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For the Holidays

Santa’s veterinarian clears reindeer for Christmas flight

By AVMA December 15, 2015 | 11:29 am EST
AVMA president Joe Kinnarney, DVM, performs pre-flight exams to ensure the health of Santa’s reindeer.

Photo by AVMA

Following a health checkup at the North Pole, Santa’s veterinarian has given the green light to Rudolph’s red nose and the rest of the reindeer that will be traveling the world this Christmas Eve.

Dr. Joe Kinnarney, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, visited the North Pole today to ensure that Santa’s team of nine were up-to-date on their vaccinations and healthy enough to make their annual trek around the globe.

“After a thorough examination I can tell you that Santa’s reindeer are perfectly healthy and in great shape, and ready for their flight.,” Dr. Kinnarney said.

(Watch a video of Dr. Kinnarney’s reindeer inspection.)

The reindeer’s annual exam includes a health check about 10 days prior to their Christmas Eve flight to make sure they’re healthy and not showing any signs of disease—such as brucellosis, tuberculosis or chronic wasting disease—that can be transmitted to other animals.

“Santa’s reindeer need to be in tip-top shape to complete their Christmas Eve flight on time, so it’s vital that they receive a pre-trip veterinary exam to make sure they are free of any injuries that might slow them down,” Dr, Kinnarney said. “Because the reindeer will be visiting all corners of the globe, we need to make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations and free of disease so they don’t pick up or spread any infections to other animals around the world.”

In addition to presents for children around the world, Santa is required to bring with him an official “North Pole Certificate of Animal Export” that allows him to freely cross borders and ensure health officials that his reindeer are no threat to animal or public health.

Dr. Kinnarney will make a follow-up trip to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to provide a pre-flight checkup and to inspect the reindeer upon their return on Christmas morning.

For kids who want to help the reindeer on their journey, Dr. Kinnarney recommended leaving a plate of graham cracker reindeer cookies, their favorite snack, for Santa to feed them between stops.

Dr. Kinnarney’s work is consistent with the role veterinarians play every day to ensure the health of animals, people and the environment across the globe. Far from just being “dog and cat doctors,” veterinarians work with all kinds of species, in all types of environments, to make the world a healthier place for all forms of life.

While unavailable for comment due to his busy work schedule, Santa issued a statement, saying, “Without my reindeer there simply would be no Christmas. Proper veterinary care ensures that, year in and year out, my team and I are able to deliver presents to boys and girls around the world. Dr. Kinnarney is definitely on the ‘nice list’ again this year.”

For more information on Dr. Kinnarney’s role as North Pole Veterinarian, including answers to kids’ questions about reindeer, visit

Milk Quota

Eastern region Land O’Lakes producers headed for quota

While supply management is law north of the U.S. border, in this country cooperatives are self-imposing the practice in times of tight capacity like the current glut in the northeast. Farm Progress first reported that Land O’Lakes sent its eastern region members notice that a quota would be established, effective January 1.

The Land O’Lakes website shows that its board of directors currently has seven dairy regions represented, with one in California, three in the Upper Midwest, and three based in Pennsylvania, but also covering parts neighboring Mid-East states. Three of the 12 dairy division directorships are held in these eastern regions.

A base production value of September 2014 to August 2015 will be assigned to each member, and their production managed by the cooperative with any member producing over-quota milk charged the incremental costs to do so.

While Canada’s supply management system via quota remains intact, the E.U. let their version of supply management expire on April 1 of this year. The state of California remains in a quota system since the 1960s, giving quota-holders, representing about 60% of the state’s farms, additional revenue each month of about $1.50/cwt as distributed from a pool. That quota has not expanded for 20 years, but cooperatives have implemented quota at times within the state to manage supply.

Meetings are taking place in Pennsylvania to inform Land O’Lakes producers of the changes.


Black Friday’ delivers pizza promotion

The dairy checkoff’s work with partners such as Domino’s continues to revitalize the pizza category to benefit dairy farmers.

The checkoff’s cheese work in pizza and foodservice has helped move 4 billion incremental pounds of milk from January of 2014 to July of 2015, according to Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff.

Much of this success results from the checkoff’s work locally and nationally with partners such as Domino’s, said Neil Hoff, a Texas dairy farmer and chairman of the United Dairy Industry Association, the federation of state and regional dairy checkoff organizations.

“Pizza consumption was on a steady decline for five-plus years and had been a driver for increased consumption the prior 25 years,” Hoff said. “With that business scenario, we entered the marketplace with Domino’s in 2009 to turn the category around. They said, ‘What can we do together?’ This created a catalytic effect in the pizza industry to put more cheese on the pies.”

The first success came that year with the launch of the American Legends specialty pizza line, which uses up to 40% more cheese than the traditional pizza at Domino’s.

It continued with Domino’s Smart Slice, a kid-approved school pizza that the checkoff helped create. Smart Slice uses pizza cheese made with 100% real mozzarella and meets  USDA’s school meal guidelines.

Local dairy checkoff organizations have worked with Domino’s to serve Smart Slice in more than 6,500 schools, which helps protect dairy’s freedom to operate in a critical environment.

The latest example of how dairy farmers and importers are working with Domino’s is through a 10-day marketing and media promotion starting on “Black Friday” for all pizzas ordered through

Domino’s has run a “Cyber Monday” promotion aimed at online shoppers the past few years. This year, it will begin three days earlier (Nov. 27 to Dec. 6) thanks to local checkoff organizations that have helped Domino’s increase its marketing and media work. The promotion will include national Domino’s advertising and digital marketing, plus online conversations from the checkoff.

“Local promotion farmer leaders support this effort because the investment goes directly to markets where people live and we expect it to deliver positive results,” Hoff said. “This is another strong example of local and national dairy promotion dollars working together to increase demand for dairy.”

The partnership between dairy farmers and Domino’s franchisee owners works because they have much in common, Hoff said. Both are local, small business owners that create jobs and have other positive impacts on their communities.

“Our partnership with America’s dairy farm families continues to uncover new ways to deliver more delicious cheese to our customers across the country,” said Domino’s Chief Marketing Officer Joe Jordan. “Our relationship with dairy farmers is a major strength for us, not just on Black Friday but every day.”