Effective communication is the glue that binds members to their organizations. Without proper and timely dissemination of information, you can't have open debate, initiatives get stalled, and organizations flounder.

In the past two years, healthy debate has and continues to take place on dairy policy, for example. Many organizations are engaged in the process. It serves as an example of how to exchange ideas and build consensus. Unfortunately, in recent months, there have been cases where groups haven't met that standard.

At what is normally a routine annual meeting, members of Holstein Canada voted to slow down a potential merger between Holstein Canada and the Canadian Dairy Network. The proposed amalgamation would put the nation's largest breed organization and the genetic and milk recording center under one umbrella. By over a 75 percent majority, Holstein Canada members asked the board to revisit its merger decision. According to the requested review, if the board still sees the necessity to merge, then members want an independent analysis of the business deal and have the final report shared with all breeders.

Over the past couple years, the U.S. Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB), which represents A.I., DHI, and breed organizations, has been holding discussions on the future of genetic evaluations. While these efforts may ultimately develop better ways to function in the genomic era, we fear that too many decisions are being decided behind closed doors.

The recent biannual CDCB meeting with all industry partners lasted less than an hour. There was little mentioned about any council business much less the ongoing work by its Dairy Data Working Group that could reshape the genetic evaluations. This lack of discussion surprises us since nearly all CDCB member organizations are either cooperatives or associations with farmer-elected leadership.

Not only does effective communication dispel misinformation, transparent and timely communication is a must to move our industry forward. It is clear that Canadian breeders voted for a more open, visible disclosure and debate on issues that affect dairy cattle breeding and record keeping. U.S. dairy producers should expect no less. There are too many dollars invested in semen, DHI charges, and breed association fees to have them used without the best interests of all dairy farmers being put first.

This editorial appears in the July 2011 issue of Hoard's Dairyman on page 454.