June is National Dairy Month, and the nation’s dairy industry has faced unprecedented challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to milk dumping and near-financial collapse for many dairy farmers. Tuesday, May 26, 10-11:30 a.m. PST, Extension will host a free online session with producers and economists to discuss struggles, the market and prices, and projections for the next few months. Speakers/panelists include:
- Carrie Mess is a dairy farmer and advocate for agriculture. Her efforts to be a part of the conversation on food and farming led her to be selected as the 2017 Wisconsin Ag Woman of the Year and the 2014 Social Media Farmer of the Year. Her writing has been featured in The Guardian, Huffington Post and several industry publications. She also serves on the board of directors for the Dairy Girl Network and AgSource Cooperative.
- Mike Helmar is research manager at the University 's Center for Economic Development. His primary focus is agricultural market modeling and policy analysis. Each year, as part of his work with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, he produces the 10-year International Crops Baseline as part as of the basis from which the institute conducts economic and policy analyses related to crops and livestock to inform agricultural committees of the U.S. Congress. Helmar also analyzes Nevada agriculture and prices, including those for cow-calf, dairy, sheep and wool, and alfalfa.
- Lindsay Chichester is Extension educator in Douglas County. She is presenting and moderating this session, as part of an online series she has put together for producers, “Agriculture: Living Beyond a Pandemic.” Known as “Dr. Lindsay” to many in the country’s agriculture industry and on social media, Chichester understands the ups and downs of farming and ranch life, growing up on a cattle and sheep ranch in northern California, and going on to earn a master’s degree in animal science and a doctorate in agricultural sciences.
Chichester said this is truly a baffling and stressful time for many of the nation’s agricultural producers.
“There are so many unknowns right now, our farmers and ranchers are struggling to navigate a market where the supply chains have been disrupted and to understand how our current events may impact their future viability,” she said. “We’re providing this online series to bring in boots-on-the-ground, grass-roots speakers who are involved in their respective industries to offer some insight and support.”
In addition, Kenneth Coll, former dean of the College of Education and former acting dean of the School of Social Work at the University, will be on hand to offer guidance and resources for participants who may be experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues brought on or worsened by the stress of the pandemic. Coll’s career and research have focused on educational psychology and counseling.
The sessions are offered online via Facebook Live. Chichester opens each session with a brief introduction about the session’s topic, followed by brief presentations by the speakers. Then, the majority of each session is driven by questions from participants. The session following the May 26 session on the dairy industry will be on June 2, and will be on “Home Meat Processing.” The Facebook Live link for the May 26 session and details on future "Agriculture: Living Beyond a Pandemic" sessions will be posted on the series website. For more information, email Chichester or call 775-782-9960 (leave a message and she will call you back).