Four respected individuals are being honored this year with National Dairy Shrine’s Pioneer Award in recognition of their significant contributions to the dairy industry. They join a distinguished group of industry leaders whose portraits are displayed at the National Dairy Hall of Fame at the National Dairy Shrine Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
Among the Pioneer honorees is Dr. Allan N. Bringe (1935-2018), a Dairy Extension Specialist and Professor for the Dairy Science Department at the University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison, who helped drive the adoption of somatic cell testing by dairy producers.
Allan Bringe grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. He earned his Bachelor of Science, Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the UW-Madison.
From 1959-66, Bringe served as Wisconsin’s Dairy Youth Specialist, conducting education programs through 4-H, FFA and dairy breed organizations. He developed the District 4-H Dairy Days program that continues to flourish and from 1965-73 was coordinator of the National 4-H Dairy Conference.
After completing his Ph.D. in 1968, Bringe transitioned to work in the areas of milk quality, mastitis, herd health, and milking management as Wisconsin’s Milk Quality Specialist. Under his leadership, Wisconsin became the pioneer in the development of monthly somatic cell testing of individual cows in collaboration with the Wisconsin Dairy Herd improvement (DHI) Cooperative. Dr. L.H. Schultz of the UW Dairy Science Department had developed a novel, low-cost method for determining somatic cell concentration (SCC) in milk. Bringe and Schultz worked together to prototype the test in DHI labs. By 1976, four DHI labs had implemented the test. Bringe worked with DHI staff to develop effective methods of reporting SCC results to dairy producers. Through Bringe’s tireless promotion and education, the program grew rapidly and within 10 years SCC testing had been adopted by 85% of the herds in Wisconsin’s DHI program. Wisconsin was the first to offer statewide somatic cell testing in DHI. As Dr. Mark Mayer, Professor Emeritus, UW-Extension, says, “Bringe was very instrumental in getting dairy producers to adopt SCC testing in Wisconsin. The impact of his actions resulted in the average SCC in Wisconsin dairy herds being reduced by over 50%. This reduction has resulted in higher milk production, better quality milk and increased profits for both dairy producers and cheese makers.” As nominator Dr. George Shook, Professor Emeritus, UW Dairy Science Department, states, “Although Allan did not accomplish this change single-handedly, it is clear that through his vision, energy and position as Extension Dairy Specialist, he mobilized the industry to attain this change.”
Bringe was instrumental in helping Wisconsin Dairies Cooperative become the first U.S. dairy cooperative to implement milk quality premium payments to producers based on SCC in 1976, and then in making both quality premiums and protein payments on a differential basis in 1983. These milk quality premiums were a strong contributor to the rapid growth of monthly SCC testing in DHI herds.
Bringe’s ability to take university research and apply it in a practical way that farmers could understand, and use was one of his greatest strengths. He was a tireless supporter of ongoing professional development for county extension agents. From 1975-87, Bringe conducted milking management seminars in all of Wisconsin’s major dairy counties. In 1987, Bringe created Milk Quality Councils to promote and provide education in quality milk production. Thirty-six Wisconsin counties organized a council. These councils, which utilized local expertise and developed valuable contacts for participants, proved highly effective in changing producers’ management practices. Also, extremely beneficial was Bringe’s approach of bringing together advisory teams of people to solve udder health problems on individual farms.
Late in his career, Bringe became actively involved at the national level in working on drug residue avoidance programs in milk. He was a key player in the development of the Milking Research and Instruction Laboratory that opened at UW-Madison in 1992. The only laboratory of its kind in the U.S., it remains a leading center for research, instruction, and outreach on the principles of milking system function, sanitation, and operation.
Bringe was active in many organizations. He was President of the National Mastitis Council in 1983 and Founding Chair of their Research Foundation. He was presented with the National Mastitis Council’s Distinguished Service Award in 1984. He received the American Dairy Science Association’s Dairy Extension Award in 1988 and the UW Extension Career Excellence Award in 1992.
For more information about National Dairy Shrine, the banquet, or the students and dairy industry leaders being recognized this year, contact National Dairy Shrine’s office at [email protected] or visit their website www.dairyshrine.org.