Rumler won awards as Holstein Association director

May 08, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - April 3 was Robert Rumler Day on the campus of Penn State Mont Alto, and it could have been Robert Rumler Day in many developing countries around the world as well.

Thousands of people worldwide have sufficient dairy products because of the work of Robert H. Rumler, 90, of Chambersburg.

During Rumler's 34-year tenure at the helm of the Holstein Association USA Inc. in Brattleboro, Vt., the Holstein cow became the premier dairy animal in the world. When Rumler arrived in Vermont in 1948 to become assistant executive secretary of the Holstein Association, Holsteins made up about 45 percent of the dairy cattle in the United States.

Now, about 85 percent of the dairy cattle in the United States are Holsteins, and their quality has improved markedly.

Rumler has visited 52 countries, promoting Holsteins and helping to improve the dairy industries of developing nations.

In 1979, Rumler visited China at the invitation of the Chinese government as the "livestock man" on the first agricultural mission to that country.


"We were graciously received," Rumler recalled. "We were there to evaluate the Chinese operations and to make recommendations of what they needed to do and how to go about doing it. Chinese dairy farming was 50 or more years behind ours."

He has visited cooperative and state farms in several former Communist countries. In 1972, he made his first of nine trips to the former Soviet Union to see the large collective farms.

"There were some good managers on those farms, but the system was not in the best interest," he said. "Different departments made the (cows') feed, and it was so fine, it was like feeding sand. You don't feed cattle with four stomachs that kind of stuff, but the farm manager told me he couldn't get anything else."

By furnishing farmers in Hungary with quality Holstein cattle, Rumler and his colleagues turned Hungary's dairy industry from a deficit to a surplus.

The Holstein Association is a trade association, not a business, Rumler said.

"It's the organization that manages the approaches to be taken in the development of the breed, the ethics and the enforcement of those ethics," he said.

"The association promotes the breed. The business (aspect) is every Holstein breeder/dairy farmer. They think in terms of profit. The Holstein Association is nonprofit. It's like a Chamber of Commerce in some respects."

"The Holstein Association has always focused on milk production," he said.

Since its founding in the 1880s, "we kept breeding and selecting, breeding and selecting" to improve the genetics of the Holstein breed, thereby creating healthier, higher-producing, more-efficient cows.

Although Rumler officially retired from the Holstein Association in 1982, he stayed on in various capacities until 1990, working from his home office. He carries the lifetime title of chairman emeritus.

After graduating from Penn State with a degree in dairy science in 1936, Rumler worked as a county extension agent in Missouri, where he met his wife, Jean. In 1937, he took a job in Williamsport, Pa., as a county agricultural extension agent.

In the award-lined office he calls his "ego den," Rumler said he is busy all the time.

"I'm a consultant," he said. "There are lots of phone calls, I keep track of what's going on in the Holstein breed and I make suggestions."

He said he and the current chief operating officer of the Holstein Association, John Meyers, are friends.

Rumler was a past chairman of the Penn State Mont Alto Advisory Board, on which he continues to serve as an emeritus member. He was instrumental in bringing about the renovation of the historic Emmanuel Chapel.

Family and friends gathered on the campus recently to celebrate his 90th birthday and his service to the school.

Attending the celebration was Greencastle, Pa., resident Harold F. Crider, a semi-retired dairy farmer, who said that Rumler was "very professional and an excellent leader. He did an outstanding job with the (Holstein) Association."

Crider was a delegate to the association's national annual meeting for 22 years, most of that time during Rumler's tenure.

The Herald-Mail Articles