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Hello everyone, I am sorry for my delay in posting from our rally on Oct 18 2012. It had been my hope that some miracle would have happened and we would be onto some concrete level ground and would have a solution. The “Polly Anna” in me was hoping for a “Kumbaya” moment and we would have quick resolve.

On October 18, 2012 we again left from Goshen at about 630 am on a beautiful bus provided by Western Milling and Novus International (allied industry helping us in our plight). I am very grateful for there support and financial aid to provide this transportation. It was a great way to travel, communicate, laugh, share our angst. It was fun. It was nice to not have to fight the traffic and high fuel prices it was also very comfortable and spacious with a wonderful driver. We were in good hands.

We had a wonderful turnout at the rally. About the same numbers as the first rally but this time was many, many different faces.

There were some great speakers that represented dairy families in California. (Click on the link to see)

 Great speakers shared their stories 

Two of my favorite people spoke too, Mary Cameron and Mario Simoes Sr.

They had and open forum in which I went up to share with the group that Secretary Ross had called me the night before. (She wanted to let me and others know that they were getting our phone messages, emails, and faxes). She had mentioned that the task force was meeting and she was hoping to get some immediate relief for dairy producers.  (My words to the rally folks click here)

I felt hopeful that this rally would impact not only the Secretary and the CDFA but also be heard by the processors who have been fighting any change we have requested to be made. They are feeling the impact of less milk, yet they continue to dig in their heels and expect for us to go back to our old ways.

I even sent a letter to one of the task force members, Sue Taylor, from Leprino Foods. You can view this letter on the website Rally For California Families

She did not even have the graciousness to email me back a response. Frustrating to be so ignored while my quality milk arrives to them daily and makes them millions of dollars. I was reaching out and hoping for some unity….yeah right….”Polly Anna” disappointed again.

The task force did meet on Oct 23 and 24th. Below is Western United Dairymen’s well written account of the two days. I could not help but feel that possibly Secretary Karen Ross was, like I, feeling a little “Polly Anna” in thinking that they might be able to agree on something. I am glad she witnessed for herself how stubborn and uncaring the processors are. Like spoiled children, they have been used to getting their way. She saw the dairymen in that meeting standing together, standing as one. She witnessed the line in the sand. She witnessed that the processors do not care about the producers. Their only care is their profits because of cheap milk and it doesn’t matter that it is at the demise of generations of California dairy families.

The processors feathers are so ruffled they have actually lashed out at Milk Producers Council (Letter from DIC to MPC).

They have the nerve to tell us that they are protecting us from ourselves. They act as if we purposely oversupply the milk. They say it’s all our fault. I say to them….take care of yourselves. Buy only the milk you need and pay us a fair price. If we oversupply it then our co-ops with their base limits will handle it with those that are overproduction. How dare they be so arrogant and treat us like naughty children who do not know how to play nice. Shame on them.

The bright spot of these two days was the fact that Secretary Karen Ross stated that she is expecting a petition for a hearing (as she states in the below letter). She promises to handle it expeditiously. As I am writing this I have not had confirmation of that filing but I did receive a phone call from our DFA Western Area Chairman George Mertens, stating that a petition was being drafted (by DFA, CDI, and LOL) adjusting the 4b price to be in alignment with the Federal 3 price. The petition will be filed by Dairy Farmers of America, California Dairies, Inc, and Land O’Lakes. These are our three major co-ops in California and they are joining together.

I am happy to say that I believe this is moving in a positive direction and uniting is what we need as dairy men and cooperatives. This has been our trouble and has been a determent in our industry for too long. Let us just hope that she does handle this quickly and we dairy farmers can be in “sound economic relationship” with the rest of the nation.

Also Western United’s board members directed staff to craft language to make the change and organize bipartisan support in Sacramento for the legislation for our 4b price to be in alignment. So basically if CDFA can’t do it then let legislation step in. Read more here

Time though, is money…so hopefully the quickest solution for us would be when she receives the petition she will act as quick as the law allows and we can see some relief soon…so many of us depend on it.

Group meets to address immediate and long-term challenges facing the state’s dairy industry. State ag secretary is “impressed by the progress made.”

Source: Western United Dairymen Weekly Update

California’s newly formed 28-member Dairy Future Task Force — composed of dairy producers, processors and cooperatives — held its first meeting this week to address immediate and long-term challenges facing the state’s dairy industry.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross announced the panel’s creation earlier this summer, after hearing a petition by producer groups to adjust the state’s whey factor in Class 4b minimum milk pricing formula. The action came in the face of skyrocketing drought-related feed costs, forcing many producers into bankruptcy.


California Dairy Future Task Force members
David Ahlem, Hilmar
Joey Airoso, Tipton
Joe Augusto, Visalia
Tom Barcellos, Tipton
Marcus Benedetti, Petaluma
Ben Curti, Tulare
Rochelle De Groot, Hanford
Joe DeHoog, Ontario
Lucas Deniz, Petaluma
Eric Erba, Visalia
Frank Fereira, Red Bluff
Mike Gallo, Atwater
Dino Giacomazzi, Hanford
Dominic Grossi, Novato
Scott Hofferber, San Bernardino
Dennis Leonardi, Ferndale
Steve Maddox, Riverdale
J.T. Maldonado, Hanford
Tony Mendes, Riverdale
George Mertens, Sonoma
Rick Michel, Waterford
John Oostdam, San Jacinto
Brian Pacheco, Kerman
Ray Souza, Turlock
Sue Taylor, Denver
Arlan Van Leeuwen, Oakdale
Sybrand Vander Dussen, Chino
Simon Vander Woude, Merced


Secretary Ross issued a statement following the task force’s meeting: “The Dairy Future Task Force is made up of dairy producers, processors and cooperatives asked to come together to find common ground upon which they can build a new, more stable and contemporary path for the dairy industry. The first session, held October 23-24, provided an opportunity to agree on a common fact base and develop a sense of what the group wants to accomplish in the coming months. The task force achieved alignment around a shared vision for the future of the California dairy industry, which is a significant accomplishment and a key step toward long-term success. The initial session was designed to set the stage for the group to identify and build strategic pillars that will result in a robust, profitable, demand-driven dairy industry. I was impressed by the progress made and look forward to continuing this important work. I commend the group’s members for embracing their task and the difficult but critical discussions it entails.

“Based on the discussion of concepts for potential short-term solutions, CDFA anticipates receiving a petition shortly and will evaluate it on an expedited basis. I very much look forward to working with the talented and passionate producers and processors who are willing to provide leadership to this very important sector of the agricultural community.”

In a background statement issued by CDFA, the department said the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) will have administrative oversight of the task force. Meetings will not be open to the public to “eliminate public posturing, hyperbole, and positioning for political gain.”

According to the background information, task force members were invited as individuals–not as representatives of associations or other organizations. There will be “significant public vetting of various stages of the task force’s work, which will strive to create consensus around short- and long-term solutions.”

The CDFA noted that several years ago CMAB commissioned a study which provided concepts for long-term sustainability and industry growth for the California dairy industry. That report, by global management consultant McKinsey and Company, is serving as a foundation for discussions on long-term solutions.

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Back in BusinessWell, it seems like when all I crave is peace and a life filled without drama I get thrown something unexpected.

Last Friday, June 29th we received a call from the CDFA regarding a “positive” on a random test done on a sample of our chocolate milk. It was due to an improper pasteurization. We are meticulous regarding our procedure we realized we had an immediate problem. We retraced our steps and due to a hose holding a bit of milk from our transfer from making regular to chocolate. This small amount did not get pasteurized upsetting the whole batch.

There is silver lining to this, first off, YOUR FOOD SAFETY. I, of course wish it wasn’t on my test :). You though, as a consumer should know that your food is tested constantly and I know I am grateful for that. Secondly, as we were only in our trial period and we were able to fix this problem before it actually hit the stores and a larger reach. Third, NO ILLNESSES occurred.

My immediate fear was for my customers. Not only for their well being, but also their trust in Dairy Goddess and our products.

I did not sleep thinking about what will happen next. What is going to happen in dealing with the state and what will my customers think. How will they react?

My sleeplessness replayed over and over again watching the demise of my business. Why is it always that it always feels worse in the middle of the night???

Monday came and our first test was good yet I knew that it was going to be made public. Announced for the nation to see, fear of the unknown. What’s going to happen next?

We work as usual. Confident that our issue was resolved. We make or cheese, our milk and our chocolate milk. On Tuesday we took our final sample in to test. Mind you, this is the day before the 4th of July holiday. My hats off to the CDFA staff and Sierra Dairy Labs for helping us to get this cleared and a verbal OK so that we can sell on Thursday as scheduled with out missing a beat.

The news hit! Friends rallied around. I received words of encouragement. People said “hang in there”, “you’ll be OK”. My favorite, “you’ve got lemons make lemonade”. On Facebook were posts like “we can’t wait to get more of that chocolate milk”.

I was OK…

On the 4th of July my phone rings. A major distributor is interested in my products.  They want to meet. (I did disclose that I just had got off recall the day before. He chuckled and said that “it happens, good to work out the quirks”).

What a difference a day makes! I prayed a word of thanks to God. (See the Hanford Sentinel’s story)

It hits me, I am still in business. I need more space to grow. I need refrigeration at my plant.  I need a refrigeration van to transport. Business is good but it is capital that I need. I know that it nearly impossible as the dairy industry is still struggling to get back on track.

I got an idea…a fundraiser, HELP DAIRY GODDESS SOAR Crazy I know, but there is so much I need. I need milk crates. I need more bottles, labels, supplies, space etc, etc, etc.

So I put myself out there…reaching out. I have already received such generous response. I am a blessed women. If you would like to help check out my “GoFundMe” button. I know these times are difficult for so many people. The main thing I ask is for your prayers. God hears our prayers.

“Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer” – Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. These are the words that comfort me. I hope they comfort you too!

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It’s been a week now since the discovery of the cow with BSE (Mad Cow). I went of to my farmers market last week prepared for questions and concerns. To my surprise, only two people spoke of it and they were from the Valley and asked if many had asked about the finding.

I look at this as food safety testing is working. I am comforted that they found it. I just want to reiterate a few points as I am still  seeing some negative articles out there. I think most of those negatives are written by those with another agenda.

I consider us so very blessed to have safe, affordable food.

The cow was found in a rendering facility in central California. The cow tested positive at a transfer facility in Hanford, 15 miles west of Visalia in Kings County, operated by Baker Commodities.

National Milk Producers Federation offered the following points on the issue:

  • Milk and dairy products do not contain or transmit BSE, and animals do not transmit the disease through cattle-to-human contact. The infectious prions that transmit BSE are found in neurological tissues, such as brains and spinal cords.
  • The United States put regulations in place in 1997 to prohibit ruminant protein from being used in animal feed. This applies to all cattle, dairy and beef alike.
  • Non-ambulatory animals ― those that cannot walk ― are not allowed to be processed at facilities where meat animals are handled. This regulation helps ensure that animals that are unwell are not entered into the food supply.

However, the current case in California may not fit the typical mold.

“Our laboratory confirmed the findings and also indicated it was an atypical form of BSE, which is a rare form of the disease,” said USDA chief veterinarian John Clifford on Tuesday. “It is not likely to be attributable to infected feed, which is the method in which normally BSE is spread from cow to cow,” he said.

“This particular animal did not enter the food supply at any time,” Clifford added.

For more background on BSE and the dairy sector, visit the NMPF website.

The USDA also has a frequently asked questions section on BSE. Click here.

Also Science News has a great article too

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Happy New Year Everyone!

I have not been as attentive as I would like to my blog but with the holidays and travelling work and cheese there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Also with the loss of my Granny (age 92) On January 4 th, it just has been so hectic.

It seems as I have been posting so much doom and gloom…that is not my style. Life though, gives you “stuff”.

I am grateful for my faith that gets me though the “stuff”! As for my Granny, she is finally at peace…we have some wonderful

memories. She was quite a lady and to sum her up it would be this. If she was in her prime. She would be a successful

Reality TV Show…she was born before her time.

My Aunt and family ask for me to do the Eulogy for Granny so I had been deep in thought about my past, my youth.

I had been asked (what seems like a long time ago) to speak at the California Women for Agriculture

Convention in Visalia on January 7 2012 . I was asked to talk about my journey to becoming an entrepreneur. I was told I had about 30 minutes. WOW, that’s a long time to talk about yourself.

I knew I couldn’t just “wing” it. So I wrote, rewrote and wrote again. I am so happy to have had that opportunity. How often do we chronicle a journey? For me a bit of blogging and that, but to start from a life change to where you are at the moment doesn’t usually happen. So THANKS to Raquel Avila Leal for having the faith in me to give me 30 minutes of time to share my story.

I decided to share it with you! (Please excuse typos/errors) I wanted to share it how I wrote it and what I read to these wonderful women. (It is a bit long…)

 

Hello it is a great pleasure to be here this morning and I am honored that I have been invited to speak to you, the California Women of Agriculture.

We, here have a common gift. We love and respect Agriculture and realize, first hand it’s importance to our state, our nation, our world.

Many of us here are in different aspects of agriculture. No matter from food to fiber we know the power and wealth it brings to our country.

We realize what the loss there would all be with out it.

We deal with the regulations. We deal with the misconceptions.

We are often called polluters.

Many people and the media, say we don’t care about the water, the land or the air.

They call us factory farmers.

No matter what comes out of our fields we have heard the anti-agriculture comments. We know we have the safest food in the world. We know how much we care for our land.

It is the same land that many of us were raised on and the land we have raised our own children on.

We, the California Women of Agriculture, Know the fight we are in to protect our farms, protect OUR rights, protect our legacies.

I am honored to be put in the time slot for you to hear about entrepreneurs. I have lately been called this but still don’t feel that that title really belongs to me.

To me I am first and foremost a mother, a wife, a farmer.

I have to admit that I can not wait to add GRANDMA to that list…but it does not seem to be in the immediate future. So I will relish in the joy of entrepreneur for now.

Please note…professional speaker is NOT one of my titles. I hope to not disappoint you during this time that I have been allotted.

I am a third generation dairy farmer married to my high school sweetheart, also third generation dairy farmer. We have been married for 29 years. We have two children. Tara age 25 a graduate of psychology from Fresno State. My son Anthony Joseph Martin the III also know as A.J. age 24, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Animal Science.

We have our dairy in Lemoore. We moved here from Chino in 2006. We had bought an existing dairy in which we reconstructed the barn. We came with the same amount of cows as we had in Chino and milk nearly 900 head.

In Chino it was a whole different way of dairy farming. We did not grow any of our cows feed. We bought it all off site. We were in a partnership with my husbands parents and brother.

In deciding to move, we were excited at the prospect of this being OUR dairy. Tony and I, in a and complete full partnership. In every way, from the day to day operation as well as the business of it.

Also the thought of growing our own crops was very exciting for us.

I am grateful for the experience I had in Chino.

There was such a difference in our dairy business plan down south. The men were partners in the day to day business .Us women worked in “town” as my dad would say.

In 1981 I became a travel agent. In 1983 I began to working for my mother in law until I bought her out in 1990. I sold the agency in 1999. I stayed on with the new owners until Sep 11, 2001.

I sold in 1999 as we began discussing possible relocation of our dairy at that time. AND I just had an inkling that the internet was going to be a tough competitor for travel agents.

I then went to work for UPS in there damage recovery (not always the happiest people to deal with) I was grateful though for that experience. It really taught me how to handle people in difficult situations.

I then dabbled in title insurance and enjoyed the customer service skills I learned there.

I stayed there until I found my favorite “town” job.

I worked for the County of San Bernardino Family Court Services in which we did the mediation for custody and visitation for families going through divorce.

Working for The County / State as it was in transition at that time was clearly the most eye opening job I have ever had.

I was good at it. I liked helping people.

I appreciated being appreciated by my judges and supervisors.

Being raised on a farm gives you a work ethic that we as farmers don’t even realize that we have..

I also saw and worked with those that did not have the gift of “work ethic”

If I had stayed only with Agriculture…I would not have seen it this.

All of these experiences taught me so much. Dealing with people. Speaking with people. Most of all listening to people.

When my co-workers asked me “how can you live on a farm”? “How can you eat your own animals”. “How do you stand the smell”.

When questioned…I didn’t feel upset…God love em…they REALLY did not know. They were so removed from the farm and where there food comes from.

I always liked explaining my life. I knew and appreciated how different and blessed I was.

I felt sorry for those that did not know what I knew or what I experienced every day. They didn’t know how good fresh milk tasted. They have never smelt fresh cut alfalfa. They have never seen a calf be born…

how blessed so many of us our to have these experiences.

I also realized that when they got to know me and when they heard MY side of the agriculture story they “got it”. . . also HOW I told my story was important. In words people can comprehend.

I had a co-worker ask if we use chains to get calves out of there mothers. I explained that some cows as well as humans need help with birthing. Humans have tools to assist and we have them for cows too.

In 2006 we had so many emotions. Moving from all of your friends and our church. Moving out of our comfort zone.

I was sad that in September both kids were going away to school. I thought how were we going to meet people? Kids and there schools and activities help to get you involved in your community and with your neighbors.

We didn’t know what we were going to do for a house so the 5th wheel was going to have to do.

In 2006, we moved right in time for the heat wave to kill 50 of our cows. We were up day and night trying to cool them down the best we could as not all of our shades were up and our fans were not yet working. Those were the most difficult of days.

We had our first price drop in milk that year and our reconstruction costs had doubled due to Hurricane Katrina and the availability of supplies.
Now that I was completely hands on with our business and with the volatility of the dairy industry I felt that I wanted to do more and fix the ill ways of our industry and quite frankly the greed, corruption, and manipulations that we dairy farmers have to deal with.

I became involved the Western United Dairymen where I was elected delegate and also California Milk Advisory Board in which I was elected a director for our district. I also was very active in my co-op, Dairy Farmers of America. There are not many women placed in these positions. I was honored to be elected by my peers, my fellow dairy farmers.

In struggling to make our dairy work I decided to bring home our calves from the custom calf ranch. I thought that this was a job that I could do well. It would eventually save our dairy money and avoid the difficulty of transition bringing the calves back to the ranch when they were older.

By 2008 I had my calves back at home and they were flourishing. It was about at that time that social media was taking off and I began to dabble.

It was a great place to share my accomplishments my disappointments, some funny pictures and stories. It was the perfect platform to continue my story…

and I didn’t have to work in “TOWN”.

As I worked everyday I watched the milk truck drive off with our milk. I thought about how great it would be to do something with it ourselves. Make something right here on the farm.

At the end of 2008, I took an Artesian Cheese making coarse at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It was love at first touch. Having my hands in the vat. The smell of cooking curds. All the stainless steel… I was hooked. I came back with huge dreams and ideas.

2009 hit our dairy industry. It was devastation for so many. Financially I didn’t know if we would make it through and I am still questioning if I will be able to get financially healthy ever again.

Seeing milk checks that come in that barely are enough to feed your cows and make payroll is a stress that I wish on no one.

I mean, it’s not like we close up shop for a few days.
We are responsible for those animals. God has entrusted them with us. All dairymen are committed to the cows health, by feeding them, milking them, TAKING care of them.

When you, as a dairy farmer fear not be able to feed your cows, you forget about yourself. If you do not have a dairy it hard to explain in words. If you have a dairy…you know exactly what I mean.

So my thought of producing something on the farm at that time seemed so very far away.

But it kept eating away at me. Something kept at me to search for ways to make cheese on our farm.

I was becoming more fueled in my plight when I saw that processors such as Kraft, Dean Foods and Leprino had made record profits in 2009 while in my area alone there were dairy farms closing left and right. We had 4 suicides from distraught dairy farmers in our area alone.
I felt so out of control. Here we make a product, milk, and we have all of this risk yet we have NO control of what price we are going to receive.

On top of that we have to pay for the delivery of our milk to our processors. Yet THEY have control of the price they receive.

It just didn’t make sense.

I am not anti co-op or processor, by any means. If any thing I have a greater appreciation for them and what it takes for them to get OUR product to market. I do think there are things in our industry that need to change. We dairy farmers need to get back some of OUR control…

that is for another time though. It is a battle that will continue.

In early 2009 I contacted my dairy products inspector whom I had met at Cal Poly during my class.

He came to my dairy. Looked around. I discussed my ideas. I shared my financial issues…

He told me that we were about the 52nd dairy he had visited in a year or so looking into building a processing plant. He had only one that had started the process officially.

As we were sitting in my husband’s office at the dairy with my husbands feet prompted up comfortably on the desk as always.

I asked my inspector “So where would the best place be for my cheese plant”…he hesitated looked around and said…”right here”…
I thought my husband was going to fall back off of his chair.

We needed much more discussion,

but I did proceed to tell my inspector that I would like to have it done within a year. He kind of chuckled and said…you first need to get your husband on board.

In the mean time I had been experimenting in my house. Everyday a different recipe of cheese or flavor. I felt like my mind was never at rest.

Along with this I started blogging. It was the scariest thing that I ever had done. Exposing myself, my family, my farm on video and in words. It was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I introduced my cow Chica who became quite the star. She was a cow I raised from day one and she was special. She was a diva. People loved her and connected.

I am a women of faith. I believe that God gives us his plan in ways that we are not always expecting. That blog. A Dairy Goddesses Blog gave me the courage to pursue my dream of cheese. It gave me confidence to continue on.

My first investment in Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese was my logo…yes a logo without a product. Having enough experience off of the farm and with social media. I knew marketing was half of the battle. “BRANDING” yourself was another part of the equation.

I felt like I always had a back up plan for my expenses and my investment in Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese.
I thought, worst case scenario…I would use it for my blog heading and it would make such a cute Avatar.

I continued, by the grace of God and things kept coming together.

I had a recipe that I loved. My family loved. My friends loved. I felt confident with it. I decided to start off with it, it is a French Style Fresh Cheese, Natural and with flavors. A Fromage Blanc. It was different than my competitors. It was a niche and it was affordable even in a specialty market. It was a perfect cheese for a “foodie on a budget”.

We did as much of the work in the reconstruction from office to cheese plant. My poor husband watched his “man-cave” / office disappear before his eyes. Never with a complaint…God love him.

I knew he wasn’t fully on board, poor thing. He was supportive and did so much of the physical labor. I promised him that whatever money I put into this I would sell enough cheese to pay that amount back. Even if I had to sell my cheese on a street corner. Even if it took me 20 years.

He plugged on.

My husband and my inspector saw it coming to life. I saw it coming to life. Working day and night. I still managed to study for my pasteurization license. I worked with the construction workers that we had to bring in for the work we could not tackle ourselves.

On August 12, 2010 I received my plant certification AND my pasteurization license. He told me that I was the 2nd plant approval he had in the two years that we had met. It was an emotional day to say the least.

Poor guy he didn’t know what to do…but was patient with posing with me for pictures for my blog.

Since I had a fresh cheese I felt that that was an advantage. It takes basically 3 days from cow to package.

I was able to sell my first batch on August 19 2010 at Hanford Farmers market. I immediately placed product in the Portuguese Bakery in Hanford.

It was at that first farmers market that my husband realized that this just might work. By my side, giving samples he relished in everyone’s delight. By seeing the sales at the end of the night, he said I really do think we have something here!

I told him that I was sure glad he thought so.

Those first months I processed about 100 gallons in a month.

By my 1st anniversary in August of 2011 I was processing over 250 gallons a week. I was in 14 farmers markets from Santa Barbara to Walnut Creek. I am in 3 specialty stores. I am in two Whole Foods Markets and in Spring 2012 will be in two more Whole Foods Markets in the bay area.

They will put me in as many stores as I can accommodate. That is now one of my obstacles…being able to accommodate the orders.

 

My daughter upon graduation from Fresno State came to work with me full time. My sister in law and Uncle help on processing days and I have 3 part time farmers markets representatives.

We now realize that we are at a cross roads. We have to make decisions of expansion OR We have to decide if we want to stay this way and keep doing what we are doing. Both decisions have their challenges.

To stay the same keeps us completely hands on and labor intensive. We are not as efficient and we could be. We can not grow very much more due to our size and storage facility.

To expand means capital. It means more risk and more work to obtain and keep markets and be even more price competitive.

It means dealing with the bigger boys. Transportation of the product would now be a bigger challenge. Dealing with distributors and store placement another challenge

I realize that I will need help and professional opinions for my next phase…whatever it is. I have out grown myself…even considering it started so small. It was built with my heart with my blood, sweat, and tears.

Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese is ME.

I have to admit…it makes me very proud.

I reached my first goal even faster than I could have imagined.

I can see and feel in my heart is that there is so much more potentional… with that in my heart it’s hard for me to sit still.

So stay tuned…not quite sure the next step for Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese but a step… or maybe even a leap, I will take.

Of course…If that is what God has in store for me.

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Milk prices and futures that dairy farmers receive has been on the rise. What should feel like a bit of relief and light at the end of the tunnel is not there due to the rising cost of our feed for our cattle.

Corn prices are at record levels. Nearly $7.00 a bushel. Most of the other commodities we feed our cows have gone up as well.  Our costs have increased over 20 percent since December.

Tony's proud and grateful for our corn harvest!

We do grow some of our feed but not all of it. Many farmers do not grow any of their own feed and rely on purchasing all of their feed. Many of the alfalfa hay growers have chosen to farm other more profitable crops as the dairy farmers had such difficulties paying the alfalfa hay they needed over the past two years. So it’s not only difficult to find but very expensive as well.

On top of that food in the grocery stores are more expensive.

Fuel is also more expensive and seems to be climbing. Didn’t our government subsidized corn to be used for ethanol to make fuel less expensive and less dependent on foreign oil? Hello… It’s NOT working!

Who are the ones to lose from these decisions? We the consumers are!

On top of all of this the government wants to hire more inspectors to check on food safety. Now don’t get me wrong I am all about food safety I am reminded of it every day from the regulations already in place and we proudly follow. The U.S.A.  have the strictest guidelines in the WORLD…yes world!

These additional government employees will be paid by who? Yes us! It will make it harder for farms to stay in business. This will lead to food being accessible and affordable. It will lead to less of our food being made here in the U.S. and more of our food imported. Imported from countries that do not have the same standards. Does that make any sense???

It makes me think of Germany. When Hitler removed the farms as he didn’t think they were important and manufacturing was the way for the country to succeed. We all know what happened with that theory.

Our greatest wealth is our ability to feed ourselves. I can promise you this!

  • Our farm is committed to providing safe and wholesome milk to consumers.
  • We, along with the nation’s 55,000 dairy producers have a strong track record for compliance with state and federal regulations, and support education and enforcement efforts to further strengthen that record.

Please urge our government to use common sense. Spend wisely and to remember that our greatest wealth is the ability to feed ourselves.

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Dairy Farmers Pay For This Promotion! NOT Government

My life is taking a very different and exciting change. As with the beginnings of a new business there does not seem to be enough hours in the day to do all of the many things you would like to do.

Many of you know that I have started Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese. I am now on my 11th week and it is really beginning to take off. I feel like I have been spinning my wheels in some directions (marketing and promotion) but exceling in others.

I am a women of faith and I believe that I am put in places where I am meant to be. I am now selling my cheese at 4 Farmers Markets in the Central Coast of California. I am waiting for my 5th Thursday evening availability in San Luis Obispo. I arrive on Thursdays and depart Saturday evening or Sunday morning. I am on my second week and I am selling more and more cheese. Along with this I get to meet with people and advocate about modern dairy-farming. I have met wonderful people who are interested in where their food comes from. Many have been mislead by labeling and media. I feel I am doing exactly what I am meant to do.

My husband and I decided to stay and attend mass on this beautiful Sunday. (We will go home to begin making cheese tonight). The priest spoke of not focusing on the negative but enjoying the moment you are in. He explained that media helps facilitates the negativity in the world. Media often lies and distracts us from our joy and creates mistrust in others. He was really enforcing the “Pollyanna” mentality. Media, though can really squash all of the positive around us.

I came home from church and began to catch up with some news and emails that I have been missing due to my cheese making/promoting/selling. What is one of the first things that I see? More dairy farmer information that is inaccurate and not factual. The New York Times and the Washington Post write about the ‘government’ giving money towards our marketing (DMI) to “push” our products. (REALLY promoting dairy…is that the biggest conspiracy that you got right now????)

Let me get this straight. We, dairy farmers pay, out of our checks, a fee  for marketing OUR product. Any one with a product markets! Are we dairy farmers to be any different?

I understand even more now with my own cheese business that the most difficult part of a business is the marketing and promotion of the product. We are dairy farmers! Our first priority is our animals and farms. We dairy farmers find the value to pay for these programs to promote and market our product. As we want to continue to do what we do best…make milk!

I am not going to dwell on the negativity within the media promoting their secret agenda. There is an evil within that industry that I refuse to have ruin my day. I just don’t want any more innocent people sucked into their lies. I can not just sit back and have people believe that us dairy farmers are receiving handouts. We work hard and pay for ourselves to provide a nutritional product that our country is so blessed to have in safe abundance while so many people starve in this world!

Some facts and resources to see for yourselves:

  • The dairy checkoff program was created by farmers, for farmers, and is funded by America’s dairy farm families – and only by dairy farmers. It does not use any government or taxpayer dollars to promote dairy products in the United States.
  • The discussion has overlooked DMI’s unwavering commitment to health and wellness. DMI helps the dairy industry keep pace with both consumer preferences and the latest in dietary guidance by sharing nutrition science, product research and consumer research, which the industry uses to develop healthier choices in dairy foods, including reduced-fat and reduced sodium cheese, and reduced-sugar
  • flavored milk.
  • More than 50 percent of DMI’s annual budget is allocated to advance dairy health and wellness efforts, that are consistent with the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  Those programs include: nutrition and product research (including research regarding the development of reduced-fat and reduced-sodium cheeses); the in-school Fuel Up to Play 60 program that aims to help children’s health by bringing healthy eating and physical activity to more than 64,000 schools; efforts to help build a more sustainable U.S. dairy industry; and programs to meet consumer needs, such as those with real or perceived lactose intolerance.
  • http://www.sogoodblog.com/2010/11/09/cheese-usda-dominos-pizza/
  • http://www.yearofplenty.org/2010/11/how-my-little-blog-out-reported-the-new-york-times.html

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“Fortified” ???

I haven’t had a rant for a while so I ask for your patience with this one. For years myself and many other dairy farmers have cried the benefits of a national California milk fortification standard. This could be a huge benefit to the nations dairy farmers and most importantly a better value of nutrition and taste for the consumer.

In California we fortify the milk with proteins and solids. It makes for a great tasting more “naturally” nutritious product.

The people opposing this are the processors…well of course they are! While dairy farmers have been devastated for the last two years. Processors have seen record profits. They claim that they worry about “us”. This fortification will hurt “us”. Well thank you for your concern….(I am being sarcastic)! You don’t have real concern for us. The minute you pay a penny more you quickly pass that on to the consumer. You have many products toting “Fortified, Enriched, Better Nutrition” YET you do that with additives of  Calcium Carbonate or Calcium Citrate. Processors continue to import “MPC’s” (Milk Protein Concentrates) from other countries that do not have the same safety and requirements that we do in the US.

Why do they do this…because it is cheap. Better for their bottom line.

They sing the songs consumers want to hear. “Best quality”, “Good For You”, “Great Taste”. They just deliver it with cheap products they can put in under the radar. Without the consumers knowing any different.

National fortification to the California standards is a win-win for everyone….everyone except those Processors and their record profits…while at the demise of America’s Dairy Farmers.

(Here is an example of just one of the processor products praising “fortified”)

Keep the Calcium in Your Bones with the new NESVITA® CALCIPLUS™ with CALCILOCK®.

Dairyline: Processors oppose California standard

 

By LEE MIELKE

For the Capital Press

Dairy processors, as in the past, oppose legislation that would mandate the addition of higher milk solids in U.S. fluid milk. IDFA submitted a letter outlining its position at the most recent meeting of the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee, which was established to advise the department on farm milk price volatility.

IDFA’s Peggy Armstrong said the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute in August issued research findings on the proposal to require national adoption of higher nonfat-solids standards for fluid milks, which have been required under California state law for decades.

According to the report, the added milk-solids standard limits consumer choices, raises milk prices and unnecessarily increases costs for government-run programs.

“Contrary to encouraging low-calorie options in the marketplace, the added solids will increase the calories per serving of milk,” Armstrong said.

One key conclusion of the report, she said, is that such a policy change would result in an average increase of 17 cents per gallon in the retail price of fluid milk due to the added cost of the additional nonfat solids. The report notes that “fluid milk processors will have additional capital costs for storage tanks and other equipment that will be necessary to handle the increased need for nonfat solids.”

“Higher standards for nonfat solids in milk have not increased consumption in California,” Armstrong said. “In fact, per capita fluid milk sales are lower in California than in the rest of the nation.”

“IDFA believes that dairy policy proposals that could reduce milk consumption and limit exports are not good for the future of the U.S. dairy industry,” she said. “Instead we need proposals that focus on ways to make our industry more competitive with other beverage choices in our domestic markets and ways to promote exports in the growing world market for dairy products.”

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