PDPW Dairy's Bottom Line -- July 2021

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BOTTOM LINE Thursday, July 15, 2021 SECTION E

Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

Education central to Tag Lane success PDPW

IXONIA, Wis. – Rick Schultz from a young age has been involved in the dairy industry. He grew up on his parents’ dairy farm east of Antigo, Wisconsin. But when he was 5 years old they sold the farm to move to Palmyra in the southeastern part of the state, where he helped his grandparents on their hobby farm. He milked cows at his neighbor’s dairy farm while attending Palmyra-Eagle High School. While attending Milwaukee School of Engineering he continued to milk on weekends at his neighbor’s farm. He later transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with a four-year degree in dairy science. He then successively worked at a 250-cow dairy near Clintonville, became an independent representative for ABS Global and worked on a 600-cow dairy near Waterford. About 11 years ago he stepped into his current position as herdsperson at Tag Lane Dairy near Ixonia, owned by Kevin and Chris Griswold. Tag Lane Dairy is home to about 1,700 cows. Schultz’s daily roles on the farm entail managing the herd’s reproduction program, including breeding, vaccinating and administering OvSynch shots. His typical work day involves an early-morning herd walk-through, during which he examines health

reports before turning to his daily reproduction tasks. But continual education has become a preeminent role for him through the years. As a member of a Professional Dairy Producers® peer group he’s had multiple opportunities to tour dairy farms of other group members. “Rick is particularly interested in taking practical information back to the farm,” said Emily Franke, PDPW project coordinator and facilitator of PDPW peer groups. “Making sure the cows are the No. 1 focus is important to him; he contributes wonderful insights to our group discussions.” Schultz said he finds value in discussing the practices others have found to be successful. “I love seeing what the others are implementing on their farms,” he said. “It’s beneficial to see what’s worked and what hasn’t.” A long-time attendee of PDPW educational programs, he said he’s found PDPW’s Financial Literacy for Dairy® series to be incredibly impactful. Having participated in all three levels of the multi-session financial-development curriculum, he’s benefited not only personally but also in his role as herd manager. Taught by experts in dairy finance and economics, Financial Literacy for Dairy builds on the financial numbers specific to each attendee’s dairy. Between sessions participants create benchmarks and operating goals,


As herdsperson at Tag Lane Dairy near Ixonia, Wisconsin, Rick Schultz helps manage a 1,700-cow dairy. He says he’s a believer in the value of lifelong learning and networking with other dairy producers. complete homework assignments and make appropriate course corrections along the way. “The Financial Literacy class offers invaluable content for both the dairy business and the dairy producer personally,” Schultz said. “It helps answer critical questions such as, ‘Where are you financially at currently?’ and

‘Where do you want to go?’ Actually knowing those numbers helps you get there.” Another program that’s made a difference for Schultz is PDPW’s Managers Academy for Dairy Professionals™. An executive-level-management program held annually, the three-day program introduces dairy managers to up-

per-level concepts and out-of-industry organizations. Attendees explore new approaches to issues such as labor, team management, consumer perceptions, environmental stewardship, business leadership and financial sustainability. Managers Academy participants typically enjoy the opportunity to spend a few January days in a warmer state. But the primary benefits come from networking with peers and making connections with experts from around the world. Schultz attended the program in San Diego, California, and in Orlando, Florida. He said the out-of-industry tours to Sea World, San Diego Zoo and Disney World enabled him to learn how executives in globally renowned tourist locations manage clashing consumer perceptions, labor challenges, water use and a number of other business-management challenges common to dairy. “It was interesting to hear their managers talk about some of the same animal-welfare problems we face in the dairy industry,” Schultz said. “It’s helpful to learn new ways we can respond to public perceptions – especially those that don’t tell the whole story.” He’s grateful for the learning opportunities PDPW has afforded him, he said. He encourages others to continue to learn and to better themselves.

Perspectives change on companion crops

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Short Lane Ag Supply

Indigo Ag

It was early-July 2017 when my brother and I applied our first interseeding application of companion crops into our dad’s corngrain field. “Dad” is Larry Oehmichen, founder of our company Short Lane Ag Supply Oehmichen LLC. At that time in Clark County, Wisconsin, seeding plants amongst a row crop was completely unheard of. Explaining the concept to dad re-emphasized that truth. “I am not spreading weeds into my corn fields,” he said. “Go buy your own farm if you want to grow them.” That was a clear and definitive statement of authority from our majority shareholder and father. So we did what any respectable son would do. We waited for him to leave on a fishing trip to Canada and applied the interseeding anyway. The application was a mix of 125 pounds of urea and 15 pounds of crimson clover, daikon radish and annual ryegrass. We broadcast-spread it with our John Deere HighBoy. To call it an unmitigated disaster would be harsh, but the establishment was fleeting and the growth underwhelming. That first interseeding would have broken any of us, and not just because my dad said, “I told you so.” It was especially difficult because of the socially judgmental attitude of agriculture at the time. We fear and therefore judge things we don’t understand. And then we’re relieved when it falls flat on its face because we aren’t pressured to change our perceptions. And that’s what companion crops do – change perceptions. What was once a disciplined practice – or at least a utopian desire to have weed-free plant-less rows – is becoming less common. More farmers are seeing the growing benefits from interseeding companion crops into standing

As with Matthew, I experienced a number of ups and downs being on the leading edge of a new practice in an area. A big part of that process required a willingness to change my own assumptions. Certainly I Stockwell would do a few things differently if given the chance. Indeed, how many of us wouldn’t change things if we had the chance? I’ve learned that cover crops and no-till approaches have considerable advantages. Soil maintains soil structure if it isn’t tilled every six or 12 months. Adding cover crops creates root channels that improve water infiltration while encourag-

Please see CROPS, Page E4

In contrast to traditional clean rows, interseeding between rows has indisputable advantages including better soil structure, less topsoil loss, warmer soil temperatures in spring and time savings for the producer. ing worms that further improve drainage. I found that instead of needing to wait four days for the soil to dry,

the wait time shrank to only two days. As we’ve all experienced, an extra two-day window can be all the difference when needing to plant or harvest crops. I also learned no-till soils are warmer in the spring. I had my doubts, so when I suspected it I decided to collect proof. In spring 2013 I tested the soil temperature of my soil and my neighbor’s across the fencerow. In 10 of the 12 weeks of tests, the notilled and cover-cropped soil had a slight temperature advantage of about 1 degree. In the remaining two weeks my neighbor made a tillage pass; it had not yet rained. But as soon as it rained the tilled soil temperature returned to its baseline average, cooler than the no-tilled soil. The simple fact is it takes six times more solar energy from the sun to warm saturated soil than to

warm well-drained soil. We all know how important early-season growth is for yearend yield. As a new farmer I experienced the conflicting joys and pains of not having an established line of equipment. That meant I wasn’t locked into any prior production practices, but I needed to build much of my collection of operating equipment. As I crunched the numbers to determine feasible options, one reality became abundantly clear. The only way I could make farming pencil-out was by using no-till and cover crops. The savings in equipment and operating costs were simply too evident. I knew, though, that I would need to be willing to accept the fact that farming in that manner might look a little different. Interseeding cover crops may be more innovative, but


Tradition has long idealized neat and clean rows between crops. it also maximizes the advantages provided by cover crops established after crop harvest. Sometimes we need to be willing to challenge our assumptions to gain valuable advantages. Ryan Stockwell is an agronomy-strategy manager at Indigo Ag; he’s a farmer near Medford, Wisconsin. Email rstockwell@indigoag.com to reach him.

Got comfort? Get quality! Target fresh applications to the bottom of the udder, along the center cleft, and up a few inches. Commit to 10 to 14 applications pre- and/or post-fresh and find out what these producers already know: Only the best will do!

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- Bruce Vande Hey (left), Wrightstown, Wis.

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BOTTOM LINE Thursday, July 15, 2021 Page E2

Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

PDPW: Who we are

Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW ) is Dairy's Professional Development Organization®. W ith a vision to lead the success of the dairy industry through education, our mission is to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

PDPW Board of Directors President Katy Schultz Fox Lake, Wis. 920-210-9661 katylschultz@ gmail.co m Vice President Janet Clark Rosendale, Wis. 608-341-6709 vafarmsllc@hotmail.com Secretary John Haag Dane, Wis. 608-576-0812 jahaag5@gmail.com Treasu rer Steven Orth Cleveland, Wis. 920-905-2575


Directors Andy Buttles Lancaster, Wis. 608-723-4712 stonefront@tds.net Ken Feltz Stevens Point, Wis. 715-570-6390 feltzfarms@hotmail.com Corey Hodorff Eden, Wis. 920-602-6449 corey@secondlookholsteins.com Paul Lippert Pittsville, Wis. 715-459-4735 lippert4735@gmail.com Brady Weiland Columbus, Wis. 920-285-7362 bweiland11@hotmail.com

PDPW Advisers Andrew Skwor 608-963-5211 askwor@msa-ps.com

Kurt Petik 920-904-2226 kurt.petik@raboag.com Roger Olson 920-362-4745 roger.olson@zinpro.com Peter Weber 715-613-6664 pweber@genex.coop

www.pdpw.org mail@ pdpw.org 800-947-7379

Hub projects tackle very important topics

Upcoming Educational Events JUL 15

Wisconsin Dairy Robotics Tours Shawano, WI

Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.


JUL 20, 28, AUG 3

Across the state Wisconsinites are celebrating summer by enjoying a little more ice cream, cheese, milk and other delicious dairy foods. This past month we welcomed back many June Dairy Month activities after a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic. Dairy breakfasts, farm shows and other community events are a reminder to those of us in the dairy space that we have a unique opportunity – and responsibility – to engage with the public about dairy farming and processing. Woldt Connecting the value of the University of Wisconsin-Dairy Innovation Hub to the public is important. Simply put the Dairy Innovation Hub represents an investment of $7.8 million per year by the state of Wisconsin. It harnesses research and development at UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UWRiver Falls. Funding is split three ways – 52 percent goes to UW-Madison and 24 percent each to UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls. Dollars are used to conduct research, purchase equipment, recruit talent and engage in outreach. The purpose of the Innovation Hub is to keep Wisconsin’s $45.6 billion dairy community at the global forefront in producing nutritious dairy foods in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner. Its four priority areas impact all Wisconsinites.  land and water  human health and nutrition  animal health and welfare  farm business and community Projects funded by the Innovation Hub are as diverse as the Wisconsin dairy community. Every farm size and management philosophy are represented in more than 100 funding awards given in less than two years. The projects are asking bold questions with hopes of making big discoveries that will impact farmers, processors, citizens and communities alike. Research is a long-term investment. But in some cases there are projects that already have preliminary data – or don’t require long timelines. The Innovation Hub is actively looking for such projects to help generate quick and meaningful wins for the dairy community. As we make our way through the various spaces this summer where public and dairy communities coalesce,

Hoof Health Workshop July 20, Waupaca, Wis. Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

JUL 20-22; 27-29

The Dairy Signal™ The purpose of the Innovation Hub is to keep Wisconsin’s $45.6 billion dairy community at the global forefront in producing nutritious dairy foods in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner. I’m reminded of the direct connection and benefit the Innovation Hub provides the people of Wisconsin. This past month my family and I attended the Columbia County Moo Day Brunch at Schoepp Farms near Lodi, Wisconsin. Ron Schoepp is known for his expertise in rotational grazing with dairy heifers. He’s raised some heifers for us, so it was a nice treat to attend the breakfast and support the event. As we toured the farm and watched the demonstration of animals being moved from one paddock to another, I recalled a research project funded by the Dairy Innovation Hub at UW-Platteville. A team of engineers partnered with Chris Wilson, a dairy farmer from Cuba City, Wisconsin. On his 500-cow organic-dairy farm they created two virtual technologies to increase grazing efficiency. The goal of that project, and a major goal for the Innovation Hub, is to help Wisconsin dairy farms improve and economize based on their unique goals. That in turn helps farms thrive and stay nationally competitive. It helps keep rural communities strong. It doesn’t need to be summer to celebrate good things happening in dairy. The team behind the Dairy Innovation Hub strives year-round to maintain open and transparent communication about our efforts. Visit dairyinnovationhub. wisc.edu for more information and to join our mailing list. Maria Woldt is the program manager of the Dairy Innovation Hub. Email maria.woldt@ wisc.edu to reach her.

Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

JUL 20, 28, AUG 3

Hoof Health Workshop July 28, Frankfort, NY Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

AUG 3-5

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

JUL 20, 28, AUG 3

Hoof Health Workshop August 3, Lake Norden, SD Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

AUG 10-12; 17-19

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

AUG 23-26

Agricultural Community Engagement (ACE) On-the-Farm Twilight Meetings Aug 23 Aug 24 Aug 25 Aug 26

Visit www.pdpw.org for details; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

AUG 24-26; 31

The Dairy Signal™ Online, 12 – 1 pm CT Visit www.pdpw.org to participate in live-streamed event. Audio/video recordings also available free.

JAN 11-13, 2022

Manager’s Academy for Dairy Professionals™ Florida More details to come; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

MAR 15-16, 2022

Cornerstone Dairy Academy™ Wisconsin Dells, Wis. More details to come; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

MAR 16-17, 2022

PDPW Business Conference Wisconsin Dells, Wis. More details to come; all sessions held in compliance with CDC guidelines.

PDPW mission: to share ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.

Are we missing something? Let us know topics or stories you would like us to include. Email agriview@ madison.com with ideas!

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BOTTOM LINE Thursday, July 15, 2021 Page E3

Sharing ideas, solutions, resources and experiences that help dairy producers succeed.


Listening skills key to managing conflict MICHAEL HOFFMAN

One can’t have humans work together on any level and expect things to be perfect all the time. That unrealistic ideal went out with the Garden of Eden – and even then they had an issue with fruit. I think it’s safe to say we all have stories of epic confrontations that ring in the Hoffman hallowed halls of our memories. Coming from a big family I have lots. One of my favorites is the “good-morning fight” between my sisters, who were teenagers at the time. We still talk about it at Thanksgiving gatherings. It’s a classic tale of unspoken tension building to a crescendo between people living on top of each other every day. One morning one of my sisters passed the other in the hallway, mumbling “good morning” as she passed. The other – not discerning her words – assumed the worst. She spun around, hissing “WHAT did you say?!” In the moments that ensued, a flood of unexpressed resentment

and pent-up emotions were unleashed. With bewildered expressions, my parents sat them down at the kitchen table. They spent the better part of the weekend encouraging my sisters to work it out. Let’s face it; families are messy. Whether it’s within our families or our teams, conflict happens. The good news is conflict can be an opportunity to build strong connections when handled properly. The way we handle problems is typically what establishes the relationships we have with our most loyal customers. One of my favorite sayings captures that nicely – “It’s not the problem that’s the problem; it’s how you handle the problem that’s the problem.” And like everything else when it comes to creating a strong culture, our people skills are our most important tools. It’s not a matter of if conflict will arise, but rather when. When it does, I have tips to add to the tool bag of people skills needed to be a person of influence in managing conflict. Don’t jump to conclusions. In every conflict there are multiple sides and perspectives. It’s like four people describing a moun-


Before problem-solving and conflict resolution can take place, all pieces of the puzzle must be on the table. Effective question-asking and listening skills are critical for determining how best to handle a situation. tain from four different compass points. They’re all talking about the same mountain but from different points of view. In an argument one person may be talking about comprehensive big-picture issues. Another person is talking about issues regarding her or his turf. If the topic of discussion isn’t clearly stated, people may move toward a solution that doesn’t even address the problem at hand. To avoid jumping to conclusions

it’s important to do more listening than talking. Good listening skills and empathy are superpowers. There is no way to know another person’s perspective of a story without hearing it. Few of us are part of the Psychic Network; we shouldn’t assume we know anything. Listening involves hearing more than spoken words; one must also tune into the other person’s emotions, tone of voice and

unstated desires. Be attentive to any unspoken words being inferred; show understanding of the other’s perspective. Doing so demonstrates support of the other person and will reduce his or her natural self-defense reflexes. When people feel as though they’re being heard they’ll relax their defenses. That makes room for emotions to diffuse and solutions to appear, without needing to agree with their points of view. Empathy is not sympathy. According to merriam-webster.com to have sympathy is to share the feelings of another. To have empathy is to understand the feelings of another without necessarily sharing them. One good way to be positioned to listen more effectively is to ask questions. Question-asking is the biggest tool in the tool bag when it comes to releasing emotional energy and discovering real issues behind problems. Before agreeing on a solution all the puzzle pieces must be on the table. My four go-to categories for asking questions are facts, figures, issues and concerns. Please see HOFFMAN, Page E4

Use milk marketing STOP FLIES IN THEIR to control price TRACKS! CARL BABLER

Implementing milk-marketing tools is an important consideration for dairy producers who want more control in the price they receive for milk produced. In my role as a commodity-marketing educator some of the basic precepts I teach Babler others center on the focus, meaning and purpose of commodity marketing. The focus of marketing is price. Milk prices are offered daily to dairy producers via several channels. Those include cash-contract opportunities through dairy cooperatives and proprietary milk processors, exchange-traded futures and options contracts. Prices are ever-changing as buyer and seller bids are affected by seasonal, cyclical, weather and policy factors. Other drivers of supply and demand also influence prices – such as imports and exports, consumption and storage. Price fluctuation can be measured in cents per hun-

dredweight by the minute, or increments of $5 to $10 per hundredweight during a number of months. Such price volatility has prompted many a dairy producer to bemoan the unpredictable nature of prices. Those who are marketers of milk have a different perspective on price fluctuation; they see possibility where others see vulnerability. Milk marketers focus on price as a daily opportunity to generate revenue from milk production. They rely on the mathematical formula where production multiplied by price equals revenue. Marketing is not about price prediction, forecasting or speculating; it’s about viewing price as it is. Without a specific focus on where price is, where price has been and the current condition of price, marketing efforts will be random and baseless. I describe the meaning of marketing as “doing something with price.” In other words it means making a concerted effort to manage price. Marketing is not a spectator sport. Marketers focus on price and are willing to do something

with milk price – manage it – prior to milk being produced. Systematically fixing price to capture profitable revenue opportunities – or protecting price with minimum-price strategies – are opportunities that allow dairy producers to “do something with price.” Dairies that choose to ride out milk-price fluctuations and price risks without marketing take an extreme financial risk. The purpose of marketing is to capture price opportunity and manage price risk. To accomplish that a producer must first acknowledge the price-risk exposure. Total milk production during a given period of time, multiplied by milkprice declines observed in the past, equals price-risk exposure. A dairy committed to “doing something with price” before milk is produced is in a position to apply strategies that accomplish the purpose of marketing. Effective marketing is contingent on the strategic use of available marketing tools. Examples include Dairy Margin

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Please see BABLER, Page E4

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Southeast Scott Hecker 920.374.0010

Southwest Trevor Yager 608.574.6142

Northwest Darin Klevgard 608.434.4171

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| THURSDAY, JULY 15, 2021




The soil structure of a row with no interseeding of companion crops, left, is compared to the soil profile of a row in which companion crops were interseeded between rows on the Oehmichen farm. Though the rows are right next to each other, soil structure in the interseeded row is noticeably less compacted. In addition the interseeded corn did not show a yield drag and matched the betteryielding grain fields on the Oehmichen farm.

Crops From E1

corn. The observations have commonly shown a reduction in topsoil loss, more weed suppression and enhanced nutrient sequestering. The most popular, though, has been the enhancement of “trafficability” of equipment on and off the field. And then there’s the time savings for the farmer. Don’t misunderstand; that doesn’t

offset the other reasons. But it’s important to recognize the role companion crops play, environmentally as well as agronomically. A synergy exists when companion crops – not the same thing as a mass of weeds – are allowed to flourish. Matthew Oehmichen is part-owner of Short Lane Ag Supply of Colby, Wisconsin. Email matt.shortlane@ gmail.com to reach him.


Marketing is not a spectator sport. Systematically fixing prices to capture profits or protect prices are opportunities for dairy producers to manage milk and commodity prices.

Babler From E3

Coverage, Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy and Dairy Revenue Protection. Also cash-market contracts and exchange-traded futures and options can be used singularly or in combination with one another. A current marketing example considers the questions, “Will your dairy be producing milk in December 2021? If so, how many

Hoffman From E3

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Open-ended questions encourage dialogue. Such phrases begin with the words “how,” “what,” “why,” “when” and “where.” Closeended questions confirm information but don’t require additional input – such as

pounds?” Focus on price. Futures price for December 2021 is $17.87. Consider what $17.87 means to your dairy. Acknowledge the price risk. In August 2020 the Class III futures price for December 2021 was established as $16.10. Multiply expected production for December 2021 by the $16.10 price exposure. Do something with price. The December 2021 futures price of $17.87 has been stated. Before any

milk is produced in December, determine whether to apply Dairy Margin Coverage or Dairy Revenue Protection. Decide whether to fix a price with your processor, or hedge with futures or options traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. A growing number of dairy producers across the United States are marketing their milk. The challenge before every dairy farmer in the days and years ahead is to apply

these simple marketing concepts to whatever circumstances are presented by markets and price volatility. Will you be defined as a milk marketer?

“Did that make sense?” and “So you’re saying …” Ask “What else?” several times. It’s a great way for the leader to keep from talking too soon or too much – while also allowing the other person to share his or her thoughts more thoroughly. Be mindful to seek both sides of the conflict. A puzzle can’t be built with-

out all the pieces. As long as people work with one another there will be conflict. That’s not a problem as long as there are effective communicators who know how to diffuse emotional situations. Don’t jump to conclusions. Encourage both sides to talk by asking good questions. Validate them with strong

listening and empathy skills.

Carl Babler is principal at Atten Babler Commodities. He’s a commodity-marketing consultant and senior hedge specialist as well as a guest lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-College of Agriculture. Email cbabler@attenbabler.com to reach him.

Michael Hoffman is president of Igniting Performance, a Dallas-based training and consulting firm that specializes in the areas of sales, leadership and building customer loyalty. Email michael @ignitingperformance.com to reach him.

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