The St. Helena/Tangipahoa Dairy Advisory Committee met on March 24, 2010 at Mike’s Catfish in Amite at 10:00 a.m. Present were Mike Miller, Tony Beaubouf, Mike McCormick
, Dr. Bobby Fletcher Jr
., Patrick Babineaux, Steve Williams, Marshall Cutrer, Hubert Yarborough, Jr., Teddy Thompson, Mack McCraney, Jeff Addison and Charlie Hutchison
. Guest was Henry Capdeboscq Jr.
Mike Miller, chairman, called the meeting to order. Ronnie Bardwell introduced Dr. Bobby Fletcher Jr., interim regional director of the Southeast Region and assistant director for LSU Cooperative Extension Service, to the committee. His comments included how the LSU AgCenter was part of higher education and has received significant budget cuts. Committee members were asked to inform local elected officials, that is, school board, council and police jury members, to support and tell local governing boards about the story of the LSU AgCenter. Please tell the importance of the LSU AgCenter and let the people know that no financial benefits come to the LSU AgCenter from tuition increases at LSU Baton Rouge campus. Dr. Fletcher stated that local support was up to 12% of total salaries and hopefully by July, 2011, it would be approaching 20%. A proposed bill for the 2010 legislative session could be introduced to provide funds for LSU AgCenter.
Additional comments include a new educational program known as LaYAPP, Louisiana Young Agricultural Producer Program sponsored by La. Farm Bureau and LSU AgCenter for 11th and 12th graders. Specifics about the new program can be obtained through 4-H club agents and/or online at lsuagcenter.com Web site.
Ronnie Bardwell gave the minutes and financial report to the committee. After review of the reports, a motion to accept the minutes and financial report was made by Charlie Hutchison and seconded by Hubert Yarborough Jr. Motion carried.
Chairman called on Dr. Charlie Hutchison, dairy specialist with LSU AgCenter, for report on dairy members. The total number of dairy producers decreased in 2009 to 166, down 20 from 2008. Fourteen parishes had at least one dairy producer last year. There was a decrease from 21,105 dairy cows in 2008 to 17,105 in 2009. Approximately 93% of the total herds, production and cows are in St. Helena, Tangipahoa, Washington & DeSoto parishes. The farm value of milk produced in Louisiana decreased from $65.4 million to $39.3 million from 2008 to 2009. Value-added dollars also decreased in 2009 from $180 million to $110.4 million in 2008. St. Helena has 18 herds, milking 2315 cows producing 32.7 million pounds. Tangipahoa has 66 herds, milking 8150 cows producing 110.5 million pounds. Comments were made about a request from New York Agricultural Commissioner to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to raise the support price to $18.50. Also mentioned was that the MILC will probably begin payments in April.
Patrick Babineaux, county director with Farm Service Agency (FSA), informed the committee if you received an IRS form to sign it and send back ASAP. The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) was moving slow but would continue until 2011. Also, he asked the group to report any cattle deaths of theirs within thirty days (30) in order to meet normal mortality. There was discussion about a new Farm Storage Facility Loan up to 75% to build a building under $50,000 in order to store hay or other purposes. The Emergency Livestock Animal Program (ELAP) and Livestock Feed Program (LFP) were also mentioned.
Mack McCraney, loan officer with FSA, discussed operating loans for pastures, hay and livestock. The Tangipahoa office made more loans than any other FSA office in Louisiana. Milk prices used in calculating loans was $3.00 per cwt. higher than dairymen received for their milk.
Tony Beaubouef, director of Natural Resources Conservation Service, informed the committee about conservation franchise available through Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). A continuous signup is available which includes waste management, shade structures, clover planting and prescribed grazing.
Henry Capdeboscq Jr, board member with La. Family Farms, discussed pursuing financial assistance to build a milk-processing plant. Recently, a meeting with a representative from a South Carolina company that specializes in Federal Tax Incentives was held to discuss how equity could be generated.
Marshall Cutrer, Board of Health, Milk Division manager, informed the committee about daily reports of sediment, bacteria and somatic cell counts concerns.
Jeff Addison, dairyman, spoke about a milk survey taken at a Spring Garden Forum in Hammond recently. Many of the participants expressed the desire to buy local produced and processed milk & milk products. Hanna, his daughter, who is home schooled, did the survey as a 4-H project.
Ronnie discussed the results of a survey sent to the dairymen in this three-parish area by mail. The number of surveys received was 34. The purpose of the survey was to get feedback from dairymen about their farms and needs. Information obtained will give LSU AgCenter personnel insight about what dairymen know, feel important or areas where more information is desired. Educational programs will be developed to “narrow the gap” from what is to what should be. Most dairymen that completed the survey wanted to know how to calculate their cost of production per hundred pounds of milk. A computer program spreadsheet is being developed to assist producers in obtaining this information at this time. Other educational programs will be developed from results of the survey.
The thought about combining both of the local diary days into the Southeast Dairy Day was thoroughly discussed. The committee agreed to include Washington Parish this year if their Dairy Advisory Committee wanted to combine. Paul Alford, St. Helena dairymen, will host this year's Dairy Day on Friday, June 11, 2010. His farm is located 7 miles west of Kentwood on LA 38.
Ronnie got input from dairymen on updating the dairy supporter list.
After a lunch, motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Teddy Thompson and seconded by Hubert Yarborough, motion carried.