Maldonado to keynote WUD convention

Western United Dairymen’s (WUD) annual convention will be held March 5-7, at the Embassy Suites hotel, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Former Senate Ag Committee chair Abel Maldonado will offer the keynote speech, March 6. Maldonado, well known for his California agriculture advocacy, is the eldest son of immigrant Mexican-American farm workers. Find other details on the convention can be found on the WUD convention website located at

The challenges and opportunities of federal and California milk marketing orders will be the topic of a panel discussion on March 6, 9:30 a.m. The panel, moderated by WUD CEO Michael Marsh, CEO, will include Dana Coale, Deputy Administrator USDA /AMS Dairy Programs, and attorneys Chip English, a partner at Davis, Wright, Tremaine LLP, and John J. Vlahos, Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP. The complete agenda can be downloaded at

The WUD Convention hotel registration deadline to obtain the discounted rate of $129 has been extended to Feb. 14. Late reservations must still use the WUD group link/code (below), but will receive the best-available rate.

Online reservations: To automatically be added to the WUD room block and receive the discounted rate starting at $129 per night, go to: and choose the “Hotel/Location” tab to find the link to the Embassy Suites. Or, call 805-549-0800 and provide: 1) Check-in/check-out dates; and 2) Group name “Western United Dairymen” OR Group Code “XWU”

Convention registration forms are available on WUD’s convention website: There are two registration forms: One for WUD members and invited guests, and one for non-members and exhibitors.

Source: Western United Dairymen


Emergency drought relief bill offered

Just days after Gov. Brown issued a drought emergency declaration, three California Congressmen, joined by House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced an emergency drought-relief bill to help farmers through what is certain to be a devastating year.

If passed, the bill would temporarily halt restoration of the San Joaquin River designed to bring back the historic salmon flow, among other measures. The bill is expected to be introduced in two weeks. It calls for allowing farmers to pump from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as water permits and forms a House-Senate committee to tackle water troubles. The bill’s three main prongs would seek to increase pumping out of the delta – if water is available – to agreed-upon 1994 levels, suspend the San Joaquin River restoration settlement, and create a Senate-House task force to come up with long term solutions.

Boehner was joined by three Republican colleagues: Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield and Rep. David Valadao of Hanford.

The proposed bill ran into immediate opposition from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who issued a statement saying: "I am concerned that (the new proposed bill) may follow the pattern of previous House bills which seek to either preempt state law or waive state water quality and Endangered Species Act requirements which could spur serious litigation and likely delay any action.”

Source: Western United Dairymen


Commentary: California drought a fish story

Source: Rob Vandenheuvel, Jan. 24 issue of Milk Producers Council newsletter

As we approach the end of January with very little measurable rain to speak of in California, there is more and more talk about a California drought and the impact it is having on the residents and farmers of California’s Central Valley. If you haven’t already seen it in your paper or on your evening news, it will undoubtedly be there soon.

The general population outside of our state probably knows very little about the Central Valley of California, but they undoubtedly recognize the “Made in California” labels that are on many of the products they eat. Given the readership of this newsletter, you already know that California’s dairy farms produce about 20% of the nation’s milk. But did you also know that according to CDFA, nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables come from California as well? Obviously, the availability of water in the Central Valley has a huge impact on U.S. availability of food (not to mention the global consumers of our products as well).

While much of the media attention has been on the lack of rain – which is certainly a valid observation – we as a local agricultural industry know that this drought was largely set in motion by human actions. No, I’m not talking about some theory that your pickup truck is causing “Global Warming.” I’m talking about the fact that our federal policies have resulted in a higher priority being set on the well-being of a 3-inch fish over the well-being of millions of California residents.

A short 12 months ago, California authorities released 700,000 acre-feet of useable fresh water out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and into the Pacific Ocean. Haven’t seen that in the media stories on this issue? Not surprising. If that fact seems preposterous and unbelievable, check it out on California’s Natural Resources Agency’s website:

Was it because of a lack of storage capabilities? Absolutely not! It was because of a fear that if the water were pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into available storage facilities, it might have killed some of the “Delta Smelt,” a 3-inch fish that happens to be on the U.S. “endangered species list.” Exactly how much water is 700,000 acre-feet? More than 260 billion gallons. And by the Natural Resources Agency’s own admission, it’s “enough to irrigate more than 200,000 acres of farmland or supply 1.4 million households for a year.”

How much better off would we be if we had that 700,000 acre-feet today in storage?

In the coming days/weeks/months, there will be lots of talk about how we can prevent this in the future, and we greatly appreciate the leadership of our Central Valley Legislators in trying to bring national awareness to this issue. We look forward to working with them on both short and long-term solutions. But in the meantime, we are left living with the real-life, painful consequences of a ridiculous federal policy that literally chooses the welfare of a 3-inch fish over that of the human beings that live here.


Water quality funding available for Eastern San Joaquin River

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that $3.5 million is available to California dairy producers east of the San Joaquin River in Merced and Stanislaus counties for water conservation and water quality improvements. This financial assistance is being made available through the Bay Delta Initiative (BDI), which was created in 2011 to help farmers in California’s Central Valley apply enhanced water quality-improvement practices on their land through a multi-year process.

BDI is one of a dozen national initiatives aimed at assisting farmers to put added conservation practices on the ground using a landscape-level approach. Applications are due Feb. 21, 2014. For more information, contact the Merced and Stanislaus County NRCS offices.

Source: Western United Dairymen


California Ag Leadership Program seeks applicants for Class 45

Applications are now being accepted for Class 45 of the California Agricultural Leadership Program. Growers, farmers, ranchers and individuals working in allied businesses and organizations are encouraged to apply.

The Ag Leadership Program, operated by the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation (CALF), is considered to be one of the premier leader-ship development experiences in the United States. More than 1,200 men and women have participated in the program and are influential leaders and active volunteers in the agriculture industry, communities and other areas.

The 16-month program, from October 2014 to January 2016, is composed of monthly seminars delivered by Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Fresno State, UC Davis and other academic institutions. Fellows also participate in a 10-day national travel seminar and a 15-day international travel seminar. Seminars provide a comprehensive curriculum focusing on a variety of subject matter.

Detailed program information and the phase one application are online at The phase one application is due no later than May 12, but individuals are encouraged to complete it earlier.

Source: Western United Dairymen


April 4 deadline for WUD Dairy Leaders Program applications

April 4, 2014 is the deadline to apply for Western United Dairymen's California Dairy Leaders Program. Designed to train the next generation of California's dairy leaders, the leadership program consists of several sessions devoted to developing a better understanding of the economic, legislative, marketing, and environmental issues facing the industry.

Eligible participants must be actively involved in milk production, be able to spend the necessary time in class, as well as studying resource materials, and be able to commit to visits to locations such as Sacramento and Washington DC. The program application process this year is being opened up to individuals in allied industries. Applications can be downloaded from the WUD website at

The year-long program kicks off in the spring. Topics include environmental issues, the state and federal legislative process, dairy pricing and economics, biotechnology developments, marketing and promotion, and public relations skills. Participants will develop and enhance their leadership skills through communication, business etiquette, negotiation skills, time management, and team building workshops. Instruction will be provided by recognized experts in their field.

Class enrollment will be limited to ensure one-on-one instruction. The program enrollment fee of $750 should be submitted with letters of recommendation. Further information is available by contacting Western United Dairymen at (209) 527-6453.

Source: Western United Dairymen


Hoof health management courses offered March 4-6

A hoof health management workshop will be held at two locations in central California: March 4 in Tulare; and March 6 in Merced. The workshop is hosted by UCCE and sponsored by Micronutrients.

The same program will be offered in two locations. The program will be presented by Alfonso Lago, DVM, PhD, Dairy Experts.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with Dr. Lago and others to develop their skills trimming, blocking and wrapping hooves. Proper care and sharpening of hoof trimming tools will also be practiced.

Bovine lower leg anatomy, biomechanics, lesion identification and classification, functional and therapeutic hoof trimming practices, blocking and wrapping will be covered during classroom instruction.

The sessions will be held:

• March 4 – UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center, Tulare. Contact: Alex Souza at (559) 805-2639 or by email at:

• March 6 – UC Cooperative Extension, Merced. Contact: Alejandro Castillo at (209) 385-7403 or by email at:

Pre-registration of the $10 fee by Feb. 26 is recommended.