The following feature appeared in the Yakima Herald Republic’s “Saturday Soap Box” op-ed page on November 29, 2014, submitted by Yakima dairyman Bill Wavrin
I recently returned from the Washington dairy commission’s annual meeting in Vancouver, Wash., where the topic of exports came up. It reminded me of the Yakima Herald-Republic’s Sept. 25 editorial, “Alibaba showcases Valley’s international presence,” which got me thinking about Valley dairy exports.
From nationally recognized dairy industry leaders, I learned quite a bit about how Yakima Valley dairy exports have earned an international reputation for high standards. Consistent quality and delivery, efficient transportation to Pacific Rim markets, food safety, animal health and the Valley’s significant ag infrastructure have increased Valley exports.
The dairy industry contributes an estimated $938 million from farm gate milk and beef production to the Yakima Valley economy and employs more than 4,800 people, according to Washington State Uuniversity ag economist Dr. J. Shannon Neibergs, who separated Yakima County dairy contributions from a 2011 WSU statewide economic study. His analysis came from data analyzed in a survey of Washington’s 480 dairy farms (69 in Yakima County).
This year, Darigold will export $110 million of the Sunnyside plant’s cheese and whey production.
The plant processes about 5 million pounds of milk per day into cheese, with about 25 percent exported up from 17 percent in 2012; and whey powders with about 80 percent exported up from 72 percent in 2012. Asia is a primary market for Darigold nonfat dry milk and skim milk powders where water is extracted, while retaining calcium and nine other nutrients. Yakima Valley dairy exports are equal to about 30 percent of the 340 million pounds of dairy products Darigold exports every year. Dairy exports have grown every year since Darigold entered the export market in 1984.
A Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency (YRCAA) task force report on Air Quality Management Policy for Dairy Operations says 74% of the Valley’s 145,000 dairy cows reside on dairy farms where a high degree of ‘Best Management Practices’ (BMPs) for air quality are being implemented. The agency will continue to conduct dairy farm visits and work with dairy farmers on their efforts to improve air quality.
The report followed site visits by YRCAA teams to 59 Valley dairy farms. The teams were made up of two engineers and two compliance officers to assess each farm’s BMP utilization across eight required functional areas and systems. YRCAA Inspectors concluded that implementation of the Air Quality Management Policy (AQMP) is appropriate, and recommended that inspections for voluntary BMP application continue.
DeRuyter Brothers Dairy in Outlook employs two full-time veterinarians who work ‘cow-side’ every day in consultation with two professional dairy cow nutritionists. In addition to providing medical treatments, the veterinarians and nutritionists develop feed combinations that the cow’s body uses to burn energy and reduce manure emissions, while providing optimum natural milk production.
The DeRuyter dairy operation regularly monitors cow manure emissions for air quality and, according to the Yakima Regional Clean Air Authority ‘score card’ (see related story nearby), they did very well at it.
Basic nutrition comes from understanding the cow’s physiology. How the cows digest nutrients in feed results in more efficient manure emissions. Pregnant cows, for example,have special needs. “We have a group of cows that are carrying calves at the same time so we want to make their transition to motherhood as smooth as possible,” says herd manager and lead DeRuyter veterinarian, Dr. Kelly Reed. “The cows have a special diet just before calving, and for when they start milking again. Similarly a group that is making more or less milk gets fed differently as well as younger babies and teens.”
The first DVO Inc Two-Stage Mixed Plug FlowTM anaerobic digester was developed in 2001 to convert methane from manure into biogas to fuel an engine that generates electric power. Newer digester systems can also clean or scrub the biogas to produce natural gas suitable for commercial use. Other byproducts are produced like bedding for cows, a peat moss-like fiber product and odor free natural fertilizers. Since 2001, digesters -many now co-digesting food waste and manure – have been installed in 16 states with more under construction. Digesters turn waste into fuel, bio-fertilizers and other valuable products.
Ferndale-based Andgar Corporation specializes in construction and project management and has partnered with DVO Inc since 2004. Andgar has since installed over 100 systems in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and their latest install in California.
This month Andgar split off its digester division under the new name Regenis and plans further expansion into California markets. It will have the same ownership as a division of Andgar, but will operate under its new name.
Although digestion system technology hasn’t changed much in the past decade, digesters now have more sophisticated monitoring and efficiencies including the addition of food waste to help make the systems more viable economically as digester systems become more common in the U.S.
Dairyland News is distributed to dairy farm families, business leaders/dairy farm suppliers, government staff, elected officials, and news media to show how dairy farmers contribute to the community, with safe operations, best farm management practices and effective stewardship of land and animals. Dairyland News is produced by the Washington Dairy Products Commission in cooperation with the Washington State Dairy Federation.