Proposal for Multiple Component Pricing in Southeast Withdrawn

000000_MPC_Withdrawn_Blog
National All-Jersey has withdrawn their request  for a USDA-AMS Dairy Program FMMO Hearing to consider implementation of Multiple Component Pricing for the Southeast (FMMO 7) and Appalachian (FMMO 5) Milk Marketing Orders.
The withdrawal of this proposal culminates a process of several years of discussion and evaluations by producer groups and several dairy cooperatives on how Multiple Component Pricing in the Southeast might affect producer pay checks.
Following is the timeline of this spring’s events:
April 2, 2018: National All-Jersey submitted their 80-page proposal  requesting a hearing.
May 2, 2018:  USDA-AMS then posted an Action Plan.
May 16, 2018: An information session was held in Knoxville, in Knoxville, TN, which was coordinated by Tennessee and Kentucky Farm Bureaus.  The session was recorded in two parts, and each are available for viewing:
  • Part 1:  A 1 hr – 39 minute video recorded by TN Farm Bureau (Dana Coale, explaining FMMO process)
  • Part 2:  A 1 hr. 14  minute video recorded by TN Farm Bureau  (FMMO Administrators and officials explaining the specifics of the process leading to acceptance or denial of an MCP hearing)
June 1, 2018:  Two additional proposals were submitted to USDA-AMS:
  1. A  7-page request from Michael Brown, Director, Dairy Supply Chain for Kroger, stated: “We ask USDA to also include the a proposal to lower the minimum amount of Class I Sales required a distributing plant to achieve pooling status from 50% to 25%. “
  2. The Tennessee Dairy Producers Association, with Stan Butt as Executive Director, submitted a 16-page proposal in opposition to Multiple Component Pricing, with this opening statement:  “Opposition to the proposal submitted by NAJ to changing the current pricing structure in FMMOs 5&7 is based on the proposition that the majority of producers in both orders will be negatively affected.”
June 11, 2018:  A letter-to-the-editor written by John Harrison, Sweetwater Valley Farm in opposition to Multiple Component Pricing was posted by Progressive Dairyman.
June 28, 2018:  The letter withdrawing the Hearing request,  written by Erick Metzger, General Manager of National All-Jersey, posted at USDA-AMS – Dairy Program,  contains these statements:

 
“Marketing conditions in the Appalachian and Southeast Federal Order Marketing Areas are in a state of flux, aggravated by challenging national dairy product markets.
 
The proponents therefore withdraw their proposal for a multiple component pricing hearing in Orders 5 and 7 at this time.”
The letter closes with:
 “We anticipate resubmitting the proposal when the current marketing  challenges have stabilized and resources necessary to advance the proposal again become available.
Here is the letter in its entirety:
All_Jersey_Withdraws_Proposal
All USDA-FMMO processes are directed and defined by a set of rules, including procedural rules.  It is up to farmers themselves – those most affected by FMMO rules and regulations – to learn the process, and to participate in the process. 
This spring, and the preceding years and months of information seeking, are an example of civil discourse which can occur.
000000_MPC_Withdrawn_Blog

TN June Dairy Month: Kickoff Luncheon & Then 4-H at work!

30_June_Kickoff_Raise_Glass_F

It’s ‘Raise A Glass’ Time in Tennessee!!

For several decades, the Tennessee June Dairy Month Kickoff has been the launch for events across the state highlighting Tennessee’s collective dairy industry.  The 2018 event was held at Battle Mountain Farm, the event venue of Hatcher Family Dairy Farm, College Grove, TN on May 30.  The rural setting, with Holsteins and Jerseys grazing in a nearby pasture, emphasized that tasty and nutritious dairy products truly do begin on a farm.

This event honors several aspects of Tennessee 4-H involvement in dairy related activities.  4-H County Chairmen, who conduct dairy promotion and awareness events across the state are recognized.  The Tennessee 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl Finals are held. And always, an inspirational speaker brings life’s insights to 4-H’ers as they return home to begin June Dairy Month events.  Their activities allow them to compete for awards in several categories, which are presented at the next years events.

This year’s event was organized by Denise Jones, of The Dairy Alliance, who put the engaging tables and decor together and set a great dairy mood as folks entered the beautiful event venue.  She was assisted by Joan Benton and Cindy Cooper of The Dairy Alliance.

Following are some photo highlights of the event.

30_June_Kickoff_Intro_F

Emma Mull, McMinn County, Grace Rich, Clay County, and Elizabeth Bright of Loudon County, are three of several County Dairy Month Chairs who have a full slate of activities planned.

You can follow Grace on Instagram as ‘udderlylegendairy,  Emma will be social on Facebook as McMinn County June Dairy Month, and Elizabeth Bright’s creative videos and spots are on Facebook at June Dairy Month – Loudon County.  Look for other social promotions and public activities from chairmen in your area of TN!

30_June_Kickoff_4H_Mull_Rich_F

Part of the setting front and center of the banquet hall, framing the dynamic Denise Jones, the event organizer, of The Dairy Alliance!  Did you know MILK is Tennessee’s Official Beverage?  It was given that designation in 2009 by the Tennessee Legislature.

30_June_Kickoff_Denise_Jones_Dairy_F

Three 4-H’ers, who will become future consumers, related how their participation both in Dairy Production Projects and Nutrition, Health, and Fitness projects, have made them appreciate dairy’s unparalleled nutritional benefits, along with the hard work of Tennessee farmers who produce that milk. Abigail Ferguson, Ashley Bell, and Kathryn Fellhoelter all gave great presentations.

30_June_Kickoff_4H_Speakers_F

Marshall County is the winner of the Dairy Quiz Bowl Competition, and will be headed to the National Contest later this year.

30_June_KickOff_Quiz_Bowl_Milksheds_F

Some more of our Tennessee County 4-H Chairmen!  Do you know who the 4-H Dairy Chairman is in your county?

30_June_Kickoff_4H_Chairs_1

30_June_Kickoff_4H_Chairs_2_F

Jeff Aiken, President of TN Farm Bureau, and a former dairy farmer himself, represented the organization as an event sponsor, and brought words of encouragement to those attending.  He was accompanied by many Farm Bureau staff members from across the state, as they came to support the TN June Kickoff event.

30_June_Kickoff_Farm_Bureau_Sponsors_F

Do You Know “What’s Your Why?”

30_June_Kickoff_Wilson_Keynote

George Wilson, who retired from the Tennessee Titans after an NFL career with several teams, challenged the audience with the question “What’s Your Why?”  A two-time Walter Payton Man of the Year in the NFL, he inspired with point after point:

  1. Be the first to show up, and the last to leave. Be grueling, tough, and unrelenting in the pursuit of your dream!
  2. Be mindful of what you do and the choices you make, and of those whom you allow to make decisions for you.  [He began at an SEC school, Arkansas, on an academic scholarship, walked-on and made the football team, and then was able to receive a football scholarship because someone got arrested and lost the scholarship they had.  And that set the stage for his 11-year NFL career.]
  3. Sometimes in life, “Opportunity is Disguised as Hard Work!  [It took 15-16 years of hard work and sweat on the football field to finally get a starting position on an NFL team and an interception against the cowboys on national TV.]
  4. “I give of myself because others gave of themself to me.  THAT’S MY WHY! He prayed, “Lord, if you you allow my dream, I will give back.  And then noted, “that is a debt I’ll never repay!”
  5. Why does he care about Fuel Up to Play 60?  Because his thoughts were captured by this statement: “We could be raising the first generation of kids who won’t outlive their parents.  FUTP 60 puts power and decision-making in the hands of students who participate in the program.”

 

Celeste Blackburn, President of TN American Dairy Association, served as MC for the event, and gave Mr. Wilson an appreciation gift featuring some of Tennessee’s farmstead dairy products.

30_June_Kickoff_Speaker_Basket_Wilson_F

At the event close, Jimmy Hopper, Assistant Commissioner of the TN Department of Agriculture overseeing TDA’s Consumer and Industry Services Division, was honored with the TN Outstanding Dairy Promoter Award. One of Hopper’s responsibilities was overseeing the Dairy Quality Division, charged with quality and safety on dairy farms and in milking barns, in processing plants, and addressing retail dairy sales outlets.  Jimmy went above and beyond a ‘job description’ to serve Tennessee’s dairy industry.  And he did it with class and respect for all he worked with. During his tenure, Tennessee’s first robotic milking barn was installed.

The Tennessee Cooperator has a great summary of Hopper’s career.

Always a man of humility, Hopper encouraged young folks present to find a dairy farmer and work with them for a while.  He noted there was no better role model for developing a work ethic that would serve one well throughout a career.

30_June_Kickoff_Hopper_Award_Blog_F

McMinn & Loudon 4-H’ers Helped with a Milk Drive on World Milk Day!

Wasting no time getting started with June Dairy Month promotions, and in a way that serves others, the McMinn Co. 4-H Chairman, Emma Mull, and Loudon County’s Elizabeth Bright spent World Milk Day (June 1) helping Second Harvest in East TN at the Randy Davis Memorial Milk Drive. 

The event they participated in was held at Lenoir City, in Loudon County, Tennessee’s #1 Dairy County.   On that one night, in a 4-hour period, 1457 gallons of milk were purchased and loaded on a Second Harvest refrigerated truck, destined for distribution to neighbors in need in their 18-county East TN service area.

These annual events, held onsite with the cooperation of Ingles Groceries in East TN, encourage purchases of milk at the groceries for the purpose of distributing milk to hungry neighbors.  With their hands-on approach, the onsite drives encourage human-to-human connections in the spirit of giving back, and ignite a life-long spirit of being a benefactor to the community.

Customers coming in to the grocery stores can contribute in two ways:  they can make monetary contributions, which the Milk Drive Team uses to purchase milk from the store, or  they can purchase the milk themselves and bring to the waiting Second Harvest Refrigerated Truck.

30_June_Kickoff_Milk_Drive_Blog_F

Tennessee Agriculture has had a very difficult spring in 2018, dealing with price and market challenges in all sectors of agriculture, Dairy included.

With future consumers enthusiastic and connecting with farmers and industry leaders present, the 2018 TN June Dairy Month Kickoff served as a happy occasion to remind us all in the TN Dairy Industry to reflect:

So, “What’s Your Why?”

30_June_Kickoff_Wilson_Keynote

 

 

Dean Foods to close 7 plants in 2018; No additional producer letters expected soon

0000_7_Plants_Announcement_Dean_Foods

(NOTE:  This is an evolving story affecting Dean Plants across the country.  Sources are a variety of public information and anonymous sources.  Updates will be made as warranted).

Dean Foods will be closing 7 processing plants in seven states in the next months, with the plants located in Kentucky, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

News of the plant closings began to emerge through local news outlets in some of the cities involved through the day Tuesday, May 22nd, yet, at this posting, there are yet no official statements from Dean Foods corporate officials.

This announcement follows the jolting announcement in early March that over 100 farmers in 8 states, marketing milk as Dean Dairy Direct (independent producers, meaning not members of a co-op or marketing agency) producers, would have their contracts terminated as of May 31, 2018.  At this point, many of those farmers have found new markets, several elected to disperse their herds, with several still struggling to find a market and income source for their farm’s milk.

The navigation of stormy, wind-tossed oceans of milk in the overflowing worldwide dairy milkshed has led to the announcement that these processing plants will be shutting their doors during the late summer and fall.   Intense competition to find a processing market/plant for milk, exacerbated by declining milk consumption the world over, has converged in a perfect storm of farmers getting caught in the crosshairs with no markets for their milk, along with employees in processing plants losing their jobs as well.

Competition for the prime retail real estate of grocery store shelf space is also a factor in these events.

In the southeast, the two Dean Foods plant closures at Braselton, GA and Louisville, KY follow the early May announcement of the closure of a Fulton, Ky plant, owned by Prairie Farms.  In that event, processing operations will cease, but the facility will remain a distribution center, with 12 of 52 employees remaining.

An anonymous Dean Foods source says that “no more farmer/producer contract terminations via letters from Dean Foods are expected in the near future.”  However, we all know that increasing consumption of fluid milk is the quickest way to stabilize the future of all dairy farms across America.

The Dean plants said to be closed are:

  1. (News report: not initially confirmed by Deans)
  2. (News report: Member of founding family not bitter) 
  3. News report:  (Processes gallons & half-gallons, 120 employees)
  • Braselton, GA [Mayfield brand]   (2015 Dean’s CEO Quality Award Recipient)    (Visitors Center closed in 2014, reopened, Over 1 million folks a year to learn) (Reports from anonymous employees who received notices)
  • Louisville, KY    [Dean’s brand] News report link to WKYT) “That loss will cut production at the company’s Louisville plant, which will shut down.”

This announcement is only one in a series of cost-cutting measures Dean Foods has taken over the past several years.  A PET milk plant in Richmond, VA was closed in the fall of 2017.   In a Food Business News report of March 1, 2018, phrases such as “increasing competition,’ ‘6% decline in volume,’ and ‘reset cost structure,’  were signals more changes are to come.

The Louisville plant closure comes as no surprise, due to its distribution overlap into Indiana of retail centers to be served from the new Walmart milk processing plant opening in Fort Wayne, IN.  However, the opening of that Walmart plant has now been pushed to late summer, for a variety of reasons.  A recent report by Sherry Bunting, which appeared in the Farmers Exchange, features an interview with a Walmart spokesperson on that project’s status.

The closure of the Braselton, GA, Mayfield plant, may have come as a bit of surprise to some folks.  In 2016, this display in the Visitor’s Center relayed some stats which were current at that time, however, today’s employee count is closer to 150.  It is not known if this includes distribution networks.

2515_Braselton_Stats_Image_Blog_F

Dean Foods, as of an annual Dairy Foods (magazine) report, last published in the August 2017 edition, is the United States second largest milk processor, with Nestle being #1.

0000_2018_Dean_Foods_Ranking_F

As is common with any company treading in difficult waters, reports of a sale of the company, or of a merger and acquisition, are commonplace.  Sometimes they prove to be nothing, sometimes they prove to be true, and only time will tell which is the case with Dean’s.  It truly will be in the best interest of the United States dairy industry for the company to stabilize, due to the number of farms for which it provides a market, and for the number of employees in plants across the country.

The hardest truth of all of this is that ultimately, farmers in local regions, the rural economies that depend on a viable market for those farmers, and employees at plants, are the ones suffering the most from battles at all levels of the worldwide milkshed. 

Updates, and corrections if needed, will occur as more news becomes available.

 

0000_7_Plants_Announcement_Dean_Foods

 

Multiple Component Pricing for FMMOs 5 & 7; A Meeting, Action Plan, Information

3670_MCP_Southeast_Heading_Blog_F
Will Multiple Component Pricing be implemented in the Appalachian (FMMO 5)  and Southeast (FMMO 7) Milk Orders?
Multiple Component Pricing, a way to value milk at the farm level based on components found in milk (protein, butterfat, and other non-fat solids),  rather than the skim/butterfat pricing currently implemented, is on the table for the two geographically largest milk orders in the Southeast United States.
Florida and Arizona do not price milk based on MPC, and those areas are not included in this current request for change.
An April 2nd request for a hearing to evaluate the implementation of Multiple Component Pricing for Federal Milk Marketing Order 5 (Appalachian) and FMMO 7 (Southeast) was filed with USDA-AMS by National All-Jersey, Inc.  The 86-page document can be reviewed here.
A great article concisely summing up the request and important factors has been written by Dave Natzke of Progressive Dairyman; read his perspective at this link.
The Tennessee and Kentucky Farm Bureaus have joined together to host an information meeting before the request for Multiple Component Pricing is fully evaluated; A Federal Order Hearing on the matter is tentatively scheduled for July 30, 2018
This May 16th meeting provides producers with a means of direct contact with FMMO officials who can explain not only the MCP proposal, but milk market pricing in detail, and how producers’ milk checks are affected by various market factors.
The details about this FB Information meeting, scheduled for May 16th in Knoxville, TN, are:
What:  Meeting with Dana Coale, Deputy Administrator for USDA -AMS Dairy Programs, along with several officials of Market Administrator Offices in Federal Orders 5 & 7
For:  Any dairy farmer in Federal Milk Marketing Orders 5 & 7
Organizers:  Meeting has been organized by TN and KY Farm Bureau organizations
Several state Farm Bureaus have been involved in dairy farm matters in the past few months – please give them a THANK YOU!)
Date: Wednesday, May 16, Knoxville TN  11:00 am
Time:  Sandwich Lunch @ 11 am; Lunch begins promptly at Noon EDT
Where: University of TN Ag Campus, Hollingsworth Auditorium. Plant Sciences Bldg.
             2505 East J. Chapman Drive; Knoxville, TN  37996
For:  Any dairy farmer in Federal Milk Marketing Orders 5 & 7
Purpose:  To discuss current market procedures and proposed market changes
RSVP / Register by May 11th: 
        Roxann Sanders – Email at rsanders@tfbf.com – OR
                                      Phone at 931-388-7872, ext 2231

The Invitation Letter and Announcement:

Jeff Aiken, TN Farm Bureau President, and Mark Haney, Kentucky Farm Bureau President, co-authored this meeting invite, which was also mailed to dairy producers:
FB_Coale_AMS_Market_Meeting_May_Ltr_Grn_jpg

The Meeting’s suggested agenda:

FB_Coale_AMS_Market_Meeting_Agenda_S
Following the announcement of these Knoxville, TN meetings, USDA-AMS has posted an “Action Plan” with a proposed calendar of activity related to Multiple Component Pricing.  Please note additional proposals can be accepted until June 1st!
FB_AMS_MCP_Action_Plan_S

Resources for Additional Consideration  (Highly suggested reading!!!):

Multiple Component Pricing (MCP) first began taking place in the Federal Order System in the Great Basin Milk Marketing Order in 1988.  [The Great Basin Order is referenced in this 2002 testimony to a Western Milk Marketing Order Hearing.]
Since that time, several orders have consolidated, but the great majority of the United States dairy producers are paid on a MCP basis.  At this time, this map generally defines the geographic locations of FMMOs across the United States, however, California was conducting a producer referendum, in which voting ended on May 5th to finalize entry into the Federal Order System:
FederalMilkMarketingOrderAreas
Producer groups in the southeast, including the Kentucky Dairy Development Council, the Georgia Milk Producers Association, and the North Carolina Dairy Producers, have endorsed a Multiple Component Pricing structure.  The Tennessee Dairy Producers Association is currently opposed (as of May 10th).
Each and every producer should take the time (and it may take a few hours) to evaluate Component Pricing and how it will affect your farm’s income in the future!  Isn’t your farm’s future worth that time?
AND – each producer is highly encouraged to attend the May 16th meeting in Knoxville to have a chance to ask direct questions to USDA-AMS officials.
Your future income depends on accurate information – please make the most of this meeting opportunity!
3670_MCP_Southeast_Heading_Blog_F

The Faith of Billy Graham: Sowing Seeds in Fertile Soil for Everlasting Life

William Franklin (Billy) Graham. Son of a Dairy Farmer.

Man of God. Seeds of Life.

3340_Billy_Graham_Seeds_AgriVoice_F

This past week, the world learned of the HomeGoing of the much beloved Reverend Billy Graham. His impact on humanity is much lauded, yet he, the man, remained humble, with all credit to his Heavenly Father for any of his success.

The impactful evangelist has proclaimed for several decades that faith and the Grace of God would lead him, and anyone who accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, to a Heavenly home. He himself explained it this way:

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

Graham, oft-described as the most influential religious leader of the 20th century, illustrated that while devout and fiercely true to his own faith, he could treat people of all religions with respect and kindness and sow seeds of peace and hope.

The Reverend Graham began life as the son of dairy farmer near Charlotte, NC.  And from the minute one steps on the grounds, The Billy Graham Library, only a few miles from the original Graham Brothers Farm, honors those agrarian roots.

An engaging display with animatronic cows immediately captures the attention of any visitor.   The ‘boss cow’ tells us that a young Billy Graham perfected his oratory skills by preaching to the cows while they were in the milk barn!  From that point on the Library is a walk through modern history, with exhibits devoted to how “America’s Pastor” was witness and influencer on world events of the 20th Century.

Favorite verses and parables, such as Phillipians 2:3, are on display throughout the Library on walls, and in exhibits.

3192_Billy_Graham_Esteem_2_Selfish_7777_H

 

The Parable of the Sower – Luke 8, NIV

The Parable of the Sower, one of the most often quoted of the Parables of Jesus Christ, inspired a breathtaking bronze statue which is the centerpiece of the main exhibit hall at the Library.  As the Library was being completed, Franklin Graham believed this parable illustrated his father’s ministry better than any other.  The design was brought to life by sculptor Tom White.

3339_Sower_Billy_Graham_AgriVoice_F

The Parable itself was considered so important to the Christian faith, it is found in three different Gospels:  Matthew 13: 1-23, Mark 4: 1-20, and Luke’s version, found in the NIV Bible, Chapter 8: verses 1-15 (also shared below:),

“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,

“‘though seeing, they may not see;
    though hearing, they may not understand.’

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 

12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

How will WE live the Parable of the Sower?

It is up to us to determine the seeds we will sow as our legacies, and it is up to us to help cultivate fertile soil which will receive those seeds.  James 2: 14-17 is summed up with the last verse, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  

Therefore, these thoughts to contemplate:

If your own life, or your farm, or even your business or means of earning income is the place seeds are to grow, will it be a dirt path, rocky ground, thorns, or the good soil?

It takes both wonderful seeds and productive, fertile soil for a bountiful crop to grow – a healthy crop which nurtures mankind.

Will this year’s seeds be seeds of hope, or seeds which lead to destruction? In times of trouble, will your seeds be ones that still grow the Kingdom of Christ, and let your faith shine through?

Will this year’s seeds be seeds that lift others up, help others through hard times, or seeds that beat others down?

If they are good seeds, will they fall on fertile soil, or on unproductive dirt along the path, among thorns, or on rocky ground?

And if the word of God isn’t the foundation of actions by your conduct, or your farm, are you building a long-lasting foundation or one that will crumble?

Will your farm,  and your life, be a farm which hears the Word, understands it, and practices its teachings by example?

Will your farm, and your life, be an example that sows the milk of human kindness, and places your faith in an everlasting God, even in times of trials?

00000_AgVoice_Billy_Graham_Milk_Book_F

In this springtime of 2018, many seeds will be planted.  In this world of agriculture, there are many uncertainties, and in fact, much fear about “whose farm will be next to get heart breaking news?”   The agriculture consensus is that many farming operations may not make it through the year, and there is a dark undercurrent of  ‘who will survive?’

However, the Bible is the Book of Hope, and tells us in John 24 that even when something dies, a seed remains whose destiny is to grow  and create new hope, new fruit, new beginnings, and new life:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

We in agriculture on farms of all sizes are going to have to dig deep in our faith, and in our actions, if we are to survive the rough waters ahead.

Billy Graham, the son of a humble dairy farmer, went on to be one of the Greatest Faith Leaders in recent centuries, with some even comparing him to the Apostle Paul.  In order to become that incredulous leader, he had to leave his dairy farm beginnings, and he had to trust and follow the call of God to do that.  The Bible, in Joshua 1:9,  tells us we too, can ‘be strong and courageous,’ and do that, even in the darkest of times.

Billy Graham’s faith roots began growth on a dairy farm. However, his seeds flourished only when they reached out to a faith-starved world.  May we see the Word he spoke of, and may we Hear the Word he proclaimed!

My prayers are that the world of agriculture, and indeed, the entire world, finds fortitude, hope, grace, and comfort in a Boundless Faith taught by Billy Graham. Son of a Dairy Farmer. A Giant Man of God, who sowed Seeds for an Everlasting Life.

3340_Billy_Graham_Seeds_AgriVoice_F

Postscript: The author of this blog, a former dairy farmer, was blessed beyond measure to experience a profound visit to the Billy Graham Library a few summers ago.  She was accompanied by a wonderful friend, the wife of a current dairy farmer.   A visit to the Billy Graham Library is highly recommended to anyone who loves history, is of an agricultural background, or who is on their own faith journey.  Billy Graham was Christian, but his life’s message can be a bridge to all in search of deeper meaning of any faith.  

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

0000000_Randy_Davis_Memorial_F

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!

2615_Mayfield_Davis_Memorial_Milk_Drive_Fund_F

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!

00000_Randy_Davis_Milk_Drive

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!

0000000_Randy_Davis_Memorial_Dates_F

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!

0000000_Randy_Davis_Memorial_F

 

 

 

 

 

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!