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FFA State Convention takes Mesa tour

By: Katherine Trowbridge

The Future Farmers of America (FFA) State Convention was held in Kennewick this past week. As part of the activties attendees toured a variety of local farm operations including Coulee Flats Dairy in Mesa, WA.

The tour took FFA members around the farm as owner, Case Vandermeulen, explained the dairy farm’s operations. In 1989, Vandermeulen moved from Holland to Mid-Columbia Washington where he started three dairies, landing in Mesa in 2008.

The dairy raises calves/heifers. Once a cow has their first calf, their milking career begins. The dairy employs over 100 staff in three eight hour shifts per day. Along with dairy cows, they also raise Holstein/Angus cows that are sold to feedlots for beef once they reach 350 lbs.

Milking is done three times per day (about 10 gallons of milk per cow per day) and sent out in Milky-Way trucks to Darigold for processing.

Vandermeulen shared with the FFA students that their cows eat about 100 lbs of feed per day. Corn and alfalfa are grown in fields outlining the dairy operations and mixed with by-products from food production (like canola oil) to create a robust meal for the cattle. The babies are bottle fed three times a day.

The facility is 3,500 acres with 1,300 in well irrigated land.

FFA members from White Salmon, Bethel, Spanaway, Wapato, and Colville were among those who toured the dairy in Mesa. They stated that the experience was great and their favorite part, by far, was getting to see the calves. Overall the group of over 35 had some great questions throughout the tour. Only a handful had actually grown up on a farm.

The state convention also brought several competitions and classes for FFA members.

Connell FFA members fared pretty well. Esfeidi Gutierrez received fourth place for her recital of the FFA Creed in Spanish. The Ag Sales Team also took home an award and Morgan Jenks received her State FFA Degree.

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