Archive for Dairy Industry

Mega Dairy Tillamook Accused Of Misleading Marketing Campaigns

The Tillamook County Creamery Association, an Oregon-based farmers’ co-op, is facing accusations of misleading its customers with deceptive marketing campaigns. 

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, a national animal rights organization, filed a proposed class action lawsuitagainst the mega-dairy Monday, accusing the association of tricking consumers into thinking their products are sourced from small, local dairies within Tillamook County. 

In reality, the suit says more than two-thirds of the co-op’s milk comes from one massive farm in Eastern Oregon. 

A Tillamook Dairy milk truck driver prepares to leave after delivering two tanker truck loads of milk to Alpenrose Dairy in Beaverton, Ore.,

A Tillamook Dairy milk truck driver prepares to leave after delivering two tanker truck loads of milk to Alpenrose Dairy in Beaverton, Ore.,

Don Ryan/AP

Threemile Canyon Farms’ 25,000 dairy cow complex is the most industrialized in the country, according to defense fund attorneys. The farm boasts robotic carousels that allow for round-the-clock milking and computerized tracking of every calf. The dairy produces more than 1.4 million pounds of milk each day, according to the Threemile website.

ALDF lawyers say the farm isn’t just high-tech, but borders on inhumane. The complaint alleges cows are kept in industrial warehouses “where they stand on concrete or in their own waste” and are banned from grazing. The filing also cites federal records showing milk from the farm has often come out of infected udders. 

Representatives for Threemile Canyon Farms are reviewing the lawsuit. Tillamook released a statement saying the co-op is proud of its 20-year relationship with Threemile.

“Our farmer-owners and suppliers all take good care of their animals not only because it is their livelihood, but because it is the right thing to do,” the statement reads. “The size of the farm does not dictate the quality of care.”  

But ALDF attorneys say Tillamook’s advertising has intentionally obfuscated that a massive industrial farm counts itself as a co-op member.

“If you take a look at their uniform marketing campaign, you see things like cows on rolling green hills in Tillamook County in red barns, and kids helping take care of really small herds of dairy cows,” says Amanda Howell, a staff attorney at the legal defense fund, who is assisting with the suit. “That is incredibly misleading.” 

Howell says the legal fund commissioned a survey of a little more than 1,000 consumers spread across Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The majority believed Tillamook purchased its dairy from small-scale family farms.

The suit accuses the dairy company of making money through misrepresentation. It cites a 2017 interview in which Tillamook’s CEO Patrick Criteser said revenues grew by 70% after the launch of their “Dairy Done Right” campaign. 

Customers “purchase [Tillamook] to avoid industrialized finding, to avoid factory farms when Tillamook represents the epitome of factory farms,” says Howell. 

The class action suit is filed on behalf of four plaintiffs who purchased Tillamook dairy products from supermarkets. All told legal fund attorneys they had been willing to pay extra for products from small dairies that they believed treated animals humanely. All thought Tillamook “aligned with [their] values.” 

Had they known that much of their cheese, butter, ice cream, sour cream, and yogurt was sourced from a large factory farm, all said that they would either have paid less for it — or never bought it in the first place.

Howell says the defense fund is currently seeking an injunction that will force Tillamook to change its marketing style. In one month, they plan to amend the lawsuit allowing for claims for damages.


Wisconsin dairy supports 157K jobs and has a $45.6bn impact

UWM’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics conducts this research every five years and compiles a report, The Contribution of Agriculture to the Wisconsin Economy. Its most recent data comes from 2017.

They found the Wisconsin agriculture industry generated $104.8bn in revenue that year, up from $88.3bn in 2012. It also supported 437,700 jobs, an increase of about 24,000 jobs from 2012.

Maintaining and growing rural areas

Dairy specifically was responsible for about half the agriculture revenue at $45.6bn, and 16.4% of the state’s total. Producing dairy milk supported 154,000 jobs in Wisconsin and generated $1.26bn in state and local taxes.

Professor Steven Deller, of UWM, said, “It is clear that agriculture – and particularly dairy – plays a critical role in Wisconsin’s economy. To put this in perspective, dairy’s economic impact is twice that of another key growing industry, Wisconsin tourism. It also shows dairy is Wisconsin’s signature industry and is central to our state’s identity.”

The report pointed out that dairy far outstrips other states in terms of important local goods. The $ it contributes to the Wisconsin economy is greater than citrus’ $7.2bn in Florida and potatoes’ $2.7bn in Idaho.

Though the increases from 2012 can be partly attributed to inflation in the period (6.7%), agriculture industry sales increased by 15.7% and labor income was up 17.2%, indicating further growth.

Chad Vincent, CEO of the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, said, “This report reflects the importance of cheese and dairy in our state and is why we are America’s Dairyland. To me, the deeper importance is the impact dairy farming and processing has on maintaining and growing our rural areas.”

“The economic impact derived from agriculture in our state cannot be underestimated. Statewide dairy helps support a strong future for Wisconsin with job creation and tax revenue that goes toward better roads, new schools and a variety of other public services.”

Balancing two sides of the same coin

Some of Wisconsin’s agriculture growth is stemming from trade. According to the report, Wisconsin exported more than $2.5bn in agriculture products, including $451m worth of dairy products.

DFW-Dairy Impact 3-Horizontal

Because today’s consumers are also more health-conscious and keen on high-protein diets, Wisconsin believes that supporting the demand for its  dairy products beyond its borders is key to the future of the state’s dairy industry.

According to the report, 90% of Wisconsin milk is used in cheesemaking, with the rest divided between butter, ice cream and cultured products like yogurt, cottage cheese and kefir. Wisconsin has a 48% share of the specialty cheese category in the US.

The report concluded on-farm activity was not a major contributor to the increases that Wisconsin dairy saw between 2012-2017, but is likely a reflection of weak commodity prices in 2017. Dairy processing had an overall greater impact on the economy than farm activity.

“The challenge facing Wisconsin agriculture is that on-farm activity and food processing are ‘two sides to the same coin’ and as one does better the other does better,” the report said.

“The continued weak net farm income, a pattern that Wisconsin farmers have not experienced since the farm crisis of the early 1980s, may put the food processing industry at risk.”

Source: Dairy Reporter

Years of progress for U.S. dairy genetics

Genetic progress on the nation’s dairy farms has been quite remarkable. Thanks to advanced reproductive technologies, over the past 30 years. From embryo transfer to in-vitro fertilization, the ability to expedite top-performing genetics has improved production for dairy farmers worldwide. Veterinarians and friends Dan Hornickel and Chris Keim were first talking about embryo transfer and IVF in their college days in the 1970s.

“Our start was very early. There wasn’t a lot of information. I wouldn’t call us pioneers, but we were certainly among the first that were doing work in the field,” said Hornickel. “And from there it grew.

The pair worked on their animals for several years. They didn’t feel qualified to put that technology into the public, but as they became more proficient. Clients began asking for the technology. As luck would have it, Sunshine Genetics started about 1982.

Keim and Hornickel agreed freezing embryos was the biggest factor to impact their business in 30 years

“Freezing technology was a big, big breakthrough for us and other businesses in the ET industry,” Keim said. “We could go to a client’s farm and preserve the leftover embryos if he didn’t have enough recipients available. That gave the farmer a lot of flexibility.”

The advent of freezing opened up a whole world of export work for the duo. It became a large part of their business, freezing and exporting. Along with that over the years, the development of IVF techniques has added to the merchandise ability of the cattle owned by Sunshine Genetics clients.

Another significant milestone in the advancement of reproductive technologies is sorted semen, which can allow breeders to select for either male or female offspring

“It’s helped with the marketing of embryos when clients in other countries want female embryos from some of the best Holstein cows in the world, they could have a 95 percent chance of producing a heifer calf from one of these frozen embryos,” said Hornickel

Working alongside progressive dairy farmers through the years has kept Hornickel and Keim encouraged about what the future may hold

“The biggest challenge for dairying today is profitability, and obviously, the advancing genetics is all designed to add to that profitability,” Keim said. “But keeping your eyes open, keeping your operation viable and financially sound as best you can, using all the tools that you can, I think that takes a lot of pressure off of dairymen today if they can accomplish that. And that’s a big challenge right now.”

Source: KTIC

Fonterra needs to be asked the hard questions

As dairy giant Fonterra forecasts another big loss, farmers say it will hit them hard.

Te Poi dairy farmer, Matthew Zonderup

Te Poi dairy farmer, Matthew Zonderup Photo: RNZ/ Andrew McRae

Matthew Zonderop farms near Te Poi in Waikato, and believes Fonterra needs to get back to basics.

“And the rest will follow. We have our fingers in too many pies. They have made bad investments.”

The co-operative is forecasting a loss of between $590 million and $675m for the current financial year.

Fonterra said it expected to write down the value of four significant overseas ventures in South America, China and Australia by more than $600m.

The writedowns come as it reviews its business from top to bottom and looks to cut its debt by $800m this year.

It has decided not to pay a dividend for the financial year based on the losses, in an effort to pay down more of the co-operative’s debt.

Mr Zonderop said it is now up to farmers to not be so apathetic with the Shareholders Council and with their voting rights.

“They have to turn up at meetings and start asking these hard questions.”

He said the loss of any dividend this year will be extremely hard for a lot of farmers and will hinder growth and paying down debt.

“A lot of guys are still struggling with debt particularly young farm owners who have gone out and purchased their first farm and they were buying shares when they were at six-bucks and now all of a sudden their capital investment has halved.

“The interest rate is higher than the value of the share and it is almost walk away material.”

Ohinewai dairy farmer Roger Lumsden wonders just how it got so bad.

“There are a lot of guys out there scratching their heads right now.”

Mr Lumsden said the news from Fonterra will knock the confidence out of farmers.

“Our on-farm expenses are certainly creeping up and we are trying to cover them with our milk price so it is a direction where everything is going I guess.

“People will be thinking, you know we have a lot of money tied up in shares and if we are going to lose the value on those shares, where do we go to from here.”

Mr Lumsden is concerned that with Fonterra cutting ties with a number of overseas investments, it may lose some of its influence in those markets.

“If we start to lose that it will be come fairly concerning.”

Mr Lumsden said Fonterra certainly had to do something.

“It had a bit of tidying up to do, they went through a period where they were very quick to spend money on capital overseas and some of that was shown to be a poor investment.”

He is sceptical that the company is now on the right track.

“I think that they have got themselves into a slightly deeper hole than perhaps what they are letting on.”

“The next 12 or 18-months will be very interesting for the long-term view of Fonterra,” he said.


Rabobank publishes Dairy Top 20

Nestlé, Lactalis and Danone continue leading the global dairy industry, but could see some shakeups in the future, according to a new analysis from Rabobank.

A look at the world’s biggest dairy conglomerates reflects the state of the industry and what’s to come. Rabobank’s annual Global Dairy Top 20 report particularly noted how last year’s mergers and acquisitions are shaping the wider market.

Nestlé topped the list again, supported by organic growth coming from its infant nutrition business, rather than from its big milk and ice cream brands. Lactalis is a close second with Danone not far behind in third; and the gaps between the top three continue to shrink.

Fonterra moved into fourth place following its acquisition of the remaining stake of the Darnum IMF plant in Australia. FrieslandCampina moved up to fifth thanks to small investments in cheese in the Netherlands, the US, and Spain, according to Rabobank.

The Dairy Farmers of America dropped from fourth to sixth, and Yili surpassed Saputo, moving into eighth place, with sales up by 13.4% in US dollar terms.

Saskia van Battum, a dairy analyst, said, “The top three remained the same, although the gap between numbers one and two continues to narrow. For the third year in a row, there are no new entrants in the list, due to a lack of elephant deals over the past 18 months, but some reshuffling took place.”​

Overall, there was an increase of 2.5% on the year, compared to 7.2% in the previous year. However, the combined turnover of the top ten grew and neared $150bn.

Rabobank cited lower commodity prices, adverse weather conditions in key export regions, a strong US dollar and currency shifts as reason for the combined turnover of the top listed companies.

Of the top 20, 19 companies were involved in more than 75 mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic alliances or disposals. Rabobank said that 111 deals total took place in dairy in 2018, down from 127 in 2017.

As of mid-2019, there have already been 85 dairy deals, but none of the recent deals have been “a real game changer,”​ according to Rabobank.

“We expect to see further growth from acquisitions, with a long-awaited shift in the top three of the global ranking likely. However, slower economic growth in China and a looming (US) recession will probably hamper organic growth,”​ the report said.

Dairy is also battling trade tensions between the US, the EU, Mexico and China, as well as dealing with Brexit and ‘increasing environmental constraints’ around the world.

Nestlé, Lactalis, Danone, Fonterra, FrieslandCampina, DFA, Arla Foods, Yili, Saputo and Mengniu make up the top 10. Dean Foods, Unilever, DMK, Kraft Heinz, Sodiaal, Meiji, Savencia, Agropur, Schreiber Foods and Müller round out 11-20. 


Source: Dairy Reporter

North Carolina dairy farmers plead for help, but legislators leery of milk price supports

A state commission could set minimum milk prices in an effort to shore up North Carolina’s struggling dairy industry under legislation that supporters hope to get moving at the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 380 would re-establish the North Carolina Milk Commission and empower it to set minimum and maximum prices. It got a sympathetic hearing from the House Agriculture committee on Wednesday, but concerns about allowing price controls in a complex industry kept the bill from getting a supportive vote.

Instead, the committee punted the measure to the House Judiciary committee, sending it there on a unanimous vote without an up-or-down recommendation.

Dairy farmers and legislators from the state’s two biggest milk-producing counties – Iredell and Randolph – painted a dire picture. Low prices on a gallon of milk bring people to the grocery store, and some stores sell it at or close to cost, said Rep. Jeffrey McNeely, R-Iredell.

That, plus out-of-state competition from farms with more than 100,000 cows, has pushed family farms to the brink, McNeely said. In 1974, the state had more than 1,700 Grade A dairies, McNeely said. Now it’s 160.

“The price of milk has made its own moratorium, and it’s crushed them,” he said.

The bill would re-establish a 10-member commission able to set milk prices after a public hearing, if it determines that the absence of a price floor “has caused or is about to cause a disruption in the North Carolina milk market.” This commission would be funded by a tax: No more than 5 cents per 100 pounds of milk handled by distributors and no more than 5 cents per 100 pounds sold by producers.

The bill was fashioned, in part, on Virginia’s milk commission, sponsoring Rep. Pat Hurley, R-Randolph, said.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services hasn’t taken a formal position on the bill, but its in-house lobbyist said Wednesday the department isn’t sure it will help dairy farmers. Several legislators said the milk industry’s web of regulations on production, pricing and delivery make it difficult to understand its existing structure, much less the bill’s impact.

The state’s retail merchants association opposes the bill, and its lobbyist said Wednesday that it would raise consumer prices.

Hurley and McNeely said they’re willing to rework parts of the bill, and they were pushing Wednesday to keep it alive for this legislative session instead of submitting the issue to a study with no guarantee of future legislation.

“Our dairy farmers can’t wait,” Hurley said.


Source: WRAL

First time NZ dairy farm buyers take the plunge

Mark and Cathy Nicholas say the burden of running a farm is lifted if they are both involved.

“To buy or not to buy” – that’s the question on dairy farmers’ minds as they weigh up whether now is the right time to invest in some rural real estate.

Milk prices are up, land values are flat or falling, cow prices trending down, interest rates low and Fonterra shares in decline – all ingredients for dipping a toe into ownership.

“There’s a lot of opportunity out there. We looked at over 20 farms and we became pretty good at doing budgets quickly to figure out if a farm could work with the budget we had. We put offers on a few of farms which weren’t accepted, before finding the Tirau farm where our offer was accepted through the tender process,” Mark and Cathy Nicholas say.

Even so, it would not be everyone’s choice of a career. For a start there is the early morning milking, the isolation, uncertain markets and the constant criticism from townies over water quality.

Not only that, but one of the main reasons for getting into farming has changed. Traditionally farmers have accepted the downsides of their job in the knowledge that when they retire there will be a substantial capital gain after they sell the farm.

No longer, according to Dairy NZ economist Matt Newman.

“If they’re hoping for the capital gains that previous generations achieved then they’re going to be disillusioned. Land values are the biggest asset and capital gains have pretty much dried up after the downturn. Values for good land are holding up but marginal land prices are going back.”

The downturn started in the 2014-15 season, a year after the price Fonterra pays its farmers hit an all-time record high of $8.40 per kilogram of milksolids. The next two seasons saw it drop to $4.40, then $3.90.

It might be a watershed moment for the industry. Cow numbers reached a peak of 6.7 million in 2014 but by last year had declined to 6.4 million.

The Reserve Bank, as it does every year, warns about dairy debt. Altogether agriculture debt is $62 billion, with dairy at $41.5b, sheep and beef $14.1b and “other” including horticulture $6.3b. Four years ago dairy farmers owed the banks $34b.

But where banks were once eager to lend to farmers with few strings attached, they now cast a stricter eye over budgets.

Michael Woodward and his wife Susie, who have just made the shift from Canterbury to Otorohanga, agree banks are more cautious.

“But they’re also looking after their clients better. Managers are getting to know clients better, I know managers who if they think it’s a bad idea they’ll put it to their clients, whereas in the past it was more around growth and the capital gains and saying ‘we’ll take a chance and possibly push it’.”

In fact the Woodwards would have bought their 170 hectare, 350-cow farm sooner if the bank had not advised against it. They have been sharemilking for 15 years.

“Our manager said a year ago, ‘no you hold off, you’ll make more cash if you stay in your sharemilking job’. We had identified a property but we worked through the numbers and they made it quite clear the payback from that farm was going to be longer than on this farm, and would have required too much hands-on. Now we’ve got a buffer if the payout drops. It was about us not being stretched to the limit,” Woodward says.

Even though land prices have not ballooned out in recent years, they are still more expensive than when the Woodwards began sharemilking.

“Cows just don’t buy you the land they used to. It used to be that you’d sell half the herd and use the other half for milking, now we’ve used about three-quarters of our herd to buy the place.”

The Woodwards did not buy prime Waikato land but that was down to choice. Michael says they did not want “wall-to-wall” cows, so have an area that is not milking quality where they run some dry stock.

For now Woodward has “parked” his advocacy work with Federated Farmers while the couple get the farm up and running but he hopes to take it up sometime soon.

Nicholas says he and Cathy had been 50:50 sharemilking for 10 years, with the last six years milking 700 cows on a farm near Tokoroa before purchasing the 120-ha farm where they now milk 280 cows.

“In all our farm budgets we didn’t put in any capital gain, we put nil. We worked on the fact land values could come backwards. My dad also reminded us that when he was farming, at one stage interest rates were over 20 per cent. Today sub 5 per cent is good but once you put 7-8 into your budget, things become very marginal.”

Newman says for some new entrants, now may be as good a time to buy as any.

One measure of dairy values is the price of Fonterra shares, which farmers must buy if they want to supply the co-op.

A farmer with the average herd size of 431 cows, producing 158,000 kilograms of milksolids a year, pays $587,760 for Fonterra shares today, whereas at the beginning of 2018 the price would have been over $1m.

Fonterra pays its 10,500 farmers $6.75kg/MS, out of which they pay working expenses, interest, rent, and income. Not included are one-off capital replacement items, such as a new dairy shed, which are replaced only every few decades.

“Dairy NZ’s current break-even milk price is $5.95, which leaves farmers with 80c per kg, of which 40c is depreciation, resulting in 40c per kg they could put into their back pocket, or into the bank for a rainy day, or to pay down some of the principal on the money they have borrowed.

“Based on average dairy farm production, this 40c per kg amounts to $64,000,” Newman says.

Prospects are uncertain for next season. Fonterra has forecast it will pay farmers a range of between $6.25-$7.25 kg/MS. In the past it has been criticised for picking a figure, and then having to change it.

The average break-even over the last 10 years is $5.75, which offers farmers a reasonable guide to future, Newman says.

Woodward says compliance is the hidden cost of dairying. Effluent systems can cost in the hundreds of thousands but he recognises the importance of getting the right advice and not living in the past, as some farmers do.

Nicholas believes it’s vital for the industry that the familiar route into ownership via sharemilking be maintained. Over the past two decades, sharemilker numbers have fallen from over 5000 to below 4000.

“In the past everyone was given an opportunity [to own a farm] but those are getting fewer and fewer.”


Source: Stuff

Award-winning dairy farm forced to sell off herd

Tyler Kuhl has wanted one thing in life — to be a dairy farmer.

It was the dream of his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather, who all farmed the same plot of land in the northwestern Wisconsin community of Amery. 

Kuhl’s family farm is 100 years old this year, which is why he received the prestigious Century Farm and Home Program award at State Fair this week along with 147 other farm families celebrating a centennial.

But times are changing, and not for the better. 

One hundred years since Kuhl’s great-grandpa put down stakes, he’s selling the last of his dairy cows.

“I’m shaking right now just talking about it,” Kuhl said in an interview on the day of the Century Farm award ceremony.

“This 100 years means a lot but it’s bittersweet because I’m done. This farm, my grandpa told me years ago, will always be a farm. But I just don’t need to milk cows. It’s a tough deal to look up at the sky and say that.”

Farmers’ milk checks have dropped because of a worldwide milk glut, forcing many to sell off their herds after losing money for months, sometimes years. Nearly 3,000 U.S. dairy farms folded last year, about a 6.5% decline, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. In Wisconsin this year, two to three dairy operations are shutting down every day.

At his peak, Kuhl milked 80 to 90 cows but that has dropped to just a handful. He’s selling the last of his dairy cows in a few weeks.

“There’s no money in it. I can’t raise a family off of milking cows anymore. These markets are not cooperating,” said Kuhl, 34. “Too many years in a downward spiral.”

Plus dairy farming is a round-the-clock job. Since cows don’t take a vacation, farmers rarely do either. If they want or need to travel, they hire people to look after their milking operations or rely on family and friends to do it for a few days. After 12 years of that, while also battling market headwinds that drain his bank account, Kuhl has finally had enough. 

Kuhl planned to come to the Wisconsin State Fair for the award ceremony but stayed home because his father had undergone surgery the day before. His award will come in the mail.

The Century Farm and Home Program started in 1948 when Wisconsin celebrated its centennial. In 1998, a sesquicentennial component was added to it, honoring farms that have been in the same family for 150 years. This year 28 farms were honored at State Fair for their sesquicentennials.

Honorees get tickets to the fair, an invitation to an awards breakfast, and commemorative photo, certificate and outdoor display sign.

Matt Brennaman received his family’s century award this week.

“I think it shows our perseverance and our dedication to farming in Wisconsin,” Brennaman said at the State Fair.

Brennaman is the third generation of his family to farm on land in Pardeeville. Back when his grandfather bought the land in 1919, they farmed dairy, hogs, sheep and crops. Now, it’s been transformed into a custom feed operation, feeding 500 bulls owned by other farmers. 

Brennaman, who also has around 250 Angus cows on his 1,500-acre farm, is saddened to hear of the plight of a fellow century farmer.

“I think that hurts everybody. When the farming community isn’t strong, it affects everybody,” said Brennaman.

Inside one of State Fair’s livestock barns, Nicole Barlass, a member of the Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board, noted the incredibly difficult markets dairy farmers have faced for several years.

“It’s been extremely challenging the last four to five years. Prices have been terrible. We’re functioning in 2019 and getting paid 1970s milk prices,” Barlass said. “Of course, costs are no longer in the ’70s.”

Barlass took time out from greeting fairgoers at a display explaining the importance of dairy farming in Wisconsin to talk about the challenges. She noted that many Wisconsin dairy farmers are in their 60s and 70s and have decided to get out because it’s no longer worth it. Many other dairy families are questioning their futures, wondering how long they can continue in the hope that things will eventually turn around.

“At the end of the day, the dairy industry, no matter what happens, will continue to be the backbone of Wisconsin,” said Barlass, whose family milks 120 Holsteins in Sheboygan Falls.

Though Kuhl is selling his dairy herd, he’s not leaving farming. He’s raising show pigs and a herd of Simmental and shorthorn beef cattle and growing 350 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa. 

But his heart is in dairy farming, milking good cows, building pedigrees. His three daughters — 4, 6 and 8 — and 2-year-old son love to farm, Kuhl said.

“One of my tougher moments was telling my kids, we’re not going to milk cows anymore,” Kuhl said.


Made By Cow introduces the world’s first safe-to-drink raw milk

We’ve been warning against it for years but this Aussie brand has managed to get the tick of approval from health authorities for its unique milk.

There’s a reason this milk is one of the most expensive dairy milk on the market.

Made By Cow is the world’s first cold-pressed raw milk, and its unique process is what adds those extra dollars to your bill.

The new NSW start-up uses high cold water pressure technology rather than heat to kill harmful bacteria in its milk, giving it about 10 days extra shelf life and extra health benefits.

It’s bottled straight from the farm — a single Jersey herd near Barry — and was approved for sale by the NSW Food Authority back in 2016.

Demand saw its owners push to make it more widely available and today it officially launched via 300 retailers, including Harris Farm, IGA and specialty organic shops, who are set to stock the unique milk by September.

Up until now, untreated milk, often known as raw milk, has needed to be heated to at least 72 degrees to destroy harmful bacteria.

While it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in Australia, two years ago the Federal Government allowed high pressure processing (HPP) as a new alternative to heat pasteurisation.

This process is popular with fruit juice, which is sold as “cold-pressed juice”, and it is the same process used by Made by Cow.


Made by Cow comes in two sizes, 1.5 litres for $6 and 750ml for $4, which is more expensive than two litres of full-cream milk from the a2 Milk Company that sells for $5.

“It’s the most expensive milk on the market, but it is the most expensive to make,” Made by Cow co-founder Saxon Joye told

“All the things heat-based processing does to milk like squashing vitamins and enzymes, cold press does not. It is exactly the same as raw milk without the bacteria.”

Apart from retaining the live enzymes, Mr Joye said the cold-pressed milk was also filled with protein, potassium, calcium (38 per cent recommended dietary intake), vitamin B2 (52 per cent RDI) and vitamin B12 (48 per cent RDI).

“We’re a big change after many, many years — heat pasteurisation has been fantastic, but the technology has moved on, and we can now offer a raw product with extra shelf life that’s absolutely unmessed with that’s safe to drink, and it’s been very well embraced.”

According to Mr Joye, the world-first technology focuses on careful management and more hygienic milking practices to produce higher pressure.

“The pressure then destroys the harmful pathogens while being gentler on milk’s natural nutrients. The result is safe, unaltered, creamy, cold-pressed raw milk — straight from the farm to bottle,” Mr Joye said.

He has expectations of it not only becoming a major export opportunity for Australia but possibly following in the footsteps of the a2 Milk Company, which has a market capitalisation of $11.8 billion.

According to Mr Joye, several countries have already reached out to discuss the patented technology based in the Sydney suburb of Homebush.

“This is a very unique business in the fact they own the technology: Made By Cow holds patents for all the major contents across the world,” said former boss of Swisse Vitamins Radek Sali, who has taken a 27 per cent stake in Made By Cow.

Mr Sali, who aims to capitalise on the growing trend of farm to plate, sold Swisse Vitamins to Hong Kong-listed Biostime International Holdings in 2015 for $1.67 billion.

According to Made by Cow CEO and ex-Swisse executive Wade Porter, the brand’s milk contains more of milk’s natural goodness while still being 100 per cent safe from harmful bacteria.

“And we’re paying our farmers a premium — which is just as important as improved taste and nutrition profile.” Mr Porter said.

Due to how it’s made in the bottle, the milk can obtain a shelf life of up to six weeks.

About 9.7 billion litres of milk are produced each year in Australia, with the average person consuming 103 litres.

Globally, Australia is one of the highest consumers of milk, largely driven by the popularity of its coffee industry.


The milk industry in Australia has hit the headlines countless times in 2019, as supermarkets cut the price they pay farmers for the white stuff, causing havoc across the industry.

As a result, Woolworths and Aldi increased the price of milk by 10c, which was a huge win for the farmers — but the industry stated it wasn’t enough, meaning there could be further price hikes down the line.



Dairy farms have more problems than the trade war

Amid the ongoing trade dispute, China announced it is halting purchases of U.S. agriculture this week. The trade war has been taking its toll on the American agriculture industry, which is heavily dependent on exports. 

But even before President Trump took office, parts of the American farming industry have been dealing with another problem: oversupply. Agricultural products including pork, chicken, grain and dairy have seen years of low prices amid an ongoing glut.

Dairy is a key example. Milk prices have been low since 2014, when prices plummeted after years of growth in production.

“We really do have too much milk on the market,” said Sarah Lloyd, who runs a 400-cow farm in Wisconsin, the Nelson family dairy farm.

Before 2014, milk prices had been rising. Back then, farmers saw the value of their commodity increasing, and many decided to expand.

“It was this domino effect, where each dairy farm was trying to become bigger,” said Naomi Blohm at the advisory firm Stewart Peterson.

But in late 2014, the global market shifted. China drastically cut back on its milk imports. The European Union lifted production quotas. Russia banned western dairy imports.

Farms had to keep producing milk, even if they were earning less for it. Many farms took out loans to expand while prices were high, and had to keep producing milk to meet their loan payments.

More than 2,700 farms closed down across the U.S. between 2017 and 2018. For the farms still around, many are struggling.

“The Nelson family farm has been in business for over 100 years,” Lloyd said. “We’re really just digging deep into the asset base that the generations have built.”

The dairy industry has had plenty of help from the government. Federal subsidies have been estimated to make up as much as 73% of dairy farm income

Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economist at UC Davis, said farms should be designed to withstand price swings.

“Farm prices go up and down,” he said. “That’s part of the business.”

What’s unusual this time, Sumner said, is how long prices have been low. It’s not just dairy — prices for a lot of agricultural commodities have been down for several years. By now, he says, they should have recovered.

“That hasn’t really happened for a lot of commodities, in part because they’re so sensitive to the international trade turmoil,” Sumner said.

China is the fifth-largest market for American agricultural exports. Before the trade dispute, it had been a top export market for years. With that market closing off, supply’s building up in the U.S.

California and Wisconsin, the two biggest milk producers, are receiving almost $130 million in aid to cope with the trade war. Sumner said prices are also staying low because the industry’s also getting more productive. 

“That means that those people can produce crops and livestock products at slightly lower prices,” he said.

Dairy prices are starting to rise a bit this year. Dean Foods, the biggest milk producer in the US, said this week its paying more for the milk it sources.

Part of that is due to a rainy spring, which made it harder for farmers to plant feed crops, increasing production costs. Then, there’s lower production itself, with dairy farms going out of business.

But Lloyd said reduced milk production could help farmers in the long run.

“We just really need to talk to people about hey, what if you produce less and got paid more,” Lloyd said.

The National Farmers Union has called for a government incentive program to better control the dairy market. That could mean capping production, or charging a fee if farmers want to expand.

So far, nothing’s made it through Congress.



Dairy farming is not what it used to be.  DUH. The only way to get paid for your milk is to provide it to people who want it in the way that they want it.  We are so convinced of this at “Specialty Milk Equals Money Everyday” looked at processors and consumers and the products that they want and will pay for. Successfully reaching this evolving market might require that as dairy producers, you have to change your mind about some aspects of getting the milk that you produce to the marketplace. Having said that, you may read this and rank yourself with those who are convinced that there is no need for you personally to change. Even faced with the incontrovertible facts of today’s overproducing, underpaying, profit losing dairy industry, we say, “I’m not changing.  My mind is made up!”

To date, your view of the world has provided you with a certain amount of dairy-producing success! In the past, there have been times when your view of the world was very different from the actual world, and you held firm to your course and made it through. You are crossing your fingers that holding on this time will work again.  However, past and present are no longer in step with success.  “The past foretells the future” only works when there is money in the bank, healthy animals on the farm and an ability to ignore all signs of desperation and disregard for the agitated voices at the farm gate who are calling to you to listen to them!

Choosing Friends Over Facts

Regardless of what side of the farm gate you identify with, we dairy farmers, like the dairy animals in our pastures are herd animals. We are happiest in a non-threatening and bonding environment. We do not want to be cast out or separated from the herd. Where the herd goes, we go.  If the herd says, “farmers are producing unhealthy products”.  We agree.  If the herd says, “The government will save our farms because we are an iconic part of our country’s history.” We sit.  And wait. We don’t believe these statements because they are correct.  We believe them because doing so makes us part of the group and we want to look good to that group. The statements are factually false, but socially accurate. When having to choose between the two, we often select friends and family over facts.

Friend Or Foe.  Who Do You Know? Whose Side Are You On?

There are so many truths in the food industry.  Milk is bad. (Lactose intolerance is real.) Farm factories are bad.  Small farms are good.  (Dairy intolerance is growing.) Pet owners love cows.  Dairy farmers mistreat cows. (Dairy farmer mistrust is on the rise.) While seeking, truth, we all strive to be on the blameless higher ground and, at the same time, to be connected with like-minded friends.  However, when opposing alignments regarding issues of health and family are affected, our openness becomes inflexible, and we dig into our protectionist position.

People who align themselves against what they call factory farms or what they see as animal mistreatment or what they perceive as destructive environmental practices, do so because they feel it keeps them belonging to their chosen group. 

The best way to change their mind is to sit down at a meal together.  Something about handing bowls of food around or even asking a stranger to pass the milk pitcher draws us closer than the usual divisive influences of where we live, how we speak, and what we wear.

Repetition Is The Law

The number of people who believe an idea is directly proportional to the number of times it has been repeated during the last year—even if the idea is false. For this reason, we need to learn not to keep attacking every piece of misinformation or unsupported fear-mongering. In frenemy situations, time is better spent championing good ideas than tearing down bad ones. There is no point in endlessly explaining why bad ideas are bad.  You are merely flamming the flame.  Feed the good ideas and let the bad ideas die of starvation.

“I Can’t Let These Idiots Get Away with This”

If the goal is actually to change minds, then I don’t believe criticizing the other side is the best approach. Like it or not, we are the voice of dairy farming.  Is it confrontational?  Is it huffily arrogant? Are we running for cover?? Must we win at all costs? OR. Are we as producers willing to not win in order to keep the conversation going? It isn’t simply in social settings.  The conversations need to open up with processors too. And with nutritionists and veterinarians.  In fact, with everyone we work with in the line from dairy stable to table

“I Want What You’ve Got!”

With so many hands lining up at the farm gate, we may perceive that we all have different interest. As stated, these competing interests involve feed suppliers, nutritionists, and veterinarians, to name a few. Even dairy associations join the us versus them, national versus state or provincial, battles.  We get so wrapped up in gaining an advantage that both parties lose focus and fail to provide the needed services that make the dairy industry relevant in the modern marketplace. In-fighting over shares of the pie is irrelevant if nobody in the marketplace wants the pie. 

Who’s Your Frenemy Today?

As the industry is challenged, organizational factors create new bands of frenemies around leadership, management and even core values.  Furthermore, something as simple as scarcity of resources can trigger new alignments and new conflicts.  A better solution would be to work together to find a replacement product or to prioritize the areas with the most urgent need.

In Dairy Wars There Are No Winners

It is ironic that a quick look at potential conflicts within the dairy industry can be quite extensive:

  • Breeds vs Milk Recording
  • Milk Recording vs Cloud Software
  • Scientists vs Breeder Cow Knowledge
  • Traditional dairy bull breeders vs AI
  • Small vs Large Dairy Farms
  • Nutritionists vs Vets
  • Show Breeders vs Production Breeders
  • Animal rights vs Dairy Farm animal management

We are so caught up in winning that we forget about connecting.  It’s easy to spend energy, labelling people rather than working with them. Our inter-industry fighting distracts from the biggest threat to the entire industry, which is out there and growing exponentially:

Milk vs Milk Alternatives

Is Milk A Healthy Diet Friend Or A Dangerous Health Enemy?

This is the core question that the dairy industry needs to address.  Articles such as the one by NBC News Health Editor, Madelyn Fernstrom, (July 26, 2018) “Is milk really good for you? “is a good starting point for fact-based discussions of the issues surrounding milk as a nutritious food source.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The very fact that we are producing a food product means that we directly impact the personal health, family health and social lives of our customers. We don’t want to win a conversation. We don’t want them to change their minds about liking farmers or disliking modern farming.  We want consumers to enjoy delicious healthy food. We need to establish trust. If we can manage to be kind first and be right later, we can make good progress at turning frenemies at the farm gate into friends in the food aisle.




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Dairy farm closures in Maryland continue

Seventeen dairy farms have shuttered in Maryland in 2019, state data show.

Sixteen of those closures occurred in the first three months of the year, and one occurred in May. There were no closures from June to mid-July, according to the state’s Center for Milk and Dairy Product Safety.

In January, there were fewer than 370 dairy farms statewide.

The rate of closures puts the state on pace for a yearly total similar to the last two years. In 2018, 41 dairies closed, and in 2017, 33 closed. Most of those closures occurred within the first four months and last four months of the year.

It’s too soon to tell whether the lack of closures in June and mid-July suggests the beginning of a firmer milk market for Maryland producers, said Dale Johnson, a farm management specialist at the University of Maryland Extension.

“I think we’ll just have to wait and see,” he said. “I’d like to see what happens this fall.”

Dairies have been helped by a slight increase in milk prices in 2019, thanks to slightly reduced dairy production. Earlier this month, the USDA’s 2019 all-milk price was forecast at $18.20 per hundredweight, a nearly $2 increase over the previous year.

Dairy farms in Maryland have been closing at a fairly consistent rate over the last three decades. In the early 1990s, there were more than 1,400 total dairies in the state.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced in February the state would offer about $1.5 million to help pay farmers premiums for the federal government’s new Dairy Margin Coverage Program. The voluntary insurance plan, revamped in the 2018 Farm Bill, pays out when the national average margin between milk income and feed costs falls below farmer-selected coverage levels. Those premiums could yield up to $17 million for Maryland producers, Hogan said.

“We’re highly, highly encouraging (farmers) to sign up,” said Colby Ferguson, Maryland Farm Bureau’s government relations director.

But many dairies in Maryland are surviving only because the farmers are generating income through another farm product or an off-farm job, Johnson said.

“The cost of production is way above the price of milk,” he said.


Source: American Farm Publications

Wonder Why Farm Honored As Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year

Jennifer and Morgan Churchill and their children Nora and Samuel are all smiles after Wonder Why Farm, their 235-head certified organic dairy farm in Cabot, Vermont, was named the Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year for 2019.

Morgan Churchill can sum up his philosophy of farming in two words: “What if?”

The 40-year-old dairy farmer and his wife, Jennifer, own Wonder Why Farm, a 235-head operation on a quiet country road in Cabot, Vermont.  His “What if?” way of thinking has helped them transition from milking 15 cows on his father’s farm in 2002 to managing a certified organic herd with around 120 milkers on their current farm, which they first leased in 2005, and later purchased, from his uncle, Walter (Rusty) Churchill.

It also why he’s explored innovative ways to improve herd management and produce high-quality milk more profitably and efficiently, such as through installation of robotic milkers in a new state-of-the-art freestall barn.  And it’s why he continues to diversify the operation including growing hemp for the first time this year.

This forward-thinking approach recently led to an unexpected honor, that of being named the 2019 Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year. The farm is the third one in Cabot to win this award since it was first given out in 1962. Other winners were their neighbors, the Bothfelds, in 1993, and Jennifer’s grandparents, Walter and Sally Goodrich, who farmed in partnership with her Dad, Myles Goodrich, in 1987.

The award is presented annually to an exemplary farm by University of Vermont (UVM) Extension and the Vermont Dairy Industry Association (VDIA), in cooperation with the New England Green Pastures Program. The winner is chosen by a judging committee, comprised of past recipients of this prestigious award, who interview the finalists about their herd, pasture and crop management; milk production; environmental practices; pasture quality; and promotion of the dairy industry, among other criteria.

According to UVM Extension’s Tony Kitsos, the awards program coordinator, the judges were particularly impressed that the Churchills were able to take an older, low-input farm and build it to a high-level operation able to support a profitable, sustainable dairy.

“They saw that they put lots of sweat equity into building up their dairy facility with robotic milkers at the center of their goals,” he notes, adding that “this year’s nominees came from a variety of dairy sectors — organic, grass-based, value-added and large conventional farms. While each farm had its strengths in certain areas, the Churchills exhibited high achievement in all aspects of the judging criteria.”

The couple will be recognized at a banquet at Eastern States Exposition in September, along with the Green Pastures winners from the five other New England states. They also will be the honored guests at the VDIA banquet at the Vermont Farm Show in January.

Other finalists this year, listed alphabetically, were the Choiniere Family Farm, Highgate (Guy, Beth and Matt Choiniere); Savage View Farm (Dwight, Ryan and Travis Bullis); and Strafford Creamery, Strafford (Amy Huyffer and Earl Ransom).

Both Morgan and Jennifer grew up on dairy farms, developing a love for farming at an early age. It’s a love that they are instilling in their children, Samuel, 11, and Nora, 8.

“They started with very little and have been great stewards of their cows, people, money and land to get them to where they are today,” says Jason Johnson, Farm Relationship Manager with Stonyfield Organic, who nominated the couple. “Morgan can fix anything including building the new facility, and Jen is a great cow person.”

Although Morgan has deep ancestral ties to the property — he is the fourth generation of Churchills to farm this land — his approach to farming has been different. While acknowledging that hard work equals success, he also values quality of life and spending time with his children, which is one of the reasons he and Jennifer decided to switch to robotic milking.

In 2010, while still leasing the farm, they remodeled the existing tie-stall barn to milk more cows. Although it was the right solution at that time, retrofitting the barn was not a viable option to accommodate the new milking system. They also wanted to be able to house all their animals under one roof so made the decision to construct a brand-new facility.

They applied for a Dairy Improvement Grant through the Vermont Farm and Forest Viability Program in 2014 and were awarded $40,000. With additional funding through the Vermont Economic Development Authority, they were able to build a new 24,000-sq.-ft. barn for about $400,000 as they did all but the steel framework themselves.

Each 4- x 8-ft. stall in the well-ventilated, freestall barn has sand bedding for cow comfort with bedded pack in the maternity area. To avoid overcrowding, 10 stalls are always left empty. The facility also houses the robotic milking system, providing easy access for the milkers.

“We went with the Galaxy Astrea 20.20 automatic milking system,” Morgan says, “and were the first to buy this system in Vermont although the second to have it installed. We needed more flexibility than we had with the pipeline in the tie-stall barn, but this is also less labor-intensive.”

They began milking with robotics in 2015, a year after they signed up with Stonyfield Organic in Londonderry, New Hampshire. 

Kitsos notes, “To be a farm shipping to Stonyfield means that they are able to maintain very high quality standards on an ongoing basis.” The Churchills have received multiple silver awards for excellence from Stonyfield, currently running a 113,000 somatic cell count with extremely low bacteria count.

As to the robotic milking system, the cows seem to love it, says Jennifer, as they can wander in when they’re ready to be milked. Less stress means healthier animals and often higher milk production.

“Once the cows learned their time slot for milking, we saw a change from herd mentality to independent thinkers,” she adds. “With this set-up they can pass each other in the laneway heading to or from the pasture.”

Daily milk production averages around 70 pounds per cow — or 21,350 pounds per year — with 3.9 percent butterfat and 3 percent protein. These numbers can be attributed to good management practices, not only for cow comfort and health, but also for selective breeding for year-round calving.

They strive for a 13- to 14-month calving interval, breeding for polled, A2A2, medium-sized cows with good feet and legs and teat placement for the robotic system. Heifers are bred to calve at 24 months and at a weight of 1,000-1,200 pounds.

Calves spend their first several weeks in a separate, well-ventilated area of the barn, which is insulated so temperatures never fall below 35 degrees Fahrenheit in the entire structure. They receive three feedings of colostrum and then get one gallon of milk per feeding twice a day until weaned.

The cows are fed round bales and 18 pounds of grain and two pounds of molasses a day in addition to free-choice sodium bicarbonate, minerals, salt and kelp for better hair condition. The farmers have 295 acres of hay, which provides about 60 percent of their herd’s needs, and 120 acres of pasture.

“Morgan and Jen have approached farming with both business and lifestyle goals in mind,” Johnson points out. “The addition of the new facility and robotics was part of that approach, but they have also diversified their business in order to accommodate employees year round.”

The farmers began sugaring in 2012 to keep their workers employed in the off season. They have 400 buckets and 2,300 taps on pipeline, producing an average of 700 gallons of syrup a year. They’ve also planted four acres of hemp and have lined up a local buyer for the oil.

Morgan admits, however, that growing hemp involves a lot of labor as it needs to be harvested and dried. “We had to build a 35- x 60-ft. addition on the workshop to dry the hemp.” So he’s taking a wait-and-see approach on whether they will expand their hemp production next year.

When asked what makes their farm so successful, the dairyman says efficiency.

“We’ve always looked to the future, always looking for a way to do something better and more efficiently. For example, we bought bigger equipment than we really need to hay. But it helps get the job done quicker, freeing us up to do something else.”

“We do what’s best for the cows,” Jennifer says. “The extra pay for organic milk and the stable prices with Stonyfield allow us to manage our finances better. We try to have loans with payback under five years, and pay cash for equipment whenever we can.”

They also credit having good labor as key to their success. Morgan’s brother Matt and cousin Joe Churchill handle the crops and equipment. Vicki Ward, the robotics technician, knows the cows and computer system and helps keep things running smoothly in the milking parlor.

“Our biggest strength is found in our partnership,” Jennifer concludes. “Morgan and I make a great team. He thinks into the future, and I live in the moment to keep us grounded.”


SourceUniversity of Vermont Extension

Fonterra to suffer loss after fails to sell stake in Beingmate

Happier days in 2015 when Wang Zhentai (Beingmate chairman), Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings, then Prime Minister John Key and Song Kungang (chairman of China Dairy Industry Association) celebrated the partnership.

Fonterra is staring down the barrel of a significant loss if it sells off a portion of its stake in Chinese company Beingmate.

The dairy giant has announced it cannot find a buyer for the entire shareholding, and was therefore hoping to sell a portion on the sharemarket.

In April this year Beingmate’s share price was at a year-high level of 8.17 yuan, but had since fallen to 4.94 on Wednesday.

The dairy giant paid $750 million for its 18.8 per cent shareholding in March 2015, in a bid to gain access to Chinese consumers for its infant formula.

At that time Beingmate’s share price had soared to almost 30 yuan. Last year Fonterra wrote down the investment by $439m, which helped lead to its first ever annual loss of $196m.

Head of NZ Research at UBS, Marcus Curley, said Fonterra was having to resort to an on-market sale.

“The fact they are going to be losing money on a sale relative to their entry price doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given people can see the share price every day relative to what they bought it at.”

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell said Fonterra had talked with a number of buyers about selling the entire shareholding, but had been unsuccessful.

Hurrell said the decision was part of Fonterra’s three-point plan to turn around the business.

It had carried out a strategic review of its relationship with Beingmate, which had been “disappointing”.

Firstly it brought back the distribution of infant formula brand Anmum in China under Fonterra management. 

“We then ended the Darnum joint venture with Beingmate, bought back Beingmate’s share of our Darnum facility in Australia, and entered into a multi-year agreement for Beingmate to purchase ingredients from us.”

All that remained was the shareholding in Beingmate, which was now only a financial investment.

“We have talked to a number of parties regarding the potential sale of our entire stake in Beingmate, but so far have been unsuccessful in finding a buyer.

“As a result of this, we are now considering selling part of our holding and, as required by local listing rules, need to pre-announce our intention.”

Subject to demand for the shares, under the Shenzhen Stock Exchange market rules it is only possible to sell up to 1 per cent every 90 days directly on the exchange, or sell up to 2 per cent in a single block every 90 days. Trades greater than 5 per cent can be made to an individual party in an off-market transaction.

Hurrell said China remained one of Fonterra’s most important markets and it had a strong business there.


Source: Stuff

The alt-milk market is getting frothy. Here’s a dairy farmer’s guide to the competition

American dairy farmers, who are dealing with a 35% decrease in mammal-milk consumption over the past 4 decades, have new competition: Lab-grown milk.

Startups such as Perfect Day and Motif have raised big bucks ($61.5m and $90m, respectively) to develop cow-free dairy products. 

These companies use microbes to grow dairy proteins that make their milks taste like, well, milk — and they’re also working on developing cow-free cheese, yogurt, and sour cream.

But lab-grown milks are far from dairy farmers’ biggest problem…

Petri dishes may pose a threat to mainstream milk down the road, but plants are the biggest threat today. 

Plant-based milks now account for 13% of the entire milk market, and sales in the $16B plant-milk industry rose 6% last year. 

Almond milk still accounts for ⅔ of all plant milk sold. But as consumer thirst for “alt-milk” continues to grow, plant-milk startups are winning over an increased “share of mouth.”

Meet the mock milks (and their makers):

  • Oat milk: Oatly, which did $110m in 2018 sales and expects $230m this year, recently opened a US plant and sells at 7k US shops.
  • Macadamia nut milk: Milkadamia, an Australia-based nut milk company, distributes to 5k stores in the US (including Walmart).
  • Pea milk: Ripple, which has raised $108.6m, partnered with Whole Foods in 2016 and increased sales there 300% in their first year.
  • Banana milk: Mooala, which is currently available in 2k stores but plans to sell in 3k by year’s end, recently launched a creamer line.
  • Flax milk: Good Karma struck a distribution deal with America’s largest dairy company, Dean Foods, in 2018. 

Source: The Hustle

Washington farmers got $50.7 million in trade war payments. They lost a lot more

Cows from Coulee Flats dairy. The dairy sends milk from 7,000 cows to the 500-member Darigold cooperative for processing into consumer products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.

Thousands of Washington farmers received millions in federal aid payments intended to compensate for losses from trade disputes.

But industry leaders say the payments fell well short of the losses farmers suffered as the Trump Administration negotiates new relationships with a mix of tariffs and talk.

“The mitigation payments did not even come close to remediating the large losses our dairy farmers took because of the trade battles in 2018 and that are still going on with China,” said Jay Gordon, policy director for the Washington State Dairy Federation.

A searchable database of farm aid payments obtained by the Associated Press shows the U.S. Department of Agriculture paid $50.7 million to 7,538 Washington farmers for 2018 damages. That’s an average of about $6,700 each.

Washington is home to nearly 36,000 farms, according to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture.

That means about one in five farms received aid dollars in amounts ranging from $2 to $174,450.

Nearly half of all Washington aid went to cherry growers, followed by wheat, dairy and corn.


Farmers are hopeful mitigation payments will be temporary and not permanent subsidies that skew farm operations.

“By and large, farmers are not interested in handouts,” said Pam Lewison, agriculture director for the Washington Policy Center. “They are interested in selling their product.”

Lewison said farmers should view mitigation payments as insurance to help them survive trade wars beyond their control.

“Everyone in farm country is holding their breath, trying to figure out how to get by and plant another year,” she said.

Case VanderMeulen, who operates Coulee Flats Dairy in Mesa, received $125,000 in mitigation payments to offset low milk prices in 2018.

“Every little bit helps,” said VanderMeulen.

Coulee Flats sends milk from 7,000 cows to the 500-member Darigold cooperative for processing into consumer products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.

The money helped offset a year of low prices. But it’s a poor substitute for a robust, tariff-free market for dairy products.

“Nothing can mitigate for free trade,” VanderMeulen said. “We don’t like farming the government.”


The government paid 754 Washington cherry growers a combined $24.5 million.

Farmers received as little as $12 and as much as $144,000.

The impact from disrupted trade went far higher, according to the Northwest Horticultural Council.

The trade group estimates Washington cherry growers lost $60 million to $86 million in 2018 to lost exports to China.

Mitigation payments don’t cover the full cost, but growers are grateful for the help,

“(T)he payments are welcome and appreciated to help offset some of these losses,” said Kate Tynan, senior vice president for the horticultural council.

The 266 dairy farmers split $5.5 million, with payments ranging from $584 to $125,000.

The 6,389 wheat growers split $20.5 million. Their payouts ranged from $4 to $174,450.

In the Mid-Columbia, 367 farms split $5.7 million in mitigation payments, with cherry growers receiving 75 percent.


Only 16 percent of the nearly 2,300 farms in Benton and Franklin counties received aid payments.

Participating Benton County cherry growers received an average of $38,300. Their Franklin County counterparts received an average of $34,600.

Local wheat growers received a combined $926,000, with 79 Benton growers receiving an average of $5,000 and 141 Franklin growers receiving an average of $3,700.

Ten dairy farmers in Franklin County split nearly $400,000, with an average payout of $39,800.

Compensation depended on a range of factors, including plantings and an assessment of damages.


The payouts offer financial support to farmers facing broad declines in exports.

China and other partners imposed retaliatory tariffs on key U.S. exports after the Trump administration raised tariffs on steel, aluminum, intellectual property and other imports to redraw trade relationships with its longtime allies.

China, Mexico and India targeted a range of agricultural products, including many grown in Washington. The tariffs pushed costs up 50 percent and impacted exports.

Milk exports to China fell by a reported 43 percent, according to USDA figures.

The standoff is felt keenly by Washington’s $10.6 billion agriculture industry.

The state exports more than 300 agricultural and food-related products, making it the most trade-dependent state in the nation.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture estimated $650 million worth of crops were at risk in 2018 — $480 million to China and $166 million to Mexico.

The aid payments were conceived to offset the damage. The USDA began releasing funds from the $12 billion farm aid package late last year and early this year.

With trade still disrupted, the USDA will distribute an additional $16 billion to support agriculture in 2019. Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the program last week.

Producers can sign up at their local Farm Services Agency through Dec. 6.


Farmers are hopeful a trade agreement negotiated with Canada and Mexico last fall will be ratified and drop tariffs to zero.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, dubbed the “new” NAFTA, will provide for tariff free trade in North America once it’s ratified.

It has been ratified in Mexico and introduced in Canada.

However, the U.S. Congress failed to vote on the deal prior to the August recess, triggering protests from local wheat farmers who say trade wars are threatening the industry.

In a joint statement Wednesday, the Washington Grain Commission and the Washington Association of Wheat Growers called on Congress to schedule an expedited vote.

“Lack of action on the USMCA treaty will force the industry to consume more of the equity in their operations in order to stay afloat,” Glen Squires, the grain commission’s CEO, said in a news release.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, joined farmers at a Pasco rally to urge Congress to ratify the agreement, saying Republicans stand ready to sign off.

He called it critical to normalize trade with the Washington’s first and fifth most important ag customers — Canada and Mexico.

USMCA supporters say the U.S. can build on the momentum to improve relationships with China and the Asia-Pacific nations that formed the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

President Trump fulfilled a campaign promise to pull the U.S. out of the agreement.


Source: Tri-City Herald

Baby formula boom sees goat dairy industry blossom

Increasing demand for goat based dairy products, is making the sector a viable alternative for those struggling in the traditional dairy industry.

Infant formula maker Bubs Australia has seen sales for its goat based baby formula sky rocket in the past 12 months.

The business owns most of its milk pool, acquiring the biggest goat dairy company in Australia in 2017, and now producing about 20 million litres of milk annually.

“We now produce more than 65 percent of Australian goat dairy products,” Chief Executive Kristy Carr said.

Northern Victorian farmer Mark Emondson is a goat farmer, and in recent years has converted a former cow dairy property into a goat dairy.

“They’re out there chasing markets that seemingly haven’t existed in the past, so it’s been brilliant to work in cahoots with those guys, to slowly grow our business, and to have the surety they’ll sell our product to the rest of the world,” Mr Emondson said.

He’s told Macquarie National News Rural Reporter Eddie Summerfield, the industry is developing into an alternative for dairy farmers.

“With the farming assets, certainly here in Northern Victoria there’s potential, the real challenge I guess from my perspective in the goat world is having enough animals.”

Bubs Australia’s Chief Executive says with the dairy industry in crisis in the past three years since milk prices were dramatically slashed, there’s been more farmers weighing up their options.

“We’ve brought many new farmers onto our books in the past 12 months, and we’ll continue to partner with new farmers, whether their switching over to cow dairy or if they’re growing from being boutique goat dairy farmers,” Ms Carr said.

But like majority of farm businesses in Australia, viability comes down to rain and if there is going to be demand for the product.

“If locally we can get a really good harvest, and get some really good fodder reserves up our sleeves and we can continue to be supported by Bubs, than the outlook is pretty exciting,” Mr Emondson said.

Download this podcast here.


Source: 4BC

No-deal Brexit ‘would be best thing’ for dairy business

The chairman of Scotland’s largest independent dairy remains undeterred – optimistic even – about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. Gemma Mackenzie finds out more

Robert Graham

Graham’s The Family Dairy has grown from its humble beginnings as a cow and cart milk round in Bridge of Allan to the No2 food and drink brand in Scotland, second only to Irn-Bru.

As the company celebrates its 80th anniversary, company chairman Robert Graham reflects on its growth and plans for the future.

“My father started (the business) 80 years ago,” said Mr Graham.

“He came here to the farm in 1939. He had 12 cows and they were milked by hand. The milk was put into a churn and it would go on to the pony and trap.

“He would then take it down town and the housewives would come out and get a jug of milk.”

Fast forward to the current day, and the company now has a 300-cow herd of pedigree Jersey cows and 105 farmer suppliers from all over Scotland, and one in Penrith.

“All the farmers that supply us are specifically selected,” said Mr Graham, who works alongside his wife Jean and the couple’s two children Robert and Carol.

The company’s main base remains at Airthrey Kerse Farm in Bridge of Allan, and it also runs processing plants in Nairn and Cowdenbeath, Fife.

Key milestones in the company’s 80-year history include the purchase of the firm’s first pasteurisation plant, to meet customer demands as shoppers moved away from raw milk, and a major rebranding of the business from Graham’s Dairies Limited to Graham’s The Family Dairy in 2006.

“The big change came for us when the university came to town in the late 1960s and we then had more people come from the south,” said Mr Graham.

“When our drivers went to their door and asked can we supply milk, they would ask if it was pasteurised. That was a big change for us.

“Jean and I said we need to change, so we started to sell pasteurised milk and that opened doors for us.”

The company’s product range has expanded significantly since then and comprises everything from liquid milk, cream and butter, to yoghurt, ice cream, cottage cheese and quark.

And to commemorate the firm’s special anniversary this year, and to meet customer demands to move away from plastic, Graham’s has launched a range of glass milk bottles from its Nairn processing plant. These are available for home delivery or through various retail outlets.

“People are talking about recycling, which we are into ourselves, so we have put our money where our mouth is,” said Mr Graham.

Looking to the future, Mr Graham says the family is still pursuing planning consent for a housing development and £20 million new dairy facility at Airthrey Green on the outskirts of Stirling.

Admitting his frustration at the planning application process, which has involved an appeal to the Court of Session to overturn the Scottish Government’s decision to refuse consent, Mr Graham said: “We are still committed (to a new dairy).”

And while the planning process continues, Mr Graham says continuing to develop new products and growing the domestic customer base is key. The firm is the main Scottish supplier to Aldi, Lidl, Spar, Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero.

He has no plans to recruit new farmer suppliers, but instead wants to encourage existing suppliers to increase production.

“We are committed to the plans in the different areas,” added Mr Graham.

“It’s better business-wise if it’s not all in the one plant.”

When asked if he was concerned about the continued decline in Scottish dairy herd numbers, and the prospect of crashing out of Europe without a deal, Mr Graham remained upbeat and optimistic.

“The ones (dairy farmers) that are staying in are getting larger and there’s still people getting into dairying,” he said.

On Brexit, contrary to the views of his peers in other sectors of agriculture, Mr Graham sees no deal as a huge opportunity as the introduction of tariffs could put the brakes on dairy imports to the UK.

“It would be the best thing for the dairy business,” he said.

“Britain is the largest importer of dairy products in the world, other than China. We have all the conditions to produce more.”

The catch, according to Mr Graham, is the lack of processing facilities in the UK – a case the firm will be arguing when pursuing permission for its new plant.


Source: The Press and Journal

The Deeper Dig: St. Albans farmers get a bailout, but no break

Members of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery voted 99-9 to merge with the larger, Kansas City-based Dairy Farmers of America this week. But behind that overwhelming majority was the feeling that farmers didn’t have a choice.

“We’re stuck having to be bailed out, pretty much, by DFA,” said co-op member James Normandin, who owns Cartersdale Farm in Ellenberg, New York. “I don’t believe the co-op could survive without it.”

Co-op leaders said the move will provide long-term financial security: DFA plans to invest in modernizing the St. Albans facility, and joining the national organization will open up larger markets for milk products from St. Albans Co-op farmers.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the co-op to increase their market share,” said farmer Harold Howrigan III before Monday’s vote.

The push for access to larger markets largely stems from the broader downturn in the dairy industry. An unusually long run of low milk prices have put pressure on farmers nationally, but the trend here is particularly acute: the Vermont Agency of Agriculture estimates that 10% of the state’s dairy farms stopped operating in 2018.

Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin, who supported the merger after raising alarms about lawsuits against DFA over allegations of price manipulation, said the dairy farmers in his district still face an uncertain future.

“We certainly have seen the recent history,” Brock said, “and there’s not a whole lot there that would tell us that there’s a likelihood of major improvement.”

But Brock said, like many co-op members, that he believed the merger was the only path forward:

“There wasn’t a long line of financial institutions waiting at the door to give money to the St. Albans Co-op.”

Australian farmer makes one final plea for milk price to increase to $1.50 a litre or industry will not survive

Dairy farmer David Janke says consumers need to pay $1.50 per litre for milk for the industry to continue. (ABC Rural: Lydia Burton)

A Queensland dairy farmer is calling for supermarkets to increase the price of milk to $1.50 per litre or he warned the drought will force farmers like him to leave the industry.


Major supermarkets Aldi, Woolworths and Coles have recently increased the price of their homebrand milk by 10 cents a litre, putting two litres of milk at $2.39.

That move followed a 10-cent increase earlier this year, which saw an end to $1 a litre milk.

But David Janke, who milks 320 dairy cows each day just outside of Toowoomba in southern Queensland, said it needed to be more.

“Our costs have doubled with this drought … which is what has really hurt the operation,” he said.

“Wheaten hay, that 12 months ago we were getting delivered for $300, is now $600 a tonne.”

Mr Janke said his increased input costs meant he was losing money on his milk.

“We are going backwards very fast,” he said.

Mr Janke believed if the increase was passed on through the supply chain, $1.50 a litre for milk at the supermarket would be enough to support farmers through the drought.

“From $1.10 [a litre] to $1.50 a litre — I think 30 cents should go to the dairy farmers and 10 cents to our processors because they’re not making money either,” he said.

“And I’m sure consumers are happy to pay and it’s not a big increase even if it does go up 40 cents [from $1.10 a litre].


“The average household [drinks] about 10 litres [of milk] a week. So that’s an extra $4 a week — not even the price of coffee.

“So it’s not really going to affect the cost of living. It’s just going to give a livelihood to people who are prepared to work hard to supply a top quality product.”

One of Queensland’s biggest dairies closes

Since deregulation in July 2000, the number of dairy farmers in Queensland has gone from 1,580 to just 324, according to Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO).

Now, Queensland’s biggest dairy farm has shut.

At the peak of their operation McNamee Dairies in southern Queensland was the biggest in the state — milking 2,000 cows a day.

But due to low milk prices David McNamee said he had to make the tough decision to lay-off four permanent staff and mothball his multi-million-dollar dairy.

The McNamee family was the target of a large animal activist protest earlier this year, but Mr McNamee said that did not have anything to do with their decision to close.

He explained the family started winding back its operation after dollar-a-litre milk was introduced.

“About five years ago we just started gradually selling cows … we knew the writing was on the wall, that it wasn’t going to be economical for us,” Mr McNamee said.

“So we made the decision there — the fewer cows we milked, the less money we’d lose.

“But it’s been a really hard decision. In the end we had 300 cows left — 300 very good cows — which, when we did sell them, the majority of them went off to other dairy farmers and the remainders went to the meatworks.

“That day [when we sold our last cows] had highs and lows. The highs were ‘Thank God we’re not going to lose any more money’.

“The lows were finishing up dairying after 10 years here at Lemontree.

“We loved our cows and we’re a family that was very proud of what we had and what we did here.

Because the dairy was run alongside the family’s cattle feedlot, the sheds will now be used as part of that operation.

Mr McNamee said milk prices to farmers would have to increase at least 20 cents a litre before his family would consider restarting the dairy.

“I believe 80 cents is a fair price for our milk [at the farmgate],” he said.

“The way feed prices are, even 80 cents isn’t enough because we are carting hay all the way from Victoria, we are carting all our grain from Western Australia.”

Mr McNamee said if milk prices did not increase Queensland would lose its dairy industry.

“Every dairy farmer knows they can’t survive … the only way to [keep the industry alive] is to increase that farmgate price to 80 cents or more,” he said.

“I believe everyone west of the Great Dividing Range will have to get used to drinking UHT [long life] milk. I really do believe that.

“At the moment they are trucking in about 60 B-Double trucks every week full of fresh milk from New South Wales and Victoria to supply the Queensland fresh milk market.”

Supplying supermarkets directly keeps some farmers going

Five years ago Conondale dairy farmer Lucas Kennedy approached Woolworths to bring their Farmer’s Own brand to Queensland and signed a direct deal with the supermarket.

“I actually approached them because they started in NSW. They were going there a good year before they came up here so I just kept ringing before they eventually came out, because I could see the whole concept of what they were doing,” Mr Kennedy said.

“They’ve come in and said ‘What do you need to still be here in 10 years’ time?’ and I guess I just felt that was the best way to go because where we were going we weren’t going to survive and I wouldn’t be here today.”

The sustainable price has allowed Mr Kennedy to invest in his farm.

He has introduced an automatic self-cleaning calf-feeding machine that gives the next generation of his herd access to their allocated amount of milk around the clock, and he upgraded his raised pens to plastic mesh which is easier on their knees. He is also growing silage to feed his cows.

There are only five farmers in Queensland to have a direct relationship with the supermarket, all of which are based on the Sunshine Coast.

Tony Green from Maleny is a fifth-generation dairy farmer whose property has been in the family since 1906 when it was selected.

“It’s good to keep it going and keep it in the family and hopefully we can do well out of dairying with this contract and keep going in the future.”

Torie Harrison juggles working on her farm with working for QDO.

“I’m so pleased that Mum did get the contract to supply Farmer’s Own because we were thinking about closing the dairy down,” Ms Harrison said.

The milk from the five farms is taken to the Parmalat processing plant at Nambour, where it is processed in a special batch, bottled and sold direct through the supermarket chain.

In a statement, Woolworths said the direct relationships offered by its Farmers’ Own milk range since 2013 “offers dairy farmers a better deal on milk supply, with above-market rates and longer contracts that provide greater transparency and certainty”.

It runs the program in WA’s Margaret River, Victoria’s Otways region, South Australia’s Barossa mid-north region, Manning Valley in NSW, and Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland.

When asked whether they would expand the program beyond the five farms in Queensland, a spokesperson said they would “continue to review the opportunities in the future for Farmer’s Own growth and would love to see customers continue to support the range”.

So perhaps the last word lies with the customer — and whether they are prepared to pay more for milk.


Brazil’s dreams of dairy with China sales authorized

Brazil is set to begin dairy shipments to China this month, with industry group Viva Lácteos saying the country could book $4.5 million in annual sales to the country by 2021 as time is needed to build lasting commercial relationships.

The Brazilian Agriculture Ministry announced last week that China had authorized 24 plants to export products including cheese, butter, condensed milk and powdered milk, with shipments expected to start in August.

Marcelo Martins, head of Viva Lácteos, said in an interview on Thursday the authorizations would boost the sector, which plans to focus on cheese exports where it sees a competitive edge.

“Brazilian companies will make cheese sales a priority. There is no way we can sell powder milk, a commodity,” he said.

Brazilian dairy companies are eager to return their focus to exports, after more than a decade’s absence from China to cater to the domestic market, which grew by 4% annually between 2008 and 2014, Martins said.

“The authorizations were a decisive step to create demand for Brazilian dairy products, and nothing better than the opening of the Chinese market,” he said. “But we’ve got homework to do.”

Martins said freight costs and Brazil’s unreliable power grid, which is vital to keep and run any profitable dairy operation, also pose challenges to prospective exporters.

Ian Lin, chief executive of Shanghai-based trade consultant Group Serpa, said in an interview China’s consumers are not used to buying “a lot” of dairy products, but the culture can change.

A large percentage of China’s population is lactose intolerant, according to scientific studies, although marketing campaigns pushing it as part of a healthy diet have helped to develop a sizeable market for dairy in the country.

Lin said imports dominate China’s dairy market with New Zealand accounting for 51% of powder milk from overseas, which totaled around 800,000 tonnes in 2018.

Lin emphasized Brazil will face competition from closer suppliers, noting the maritime freight cost is $870 to ship 20 tonnes of dairy products to China from New Zealand. That compares with $1,500 if the cargo came from Brazil.

On the other hand, China imports 110,000 tonnes of cheese a year, with annual growth of 13%, Martins said.

Last year, Brazil’s total dairy exports were $58.2 million, with Argentina, Chile and Russia among the largest buyers, according to Viva Lácteos data.


Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board wants to give dairies more time

The Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board wants a state law changed to require milk dealers to give longer notice to dairies when ending contracts.

In a proposed regulation published by the board July 13, dealers would have to give farmers 90 days’ notice if they are ending a milk contract. The current required notice is 28 days.

It’s estimated that 1,100 independent dairy farmers will benefit from the longer notice period. There are about 20-25 Class I Pennsylvania milk dealers that purchase milk from independent producers at any given time.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture petitioned the board to look at changing the law after Dean Foods terminated milk contracts in March 2018 with more than 100 dairy farms in eight states, including 27 in Pennsylvania.

Although Dean gave its producers a 90-day notice — longer than the law requires — it was still difficult for some of them to find new markets for their milk, according to the board. Twenty-eight days would have been impossible for some.

In distress

The board also included an exception for dealers experiencing hardship.

The exception was developed after Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers raised concerns about how the longer period would affect dealers in financial distress, said Rob Barley, chairman of the marketing board.

Barley said the marketing board came up with a formula to test whether or not a dealer’s financial viability allowed for the exception.

The board also proposed allowing dealers to make a charitable donation of packaged milk and maintain its purchasing agreement with a producer.

It’s complicated

The board held a public hearing in July 2018 on the proposed changes. A number of representatives from different parts of the dairy industry testified.

Jayne Sebright, executive director of the Center for Dairy Excellence, testified at the hearing. She said it would not have been possible for Dean’s dropped dairy farmers to find a new market and make the transition within the current 28-day window.

Sebright said many farms didn’t receive their notice letters until a week after they were sent, eating into the time period.

On top of that, before new processors and cooperatives decided to accept additional milk from the dropped farms, Sebright said they had to visit the farms, learn about their operations and evaluate the farm’s milk quality data — all things that took time over multiple visits and conversations.

Dealer concerns

Alec Dewey testified on behalf of the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers in July 2018. He said the longer termination period is counter intuitive to their current business arrangements.

Many customer agreements are non-contractual. A school district can switch to a different dairy mid-school year if it so chooses, and retail customers can go out of business or switch vendors with little notice.

Dewey and his family run Harrisburg Dairies.

The hardship provision means well, but Dewey said in his testimony it would likely be too little too late when a company is stuck with surplus milk.

“Every additional day added to a surplus situation while requesting and waiting for a hearing to justify a hardship only makes the hardship worse and puts our remaining farmers at greater risk,” Dewey said.

Barley told Farm and Dairy he understands the milk dealer association’s concerns, but he feels the proposed changes provide for all parties involved.

“We look at everyone in our constituency. The farmer needs to have confidence that he’ll have a market for his milk.” Barley said. “The dealer needs to have confidence they can get their milk sold, and if they can’t, there’s a way out. And the consumer needs to have confidence they’ll have a supply.”

Next steps

The proposed regulation was formally published July 13, and the board is taking public comment on the proposal for 30 days until Aug. 12, said Doug Eberly, chief counsel for the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board.

Comments can be submitted by email to or mailed to Doug Eberly at 2301 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110.

After the public comment period, the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission has 30 days to review and make comments on the proposed regulation, Eberly said.

The state house and senate agriculture committees will also review the proposal and can make comments.

Eberly said they anticipate having the final draft issued by the end of October. After that, the review commission will hold a public hearing.

Ideally, the amended law will be published at the end of January 2020 and then go into effect after that, Eberly said.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Australian Milk Quality Awards!

The 2019 winners of Dairy Australia’s Milk Quality Awards have been announced, showcasing dairy farmers in the top 100 and top five per cent nationwide for milk quality, based on bulk milk cell count (BMCC).

The Milk Quality Awards show that Aussie farmers are continuing to deliver high-quality milk and safeguarding the health of their animals.

Watch this short video of Gippsland dairy farmer Leo van den Broek, explaining how producing the best quality milk is one of the most rewarding parts of being a dairy farmer.

Dairy Australia is continuing to support farmers to build the skills of their people on-farm, improve their milk quality and prevent udder infections through world-renowned training courses such as Countdown and Cups On Cups Off.

Dairy farmers can access regular workshops by contacting their local Regional Development Program.

See the full winner list from each region below.

The Top 100

The Top 5 per cent


Source: Dairy Australia

Aussie farmers desert Fonterra

Fonterra is facing a backlash from Australian farmer suppliers worried that the co-op could pull out of the extremely challenging market.

Victoria farmer Mark Billing, who stopped supplying Fonterra from July 1, told Rural News the long term viability of the company in Australia “is starting to worry us”.

Billing, a fourth generation dairy farmer, had been supplying Fonterra since it fully took over Bonlac Food’s operations in 2005. He served as a director of Bonlac Supply Company that represents the co-op’s 1300 farmer suppliers in Australia and he chaired the advisory group Bonlac Farmers Forum.

He isn’t the only high profile Bonlac member to take supply away from Fonterra. In July last year, former Bonlac deputy chairman Aubrey Pellett quit and now supplies Bega Cheese.

Billing believes 25 to 30 farmers have left Fonterra in recent months, taking away about 100 million litres of milk to other processors.

“We are talking about bigger farmers taking their milk elsewhere. 100m litres may not be big in NZ but that’s a lot of milk over here,” he told Rural News.

Billing milks 400 cows in Larpent, southwest Victoria, and says leaving Fonterra wasn’t an easy decision.

“For my heart it was difficult because we have been supplying milk to make the champion Western Star butter. But for my mind it was easy because of the lack of communication from Fonterra.

“Most processors sign up guaranteeing a base minimum milk price for the season. Fonterra is still refusing to do this.”

Billing says alarm bells started ringing among Bonlac members when Fonterra in April 2016 followed the former co-op Murray Goulburn in suddenly dropping its milk price. For May and June that year, most farmers received an average milk price of A$1.90/kgMS.

“That came as a high business shock and some of us are still recovering from that,” he said.

The recent financial woes to hit Fonterra globally made some suppliers more worried.

“Globally, the way Fonterra is going the divestment of assets is of concern. The long term viability of Fonterra in Australia is starting to worry us.

“Their knee jerk reaction in Australia shows there’s no clear strategy over here. They don’t communicate effectively with shareholders.

“Fonterra Australia has so many pricing systems that it’s ridiculous. Not everyone can access those prices and family run small farmers are being pushed out by the pricing system.”

Fonterra is restructuring its Australian business and this month announced the loss of 25 jobs at its Melbourne head office.

The latest Global Dairy Trade figures confirm the drop in Australian milk collections. For the 11 months to May 31, Fonterra’s collections reached 115m kgMS, down 19.8% on the previous year. May collections were 8m kgMS, down 31.4% on May last season. Milk production in Australia is down about 9%.

Fonterra Australia managing director Rene Dedoncker says the co-op is clear in its commitment to Australia.

“We’ll continue to deliver a return to our shareholders, and offer a competitive milk price to our farmers,” he told Rural News.

“Although we know that we still need to work hard to rebuild trust with our farmers as the events of 2016 still weigh heavily on their minds.”

He pointed out that around 25% of Australian farmers changed processor in the last 12 months. He says based on figures from Dairy Australia, this compared to an average of 10% per year since 2015.

“Like many processors, we have had losses, but we’ve also had new farmers join us.” 

Meanwhile, Billing says the sharp drop in milk volumes has increased competition to the extent that a major processor will need to shut up shop. 

“They can’t all operate with the reduced volume. We think it will be Fonterra.”

Billing says during his time as Bonlac Farmers Forum chairman he realised the co-op wasn’t listening to their concerns.


American Milk Myth: New Undercover Investigation Challenges Organic Milk

A new investigation from the group that took on the Disneyland of agricultural tourism, Fair Oaks Farms, is now putting the spotlight on the organic dairy industry. The Animal Recovery Mission’s latest target is Natural Prairie Dairy, an organic operation supplying raw milk for the in-house organic brands of multiple supermarket chains nationwide. Kroger and Meijer announced Friday that they’re suspending milk deliveries from the Texas-based dairy. While ARM’s founder says the investigation proves there’s no difference between organic and conventional milk, a representative from the leading organic trade group argues that what’s really needed is stronger enforcement.

The Great American Milk Myth

Milk became a fixture of the American diet during the first half of the 20th century, when a boom in milk production coincided with the widespread belief that milk was essential for growing strong, healthy children. Though consumption rates for milk have been on the decline ever since, many American parents still consider milk an essential part of their young kids’ diet, often insisting on organic dairy milk, even though the rest of their grocery cart may be conventional foodstuffs.

“When I grew up, I believed in the picture on the milk carton of the cow with the red barn in the background, standing in the green pasture with their baby next to them,” says Richard Couto. The founder of ARM says he previously switched from conventional dairy to organic, but now drinks only plant-based milks.


The grazing dairy cow is an icon of the American food system, but most Americans don’t know much more than that iconic image. Agritourist operations like Fair Oaks Farms are an effort to bridge the information gap, but the undercover video from ARM made that effort suddenly seem suspect. Does Fair Oaks truly inform consumers or is it just an advertisement for the agriculture industry? A representative from Fair Oaks Farms declined to comment for this story.

Are Organic Cows Better Off?

Most shoppers are thinking about health, not animal welfare, when they choose organic (though most of the evidence doesn’t support that thinking), but videos like the ones from ARM can shake up those priorities, forcing consumers to confront the reality of how their food is produced. No one wants to see animal abuse or dirty stalls and feel like they’re complicit in animal suffering.  

Certified organic milk, just like all other certified organic food, must be produced in accordance with the federal regulation that sets the USDA organic standard. That regulation has a number of provisions meant to ensure proper treatment of animals, but it all begins with the premise that organic livestock animals be kept in living conditions that support their natural behaviors. 

That premise isn’t new. It’s one of the core animal welfare tenets expressed in the Five Animal Welfare Freedoms first developed in 1965. Couto says conditions at Natural Prairie are a far cry from those core tenets. “The place is filthy…there weren’t enough stalls for the cows. They’re overpopulated,” he says. 

In an official statement released July 26, Donald and Cheri De Jong, owners of Natural Prairie Dairy, dispute these claims, calling the video “heavily edited,” though they also admit several of the video sequences warrant further investigation. The De Jongs have now asked independent auditors to come in and conduct an investigation, the results of which were not available by the publication date of this article. 

Couto says he watched the public reaction to the Fairlife investigation and saw many people promising to buy organic milk instead, a shift that mirrored his own dietary evolution. “We saw that switch and that trend, knowing that we were undercover at an organic dairy and [we see] there’s no difference.”

Today, Couto says he only drinks plant-based milk, but is quick to point out that’s not typical of his organization. “Many of us aren’t vegan or plant-based. Most of the investigators…are not plant-based, although they typically stop consuming dairy after they go undercover.” Couto eventually gave up dairy milk altogether. He objects to the fundamental practices of dairy farming, specifically, practices around insemination and weaning.

The Organic Regulation Needs Strong Enforcement

Johanna Mirenda, Farm Policy Director for the Organic Trade Association, says that the behavior alleged in ARM’s investigation is definitely prohibited under the organic standard. “These activities would be a violation,” she says, adding that enforcement of the regulation by the USDA’s National Organic Program is critical to the label’s future success. “The current framework for verifying compliance and taking enforcement action against non-compliant actions is in place, and we need to use that system,” she says.

The regulation requires that animals have access to the outdoors and clean bedding, a requirement that may have been violated by Natural Prairie, if the allegations raised by ARM are true. Organic farmers can’t rely on antibiotics to treat sick animals without having to remove the animal from production, which is why organic farming also requires strong preventative healthcare measures. “That means providing animals with a healthy feed ration to support their health…appropriate housing, and pasture conditions and sanitation practices that minimize the…spread of disease [and] reduce stress,” explains Mirenda. All of these requirements may have been violated by Natural Prairie, and should at least be investigated by the organic certifier, she says.

Enforcement, however, is the real key to maintaining consumer confidence, says Mirenda. “The certifiers are responsible for verifying…whether those operations are compliant,” says Mirenda. “[They] need to be trained and have sufficient qualifications [for] maintaining strong oversight of compliance, even in areas where the organic standards might be broad and vague, such as they are with the living conditions,” she says. It’s the certifiers that help give the organic regulation its teeth.

Where Does Your Organic Milk Come From?

Natural Prairie shows how the line between “family farm” and corporate agriculture can be a blurry one. The farm is owned by husband and wife Don and Cheri De Jong (it’s touted as a family business on the website) but it’s also a very large operation, with four locations, over 25,000 cows and plans for a new farm in Indiana that have been opposed by several environmental groups.

Natural Prairie’s operation dwarfs the typical dairy farm in states like Wisconsin or New York, regions that usually come to mind when consumers think of American dairies. But it’s now more common for milk to be produced at one of these massive dairies, and consolidation has forced many of the smaller dairy farms in Wisconsin and New York out of business.

That’s a shift happening in both conventional and organic, but Mirenda says organic regulations can help small farms by setting “a level playing field for [all] organic operators.” She points to several regulatory changes around animal welfare in organic that were scrapped by the USDA under the Trump administration, and says “[these regulations] need to be moved forward to…ensure transparency and boost consumer confidence.” Ultimately, Mirenda says she wants to see “all of those good things that will give dairy farms of all size an equal chance at participating in the organic market.”


Source: Forbes

St. Albans Farmers Approve Merger With Dairy Farmers Of America

Farmer owners of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery voted Monday to merge their co-op into the much larger Dairy Farmers of America, based in Kansas City.

The vote was held at the American Legion in St. Albans.  For the merger to pass, two-thirds of all the members present had to say “yes.” Co-op Chairman Harold Howrigan Jr. said 108 farmers showed up, and 99 voted in favor.

The co-op has 307 farmers eligibile to vote, officials said. Howrigan said he was pleased by the turnout.

“We are incredibly excited about this new chapter for dairy farmers in Vermont,” said Howrigan, a sixth-generation dairy farmer from Fairfield. “We are very pleased with the outcome of today’s vote and are optimistic about the future our membership will have as DFA members.”

“We are incredibly excited about this new chapter for dairy farmers in Vermont.” — Harold Howrigan, Jr., St. Albans Cooperative Creamery Board Chair

The seven-member St. Albans board had already voted unanimously to have the St. Albans co-op, its trucking company and retail store become wholly-owned subsidiaries of the 14,000-member Dairy Farmers of America based in Kansas City, Kansas.

Farmers going into the meeting seemed supportive of the planned merger. Although some, like Harold Sunderland of Bridport, were apprehensive.

“I think we’ve got to vote in yes, ’cause we’re kind of in a bind,” Sunderland said. “Long range, I’m not so sure.”

Bill Rowell operates a large dairy farm in Sheldon. He said members had little choice.

“And really, we don’t have any other place to market our milk,” Rowell said. “So if we don’t vote for this at this late point in the game —I think there’s been enough opportunities to do something else leading up to this — but at this late time, I think we’d be remiss not to vote in favor of it.”

“I think we’ve got to vote in yes, ’cause we’re kind of in a bind. Long range, I’m not so sure.” — Harold Sunderland, Bridport

The St. Albans board pitched the deal as a win-win for the Vermont co-op. Proponents of the merger cited the need for investment in the co-op’s plant and equipment. A DFA official has pledged that it will invest $30 million in the St. Albans processing plant, and another $5 million in the trucking company.

Howrigan said the amount of money needed to upgrade the plant was beyond the reach of the membership of the St. Albans co-op alone.

“Our farmer members have known that we’ve had to re-invest more in our plant,” he said during a Monday afternoon conference call with reporters. “There is a limit going through these cycles of what we can ask our members to give. As we move in this direction with Dairy Farmers of America, they are willing to help us make these investments in the plant and infrastructure that we need.”    

But critics pointed out that St. Albans’ farmers voted on the deal without knowing fully how it would affect their bottom line. The exact value of their ownership stake will be determined by an audit following Monday’s vote.

Howrigan said as of last October 31, when the books were last closed, farmers would have seen a 3 % “slippage” in their equity totals to account for previous years losses. The equity amount that will be calculated after the Monday vote will include those losses, in addition to transaction costs to cover the deal. 

The merger will officially close on Thursday, Aug. 1.

Source: VPR

U.S. milk production decline continues

U.S. milk production continues to limp. The Agriculture Department’s latest Milk Production report show preliminary June output at 18.23 billion pounds, down 0.3 percent from June 2018. Output in the 24 top producing states hit 17.3 billion pounds, up 0.1 percent. Revisions added 9 million pounds to the original May total, now put at 19.06 billion pounds, down 0.4 percent from May 2018.

June cow numbers in the 50 states totaled 9.32 million head, down 10,000 from May and 91,000 head below a year ago. Output per cow averaged 1,955 pounds, up 12 pounds from a year ago.

Milk output in the April to June quarter was down 0.1 percent from a year ago. The average number of milk cows was down 15,000 head from the January to March quarter and 89,000 less than the April to June quarter a year ago.

California cows produced 1.2 percent more milk than a year ago, thanks to a 30 pound gain per cow offsetting the loss of 7,000 cows. Wisconsin output was down 0.5 percent, on 6,000 fewer cows. Output per cow was unchanged.

Idaho was up 2.0 percent on 9,000 more cows and a 10 pound gain per cow. New York was up 0.2 percent, thanks to 4,000 additional cows however output per cow was down 10 pounds. Pennsylvania saw its 16th consecutive month that milk output was below a year ago, down 58 million pounds or 6.5 percent, due to 31,000 fewer cows milked and 10 pounds less per cow. Minnesota was up 0.8 percent, despite a drop of 6,000 cows. Output per cow was up 40 pounds.

Michigan was up 2.2 percent on a 40 pound gain per cow and 2,000 more cows. New Mexico was down 2.8 percent, on 11,000 fewer cows. Output per cow was up 10 pounds. Texas was up 5.6 percent on 29,000 more cows and a 5 pound gain per cow.

Vermont was off 0.4 percent. Cow numbers were down 1,000 but output cow was up 10 pounds. Florida was down 3.0 percent, on 5,000 fewer cows. Output per cow was up 20 pounds. Washington State was off 0.5 percent, on 6,000 fewer cows. Output per cow was unchanged from a year ago.

Meanwhile; the USDA’s semiannual cattle report issued July 19, 2019 shows milk cows numbered 9.30 million head on July 1, down 100,000 or 1 percent from 2018. Milk cow replacement heifers, at 4.1 million head, were down 100,000 or 2 percent from a year ago. USDA may revise the cow numbers in its June Milk Production report.

The July 19 Daily Dairy Report says “This is the first time the heifer replacement inventory has fallen since 2012 and only the fourth time it has dropped over the past two decades. The last time replacements were at this level was 2014.”

The DDR adds that “Typically farms look to bring heifers into the milking herd at around 24-months of age. The heifer inventory provides a glimpse into future investment in the dairy herd, and today both the existing milk herd and the animals available to move into the milking herd are on the decline.”

U.S. butter stocks grew in June but were still below those a year ago, according to the USDA’s latest Cold Storage report. The butter inventory climbed to a surprising 327.76 million pounds, up 13.9 million or 4.4 percent from May but were 8.9 million or 2.6 percent below June 2018.

Total cheese stocks slipped to 1.381 billion pounds, down 7.1 million pounds or 0.5 percent from May and 7.1 million or 0.5 percent below those in June 2018.

American stocks totaled 784.95 million pounds, down 2.3 million pounds, down 0.3 percent from May, and 15.4 million or 1.9 percent below a year ago.

Stocks in the other cheese slipped to 569.2 million pounds, down 7.4 million pounds or 0.8 percent from May but were up 12.2 million or 2.2 percent from a year ago.

HighGround Dairy points out; “For the second consecutive month, and against historical expectations, U.S. total cheese stocks continued to move lower into June, marking the first time on record from the USDA that both May and June experienced a draw down in cheese stocks.”

HGD adds that “Fat shortages are being fulfilled by strong imports, a trend that is not expected to slow, tempering prices nearby ahead of the holiday demand spike.”

In politics, farmers, ranchers, producers and growers representing various California food and agriculture products flew into Washington Wednesday lobby members of Congress for swift passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“California food and ag is coming to Washington to make a strong appeal to our elected representatives for swift passage of the USMCA,” said Jamie Johansson, president, California Farm Bureau Federation. “With our livelihoods at stake due to uncertainty in export markets and an unclear path for USMCA in Congress, it is essential that we appeal directly to each member of the California delegation. We will ask them to share our message with Speaker Pelosi: ‘Please pass USMCA now — our livelihoods depend on it.’”

California is the nation’s largest producer and exporter of food and agricultural products. In 2018, California ag exports to Canada and Mexico totaled $6.6 billion. Food and ag exports to Canada and Mexico supported more than 56,000 jobs in California last year. More than 77,500 farms produce more than 400 commodities, and about one-quarter of what California produces is exported around the world. Agricultural exports from California are valued at nearly $21 billion.


Source: The Country Today

Ron Johnson says Donald Trump is wrong about struggling Wisconsin dairy farmers being ‘over the hump’

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on Friday disputed President Donald Trump’s conclusion that farmers struggling to stay in business were instead “over the hump” and doing well.

“No. They’re suffering,” Johnson said surrounded by dairy farmers in the conference room of a DeForest company that sells frozen bovine semen for artificial insemination of dairy cows. 

Trump raised $3 million this month touring Milwaukee to promote a new trade deal he says will help rebuild the country’s wounded manufacturing and agriculture industry.   

But in doing so, the president downplayed the suffocation felt by Wisconsin dairy farmers because of Trump’s own tariffs.

“Prices were depressed before the trade wars; the trade wars are not helping that whatsoever,” Johnson said on Friday. “I’m making the administration well aware of the pain being felt in Wisconsin agriculture but also in Wisconsin manufacturing.”

Johnson met with about a dozen dairy producers to discuss the proposed trade agreement with Canada and Mexico — which all said needed to be in place immediately.

Wisconsin dairy farms have been teetering on the edge of a financial cliff since milk prices dropped dramatically five years ago amid overproduction and failing export markets.

“I have no idea why the administration didn’t ratify this while we still had control of the House,” Johnson said. “I have no idea. We were pressuring him.”

In Wisconsin, nearly 700 dairy farms shuttered in 2018 at a rate of nearly two a day. As of Feb. 1, Wisconsin had 8,046 dairy herds, down 40% from 10 years earlier, according to state Department of Agriculture data. 

“Things were starting to look up a little bit and then all of a sudden there was talk of tariffs coming along and that just took the prices back down,” said Chris Pollack, a fifth-generation farmer who owns 160 dairy cows at Pollack-Vu Dairy farm near Ripon.

“Just a dollar swing in milk price for my farm is $45,000 a year,” he said. “That’s $45,000 that I could have reinvested in equipment or other supplies.”

Pollack said he put off a grain storage project for two or three years waiting for prices to go back up, but finally just decided to get it done for the sake of his own mental health.

“This year I finally said we’re going to do it — I don’t care,” he said. “When you can’t feel like you’re making progress at least at some point or you’re actually going backward, it really is hard to get up in the morning.”

The U.S. reached a deal with Canada and Mexico in 2018 to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement, with Canada agreeing to provide the U.S. with expanded access to its dairy market and Mexico agreeing to zero tariffs on dairy and agricultural products. Mexico also agreed to not restrict market access for commonly named U.S. cheeses.

Mexico buys nearly a quarter of all dairy products exported by the U.S. and the American dairy industry has reeled from Mexican tariffs — of 15% to 25% — on cheese.

Canada and Mexico are Wisconsin’s two biggest export customers, with a combined $10.5 billion in products in 2018 including cheese, powdered milk, corn and soybeans.

All three countries’ lawmakers need to agree to ratify the deal and so far, just Mexico has approved their version of the bill. 

Johnson was cool to the trade deal — saying he wasn’t there to “overhype” its impact but said it’s needed. He said it could help dairy farmers especially by opening Mexico’s market to them.

He blamed the delay in ratification on the Democratic-controlled House and told the dairy producers to talk to U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. 

But Kind said the deal needs to be strengthened to ensure it can be enforced.

“Senator Johnson may not care whether the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada is enforceable, but I do,” he said. “We need to strengthen the enforcement chapter or the agreement will be meaningless.”

A spokesman for Pocan did not immediately respond to questions. In a statement, Baldwin said it’s up to the White House to advance the legislation to ratify the agreement.

“The White House first needs to send the legislation implementing the agreement to Congress,” Baldwin said. “Wisconsin has lost over 1,600 dairy farms since President Trump took office and his trade wars have not helped our farmers. We need make sure final legislation expands markets for Wisconsin cheese exports in Mexico and addresses Canada’s unfair trade barriers for Wisconsin dairy.” 

Trump’s top economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow told White House reporters Friday he hopes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will take up the bill in September, according to a Wall Street Journal report. 

Pelosi is seeking changes to boost enforcement the new labor rules Mexico is required to adopt under the new trade deal as a way to protect workers’ rights, among other measures.

John Ruedinger, a dairy farmer in Fond du Lac County, said he didn’t understand why lawmakers couldn’t come to an agreement by now.

“In my mind I just can’t understand — why wouldn’t both Democrats and Republicans come together on trying to solve it,” Ruedinger said. “I just don’t understand it.” 

Source: Journal Sentinel

Dairy family doesn’t let collapsed barn take them down

The road to recovery for a Chatfield family dairy operation in southern Minnesota is shaping up to be downhill and direct.

The Hoffman family, run by brothers John and Corey Hoffman and their father, Gary, are hoping to be back in regular operation at North-Creek Dairy in Chatfield by November. That would be less than a year after they suffered their toughest challenge in farming yet.

In February, the family that won Olmsted County Farm Family of the Year in 2018 sold their herd when a second section of roofing on the barn that housed 446 of their cows collapsed. Two days before that, the first section had collapsed, killing at least 10 cows. They knew after the second collapse that it would get worse, so they found a buyer and got the cattle out safely.

The scene was tragic as hundreds of cows were milked and then loaded into trailers and taken from the farm. That day and in the days to follow, nobody in the Hoffman family was sure what they would do.

“We honestly didn’t have a clue what we were going to do, or if we were done dairy-ing or what,” said Corey Hoffman of the days after the collapses.

The Hoffmans knew they had insurance for a collapsed roof, but they weren’t sure how much it would cover. If it wouldn’t cover the cost for a complete rebuild, Hoffman said they couldn’t afford it.

An insurance adjuster came down to assess the damage not long after the family sold the herd. Two more collapses happened after all the cows were out of the barn. The old barn, built in 2007, was 290 feet long, and about 230 feet of it collapsed.

Corey Hoffman said they went back and forth with the adjuster until he made an offer the family was OK with. After getting financial approval from their bank and a downpayment, the rebuilding process became official.

“It was definitely a family decision, and we all wanted to keep going,” said Corey Hoffman.

Kreofsky Building Supplies will build the new barn. The company built a section of the old barn in 2015, and it was the only part that remained standing after the collapses.

The Hoffmans are doing some prep work and heavy construction will begin later this month.

“I’m hoping by the first of November, we’ll be milking,” said Corey Hoffman.

Most of the collapsed barn was dismantled earlier this summer and the new one will be built in the same spot. The new barn will have the same dimensions and will be very similar to the old, but it will have tunnel ventilation, which Corey Hoffman said will be better for the cows.

The new barn also will have double the support posts, and will be able to withstand twice the snow load as the old one.

Snow load is one thing the Hoffmans know a lot about now.

“We know snow load and we also know insurance policies a lot better,” said Hoffman. “Those are two things we never really paid a whole lot of attention to, but after last winter, I think everybody will be.”

He said they didn’t know until the collapse that there was no building code for ag buildings in Minnesota.

“So we’re going to go above and beyond with this next one, so we never have to go through this again,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman said they’ll have about 420 milking cows housed in the new barn, with 20 to 30 springers.

Shortly after the collapse, the Hoffmans found a farm to take their heifers that were pregnant, and they’ll get them back when the barn is ready. But the cows they sold, they won’t get back.

That means they’ll have about 350 cows to buy in order to pick back up where they left off in February. They’ve been looking, but haven’t decided on any yet. Corey Hoffman said if farmers have offers for them, they’ll hear them.

Buying a new herd will be a challenge, but for the Hoffmans, it’s just the right step.

“I’m the fourth generation, and I tell everybody every generation has had their struggles,” said Corey Hoffman. “And this is just our struggle right now.”

He said it would’ve been a different kind of decision if it had been a natural disaster that ruined more than just a barn. But Hoffman said the rest of their farm is fairly new, and they didn’t want it to just start collecting dust.

“And luckily the milk futures look a lot brighter, so that helped encourage our banker,” said Hoffman. “Otherwise, it’d be a different story.”

Corey Hoffman walks with his daughter, Tira, helping her pick up screws and nails. Ken Klotzbach / Forum News Service
Corey Hoffman walks with his daughter, Tira, helping her pick up screws and nails. Ken Klotzbach / Forum News Service

Picking up a new job

One of the remnants of a barn collapse are thousands of nails and screws littering the ground, waiting to puncture tires, skin or worse.

Such was the case at North-Creek Dairy near Chatfield after a barn roof fell under heavy snow in February.

The solution? Pay the kids to pick up the small bolts, nails and screws.

Corey Hoffman told his daughter and son that he’d give them 10 cents for every screw or nail they found.

“I didn’t really think they’d be into it that much. Then she filled up two 5 gallon pails,” he said of his daughter Tira.

His daughter is now obsessed with picking them up, he said, and making great money for a 4-year-old.

“It doesn’t matter what she’s doing or playing with, if I bring it up, she’ll beg me to go pick up screws and nails,” said Hoffman.

Source: Grand Forks Herald

Competition for milk fierce as rival dairy processors flag interest in Bega Valley

For the first time, dairy farmers in the Bega Valley could have the opportunity to supply the fresh milk market as Lactalis and Saputo look to secure new suppliers.

Phil Ryan hopes the fierce competition for milk will lead to a better farm-gate price for producers.

Saputo representatives met farmers in the Bega Valley last week and several farmers are considering an offer to supply Lactalis (formerly Parmalat).

The aggressive move from processors to target Bega Cheese suppliers in the Bega Valley is another example of how fierce the competition is between dairy processors.

Across NSW and Victoria there has been an unprecedented churn of farmers opting to change processors in order to receive a better price at the farm gate.

However the remaining 58 or so dairy farmers in the Bega Valley have always supplied Bega Cheese.

Phil Ryan, a dairy farmer based at Toothdale, said while the discussions were in the preliminarily stages, he hoped the additional competition led to a better milk price for farmers.

“Well, it’s obviously some competition for milk supply, it potentially will lead to some better pricing for local farmers,” he said.

“It’s an indication that the supply of milk across the country and in New South Wales in particular is short.”

Saputo declined an interview but confirmed in a statement that a meeting had been held with farmers in the Bega Valley.

“At the request of local dairy farmers in Bega, we recently met to discuss our pricing structure, which aims to promote simplicity, transparency and fairness for all suppliers,” said a spokeswoman.

Each dairy farm is different, and the contract terms vary between processors, making it difficult to directly compare the three offers, but Mr Ryan said the fresh milk processors were offering a higher price.

“All the discussions are [in the] pretty early stages, it’s still very preliminary.

“Bega Valley suppliers are very loyal to Bega Cheese and would like to stay Bega suppliers — I think it’s fair to say.

“But we also can’t do that at the expense of our businesses.

“I would suggest that all of us are looking very carefully at what’s the best thing for our own farms and our own businesses.”

Milk production continues to decline as farmers face another tough season

The biggest factor driving competition is the size of the national milk pool. Australia’s dairy production declined by 7–9 per cent in the past year.

Dairy Australia is forecasting a further 3–5 per cent decline in FY20 down to 8.1–8.3 billion litres as farmers face challenging seasonal conditions on top of elevated hay and grain prices and water input costs.

Ian Zandstra, Nowra-based dairy farmer and former chair of the Dairy Farmers Milk Co-op, said the current competition was due to a lack of supply and a recognition that farmers deserved a higher price for their milk.

“I think supply and demand has finally come into play. If you look at the Coles move [to deal directly with farmers], some of it has to do with product security in this very competitive white milk market,” he said.

“I think there’s also an understanding of the pressure on farmers — it’s very public, the economic stress upon farmers.

“There’s a genuine understanding that farmers are needing more money to remain viable.”

Too much ‘stainless steel’ in the system

The increased competition is not only due an ever-shrinking milk pool but also an excess in manufacturing capacity.

In a recent visit to Australia, Lino Saputo Jnr, head of Canadian dairy giant Saputo, lamented there was an oversupply of “stainless steel” or processing capacity in Australia and called for older dairy facilities to be mothballed.

While an increase in the price at the farm gate is good news for farmers, some analysts are concerned that competition for milk could lead to a price for milk in Australia that is divorced from the global commodity market.

Michael Harvey, Rabobank senior analyst, said processors would be watching closely.

“I wouldn’t say we are there yet, I mean, we know that the dairy companies reported lower profitability, but they are still making money,” he said.

“They’re still investing and trying to value add to their product mix.

“What you don’t want to see is profitability challenged for a long period of time, post-farm gate because that’s when you do run into counterparty risk for dairy farmers.

“That’s a clear risk if we see farm-gate prices get completely out of whack with a market-based pricing reality, but I just don’t think we are there yet.”

Bega Cheese and Lactalis have been contacted for comment.


Source: ABC News

U.S. loses 100,000 dairy cows in last year as more dairy farms close

The number of dairy cows in the United States dropped by roughly 100,000 animals in the last year, as low milk prices continue to drive American dairy farms out of business.

Between July 2018 and July 2019, the U.S. dairy herd shrank to 9.3 million animals from 9.4 million, according to the latest count by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2018, some 2,500 dairies went out of business, according to the agency.

“A lot of my friends and neighbors have exited the business,” said Jim Burdett, the owner of a small, family-owned dairy farm near Mercersburg, Pa. “We’re a dying breed, the small, family run operation.”

Burdette’s farm is struggling to stay afloat, he said.

Milk prices have been low since 2015 — so low that the average U.S. dairyman has been losing money every year for the last four years, said Jackie Boerman, an assistant professor of animal sciences at Purdue University, who specializes in the dairy industry.

“What happened was that 2014 was a record year for dairy,” said Alan Bjerga, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation. “And, whenever you have a really good year and prices increase, farmers respond by increasing production.”

In dairy farming, one of the ways that is accomplished is by adding cows, and that is exactly what farmers did, Bjerga said. Between 2014 and 2017, the number of dairy cows in the United States increased by about 150,000 animals, according to the USDA. (The agency did not survey the herd in 2016 because of budget constraints.)

Farmers during that time also found ways to increase the productivity of their existing animals by improving their health of the herds, Boerman said.

The result was a flood of milk hitting the market, and that sent prices crashing.

“We just had too much milk on the market,” Boerman said. “We had more milk production than we had demand for it. We needed to reduce our cow numbers to get the supply in line with the current demand.”

The dairy farm closures contributed to the decline. When a farm ceases operations, it sells the herd. Some of the animals are purchased by other farms to continue producing milk, but many of them end up sold for beef, Boerman said.

But dairy farm closures is not the only factor. Many farms that continue operations also are reducing their number of cows.

The farms routinely sell — or cull — dairy cows from their herds once the animals stop reliably producing milk, either due to age or some kind of health issue.

Farmers keep dairy cow lives about five years. The cows produce milk for the last three of them. The retired cows are either sent to slaughter houses to be butchered into ground beef, or rendering facilities to become pet food, depending on their age and condition.

But with milk prices so low, farmers had some incentive to cull more of their animals, especially when beef prices were high, Boerman said. They have also stopped replacing as many of their animals after culling, Bjerga said.

As the herd size continues to decline, milk prices are inching back up. In January, farmers were receiving a little more than $15 per 100 pounds of milk, according to the USDA. By July, the price rose to over $17.

Consumer prices are following suit, with the average price per gallon of whole milk topping $3 for the first time since 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We’re seeing the first signs of genuine improvement for dairy farm’s finances,” Bjerga said. “It’s taken a long time for the market to move in the right direction, but there is hope.”


Chobani CEO: America is failing its dairy farmers

“Hamdi Ulukaya is founder and CEO of Chobani. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. “

Growing up in a family of dairy farmers on a mountain range in eastern Turkey, the biggest danger we faced was from wolves. When wolves attacked, they wouldn’t just kill one goat or sheep — they would kill them all. If we weren’t careful, in just a few minutes, we could lose the entire flock we relied on to make the yogurt and cheese we’d sell to market.

Today, as the founder of a yogurt company that takes in a billion pounds of milk each year, we depend on more than 1,000 dairy farms across America, and wolves are the least of their problems. Thanks to record-low milk prices, dropping dairy consumption rates, industry consolidation, global competition and unfair and untrue consumer fears that dairy causes everything from cancer to diabetes, America’s dairy farmers are facing their worst crisis since at least the Great Depression.
America has lost an average of five dairy farms per day for the last 10 years — close to 19,700 in all — but the dairy depression is never discussed publicly or in the news. Over 90% of America’s dairy farms are family-owned, with dairy generating an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion each year. And yet, although the farm bill that passed last year offers financial assistance, there’s a lot more Congress can do to help the small dairy farms that create high-quality nutrition for American families.
American farms are the backbone of rural communities. If Congress is serious about its often-stated goals of strengthening its ties to rural America, it should start with dairy farmers. It should find a way to put government on the side of families who milk cows up to three times a day on family farms — through all kinds of weather and on every holiday — to put dairy on America’s tables. We need more markets for dairy and a stable international trade policy. But strengthening America’s national milkshed isn’t just a job for government.
It requires some real change from companies that depend on milk — a holistic approach that includes committing to local sourcing and helping farmers look at ways they can be more efficient. We need the collective might from all dairy makers and others that use dairy as a key ingredient to look at ways to improve the entire system, not tackle a single issue in isolation. Because, we have to face it: The current model is broken for farmers, and it’s leaving consumers questioning everything, including the treatment of animals and workers, as well as where their food is coming from. We want to empower farmers to lead with their values and look at their way of life as a business that must be leaner, meaner and stronger to survive in a tough time for the industry.
As a step in that direction, Chobani — in partnership with many groups, including Fair Trade USA, the World Wildlife Fund, National Milk Producers Federation, Cornell University and state and community foundations in Idaho and New York — is starting a program called Milk Matters.
It has several aspects. In partnership with New York state and Cornell University, we are offering to provide small grants to farms with up to 300 head of cattle in New York state. This will help support these farms’ business planning, including budgeting and looking at potential investments that may improve profitability. We’re also working with Fair Trade USA to explore the development of the first-ever standard for fair-trade-certified dairy to ensure the well-being of workers, looking at working hours, safety training and benefits. With dairy economies down and farmers’ children being forced to choose other work, undocumented immigrants, often with little to no understanding of their basic rights, now represent 60% of all farm labor nationwide.
And finally, we’re partnering with World Wildlife Fund and the National Milk Producers Federation to assess greenhouse gas emissions and energy use on dairy farms to reduce their environmental footprints while also identifying potential ways to identify cost savings on the farm.
It will cost us more to buy our milk and run our business. But it’s clear that if we don’t act, this depression won’t end. For too long, we’ve lacked a community approach — a playbook that all can rally behind.
Back home, if wolves killed a herd, every local farmer would donate an animal to the stricken family to rebuild, because every little bit counts. We must do the same with our dairy farmers today.
This program alone won’t provide the relief farmers all over the country need. Ultimately, we need a better coalition between the government and private sector. But it is a small step from the private sector with a big message: The future of milk — and the wellbeing of dairy farmers — matters to all of us.
Source: CNN

New A2 milk clinical trial with children has big implications both for child nutrition and also for the dairy industry

A new paper relating to A2 milk has been published this month in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (JPGN). The paper provides strong evidence from a clinical trial with pre-school children in China that A1 beta-casein relative to A2 beta-casein has negative effects on both digestion and cognitive performance.

The evidence is sufficiently strong that those who have argued until now that A2 milk is just a marketing gimmick will find it increasingly difficult to sustain that argument.  This has major implications for the mainstream dairy industry which continues to downplay the A1 versus A2 issue.

For those new to the debate, A2 milk comes from A2 cows, with these cows naturally producing milk free of A1 beta-casein. As background, there is no A1 beta-casein in human milk or goat milk or sheep milk. Cows are the only species that produce A1 beta-casein, and it is found in a high proportion of cows of European origin.

The strength of this latest paper is not just what is new but how it builds on prior research. Through confirmation, it provides credibility to that prior research.

The paper also gains credibility from where it is published. The JPGN, where this latest paper is published, is the official journal of the European and North American Societies of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.  

The authors of this new paper come from Shanghai Jiao Tong and Peking Universities in China, together with an Australian collaborator. Peking University is ranked by Times Higher Education as the Number One university in China and Jiao Tong as number 7.

The trial was with 80 pre-school-age children. The trial compared ordinary milk containing a mix of A1 and A2 beta casein (hereafter called ‘A1’) with a milk product where all of the beta-casein was A2.  Most of the children were showing early signs of intolerance to conventional milk prior to the study.

It was a crossover trial, with all of the children having five days of consuming one milk product and then, following a nine-day washout, another five days of the other milk. The children, their parents, and the supervising staff were all blinded as to which milk was which. Half the children had the A1 milk first and the other half had the A2 milk first.

The trial provided exceptionally strong evidence across a wide range of measures. When the children were consuming the A1 milk, they had more digestive discomfort, their faeces were of a different consistency, they produced less of the desirable fatty acids in their digestive system, they had elevated  beta-casomorphin in their blood, they had increased inflammatory markers in their blood, and their cognitive performance on a  standardised computerised test of response times was inferior. The paper is available here.

For those who are statistically minded, many of the results were at significance levels of p<.001. This is much higher – more than 50 times – what is normally required to provide acceptance of a genuine effect. The crossover design is the ideal method for reducing chance effects, and double-blinding of both participants and scientific supervisors is also best practice.

None of the results came as a surprise. All results were hypothesised based on prior research and with the biochemical pathways increasingly understood. However, this trial has tested those hypotheses in a rigorous setting and with pre-school children. This was the first time such a trial had been undertaken with children of any age.

I had been waiting for the publication of this paper for two years. The trial itself was in 2016. It is the third of three major related pieces of research conducted in China.

It has been a frustrating wait for publication. When I inquired, all I could find out was that a key researcher was very ill and this was causing the delay.  I had to hope that the health issue would be solved and that this was indeed the full story. It now seems that it was.

The first of these Chinese studies, which I call ‘China1’, was published in April 2016 with Jianqin Sun from Shanghai’s Fudan University as the lead author. It provided very powerful evidence, also from a crossover design, that A1 beta-casein slowed down the transit of food through the digestive system, that it caused inflammation, and that there were cognition effects using the computerised test of response rates and response accuracy.

Unfortunately, the China1 paper is not easy to read. Even scientists can get confused and misinterpret the strength of the results unless they spend many hours exploring the detail. Also, although the design was very strong, those who did not understand the strength of the crossover design were always going to be sceptical because the trial only involved 45 people.  Hence, I always knew that trial would not have the public impact that it deserved.

As a consequence, although I have written about ‘China1’ for scientific audiences, and discussed it at seminars, I have never discussed it in the mainstream media. I decided to wait for ‘China2’ and ‘China3’.

China2, also known as the ‘Three Cities Study’ involved more than 600 people in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou who were tested for intolerance for A1 versus A2 beta-casein. The paper is available here.

China2, like China 1, provided strong evidence of intolerance but given the number of people involved, the design was much simpler and only limited measurements were taken. It had more impact in the public arena than China1, in part because it was easy to understand, and also because people were impressed by the large number of participants. But there was less science.

Despite studying and writing about the science behind A1 and A2 milk for fifteen years, I still chose to say nothing in public about China2. I wanted to wait for China3 with its in-depth study of pre-school children.

In the meantime, there was another published paper from the China-based studies. Blood samples from China1 were sent to American researchers who analysed them for their beta-casomorphin7 content and also their levels of antioxidant glutathione. Once again, they found important differences that gave scientific insights beyond the immediate clinical effects. That paper is available here.

Taking all of the China studies together, I now have the confidence to say publicly that this is a very impressive body of evidence from a range of scientists from top-level Chinese institutions and international collaborators. The combined effect will be to influence all Chinese dairy companies and also international dairy companies with a China-focus to commit themselves to A2 dairy products. Their success in China now depends on it.

In Western countries, there will still be scepticism, with more evidence required from studies undertaken in Western countries before the sceptics are convinced. However, while that debate will continue, there are now increasing quantities of A2 dairy products in supermarkets of the world. That includes all across Australia, much of the USA and the United Kingdom, increasingly in New Zealand and even in Moscow.

Of course, the evidence for dairy products free of A1 beta-casein goes well beyond the clinical effects investigated in the China studies. It is now well over 20 years since Professor Bob Elliott from Auckland University and Professor Robert Cade from Florida started writing independently about the effects of the A1-derived beta-casomorphin7 on wide ranging medical conditions.  Back in 2007, I wrote a book about their work and that of other scientists who followed, which I called ‘Devil in the Milk’. At least now, when I write about the ‘milk devil’, I know that people in many Western countries do have the opportunity to buy A2 dairy products should they wish to. Until recently that was not the case.



88-year-old dairy farmer keeps ahead of technological changes

Ngatea dairy farmer Ken Jones, 88, says he has seen a lot of change in his 66 years in the industry.

“If you don’t comply you won’t be able to supply.”

Ngatea dairy farmer Ken Jones has seen the future – and at 88 years of age a lot of the past.

He knows farmers will soon be confronted with an assortment of environmental rules they will have to abide by – in fact they already are – and he wants to get ahead of the game.

“I don’t know how far off that is but it’s no good hitting your head against a brick wall. I just want to make the farm compliant so I can hand it on to the family.”

Mangatarata Farms has a total area of 161 hectares and milks 850 cows, run as two units. Jones runs the farm with the help of two 50:50 sharemilkers, and has a stake in a similar sized property nearby.

He recently commissioned a specialist to draw up a farm environment plan (FEP) to pinpoint any areas of concern and has begun acting on anything that is required.

One of the issues he has faced is upgrading the farm effluent systems on the two farms he owns, at a total cost of $200,000.

It is a far cry from the way he used to deal with effluent 66 years ago when he first started working on the property, which has been in the family for 88 years.

” My first effluent disposal was a square mouthed shovel throwing the cattle pats over the rail from the cow shed, but now we’ve got to the stage where we’ve got sprinklers sprinkling it on the farm.”

Jones said farmers were mindful of effluent treatment on the low lying Hauraki Plains, which sit just above sea level. A portion of the region is porous peat country.

“It’s always been a law in this area that you’ve never been able to run your cowshed effluent into any drains.”

Jones is just one of over 1000 Fonterra farmers who have commissioned FEPs, amid a rising tide of awareness that tighter environmental rules will soon bite. Fonterra prepares them free of charge; they are worth about $3500.

Once farmers achieve all steps on their FEP, and produce high quality milk, they receive Farm Source reward dollars.

Sustainable dairying advisor in the Bay of Plenty Karl Rossiter said the uptake had been high.

“I’m snowed under with farmer demand.”

In the 17 years he had worked at Fonterra, the FEP initiative was one of the best he had seen for farmers.

FEPs include: a nutrient overview (includes nitrogen and phosphorus management), a review of waterways and biodiversity, GIS mapping of land and soil, a review of infrastructure storage and waste, effluent overview, and water use. Advisors also help with nutrient budgets, farm maps and effluent storage calculations.

“It helps them find opportunities to improve their farm and it helps them meet local and regional requirements.

“It’s not something we write and dump on their table, and which they file under their bed. It has actions and minimal standards which have to be signed off,” Rossiter said.

A Fonterra spokeswoman said the plans could save a farmer time and trouble when it came to dealing with councils. She cited a recent example of a farmer who had an on-the-spot compliance visit from a council officer, but once he saw the FEP, he was satisfied.

Rossiter said Jones was incredible when it came to digital technology.

“He’s got a weather station, he knows his soil moisture deficit through sensors which he sends to his sharemilkers so they know if they can irrigate effluent or not.

“He runs a programme called ‘pastures from space’, so from satellites he measures the amount of grass cover in different places on the farm,” Rossiter said.

Jones said the dairy industry was now at the peak and he predicted it would start to scale back.

“What I think will happen is the cost of compliance will get too great and there will be a lot of people in the 200-300 cow range who will go out of dairy farming.

“If you take a couple in their 50s or 60s, they’re not wanting to borrow $200,000 to comply, so they’ll sell their cows, graze a few stock on the farm, keep living in the house and have a much easier life,” Jones said.


Source: Stuff

U.S. milking herd has now shrunk by 29,000 so far in 2019

The USDA released two reports in the dairy space on Monday afternoon; the milk production report and cold storage reports. In the milk production report, the USDA went back and revised milk cow numbers in every month of 2019 with the exception of May. Cow numbers totalled 9.323 million, down 10,000 head from the May reported number. After revisions, the U.S. milking herd has now shrunk by 29,000 cows in 2019 thus far. Milk per cow in June was 1,955 pounds. Total milk production came in at 18.23 billion, three-tenths of a per cent below a year ago. 

As a result of farmers reducing their herd size milk production during June was down on the month and the year. USDA says production in the U.S. was down three-tenths of a per cent from last year to 18 billion pounds with production per cow up 12 pounds. USDA also says the amount of cheese and butter in cold storage during June was down slightly from last year. 

Livestock economist Scott Brown with the University of Missouri says the smaller herd is moving prices higher and farms are starting to adjust. “I might suggest that we’re not going to continue to see the kinds of decline in milk cows that maybe we’ve seen.”

Michigan continues to have the most productive cows in the nation. Virginia and Illinois had the largest decrease in milk production; Texas, Colorado, and Michigan had the largest increases.


How dairy behemoth Danone failed to win India’s 1.35 billion dairy lovers

India is the world’s top producer and consumer of dairy — in 2018 alone, the country’s 75 million dairy farmers produced 410 billion pounds of milk, about 22% of global production. With this and its dairy-heavy diet of curries and yogurt drinks, the giant French dairy company Danone hoped to find success in the country, opening its own production line in 2011.

But this division failed to account for more than 10% of its sales in India, the vast majority instead coming from its “specialized nutrition” segment. Analysts say that India’s highly localized, fractured dairy industry confounded Danone, a company accustomed to the relatively more consolidated dairy industries of the U.S., where it goes by the name “Dannon,” and its native France.


Source: CNBC

Exports Expected to Increase as USDA Releases Biannual Global Dairy Report

As part of their Biannual Global Dairy Report the U.S. Foreign Ag Service says Mexico removing tariffs on U.S. cheese will greatly improve exports which are expected to increase by eight percent from 2018.

According to the agency, the European Union remains the greatest competitor to the U.S. as free trade agreements between the EU and other countries put the U.S. at a disadvantage.

Meanwhile, trade issues for skimmed milk powder and export competition have the USDA forecasting exports decline by four percent this year after the last four years of increase.

Drought conditions and hot weather in other parts of the world has led to decreased milk production in Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.  Output from New Zealand and the EU is expected to turn around in the second half of 2019 and show slight increases over last year.  USDA is forecasting China to increase milk production by six percent with increasing consolidation and prices growing supplies.


Trump’s Trade War is Wreaking Havoc On the Economic Security of Erie County Dairy Farmers

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series highlighting the local impact of Trump’s policies in key counties in MI, PA, WI, and FL.

In March 2018, dairy farmers in Erie County, Pennsylvania received an unanticipated notice in the mail. Dean Foods, a local dairy processor in the area that bought products from over 40 dairy farmers across Pennsylvania, gave farmers a 90-day notice that they would no longer be purchasing their products.

Two months later, Dean Foods closed its Meadowbrook Dairy and laid off over 100 employees in favor of shipping their business to a Wal-Mart-owned dairy operation in Indiana.

Because of President Trump’s trade policies, a 25% tariff has been placed on American cheese in retaliation by foreign countries, forcing American processors and farms to either close shop or conglomerate with large corporations to compete in the costly trade war.

Since dairy farmers are only permitted to sell to one distributor at a time, when organizations like Dean Foods announce they are conglomerating with large corporations, it leaves many farmers without a primary source of income.

“That means that their whole way of life is gone. They’ve lost everything they’ve worked maybe 20, 30, 40 years for. They’ve lost it. They have no recourse, “ Dean Curtis, an Erie County dairy farmer said to

The U.S. dairy industry is set to lose up to $5.4 billion over the next several decades if trade agreements are not quickly ratified with foreign countries, such as Japan and China. And in Erie County, those losses are already beginning to quantify.

Since the Dean Foods plant closure, local leaders say the decline of the local dairy industry has rapidly increased. According to the Associated Press, Mark Muir, a Pa. farmer who is the current president of the Erie County Farm Bureau, said, “It’s a spiral…. Interest rates are going up. Your inputs are going up. It doesn’t pay.”

Trump himself seemed to admit his trade policies were hurting farmers, calling them “patriots” and promising he would “make it up” to them. Last summer, he issued dairy farmers a $127 million bailout from the Department of Agriculture. But that amount totaled at just 13% of farmers’ losses at the time, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.

In 2016, President Trump won Erie County by just under 2,000 votes. With a margin that thin, President Trump will need the support of Erie Dairy farmers should he want to win the county again in 2020.

And while he has praised farmers, the president doesn’t seem to be planning a change of the trade policies that are wreaking havoc on their financial well-being anytime soon.


Source: American Ledger

Skilled workers needed to ensure longevity of Australian dairy industry

Attracting skilled labour will be critical for Australia’s dairy industry as farms get bigger and require more staff.

More than 800 new employees will be needed on dairy farms nationally by 2023, as the number of farms with six or more employees rises from 4 per cent to 20 per cent by 2025.

Dairy Australia managing director David Nation said attracting and retaining people was an ongoing challenge.

“The evolution of the industry and the trend towards larger farms places greater demand on labour, but also provides opportunities,” he said.

He said the need for skilled labour also increased with the use of technology and the need to monitor farm inputs, animal care and milk quality.

Dr Nation said starting the conversation about careers in dairy when young people were at school was absolutely key.

He said Dairy Australia’s Cows Create Careers program had seen more than 15,000 young people learn about careers in dairy.

“It’s important that we show the diversity of career pathways and highlight the opportunity to be successful.”

Dr Nation said making young people feel connected and supported through strong networks and skills building was key to retaining workers.

This week the State Government announced a three- year program to improve training across dairy sector.

The $300,000 program will be run by DairyTas and aims to improve productivity, job creation, farm businesses and value-adding strategies.

It will include a training program for businesses, skills training for farm managers and pasture education.

The Cows Create Careers program will also be rolled out to a further eight schools a year.

Source: Weekly Times

How long until Fonterra is targeted?

The Chinese take a long-term view of investment and must be rubbing their hands in glee at having played a bunch of farmers on the West Coast out of their co-operative, subject to Overseas Investment Office approval. Just like a lion hunting down its prey, they spotted weakness and went in for the kill.

“Absolutely stunning” is Katie Milne’s reaction to the vote by Westland Milk Products farmer shareholders to agree to the sale to Yili, the Chinese milk conglomerate one quarter owned by the Chinese government. She is a West Coast farmer and director of WMP.

WMP has been managed hopelessly for years now and as a reward for incompetent management, bonuses are to be paid to the management team when the deal goes through. The shareholders have chosen to focus on the short term and thus, not being willing to see beyond the end of their noses, have grabbed the deal with both hands.

So another key piece of New Zealand infrastructure falls into foreign hands, just like the 50 percent of Silver Fern Farms now owned by the Chinese and South Canterbury milk processor Oceania Gold, already owned by Yili.

What use is it in the long term to have such important parts of our economy hived off into foreign ownership?

Remember when prime minister Key said he didn’t want New Zealanders to become tenants in our own country?

The dairy farming sector is heavily indebted (obviously a large factor in this latest sale), owing some $40 billion to the banks.

Fonterra is licking its wounds at the moment and will be for some time to come.

How long will it be before the Chinese start circling around its door with another outsized offer the farmer shareholders of Fonterra will be unable to resist?


Source: The Gisborne Herald

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