Our third session of Leadership Idaho Agriculture took place in Twin Falls, ID last week. I drove over early with a new LIA friend, and we got to go on a tour of the Glanbia cheese plant, where two LIA class members work. The US headquarters for Glanbia are in Twin Falls, and the company is one of the largest producers of cheese and whey-based ingredients, and the largest barrel cheese manufacturer in the world.
While the factory wasn’t producing cheese at the moment, it was really neat to see the plant and to learn about the process. The four facilities around Twin Falls process over 12 million pounds of milk everyday, making over 400 million pounds of cheese and 110 million pounds of dairy ingredients annually. The cheese leaves the Twin Falls plant in 45 (44?) pound blocks. Other plants produce barrels of cheese weighing oh, over 450 pounds. Barrel of cheese, anyone? We also got to dress up in cool outfits – beard nets and booties included.
Glanbia also has a brand-new cheese innovation center, where big cheese companies or smaller manufacturers can come to get help creating and producing new cheeses. It was pretty cool!
Our LIA session officially began Monday evening with a dinner reception and briefing on the next few days. We were assigned our fourth public policy topics and teams. My team’s topic was dairy odor, and I gave my 3 minute speech from the perspective of a dairy farmer opposing increased regulations on odor. We’ve had some very interesting topics, like this one, over the past few sessions.
Guess what time things got going on Tuesday? Wrong! 7:00 today, instead of 7:15! We spent the morning talking about the Boise session in February. The Boise session is held during Idaho’s legislative session, so all our state senators and representatives are in town. There is also a big LIA fundraising auction during the Boise session, to raise funds for future classes, and the auction requires all of us to help put it together. Tuesday morning ended with our program director, Rick Waitley, giving a talk on running an effective meeting. He had some excellent tips that all of us will be able to use.
Tuesday afternoon we got to hear a presentation on the Idaho Preferred program, which is a state-run program promoting Idaho agriculture. It’s quite a program, and you can check out their website here. We also learned more about Idaho Ag in the Classroom, a program focused on educating teachers about agriculture, and bringing more ag education to Idaho classrooms. I’m making a note to get Idaho Ag license plates for our cars – the fees go to support AITC.
Tuesday evening was a special etiquette dinner. We had a fancy-schmancy table set, and learned the do’s and don’ts of proper table etiquette. The ladies in the class learned a fantastic trick to neatly hang long jackets on the back of a chair!
Wednesday started, of course, at 7:15, with breakfast, followed by some time to plan for our big pro-con public policy presentation that we were assigned in Pocatello. A refresher – our theme is food security in Idaho, and I am on the con team. We had a presentation about the Agricultural Research Service, a branch of the USDA that performs ag research. We have four ARS stations in Idaho, researching watersheds, irrigation and soils, small grains and potatoes, and sheep ranges. It was a really interesting look at what ARS contributes to Idaho and to the world.
The majority of Wednesday afternoon was a session on Meeting the Media, presented by Dale Dixon of the Idaho Better Business Bureau. Many of my classmates are asked to do interviews or give opinions, and this session was full of excellent information on how to handle yourself in front of the media. Hint – wear blue, not black!
Wednesday afternoon our class voted on which class members we would like to have represent us by giving speeches before Lieutenant Governor Brad Little during the Boise session. We chose four excellent individuals, who will do a wonderful job. We also voted, within our big public policy pro/con teams, for 3 people from each team to give a 20 minute presentation on our side of the issue. I was chosen as one of the 3 for my team, so will present during our Boise session. I actually enjoy public speaking if I am able to be well-prepared, and am looking forward to it.
That night was our regional LIA dinner, planned by our class members from the Twin Falls area. It was a wonderful event! We had a fantastic prime rib dinner with baby potatoes, yummy rolls, salad, veggies, and cheesecake for dessert. The facility, the Stonehouse, was a converted warehouse that had been fixed up beautifully. If you have an event in Twin, have it at the Stonehouse!
Thursday, the last day of our session, came all to quickly. Thursday was a fun day, though, with field trips to The Farmhouse Collection, a Twin Falls manufacturer of fine furniture, and to the SiEllen Dairy. Both locations were great. The Farmhouse produces beautiful, hand-made furniture. We were treated to a tour of the facility, and got to see the craftsmen and women doing their work.
The SiEllen dairy was quite an experience. The Roth family has multiple dairies, with over 20,000 cows total. Wow! We took a driving tour of one facility, and enjoyed walking through the new, state-of-the-art milking parlour. I loved how the cows came in, and automatically lined right up to be milked. I wish I had a video of it! Their cows were happy and healthy and well cared for. Here’s a nice video about them produced by America’s Heartland.
The Twin Falls session ended with a sandwich lunch and wrap-up of what we took from the session. In my opinion, it was the best session yet. I’m looking forward to our final week in Boise, but sad that my time with such an incredible group of people is almost over!If you liked this post, you might like these:
Leadership Idaho Agriculture
Leadership Idaho Agriculture – Moscow Session
Leadership Idaho Agriculture – Pocatello Session