What dairy farmers talk about when they get together

So, you put 400 dairy farmers together in a room and what happens?  They eat cheese.  They compare stories about dealing with frozen waterlines during this past frigid winter.  Listen to speakers.  Eat more cheese.  Attend a business meeting.  Eat some cheese.


Cheese made in Sanborn, Iowa…where we ship our milk every day. Walk right up, and slice yourself some cheddar. Cheese made by our cooperative is sold to Subway, McDonalds and Sysco, as well as other retailers.

Last week, Joe and I attended the 2-day Annual Meeting for the cooperative that we sell our milk to:  AMPI, Associated Milk Producers, Inc.  The whole idea of a cooperative is to work together, as well as to have a say in how things are done, so you obviously need to have annual meetings so people have a chance to give their input.  It is also a time to build friendships and learn a few things.

Here is the rundown of the speakers:

First, we heard from South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch, who encouraged us with the message that the Midwest is really the best place for dairy farming.


Lucas Lentsch, SD Secretary of Agriculture, speaking to us at the AMPI annual meeting.

Then, Jim Spain, a cow nutritionist from the University of Minnesota, spoke to us about the importance of extra pampering for a cow the 2 months before and after she gives birth.  He showed us a lot of research that shows how fantastically cows respond to things like fans and water sprinklers to keep cool in the summer, as well as specific nutritional needs a cow has at those times.  Naturally, I tracked him down for a photo opportunity…


Jim Spain, spoke to 400 dairy farmers, including myself, about the importance of really pampering cows around the time they give birth.

Our last speaker was Terry Fleck, from the Center for Food Integrity.  He updated us about a lot of research they are doing, and most of it was centered on what is really important to consumers.  Of course, that is super important to me as a farmer.

We also heard about how the Farm Bill applies to our dairy, and had the opportunity to ask questions.  Lastly, there was the business meeting.  We learned more in-depth the finances of our cooperative, and observed the delegates voting on issues and policies that relate to AMPI.

I love being away from home, but I love even more to be home.  I’ll take sleeping in my own bed any night.  The big block of cheese was impressive, but I’m also happy with the smaller size that I always keep stocked in my fridge.