Tough times encourage change

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt ReeseIt is no secret that times have been tough for the dairy industry — so tough that change is inevitable. Some dairies have shut their doors. Others have grown larger or found a niche and specialized. MVP Dairy in Mercer County has reinvented the dairy supply chain.The jaw-dropping facility right on U.S. 33 has garnered plenty of attention in the last few months. The new dairy is home to nearly 4,500 cows that live in 6 freestall barns built for optimum cow comfort. The cows are milked in a state-of-the-art carousel milking parlor that is open for the public to see, first-hand, the origins of their dairy products from the soil to the grocery store.The impressive operation is a partnership between McCarty Family Farms and VanTilburg Farms and a close collaboration with the Danone facility in nearby Minster, the largest yogurt-making plant in the U.S., which produces leading brands such as Activia, Danimals, Dannon, Light & Fit and Oikos. Between 350,000 to 360,000 pounds of milk per day is produced at MVP Dairy. The milk is Non-GMO Project Verified for Danone North America and it all makes the 18-mile trip to begin the process of yogurt making within hours of leaving the cows. MVP’s milk accounts for nearly 10% of the milk processed in Minster. Danone-Minster also receives milk from nearly 40 other dairies within 100 miles of the plant.The project got its start with the intersection of the vision of two families working several states away from each other. VanTilburg Farms has a rich history in the Mercer County area. In addition to grain farming, the VanTilburg family business has grown and evolved into an agricultural service provider in northwestern Ohio, specializing in multiple services including cover crops and custom fertilizer and chemical application, poultry litter, soil sampling and trucking. Other business ventures include a commercial grain elevator, crop insurance business, trucking division and an excavation company.“Five years ago our family was looking to diversify. We were grain farmers and riding the roller coaster of the commodity markets up and down. We’d been doing a lot of value addedKyle VanTilburg, co-owner of MVP dairy, welcomes guests to the farm.cover crops and sustainability practices. We wanted to find a way to get some financial benefit from doing those practices. We researched some projects and came across the Dannon pledge and realized the things they were looking for from their dairy farmers we were already doing on the farm side, but we didn’t know anything about dairy farming,” said Kyle VanTilburg, co-owner of MVP dairy. “We started researching dairy farming and happened to meet up with the McCarty family. They were in Ohio actually looking at building or buying a dairy. We decided to partner up. We vetted each other for a while and decided to build a new facility close to our land base. That is how we got to where we are today.”The McCarty family has been milking for four generations. They operate dairies across the country in Beaver City, Neb.; Bird City, Kan.; Rexford, Kan.; Scott City, Kan.; and now MVP Dairy. The McCarty family built a relationship with Danone through their work with dairy and the VanTilbergs had the land base and conservation practices in place near the Minster plant, so they decided it made sense to team up to serve the Minster production facility.“Dannon is a very important part of the project. What they want to see is from the soil to the yogurt cup now and we can provide that transparency all the way through the food chain and that is really what the partnership is all about. We want to provide a quality product from the soil to a cup of yogurt,” VanTilburg said. “We are in a unique situation witThe cows are at ease in the impressive free-stall facilities at MVP.h this partnership. We provide non-GMO milk to Dannon for their non-GMO line of products. This was a new product line they added to the Danone Minster plant. With that scenario we are a cost plus operation, so we basically absorb those highs and lows all the time. [The McCarty family] already had a partnership like this with Dannon and they brought that to the table. We were able to negotiate off of that existing contract that they had. We miss out on the highs, but we also miss out on those lows. We wanted to figure out a way to avoid the big fluctuations in the market.”The facilities were designed with the latest technology to maximize animal comfort and minimize environmental impacts.“We are looking at a 4,500 freestall dairy facility, an 80-stall rotary, six free-stall barns, a milking parlor, and a learning center. The total construction was around 14 months,” said Jetse Boersma with Homan, Inc. that helped design and construct the facility. “They are milking 4,000 cows a day, around 600 cows an hour, three times a day. We all had the same vision, but it took a little different design. We started with the first floor, the second floor is offices and the beginning of the learning center, and the third floor is the viewing area. We needed a little more height in the building to make sure we had enough room for the viewing area for the public. The parlor is pretty standard.”The visitor-friendly facilities are designed to reduce odor and runoff by carefully managing the manure.“These are flush barns. The floors are on a 2% slope. From the back of the barn to the front of the barn is a 12-foot difference. We recycle all of the manure. It goes through separators. The water gets pumped into tanks and that recycled water is used to flush the barns,” Boersma said. “This was one of the more tricky designs we have ever done. It was a challenge but it was fun. The whole permitting process took 9 months before we could start moving dirt. We started with the feed area and worked our way up to the parlor and the freestall barns. They have every technology that is available right now in this facility.”The farm uses sand bedding that is reclaimed and reused as bedding. The manure and bedding is flushed from barns using recycled water multiple times per day. Using a four-step process, sand bedding is separated from the manure and reused, which removes approximately 15% of the manure volume.The processed manure moves to settling basins where 60% of the remaining solids settle and are then removed as nutrient-dense slurry. The remaining liquid flows into an anaerobic treatment cell, resulting in water with little to no odor. About 50% of this water is recycled daily for flushing of the barns. The remaining wastewater is reused for irrigation on no-till crop ground with rotations including cover crops, so there is always a growing crop on the land. The solids are variable-rate applied to area crops according to soil tests.The barns on the farm are tunnel ventilated to aid wind speed and cooling for the animals, with exhaust out the back of the buildings. The sides of the barns are constructed with a transparent polycarbonate siding that allows natural light in, benefitting the cows and reducing pests.MVP Dairy works with top experts in animal nutrition and well-being, with all McCarty Family Farms locations already having earned certification by Validus, an independent firm with the most stringent requirements for socially-responsible, scientifically-based, economically-viable and long-term solutions for dairy animal care. To help ensure the strictest animal welfare standards are followed, cameras monitored by a third party company for compliance review are installed throughout the dairy.“We are constantly striving to provide our cows with first-class care,” said Ken McCarty, co-owner of MVP Dairy.” “We know our cows’ well-being and sustainable farming practices bring value to the foods produced by Danone that are made with our milk so it’s important that we continue to push ourselves to do even better.”And, that philosophy especially applies when times are tough for the dairy industry.last_img read more

Police team was led into a well-planned trap

first_imgA six-member police team, headed by a Station House Officer (SHO), was led into “a well-executed and well-planned” trap on the road connecting Anantnag with Achabal in south Kashmir on Friday, resulting in the deaths of all on board the solitary vehicle in an ambush by militants.The team had been busy all day dealing with the deteriorating law and order situation in Anantnag town, sparked by the Arwani encounter where three Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants were trapped in nearby area. Sources said the trap was laid by LeT commander Bashir Lashkari, whose close aide and friend since 2015, Junaid Mattoo, 24, was trapped and living his last moments at the Arwani encounter site since Friday morning.“It was a revenge attack,” said Director General of Police S.P. Vaid.The police are investigating multiple dimensions of the attack, which lead to higher casualties for the police force, including costing the life of sub-inspector Feroz Dar.The militants, the police believe, knew SHO Dar and his team were travelling in a vehicle that was not bullet-proofed, and a well-guarded Rakshak vehicle. The police department had failed to provide a Rakshak to the Achabal Police Station.As the stone-pelting subsided, the team decided to travel back to the police station. “We are investigating to find out who passed on information [to the militants] about the movement of the vehicle at such a short notice,” said the officer.In fact, there was a mild stone-pelting on the vehicle near Thajiwar, which was otherwise peaceful. “The stone-pelting was intended to halt the vehicle. Indeed, the policemen got down to chase the stone-throwers. To their surprise, they faced a volley of bullets from all sides. It was premeditated and planned,” said the police officer. Sources said the nearby houses on the roadside were vacated by their inhabitants in advance, indicating a large group of militants must have converged and alarmed them. Militants, believed to number between six to 10, were part of the attack.Weapons lootedFive AK-47s, 18 magazines and one pellet shotgun were taken away from the dying policemen, said the police official. “We are going to track the killers,” said the DGP.Referring to the attack, LeT chief Mahmood Shah said, “The plots put up by [National Security Adviser] Ajit Doval are biting the dust. The time is near when the whole Kashmiri nation will celebrate its freedom.”last_img read more

#MeToo: Christian body assures fair hearing for Shillong sexual abuse victim

first_imgThe Congregation of Christian Brothers in India (CCBI) has assured “just and fair hearing” to a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy in Meghalaya capital Shillong almost three decades ago.In a statement issued on Tuesday, the CCBI said the “Christian Brothers stand in solidarity with and in support of any survivor of sexual abuse”. This followed a Facebook post as part of the #MeToo movement against one of its members.In her post a few days ago, 40-year-old Mary Therese Kurkalang had named two Catholic priests – Brother Francis Gale of St. Edmund’s School and Brother Muscat of Don Bosco – as having sexually abused her when she was a child.The CCBI statement did not make it clear which of the two Brothers the congregation has referred to.“We are committed to a just and fair hearing to both the complainant and the alleged abuser, through a formal process as laid out in our protection policy – Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults. This policy looks into all cases of abuse, past and present, so as to ascertain with compassion the truth and support the survivor towards achieving a peaceful closure while taking appropriate action against the alleged abuser, if found guilty,” the statement from Brother J. Johnson, society protection officer of CCBI’s Profession Ethics Commission, said.“Accordingly, a due procedure will be initiated as laid out in our said policy to take this serious allegation forward towards arriving at the truth and assisting the survivor with necessary help to attain due closure. Even as these internal processes are carried out, we stand committed to cooperating with the agencies of the law,” the statement said.Ms Kurkalang took to Facebook last week to write: “Three years ago, at the age of 37, I finally decided that I needed professional help and found a wonderful counsellor. Through the months of counselling, there is one session that stands out for me, where I felt literally like someone lifted this huge boulder lodged in my chest that was there since I was 5 years old.“What she said to me at that session was that as a child, from a broken family, an economically poor background, left to my own defences, I made the ‘ideal profile’ of the victim for a sexual predator. Even though as an adult, I understand and can differentiate that I was not responsible, it is hard to really feel and live that knowledge, to not blame myself. What my counsellor said to me that day answered the ‘why’ I have asked over and over again ‘why me’ and it gave me such huge relief to have finally found an answer that I knew to be true. It’s a long journey and an ongoing one to stay whole, balanced, sane as someone who was sexually abused through my childhood, age 5 till age 12.”She said she had attempted suicide thrice as a teenager and young adult, twice landing in hospital in a serious condition. “Through the years I have struggled to find comfort and sanity in spirituality, immersing myself in work, and later, in a close circle of friends I trust, these have helped me pull through. There will always be a part of me that is a big gaping hole of sorrow and darkness – of a childhood I did not know, of an innocence I never knew, of the fear and deep shame I have lived with for so long, and for not being believed, not being protected, and for the deep injustice I felt,” she said.She went on to name Brothers Gale and Muscat, recollecting the many ways in which they abused her.last_img read more

India to resolve all irritants in ties with Bangladesh: Swaraj

first_img(Eds: Updating with more details)By Anisur RahmanDhaka, Oct 23 (PTI) India will resolve all irritants in ties with Bangladesh with sincerity, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today as she inaugurated 15 Indian-assisted development projects in this country worth .On the last day of her Bangladesh visit, Swaraj lit the ceremonial lamp to mark the opening of the sprawling new chancery complex of the Indian High Commission here.The new mission complex at Dhakas Baridhara diplomatic enclave includes the high commission that was previously operating from a house in the Gulshan area of the city.During the ceremony, she also launched 15 development projects being funded by India in Bangladesh, which officials said have been planned as per the countrys geographical spread, socio-economic benefits and priorities.”India is following a policy of neighbours first, and among the neighbours Bangladesh is foremost,” Swaraj said at the function, describing bilateral relations as having gone beyond a strategic partnership.She said the relations between the neighbours are now outstanding, and that both countries are working to resolve these irritants in the spirit of “friendly relations and with right intention”.She did not specify the nature of the issues, but the water sharing of common rivers, particularly the Teesta, has long been pending between the two neighbours.”I can assure you we [both countries] will solve all irritants with sincerity,” she said.She said Bangladesh comes first among all of Indias neighbours as part of the neighbourhood policy adopted by her government. She also referred to the peaceful solution of the land boundary as well as maritime boundary issues.advertisementThe development projects, worth about USD 8.7 million, are in the areas of education, health care, information technology, water supply, and social welfare.They include installation of 11 water treatment plants in southwestern coastline of Pirozpur to benefit some 150,000 people, 36 community clinics, and reconstruction of Dhakas historic Ramna Kali Temple which was destroyed by invading Pakistani troops in the 1971 liberation war.Bangladeshs Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali, Health Minister Mohamad Nasim, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas political affairs adviser H T Imam, among others, were also present at the ceremony.The new chancery complex has been constructed on a 5-acre plot of land.Apart from the chancery, the complex consists of the residence of the Indian High Commissioner, a housing block, a sports complex, and a multipurpose recreation hall.The staff members of the high commission shifted to the housing block in 2004 and the chancery started functioning from its new premises from October last year.Swaraj arrived in Bangladesh yesterday for the annual meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission with her counterpart A H Mahmood Ali.”We are both determined to protect our societies from the threat of ideologies of hate, violence and terror by adopting a zero tolerance policy and a comprehensive approach in fighting violent extremism and terrorism at all levels,” Swaraj said after talks with Ali.”We discussed the common challenges that we are faced with today. One such challenge is that of terrorism, extremism and radicalisation and we will continue to fight this scourge together and along with other like-minded countries,” she said.Swaraj returned to New Delhi today wrapping up her two- day Dhaka visit, her second since assuming office in 2014. PTI AR KUN AKJ AKJlast_img read more

EuroDry Looking Into Merger Possibilities Post SpinOff

first_imgzoomIllustration/Image Courtesy: Pxhere under Public Domain license Newly-established dry bulk owner and operator EuroDry, created via Euroseas’ spin-off of its dry bulk business, is exploring merger possibilities in the sector.Aristides Pittas, Chairman and CEO of EuroDry, revealed in the company’s second quarter results that the Greek shipping company was looking into potential merger opportunities with other fleets in “accretive transactions”.Pittas did not disclose any further details of the opportunities at hand. However, he added that aside to potential mergers the company was also evaluating vessel acquisitions.“We believe it is still an opportune time to pursue growth either through individual vessel purchases or by consolidating with others who would like to become shareholders of a publicly listed drybulk company,” he said.“We are optimistic about the prospects of the drybulk markets as the orderboook is close to its lowest levels of the last 20 years and new regulations coming in effect in the near future will likely keep the supply of vessels in check; this will allow increases in demand to positively influence earnings and values.”For the second quarter of 2018, the company reported total net revenues of USD 6.1 million representing a 29.1% increase year-on-year. EuroDry reported net income for the period of USD 0.5 million for the period, as compared to a net loss USD 0.3 million for the same period of 2017.On the other hand,  feeder owner and operator Euroseas reported net revenues of USD 9.8 million, and a net income of USD 2.1 million for the second quarter of the year.According to Pittas, during the second quarter, the containership market continued its recovery.“Although charter rates peaked in early May and have softened since, they remain at levels noticeably higher than their respective periods of last year. Expectations for continued economic growth across many developed and developing countries and low levels of orderbook support our guarded optimism that charter rates, especially for feeder vessels, will further improve in the latter part of the year and in 2019, provided that U.S. induced trade wars do not escalate significantly,” he said.“Thus, we have been fixing our vessels that open up for recharter for periods between 3-12 months at profitable levels but also aiming to have staggered renewal periods to be able to participate further in the strengthening market which we anticipate.”He added that the company is also considering investment opportunities of either individual vessels or fleets that could be accretive to the company’s shareholders.last_img read more

DHT Reports Profit in First Quarter

first_imgzoomImage Courtesy: DHT Holdings Crude oil tanker company DHT Holdings delivered a net income of USD 17.7 million in Q1 2019, rebounding from a USD 9.2 million net loss it suffered in the same period a year earlier.Shipping revenues increased to USD 132.3 million in the first quarter of 2019 from USD 79.9 million seen in the corresponding three-month period last year.As explained, the change was due to higher tanker rates in addition to an increase in the company’s fleet.DHT Holdings’ VLCCs achieved time charter equivalent (TCE) earnings of USD 35,800 per day in the first quarter of 2019 of which the company’s VLCCs on time-charter earned USD 33,900 per day and VLCCs operating in the spot market achieved USD 35,800 per day.Thus far in the second quarter of 2019, 61% of the available VLCC spot days have been booked at an average rate of USD 29,800 per day, DHT informed.In March 2019, the company prepaid USD 35 million under the Nordea credit facility. The prepayment was made under the revolving credit facility tranche and may be re-borrowed.As of May 8, 2019, DHT has a fleet of 27 VLCCs with a total deadweight tonnage of 8,360,850.last_img read more