Some time ago I wrote a preface to a previous edition of M2 magazine. It is easy to guess that it was about milk quality. Just a few words about what it means for different groups of professionals involved in milk production all around the world. Even though all global regulations and local policies help to produce safe and healthy milk, this concept may still cause some misunderstandings and confusion. And this is where non-governmental organizations like the Polish Mastitis Association give a helping hand…
“Back to the past”
Having a vast experience in the Polish dairy sector and having a good relationship with milk quality specialists from different countries, a small group of Polish vets realized that it was a high time to deal with milk quality in order to increase the efficiency and profitability of domestic dairy farms. At the time, more and more countries were starting to work on local programmes aimed at reducing and controlling the consumption of critical antibiotics in farm animals. Back in 2012, it was clear that Polish vets and farmers were not prepared for this approach and their motivation regarding the prudent use of antibiotics was, in most cases, far from what was expected. As a consequence of all the above, the Polish Mastitis Association (PMA) was established by a group of patriots and enthusiasts.
“The time is now”
Our strength is diversity (pic 1). To become a full Member of the PMA, only two conditions need to be fulfilled: to be passionate about milk quality and to be directly involved in all the activities inspired by the board and the members. We are a group of vets in practice, specialists in reproduction, immunology and diagnostics, professionals experienced in animal welfare and those holding academic positions. More than that, the PMA strongly co-operates with our long-term Partners who not only support our mission financially but also help to accomplish our established aims. These companies represent the pharmaceutical sector (Hipra, Vétoquinol, Zoetis), hygiene services (Ecolab) and feed companies (Biomin, Schauman).
Since 2014, the PMA has organized the annual “International Conference Stopmastitis.pl” which is the only conference in Poland focusing on milk quality and the reduction of antibiotic use in dairy cattle through preventive measures. Every year we host highly qualified experts and key opinion leaders from different countries who share their knowledge based on practical experience and the latest reports about management, welfare, milking equipment etc. Two years ago, we decided to change the concept of our conference and since then we have called it “a platform” where all the professionals involved in milk production in Poland are united in their efforts to produce excellent milk. Our conference is divided into two major sections. The first part of the conference is dedicated to all the attendees (vets, farmers, specialists working for DHI, nutritionists etc.) as we want to strengthen cooperation between vets and farmers, whilst the second half of the conference is focused on specific topics relating directly to their work and activities. Thus, lectures for vets are focused mainly on tools which help them to follow new regulations about the reduction of antibiotic use in dairy cattle, such as prevention through vaccination, milking machine testing, on-farm diagnostics, data analysis and management of the environmental conditions of the animals. At the same time, dairy farmers have a unique opportunity to participate in workshops led by speakers who are directly involved and have skills in the management of dairy farms and nutrition. Each session provides a great opportunity for relevant questions to be put to the speakers and creates a unique chance for sharing opinions with others. Thanks to this approach, we can ensure the best cooperation between vets and farmers which should end in the best results in the field of milk quality. Every year we host more attendees and this year we gathered together over 180 professionals, not only from Poland but also surrounding countries.
And of course, we are willing to grow in the coming years (pic 2). Now our life has changed as COVID-19 has shaken our world. More than ever, we rely on online tools as social distancing requires new solutions and approaches to ensure proper communication and safety. PMA is already transferring its know-how and has gained skills in using modern media, including social networks, websites and written articles which are available in the most prestigious magazines dedicated to vets, farmers and professionals involved in milk production. Moreover, our members, as recognized experts in milk quality, participate in numerous on-line courses organized by companies willing to provide high quality training to their locked-down customers. But we never forget about our most important mission. As vets in practice we serve every day and support the health of animals. Risking our own lives, we do not forget about the farmers who due to the quarantine need additional help with their livestock (pic 3).
Recent data show that the plant-based dairy alternatives industry is estimated to grow. On the other hand, the dairy market is about to grow 2% in the next decade, but it is quite obvious that plant-based alternatives might partially replace dairy products. For this reason, we do believe that our activities and projects should focus on strengthening the nutritional role of dairy-based products on the local market and we will continue to provide tools and solutions to Polish vets and dairy farmers which would help them to ensure high quality products. We will not allow even a drop of high quality Polish milk to be spilled!
Text en illustrations: Michal Pochodyla