Dairy Information: Center Focus Column

Stronger Together

Did you ever have a family member or friend look at you and say, “That which does not kill us only makes us stronger.” I can remember countless times when I have heard this quote. It’s used often to help people get through tough times — anything from a challenging academic course to a new project at work to economic hardships and even battles with cancer and other health scares. And it is so true. Whenever you’ve been through a tough time, you come out stronger and more prepared to work through it next time.

But what is even truer is how those people around you, often the ones giving you that advice, can be the ones who help you get through those tough times. Whether it is your family members, your business partners or the neighbors you see at the local coffee shop, being able to talk through what you’re dealing with in your individual business and in your world can be so helpful in helping you think through the challenges and often finding solutions that can help. Having that network of people around you can, in some cases, mean the difference between resolving the issue and having it become an even bigger problem.

Imagine if that network grew beyond your family members, friends and neighbors to include others who are experiencing the same exact challenges that you are, just in locations halfway across the state or even across the country? That is the most significant benefit in attending an event like the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit. Not only are you gaining insight by attending the sessions and learning from the speakers who are there, you’re meeting the other attendees, dairy producers just like you who face the same challenges you do, day in and day out. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Raising the Bar

The 2017 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit is quickly approaching, planned for Feb. 8 – 9 at the Lancaster Marriott in Lancaster, Pa. This year’s summit features Dr. Lowell Catlett, a Regents Professor in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business and Extension Economics and the Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University before retiring in 2015. Those who have heard Dr. Catlett speak have told me that he brings an entirely new perspective to future opportunities in agriculture. He will open the summit with a discussion on “Why Now Is a Great Time for Agriculture” and lead a breakout on international dairy markets.

The hallmark of the Dairy Summit has always been the producer showcase, and this year is no exception with Jeff Burnett, who with his brother Jay and their wives Kim and Lisa own Burnett Enterprises, a 3,000+ cow dairy in southeastern Wyoming. Burnett will highlight the farm’s experience with working through a banking crisis and working with family. He will also showcase their operation, specifically referencing their recent changes to their feed center and calf management.

This year’s breakouts provide concentrated information on specific topics, including integrating technology, fine-tuning nutrient management and forage usage, navigating the permitting process and meeting the expectations of the revised FARM 3.0. Breakouts will also cover immigration reform and GMO technology, among other topics. Side servings will allow for additional informal discussion on key topics influencing your business, including permitting, safety and alternative enterprises.

But, the biggest benefit by far of attending the summit is what happens during the meals, receptions and breaks. It’s your time to meet the other attendees, get to know how they manage their operation and share ideas on what works and what doesn’t work on the farm. Those relationships you build at the summit can be the ones you lean on as you’re troubleshooting issues and evaluating opportunities all throughout the year. This type of insight can help you “Raise the Bar” in your own operation, as this year’s theme suggests.

Discounted Registrations

At the center, we believe professional development is important, whether it’s training your employees on the latest technology and regulations, or gaining insight on your own that will enhance your business decision making process and help you become a better manager. It also gives you a chance to get off your farm, move outside your day-to-day routine and expand your network.

That’s why the Center for Dairy Excellence Board of Directors has voted to offer an additional discount on all producer registrations for 2017 only. Milk prices are slowly moving upward, and we are optimistic that 2017 will be a better year than 2016. However, we recognize that cash flow is still incredibly tight on the farm.

Both the center and the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania support the summit annually to keep registration costs low. But this year we wanted to do something even more. The center has increased funding to offset producer registrations by an additional $50 a person. First registrants can attend for $75, and additional people from the same farm can attend for $50. If you haven’t ever attended before, this may be the year to experience the summit first hand. We guarantee you will leave with new insight and an expanded network of friends who can help get you through those tough times.

Learn more at www.padairysummit.org or call the Summit Business Office at 814-355-2467.