When Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding spoke at the exhibitor’s banquet at the 54th All-American Dairy Show, he reminded the crowd of the importance of the people who make it happen, from those at home to those who would receive awards.
“This is not just an ordinary show,” said Redding, “and it wouldn’t happen without the folks at home making decisions every day about your own farms, family and businesses that allow us to celebrate the All-American Dairy Show.”
Redding reminded dairy farmers that there are many ways to tell the story of agriculture and the dairy industry, from the economic impact and number of jobs created to farmers’ environmental stewardship and the production of milk as a highly nutritional food. “But the real stories are the people,” he said. “This is the 54th annual All-American Dairy show, and a lot has changed. We’ve seen the highs and the lows. We understand that we’re searching for an equilibrium between what is produced and what is consumed.”
As he introduced the winner of the Obie Snider award, Redding noted that the winner is an example of the hard work and determination required to fulfill a vision. “Every time I step foot into this complex, I’m reminded of vision, passion, work and real determination to take challenges and turn them into solutions,” said Redding. “That is what we see in Secretary Hayes tonight.” Redding added he is grateful for his start in public service and mentoring under Hayes.
It’s fitting that this year’s Obie award was presented to the man who initiated and designed the award in memory of Obie Snyder. The Honorable Samuel E. Hayes, Jr. served in the House of Representatives and as Secretary of Agriculture, and helped secure funding to continue the All-American Dairy Show as well as funding for the much-needed expansion of the Farm Show Complex.
“Obie was a giant in many spheres,” said Hayes. “There is no doubt that Obie was in a class all by himself. He was a man of integrity and faith, and a great family man. He was a champion in whatever lane he was in, and truly one of the great icons of our lifetime.”
Hayes says he first connected with Obie Snider through the All-American as Obie was working on making the show bigger and better. “We put a line item in the state budget for the All-American Dairy Show,” said Hayes. “When I was secretary, we continued to grow that line item for this great industry that drives the phenotype and the genotype of the dairy world that produces the most perfect food on this planet. It was because of Obie realizing that we not only needed a dairy show but we needed an invigorated dairy show.”
As he accepted the award, Hayes asked the audience to not forget Obie Snider’s leadership. “Leadership is about investment,” said Hayes. “Leaders have to know how to invest, not only privately but also publicly. It is important for the dairy industry, and it’s also important for America that we have strong, vibrant agriculture and a strong, vibrant dairy industry. We must make not only the private commitment but we must also make a public commitment. Leadership is about investment; leaders invest, in leaders, and there should be a commitment to the All American Dairy Show.”
Well-known as a strong advocate for agriculture, Hayes worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the state’s county and community fairs as well as the Keystone International Livestock Expo and the All-American show. While Hayes was in office, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture garnered national attention as a leader in farmland preservation.
Hayes closed his remarks with the slogan ‘Your milk comes from a good place.’ “When we consider everything that’s going on in America and around the world, you can be sure that where there are moments of discontent, rebellion and all that gives us heartburn, you won’t find a dairy farmer there, a 4-H member there, an FFA member there. You’re going to find them at the All American Dairy Show doing good things for their community, their states and their nation.”
Dr. Larry Specht was honored for his years of service as treasurer of the All-American Dairy Show. Specht served on numerous committees, and received the Image Award in 1996 and the Pioneer Award in 2015. He was instrumental in establishing the dairy antiques and collectibles show in 1997, and was inducted in PA Dairy Hall of Fame in 2014.
The Arthur W. Nesbitt scholarship was awarded to Sandra Krone, who attends Virginia Tech as a dairy science major. Krone is interested in dairy farming and creating a mating service to assist farmers in breeding programs. The All American Dairy Foundation scholarship was awarded to Tony Rice, who is working on a degree in agribusiness at Penn State University. Rice would like to pursue a career in agriculture policy.
Cindy Weimer, vice president of industry relations for the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, talked about the importance of the dairy checkoff program and what happens with that money.
“Dairy Checkoff programs are not only farmer funded, they’re farmer directed,” said Weimer. “We have a dedicated group of dairy farmers who lead the programs and sit on dairy check off boards.”
Weimer explained that in 2016, the American Dairy Association Northeast was formed by consolidating the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program, and American Dairy Association and Dairy Council when those farmer board of directors members voted unanimously to create American Dairy Association Northeast. “This change is a good thing for dairy farmers,” she said. “It gives us more strength in the marketplace to implement quality, effective programs that sell more milk to the 50 million plus consumers in our marketing region.”
One of the checkoff programs is work in schools, teaching young children the importance of including dairy in their diet. “We try to help schools either reestablish or establish a breakfast program,” said Weimer. “If schools are offering breakfast, that’s one more time on every school day, beyond the lunch tray, where they have the opportunity to choose milk, and often yogurt or a cheese stick too. We target the biggest schools in the region because that’s where we have the most opportunity to invigorate milk sales in schools.”