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UMaine Responds to Dairy Task Force Recommendations

Contact: John Rebar, Cooperative Extension, 207-581-3238; Gary Anderson, Cooperative Extension, 207-581-3240

ORONO– The University of Maine Agricultural Center has created a Dairy Task Force Response Team to develop and deliver educational programs in support of Maine dairy farmers. This team will be coordinating educational programming and applied research that will help Maine dairy farmers survive in challenging economic times. 

The recent Governor’s Task Force on the Sustainability of the Dairy Industry in Maine included members of this team, and the final report highlighted several areas of need to be addressed by UMaine.

The 10 member team will include representatives of UMaine’s research and public outreach segments. They will work with the Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine Dairy Industry Association, which represents the state dairy community, and several agribusinesses to identify high priority issue areas. “The response team is excited about the programming possibilities,” says Gary Anderson, Extension professor and team coordinator. The Maine Ag Center has provided a $10,000 budget to support the team with their work.

The team has members from UMaine Cooperative Extension offices statewide and from departments within the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station. Their expertise includes animal and veterinary science, food science, agronomy and farm business management. They will cover several areas of dairy management including nutrition, reproduction, mastitis and milking management, calf care, business management and the use of records to make business decisions as well as crop production, weed control and development of value added enterprises. 

Team members will take advantage of contacts across the country comprising a national resource base for problem solving and program delivery. As a result, a clearinghouse of valuable management information will be available to Maine dairy farmers. 

“One of the benefits of our high tech world is the capability to communicate easily with experts across the country. Team members are excited about working with members of the dairy community as they make decisions on their farm and develop business plans for the future,” says Anderson.

Examples of programs already planned for this year to support the recommendations of the task force are seminars in estate planning and transfer and the implementation of the dairy farm business summary for management accounting. Team members are working with farmers on alternatives through the Farms for Maine’s Future Program, implementing farm biosecurity and disease risk assessment to improve food safety, and supporting the growing organic dairy industry in Maine.

UMaine offers undergraduate degree programs to give students a thorough background in the biology of dairy cows combined with a practical hands on internship running the university dairy farm. These programs prepare students for careers in a variety of dairy related areas.

The UMaine Dairy Task Force Response Team will meet regularly to assess needs and develop program offerings in the areas of on-campus instruction, applied research to address dairy industry needs and outreach programming on high priority issues.

Anderson can be reached at 581-3240 or in state at 1-800-287-7170.

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