Emily Yeiser SteppDirector, FARM Animal Care ProgramNational Milk Producers FederationPotomac Falls, Virginia
What education are you bringing with you to this position?
I graduated in 2007 from Penn State University with a degree in animal sciences and a minor in agribusiness management. After working for ABS Global Inc. for a few years, I pursued a master’s degree in dairy science from Virginia Tech, where my research focused on the effects of common dairy diseases on activity and behavior using activity tracking.
Please describe your agricultural background.
Both of my maternal grandparents were raised on dairy farms and my mother had numerous dairy farm friends while she grew up in 4-H, so when the opportunity arose to join a 4-H dairy leasing club, it was a natural fit. The leasing program allowed me to “borrow,” care for and exhibit a calf from a local dairy farm just outside of Annapolis, Maryland. In 1998, that herd sold out, and we were given the opportunity to purchase our show animal. Since that time, my family and I have maintained a small herd of Holstein and Brown Swiss that are generously cared for by Palmyra Farm in Hagerstown, Maryland.
What territory will you cover?
I will work with the FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Animal Care Program across the U.S.
What are your new responsibilities?
I will be supervising the day-to-day functions of the FARM Animal Care Program and help to communicate program successes, which will include developing future program goals and objectives.
It is also in my scope to increase producer support and endorsement of the FARM program, by working to ensure that all farmers have the resources they need to be successful in program implementation while also responding to all program inquiries. Supervision and coordination of trainings and producer meetings will also be integral in increasing the support of the program.
Finally, I will give presentations about animal care and the FARM program to ensure that the entire industry, including customers and consumers, is aligned with and supportive of the program and its core values.
What previous positions have you held?
Immediately after graduating from Penn State, I worked for ABS Global Inc. for two years as their mid-Atlantic young sire program specialist, recruiting and growing herd participation. Following graduate school, I started with the Center for Dairy Excellence in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as their dairy initiatives manager, where I was responsible for managing on-farm and youth development programs. Immediately prior to my role with NMPF, I served as the dairy and beef extension coordinator with the University of Maryland.
Who has made the biggest impact on your career?
The dairy communities in both Maryland and Pennsylvania have made the biggest impact on my career. The industry in Maryland welcomed a “non-farm” kid with open arms and has nurtured and inspired my passion to give back to the larger dairy industry on a professional level. The Pennsylvania industry further exposed me to the vast diversity that exists within the dairy industry and allowed me to be a part of individual farm successes and challenges alike.
How will you be of most help to producers in your region or area of expertise?
Since I first began my career, my ultimate goal has been to give back to the industry that has given me so much. I hope that my passion, coupled with on-farm experience, will further encourage producers to use the FARM program to highlight the good that they do every day on their farms, in order to provide greater trust and confidence in the product they produce to customers and consumers.
Why did you choose this company?
I have always appreciated National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) for being on the front lines for the dairy industry, especially in regard to sensitive topics. The NMPF staff are considered experts in the fields that they represent, and I was excited to be given the chance to join this team. I also saw joining NMPF in this capacity as an excellent opportunity to broaden my horizons and challenge myself professionally.
What goals would you like to accomplish while in this position?
My primary goal while in this position is to continue to increase the awareness and value of the FARM program to the entire supply chain, from producers to consumers. I also hope to continue communicating the positive dairy story with the support of the FARM program participants. PD