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2015 National Holstein Convention Delegate Report

2015 National Holstein Convention June 22-26, 2015 St. Charles, IL

Va. Holstein Members,

I would like to start by thanking you for the opportunity to serve as your delegate to the National Meeting. It once again was a very informative and rewarding trip. As I have done before I would encourage you to mark your calendars and make plans to attend next year’s convention. It will be held in Sarasota Springs, NY June 27 to July 1, 2016. Below I’ll give my takeaways from the convention. Feel free to contact me with questions or thoughts. I would prefer you use email if possible.


This year a group of eight of us decided to get together and drive to the convention. We are planning to get a group together to drive again next year. On the way to St. Charles we stopped at Fair Oaks Farms and Butlerview Farm.

Fair Oaks is a very unique place and I believe is doing a lot of good things for our Industry. They are the creators and producers of the new FairLife milk. If you haven’t tried it out, please do. While there we took a bus tour of one of their dairy facilities. It was a standard, modern style barn the milked with a rotary parlor. We only spent a couple hours there because of our schedule but could’ve spent a couple more hours easily. The have a birthing pen barn, an onsite restaurant, a gift shop, a number of kid friendly activities, and a pig barn. Check out their website.

Butlerview was a fantastic visit! They have 26 box stalls with outside access for their milking herd. The entire inside of the barn has rubber on the floor and they lead the cows to milk in 5 step up stalls. The box stalls have mostly high end show cows with a few index cows and a couple show heifers. They rarely milk more than 30 head. Our tour was given by Declan, who is one of 2 employees that manage their marketing. In addition to the milking herd they also have 400 young stock that if I understood correctly are all donors. They conventional flush 3 days every week and are a satellite site for Trans Ova. The do IVF every other Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. They have 2 large herds where they use recipients. The embryos are put in at these herds and after the calves are born and genomic tested Butlerview brings home the top 25%. The recipient herd keeps the rest.


This was the day of the juniors and Virginia was once again very well represented. Our junior president Davey Hardesty was barely seen throughout the day as he was busy interviewing for the two very prestigious honors. See Friday for his results. In the morning Cole Leonard and Erin Saacke took their seats for the senior division of the Jeopardy contest. Cole caught a tough break on a timing issue and didn’t do as well as we hoped but I can tell you after riding in the van as he practiced, he’ll be back! Erin eased her way into her first time competing and finished strong and impressively fourth. Next up were our Intermediates Logan Potts and Isabelle Leonard. Both were dominant through the first 2 rounds earning seats in the final round of 6. At times making it look easy, Isabelle finished 4th and Logan 2nd. If you think you know your dairy, test yourself against our juniors. Hayley Daubert gave a speech in the Junior Division as well. I unfortunately didn’t hear it because it was going on the same time as intermediate jeopardy. We split our cheering section to support both groups.


Host day Tours. All of our group went on tour 1 and I’m happy to say that our bus didn’t end up in the ditch this year! We started by visiting GEA then went to Lindale and LuckE farms. I won’t try to name off all the great cows we saw at each. We had lunch and ice cream at Lindale and saw great show cows. Something I took note of was that they focus on showing cows and don’t really raise their heifers for showing. Though they have a nice fairly new heifer barn and raise them on a hay and grain ration they will sell or send a heifer to someone else if they hope to show her. At LuckE farms the Engel brothers that are partners told us about their philosophy on the farm. The sell a lot of cows each year for dairy and have a “point and price” policy. Anytime you are there with them on the farms if you point to an animal, they price it. Logan pointed to the Senior Champion Red and White from WDE 2014 and Mr. Engel quickly said $200K. What do you think Dogwood?

That night was the National Sale. I won’t go try to give a bunch of specifics because you can look those up. I did sit through the entire sale and will tell you for less than $4,000 you could’ve bought a number of show herd building type of animals. It may take a few generations to get there but you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to get started. High indexing calves were the high sellers. I noticed calves with high pounds of protein seemed to be a little more in demand. Of course polled was a big price boost as well.


The day started with the early bird session which featured Stan Erwin from DMI talking about the importance of dairy farmers having a voice in the discussion about milk. Fellow industry supporters and scientist can work to defend dairy products and reinforce the positives of milk. But farmers are still trusted the most by the people that are buying our milk. We can have a voice by telling our story through social media or other things such as hosting visitors to our farms. The most important job of farmers today is to continue to build trust.

We then began the 130th Holstein Association USA Annual meeting with 101 delegates in attendance. My notes from President Brown’s address include; him commending the continued growth of Enlight, the need for more dairy farmers overseeing the CDCB, we insist on transparency from the CDCB, that HUSA is the provider of unbiased data, IT needs to be a focus for improvement by HUSA, and he supports the increased compensation to the directors.

Next up was CEO Meyer. He noted the success of the Basic ID program provided by HUSA, and noted the fast growth of the ENLIGHT program. He expressed concern that the demand for milk is down and pointed out that consumers may not be as trusting of all the new technology we are using.

HUSA CFO Casna presented her report. Program cost have decreased because of Zoetis handling the genomic testing. ATAs expenses have decreased 34% and their net for 2014 was a loss of $10,000. A big improvement over previous years, hopefully will show a profit in future years. The reserve fund has $27 million and is required to have $18 million.

After we heard from the candidate for the board, there was open mic time for members to address the room. There was a question about how HUSA will handle records going forward from robotic milkers. There was also a question about using genomic test information to clarify the %purebred for pedigrees so that there is a way for an animal to become 100% RHA based on her genomic test.

After lunch there was a panel on Genomics that included a representative from Illumina (The maker of the test), a dairyman from WI, a representative from Zoetis, and a sire analyst from Alta Genetics. You should be able view this through the HUSA website. My takeaway is that we are only scratching the surface of understanding genetics and what will be able to be done in the future is both fascinating and scary.

We wrapped up the business of the day with caucuses where the delegates are broken into 3 groups and have a Q and A with the candidates. More discussion about the association always arises in these. This year’s topics included retaining classifiers, building partnerships, the TPI formula, size of cows, and are you voting for HillaryJ


This day began with the delegate breakfast where we discussed the amendments we would be voting on during the day. This is also when delegates have the chance to voice opinions on the amendments.

I took this chance to voice concerns shared with Debbie and me by Carol McComb. I would like to say I really appreciate her sharing her thoughts with us. We later voted on an amendment allowing the state hosting the Annual Convention to potentially host at a time other than in the months of June or July. The wording of the amendment caught our attention as a possibility to one day separate the adult and junior conventions. I and a couple other delegates shared how important we feel keeping them together is. The explanation for the amendment was to possibly find better rates for hotels, possibly host with another major event or function. The board members assured us it was not a way to separate the juniors and adults. I certainly hope this is true because the amendment passed later that morning. Both Debbie and I voted against.

The other amendments which we both voted for all also passed with ease. There were a couple geared toward getting more delegates to the meeting. You can find the amendments on the website.

You can also find the newly elected directors on the website but I will gladly share my votes. For Vice President I voted for the winning Boyd Schaufelberger of Illinois. I chose to vote for him because he stated his goals for the association with more specificity. I also voted for the winning John Anderson from Idaho for his region. John is from a very large herd and I believe his perspective and understanding of how the association can better provide for larger herds will be an asset to the board. Lastly, I voted for John Marshman from NY who won the At-Large director seat. This was a closer vote but I feel we have the right man for the job. John doesn’t have the strong speaking presence of the other candidates but he won me over in the caucuses. He spoke about his desire to seek out more partnerships for HUSA similar to the one with Zoetis. Hopefully this approach will lead to information easier for members to access.

Overall takeaways

Our juniors are fantastic and we need to get more of them involved! The time commitment is not that big and the trip makes all the work well worth it. I would love to see more members attend. Let’s all get together and take a bus load up next year!

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