The Iowa State University Dairy Farm south of Ames will be the site for a Dairy Month celebration on Friday June 17 from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The event is open to the public and will include tours of the milking parlor, barns and a discovery center for children. Free samples of milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream will be available courtesy of Iowa's dairy processors.
The "new" dairy farm, which opened 2007, includes free stall, dry cow and heifer buildings designed for young cows and cows preparing to calve. The milking center also houses offices, a classroom, milking parlor and a public-viewing area. The state-of-the-art facility sits on 887 acres, three miles south of the ISU central campus.
Iowa is important dairy state; dairy contributes $1.5 billion annually
Iowa has 1,800 dairy farms with 210,000 milk cows producing 4.4 billion pounds of milk annually. The dairy industry accounts for more than 26,000 jobs and contributes more than $1.5 billion annually to Iowa's economy.
The June 17 celebration sponsors include ISU, the Iowa State Dairy Farm, Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa State Dairy Association and Hy-Vee of Ames. The dairy farm is located at 52470 260th St., which is south of Ames. To drive to the farm from Highway 30 take University Boulevard, exit 146, go south one mile and turn right on 260th Street.
USDA Conservation Innovation Grant to help dairy producers
Also last week, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a $1.1 million Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to the Dairy Research Institute (formerly known as Dairy Science Institute, Inc.), an affiliate of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. The funding will support the development of a Dairy Farm Stewardship Toolkit for dairy producers to evaluate their production techniques and identify potential improvements in management practices. These improvements could increase profitability or reduce costs on the farm.
"This grant will help take the industry's heritage of dairy stewardship to a new business level," says Bob Foster, owner of Foster Brothers Farm in Middlebury, Vt. "As dairy producers, we know that consumers want products that are not only nutritious and good-tasting, but also environmentally friendly. We have long been committed to stewardship, but have not had a science-based tool to identify and measure practices that reduce costs and environmental impact."
This grant is awarded through a nationwide competitive process
The grant is awarded in a nationwide competitive process and made available through the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The first stage in developing the toolkit will be to establish a set of on-farm sustainability indicators that will be pilot-tested on farms. A broad group of stakeholders from the dairy industry and other experts will determine which indicators best describe the quality and quantity of economic, social and environmental value provided by farms. Indicators could include, for example: a farm's contribution to the local community through jobs and community relations; energy efficiency; food safety and quality; water quality and use; waste management; and greenhouse gas emissions.
The toolkit will be national in scope. At least 12 dairy producers within 10 regions across the country will participate in pilot tests. The 120 producer volunteers will represent a diverse set of farms, including small- and large-scale dairies, dairies with varying milk production methods, and both conventional and organic dairies. On-farm pilot tests in the designated areas will begin in October. When complete, the toolkit will enable producers to generate an analysis of their stewardship practices and help them communicate positive contributions their farm businesses make to neighbors, community groups, consumers and customers.
U.S. dairy industry is developing best practices and decision tools
The dairy industry is developing best practices and decision-support tools for producers, processors, manufacturers, transport and retail through a voluntary, industrywide effort to measure and improve dairy sustainability. The toolkit is an important first component of the Farm Smart project, creating a series of on-field decision-support tools for dairy and crop production management.
"This toolkit will give producers a resource to help them tell their stewardship story in a way that will be easily understood and valued," says Barbara O'Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and senior executive vice president of Dairy Management Inc., which manages the dairy checkoff on behalf of the nation's farmers. "By establishing benchmarks and assessing specific on-farm practices, producers will be able to better understand the efficiency of their overall operations, and opportunities for improvement. That's not only good for business, but good for the environment, for consumers and for communities."
For information on this stewardship tool go to www.usdairy.com/sustainability.