Vested Interest in the Environment

October 25, 2009 07:00 PM

*Extended comments highlighted in blue.

Randy & Jennifer Gross
Elkton, S.D.
The mission statement for our dairy is, "To profitably produce wholesome dairy products for the consuming public, using management practices that benefit our families, employees, community and environment.”

It's our belief that production agricultural communities in general, and dairy producers in particular, are some of the best environmentalists. That's not just because it's the right thing to do or because taking steps to preserve and protect our natural surroundings is mandated in CAFO permits. Rather, it's because we have a vested interest in a healthy, sustainable environment. We live on our dairies and rely on clean water not just for our cattle but for our families, too.

Healthy, productive fields are what yield the forages our cows consume throughout the year.

Our CAFO permit for South Dakota requires that we keep detailed records of all manure application as well as weekly inspection reports of our manure handling system, which is our sand-separating lane and lagoon system.

We must also follow setback distances when applying manure. These vary according to whether or not we may be near a public or private water source or near a vegetated or nonvegetated drainage area. We also have strict regulations regarding manure application when the ground is covered with snow and/or frozen.

While air quality has not been an issue in our area, we still take steps to reduce the levels of dust we generate. We keep our [gravel] driveway and intersections around the dairy treated with calcium chloride during summer months, and especially when cutting silage.

How dairy operations interact and impact their environments will continue to be a standard that consumers use to make buying decisions. It's our job to continue doing good work and let consumers know that a genuinely healthy environment is beneficial to dairies, their neighbors and those purchasing our products.

Grosses' September Prices  
Milk (3.44% bf, 3.02% prt): $12.42/cwt.
Cull cows: $41/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,200/head
Alfalfa $120/ton
Cottonseed (spot): $252/ton
Ground corn: $115/ton

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