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WHITE CLOUD, MI --

On a sunny, early spring-like day, 77 people attended the 110th annual meeting of the Old Newaygo DHIA, which took place on Friday, March 18, 2016 at The Shack Country Inn outside of White Cloud.  Board members Tom Carson and Lelah VanSplinter registered members, sponsors, and guests at the door starting at 11:30 a.m. Board member Kyle Folkema gave the welcome shortly after noon and Steve Adsmond gave the invocation before the buffet lunch.

Congressman Bill Huizenga’s aide, Greg Van Woerkom briefed the audience on the Flint water crisis and Gov. Snyder on the hot seat in DC hearings; about stopping Atlantic coastline oil exploration, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and took questions including urging Rep. Huizenga to use the EPA’s vulnerability to ag’s advantage in rolling back the Waters of the USA act. State Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, followed with a legislative update, acknowledging the governor accepting blame for the Flint crisis, steps taken to fix the problems, the Detroit Public Schools’ financial mess, specifically $500 million in pensions, facing a weakened credit rating and costing the state 3 ½ billion if allowed to go bankrupt.

Lucas Cotton from Newaygo Co. Conservation District reminded the audience about the MAEAP program, assessing operations, helping with verifications, as well as any other stewardship issue. Kathy Lee, from MSU Extension, talked about January’s calf care school, and using Extension to optimize dairy farm profit, with management practices, spreadsheet tools, monthly cash flows, and partial budgeting. NorthStar’s Mark Eisenga urged members to take advantage of the small-group PC Dart training offered, compared National DHIA’s 51 years to Old Newaygo’s 110 years, commending the county for its history and longevity and how DHIA has spread across the USA and overseas. He recognized the DHI information specialists in attendance, Brenda Bromley and Kelsey Haisma, and the recent retirements of long-term personnel. Kyle Folkema recognized sponsors in attendance as well as special guests, and randomly throughout the meeting distributed door prizes.

Lelah VanSplinter and Shari Konkel, along with business sponsors in the audience, presented awards to the members, with the following summary of the winners from the 2015 testing year, ranked on dollar value:  High herd-Jeff Knuver’s 147-cow herd @30,690# milk and $4880 value. Knuver also won top Reproductive Management Award (100-400 cows).  High cow—Kent Folkema took top cow honors with their high 6-Yr cow#2068—41,289# milk, 2079# butterfat, 1396# protein, and $8234 value. Country Folk Dairy also won top 4-Yr, 7+Yr, and Crossbreed Cow; top Repro Mgmt Award (400+ cows); one 300,000# cow. J-Max Dairy, LLC. also had a 300,000# cow. Sparks Quaker Acres had the top Brown Swiss cow. Carson Acres, LLC. was the runner-up high herd, won the 5-year increase award (gained 7447# milk in their herd average), and had the top Red & White cow. All these herds listed so far received an add-on plaque for achieving a rolling herd average of over 25,000 pounds of milk, along with the herds of Norris Dairy Farm, Inc., Ron Folkema’s A & R Farm, and Rich Byma. Aaron & Allen Slater won High Jr and Sr. 2-Yr, and High Jr. and Sr. 3-Yr Holstein. Roger Deters wonTop Jersey Cow, as well as having two Jerseys >150,000# milk. Joe Higgins won the top Milk Quality Award at 70,000 SCC. Wayne and Peggy Deuling won the Repro Mgmt Award for herds <100 cows.

Several farms were awarded certificates that had lifetime cows of over 200,000# milk.

Tom Carson presided over elections, with Jonathan Breuker of Fremont elected to fill the open board position.

Featured speaker, Peter Patrick of BKC Insurance, Cheboygan MI, gave an overview of the tornado tragedy suffered last June in Michigan’s Thumb area on the dairy farm of Henk De Vors. This farm milked 3500 head 3X/day, had 38 employees, and their building contractor had just finished a freestall barn expansion. An EF-1 tornado with 85mph winds swept through their farm at 10:02pm on June 22. Fortunately, employees were camped out in a concrete break room and there were no human casualties, and a De Vors son narrowly escaped injury from shrapnel in his house located on the farm. However, 80 cattle died from the initial storm, with 320 more having to be put down. Winds lifted roofs off, landing on top off other structures, twisting supports and posts, damaging the generator. 200 volunteers appeared with trucks, trailers, and heavy equipment, moving 1900 cows to other farms in the next hours and starting the clean-up process. Patrick spoke of the need to have adequate insurance which in the De Vors’ claim, paid for not just replacing buildings, but also concrete and exterior posts, debris removal, curtains, loss of income, and even food to feed volunteers and work crews. By December 21, the farm was completely rebuilt.

Kyle Folkema adjourned the meeting around 2:30 pm in time for the MSU basketball game which sadly the Spartans lost in the opening round of March Madness.

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