Md. Dairy Farmers Get High-Tech Lesson at Convention

3/2/2013 7:00 AM
By Laurie Savage Maryland Correspondent

FREDERICK, Md. — Dairy farmers learned about cutting-edge technologies, from solar power and genomics to the latest apps and automated milking systems, at the Maryland Dairy Convention.

Hosted by the Maryland Dairy Industry Association, the event was held Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Frederick Fairgrounds and attracted about 170 producers, supporters and youth, a record for recent years.

“It’s amazing how technology has changed agriculture,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “I can’t imagine where we’re going to go.”

Dino Giacomazzi, a dairy producer who milks 950 cows in Hanford, Calif., shared how he uses technology on his own farm and how Maryland producers can apply what they learned to their own operations.

“We’re required to be efficient in order to survive,” he said, which is why he uses technology to simplify his operation.

One of his favorite pieces of equipment is the Fujitsu Scansnap 1500 scanner, which scans 50 pages, two-sided, in color in less than one minute and allows the dairy producer to go paperless because the content is searchable.

“Once it’s scanned, it goes into Dropbox,” he said of the free service that provides access to photos, documents and videos anywhere from multiple devices, including mobile phones and tablet computers.

Giacomazzi said accessing documents from anywhere is important when he goes to meetings. Changes can be made on the fly and synched to all devices.

“Dropbox is a good way to protect your important data,” he said.

He advised conference attendees to have a spare computer hooked up to the Internet and connected to Dropbox to serve as a backup in case a main computer is damaged or destroyed.

A few more of his top technological picks include Evernote, into which notes can be typed or spoken for later review, and Remember the Milk, a powerful and easy-to-use to-do list, as well as Google calendar.

Using Evernote allows Giacomazzi to take a photo of a part he needs and email it to a dealer to determine if that part is in stock, saving him many miles of driving. Remember the Milk assists him with making a list of tasks that need to be done around the dairy and assigning those tasks to employees. Google calendar simplifies milker schedules.

During the MDIA business meeting, Hance said the Maryland ice cream trail, begun last year to encourage consumers to visit farms, will continue this year with an added educational component.

Visitors to the on-farm creameries on the trail last year submitted their stamped passports and volunteered pictures and stories about their visits. Now, they will also have to find dairy facts posted at each stop on the trail.

State Veterinarian Guy Hohenhaus reported that the animal disease traceability rule was published, requiring livestock traveling across state lines to have an official tag and some type of shipping or movement documentation.

He said the state is working to meet dairy producers’ business models to move animals to market while allowing animals to be traced. Free tags are available, and some tags used currently by producers qualify as official identification.

Outgoing board members Scott Youse, Jody Vona, Ralph Shank and Myron Wilhide were recognized for their service to MDIA. New directors Matt Hoff, Robert Ramsburg, Matt Fry, Barb Minde and Dr. Jason Gress were elected.

Clayborne Zimmerman, a Virginia Tech student from Walkersville, received a $1,000 MDIA Boyd Cook Memorial Scholarship. Nicole Hood of Middletown, a Delaware Valley College student, and Audrey Ervin of Gaithersburg, who attends the University of Maryland, each received $500 scholarships.

About 35 youth ages 8 to 21 from across the state participated in the junior dairyman contest and program held in conjunction with the convention. The competition included a written test on general dairy knowledge and feed, farm equipment and milk sample identification.

Results of the junior division were Ryan Allen, first; Robert Hahn, second; James Savage, third; and Daisy Gardner, fourth. Intermediate division results were Charlie Sasscer, first; Katelyn Allen, second; Catherine Savage, third; and Josiah Manning, fourth. Senior division winners were Shelby Hahn, first; Ryan Zimmerman, second; Scott DeBaugh, third; and Sarah Manning, fourth.

The day program ended with the awarding of the Dairy of Distinction award to five farms for beautifying the rural countryside. The honorees were Burlin Farm, operated by the Eric and Faith Burall family; Clear Spring Creamery, operated by the Mark and Clare Seibert family; Green Acres Farmstead, operated by the Curvin and Glennis Eby family; Peace Hollow Farm, operated by the Myron and Janet Martin family; and Pheasant Echos Farm, operated by the Byron and Debbie Stambaugh family.

During the Maryland Dairy Shrine evening banquet, Frank Walbert of Palm Bay, Fla., and Myron Wilhide of Detour were inducted into the shrine.

Walbert is a lifelong supporter of the 4-H dairy program and worked for the University of Maryland’s Agronomy, Dairy and Forage Research Farm and Wye Research and Education Center. Wilhide is a dairy farmer who helped organize the Maryland Dairy Industry Association, serving as the first president, and the state’s dairy advisory committee that reports annually to the governor.

“The dairy shrine in Maryland is a good organization,” Walbert said, thanking the crowd for their attendance and support.

Dr. Matt Iager, treasurer, reported that there are 581 lifetime Maryland Dairy Shrine members. President Charles Iager recognized Gail Yeiser for serving on the National Dairy Shrine board. Others who served from Maryland include Mary Creek, Judy Iager, Lee Majeskie, Duane Norman and Kevin Stiles, he said.

Yeiser said the next National Dairy Shrine fall annual banquet is set for Sept. 11, following the judging contest during the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pa., rather than during the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. Historically, the banquet moved around.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm for that,” Yeiser said.

Outgoing Maryland Dairy Shrine directors Mary King and Matt Iager were recognized. Iager will continue as treasurer of the organization. Robert Morris and Gail Yeiser are serving their second term, and Frank Allnutt and Mary Creek will come on the board for their first term.

The shrine presented scholarships to Jessica Sentelle of Jefferson, who attends Virginia Tech; Rachel Manning of Huntingtown, a student at West Virginia University; and Clayborne Zimmerman. The Mid-Maryland Dairy Veterinarians Scholarship was presented to Annelise Myers of Clarksville, a University of Maryland student.

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