DBA Expansion Symposium again draws elite crowd
Tuesday, Feb. 19 was a day "not fit for man nor beast" what with the overnight snow fall and next day high winds and blowing snow.
However, most of the 500 pre-registered guests made it to Green Bay and the 8th annual 2013 Wisconsin Dairy Business Association (DBA) Dairy Expansion Symposium.
Executive Director Laurie Fischer, president Jerry Meissner, the board of directors and staff put together a topflight event that included speakers, workshops, commercial exhibits and lots of networking time.
Eighty commercial exhibitors seemed to be optimistic and are looking to 2013 as a good business year.
"The drought didn't seriously impact all of Wisconsin," a builder says. "Even in southern Wisconsin the good dairymen found feed and adjusted rations. The milk price has helped, but they will be watching this year's weather closely before making buying decisions. "
Another exhibitor suggested that good dairy managers do not farm one year at a time, rather, they plan and act for the long term. One bad year doesn't make for disaster.
Among the new exhibitors:
• Veolia Environmental Services (920-605-0326) is a name one can often see on trucks picking up waste in cities. Mark Witzeling, representing the company explained how they are now working in the dairy area specializing in cleaning manure lagoons and tanks and aiding with manure issues.
• UV Milk USA is a new company owned by Phil Miller, (715-613-5003) longtime Wieser Concrete sales manager (who couldn't stay retired) and Jason Frankewicz of Joe's Refrigeration at Withee. They are marketing a Russian patented milk filter and are attending a long list of dairy shows seeking distributors and customers.
• RECON Technologies is a Grand Rapids company that uses water and a small generating system to produce "Elelctro-Chemically Activated Water" to produce a teat dip and sanitizer. Brad Tripp (616-212-5653) is general manager.
A series of workshops on subjects ranging from "Beef on Dairies" to "Dealing with Unacceptable Employee Behavior" to "Feed a Dairy Herd During High Feed Prices" to "Understanding Obama Care" offered choices to attendees.
Charles Stevens from Michael Best & Friedrich at Madison, who has been in the insurance business for several decades, made a valiant effort to clarify the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA), often referred to as ObamaCare, that is at best confusing and at worst impossible to understand because much of it has not yet been written or defined.
He had some suggestion as to what employers might do for 2013.
• Don't plan on further delays or impediments to the program becoming effective and enforceable.
• Listen for developments and trends
• Get with consultants early and often
• Don't believe there is an answer to every question
• Decide on Plan A but have a Plan B ready
• Be nimble
• Don't drop current coverage
• Fasten your seat belts.
During the question period, someone asked, "Is this confusing, confounding, yet to be written program, the first and major step to single payer, government health insurance?" His answer: "It would appear so."
Among the series of speakers featured on day two was John Vosters, co-owner of Kaukauna-based MilkSource, who compared the dollars and cents aspects of cross ventilation barns versus conventional ventilated free stalls.
The fact that MilkSource milks 22,000 cows in both cross and regular barns gives a good data base to gather research. Although Vosters said it wasn't scientific research, they did have some conclusions:
• Pros for cross ventilated freestalls include: consistent cow performance, less summer breeding problems, better foot health as hotter cows don't lay down, fewer respiratory challenges and less water in barn as compared to using cooling misters.
• Cons for cross ventilated barns include: higher operating and maintenance cost, lots of pumps needed and not as effective in high humidity days.
All in all, the DBA expansion gathering offered the opportunity to learn, discuss and make new contacts.