The Manager - July 2022

Northeast Dairy Management Conference

Julie Berry

After a virtual conference in 2020, the Northeast Dairy Management Conference, presented by PRO-DAIRY and the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), was back live and in person this spring. Offering topics ranging from technical skills to professional development, the well-regarded biennial event attracted over 350 progressive dairy producers, agriservice professionals, university faculty, extension staff, speakers, and sponsors from 23 states to network and learn.

Building capacity to respond to change

Julie Berry

A special feature of the Northeast Dairy Management Conference is a focus on leadership development and personal growth. Mark Mayfield kicked off the conference acknowledging and bringing humor to stress management with his presentation “Momma Told Me There’d Be Days Like This”. Mayfield, a past FFA national president, has taught agriculture, lobbied on behalf of agriculture, and is a professional speaker. The challenges of COVID, new and existing regulations, staffing shortages, milk price, and weather, have all tested the resilience of farmers across the country. “Mental health, depression, suicide, anxiety, and everything associated with agriculture right now exceeds the 1980s farm crises,” Mayfield said.

Holly Green, The Human Factor, offered insight and strategies in “Adapting and Thriving in an Ever-Changing World”. The human brain is not wired to work efficiently at our current hyper-pace, but understanding our limitations and applying strategies allows us to adapt more effectively. Each time we are met with unexpected change we go through a cycle of shock, denial, frustration or anger, depression and lack of energy, before acceptance. “You could go through these phases in a second, it could be minutes, or it could take a month. Sometimes people get stuck,” Green said. “Once we begin to really process the unexpected change and say okay, it is what it is, I have to make the best of it, is when we begin to accept.”

Manage employees by life stage

Julie Berry

Haydn Shaw, People Driven Results, shared strategies on how to bring five generations together at the Northeast Dairy Management Conference, including how to motivate and reduce generational turnover, and how to create a workplace that employees attract their friends to.

Professionalizing human resource management in farms: Why and what this means

Richard Stup

A trend is emerging across the dairy industry, with some farmers becoming very professional in how they hire, develop, and lead employees. These farmers are highly aware that good employees are the most important asset for business success and that they may already be the scarcest resource available to farms. These professional human resource management (HRM) farms are consistently well-managed because they have excellent people in every position, and they are opening up a lead as they outperform other dairies who just can’t find or retain good people.

Lean Management: Practical applications and challenges on dairy farms

Barry Putnam and Mary Kate MacKenzie

Lean Management is a systematic approach to analyze and continuously improve the flow of information, materials, and work in a manufacturing environment. Lean systems maximize production efficiency by minimizing waste and disruptions. Lean principles and practices emerged from the Japanese auto manufacturing industry in the 1950s, and managers have since applied them across many other industries, including agriculture. As farm managers strive to utilize labor and other inputs more efficiently in response to rising costs, Lean Management offers a promising tool.

Sustainability on the farm and the Net Zero Initiative

Julie Berry

The U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative (NZI) is a collaboration of dairy organizations to advance research, on-farm pilots, and new market developments to make sustainability practices more accessible and affordable to farms of all sizes. “This is an essential element of an overall 30-year journey to U.S. dairy’s collective 2050 environmental goals,” said Jamie Jonker, National Milk Producers Federation, during a top-rated panel “Sustainability on the Farm and the Net Zero Initiative” at the Northeast Dairy Management Conference. Partners in the effort include Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, DMI, International Dairy Foods Association, Newtrient, National Milk Producers Federation, and U.S. Dairy Export Council. By 2050, the U.S. dairy industry collectively has goals to: achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) neutrality, optimize water use while maximizing recycling, and improve water quality by optimizing utilization of manure and nutrients.

Leadership insights

Caroline Potter and Julie Berry

The Northeast Dairy Management Conference is focused on growing the leaders of today and tomorrow. In this roundtable of New York dairy industry leaders we share thoughts of recipients of the Dick Popp Memorial Leadership Award, presented by the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) at the conference, and the PRO-DAIRY Agriservice Award, presented at the Great New York State Fair.