Achieving quality milk takes more than adhering to two or three key principles. It takes a team effort.
For Grande Cheese Company, quality is more a journey than an accomplishment or destination.
Quality is a continually evolving definition and process with no finish line. And while processors and producers may define quality, the consumer ultimately evaluates their efforts. To produce a quality product that meets consumer expectations, one must have a commitment to quality from all parties up and down the food-supply chain.
At Grande Cheese Company, selling … “The finest Italian cheeses money can buy!”® drives the establishment of internal goals that begin with the milk supply.
We want products sold under the Grande trademark to be the best consumers can buy, and we all take great pride in protecting that quality. When procuring producer dairies to supply milk to Grande Cheese Company, we look for producers with “the attitude to do it right.”
With proper attitude and pride in a job well done, many of the intangibles fall into place. Dairymen of this description look for the same traits in those with whom they do business, including their marketer. Dairymen demand quality from their suppliers and from their marketers. We want to be part of that supply chain.
A team commitment
Producing quality milk requires a team effort. The team doesn’t start with the cows and end with the milkers. We consider the team to include everyone who has input or involvement with the dairy farm.
At Grande, many of our producers use our Milk Management Assistance Program (MMAP®) to help them fine tune the process of producing quality milk. Our MMAP® veterinarian, Andy Johnson of Seymore, Wis., with the support of our field staff, has built a nationally recognized program of education, quality, and cow comfort techniques that a cutting-edge producer dairy seeks. These producers have access to Johnson (at a cost-shared rate) on their farm to evaluate milking procedures, equipment, environment, and milk management practices.
The program was introduced in 1989 as a single basic program. Since then, MMAP® has grown to five programs that better address individual producer needs. Included in the program is a culturing service that allows producers to continually monitor their bulk tanks and individual cows for all mastitis pathogens, including mycoplasma.
To better serve our producer dairies, all milk composition data, including milk weights and temperatures, are available on our Web site. Coliform, lab-pasteurized counts and standard plate counts are available to monitor milking equipment hygiene, cow cleanliness and effectiveness of prepping routines. Grande Cheese Company’s field representatives take a keen interest in the success and milk quality goals of each individual producer. It is their responsibility to bring resources together to meet the goals of both the processor and producer.
No one individual piece of the food supply chain can achieve quality milk alone. The processor and marketer of your milk must be part of your milk-quality team. Talk to them about what services they may offer and how you can help support milk quality in the food-supply chain. Having a partnership with our producers allows us to continually meet and exceed consumer expectations.
For those of us at Grande Cheese Company, quality is more than a defining set of numbers; it is an attitude that carries through in everything we do: Pride in a job well done.
Greg Siegenthaler is the milk quality manager with Grande Cheese Company in Brownsville, Wis.