Dairy Profit Seminar Series at Empire Farm Days!

Dairy Profit Seminars are a regular stop for dairy producers, dairy farm staff and agribusiness professionals each day at Empire Farm Days, set for Aug. 6, 7 and 8 at the Rodman Lott & Sons Farm, Seneca Falls, N.Y. The 2019 edition feature more but shorter presentations, refreshments, door prizes and fun as well at top quality information you can put to work on your dairy operation.  They are held on the show grounds at the DairyBusiness Dairy Seminar Center, Lot #429.

The sponsors are: Ag Modeling & Training Systems (ASTM), ASAP Interiors, Dairy Farmers of America – DFA Northeast, Farm Credit East, Farm Family / American National Insurance and Pikeside Enterprises.

Your hosts are DairyBusiness.com, PRO-DAIRY, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, and Empire Farm Days.

Here’s the schedule:


 10:00 a.m.    Welcome & introductions – Joel Hastings, DairyBusiness.com

10:15 a.m.    Betsy Hicks and Lindsay Ferlito  – “Facilities – Research, Renovations and Low-Cost Solutions for Tie-Stalls”

(10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.         food break for those attending)

11:15 a.m.   Bob Church – “Managing NY Robotic Milking Systems: What We’ve Learned”

12:45p.m.     Joe Lawrence – “Corn Silage Harvest Strategy: One chance to get it right”

1:15 p.m.   Curt Gooch – “Calf Housing Ventilation: What’s the latest?”

(1:45p.m. – 2:15 p.m.   food break for those attending)

2:15p.m.    Tom Overton – “Keynote: Adapting to an Evolving Northeast Dairy Industry”

(3:00 p.m. until…  speakers available to the audience with refreshments and music)




10:00 a.m.    Welcome & introductions – Joel Hastings, DairyBusiness.com

10:15 a.m.     Christine Brodeur, DFA Northeast –  “What Can You Do About Your Milk Check?”

(10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.         food break for those attending)

11:15 a.m.   Catherine de Ronde, Agri-Mark  – “Where are we headed? Milk prices and the future of the dairy industry.”

12:45p.m.     Gregg McConnell, Farm Credit East – “Keys to Making Your Dairy Farm Business Work”

1:15 p.m.  Dr. Larry Jones, FARME Institute – “What Drives Your Milk Price?”

(1:45p.m. – 2:15 p.m.   food break for those who attended or will attend)

2:15 p.m.   Panel discussion with all speakers. Moderator: Jason Karszes, PRO-DAIRY

(3:00 p.m. until…  speakers available to the audience with refreshments and music)



10:30 a.m.  NY Junior Dairy Leaders Graduation Program – Debbie Grusenmeyer, PRO-DAIRY

(Followed by refreshments)


Speakers & Topics:

Here’s the topic: Facilities – Research, Renovations and Low-Cost Solutions for Your Tie-Stall Barn

Cow comfort has been a focus for the dairy industry, with ample research conducted on lameness, lying time, and facility design in freestall barns.  However, very little research in tie stall facilities has been piloted, even though these facilities are still very common, especially in NY.  Through grant funding provided by NY Farm Viability Institute, 22 dairies in Northern and Central NY participated in a study of tie stall barns where both cows and facilities were assessed.  Results from this study as well as renovations and low-cost solutions will be discussed.

Lindsay Ferlito & Betsy Hicks

Speaker: Betsy Hicks, a native of Western NY, majored in Animal Science at SUNY Cobleskill, focusing on dairy cattle and nutrition and interning at several commercial dairies.  She continued her education at the University of Illinois, completing her master’s degree in Animal Science in 2008.  Moving back to NY, Betsy worked in the CNY region providing nutritional consulting to a variety of dairy farms for five years.  She was a NYS Certified Milk Inspector before joining the South-Central New York Dairy & Field Crops Team as Regional Dairy Specialist in 2014.  She is based in the Cortland County Cornell Cooperative Extension office, and areas of focus include nutrition, cow comfort and lameness, animal behavior and operations management.  She can be reached at[email protected] or 607-391-2673.

Speaker: Lindsay Ferlito was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and received her BS in Animal Biology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). After graduation she worked as an intern at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and then as a research assistant at the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre in Agassiz, BC. Lindsay completed her MS in Animal Science from the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program. While completing her MSc she worked on-farm as well as conducting her own research. For almost five  years, she worked for the Novus C.O.W.S.® Program conducting on-farm cow comfort assessments, seminars on cow comfort, and providing producers with herd-specific feedback relative to regional benchmarks. By visiting hundreds of dairies across the country, she gained a unique perspective and understanding of cow comfort in the U.S. and Canada. She joined the Cornell North Country Regional Ag Team as a Regional Dairy Specialist in 2016, based in Lewis County. Her areas of focus include cow comfort, lameness, cow behavior, barn design. She’s a passionate promoter of the dairy industry.  She can be reached at [email protected] or 607-592-0290.

Here’s the topic: Managing NY Robotic Milking Systems – What We’ve Learned

Robotic milking systems began to take hold in New York about 10-12 years ago.  Since, then, dairy farmers have learned plenty about how to manage this technology.  Bob Church will share what he’s learned working with farmers to successfully implement a robotic milking system.

Speaker: Bob Church, Project Manager, Farm Management Services, Finger Lakes Dairy Services in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Bob Church has extensive experience in the dairy industry. He was a partner at Patterson Dairy, NY where he managed the dairy herd.  In Bob’s current role with Finger Lakes Dairy Services he provides farm management services for dairies with robotic milking systems.

Here’s the topic: Corn Silage Harvest Strategy: Once Chance to Get it Right!

Joe Lawrence

Each year there is one chance to harvest a forage that will be a major component of the herds feed needs for 12 months or more. Planning for success during this dynamic process involves mapping out a flexible strategy that allows you to adapt to changing crop and weather conditions without forfeiting your goals for quality forage.

Speaker: Joe Lawrence serves as Dairy Forage Systems Specialist with the Cornell PRO-DAIRY team. He has been involved in the NY dairy industry his entire life, growing up on a farm in Northern NY and working as an Extension Educator and private sector Crop Advisor prior to his current role. His work has a strong focus on a whole farm approach to forage management.

Here’s the topic: Calf Housing Ventilation Essentials and How to Achieve Them

Pre-weaned calves reared in calf barns need clean and draft-free air 24/7/365 if growth and production potentials are going to be achieved.  Ventilation goals are achievable both in retrofit situations and new construction.  Join this discussion of the practical considerations for calf housing ventilation.

Curt Gooch

Speaker:  Curt Gooch, has over 30 years of agricultural facility design and construction management experience, including capital projects for dairy and many other livestock species. He also has extensive experience in dairy facility design, cow comfort design and environmental assessment, integrated waste collection, conveyance, treatment, and utilization systems including anaerobic digestion, sand-laden dairy manure treatment, and nutrient recovery. He joined PRO-DAIRY as dairy environmental systems engineer in 1998. In the early 2000’s, with the onset of the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), he conceived and developed the Dairy Environmental Systems (DES) Program which he continues to manage today. A licensed  professional engineer, he holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Maryland.

Here’s the topic: Adapting to an Evolving Northeast Dairy Industry

Tom Overton

Keynote Speaker: Thomas R. Overton, Ph.D., is Professor of Dairy Management in the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University.  He serves as Director of the PRO-DAIRY program at Cornell, and as Associate Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension works with statewide and regional extension teams within New York to enhance the dairy and agricultural industries in the Empire State.  Tom is recognized nationally and internationally for his research and extension efforts relating to dairy cattle nutrition. Tom is a native of northern New York who grew up primarily in Massachusetts. He has a B.S. degree from Cornell University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois.

Here’s the topic:  Where are Milk Prices Headed and What Will You Do About It?

As director of DFA Risk Management, Christine Brodeur monitors markets closely helping DFA members with their risk management programs.  She will share her insights about milk market conditions with recommendations for dairy farmer strategies.

Christine Brodeur

Speaker: Christine Brodeur began her career at DFA in 2008 as a communications specialist. In 2011, she transitioned to DFA Risk Management, a division of Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., to assist in providing cooperative members with information to better understand forward contracting programs. She is now responsible for leading the membership team within DFA Risk Management to work with DFA members across the country supporting profitability by eliminating price uncertainty. In 2018, Christine received her NYS insurance broker’s license, and has been tasked with driving the expansion of DFA Risk Management’s offerings into Dairy Revenue Protection insurance. Christine received her BA degree from Niagara University and the MBA from Le Moyne College in 2015. She lives in Warners, N.Y., with her family.

Here’s the topic: Where are we headed?  Milk prices and the future of the dairy industry.

The pace of change has picked up in the Northeast as it has across the country.  Catherine’s study of consumer trends on dairy processing and producer milk checks gives her important insight to what our future holds.

Catherine de Ronde

Speaker: Catherine de Ronde joined Agri-Mark in March 2017 as an Economist.  She is responsible for watching dairy market trends, forecasting milk prices, and working on state and federal legislation affecting Agri-Mark members.  Catherine believes in the importance of telling the dairy farmer story and communicating the economic benefits and issues to the public and policy makers.  Catherine was previously employed as the Agricultural Economist with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.  While with the Department, she worked with a variety of agricultural industries, most notably the dairy industry.  She was responsible for administering the state’s Dairy Farmer Tax Credit Program, which distributes a maximum of $6 million dollars to the state’s dairy farmers in years when farm milk prices fall below the cost of production. Catherine holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Resource Economics from the University of Connecticut.

Here’s the topic: Keys to Making Your Dairy Farm Business Work

A dairy farm that is run well as a business can provide a great way of life.  However, a dairy farm run as a way of life, doesn’t usually make a successful business.  Here are critical items to track in operating your farm business.

Gregg McConnell

Speaker: Gregg McConnell, a business consultant for Farm Credit East, began his career with an Ithaca-base farm cooperative.  As a Farm Credit loan officer, he worked a diverse portfolio for 15 years including dairy as well as crop, equine and winery operations.  He’s been consulting for eight years helping farmers analyze their farm and business performance in order to reach their personal goals.  He’s also a member of the Dairy Benchmark, an in-depth financial and production management analysis for a group of 130 dairy operations which together manage 160,000 cows.  He’s a graduate of the University of Maine and lives in Geneva, N.Y.

Here’s the topic: What Drives Your Milk Price?

Dr. Larry Jones

Understanding what’s in your milk check is step one to taking control of your business. Dr. Jones can accurately identify all the variables at work in the Federal Milk Marketing Order price calculations and what that means for producers.

Speaker: Dr. Larry Jones earned his PhD degree from the University of Illinois and formerly was on the faculty at Cornell.  An experienced dairy nutritionist, he works with his wife, Dr. Joanne Sciciliano-Jones, at their FARME Institute consulting firm in Homer NY.  He is also a territory manager for American Farm Products

Here’s the topic: Panel discussion with all speakers. 

Jason Karszes

Moderator: Jason Karszes, PRO-DAIRY. Jason works with 80 to 100 dairy producers a year, focusing on education and research around annual business performance, budgeting, decision making, and goal setting to improve business performance.  He also coordinates activities across the state for Cornell University’s Dairy Farm Business Summary and Analysis Program, business discussion groups, and activity cost analysis projects. As part of the activity cost analysis projects, he has conducted multiple studies around cost of dairy replacements since 1991. With a focus on management education, he coordinates the Cornell Dairy Executive Program, which focuses on further developing business management skills for progressive dairy producers around the country.


Here’s the topic: NY Junior Dairy Leaders Graduation Program – Debbie Grusenmeyer, PRO-DAIRY  (Note new day and time!)

Debbie Grusenmeyer

The program:  Junior Dairy Leader is a year-long program led by Debbie Grusenmeyer of  Cornell’s CALS PRO-DAIRY for New York youth ages 16 – 19 interested in careers in dairy, while building their personal and professional leadership skills. The graduation ceremony is an opportunity for these dairy leaders to highlight and demonstrate to family, sponsors and visitors the experiences, knowledge and dynamic aspects of dairy they have learned.

The leader:  Debbie Grusenmeyer is a Senior Extension Associate in CALS at Cornell.  She has been a part of PRO-DAIRY and the Dairy Management Group for over 20 years.  She provides leadership for developing, coordinating and implementing  the NY dairy youth programs, Dairy Discovery and the dairy track of Animal Crackers as well as the Junior Dairy Leader program.

For details about Empire Farm Days, the largest farm show in the northeast, go to www.empirefarmdays.com

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