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Queso in Guatemala

Libby Eiholzer, Bilingual Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

June 14, 2013
Queso in Guatemala

Do you know where your Hispanic employees are from? The majority of Hispanic employees that I've met in Western New York come from Mexico, though I've also come across a number from Guatemala. Regardless of their nationality, most are from rural areas, and many grew up with animals; possibly cows, horses, pigs or goats, but almost certainly chickens. (It's quite difficult to escape the crackly wakeup call of a rooster in Guatemala, even in urban areas!) Despite the fact that many worked with cows in their home countries, most come to New York having had no experience with modern dairying. Did you ever stop to think what the dairy industry is like where they come from? While I can't speak to Mexico, I can speak from personal experience about Guatemala.

During my service as a Peace Corps volunteer, I lived in a village located in a mountainous region of eastern Guatemala. The cool climate makes it a much more suitable environment for dairy cows than the hot, humid climates at lower elevations, so many families have a few cows. My host family milked their herd of 10 cows once a day by hand and sold most of the milk to a local cheese maker. The cheese maker owns a small building in the village where dairymen bring their milk by truck or horse every morning. He makes cheese daily and sells it in the larger towns within about an hourís radius from the village. The whey left over after making cheese is given to local women who feed it to pigs they raise to sell for meat.

Since Central America has two seasons (6 months of rain and 6 months without rain) and farmers rely primarily on pasture to feed their cows, milk production is very seasonal. Therefore farmers donít get paid much during the green, grassy, rainy season, but get paid handsomely if they have cows producing milk during the dry season. Some farmers have small stationary choppers they use to process the dry corn stalks left over from the grain harvest (corn is a staple in the Guatemalan human diet). A few actually plant corn to make silage.

I enjoyed my host momís fresh cheese for months before she taught me how to make a traditional queso fresco. The milk is strained, and then heated (if not still warm from the cow). Rennet is added and the milk is left at room temperature for three to six hours, until it solidifies. Then itís strained through a cheese cloth, salted, kneaded, and pressed into forms that make a one pound block of cheese. After about an hour the cheese will hold its form and can be removed from the mold and eaten. A one pound block of cheese sells for about 12 Quetzals (roughly $1.50). Alternately, the cheese can be left to cure for a few months to produce an aged cheese, or the whey can be boiled to produce requeson, which is similar to ricotta cheese. An interesting bit of local lore: pregnant woman canít make cheese because the milk wonít curdle.

When was the last time any of you milked a cow out by hand? My host family was shocked when I told them that I had only ever milked a cow with a machine. (They remedied that situation pretty quickly). As can be expected from the production system Iíve described, cows in Guatemala donít make much milk. But I suspect that fifteen or twenty pounds a day looks a lot better than 85 when you milk by hand!



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calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Beginning Farmer/Hobby Farmer Workshop $5/pp, class size is limited, so pre-register by April 15th!

April 27, 2019
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Canandaigua, NY

This hands-on workshop is for beginning or part-time farmers who would like to improve their farm machinery skills, learn to properly and safely maintain their equipment to protect their investment. If you have been thinking about buying a tractor, new or used, two-wheel or four-wheel drive, compact or utility or more come join us. Topics include: selecting the right size/type tractor for the job; basic maintenance; staying safe around tractors and equipment; attaching implements properly; and information about ROPS and SMV's. There will be time for questions.

Pre-registration requested by April 15, 2019 email Amy with your name, address, and phone number or call 585-394-3977 x 429.
Fee: $5.00/person. Class size is limited.

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2019 Pastured Poultry Seminar, lunch included so please register by May 10th! $25/person

May 18, 2019
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m.w/ coffee & donuts with the Program running from 9:00 a.m. - 5 p. m.
Attica, NY

The main speaker this year is Eli Reiff of Mifflinburg Pennsylvania. Eli raises broilers, turkeys, sheep, and beef, all on pasture. Topics to be covered will include the pasture, feed and nutrition, marketing, costs, and much more. As we grow as farm operators and get bigger, we may not pay as much attention to the basics as we should. So those areas are where we will start, and then expand to cover the group's interests.

Mike Badger, Director of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association will also be available for a round-table discussion. Plans are to have representatives from Farm Bureau, NYCAMH for farm health and safety, Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County, as well as others.

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Calling all 9th-12th graders! 4th Annual Precision Agriculture Day at Genesee Community College

May 21, 2019
9:00 am - 1:30 pm Register by Friday May 10th! $15/per person includes lunch
Batavia, NY

Calling all 9th-12th graders!  We have an exciting new program for students interested in technology, science, engineering, and agriculture!
Would you like to:
  • Learn about how Drones collect information
  • Check out some potential career opportunities that have new and ever-changing technology
  • Learn how these technologies can be used in our own backyards in WNY
  • Discover potential and exciting career opportunities

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Announcements

Producers Previously Enrolled in the LGM Program Now Eligible for MPP

Dairy Producers Previously Enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin Program Now Eligible for 2018 Margin Protection Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program (LGM-Dairy) now have the opportunity to participate in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) for 2018 coverage. Sign-up will take place March 25 through May 10, 2019.
Eligible producers can enroll during the sign-up period at their local USDA service center. To locate your office, visit farmers.gov.


Smart Farming Team Technical Assistance Grant Application

The Labor Ready Farmer Project is offering grants to provide up to 12 hours of Technical Assistance (TA) consulting services to farms who want to make improvements to their farm's processes in hiring, training, managing or evaluating employees. Applicants will choose from one of the following four areas for TA assistance and identify a specific project. If selected they will be matched with a "Smart Farming Team" of consultants who will provide one on one technical assistance.
  • HIRING EMPLOYEES 101 - GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START
  • ONBOARDING & TRAINING EMPLOYEES QUICKLY AND EFFECTIVELY
  • FINE-TUNING & IMPROVING THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT
  • H2-A READINESS
Please complete this application and send to Nicole Waters, Beginning Farm Project Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. The form can be submitted by email, mail or in-person at the address listed below. Please feel free to call or email with any questions.

Nicole Waters - Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator
Plant Science Building, Room 15b
Tower Road, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: 607-255-9911
Email: nw42@cornell.edu

Applications accepted on a rolling basis.



USDA Announces January Income over Feed Cost Margin Triggers First 2019 Dairy Sa

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2019 ? The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced this week that the January 2019 income over feed cost margin was $7.99 per hundredweight, triggering the first payment for eligible dairy producers who purchase the appropriate level of coverage under the new but yet-to-be established Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers that was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. DMC offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last week that sign up for 
DMC will open by mid-June of this year. At the time of sign up, producers who elect a DMC coverage level between $8.00 and $9.50 would be eligible for a payment for January 2019.

For example, a dairy operation with an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 cwt.) that elects the $9.50 coverage level for 50 percent of its production could potentially be eligible to receive $1,887.50 for January.

Sample calculation:
$9.50 - $7.99 margin = $1.51 difference
$1.51 times 50 percent of production times 2,500 cwt. (30,000 cwt./12) = $1,887.50

The calculated annual premium for coverage at $9.50 on 50 percent of a 3-million-pound production history for this example would be $2,250.

Sample calculation:
3,000,000 times 50 percent = 1,500,000/100 = 15,000 cwt. times 0.150 premium fee = $2,250

Operations making a one-time election to participate in DMC through 2023 are eligible to receive a 25 percent discount on their premium for the existing margin coverage rates.

"Congress created the Dairy Margin Coverage program to provide an important financial safety net for dairy producers, helping them weather shifting milk and feed prices," FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. "This program builds on the previous Margin Protection Program for Dairy, carrying forward many of the program upgrades made last year based on feedback from producers. We're working diligently to implement the DMC program and other FSA programs authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill."

Additional details about DMC and other FSA farm bill program changes can be found at farmers.gov/farmbill.


New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.

https://nwnyteam.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=761&crumb=dairy|1

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