Producers Invited to State College
Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade
Special Sections Editor
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The countdown is on to the 2014 Pennsylvania Dairy Summit. The annual dairy extravaganza is set to start on Feb. 12 at the Penn Stater in State College, Pa.
Summit chair Jennifer Heltzel and the rest of the summit planning team are hard at work putting the finishing touches on this year’s event.
Lancaster Farming visited with Heltzel at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg to talk about the upcoming Dairy Summit. She and her husband, Andy, operate a dairy farm in Martinsburg, Pa.
Summit programs are designed for the wide range of dairy farm operations, from the small Plain Sect dairy farm up to a 1,000-cow dairy, she said. Planners design the summit for farmers to gain some new ideas or insights to help improve their operation.
Organizers expect more than 500 producers and industry representatives to be in attendance.
The schedule is packed with multiple educational tracks, contests and several hands-on activities for farmers. She says it allows farmers to “pick where they go” for topics they are interested in.
“We decided to mix it up this year,” she said. The planning committee responded to requests from Dairy Summit attendees desiring many of the new items. The new tracks are a young entrepreneurs program, forages program, technology and innovation program, and high performance for cows program.
“A farm is the sum of all of its parts,” Heltzel said, saying a profitable farm is more than just focusing on the cow but the whole business. “We are covering more specialties like the crop side of the business and even offering hands on, interactive programming throughout the conference.”
The event is hosted sponsored by the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania and the Center for Dairy Excellence.
The forage track she said was in response by many to focus on raising quality crops. “We added a track for forages to make it a more all-around program.” The first Forage Analysis Competition was also added.
Forage samples were submitted in December. The winners of the contest will be announced at the Feb. 13 luncheon, followed by a panel discussion of three farmers sharing their copping, harvesting, storage and feeding strategies.
The young entrepreneurs track is designed for young dairy producers. It starts Tuesday, Feb. 11 with a preconference networking reception. Young farmers will also be able to participate in an early-bird session Wednesday morning, with a business planning class simulation based off Farm Credit’s AgBiz Masters class.
The technology and innovation sections will focus on many of the new ideas for mobile phone/tablet dairy applications, modernizing dairy facilities, and calf health.
Ray Prock, California dairy producer, will lead two discussions on Feb. 12 regarding dairy applications Heltzel said. Prock’s focus will be on how to utilize a smartphone, dairy apps and other technologies to benefit a dairy.
Heltzel says she is amazed by what is available for dairy applications, and believes it will be a popular session for the technology-minded.
A demonstration area has also been added where producers can run their numbers through computer models, learn how to measure and monitor corn particle size for best results in formulating rations.
Another popular element is the producer showcases and business showcases. “Farms are family businesses and every family business is different,” she said on why planners selected a wide-range of speakers. Two dairy farms, Sciopio Springs Dairy of New York State and Star Rock Farms of Lancaster County, Pa., will be featured. Farm members will share insights to their business model. Sciopio Springs Dairy is also one of the farms in the Cayuga Marketing Group. The group is building a $100 million milk ingredients plant that will take in 2 million pounds of milk a day when it is operational in August 2014.
One of the business showcases is Giant Food Stores and it is the opening session on Feb. 12 at 9:15 a.m. Rick Herring, president of Giant Food Stores, will speak. Giant just unveiled their store-label milk with the PA Preferred label.
Heltzel said it’s as important to hear from industry as well as producers to learn about what is happening in the dairy case.
If there is one speaker Heltzel is looking forward to, it’s Adam Taliaferro, the former Penn State football player who recovered from a broken neck. He broke is neck while making a routine tackle at football game and was given very little chance to walk again. He is the evening keynote speaker. “His story is amazing,” she said.