(Athens, TN) – Mayfield Dairy in Athens, TN is the recipient of the Dean Foods CEO Quality Award for ice cream for 2016. This award is the company’s top honor, and Mayfield Dairy Farms was selected over Dean Foods’ nine-other ice cream plants after a rigorous, year-long judging process.
“We are delighted with Mayfield’s excellence in protecting quality from farm to table, and we’re proud to hold them up as an example,” stated Mr. Ralph Scozzafavo, CEO of Dean Foods. “Dean Foods holds its plants to very high standards, making for particularly stiff competition surrounding this award,” he said.
Mayfield plants in the Southeast have a history of receiving Quality awards. The Athens plant has previously received Excellence in Quality recognition in 2016, 2015, and 2014. The Mayfield / Barber’s plant in Birmingham AL received the CEO’s Quality Award two years in a row for 2015 and 2014
If you’ve grown up in the south, especially if you’ve been involved with dairy farming in the Southeast, “Mayfield Dairy” is a name that immediately combines the elements of high quality, in-demand milk and ice cream, and how the demand generated by such a local dairy plant impacts farms and the agriculture economy in an area. As Mayfield has grown in sales through the decades, so has the southeast dairy farm community achieved continually higher standards of quality in on-farm practices of animal care and welfare, along with sanitation and technology of equipment in milking barns.
The CEO Quality Award was presented to Mayfield Dairy management and employees in Athens on April 21, 2017 by Dean Foods CEO Ralph Scozzafava.
The Dean Foods CEO Quality Award is the culmination of an intensive assessment process. This year, five fluid milk plants and three ice cream plants, including Mayfield Dairy, were selected as Excellence in Quality Award winners based on multiple criteria such as Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program scores, training participation, and consumer complaint improvement.
Next, these eight plants were scrutinized further by Dean Foods’ senior leadership who took into account quality innovations, best practices, and the “quality culture” within the plant. Mayfield Dairy emerged as the cream of the crop in the ice cream category.
“I could not be more thankful for the team here in Athens,” said Scott Watson, Plant Manager. “The products we manufacture reach the tables of families throughout the southeast and our folks do an incredible job of assuring that our ice cream is consistent day in and day out for our customers. In short, we get to make and distribute ice cream for a living, and it it doesn’t get much more fun than that!”
How does Mayfield stand in context with other dairy processing plants?
- Mayfield / Athens is one of 67 plants in the Dean Foods system, according to a 2015 article in Dairy Foods Magazine. With revenues of over $8 Billion, Dean Foods collectively is the 2nd largest dairy food processor on the Dairy Foods Top 100 list, published this August by Dairy Foods magazine. Summarized information about the companies on the Top 100 list, topped by Nestle, with revenues over $12 Billion, describes in more detail each of the top 100 companies.
- While Dean Foods has a branding footprint from coast-to-coast with DairyPure and TruMoo in some of their product lines (co-branded with time-honored regional brands), they are one of the largest supporters of LOCAL DAIRY COMMUNITIES, since each plant generally sources milk from dairy farms (many family-sized farm operations) within a close radius.
- In 2015, Dairy Foods Magazine published an article which related a broad-ranging description of the Athens plant complex, including some private label products, its fluid and ice cream operations, and the quality priorities of the entire processing center.
- #47-225 and #47-131 – PLANT numbers are the key to knowing if your milk or ice cream brand may be processed and packaged at this award-winning plant in Athens! To know if the milk or ice-cream you’re consuming is one of the brands or private labels processed at this award winning plant, check the Plant Code (mandated by law/regulation) found on each and every carton of dairy product processed here! The fluid plant number is #47-131, and the ice cream plant number is #47-225. The quality found at Mayfield Athens is the foundation of goodness for them all, and an indication you are supporting LOCAL farms in your area!
- Other southeast Dean Foods plants to watch for? The code #01-0176 signals that an ice-cream product has been made at the Barber’s ice cream plant in Birmingham, AL, a previous winner of the CEO Quality Award. #01-0104 signals that a fluid milk product is processed at the Dean – Barber’s plant, also in Birmingham. #13-230 is the code number meaning dairy products are from the Dean – Mayfield plant at Braselton, GA. #45-01 is the Dean – Pet plant at Spartanburg, SC. From Nashville, the Purity Dairies plant, known for award-winning chocolate milk, is #47-118, and the Country Delite plant, which processes a lot of private-label milks for independent grocery chains, carries the code #47-120.
- The local newspaper, the Daily-Post Athenian, just about a 1/2 mile away from the Athens plant, published a front-page report with photos of plant key personnel.
Mary Williams is the manager of the Mayfield Division of Dean Foods, which include the Mayfield Athens plant, a plant a Braselton, GA, and an ice-cream plant in Birmingham, AL, also known as Barber’s. She also acknowledged the daily commitment and dedication of the Mayfield employees and associates which led to this quality award.
The brand MAYFIELD is much more than ‘a carton to pick-up’ to the ‘home folks’ in southeast Tennessee, and a wider southeast radius about 200 miles from the site of the original Athens plant. MAYFIELD is the key to consumer shelf space at grocery stores, and therefore a LOCAL connector between dairy farm families and marketplace. Those MAYFIELD cartons mean that area farms are able to pay bills, support their families and local churches, pay property taxes which support local governments, and are a driver for the southeast Ag Economy.
Mayfield employees and area dairy farmers are neighbors, sometimes cousins, sometimes husband and wife, and often go to the same churches. To say this is a LOCAL DAIRY Community is an understatement; the bonds of history are deep, and wide, and strong. All take mutual pride in the success of each other in various family, community, and business, and personal achievements.
The Agriculture community adds their “Congratulations” to the many already received by Mayfield. Farmers also say “THANK YOU” to Dean Foods for supporting our neighborhoods and dairy futures. Many farm young folks have committed to a future in the dairy industry by investments in milking barns and housing facilities for maximum animal welfare. The continued support of Dean Foods will bolster those futures as young farmers aspire to help feed the world well into the future.
Here’s to more Mayfield awards in the future!
[UPDATE – March 6, 2017] Press Conference by Tennessee Department of Agriculture Officials, now archived and available for viewing on YouTube.
Summary of News Conference:
- 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.
- An initial round of testing in the surrounding area has proved to be negative, a positive sign, but several additional tests to follow.
- Any positive tests in neighboring flocks will reset and start a 2-week time clock again.
- A half dozen of the incident management team had experience with the national outbreak in 2015.
- Excellent records, and management expertise of farm owner, and a knowledge of what to do in certain situations, enabled this quick response.
- Exports will be impacted, not yet known to what degree.
- Thus far, for an extremely difficult situation, there has been a ‘best case scenario’ in a quick and effective response.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
Additionally, these were her contributions posted at Agriculture.com:
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 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:
Merry Christmas! With a gentle birth in a silent night, followed by those words from an angel chorus, the world was forever changed.
For a Christmas devotional, Milksheds is very honored to welcome a guest blogger, Whitney Tilley. Whitney has caught the attention of many with her wonderful, faith-filled Facebook posts. She has an uncanny nack for capturing everyday moments of farm life and turning them into profound faith lessons.
To set the stage, Whitney’s devotional begins with her writing about her husband Travis and something all of agriculture is familiar with – attendance at winter meetings of our favorite agriculture organizations. Then, that everyday event is compared to something magical . . .
“These past couple of weeks I have laughed at Travis as he transforms from farmer to businessman and back to farmer. I tease him that his dry cleaning bill is higher than a banker’s. Although he is quite the handsome gentleman decked out in all of his clothes, he looks much more at ease in his jeans.
It is necessary for him to dress the part, and sometimes that means a farmer has to get out of the field. It is important for him to take an active part in all of the things that affect agriculture. Whether it’s conferences to learn new ideas, or staying on top of the earthly laws that affect our livelihood, he has always felt it is his responsibility to be active as much as possible in agriculture’s civic affairs. Sometimes, it is almost like he has two identities.
This Christmas season it has been on my heart just how much was at stake when Jesus came to our world. In order to provide us the salvation we needed, it meant Jesus would have to slip off his robe of glory and step into a body of flesh.
He was now one of us.
He left His throne and the realm of heaven to be born into the world He created, to accomplish what no other man could.
What a staggering change of appearance! All of His splendor, His glory so bright there is no need of light, He had now traded for the fragile body of a babe.
No fine silk or linens to touch his tender skin. No exemptions from the trauma of birth. Just a baby wrapped in old rags in a stable in the middle of nowhere.
What a humble start for a King!
Today, after His triumphant victory over life and death of mankind, once again He is clothed in majesty and seated on His throne.”
Whitney and her husband, Travis, and their children, Charli, Cole, Stella, and Silas live in Roane County, TN, with a large cow-calf operation. All of the family is involved with the farm. Travis is a director of the current Valley Farmers Co-op, and will remain a director as Valley soons become AgCentral in a merger with Foothills Co-op.
We hope Whitney joins us again soon. May you and yours have a blessed Christmas!