Day 11: Dairy & Noli

Brooke: Day 11 brought a lot of excitement for ALP class 17. We learned a lot about adaptability, and thank you to Elanco for helping us to experience a 1,000 head dairy farm on short notice. Levasa is a full service dairy from calving to bottling to cheese production. They are currently milking 400 cows daily and have an additional 600 head in the calf to 2 years of age.

Hans: *singing* I, I DON’T WANT TO SAY IT.

Brooke: What? Anyway, the dairy industry in Spain is experiencing many of the same issues we see in the US today. Low milk prices, around $0.32 Euro per liter, have forced farms to change the way in which they do business. It is estimated that around 2,000 farms have gone out of business already in the area. Francis Martinez has adapted to the current times to provide a value added product. His milk is around 4% fat and sold directly to restaurants and hotels as end users. He is able to eliminate any middle man by pasteurizing and packaging his own milk. He sells in three difference varieties; 2%, whole, and lactose free milk. The three different varieties add up to 6,000 liters of milk produced per day.

Hans: I DON’T WANT TO FIND ANOTHER WAY.

Brooke: Stop it. Another way Francis has also adapted is by packaging and aging his own cheese. The cheese produced is a mixture of cow, goat and sheep milk. They buy goat and sheep milk from the surrounding area to bring their total liters of milk handled up to 80,000 per week. The process of making cheese takes about 17 months before a block is ready for sale. It will spend 8-10 months in the curing chamber and finish off in the next room where they apply olive oil to the outside for coloring and added taste.

Hans: TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE DAY WITHOUT YOU.

Brooke: Seriously. Genetic selection and adaption of technology have also help Levasa to stay profitable over the years. They are selecting genetics that help to increase production as well as breeding for confirmation of the cow. One issue they are hoping to solve with this breeding technique is more correct sets of feet and legs. On the technology side, Francis has installed a 30 head rotary parlor. This allows 2 men to milk 30 head of cattle at a time. This visit was finished off with a cheese and milk tasting.

Hans: I, I CAN’T RESIST.

Brooke: Why are you doing this? In the afternoon the group traveled West to Noli an equipment manufacturer, one of three large manufacturers in Spain. They specialize in the production of farming equipment. They have been in business since the 1950s and have had to adapt to the changing landscape of ag in Spain. They have had to cut back from around 90 employees to about 50 since the 2007 recession.

Hans: TRY TO FIND EXACTLY WHAT I MISSED.

Brooke: I’m trying to blog here! Their big sales have been in the area of olive and almond pickers. With the slowing income from grains in Spain the market has turned to more production from trees. They also have a new planter they have designed will allow for a hopper on the front of the tractor that feeds seed to the back. With the hilly landscape of Southern Spain this allows for farmers to be more efficient when planting and refilling seed.

Hans: IT’S JUST ANOTHER DAY WITHOUT YOU.

Brooke: What do you have to add, Hans?

Hans: What? Oh, sorry. You told them about the cows?

Brooke: Yes.

Hans: You told them about the olive shakers?

Brooke: Yes.

Hans: You told them about how 90’s pop music seems to pervade many of the places we’ve been, getting Jon Secada’s “Just Another Day” stuck in my head for over a week?

Brooke: You’re the worst.

Hans: Thank you!

Brooke and Hans: The class took away a greater knowledge of what goes into making these large tools. Noli manufactures all parts of their equipment down to the bearings. We observers everything from the cutting of steal down to the painting of the end product.