Fulfilling a Milk Drive Legacy: Randy Davis Memorial Fund Purchases in June Dairy Month

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The Passion of Randy Davis for promoting the goodness of milk is legendary to those who knew him, or who ever encountered him.

His legacy will continue to touch thousands of families this June Dairy Month 2017 following Randy’s untimely death in November of 2016.   To honor Randy’s life mission, the Randy Davis Memorial Milk Drive Fund was established.  Thanks to the kind generosity of his friends, family, and dairy community, the fund thus far has accumulated approximately $5,000, with contributions still coming in.

Following Randy’s life example, the Memorial Fund was set up to accomplish these goals:

  • To honor Randy’s passion for dairy farming and milk itself
  • To honor Randy’s impact on the Southeast dairy community, and his love for regional farms and dairy farm neighbors
  • To get fresh, nutritious milk into the hands of families who need it the most, with distribution to be accomplished by area Food Banks and charitable organizations
  • To connect area farms with their non-farm neighbors

Thus, the fund monies are designated to purchase brands of milk who source milk from southeast farms, reinforcing that milk is not only a nutritional powerhouse, but is also an economic generator in local economies.   The milk purchased is to be donated primarily to Second Harvest, who will then distribute it to local food banks through their networks. Other charitable organizations may benefit as well.

Because June Dairy Month was a highlight of the year for Randy, it was only natural that this month was a fitting time to accomplish those milk buys, donations, and deliveries.

Those funds are  currently being dispensed through a combination of private milk purchases in bulk quantities, and through milk buys at on-site milk drives taking place at Knoxville-area Ingles stores on June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.   It is anticipated a final ‘buy’ will take place later in the summer, hopefully by July 1st, with the method yet to be determined.

Purchase Event 1 – Memorial Fund Private Buy with Mayfield Dairy

The first purchase was completed on May 30, 2017 at the Mayfield Distribution Center in Knoxville, TN.    A group of Randy’s family, Second Harvest officials, Mayfield officials, and Memorial Fund Administrators gathered to mark the occasion.

824 gallons! A total of 824 gallons was delivered to Second Harvest – East Tennessee, who will then distribute those gallons to local food banks in their 18-county service area.  572 gallons were purchased with Memorial Funds, and Mayfield generously donated an additional 252 gallons!  We cannot thank Mayfield Dairy enough!

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In the photo from left:  Roy Settle, First Bank & Trust, and Steve Harrison, Memorial Fund Committee members, John Randel, Tyler, and Alli Davis Kamper, Mark Aranda and Aaron Snukals, Second Harvest East TN, Kris Thomas, Mayfield Distribution Center, Lynn Davis, Samantha Davis Craun, Cindy Curtis, Violet and Gene Davis (Randy’s parents).

Purchase Event 2:  Memorial Funds will buy milk at Knoxville Ingles Milk Drives

For the past four years, Randy had been instrumental in facilitating and organizing on-site Milk Drives at area retailers in East Tennessee.  These milk drives, some early ones at Kroger, with the bulk of them occurring at area Ingles groceries, are supported by Tennessee’s Dairy Farm Families via the Tennessee Dairy Promotion Committee.

Country Q 100.3, a Knoxville area radio station, and Ingles groceries have been welcome and excellent partners in these drives.  The total events have been coordinated by Kay Bradley, who personally has purchased lots of milk for the drives.

To further honor Randy, this year’s store milk drives have been designated the “Randy Davis Memorial Milk Drives” by Q 100.  They even have a tab at their home page!

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If a person wishes to contribute but can’t make it to one of the stores, contributions can be made online here!  

This year’s on-site Milk Drives are schedule for June 1-3.  In short, customers who visit stores are encouraged to purchase milk from the store’s dairy case and then bring to a Second Harvest refrigerated truck who collects milk during the event. Last year’s event yielded approximately 4,000 gallons total for Second Harvest.  (Learn More.) 

Monies from the fund will make two purchases, in the amount of $850 each, at the store events on Friday, June 1st, at the Lenoir City Ingles, and on Saturday, June 2nd, at the Farragut Ingles.

Lenoir City is in Loudon County, Tennessee’s #1 County in Milk Production (also Randy’s home county!), so it was a natural to make a purchase there.  The Memorial Fund will make a purchase at approximately 6:30 pm (some will be traveling back from Nashville).

The Farragut Milk Drive on Saturday, June 2nd, will be joined by two UT Football #VFLs (Vols for Life)!  We’re so happy to announce that Jayson Swain, a Vol Network commentator, and Antoine Davis, who administers the Vol For Life Program, will be in attendance to help promote the cause!

We invite any of Randy’s wide circle of friends to join us at either of these events!

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Randy was a man of deep faith, and many have been privileged to hear his testimony.

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,”  is a life’s instruction found in Matthew 25, verse 40.

As we honor Randy in this first June Dairy Month without his physical presence here on Earth, his faith, illustrated by this verse, will live on through his Memorial Fund purchases and these milk drives.

The Davis Family, the Fund Administrators, and the Dairy Community are grateful to each and everyone who has helped to see that Randy’s legacy continues on.

There will be more in the coming days about the Memorial Fund activities and the Milk Drives, but for now “Thank You.”  We hope to see you at one of the Milk Drive Events!

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Shamrock’s Virginia Expansion increases Milk needed 4x; adds $24 Million to area Ag Economy!

8448_Shamrock_Brown_F$24 Million dollars will be infused into the southeast / mid-Atlantic region’s farm economy, with the most impact on Virginia.

Quadrupling the milk purchased by a processing plant is expected;  MD-VA Producers Co-operative is the supplier, and their producers should benefit.

78 new jobs.

$40 Million invested in new processing facilities, expanding Shamrock’s facility in Augusta County, VA after only 2.5 years of operation.

In a region and an industry sorely needing new milk processing capacity, Shamrock Farms has created a lightning bolt of excitement and optimism in the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia for farms and economic developers alike.

Following is a ‘digest’ of various local and national reports and highlights from each as the news broke on March 29 and 30, 2017.

Press release from the VA Governor’s Office: How public development funds played a role:

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Augusta County to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $400,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, administered by VDACS.  The company will also receive a $400,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership (VIP) program, an incentive available to existing companies, to assist the County with the project.  Shamrock Farms will also be eligible to receive sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment. Additional funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

From the Staunton, VA News Leader:

The expansion will more than double its production capacity, rapidly growing the Shamrock Farms brand, a release said. Once completed, Shamrock Farms will employ more than 120 people at that location. The expansion will increase filling capacity and expand product varieties, sizes and formats.

Shamrock Farms, the creator of Rockin’ Refuel and mmmmilk, is a 95-year old dairy company owned by a single family, the McClellands.  The company has Arizona roots, and still operate their own dairy farm. Shamrock has built a nationwide shelf presence with its innovative dairy products, featuring packaging designed for fast-food and convenience stores.  In recent years, they’ve focused on higher protein drinks to meet consumer expectations.

Shamrock’s statement on the expansion acknowledges the ‘milk as a beverage’ concept:

“As a company we’re always looking for ways to grow and innovate,” said Ann Ocaña, Chief Marketing Officer for Shamrock Farms. “The expansion gives us the capacity and the technology to meet growing demand, expand our offerings and propel milk-based beverages into the future.”

A Waynesboro, VA news publication, the News Virginian, issued an article,  with the following:

Augusta County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tracy Pyles said Shamrock “is a cornerstone in Mill Place Commerce Park and a strong asset to the agricultural community of the commonwealth  . . .  “We have a good location and great workers,” he said. “It’s not a surprise they are expanding.”

Dairy Reporter also shared the news to a worldwide readership.

This Shamrock plant is located along the Interstate 81 Corridor, just southwest of Harrisonburg, in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  This area is one of the southeast’s largest dairy communities.

This plant has only been open since October of 2014, with MD-VA Milk Producers Cooperative as its exclusive supplier.  The company has enjoyed rapid growth for its product line and markets on the East Coast.  Nationwide, Shamrock serves more than 50,000 quick service restaurants and 36,000 c-stores and groceries.  The company has also added Cold Brew Coffee and Milk to its offerings.

All of the public and private parties, which include:

  1. the farmers who produce the high quality milk,
  2. Md-Va Milk Cooperative which supplies the plant,
  3. Local and state governments, and
  4. Shamrock itself

deserve an enormous amount of credit for an extraordinary team effort which fostered this expansion!

As exciting as this announcement is, no one knows better than the dairy industry itself that more plants are needed, provided innovative products continue to come to the market place.  The need for processing capacity is one thing, the ability to process or manufacture a milk-based product for which there is enough market demand is the even bigger – but very necessary – challenge to overcome.

As for now, Shamrock has provided a bit of inspiration and excitement.

Congratulations, Team Shamrock in the Southeast!!  Well done!  We look forward to watching your market grow!

HPAI in 1 TN flock/house: Days 1 & 2. Stay Calm. Stay Informed. Watch Your Flock. Does Not Pose Risk to Food Supply.

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[UPDATE – March 6, 2017]    Press Conference by Tennessee Department of Agriculture Officials, now archived and available for viewing on YouTube.

Summary of News Conference:

  1. Thus far, minimal impact.  Biosecurity was excellent at the facility, and only 1 of 8 houses had clinical signs, however, the entire affected flock was depopulated / euthanized per disease control protocol.
  2. An initial round of testing in the surrounding area has proved to be negative, a positive sign, but several additional tests to follow.
  3. Any positive tests in neighboring flocks will reset and start a 2-week time clock again.
  4. A half dozen of the incident management team had experience with the national outbreak in 2015.
  5. Excellent records, and management expertise of farm owner, and a knowledge of what to do in certain situations, enabled this quick response.
  6. Exports will be impacted, not yet known to what degree.
  7. Thus far, for an extremely difficult situation, there has been a ‘best case scenario’ in a quick and effective response.
  8. Farm owner and the company who owns the birds (Tyson) are likely covered by some sort of indemnity program. The knowledge of what signs to look for in identifying the disease, and the skills of both enabled the farm owner to identify situation early and contact officials, critical to minimize the outbreak.
  9. Updates provided as indicated by the situation.

A ‘milkshed’ is part of a ‘foodshed,’ and poultry is a part of that worldwide foodshed. Therefore, this blog is taking a bit of a turn with this post.

I’ve got many colleagues and friends with poultry houses or backyard flocks, so as news broke from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture  of an HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) H7 confirmation in the  lower middle region of TN  on Sunday, March 5, 2017, the texts, posts, and industry emails began flying, and ag communicators got to work.

The first and most immediate point is that ‘HPAI does not post a risk to the food supply,’ according to TDA, as well as many other poultry organizations and animal health officials charged with protecting human health. This disease came to worldwide public attention in 2015 with major outbreaks in midwest poultry houses, turkeys, broilers, and chickens included.  The Tennessee virus is of a different strain, H7, compared to H5, which was the culprit in the outbreaks two years ago.

As this post is written, there is apparently only 1 flock affected – a ‘breeder flock.’  Such a flock producers fertile eggs, to be hatched for broilers or laying hens. Per the protocol already in place, an immediate quarantine has been placed on 30 houses within a 6.2 mile radius of the affected poultry barn. Hopefully – very hopefully – this means the disease has been discovered early, and impact will be minimal.

It is to the credit of a vigilant and informed barn owner who realized something out of the ordinary was occurring, along with competent professional veterinarians, and an emergency preparedness protocol, that diagnosis was achieved quickly after the first reports to the TDA only two days prior.  This is one example of the diligence, planning, and preparedness that makes the U.S. Food Supply the safest in the world.

Along with the initial news release, which has links to many other pieces of information, the Department expected there would be a press conference on Monday, March 6, 2017.

To answer questions in the first phase of the discovery, the TN Department of Agriculture has posted two YouTube videos, in which Dr. Charles Hatcher, TN State Veterinarian, answers the immediate issues, particularly the fact nothing from this flock – repeat NOTHING – has entered the human food supply. The videos can be viewed at these links:

PART 1 – HAPI interview, March 5, 2017:  with Dr. Charles Hatcher, DVM, TN State Veterinarian

PART 2 – HAPI interview, March 5, 2017 also with Dr. Charles Hatcher, DVM

To get an idea of the scope of the matter on the first day of this incidence, this graphic should suffice.  Hopefully, it won’t need too many updates, and this incidence can be contained quickly.

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USDA statistics concerning the US Poultry industry tell us that TN is one of the Top 19 states in the nation for number of broilers.

A Voice of Experience:   Lara Durben,  MN Turkey Growers Association, Chicken & Egg Association of MN, Midwest Poultry Federation

Lara Durben, the Director of Communications for three major poultry organizations, the MN Turkey Growers Association, Chicken & Egg Association of Minnesota, and the Midwest Poultry Foundation, was at the forefront of communications when the first outbreaks occurred two years ago.  MN was at the epicenter of the outbreak.

Lara was a lion, working to distribute information to poultry farms themselves, as well as being a factual, informed liasion for news outlets and consumers to get accurate information.  Having seen an industry through the storm, she is a strong voice of experience.

I really appreciated her taking time from a Sunday afternoon to answer my requests for information.  She indicated via messages she had already been contacted by others. She has suggested the following articles/resources; linked to here for your convenience:

The Worry and Work on Avian Influenza

Avian Flu:  What I Want You to Know

Additionally, these were her contributions posted at Agriculture.com:

Avian Influenza:  A Few Questions and Answers

Avian Influenza in MN: What Does this Mean?

From Minnesota Turkey, with links to MN Extension publications:

Avian Influenza  (An overview)

For BACKYARD POULTRY FLOCKS – From Minnesota, a state who has a vast amount of experience  with avian influenza  (a 2 pg. pdf to print)

For PASTURED and ORGANIC FLOCKS  (Also from Minnesota – a 2 pg. pdf to print)

UPDATES (as they become available):  Where to find them:

Tennessee Dept. of Ag:  Alerts

University of TN Extension: New web page, launched on Monday, March 6

USDA APHIS: Biosecurity for Birds

And articles from the popular press and ag industry sources:

From the Guardian: a report sourced from the AP

Via Yahoo: another AP report, news affects stock prices of poultry companies

From Chicken Check-In: Contains info on current outbreak and what  producers do to prevent avian flu.

From Watt AgNet: Timing of response from recognition of signs to diagnosis

From Tyson Foods: Owner of the birds, their ‘heightened security’ protocol and expectations

From the TN Poultry Association:  Organization and Industry was already on high alert, due to season and timing of migratory flyways

For now, those with backyard and commercial flocks should not panic, yet review information related to the physiology of avian influenza. (see above).

Here is a list of resources that will be updated as needed:

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Happy New Year – Southeast #Local!

Oh, my, we southerners are a bit intense about our New Year’s Day traditional meal! And since I’m getting more and more driven to identify and support ‘local’ growers, or at least farmers I know, I wanted my New Year’s tradition to include as much ‘local’ as possible.

From Southern Living to Garden and Gun to newspaper columnists to bloggers, paper pages and digital pages are filled with recipes for traditional New Year dishes like Hoppin’ John with rice, cornbread, black-eyed peas straight-up and black-eyed peas in salads and dips, and greens – always the greens (with vinegar, please!)

Are other parts of the country as crazy about a New Year’s Day tradition such as this?  (Tell me, please! What New Year traditions do you have?)

Anyhow, while I eat most foods produced in the US knowing we have the safest food supply in the world, of late I am getting more and more curious about where the farms are from which that food comes.  I often ask myself “Am I supporting a neighbor?” when I make a purchase.

I guess you could call me a proud, ‘consciously local’ consumer!

Most farmers in agriculture sell products on the ‘commodity’ market, and by so doing, it is very easy for the farmers’ faces to get lost, and a consumer has no idea which farms in which areas of the country they are supporting.

Because my family has farmed for at least three generations, and because I work on a daily basis with farmers who produce all sorts of products (milk, crops, beef, pork, chicken, lamb, farmers market produce & flowers, etc.), I am increasingly drawn to the question “How are we all going to be able to continue farming for another generation?”  “Can we financially be able to do that?”

While there are many factors that play into answering those questions, one of the main factors that enable a farm to stay in business is that sales of the products they are able to grow must have a viable market.  That ‘market’ must be of a volume large enough to sell a significant quantity of product to justify the expense of growing a crop.

I also am a great believer in viable farm neighborhoods local to me, or in some cases, which support a group of like-minded farmers I know. Those farms are sometimes 50 miles, most often 250-300 miles, and sometimes 500 miles or more from my East Tennessee stomping grounds.

So, I decided to play a ‘local’ game with my New Year’s Day meal – or as much as I could on a less-than-24 hour thought.   I shopped at 5 different food retailers in my small East Tennessee town, which included 2 mid-size grocery chains, 2 small grocery chains, and 1 dollar store. With a few more days thought (and more cooking time), I probably could have added a few more products, but time just ran out.

Here’s what I came up with (a combination of cooked from scratch and mixes of things out of a very convenient can), plus using milk and cornmeal that were already on hand :

3441_a_local_new_years_supper_f Breaking it down:

From Tennessee:  Buttermilk from Mayfield Dairy Farm, which buys milk from most East Tennessee dairy farms (likely 75% or more of the milk produced in East TN).  Since our farm grows corn which goes to a feed mill which in turn sells feed to those herds, this brand (and private labels which come from plants 47-131 and 13-230, as well as Weigel’s) is often in my fridge.  The cornmeal mix for the cornbread had a White Lily brand, but no East Tn wheat or corn would have been in that bag. [It would have approximately 20 years ago, before they closed their Knoxville mill.]

My pork (a smoked shoulder butt) was smoked by some ‘local’ friends who live in the same town I do, and purchased from a local food ‘bulk-sales’ retailer, but I have no idea where the hog houses are in which that pork (delicious) was finished!

From Louisiana: I tried a Brown Long Grain rice from Louisiana (approximately 700 miles or an 11 hour drive away).  Rice is not grown in Tennessee, and likely can’t very easily, so this was as close as I could get.  It was also my first time -ever – cooking rice the old-fashioned, long-time way on top of a stove!  (That also fit a  2017 resolution – new dishes, and new methods to cook.).  I was really pleased when I went to the Supreme Rice website to meet the growers – I feel like we could have the same language about John Deeres and such!  But that LA accent? Well, that would take an in person visit to see if we could understand the spoken word!

From South Carolina: My Black-eyed Peas and Greens (Margaret Holmes brand) were of the conveniently canned variety.  Following a label reference to McCall Farms, I also met the southeast farmers who likely grew these New Year’s staples.  These growers live about 350 miles and 5 and half hours from my table, so I could drop by on my next trip to the SC coast!  (‘On the way” is another form of local, isn’t it?!?)

I may not wait for a holiday or special occasion to play my next ‘how local can I make it?” game.  Would you consider joining me, and making a game of it?

Happy “Local Eating” New Year!

Merry, Dairy Christmas for TN & Southeast Cows! These Brands support Local Dairies in the state and region!

MERRY, DAIRY CHRISTMAS!   HAPPY HANUKKAH!

“I live in Tennessee.  I would like to buy milk and holiday eggnogs from Local Dairy Farms which are located close to me.  How do I know that I know I’m doing that?”

Thanks to all of you who like to support your ‘local’ farmers, wherever you may live in the United States, Canada or the world!  I believe it is important to support your local farm neighbors with purchases of their farm products, that’s a way to make sure you preserve a farming economy in any region of the country!

Since I live in Tennessee, and people know me as an enthusiastic dairy  and milk agvocate, I often get asked ‘how do I know if I’m supporting local dairies?” Since it’s Christmas, I’ve focused on those delicious holiday beverages – eggnog and boiled custard  – as a focal point for ‘supporting local.’  According to the Wall Street Journal, EggNog is pretty darn popular this holiday season!

The pictures found in this blog post are a quick visual guide to help you with grocery and retail purchases of eggnog and boiled custard, and the brands that do the most to support dairy farms and cows that live mostly in Tennessee, with some support of cows and farms in the neighboring states of GA, KY, and NC.  I’ve been giving some as hostess gifts!

What is local to you is dependent on where you live, so look for the photo guides for East Tennessee and for a different one for the Nashville Metro Area, and Middle and West Tennessee. They are as follows:

If you live or shop in EAST TENNESSEE (from Chattanooga to Johnson City, generally east of the Cumberland Plateau) these brands do the most to support local farms:

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If you live or shop in the NASHVILLE METRO area or WEST TENNESSEE (from the Cumberland Plateau through Middle Tennessee to the Mississippi River) these are the brands which do the most to support local farms:

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In Tennessee, we are also fortunate to have two single-farm milk processors, also known as ‘farmstead processors,’ who make delicious eggnogs.  These are Cruze Farm, in the Knoxville / East Tennessee metro area, (with a limited distribution to Asheville and Nashville to a limited number of stores), and Hatcher Family Dairy, who serves the Nashville Metro market from their farm in Cottage Grove.

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These photos should be considered as generally correct, but may be affected by milk market needs on any given day!  Have a Merry Dairy Christmas, made even better with LOCAL Egg Nog!

What are the general factors used in the development of these photo ‘Guides to Local Milk’?

  1. LOCAL:  A travel distance of approximately 250 miles from farm to milk plant, and then to retailers within that same distance from the milk plant is how “LOCAL” is defined for the purposes of this post.
  2. FARMS: A milk brand / carton has to contain all – or a very high percentage –  of milk that is produced on farms in Tennessee, or by farms in the neighboring states of GA, KY, AL, or NC.  This is a primary criteria in knowing if your food purchase dollars go to support farms in close proximity to where you live.  Widely available brands source milk from a number of farms, all of whom have to meet strict quality standards.  These ‘widely available’ brands are extremely important because they support many local farms, and not just one. And, because of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, a 398- page FDA regulation, consumers can be assured that all dairy farms from all states must adhere to strict national standards,and therefore the US Milk supply is the safest in the world!
  3. MILK PLANTS:  Every carton of milk has a plant number somewhere on that carton. With a knowledge of plant numbers (found on every carton of milk sold at retail, then dairy industry associates have a pretty good idea of the farms whose milk is delivered to those plants. Just because a milk or dairy plant is located in the state of Tennessee, does not mean that the milk it purchases comes from Tennessee farms.
  4. BRANDS – commonly available at retail:  The brands in these graphics are those commonly found at major food retailers or chains, and to a lesser degree, to smaller specialty food stores or restaurants in regions of the state.  Grocery stores, ‘big box’ stores,  convenience stores, dollar stores, and thrift stores have all been considered.
  5. METRO Centers / REGIONAL AREAS are the starting point in backtracking to where the farms are.  The chain is this – Metro Center (a number of retail stores), to milk plant, and then back to the farms.
  6. JOBS generated at each level of the chain from farm to consumer:
    1. Farms, which in turn generate jobs on the farm and in agribusiness.  Because dairy cows have the need for lots of different types of feed, local dairies also support local grain and hay farms as well.
    2. Transport jobs (a)- milk trucking companies which deliver milk to milk plants
    3. Milk plant – numbers of jobs at a milk processing center
    4. Transport jobs (2) – delivery trucks which deliver processed dairy products to stores and restaurants
    5. Food retailer jobs – any number of dairy case and restaurant jobs are involved in the final farm-to-consumer connection.2190_drink_tennessee_local

 

The Dougherty Dispersal: The Cows Come First in a Tornado’s Aftermath

 

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UPDATE – Dec. 13th:  Catalog (DHIA pages) now postedlink here . . 

At 1:30 am on Nov. 30, an EF-2 Tornado wreaked horrific damage to Polk and McMinn Counties, in Tennessee’s most southeast corner.

In Polk County, TN, a couple lost their lives and an estimated 50 structures or houses were either totally destroyed or severely damaged.

Among the areas receiving the worst property damage was a roadway that’s long been known as one of Tennessee’s most beautiful farming corridors, TN Hwy 307.  At one end, the roadway is anchored by the Mayfield Dairy Farms Dairy Processing plant in the town of Athens, TN, and then runs for several miles up to Hwy. 68 in Monroe County.  In one very nice modular home subdivision on that highway, 30 structures were either totally destroyed or severely damaged.

Blan & Kathy Dougherty, long respected as being one of the best teams in Tennessee as both a dairy farming couple and agricultural and community leaders, owned the dairy operation which received by far the worst structural damage. In just a matter of a couple of minutes or less, their milking parlor was destroyed,  barns which sheltered their excellently-cared for cows were decimated, and the feedways where the cows ate were obliterated.

An article in the Athens, TN newspaper, the Daily Post-Athenian, relays more details.

Approximately 11 hours or less after the storm, and thanks to a great crew of family members, friends from area farms and agribusiness, and the generosity of a fellow farmer, 130 milking cows were relocated to a neighboring dairy farm, just over the GA state line, and only 45 miles away from the home farm.

Due to the devastating damage to their milk barn and animal housing facilities in that tornado, and the time it will take to repair them, Blan and Kathy concluded that it’s in the best interest of the cows to help them find new homes via an auction. This is one of Tennessee’s best herds. The milking herd and bred heifer dispersal will take place on Friday, December 16, at Noon, at the Athens Stockyard in Athens, TN.

The cows are receiving great care and extra attention at this temporary home, from caretakers who believe in animal welfare and have years of experience in taking care of high-producing dairy cows, and have really done exceptionally well. The Doughertys will keep some of their heifers while they make decisions about their future. This is an extremely difficult decision for any farmer to make, and we ask for folks to keep them in their thoughts and prayers during the transition. More information pertaining to the sale and individual cows will be posted before the sale.

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Final Payments to Farmer / Class Members in Southeast Milk Litigation Authorized by the Court

“The Checks Will Soon Be in the Mail,” may be a better headline.

An historic and record-setting food industry  class action that began in July of 2007 is now approaching completion nine and one-half years later. Final Settlement payments to farmer/class members in the Southeast Milk Litigation have been authorized by Judge Ronnie Greer, US District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Greeneville Division. Judge Greer issued his Orders on December 6, 2016.

A total Settlement Fund of over $280 Million was reached in three different settlements: one with Dean Foods, the second with Southern Marketing Agency and related entities, and the third with Dairy Farmers of America and Related Entities.  Payments began in January of 2013, and completed via annual payments.

In short, the final payments to farmer/class members in the Southeast Milk Litigation will shortly be in mailboxes, and should be received before or shortly after Christmas, 2016.

Farmers / Class members should be watching their mailboxes. Since previous payments have come in rather ordinary envelopes, recipients are advised to pay detailed attention to each envelope in their mailboxes, being careful to not lose Settlement payments with heavy mail volume common at this time of year. These are not electronic payments.

The class action began in July of 2007, when two original complaints were filed in US District Court, Middle District of Tennessee.  One complaint was filed on behalf of co-op member farmers, and one on behalf of independent farmers (those not belonging to a co-op).  The two complaints were consolidated in July of 2008 and redirected to the Eastern District of Tennessee, Greeneville Division, presided over by The Honorable Judge Ronnie Greer.

Farmer/Plaintiffs were represented by a team of antitrust attorneys from Baker-Hostetler, Washington, DC.  Led by Robert Abrams, the team included Greg Commins, and Danyll Foix, and a host of others during the course of the litigation.  Local plaintiff counsels in the District court included Thomas Jessee of Johnson City, and Steve Terry and Gary Brewer, Brewer & Terry of Morristown, TN.  When the complaints were filed, the same attorneys were with Howrey LLP, a law firm which dissolved during the course of the litigation.

The amended complaint is a great summary and timeline of the activities which eventually led to the Dean Foods Settlement in January of 2012, (first payments took place in January of 2013) and the DFA/Related Entities Settlement in January of 2013.  It should be noted that all defendants have fulfilled the terms of their settlement agreements, and that many (but not all) of the individuals named in the actions are no longer active in the named organizations.

During the course of the litigation, nearly 2 Million pages of legal documents were generated, many of which can be found at the litigation website.

With a 4-page Order of December 6, 2016, Judge Ronnie Greer, presiding Judge, authorized the fifth and final distribution of Dean Settlement funds.  In a separate but parallel action, he authorized the distribution of the Residual DFA Funds in a 3-page Order.  With these Orders entered on the Court’s record, Rust Consulting, Claims Administrator, will quickly begin writing and mailing checks to over 6,000 class members.

The ORDERS THEMSELVES FOLLOW:

First, The Order Authorizing Distribution of the Final Dean Foods Settlement Payment:

Order Fifth Dean Distribution.pdf

PAGE 2 _ ORDER, DEAN FOODS SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION

Order Fifth Dean Distribution.pdf

PAGE 3 -ORDER, DEAN FOODS SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION

Order Fifth Dean Distribution.pdf

PAGE 4 -ORDER, DEAN FOODS SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION

(The Judge’s signature, and then keep scrolling down for the DFA Payment Order.)

Order Fifth Dean Distribution.pdf

Second: ORDER Authorizing Distribution of the RESIDUAL DFA SETTLEMENT Funds:

Order DFA Residual Distribution.pdf

PAGE 2: ORDER Authorizing Distribution of the Residual DFA SETTLEMENT Funds

Order DFA Residual Distribution.pdf

Page 3: ORDER Authorizing Distribution of the RESIDUAL DFA SETTLEMENT Funds:

Order DFA Residual Distribution.pdf

From having done extensive review of documents related to this class-action case, along with attending most of the courtroom hearings and then reporting on various matters related to this litigation,  it is my fervent hope that all farmers make every effort to more fully understand the BIG BUSINESS of what happens to affect their milk checks.

If one wants to begin, they will read the 7-pages of legal documents above, then read the 60-page amended complaint , and  then re-read them, and re-read them, and then re-read them again.  Although these events described in these documents are now a part of dairy industry history, they will provide a foundation for understanding milk marketing. If a person does begin to read them, they need to remember that today’s markets will have changed, due to time, and the evolution of milk markets themselves.

Happy Reading!  Be Watching for those checks!

Sun Photo by Phil Gentry
Federal Court House