Warm and dry conditions prevailed at the 2014 World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. While the weather made for good show attendance, it was not what the locals really needed.
"Pray for Rain"
I saw several signs of drought on the road last week.
We were delayed in San Francisco traveling to the show in Tulare, California. We ended up driving nearly four hours to the show. The mountain ranges between the Bay Area and the Central Valley that typically are green this time of year were brown.
Highway signs reminded motorists of the drought with the following admonition: "Severe drought. Conserve water."
After the show, our connecting flight out of Fresno was also cancelled. (Air travel delays for out-of-town show attendees were another storyline during the show.) We drove the 12 hours back to Twin Falls, Idaho, through Sacramento, then Reno and across Nevada.
The snow over Donner Pass, which typically is measured in feet, was more easily measured this year in inches. And I bet we passed several dozen hay trucks that were heading west through Nevada. As I don't drive this route regularly, I can't be for certain there were more of these trucks than usual. It just seemed like it.
Hay market analyst Seth Hoyt, who packed a room during the show for his forage pricing predictions, indicated that because of the drought and early indications that demand is outpacing supplies "nobody knows where the top will be" for hay prices.
Several speakers during our dairy seminars indicated concern that forage prices could erode California dairy producers' margins later this year.
—Editor Walt Cooley
California dairies get NFL player's help promoting milk
The California Milk Advisory Board recently approved support for deeper activation in California of Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60), a program created in partnership by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League (NFL) to promote better nutrition and more physical activity in schools.
More than 3,000 California schools currently participate in the program. The dairy checkoff groups will be working with the NFL and its California teams to help increase adoption of the program in California schools.
San Francisco 49er Patrick Willis was the first NFL athlete to appear on behalf of the dairy industry in California. Willis spoke briefly during the first day of the show about the benefits of dairy consumption and physical activity and then signed autographs for California dairy producers and show-goers.
I got a brief one-on-one sit-down interview with Willis prior to the signing session.
"I think it's very important that kids understand at an early age that nutrition is everything," Willis said. "You've gotta get your milk in."
Willis said his favorite dairy product is fluid milk – white or chocolate. He prefers 2 percent white milk anytime or chocolate milk after workouts.
—Editor Walt Cooley
More than 600 people attended our video farm tours and seminars on 2014 milk prices, the impact of whole milk powder production in the U.S. on world and U.S. milk prices, breeding cows to beef semen and more.
Video from the other show seminars will be shared in upcoming issues of Progressive Dairyman's Extra e-newsletter.
—Editor Walt Cooley
Wearing the colors
Just as sports enthusiasts show their team pride by donning the colors of their chosen party, some cow lovers do the same.
This California dairy princess sported her love for Holsteins on her feet while passing out ice cream treats in the Farm Credit Dairy Center. She crafted these cool kicks herself with a pair of white heels and a black marker. PD
—Editor Peggy Coffeen
TOP: This sign was posted above one of the booths in the Farm Credit Dairy Center during World Ag Expo. Photo by Ray Merritt.
MIDDLE: San Francisco 49er linebacker Patrick Willis encouraged kids to exercise and drink milk during a Fuel Up to Play 60 event at the show. He signed autographs after the event. Photo courtesy of the California Milk Advisory Board.
BOTTOM: California Dairy Princess Mary Barcellos proudly wore her Holstein-spotted heels while handing out ice cream at WAE. Barcellos represents District 7. Photo by Peggy Coffeen.