FMT students competing in the Dairy Challenge

Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2018

By McGill Reporter Staff

McGill has sent four of its top students in the Farm Management and Technology (FMT) program at Macdonald Campus to compete in the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge (NAIDC), from April 12–14 in Visalia, California. Visalia is in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive agricultural areas in the US, about 310 km north of Los Angeles.

Martha Mackinnon, Craig Waddell, Thomas MacDougall and Véronique Brisson are members of the Macdonald Dairy Challenge Club of the Macdonald Campus Student Society (MCSS) representing McGill at the Dairy Challenge.

“The students act as consultants for dairy farmers,” says Christian Molgat, FMT lecturer and team coach. “Teams present management recommendations to a panel of industry experts, and the host farm family. The Dairy Challenge experience has true value for students since almost all of them will be going into the dairy industry.”

Each team assesses all aspects of a working dairy farm, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction and animal health. Students then give a 20-minute team presentation of their observations and suggestions to expert judges.

McGill has been participating in the National Dairy Challenge since 2010, and in the North East Regional Dairy Challenge since 2004.

Chris Waddell is a sixth generation dairy producer from Edwards, Ontario, near Ottawa. After graduation Waddell will eventually take over the family farm.

“I hope to gain a greater understanding of the American dairy industry. With increasing pressure on us Canadians to give up our quota security, we need to have a deeper understanding of how to play with those big boys,” Waddell told the Reporter before his departure. “Americans are effective at keeping their costs of production down. Being more diligent in watching these costs is something I’d like to develop.”

The regional and national NAIDC contests are funded by 130 agribusiness and dairy producers, and are run by a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in Madison, WI. The Dairy Challenge has helped prepare more than 5,000 students for careers as dairy producers over its 16 year history.

The four finalists were selected for the competition from seven McGill students who participated in the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge in October in New York State.

McGill, along with University of Guelph and University of Alberta make up the Canadian contingent. The three Canadian teams are composed of four participants each, bringing the number of Canadians competing to 12, out of a total of 235 students. Competitors come from 38 colleges and universities. First- and second-place teams receive Dairy Challenge Scholarships.

Martha MacKinnon, one of the members of the McGill team, lives on the family dairy farm in Coaticook, Quebec, in the Eastern Townships.

“I’m not intimidated by the USA dairy operations, which are huge compared to ours. In fact, I’m very curious to see how they operate,” says MacKinnon. “The competition itself will be busy and stressful, especially the final presentation in front of industry experts. The whole experience allows me to expand my knowledge about the dairy industry in the USA, and meet other passionate young dairy farmers.”

Supporters can follow their team through posts and photos on Facebook and @DairyChallenge on Twitter and Instagram.

Share this article

Category: Blog

Tag: , ,

Post a Comment

  1. You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>