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The Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania (PDMP) re-elected one dairy producer and elected three new members to its board of directors during the PDMP annual meeting held November 10th at the Farm and Home Center in Lancaster, Pa. PDMP members also explored how farmers can better connect with consumers so there is a market in the future.

It was no surprise that current PDMP Secretary, Doug Harbach was re-elected to his second term on the Board of Directors. Harbach is completing his first term on the Board, in which he has proven to be an effective and forward thinking leader of this, the only organization driven by dairy producers for dairy producers. At Schrack Farms, he directs daily assignments for all 24 full time employees of the 1000 cow dairy. He is committed to the next generation of dairy producers; serving on the Internship Committee and is true enthusiast about the future of dairy in PA.

Josh Biddle, a ninth-generation dairyman in partnership with his father at Mill Hill Farms, LLC in Williamsport, PA was elected to serve on the Board of Directors for a three-year term beginning January 1, 2017. The Biddles currently have 320 Holstein heifers and 320 Holstein cows and farm 570 acres. Josh is the cow and people guy in the family business; managing herd care, health, repro and the employees. An intuitive and progressive dairyman, he has a keen understanding of the environmental compliance challenges throughout the industry and a passion for addressing them so that he and others can grow their business for the next generation.

Frank Graybill of Hershey was elected to fill the third opening for producer representation on the PDMP Board beginning 2017. A second-generation dairyman, Frank has been operating Restful Acres with his wife Virginia for 41 years; most recently with two full time employees and two part-time. Restful Acres is a 165-acre operation milking 160 cows with as many replacements.

To fill the Associate member vacancy on the PDMP Board, Raechel Sattazahn was unanimously elected. Sattazahn is the Knowledge Center Director for AgChoice Farm Credit and is in partnership in a progressive dairy farm with her husband, Doug, and brother-in-law and sister-in-law. She holds a degree in Animal Science from Pennsylvania State University and earned an MBA from Delaware Valley College with a focus on Food & Agribusiness.

In welcoming in the newly elected Board members, President Justin Risser noted that the outgoing Directors will be sorely missed. “Walt Moore, Joel Krall and Rich Stup have been tremendous assets to the PDMP’s executive board,” said Risser at the Annual Meeting. “They are only leaving the Board because we have term limits,” said Risser, teasing: “Walt is actually one of the founding fathers of PDMP, so I guess he’s earned some time off.”

PDMP Executive Director, Alan Novak assessed the other elections held earlier in the same week and offered insights into what the pollical climate in Washington and Harrisburg might mean to PA dairymen. He noted that more and more of PDMP’s time is dedicated to connecting with policy makers and inserting dairy producers’ voice into policy discussions.

The annual meeting preceded PDMP’s Fall Issues Forum; a panel discussion with four dairy producers who have made inroads in Connecting with Consumers by hosting farm tours, getting into schools, speaking to community groups and utilizing social media. The program included spontaneous role playing with members of the audience in how to answer difficult consumer questions about farm practices, and offered resources for dairymen and women who recognize the need to engage directly with consumers in their everyday, off farm interactions.

“Producers don’t need to do everything in the toolbox,” said program facilitator Cindy Weimer of the American Dairy Association Northeast. “The point is that they must do something to connect the consumer with the truth about modern dairy.”

Sponsors of the Annual Meeting and Issues Forum included: Cargill Animal Nutrition Consulting Services, Dairy Farmers of America, Ecolab, Innovative Dairy Nutrition, Land O’ Lakes, Phibro, Select Sires, TechMix, Udder Comfort, and White Horse Construction.