Pre-Annual Meeting Workshops

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Our 18th Annual Leadership Conference kicked off this morning with pre-conference workshops. Nutrient Management, On-Farm Labor and DFA Risk Management workshops provided environments for farmer-owners to hear from fellow members, staff and industry experts and ask questions to diversify their knowledge base.

Nutrient Management
During this workshop, a panel consisting of Steve Rowe, chief executive officer, Newtrient; DFA Board member Travis Fogler, Stonyvale Farm; DFA member David Gerratt, Ida-Gold Farms/Midway Dairy and DFA member Nate Hartway, McCormick Farms, discussed how to improve on-farm nutrient management.

Rowe presented on Newtrient, a new entity in which DFA is invested with other dairy organizations, that aims to help all dairy farmers reduce the environmental footprint of manure while enhancing their economic opportunities and social license to operate. During Rowe’s presentation, he discussed how investing in management systems, such as a digester, farmers can grow their business in more ways than one.

The three member-owners on the panel spoke about how they are utilizing technology on their operations to show how economic potential and environmental stewardship go hand-in-hand. They discussed the practices they implement on their farms and what they’ve learned throughout these processes.

After generations of dairying, Fogler and his family invested in a digester to not only generate energy for nearly 800 homes, but help with odor reduction of manure spreading on his fields. Throughout the process, Fogler recommends farmers interested in a similar project start with the utility interconnection because of the cost and how time consuming a project like a digester is.

Gerratt not only applies compost to his crop acres, but he also irrigates 2,700 acres with lagoon water flushed from his parlors. He said doing things in a renewable way has helped with soil pH levels and water retention.

Through a process of flushing water from their barns, feeding it through a sand line and separating solids, Hartway is able to irrigate his land with clean water and compost with the solid.

Even though the initial investment is millions of dollars on average, each member-panelist believe that their operations are focused on more than the years it will take to see a return on their investment. They see a positive change in sustainability through their practices and believe that saving money each day is a step in the right direction.

DFA Risk Management
During this workshop, Ed Gallagher, president of DFA Risk Management, and Kim Parks, vice president, discussed how DFA Risk Management programs and the Margin Protection Program provide superior options for members. Robert Chesler, vice president, foods group for INTL FCStone, provided insight on feed and energy markets. He explained how farmers can become business operators by utilizing forecasts to impact their business.

In addition, a member panel consisting of Board member Jerrel Heatwole, Fair Hope Farms; Gregg Trierweiler, K&K Dairy; and Paul Windemuller, Dream Winds Dairy, explained how DFA Risk Management programs have benefitted their operations. From operations run solely by the panelists to those run with partners, they are using DFA Risk Management and daily updates to make educated decisions.