “We must use the past to change the present for the future,” he said.

While tradition runs deep within the dairy industry, so does innovation, as is demonstrated by both of these farms. Derrick Josi shares his farm life with 22,000 followers on Facebook as a nationally known advocate for the dairy industry, and Kurt Mizee is owner of Priority Robotics in Tillamook, a dairy robotic dealership installing new robotic systems every month.

In addition to the two Century Farm dairies, 2018 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and Darigold.

Got Robots? Oregon Dairies Embracing Automation

After serving three generations of the Mann family, the old milking parlor at the Abiqua Acres dairy farm had seen better days. So when Alan and Barbara Manns’ daughter Darleen Sichley and her husband, Ben, decided to join the family operation, it was time to upgrade.

And upgrade they did.

The Silverton, Oregon, dairy today is among a small, but growing number of Western U.S. dairies using robotic milking systems. The 95-cow Guernsey dairy installed two robotic milkers in January 2017.

“It was a tough decision,” said. “It is a big investment. But we had to look at going a different direction when my husband and I joined.”

Robotic milking systems are employed on less than two percent of U.S. dairies, said Kurt Mizee, president of Priority Robotics in Tillamook, Oregon, who, with his father, Bart Mizee operates Tilla-Bay Farms in Tillamook. But the technology is catching on rapidly among big and small dairies.

“The adoption is definitely ramping up,” said Mizee, who runs three robotic milkers on his fourth-generation Tillamook dairy, including two he installed in 2011, the first ever installed in the Western U.S.

Dairy farmers choose to go robotic for several reasons, Mizee said. Some, such as the owners of Abiqua Acres, chose robotics primarily for the scheduling flexibility the systems provide.

“When you’re milking cows, it’s always four o’clock in the morning and four in the afternoon,” Darleen Sichley said. “Now you can work around what you want to do. Things still have to get done that day, but it is not so time sensitive.”

She added: “My parents sacrificed a lot when they milked cows for twenty years. Looking at what direction we wanted to go, robotics felt like a really good fit; because there is that flexibility, that balance between dairying and family life.”

Others, like Dairylain Farms, a 500-cow dairy in Vale, Oregon, chose to go robotic more for business reasons. “We couldn’t find labor,” said owner Warren Chamberlain. “It made our decision to go this route pretty easy.”

Whatever the initial motivation, cows, it turns out, by all measurable standards, appear to love the systems.

“If you walk through the barn, the cows are calm and easy to be around,” Mizee said, “and they just do their own thing and really can express their potential.”

“The cow can eat, milk, drink, and do whatever she wants to do whenever she wants to do it,” Chamberlain said. “And the cows like it better. Our components came up, butter-fat protein came up, our milk-per-cow came up, and our health on the animals is better.”

Chamberlain also discovered another benefit since installing the systems in July 2016. “We are actually out with the cows more now that we were, and that is what we enjoy doing,” he said.

Robotics are just one of many ways that modern dairy farmers are evolving, sources said. Automated feeders, solar panels, methane digesters, GPS driven tractors and computerized irrigation are other examples of high-tech influence transforming this otherwise traditional industry.

More than any other single advancement, however, robotic milking systems appear to be generating the most buzz within the industry.

The systems do much more than milk cows. Through the use of software that reads radio frequencies from a sensor attached to a cow’s ear, or, in some cases, to a collar that cows wear, robotic milking systems identify unique characteristics of a cow when she enters the system’s milking area. Systems can then deliver a customized amount of feed based on a cow’s milk-production level, with cows that produce more milk receiving more of the high-protein, grain-based mixtures dairy farmers supply in the milking area than lower-producing cows.

“Because the robot is feeding every cow for her production, she has a chance to really shine as an individual, versus being part of a group,” Mizee said.

Next, while cleaning a cow’s udder, the robot utilizes electronic mapping to locate a cow’s teats before milking the cow with suction-cup-like devices. When milking is complete, the system will re-clean the udder and spray a mist over the floor of the milking area, which signals the cow to move on and let the next cow enter.

Cows enter the milking area by pushing through a swinging gate. “It takes them a little while to realize that there is grain there, and to realize they can get some,” Chamberlain said. After that, left to their own devices, cows push through the gate on their own volition. “There is that feed incentive,” Sichley said, “and they want to get milked, as well.”

In addition to feeding and milking cows, robotic milking systems also analyze each cow’s milk for production elements, such as fat and protein content, and for warning signals of health issues. If the milk doesn’t meet strict quality standards, it is immediately diverted away from storage tanks.

Mizee also has an app on his smart phone that sends alerts when a cow is losing her appetite, resting more than usual, or engaging in other activities that indicate early stages of a health issue. The app, he said, helps him proactively treat cows before they get sick.

“It is all about getting to the point where you can be preventative and proactive, rather than treating for the condition,” Mizee said. “Probiotics and other preventative options can help you avoid using antibiotics.”

Not all dairies are equipped to operate robotic milking systems. For one thing, the cost for a system can be prohibitive. Among several competing brands of milking robots, all of which have unique characteristics, prices range from $175,000 to $250,000, with an expected payback of five to seven years.

Still, more and more dairies in recent years have come to realize the technology can work for them.

“Since we put ours in, in our area of Western Oregon and Western Washington, there has been basically one robot install going in almost all the time,” Mizee said. “We are getting to the point now where there are two or three going in at any one time.

“Part of that growth is that bigger farms have recognized the value of it. They are seeing value not only the labor savings, but in the fact that we are able to treat the cow better, and profit because of that. It is not just about quality of life anymore,” Mizee said.

“The fact that we are developing systems that are better for cows and better for people, I believe is pretty significant,” Mizee added. “That is going to keep generations farming, and that is going to keep our industry viable long into the future.”

It Isn’t Every Day You Turn 100

You have to be careful lighting this many candles! This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Oregon Dairy Council.

According to a description written in 1918 by Oregon Dairy Council secretary Edith Knight Hill, the Council was originally created to serve as an educational resource supporting the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy products. She wrote, “The good seed sown will spring up and bear a big harvest of better health and prosperity.”

From the Council’s earliest days, dairy farm families made a commitment to support education, youth wellness and healthy communities. Back then, “The council and the teachers found that there were scores of little children drinking coffee exclusively and getting no milk,” writes Hill. “In Portland a milk survey was made and it was found that over 5,700 children, all practically under 14 years of age, were getting no milk.”

The Council supported child nutrition programs such as school meals to help students receive the nutrition they needed to perform at their best, both in and out of the classroom. The Council also served to help Oregonians better understand the important role of dairy in a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. These efforts continue today.



In 1943, the Oregon Dairy Products Commission was formed as Oregon’s first commodity commission. In 1985, the two organizations merged and later became known as the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council in 2016.

Many things about the dairy community are just as important today as they were a century ago: nutrition, food safety, cow care, labor availability and market conditions. But dairy farming has also become more sophisticated. Today’s dairy farmers use technology such as robotic milking machines, GPS for precision agriculture, RFID tags and even cow pedometers. Modern equipment and farmer expertise ensure that cows, employees, natural resources and communities can thrive together while boosting efficiency and production in a sustainable manner.

Besides providing nutritious foods, dairy farms are also improving the health of Oregon’s economy. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the economic impact of dairy products in Oregon totals $2.7 billion, supporting more than 12,000 jobs.

Indeed, it isn’t every day you turn 100, and we’re in good company for the celebration. Looking back, 1918 was a big year for dairy, as dairy processor Darigold, dairy supplier DeLaval, and two Tillamook dairies – Wilsonview Dairy and Tilla-Bay Farms – also turn 100 this year. Stay tuned for more stories throughout the month about Oregon’s rich dairy history, which runs several generations deep.


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Dairy Done Right: Tillamook Honored Nationally for Community Impact

Contributions include fighting hunger, advocating for housing and supporting youth

Guided by the “Dairy Done Right” philosophy, Tillamook County Creamery Association has earned top awards for its cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream and butter. Now the dairy farmer-owned cooperative has earned a national award for its commitment to the communities where Tillamook employees live and work.

IMG_3589Tillamook County Creamery Association
Outstanding Community Impact Award

Among the many reasons why Tillamook rose to the top of their category:

  • Support for the Oregon Food Bank has included contributions of funds, food, a distribution truck, a food drive and research about food insecurity with the goal of eliminating hunger statewide.
  • Funded a study on the root causes of the local housing shortage, and its gift of $75,000 allowed CARE to continue its mission of providing emergency aid to the homeless and those in crisis.
  • Collaborated with the Girl Scouts of Oregon and SW Washington on a dairy patch to educate young girls about STEM concepts, farms and food production.
  • Committed $1.5 million to a new food innovation center to Oregon State University.
  • As part of an employee-led volunteer program, 118 members of the company volunteered 1,200 hours within the first year.

“Tillamook exemplifies devotion to their community,” said Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “From working to find the root cause of food insecurity to improving housing access, they are addressing large-scale issues that impact the people and the planet.”

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Sarah Beaubien, Senior Director of Stewardship for TCCA

The Outstanding Community Impact Award was the only one given in that category nationally. The announcement was made on May 16 at a special ceremony outside of Chicago, Illinois, where it was accepted by Sarah Beaubien, Tillamook’s senior director of stewardship, alongside staff and board members. True to the spirit of the award, CEO Patrick Criteser was unable to receive the award because he was in the middle of a 300-mile bike ride to raise funds and awareness to help end childhood hunger.

As James Dillard, corporate and community relations manager at the Oregon Food Bank, said, “They are not giving away money just to improve their brand rating. They really are passionate about making a difference in Oregon.”

With Tillamook’s award, Oregon went back-to-back with U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards following last year’s “Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability Award” for Rickreall Dairy. Also of note for 2018 was Kroger’s win for “Outstanding Dairy Processing and Manufacturing Sustainability,” which includes Oregon’s own Swan Island Dairy.

To hear Sarah Beaubien’s acceptance speech at the award ceremony, watch the video below:

 

 

Related Links:

Meet the winners of the 2018 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards | DairyGood

Tillamook County Creamery Association Wins National Community Impact Award | NEWS RELEASE

Outstanding Community Impact: Tillamook County Creamery Association | FACT SHEET

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