Archive for Dairy Industry

Dairy farms feel lasting effects of snow storm

Dairy farmers say they are still feeling the effects of last weekend’s blizzard.

“I’ve never seen anything like this the whole time I’ve been farming myself and my family, this was a once-in-a-lifetime storm,” said JJ Pagel, dairy manager at Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy Farm.

Dozens of local farms reported having barn collapses over the weekend, and feed operations are affected because fields are still snow covered.

Pagel’s Ponderosa is one of the dairy farms dealing with a barn collapse at one of their heifer barns.

“We were fortunate enough we got all the animals out, but then we had the issue of what do we do with having an extra 1,000 animals? So through making a lot of phone calls and a lot of friendships, we were able to move about 1,200 animals to four different locations,” Pagel said.

“There were some barns that were going down and people were looking for room for cows, anybody that could handle them. It makes me concerned about our building, we got out there, evaluated and it was okay, we didn’t have much of a snow load on there, but then we were monitoring very closely the last three to four days,” said Dan Brick, owner of Brickstead Dairy Farms in Greenleaf.

Dairy farmers say they were constantly worried about milk deliveries, and it took a lot of teamwork to get the day’s job done. Both Pagel and Brick say they’re were fortunate to not have to dump out any milk.

“It was hard for people to be able to get to work so some of our employees jumped in, and we drove some of our own trucks, we held some of our own milk with our guys, along with everybody cleaning the yards and you know cleaning roads for people, just trying to get them from A to B,” Pagel added.

With snow still covering the dairy farms’ corn and alfalfa fields, feed for dairy cows will take longer to produce.

“We know that we’re going to be two weeks behind on a normal year and that’s if things turn around here today, and it could definitely be three weeks or even further if we do not get the weather to cooperate,” said Brick.

“It’ll change our feed operation because we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer to chop the alfalfa, we don’t know how many crops we’re going to get this year. We had to change some of our seed purchases, because now not getting the opportunity to get corn in the ground as early as we’d like we’re going to have to buy shorter-day corn and not knowing what the rest of spring has for us yet,” said Pagel.

Brick says even though planting and harvesting will be delayed by two weeks, there is a silver lining in all of this. Brick says right now he’s found no frost in the ground and he’s hoping the snow melt will infiltrate the soil instead of running off into the lakes and streams.

“It’ll help build the root moisture coming into July and August when it’s dry out, it can help store some of that moisture that we do have,” said Brick.


NAFTA – Dairy not sounding like deal breaker

The supply management issue erupted early in U.S. President Donald Trump’s presidency when he condemned Canada’s system and used it as an example of how NAFTA was a bad deal and Canada was taking advantage of the United States.

Canada’s dairy system continues to be the main agricultural issue vexing North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations, U.S. politicians and agriculture officials say.

It was the only specific NAFTA complaint about agricultural trade raised by a number of Washington players in meetings with North American Agricultural Journalists.

“We want to make sure that we have access and we want to make sure that the (Canadian) programs are not impacting international markets,” Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky said April 9.

“(American farmers) believe that Canada’s supply management program has not only prevented … the access for their products going up there, but it’s also resulted in surpluses of products that then are dumped onto world markets.”

Both Republican and Democratic members of Congress complained about Canada’s system but did not express a desire to allow the issue to kill NAFTA.

“I know that the Canadians are a tad bit more adamant with regards to the positions that they are taking,” said Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Senate agriculture committee chair, noting that issues with Mexico appear to be getting resolved more easily.

However, with U.S. farmers earning only about half as much today as they were five years ago, reapproving NAFTA would be a much-needed bit of reassurance, Roberts said.

“Some of our producers are really on the edge,” said Roberts.

The supply management issue erupted early in U.S. President Donald Trump’s presidency, with him condemning Canada’s system during a visit to Wisconsin dairy country and it being used as an example of how the president sees NAFTA as a bad deal and Canada taking advantage of the United States.

Collin Peterson, a Democratic representative from Minnesota who is a long-time critic of Canada’s system, said he was resigned to seeing supply management survive and just wanted to see NAFTA survive, too.

“I told people Canada’s not going to do anything about dairy,” said Peterson.

“I’m not going to be disappointed because I never thought that anything was going to happen. I’d be happy if they don’t screw up the dairy market in Mexico.”

Censky and Roberts said they had become more confident recently about NAFTA surviving.

“I’m optimistic that they will end well,” Censky said of the negotiations.

However, he said the U.S. wants its concerns with all of Canada’s supply managed systems addressed.

Roberts said he had just spoken with Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, and “he indicated to me that he’s optimistic about NAFTA, and that would certainly be great news in agriculture. We need some sunshine, some light at the end of the tunnel.”

As they spoke, Canadian, Mexican and U.S. officials were meeting in Washington to attempt to put together a provisional deal.


Rabobank predicting the storm to clear over the global dairy market

DAIRY BATTLE: The battle for supply between Saputo, Fonterra and smaller processors, seeking to ensure milk supply, will dominate this year’s dairy season, according to Michael Harvey, Rabobank.

Agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has predicted the storm clouds hanging over the global dairy market were expected to clear, later this year.

Rabobank’s senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey said the battle between the two global dairy giants, Canada’s Saputo and New Zealand’s Fonterra, loomed large on the horizon.

“At the frontline of this battle are the two large international companies butting heads, as Saputo looks to win back milk supply and Fonterra maps out capacity expansions,” Mr Harvey said.

In a report, ‘Australian Dairy – Let the big milk battle begin’, Mr Harvey said Saputo’s purchase of MG, pending approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), was set to fundamentally transform the ownership of the milk supply chain.

MG told shareholders at its recent extraordinary general meeting, it estimated it had lost more than 1.6 billion litres of milk, or 45 per cent of its milk intake, since April 2016.

“And then you have a number of dairy companies that have already taken up the lost milk from Murray Goulburn (MG) and they will be determined to retain their recently-acquired milk suppliers,” Mr Harvey said.

At the EGM, MG announced a step-up of 40 cents per kilogram milk solids (kg/MS) and additional retention payment, bringing its weighted average price to $6 kg/MS.

Fonterra has announced a forecast closing range for 2017-18 of $5.62 to $5.70 kg/MS.

Mr Harvey said smaller, and newer dairy players, were set to continue actively recruiting milk to secure their share of the pool, meaning competitive pressures for milk supply were likely to intensify.

The prospects for a gradual tightening in global dairy markets were also bright.

Greater competition for milk was likely to bring higher value-add payments.

Rabobank was forecasting an annual average farm gate range across southern Australia of $5.40 kg/MS to $5.90 kg/MS.

It also forecast domestic milk production would increase by 2.7pc in 2018/19 to deliver an additional 170 million litres of milk.

Mr Harvey said, over the next two years, Australia’s dairy processing capacity was likely to increase further, with an estimated 900 million litres of capacity to be built.

In light of increased processing capacity, Australia’s dairy sector needed to ensure sustained milk supply growth continued.


Ohio dairy farmers leaving at higher-than-usual rate

Number of farms dropped by 59 in five months.

The dramatic drop in milk prices is causing Ohio’s dairy farmers to leave the business at a higher than usual rate, according to The Ohio State University’s (OSU) College of Food, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences. While some farmers retire and give up their dairy licenses every year, there has been an uptick recently. In March 2018, there were 2,253 licensed dairy farms in Ohio – a drop of 59 farms in five months.

“Farmers are deciding they can no longer dig any deeper into their equity to pay for what I call ‘the privilege of milking cows,’” said Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension field specialist in dairy production economics.

Profits for milk are low because the price dairy farmers get paid for their milk has dipped in recent years. In 2014, dairy farmers nationwide basked in high prices as worldwide demand was high and the number of cows producing milk was comparatively low. Since then, however, milk prices have been steadily sliding, as have dairy farmers’ profits.

Milk prices in 2014 averaged $23.16/cwt., but so far this year, the average is $14.43 — a 38% decline.

In other words, the supply of milk is outstripping the demand — by far — and driving down the price.

The dramatic drop in milk prices is causing Ohio’s dairy farmers to leave the business at a higher than usual rate, according to The Ohio State University’s (OSU) College of Food, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences. While some farmers retire and give up their dairy licenses every year, there has been an uptick recently. In March 2018, there were 2,253 licensed dairy farms in Ohio – a drop of 59 farms in five months.

“Farmers are deciding they can no longer dig any deeper into their equity to pay for what I call ‘the privilege of milking cows,’” said Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension field specialist in dairy production economics.

Profits for milk are low because the price dairy farmers get paid for their milk has dipped in recent years. In 2014, dairy farmers nationwide basked in high prices as worldwide demand was high and the number of cows producing milk was comparatively low. Since then, however, milk prices have been steadily sliding, as have dairy farmers’ profits.

Milk prices in 2014 averaged $23.16/cwt., but so far this year, the average is $14.43 — a 38% decline.

In other words, the supply of milk is outstripping the demand — by far — and driving down the price.

“There’s just so much excess milk right now, and it looks like that’s going to continue to be the case for a while,” Shoemaker said.

In Wayne County, Ohio’s top dairy county, Rory Lewandowski, the county’s OSU Extension educator, is increasingly hearing about farmers selling their farms or their cows; others are seeking out bank loans in order to continue operating.

“Nobody is doing really well in this situation,” Lewandowski said. “Definitely, people are depressed.”

Some of the dairies in Mercer County that recently closed did so because making more of a profit would have required them to expand, purchase new buildings and/or modernize their milking equipment. The investment was too great a risk given the low prices, said Dennis Riethman, an OSU Extension educator in Mercer County. About a half-dozen farms in that county recently closed — “and I anticipate there will be more within the next year,” he added.

Some Ohio dairy farmers are having to seek out new markets because Dean Foods, the second-largest dairy company in the U.S., recently sent a letter announcing that, beginning May 31, it will cut its contracts with more than 100 dairy farmers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

In addition, milk cooperatives as well as independent milk processors have sent out letters in the past two years dropping some dairy farmers due to low demand and an oversupply of milk on the market, Shoemaker said. Previously, farmers typically were only dropped from cooperatives when they produced poor-quality milk.

Dairy farmers no longer receive a bump up in pay for producing more milk in the fall, when the demand is typically highest and production lowest, Shoemaker explained.

Once a farmer leaves the dairy business, it’s not necessarily easy to get back in when the price of milk improves, Shoemaker said, adding that farmers typically spend years, even decades, developing a productive herd of cows and replacement heifers.

Alternatively, if a farmer sells off the milking herd and keeps the replacement heifers, there’s no income, she said, “and you’ve got all these mouths to feed. That’s not usually an attractive option.”

In terms of alternatives, OSU said dairy farmers can consider other ventures to make money on the farm, but making the switch typically is not easy. A farmer raising field crops for a living needs to plant 1,000-2,000 acres to earn enough to rely solely on that income, but with low prices for corn and soybeans, that’s especially tough.


Source: Feedstuffs

Low Milk Prices Sending Some Ohio Dairy Farmers Out of Business

Nervous about the dramatic drop in milk prices, Ohio’s dairy farmers are leaving the business at a higher than usual rate.

Every year, some farmers retire and give up their dairy licenses, but there’s been an uptick recently. In March 2018, there were 2,253 licensed dairy farms in Ohio – a drop of 59 farms in five months.

“Farmers are deciding they can no longer dig any deeper into their equity to pay for what I call ‘the privilege of milking cows,’ ” said Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension field specialist in dairy production economics. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Profits for milk are low because the price that dairy farmers get paid for their milk has dipped in recent years. In 2014, dairy farmers nationwide basked in high prices. Worldwide demand was high, and the number of cows producing milk was comparatively low. Since then, milk prices have been steadily sliding, as have dairy farmers’ profits.

Milk prices in 2014 averaged $23.16 per 100 pounds. So far this year the average is $14.43, a 38 percent drop. The supply of milk is outstripping the demand, by far, which is driving down the price.

“There’s just so much excess milk right now, and it looks like that’s going to continue to be the case for a while,” Shoemaker said.

In Wayne County, the state’s top dairy county, Rory Lewandowski, the county’s OSU Extension educator, is increasingly hearing about farmers selling their farms or their cows. And others are seeking out bank loans to continue operating.

“Nobody is doing really well in this situation,” Lewandowski said. “Definitely people are depressed.”

Some of the dairies in Mercer County that recently closed did so because making more of a profit would have required them to expand, purchase new buildings and modernize their milking equipment. The investment was too great a risk given the low prices, said Dennis Riethman, an OSU Extension educator in Mercer County. About a half dozen farms in that county recently closed.

“And I anticipate there will be more within the next year,” Riethman said.

Some Ohio dairy farmers are having to seek out new markets because Dean Foods, the second largest dairy company in the United States, has announced that beginning May 31, it will cut its contracts with 100 independent conventional dairy farmers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Also, milk cooperatives as well as independent milk processors have sent out letters in the past two years dropping some dairy farmers due to low demand and an oversupply of milk on the market, Shoemaker said. Previously, farmers typically were only dropped from cooperatives when they produced poor quality milk.

Dairy farmers no longer receive a bump up in pay for producing more milk in the fall, when the demand is typically highest and production lowest, Shoemaker said.

Once a farmer leaves the dairy business, it’s not necessarily easy to get back in when the price of milk improves, Shoemaker said. That’s because the farmer has spent years, even decades, developing a productive herd of cows and replacement heifers, so if they are sold off, it can take just as long to get started again, she said.

Or if a farmer sells off the milking herd and keeps the replacement heifers, there’s no income.

“And you’ve got all these mouths to feed. That’s not usually an attractive option,” Shoemaker said.

Dairy farmers can consider other ventures to make money on the farm, but the switch typically is not easy. A farmer raising field crops for a living needs to plant 1,000 to 2,000 acres to earn enough to rely solely on that income, and with low prices for corn and soybeans, that’s especially tough.

While organic milk and other products have gained in popularity in recent years and typically offer higher profits than traditional milk, the organic milk cooperatives that take on the independent milk suppliers have no openings right now, Shoemaker pointed out.

Like the price of anything, what goes down must come back up – at some point. Demand for milk will increase. Or supply will decrease. Or a combination of the two.

“But,” Shoemaker said, “we’ve been waiting three years for that to happen.”


Source: CFAES

Kentucky dairy farmers struggle to survive

It’s been a month since David Sammons got the letter, and he’s still not quite sure what to do. He’s no stranger to a bad year; he’s been farming in Horse Cave since 1982 and has seen good times and troubled ones. “We lost $90,000 in 2009,” he says. “It makes you stop and wonder, ‘what the heck am I even doing this for?’”

But the current dilemma feels different.

TWO GENERATIONS of the Waldridge family ended their family’s 40-year old dairy operation on March 25. While the family enjoyed success for decades, industry changes andskyrocketing costs will deny the younger generation the opportunity to continue the business. Photo courtesy of Erin Waldridge.

Dean Foods, the primary buyer of the milk Sammons and his wife Bonnie produce at Forever Farms, home to 250 dairy cattle, has announced that they’ll no longer be taking any after June 1. Some 30 Kentucky farmers got the same news, and it’s just the latest blow to a sector that was already struggling.

Unlike producers of shelf-stable commodities, dairy folk obviously can’t just hold on to their product till the price goes up. And the price, at the moment, shows no signs of doing that. Demand is low, supply is high, and super-sized producers such as Borden, with their economies of scale, have been squeezing out smaller ones for decades.

“Milk is cheaper than water at Wal-Mart right now,” says Sammons. After hovering around $16 per hundredweight in 2017, milk prices have slumped another couple of dollars this year; meanwhile, the farmer’s cost to produce that amount is about $22. Wal-Mart’s plan to open a major milk processing plant in Indiana is considered by many to be a likely factor in the Dean’s decision.

“Kentucky dairy farmers are facing one of the most difficult times in recent memory,” acknowledges Kentucky Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “From the moment I learned of this problem, my office began discussions with key stakeholders and industry leaders. My office is currently working with the Kentucky Dairy Development Council to search for new markets where our dairy farmers can sell their product.”

Monroe County farmer and Dairy Development Council representative Mark Williams isn’t at all sure that those new markets will come fast enough to make a difference for smaller milk producers. “It’s not going real well,” he says. “I was at a sale barn at Smith’s Grove and they were selling a couple of herds…Everybody’s in the same shape as we are. One herd sold out a month ago. And what kills people is that even to sell out and quit, cattle prices have dropped.”

That’s the dilemma facing Sammons and others like him. “Our special little niche has been taking really good care of our cows and having a sale every three or four years, and we were able to get $2400, $2600 apiece,” he says. “Now a dairy cow sells for $800. If I have to sell right now, I’ll be taking a $250,000 loss; like all farmers, that’s our retirement we’re talking about. I really don’t want to liquidate my assets for a third of what they’re worth.”

Kentucky is the 27th largest milk producer in the US, and in our region, only Barren and Metcalfe make it into the state’s top seven milk-producing counties. But even in Monroe County, where five family dairies showed up for last year’s county fair, and in Hart, which had 200 dairy farms within Sammons’ memory and now has eight, it’s always been more about the lifestyle and the excellence.

“Consumers are better served if they want low prices, which does seem to be what people want, but our society is losing part of its fabric,” says Sammons. “We started with 40 cows. I don’t think that would be possible for young people now. There will be jobs in dairy going forward, but most of them will involve working for the big places.”

The very nature of that work is changing; Barren County dairy Malvern Hills installed the first robotic milking system in the state in June 2017. The trend toward bigger and bigger producers is one that won’t be easily countered.

“We dairymen are our own worst enemy,” writes second generation dairyman H.H. Barlow III of Barlu Farms near Cave City. “In 1997, the U.S. had 112,000 dairy farms with 9.4 million cows annually producing 155 billion pounds of fluid milk. In 2017, we only had 40,000 dairy farms with the same 9.4 million cows producing 215 billion pounds of fluid milk. That’s a 39% increase in production with the same number of cows. We do a much better job of caring for and managing our cows today, plus gaining major advantages in cow nutrition and genetics. Our improved production has not improved our financial situation.”

Congress and the USDA adjusted the Margin Protection Program payments for dairy earlier this year, but price supports are not overwhelmingly popular in the current political climate.

“The dairy industry has been hit particularly hard as milk prices fell and left farmers with incredibly slim margins to try to continue operating,” said Congressman James Comer (R-1st Congressional District) in an emailed comment. “Earlier this year Congress took steps to try to strengthen existing federal dairy programs. I look forward to continuing that work to provide security for not just dairy farmers, but all farmers, ranchers and rural Americans as we move toward a new Farm Bill.” Past Farm Bills have been widely criticized for helping to create the current situation by funneling subsidies to big producers.

Barlow favors creating “a national board of individual dairymen where each dairyman stands independently and does not bow to the rule of high powered corporate leaders and co-ops. This board could meet quarterly to evaluate the previous quarter’s production and sales and establish production limits to meet sales. This board should be elected regionally with each dairy having one vote with absolutely no block voting.”

Any solution had better come quickly to help Sammons and others in his situation.

“We’ve had a good career and been very successful until right now at the end,” he says.

“We’ll be alright, although if you talked to me the day I got the letter or the day I have to sell these cows…that would be real hard. But there are young people who got those letters whose whole career is being taken away by a decision made in Dallas, and that’s just not the right way to solve the problem, not when others who do a much worse job are still selling. Capitalism…it’s great when it works. But sometimes it can be ugly when it comes to your door.”

THE UNITED STATES had 112,000 dairy farms in 1997; only 40,000 of them remained in 2017. While southern Kentucky has been heralded as dairy farm center, most counties have only a few small family dairy farms still in operation. Photo courtesy of Erin Waldridge.


A2 Milk Company signs expansion deal into South Korea

The A2 Milk Company is expanding into South Korea after signing a distribution deal with pharmaceutical giant Yuhan Corporation. expansion 

A2 says South Korea is an attractive market because it has high per capita dairy consumption, world-class retailers and fast-growing online sales.

A2 MIlk says Yuhan Corporation has capabilities in pharmaceuticals and consumer goods.

“Yuhan Corporation is a long-established, highly credentialed and principled Korean business,” A2 Milk chief executive Geoffrey Babidge said in a statement on Monday.

” We share similar values and ambitions, and with our complimentary capabilities believe that together we can build a meaningful business in Korea.”

Yuhan and A2 will launch a range of dairy nutritional products sourced from Australia and New Zealand, with sales expected to start between July and December this year.

Shares in A2 Milk were 8.5 cents, or 0.7 per cent, higher at $11.68 at 1225 AEST on Monday.

“Yuhan Corporation is a long established, highly credentialed and principled Korean business,” a2 managing director Geoff Babidge said. “We share similar values and ambitions, and with our complimentary capabilities believe that together we can build a meaningful business in Korea.”

The milk marketing firm first tried to enter South Korea with an exclusive distribution deal with Purmil, formerly Lotte Dairy, to sell fresh A2 milk in the Asian nation in 2007. Purmil chose to pull A2 milk from the Korean market in late 2008 year, prompting a2 Milk to sue in 2010. A settlement was eventually reached in 2011.

Separately, a2 said it was about to introduce a new powder product blended with New Zealand sourced Manuka honey.

That comes the same day Manuka honey health products maker Comvita said it may face a takeover with an unnamed third party undertaking due diligence, while also downgrading annual earnings guidance as wet weather weighed on honey production.


Source: Yahoo New Zealand



Senior U.S. legislator: new NAFTA must lower Canada’s ‘dairy wall’

Senior Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer

A senior American lawmaker is demanding changes that would open Canada’s dairy market as part of any new NAFTA, a sign of the lingering irritants holding up a deal.

Senior Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer has sent a letter on the issue to U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer.

His request illustrates the ongoing differences between the countries despite predictions about a deal being close, including from U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence who over the weekend said an agreement could be achieved within weeks.

Schumer is urging the U.S. team to seize a rare opportunity to lower what he calls Canada’s “dairy wall,” and says opening up the market must be a top priority.

“Securing meaningful and enforceable commitments that will allow U.S. dairy producers to compete with Canada’s on a level playing field should be a top priority in NAFTA renegotiations,” Schumer wrote in the letter, which he released publicly Monday.

“As I have expressed to you many times, I strongly believe that we should not miss this opportunity to protect our dairy producers from Canada’s recent predatory trade practices.”

Schumer isn’t the only leading legislator for whom it is a priority; the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, is from the dairy-producing state of Wisconsin and also considers it a key issue.

The view of American lawmakers matters in a trade negotiation.

U.S. law requires that they must eventually vote to ratify any agreement, and that they be consulted throughout the bargaining process by American trade negotiators.

Lighthizer told lawmakers at a recent hearing that dairy will likely be one of the final issues to be resolved. He expressed some understanding that the topic is politically sensitive in Canada, where the dairy industry is concentrated in the two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

The countries do not have free trade in dairy — and the U.S. is calling for two changes.

Over the longer term, it wants the elimination of Canada’s supply-management system. The system limits competition, but guarantees stability on Canadian farms by capping imports, imposing tariffs, and setting prices at the grocery store.

The shorter-term U.S. objective is to get Canada to eliminate its special rule allowing byproducts for cheese-making, skimmed off of milk, to be sold at non-supply managed, market prices.

The Canadian government’s view is that the U.S. also protects its dairy market in other ways, such as price-stabilization programs and counselling services when prices crash and farms face collapse.

Some Canadian industry defenders point to analysis that U.S. farmers consistently sell dairy at below-market prices, because they benefit from a patchwork of policies to keep them profitable.


US Dairy Accounts for $64 Billion in Tax Revenues

As Americans meet their April 17 tax return deadline, it’s a good time to note how food and agriculture fund government. 

After graduating from law school and marrying my wife, Christie, I moved to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, then a town of about 8,000. I rolled up my sleeves and went to work at my father-in-law’s firm.

Many of our clients were farmers. I remember them coming to our office in March and April with boxes of receipts under their arms.


My job: Sort through those scraps of paper to help these hard-working farm families fill out their income tax returns and get them in the mail on time to Des Moines and Washington, D.C.

Dairy truly delivers

I thought of those farmers as I dug into data from “Dairy Delivers,” a publicly available economic impact tool created by the International Dairy Foods Association.

As Americans meet their April 17 deadline for filing taxes this year they can thank the U.S. dairy industry for creating $64 billion in tax revenues, according to Dairy Delivers.

“Dairy Delivers” examines dairy’s economic ripple effect on other sectors of the national economy and concludes dairy is responsible for $24.9 billion in state and local business tax revenues and another $39.5 billion in federal business tax revenues.

Below is one of the many one-page reports the tool can generate.

United States Dairy Delivers Talking Point

Click image above to download a PDF of IDFA’s one-page U.S. economic impact report (it may take a few seconds). Go to the “Dairy Delivers” online tool to get the economic impact of dairy on each of the 48 mainland states and all 435 congressional districts. 

IDFA engaged John Dunham and Associates, an economic research firm, to quantify and break down the economic impact of dairy on the 48 mainland states and all 435 congressional districts. 

This is a tool that provides a wealth of information to everyone in the U.S. dairy industry and anyone who cares about jobs, taxes and our state and national economies.

California dairy alone generates nearly $12 billion in tax revenues

California dairy generates the most tax revenues ($11.9 billion) among the states, followed by Wisconsin ($5.9 billion). I was curious about Iowa, where I served two terms as governor.

Iowa dairy contributes $327.8 million in local and state taxes and sends another $569.3 million to the Internal Revenue Service in Washington.

How important are those tax revenues to Iowa and other cash-strapped state governments?

Dairy helps states balance their budgets

Unlike the federal government,  many states must balance their budget. It’s the law.

Iowa’s state government made headlines last year when the governor had to borrow $13 million from the state’s economic emergency fund. Iowans hate having to do that.

It’s almost inconceivable what Iowa would have to do without the $327.8 billion created by the dairy industry.

But dairy is just one part of a larger food and agriculture sector that fuels Iowa and the U.S. economy.

1 out of 5 jobs connected to food and agriculture

An economic impact study also done by John Dunham and Associates found that more than one-fifth (20.4 percent) of the nation’s economy is linked, either directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors and that more than one-fourth of all American jobs (28 percent) are similarly connected. The findings are available at

Source for chart above:

This fresh economic impact data shows how dependent America is on food and agriculture industries. We deserve more attention than we are getting from policymakers.

Future growth relies on exports

One timely focus of policymakers should be protecting and pursuing free-trade agreements that create a level playing field for agriculture exports, including dairy.

About 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States, and much of it needs to import U.S. agriculture products. The U.S. dairy industry saw this coming decades ago and began investing in export strategies.

Consequently, U.S. dairy exports have increased 604 percent since 1995, to $5.5 billion last year. Global demand is projected to continue to rise. 

Nearly 1 out of 7 gallons of U.S. milk is turned into dairy products and ingredients shipped overseas. Through a U.S. Dairy Export Council initiative called The Next 5%, we aim to increase exports’ share to one out of 5 gallons of U.S. milk produced.  

More exports will increase dairy’s economic footprint, creating more jobs and more tax revenue here in the United States. 

Wisconsin USD5510_StateFactSheet_05-360494-edited

Sources for chart above: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Dairy Export Council. 

Bottom line at tax time: Dairy is needed to pay the bills

Dairy is a tax-generating jobs machine, and it’s just one sector among many in agriculture. Tax time is a good time for policymakers to remember just how much they need us to pay the bills. Protecting and enhancing exports will ensure our state and federal governments get a big tax return from dairy for years to come.

Source: US Dairy Export Council

Collapse of small dairy farms devastates entire Wisconsin communities

Kyle Kurt fought to keep his emotions just below the surface as he talked about selling off his herd of Holstein dairy cows, which he’s milked twice a day, 365 days a year, through good times and bad.

Dairy farming has been Kurt’s livelihood, and his passion, since he graduated from Lodi High School 18 years ago. But come Monday, he’s having an auction to sell his cows, his milking equipment, his tractors and other farm machinery that he’s spent years acquiring. 

“It’s probably the toughest decision I have ever had to make,” Kurt said, “but I have been told it’s going to be a big weight lifted off my back.”

Scores of Wisconsin farmers are in a similar predicament. And with them, a way of life that has defined much of the state for more than a century and a half is disintegrating. 

With collapsed prices of milk, grain and other commodities, farmers are losing money no matter how many 16-hour days they put in milking cows, caring for livestock, and planting and harvesting crops. 

“It’s pretty tough waking up every morning, going to the barn, and not being able to pay your bills, especially when you’re putting in that many hours,” Kurt said. “Something’s got to change or the small farms are going to be gone.”

Entire communities are falling apart as small farms go under, said John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders, a Madison based advocacy group.

Grain mills, car dealerships and hardware stores suffer. The local tax base erodes. Churches and schools struggle or close.

“The multiplier effect on the rural economy is huge. It’s why you are seeing all these boarded-up small towns,” Peck said.

Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year, putting the total number of milk-cow herds at around 7,600 — down 20% from five years ago. Wochit

“Drive around Wisconsin and you will see empty barns all over,” said Elizabeth Schlintz, a dairy farmer from Bangor and a lender with a community bank. 

Unless something is done to save small family farms, she said, they will “be a thing of the past within the next few years.”

Small dairy farms have been disappearing from the rural landscape for decades, but the problem has been compounded by a sharp decline in farm-milk prices that’s now in its third year and has spread across the country.

Farm cooperatives have urged members to think twice about adding more cows to their operations when the marketplace is awash in milk. Some have even offered incentives for members to quit farming altogether. 

Federal court data shows the Western District of Wisconsin had the highest number of Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies in the nation in 2017, and that’s only a glimpse into the problem since Chapter 12 is a relatively rare tool used in bankruptcies. 

Farmers say the downturn is worse than one they experienced in 2009 because it’s lasted longer and their costs are higher now. Many dairy operations are drowning in debt; and in some cases, they have a half-million dollars in unpaid bills. 

“You need a good year to make up for what you lost,” Kurt said, figuring that he’s used up about $150,000 in his farm equity to weather this downturn.

“It’s at the point where it would be reckless for me to keep going and burn through everything I have worked for the last 18 years,” he added.

Schlintz and others said the stress level for farmers and their families is punishing.

“Farmer suicide numbers are going up now too,” Peck said. “Every time the phone rings I am worried about another farm going bankrupt or someone feeling suicidal.”

Some farmers cover up taking their own life by making it look like a farm accident, said Joel Greeno, president of Family Farm Defenders and a farmer near Kendall in southwest Wisconsin.

“These guys start thinking they’re worth more dead than alive, so their families can collect the insurance,” he said.

Legal wrangling

Bruce Drinkman of Glenwood City has been down the road that Kurt wants to avoid, a troubled path that involved bankruptcy and a lot of personal pain. 

Drinkman’s farm, named Desperation Acres, was foreclosed on a few days before Christmas in 2010.

He and his wife, Mari, used her retirement fund to pay off some loans and keep their organic dairy operation of 55 milk cows afloat for a while — but it wasn’t enough.

After nearly three years of legal wrangling in bankruptcy court, clinging to the hope of getting a fresh start, they gave up. 

“If you don’t have a good attorney, you are asking for a boatload of trouble,” Drinkman said about fighting to save a farm through the court system.

“You can really get screwed over.”

He had purchased Desperation Acres from his father, who purchased it from his father. Bruce and Mari raised five children on the farm, which had 140 acres of fresh, verdant pasture for the cows. 

At times, their milk price was sufficient to carve out a decent living in the hill country west of Eau Claire. But there were hard times, Drinkman said, including an especially bad downturn in the 1980s. 

“And what’s going on now is making that time look good,” he said.

As they struggled to keep their farm going, Mari battled leukemia and Bruce got a serious shoulder injury that sidelined him from some of the heavy, physical work. 

The couple eventually sold their cows, and Mari died last Christmas Eve at age 59.

Last fall, Bruce worked on another dairy farm for a while. But he quit after the farm owner complained about him taking three weeks off to care for his critically ill wife.

“I just walked away,” he said.

A lot of small farms in his area are gone now, Drinkman said, wiped out by round after round of low commodity prices, rising costs and the children of farmers not wanting to follow in their parents’ footsteps. 

“I mean, it’s scary,” he said.

More debt than ever

Schlintz and her husband, Alex, have a 60-cow dairy operation that they spent a lot of money on in 2015 — adding a barn and upgrading equipment — before the milk price crashed. 

If not for their off-the-farm income, she said, they would be in trouble like so many other dairy-farm families. 

“The dream of a mom-and-pop dairy, where the mom stays home with the kids, doesn’t exist anymore,” Schlintz said.

At least one spouse, she said, has to work off the farm to get health insurance. 

Often, farmers are land-rich but cash-poor, meaning their property may be worth millions, but their income isn’t sufficient to cover all of their expenses and loan payments. 

Chapter 12 bankruptcy was created by Congress following the farm crisis of the 1980s, specifically for farms and commercial fishermen. It allows farmers to “cram down” secured debt, such as land mortgages, to a more affordable level. 

The debt limit for a Chapter 12 filing is $4,135,150.

“At one time, that was a lot of money for a farmer. But today, in just one generation, there are many farms with more debt than that,” said David Krekeler, a Madison attorney who handles farm bankruptcies. 

“The other qualifications for Chapter 12 aren’t that difficult to meet,” Krekeler said, and it can pave the way to a fresh start.

“If you weren’t an optimist, you wouldn’t be a farmer,” he said.

Most farmers use other means to sort out their finances, such as selling their livestock but hanging on to their crops.

“I am getting five or 10 calls a day from guys looking to sell,” said Cory Bidlingmaier with B&M Auctions in Browntown.

“One farmer, who sold out a week ago, told me that he was making more money from a part-time job milking somebody else’s cows than he could milking his own 80 cows,” Bidlingmaier said. 

Many farmers will fight “tooth and nail” to keep from quitting, said Mike Lochner, an economic specialist with the Wisconsin Farm Center that’s part of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

“But we strongly advise them to preserve what equity they have left,” he said. “At least then they can get a fresh start.”

That’s what Kurt plans to do after Monday’s auction.  

He’s already had multiple job offers, including one on a larger farm, and he plans to keep his hand in agriculture by raising some beef cattle and crops.

“One door closes and, hopefully, another one opens,” he said.

Kurt says he will miss milking the cows, and even the long days when he harvested crops in the middle of the night and then milked the cows a couple of hours later at five in the morning. 

He wouldn’t be quitting if he could make ends meet. 

“We are going on three years of this. That’s the problem,” he said. 

He was only 20 years old when, in 2001, he bought a small herd of cows from a farm he had worked on. It was a natural step after he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course aimed at helping young farmers.

“It’s all I know, really, all I have done my whole life,” he said. 

“Most farmers just love doing the work … but no one should have this much stress. I have been through the wringer the last few years.”


2018 Holstein Canada Annual Meeting Highlights

The 134th Annual General meeting of Holstein Canada was held in Quebec City in the province of Quebec today.  Here are some highlights from the business session:

  • Jacobs Goldwyn Britany (Ex-96-2E-7*) was named Holstein Canada “Cow of the Year” for 2018. Britany is bred and owned by Ferme Jacobs Inc., Cap-Sante, Que.

    Anne Louise Carson gave her CEO report and highlighted that 2017 was a very successful year with an increase in classification from 241,469 to 245,940 animals in 2017 showing a 2% increase. Members remained steady with a slight decrease however registrations had an increase of over 8000 registrations with Ontario and Quebec showing the biggest increase overall to contribute to the final 3% increase from 2016. Holstein Canada set a new record for registrations of 294,249 in 2017. In the classification program, 263,057 animals (Holstein and other breeds) were classified in 14,713 herd visits. The number of genomic tests performed by Holstein Canada was down to 18,233.

  • Gerald Schipper gave the financial report and noted the revenue from 2017 was up from 2016 by 772,088 with Expenses only up slightly from 2016 at 274,986. These revenues exceeded budget by 6% and expenses came right in on budget for 2017. The association reported a deficit of 406,045 for 2017. Development fund was well under budget at 13% under. The reserve fund is strong at a total balance of $5,133,887 with a respectable annual return of 3%. The outlook for 2018 is calling for a 4% increase in revenues and stable expenses. These initiatives focus on core services and have the potential for cost reduction, increase revenues and value-added benefits for our members for years to come.
  • Ann Louise noted the importance of moving on and noted that Holstein Canada’s role more than ever is to offer services and tools which bring added value to Canadian dairy producers. She mentioned the evolving partnerships with DFO, Canwest CDN and Valacta as well as the AI companies who continue to help improve our breed.
  • Both Holstein Canada President Orville Schmidt and CEO Ann Louise Carson stressed that “standing still” is not an option for the Association and that it needs to continue to evolve and ensure its services bring added value to members. “Technology is the cornerstone of dairying today and Holstein Canada needs to go down this path with its members. This is not the Association of the past,” said Carson. The challenge, she said, will be how to involve technology, but never lose the “people” part of the Association.
  • Ann Louise outlined 2018 priorities:
    • Proaction cattle assessments working on transitioning success of current contract as DFC service provider into further collaboration.
    • Continued technological enhancements and tweaking of core services to add value to customers
    • Continued collaboration with industry partners and other breeds
    • Continued enhancements to our programs
  • Jacobs Goldwyn Britany (Ex-96-2E-7*) was named Holstein Canada “Cow of the Year” for 2018. Britany is bred and owned by Ferme Jacobs Inc., Cap-Sante, Que.
  • The century of Holstein Awards were given out to Donovan, Island Blend and Maple Grove. The certificate of recognition was handed out to Jean Touchette of Quebec the breeder of Duregal Astre Starbuck and Doug Blair received the Certificate of Accomplishment. Tonight 20 MasterBreeders will be recognized during the gala. They include: Alley, Camphols, Cavanalack, Darwell, Doanlea, Florbil, Hyljon, Krul, Lesperee, Loyalyn, Mabel, Mactalla, Oostview, Outaouais, Pennview, Petitclerc, Rickeen, Seric, Spendcroft and Zimmer.
  • Harry Van der Linden of Lindenright Holsteins, Brierly Brook, Nova Scotia, has been elected President of the Holstein Association of Canada for 2018. His election came at a Board of Directors meeting held following the Association’s Annual Meeting on April 14th in Quebec City, Quebec. Elected as Vice-President and Board Chairman for the coming year was Gerald Schipper of Skipwell Holsteins, Aylmer, Ontario. Élyse Gendron of Val-Bisson Holstein, Saint-Polycarpe, Que., was elected Second Vice-President.
  • Four By-law amendments were approved. The most significant was an amendment that now allows Young Leader delegates the right to vote at the Annual Meeting in the year in which they are Young Leader Convention delegates.
  • In the Classification Advisory Committee update to members, Chairman Ben Cuthbert reported that: 1) Changes will be coming in the classification program in the ideals for Bone Quality and in the weighting for Height at Front-End; 2) Research will be conducted in the Feet and Legs area on the traits of Foot Composite and Front Leg View; 3) Under Dairy Strength, the trait of Angularity on the score card will be changed to Dairy Capacity, and the ideal codes for Stature and Chest Width will be modified; 4) Holstein Canada is looking at the viability of offering heifer evaluations; and 5) The Association will be asking to have Rump Angle included as part of the LPI formula. More information on these changes will be included in the next Info Holstein.
  • In the Show Committee update, Chairman Nancy Beerwort reported on several items. In regard to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in 2018, there will be a Red & White Show, the size of the Ring of Excellence is being examined, and there will be no exhibitors meeting. Ari Ekstein has been appointed to the Royal Board of Directors. Named to the Royal Judges ballot for the 2019 Red & White Show are Scott Brethet, Joel Lepage and Chad Ryan, while on the Holstein Show ballot for 2019 are Thierry Jaton, Carl Phoenix and Jeff Stephens. A new procedure will be used for Royal judge voting with ballots now being sent electronically. In the area of show ethics, enforcement rules for spot painting of animals and the use of electricity stimulating machines will now be in effect. The Show Committee is also looking at updating show ethics documents. The committee is continuing to look at class structure at shows; over-uddering; the use of Associate Judges for larger shows; how to communicate better with provincial branches; and the possibility of forming an Adhoc National Judges Committee.
  • Twelve resolutions were considered at the meeting, with half of these dealing with “shows”. Eleven of the 12 resolutions were passed by a majority vote and one ended in a tie (number 5). All will now go to the Board of Directors for further consideration and action:
    1. That genotyping be offered as part of an animal’s registration process.
    2. That Holstein Canada improve the look of its award certificates.
    3. That Holstein Canada look into establishing a new award that would recognize cows who have classified a minimum of 83 points and have completed six lactations.
    4. That all unclassified females, over 30 days in milk, and with registered sons, be classified and not marked as “out of condition”.
    5. In an effort to widen the genetic pool and identify high genetic families, Holstein Canada was asked to investigate whether it would be possible to identify: a) the families of sires that produce great female lines, but not males; and b) families whose offspring are only average producers early in life, but have exceptional later lactations and lifetime production. (Tie vote)
    6. That haplotype information on animals be added to extended pedigrees and published on Holstein Canada’s website.
    7. That Holstein Canada explore the possibility of adjusting the structure of shows, with any changes reviewed by members.
    8. That Holstein Canada support, with continued discussion, the efforts of Atlantic Canada as they make changes to the class structure of their Atlantic shows in an effort to grow, strengthen and make shows more relevant to the industry.
    9. That Holstein Canada investigate the possibility of having show classes based on the age of the animal at the time of the show, instead of using their birthdate.
    10. That Holstein Canada conduct a study of show ages to find the best ages for heifers that would support junior programs and marketing in the future, and that Holstein Canada involve provincial branches in this study and also approach Holstein Association USA with the goal of making this study a North American initiative.
    11. Because of large class sizes and insufficient space in the Ring of Excellence at the Royal Winter Fair, Holstein Canada and the Royal Show Committee were asked to investigate alternative options to the current show schedule for junior and intermediate calves at the Royal.
    12. That Breeder’s Cup competition results (champion and first place in each class) be published on extended pedigrees on Holstein Canada’s website
  • Norm McNaughton the President of CDN addressed the assembly with high regards and mention of the people involved with the partnerships formed. Norm McNaughton said, “I think it is a great tribute to our industry that these boards were able to come together and had the foresight to say WE instead of ME.”

Government of Canada Invests to Strengthen the Dairy Industry

Canadian milk and dairy products are world-renowned for their excellence, variety and high-quality, thanks to farmers and processors who follow the highest standards for safety, quality, and animal welfare. A strong and competitive dairy industry is vital to Canada’s prosperity, creating good jobs, growing the middle class, and bringing high-quality dairy products to the tables of consumers here in Canada and around the world. 

Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, speaking at the Dairy Farmers of Quebec Annual General Meeting, today announced an investment of over $2.2 million under the Growing Forward 2, AgriMarketing Program, to assist the Dairy Farmers of Canada roll out an on-farm customer assurance program and a national traceability system for the dairy sector.


Canada’s dairy farmers are a pillar for growth, job creation, and innovation across the country. The Government of Canada is proud to invest in the dairy sector to help increase consumer confidence in Canadian dairy products, while ensuring our farmers continue to deliver safe, high quality milk and dairy products.
– Jean-Claude Poissant, Member of Parliament for La Prairie

“Dairy farmers are proud of the care that goes into the nutritious and quality milk they produce for Canadians, which is why we are so pleased by today’s announcement. The government has shown their commitment to working with dairy farmers to provide consumers with the knowledge that we have very high standards in Canada for dairy cattle traceability, so they can better understand where their food comes from.”
– Pierre Lampron, President of Dairy Farmers of Canada

Quick Facts

  • The Dairy Farmers of Canada represents more than 12,000 dairy producers across the country who account for more than $6 billion in cash receipts. It is fully industry supported and provides national policy and promotions representing all dairy sectors.
  • Both projects were funded under the Growing Forward 2, AgriMarketing program, which provides support to national associations for the development of assurance systems or standards, such as food safety, traceability and plant and animal health surveillance systems, and market attributes/quality standards.
  • Under the first project, DFC received $1,094,789 to implement the ProAction Initiative, developed to help the dairy industry increase compliance, and responds to key issues for consumers today. 
  • Under the second project, DFC received $1,033,010 to develop and implement a national traceability program for the dairy sector, enabling dairy farms to meet national traceability regulatory requirements.
  • The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal-provincial and territorial governments, which will strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. The Partnership replaced Growing Forward 2 which ended in April 2018.


Source: Newswire

2018 Farm Bill Could Better Safety Net For Wisconsin Dairy Producers

Wisconsin dairy farmers could see more changes to a federal safety net program under the 2018 Farm Bill.

Republican Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas, chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the House of Representatives, released the first version of the legislation Thursday.

The proposed bill would reduce premiums paid by dairy producers for coverage under the Margin Protection Program (MPP).

Congress already reduced MPP premiums and made the program more responsive to actual milk prices in the Bipartisan Budget Act in February. Farmers have disliked the program almost since its conception because it has not provided aid to producers over the last several years of lower milk prices.

John Holevoet, director of government relations for Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, said it’s clear lawmakers want to continue to rebrand the unpopular program, going so far as to change its name to the Dairy Risk Management Program (DRMP).

“It’s a cosmetic change, so to speak, but I think it does matter,” Holevoet said. “It’d be hard to see a lot of people wanting to get back in on the Margin Protection Program. I’m not convinced that there will be that broad of enrollment in this program either.”

But Holevoet and other dairy analysts think lawmakers are proposing some key changes to the safety net program in the new legislation.

Large farms would have more say about how much of their milk production they want to cover under the program, therefore accessing lower costing premiums. Farmers would also be allowed to enroll milk production not covered by DRMP in the Livestock Gross Margin protection program, giving them more diverse protections against low milk prices.

“All of the things that would be changes here are likely to make this better for dairy farmers but also more expensive in terms of what it may cost Congress to fund a bill like this,” said Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Stephenson said the legislation is just a starting point for Congress and lawmakers will likely make many changes to the bill before it even gets to the House floor. But he said Congress may be willing to spend a bit more on the program, given that dairy producers have received less federal aid than other commodities under the current farm bill.


DFA breaks ground on retail store in Utah

“The Creamery” Will Offer Visitors a Unique Dairy Destination

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national cooperative owned by family farmers, broke ground for the construction of a new retail store, The Creamery, in Beaver, Utah, which will replace the existing cheese store currently on the site of DFA’s Beaver City processing plant.


Slated for opening in late 2018, the new, 11,250-square-foot store, located near the intersection of Interstate 15 and Interstate 70, will be more than four times the size of the original cheese store and will feature expanded retail space, greater product selection and an interactive, educational experience about dairy for visitors. The new location also will have greater visibility from Interstate 15, which should increase consumer traffic and sales.

“Our farmers are proud of the dairy products they produce each and every day, and The Creamery will reflect this by bringing the freshness of the farm and the Utah region to life, as all the milk comes from local farms and is processed into cheese just steps away from the store right here in Beaver City,” says Dennis Rodenbaugh, senior vice president and chief operating officer of DFA’s Western Fluid Group. “This will not be your typical convenience stop along the highway. With the use of natural woods and metals, which harken back to the farm, The Creamery will be a dairy destination and perfectly on trend with what consumers today are looking for, which is knowing where their food comes from.”

The Creamery will offer a variety of dairy products, including cheese curds, artisanal cheeses, ice cream, convenience items and more. The new location also will feature a full-service café serving breakfast and lunch. Menu items will include fresh-made sandwiches and other dairy-based selections showcasing the cheeses made at the DFA Beaver City plant, which has been a fixture in the area for more than 60 years.

“We could not be more excited about continuing our long-standing relationship with DFA through the construction of The Creamery,” says Matt Robinson, mayor of Beaver City. “Both the plant and cheese store have been incredibly positive for our community, and we look forward to creating even more local business with The Creamery.”

In fact, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development also has offered support and approved a $50,000 fast- track grant to help fund The Creamery. The new location is anticipated to create jobs for approximately 10 new employees, in addition to the 12 employees who will move to the new space from the existing store.

The Creamery’s groundbreaking ceremony kicked off with a welcome from local dairy farmer and DFA Mountain Area Council Chairman Brian Hardy of Brigham City, Utah. Mayor Matt Robinson and Dennis Rodenbaugh of DFA also thanked key project contributors and expressed their overall excitement about The Creamery’s future opening.


The Canadian Dairy Commission invests in the development of a qualified workforce for the dairy sector

The Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC) supports the dairy industry in recruiting and training a highly skilled, diverse workforce to meet the current and future needs of our dairy producing and processing sectors.


Today, the CDC launched the Workforce Development Initiative (WDI) – a three-year, $5 million investment to support the attraction and education of a qualified workforce in the Canadian dairy industry. The WDI is composed of four key funding programs:

  1. Scholarship Program: scholarships for graduate students in fields related to the dairy industry
  2. Career Promotion Program: promotion of careers in the dairy industry
  3. Education Program: creation of government-certified, full-time educational programs in order to train qualified staff to work in dairy plants
  4. Continuing Education Program: opportunities for continuing education for current dairy plant and farm staff

Organizations eligible for funding include industry associations and learning institutions. The CDC will evaluate applications during the summer and funding will start in the fall.


“The CDC’s Workforce Development Initiative will help attract new and qualified workers to the dairy sector, which is of vital importance to remain competitive and foster continuous innovation. Canada’s dairy sector creates good jobs, helping to grow the middle class, strengthening the economy, and ensuring that Canadian families enjoy our country’s high-quality dairy products.”

Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“When we consulted representatives of the dairy industry, they were quite clear that one of their major challenges now and in the years to come, is to attract and retain qualified workers, especially in the cheese plants. We hope that this initiative will help attract young people into this exciting industry.”

– Mr. Alistair Johnston, Chairman, Canadian Dairy Commission  

Quick facts

  • The milk processing industry ships $15.2 million in products and employs about 22,900 people in 471 plants.
  • The Canadian dairy sector includes 10,951 farms where 945,000 cows produce close to 8.5 billion litres of milk per year.
  • The Canadian Dairy Commission, a Crown corporation created in 1966, is a key facilitator within the Canadian dairy sector. The CDC helps design, implement, and administer policies and programs to support milk producers and processors. It is mandated to provide efficient milk producers with the opportunity to get a fair return on their labour and investment, and to ensure that Canadian consumers are provided with adequate supplies of quality dairy products.

Associated links

Follow us on Twitter: @CDC_Dairy

SOURCE Canadian Dairy Commission

Perdue Pleased with New Margin Protection Program for Dairy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reopened enrollment for the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. Signup for the 2018 coverage year will run from now until June 1. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says he was very pleased that Congress was able to “plus up” the program.

“It was not very effective as it was, but we hope this better program will be recognized by the producers to be helpful. Dairies, certainly smaller dairies under 350 cows, (are under) a lot of stress right now. They are probably operating in the red, and that puts a lot of stress emotionally and psychologically on farm families.”

John Newton, market intelligence director for the American Farm Bureau Federation, agrees that changes needed to be made because the program didn’t work during its first two years of existence. He explained some important modifications to the program under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

“Increasing the catastrophic coverage level from 4 to 5 million pounds, and then making the program trigger monthly instead of every two month period. Combined, it makes the program much more affordable and timelier in terms of delivering program payments to dairy farmers.”

Newton says the improved MPP provides dairy farmers with tools they need to successfully run their business.

“It gives dairy farmers an opportunity to go back, pencil out, and see if MPP would work for them for the 2018 coverage year. The secretary did make coverage retroactive for all of 2018, providing important safety net protection for dairy farmers during this time of low milk prices.”

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. That tool can be found here.


SourceHoosier Ag Today

Moving Toward a National Solution for Dairy Cattle Traceability: DairyTrace

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) and Canadian Dairy Network (CDN) are very pleased with the significant progress made towards achieving the dairy cattle industry goal of a national traceability system, called DairyTrace.

Dairy farmers want to provide consumers with the knowledge that we have very high standards in Canada for dairy cattle traceability, so they can better understand where their food comes from. DairyTrace will deliver on this as it will track movement of animals and speed up reactions if an animal health emergency occurs. Originally initiated by the DFC Board of Directors in 2016, DairyTrace is supported today by various dairy groups and builds on the expertise of CDN, which already provides several data management and information services for Canadian dairy cattle of all breeds. In September 2017, CFIA confirmed that CDN meets the qualification criteria required to become a Responsible Administrator, as defined under federal regulations. Today, funding was announced that has been approved through the Assurance Systems stream of the Agri-Marketing Program under Growing Forward 2, to bring DairyTrace one step closer to reality.

”We would like to thank Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) for the funding that helped initiate the development of the DairyTrace solution”, said Pierre Lampron, DFC president. “We look forward to being able to tell dairy farmers that DairyTrace is open for business within the year, and in maintaining this important working relationship with the federal government in years to come.”  

“We also want to draw attention to the recent agreement between CDN and Agri-Traçabilité Québec (ATQ) as the contracted data management service provider”, said Norm McNaughton, CDN Board Chairman. “The AGTWeb platform is well recognized for its outstanding functions related to the three pillars of traceability, namely animal identification, premise identification and tracking of animal movement, as well as disease surveillance traceback. All these functions are important to achieving our high expectations for the useful and critical role that traceability performs in DFC’s customer assurance initiative, proAction.”

About Canadian Dairy Network

CDN is the national genetic evaluation centre for dairy cattle and provides data management and information services to Canadian dairy producers and member organizations including breed associations, dairy herd improvement agencies, A.I. organizations and Dairy Farmers of Canada.

About Dairy Farmers of Canada

Founded in 1934, DFC is the national organization representing Canadian dairy farmers striving to create favourable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry. Working within supply management, DFC promotes, as part of a healthy diet, safe, high quality, sustainable, and nutritious Canadian dairy products made from 100% Canadian milk through various marketing, nutrition, policy and lobbying initiatives. Driven by a strong sense of community, pride, and a commitment to improve the health of Canadians, DFC and Canadian dairy farmers actively support a number of local and national initiatives.

Young Dairy Leaders Institute Accepting Applications for Class 11

Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI) is the cornerstone program of the Holstein Foundation. YDLI is a nationally recognized three-phase leadership and communication skills development program for young adults working in the dairy industry. YDLI’s three-phase approach ensures participants develop necessary leadership skills, apply those skills in real-life scenarios, and then focus on the benefits of influential leadership.

YDLI has over 600 alumni that can attest to its merit. The Holstein Foundation is seeking young adults, ages 22-45, with a passion for the dairy industry to apply for the upcoming eleventh YDLI class. Applications are due August 1, 2018 and may be downloaded from the Holstein Foundation website at 

Recent graduate Ashley Sears Randle says, “From dynamic presenters and workshops, to the opportunity to network with individuals from the U.S. and world, YDLI reaffirmed and re-energized my passion for the dairy industry. I am now better equipped to tackle the tough questions, share my story with consumers, and work collaboratively with my fellow YDLI Class 10 graduates, advisory board, and allied industry members to affect positive change. We have both the opportunity and challenge to make forward progress as our industry continues to evolve, and I am confident that YDLI has provided me with the skills, knowledge, and connections to make a significant impact.” 

Dairy producers working with all breeds of dairy cattle, and allied dairy industry members, are encouraged to apply. YDLI Class 11 will have on-site meetings in Phoenix, Ariz. February 6-9, 2019 and February 5-8, 2020.

Phase I is focused on individual leadership and personal development. During Phase II, participants complete a series of assignments in their community, which emphasizes the advocacy and outreach skills gained during Phase I. Phase III features sessions on advanced communications training, influencing public policy and continued advocacy and leadership. Throughout the program, an emphasis is placed on networking with industry peers, a benefit that carries on long after a YDLI class is complete. 

“The greatest thing I see YDLI graduates take away is a boost in confidence. We challenge them to do some things they never have before, and when they achieve their goals, it lights a fire in them to do more,” Jodi Hoynoski, Holstein Foundation staff, states. 

Join the growing group of individuals who call YDLI the opportunity of a lifetime! Visit to download the YDLI Class 11 application, as well as view more detailed information on the program. With questions or for more information, contact Jodi Hoynoski via email, or 800.952.5200, ext. 4261

The Holstein Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 1989. It is headquartered in Brattleboro, Vermont, and shares office space with its parent organization, Holstein Association USA, Inc.

The Holstein Foundation’s education, leadership development and outreach programs serve both youth and young adults across the country who are involved with all breeds of dairy cattle.


Michigan dairy farm shutters amid industry oversupply

A Michigan dairy farmer has auctioned off his herd of 230 cows after he was unable to absorb losses brought by the state’s oversupply of milk.

Daybreak Dairy in Ottawa County shuttered after dairy farmer Nate Elzinga, 32, and his family couldn’t keep up with maintenance costs for their herd, the Grand Rapids Press reported.

“We just aren’t getting paid enough for our milk,” Elzinga said. “It’s supply and demand.”

Elzinga said his herd is now considered small by industry standards. The farm could no longer compete with larger operations.

The state’s milk production has spiked in recent years, with 428,000 cows producing 871 million pounds of milk in February, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Michigan’s herd is growing faster than the demand because of the state’s temperate climate and abundance of water and pastures. Cows are also producing more milk due to improved genetics and nutrition programs.

The root of the problem lies in the relatively low prices Michigan farmers make for their milk, said David Bennett, a ring manager for United Producers Inc., which helped Elzinga auction his herd.

Michigan farmers make between $1 and $2 less per hundred pounds of milk than farmers in other parts of the Midwest.

Milk must be shipped and processed within hours because it’s a highly perishable product. Distributors take the lowest prices.

Some farmers dump their milk instead of absorbing the extra cost of shipping it to processors outside Michigan, Bennett said.

Out-of-state processors are also moving into Michigan to take advantage of the oversupply.

“It’s tough right now,” said Roger Headley, a dairy farmer who attended Elzinga’s auction. “You don’t make enough to pay the bills.”

Source: Detroit Free Press 

The other big business that keeps dairy farmers going

Every year dairy farmers and their most-prized cattle ascend on the New York State Fairgrounds.

But competition aside, there’s a business you might not know about operating here too.

“The industry of dairy farming is kind of supported by a secondary industry for artificial insemination,” said Kevin Ziemba of ZBW Farm.

Ziemba has a passion for cows and their genes.

He says it’s simple: the best-bred bulls produce the best milk, and his job is to help farmers with that process.

“Help them select the best genetics for their farm, but also give them the management tools to make their farms more economically-beneficial,” explained Ziemba.

“Straws are actually stored on the farm in what we call a semen keg,” explained Ziemba, “and semen within a semen keg and it’s actually stored in liquid nitrogen.”

Kevin’s wife Barb goes to farms across New York State selling it.

“One day I dropped off about 6,000 dollars worth of semen to one farm and they milk just over a thousand cows,” said Ziemba.

The couple says this industry might seem crazy-but good cows mean good profits for New York farmers.

“A wholesome product that will be used by the general public for the next generation,” said Ziemba.


Source: CNYCentral

Competition to boost Australia’s milk price: Rabobank

Dairy farmers are set to see a boost in their income as the two overseas giants that now dominate Australia’s milk industry slug it out, a new report says.

Strong competition between dairy giants Saputo and Fonterra for milk supply is expected to boost the price farmers receive for their milk next year, says agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

Rabobank says low prices for dairy commodities will likely result in a lower base farmgate milk price but strong competition for milk supply will result in higher premiums flowing to farmers.

 Canadian dairy processor Saputo will try to claw back milk supply lost by its newly acquired Murray Goulburn, which suffered an exodus of farmer suppliers when it unexpectedly slashed its what it paid farmers in April 2016.

Rabobank says smaller, newer dairy players also will be trying to secure milk supply.

“At the frontline of this battle are the two large international companies butting heads over milk supply as Saputo looks to win back milk supply and Fonterra maps out capacity expansions,” Rabobank senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey said on Tuesday.

Rabobank expects a base farmgate milk price of $5.40 per kilogram of milk solids in 2018/19 – down slightly from $5.60/kgMS, with prices likely to be conservative at the start of the season but improve over the following year.

Mr Harvey said the higher prices to farmers are unlikely to push up the retail price of milk in the near term.

With consumers already facing higher living costs, supermarkets were pushing their own private labels to keep prices low.

“There’s nothing to suggest that we’re going to see a big jump in retail prices,” Mr Harvey said.

“You will see, with the Saputo acquisition of Murray Goulburn, a change of ownership of brands at the retail shelf, but in terms of the product offering or the price, I wouldn’t think there will be any major changes in the short term.”


Source: SBS News 

New Canadian front of the package labeling could be damaging to the dairy industry

While trade deals have had Canadian dairy farmers concerned about losing market share domestically, a recent proposal to change food package labeling could potentially be more damaging to the industry.

Health Canada launched consultations in February for its proposed new front-of-packaging labeling. The proposal, part of Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, would include new warning labels on the fronts of products sold in Canada for foods that are high in saturated fats, sugars and sodium.

“Our concern is that many Canadians would actually put that product back down if they see a warning label on it. So it would impact our markets domestically,” David Wiens, chair of Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (DFM), said Wednesday at Headingley, Man. during one of the group’s four spring meetings.

Wiens said he has heard such a proposal could negatively impact the Canadian dairy industry by as much as $800 million.

While milk would get a pass from the proposed labels, other dairy products such as cheeses and yogurts will not, which has the Canadian dairy industry concerned.

“It’s intuitively wrong where you would have nutrient-dense foods that Canadians rely on for (their) healthy eating strategy, would now come with warning labels,” Wiens said.

Under the Health Canada proposal, he said, many dairy products would fall into the category of being too high in sodium or saturated fats. For example, sodium is used in the aging of cheese.

Products such as flavoured milks and yogurts would also see labels placed on them, but products like soda with aspartame would not.

“It’s a rather simplistic way and what they’re doing then is they’re ignoring the level of essential nutrients that these nutrient-dense foods that are dairy contain, because they’re simply focused on those bottom three.”

Health Canada, in a release, cited research that Canadians consume “too much” of these nutrients, with eight out of 10 Canadians consuming too much sodium and “almost one in two” Canadians eat too much saturated fat.

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) has been lobbying against the proposals stating the science doesn’t make sense. According to Wiens, research completed by DFC and partly funded by the federal government has been dismissed, as Health Canada has said it is biased.

There have been outside voices speaking out against the proposals, including Dr. Andrew Samis, general surgeon and critical care specialist at Quinte Health Care at Belleville General Hospital in Ontario.

According to Wiens, Dr. Samis has said if the new labelling is implemented, he could have patients buying products he has recommended for them with labels saying such products aren’t good for them.

“That’s the concern that’s being raised by people like that… I’m at least hoping they’re having some impact about getting the message out (that) Health Canada really needs to rethink their healthy eating strategy here,” Wiens said.

DFM members at the meeting were encouraged to speak out against the front-of-package labelling plan and to visit for more information.

Health Canada’s consultation runs until April 26.


Source: Country Guide

Family-Run Farm Sues FDA for Right to Say Skim Milk is Skim Milk

Does the government have the power to override common sense and force American businesses to lie to their consumers? According to a First Amendment lawsuit that South Mountain Creamery and the Institute for Justice (IJ) filed today against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in federal court, the answer is: Absolutely not.

For centuries, the general understanding of skim milk has been milk with the cream skimmed off. But in a regulation only Kafka could have written, the FDA has decided that skim milk can only be called “skim milk” if farmers add synthetic vitamins that consumers can naturally get from plenty of other drinks or foods. If farmers like Randy Sowers and his wife Karen of South Mountain Creamery want to sell pasteurized, all-natural skim milk without added chemicals, the federal government forces them to lie to customers by labelling it as “imitation skim milk” or “imitation milk product.”

“The government does not have the power to change the meaning of words or ignore common sense,” said Justin Pearson, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represents South Mountain Creamery in court. “The FDA is creating confusion where there was none whatsoever. People know what skim milk means, but they have no idea what ‘imitation milk product’ means. Pure, all-natural skim milk is not an ‘imitation’ of anything.”

The Sowers family operates South Mountain Creamery on their dairy farm near Frederick, Maryland. The creamery produces delicious milk, yogurt and cheese, among other tasty foods that the family-run business has been selling for years to eager customers in Maryland. Last fall, Randy contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to find out whether he could sell all-natural skim milk without added chemicals as “skim milk” in Pennsylvania. State officials have no objection to the commonsense use of the term, “skim milk,” but because Randy wants to sell in multiple states, they are forced to follow federal regulations. That means Randy’s plan is a no-go, thanks to the FDA. So he’s taking his fight to court.

“I just want to sell the purest, most natural skim milk possible without being forced to confuse my customers,” Randy said of the lawsuit. “I’ve already fought the federal government before, when the IRS stole my money using civil forfeiture. Now I’m ready to fight back against the federal government again for my right to honestly market my milk.”

This case is Randy’s second major fight with the federal government. In February 2012, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seized $60,000 from Randy’s farm for so-called “structuring.” Structuring laws were intended to target hardened criminals evading bank reporting laws to hide serious crimes but have been frequently applied against innocent small business owners guilty of nothing more than doing business in cash. The IRS returned Randy’s money and reformed its law enforcement practices after IJ intervened on Randy’s behalf.

With this new lawsuit, Randy aims to once again stop a federal agency from infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights. Milk contains healthy vitamins and minerals that are naturally stored in either water or fat. Because skim milk is made by removing the fat from whole milk, skim milk has more water-soluble nutrients like calcium but lacks fat-soluble vitamins A and D. The FDA requires dairy farmers to add synthetic versions of those lost vitamins to skim milk in order to label skim milk as “skim milk.” Without the fat of whole milk, the vitamins break down in skim milk before reaching consumers. In other words, the FDA manages to confuse American milk drinkers without providing any health benefits.

“The federal government should be in the business of protecting public health and safety, not forcing hardworking entrepreneurs to lie about their products,” said IJ attorney Anya Bidwell. “Pasteurized, all-natural skim is safe to drink and legal to sell. It’s time for the FDA to stop fighting common sense and allow farmers to market pure skim milk honestly to their customers.”

Today’s case is part of IJ’s National Food Freedom Initiative. This nationwide campaign brings property rights, economic liberty and free speech challenges to laws that interfere with the ability of Americans to produce, market, procure and consume the foods of their choice. Beyond defeating Florida’s FDA-inspired ban on accurately labeling all-natural skim milk, IJ has won a free speech challenge to Oregon’s raw milk advertising ban, and the Institute’s lawsuit against restrictions on Minnesotans’ right to sell home-baked goods led the state legislature to change the law.


Wisconsin cheese-maker reopens plant to help dairy farms as crisis deepens

Not many people get to save a family farm, let alone four of them, but cheese-makers Jay and John Noble may do just that. 

The Racine County brothers are reopening the Beechwood cheese plant near Adell, in Sheboygan County, that’s been closed for about a year. 

By most standards it’s a small plant, a two-man operation where the Nobles will make high-end organic cheese. 

But for a handful of dairy farms that were about to lose their milk buyer for the second time in two years, the plant is a lifeline that may keep them in business. 

“We will work hard for these farmers, as hard as they work on a daily basis,” Jay Noble said about buying their milk and turning it into Parmesan, Romano and other cheeses. 

The four farms, roughly in the Mayville area, were in a tough spot when Westby Cooperative Creamery, of Westby, said it was dropping them this month. 

“We must have called 50 to 75 plants and couldn’t find anybody looking for milk,” said Tom Weidmeyer, who milks about 120 cows. 

“I have never seen anything like this in my life,” he said, including the farm crisis of the 1980s that wiped out scores of small dairy operations. But even that stemmed from other economic factors, not a surplus of milk. 

“There was always one thing you could count on, and that was the milk guy would be here in the morning,” Weidmeyer said. 

For the last few years, however, Wisconsin’s dairy industry has been flooded with milk, some of it from as far away as Texas. Roughly 100 truckloads a day come into Wisconsin from Michigan, according to industry sources. 

Westby Creamery has bought milk from the four farms since they were dropped by another buyer about a year ago. But it also no longer needs them, and they aren’t members of the cooperative. 

“We just got oversupplied,” said Westby Creamery manager Pete Kondrup.

Wanting to keep the farms going, the creamery contacted Jay Noble to see if he would reopen his Beechwood plant and take the milk. 

Noble and his brother John are restarting the Beechwood cheese plant near Adell, in Sheboygan County. It’s a small plant, a two-man operation where the Nobles will make high-end organic cheese. The plan is to help a handful of dairy farms that are about to lose their milk buyer for the second time in two years. The plant may keep them in business. Wochit

He and his brother agreed to give it a try. 

“We were in the process of trying to sell the factory so that we could relocate our business closer to home in Racine County, down by Union Grove,” he said.

Now they’re rushing to get the plant up and running again this month, and that includes a mountain of paperwork and certification to make organic dairy products. 

“It’s nothing short of a miracle to get this all done in this time frame,” Jay Noble said.

In the interim, Westby has agreed to continue buying milk from the four farms. 

“None of them are going to have to sell their cows or anything like that. We are working with them to try and figure things out,” Kondrup said. 

Still, without the Nobles stepping up, these farmers could be in dire straits. 

Cows have to be milked 365 days a year, two or three times a day. There’s no “off switch” to shut things down when business slows or even ends.

“I hope this new cheese plant is long-term; otherwise I will be back in the same position I’ve been in,” said Tom Steinbach, who milks about 50 cows and has been an organic dairy farmer for 18 years.

“I don’t want to go through this a third time,” he said.

Jay Noble says he and his brother are going to make cheese for a retail customer they’re not yet ready to name, and they will also bring back some of the Beechwood products. 

“The milk is out there; we just have to start slow with farms that need us to take it. And as demand grows, I can see us taking on more farms, more milk, and more employees,” he said.

They may still sell the plant, Jay Noble said, but until then he’s going to keep it running. 

Noble’s family has been in agriculture for six generations. He grew up on a farm, and at one time had a milking operation of about 400 cows. A business he owned, Noble View Dairy, sought Chapter 12 bankruptcy protection in 2013, according to court records.

“I know what these farmers are going through, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” Noble  said. “If we can help them out, so they can keep doing what they love doing, then we certainly will. We were brought up to work until the job is done, so we’re prepared for this.”

A year ago this month, dozens of Wisconsin dairy farms lost their milk buyer and were nearly forced out of business when Grassland Dairy Products, of Greenwood, dropped them because it lost millions of dollars of business in Canada.

A deep downturn in what farmers are paid for their milk has spread across the country, with many farms losing money and burning through their savings at a rapid clip. 

“It was really hard during Grassland, and now a year later it’s even worse,” said Carrie Mess, a dairy farmer from Watertown and author of the blog Dairy Carrie.

“I know of several farms in our neighborhood that are selling out now. They are just done,” Mess said.

The Mess farm belongs to a cooperative that, so far, has successfully navigated the worst of the dairy crisis and hasn’t had to stop accepting milk. 

“I feel like we’re fairly stable. But feeling that way is one thing, and knowing it is something else,” Mess said.

Farm cooperatives have urged members to think twice about adding more cows to their operations when the marketplace is awash in milk. Some have even offered incentives for members to quit farming altogether. 

“If you look at what’s happened over the last 20 years, as farms have gotten bigger and bigger, there’s more of an oversupply issue,” said Darin Von Ruden, president of Wisconsin Farmers Union. 

“It’s not caused by the small and medium-size farms that have maintained the same number of animals,” he added.

Thursday, Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative based in La Farge, posted its first annual financial loss in 20 years.

Gross sales topped $1 billion, but Organic Valley had an after-tax loss of $10 million.

“Excess supply of both organic and conventional milk put tremendous pressure on American farmers,” the cooperative said. 

The stress on farm families also is considerable. A New England cooperative recently included suicide prevention letters with its milk checks because three of its members had killed themselves.

Some farmers cover up their suicide as a farm accident, said Joel Greeno, president of the group Family Farm Defenders and a farmer near Kendall in southwest Wisconsin.

“These guys start thinking they’re worth more dead than alive, so their families can collect the insurance,” he said.

Greeno quit milking cows about four years ago when the financial strain was taking a heavy toll on him and his family.

Still, he misses the animals, the barn chores and the daily milking routine.

“If it weren’t for trying to save my marriage, I probably wouldn’t have sold the cows until I absolutely had to,” he said.

He said some farmers can’t even cover their daily living expenses.

“You go to bed at night crying because you don’t know what to do. … There’s not much to look forward to when it’s this bad,” Greeno said.

Source: Journal Sentinal

The rise of organic for small dairy companies

The 2018 event saw almost 3,000 exhibitors and 10,000 delegates from more than 130 countries in attendance.

Of the visitors, more than 90% are involved in purchasing for their companies, and 45% of those in attendance were seeking out new products, according to Biofach’s post-event survey.

While not all of the companies attending were in the dairy industry, there were many companies with dairy or dairy-alternative products.

What companies are saying

DairyReporter spoke with three companies in attendance about being a smaller company in the organic sector, what challenges there are and how those challenges can become opportunities.

La Via Lattea is an Italian company established in 1989, and was the first company to introduce packaged organic ice cream in Italy.

In addition to organic ice cream, the company also has a VeganIce range of almond-based vegan frozen desserts, and was one of the first companies to enter the vegan ice-cream-alternative space.

From the Netherlands, Ghee Easy is a small company selling the organic cooking product ghee.  The organic butter oil they produce is lactose free, and comes in a variety of sizes and flavors including rosemary and Indian spice.  The company sells online, and exports its products across Europe.

Saaremaa Dairy Union is based in Estonia, and produces a variety of butters and cheeses that are influenced by the fact that the cows graze on a unique flora, as the company is located on an island in the Baltic Sea.


USDA Issues Final Decision on California Federal Milk Marketing Order

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today published in the Federal Register a final decision to establish a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) for California. The proposed FMMO would incorporate the entire state of California. The final decision is based on the evidentiary record of a public hearing held in Clovis, Calif., from September to November 2015. A recommended decision regarding the proposed program was published Feb. 14, 2017.

USDA will conduct a referendum among dairy producers to determine whether they support the proposed FMMO. The referendum will be held from April 2, 2018 through May 5, 2018. USDA will mail ballot materials to all known eligible dairy producers supplying milk to the proposed marketing area. The FMMO would become effective if approved by two-thirds of the voting producers, or by producers of two-thirds of the milk represented in the voting process.

FMMOs are legal instruments that regulate the sale of milk between dairy farmers and the first buyer. Where appropriate, the proposed California FMMO adopts the uniform order provisions contained in the 10 current FMMOs in the national system. These uniform provisions include, but are not limited to, dairy product classification, end-product price formulas, and the producer-handler definition. The proposed order would recognize the unique market structure of the California dairy industry through tailored, performance-based standards to determine eligibility for pool participation. The proposed order provides for the recognition of producer quota as administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

California represents over 18 percent of all U.S. milk production and is currently regulated by a state milk marketing order administered by CDFA.

Along with issuing this final decision, USDA conducted a Regulatory Economic Impact Analysis to determine the potential impact of regulating California milk handlers under a FMMO on the milk supply, product demand and prices, and milk allocation in California and throughout the United States. The entire hearing record, including the Regulatory Economic Impact Analysis, is available at Today’s Federal Register notice is available at:

USDA will hold a public meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Clovis, Calif., to answer questions related to how the proposed California FMMO would operate and how eligible dairy producers can participate in the referendum. Interested parties will have the opportunity to attend in person or watch the meeting live via webcast. Meeting details, as well as information regarding the producer referendum, are available on the AMS website at


Source: USDA

Buy your own cow and give it a name: The ingenious idea to save a dairy company

Going twice: $1500 to give the happiest dairy company in New Zealand a new lease of life.

On Thursday, Glen Herud announced on Facebook that his Happy Cow Milk Company was closing down, citing unsustainable costs. The company, based at Ohoka, north of Christchurch, had specialised in environmentally-friendly production – milking cows in the paddock to reduce the effluent burden and allowing calves to stay with their mothers for up to 15 weeks.

He didn’t count on the overwhelming response. Hundreds of people replied, lamenting Happy Cow’s closure or pleading for it to stay open.

Herud uses a mobile milker, meaning cows can be milked in the paddock and effluent easily dispersed.

Herud uses a mobile milker, meaning cows can be milked in the paddock and effluent easily dispersed.

“I thought I’d get about 10 of our most loyal supporters sending me a note and life would go on,” Herud wrote in reply on Friday.

“But I’ve been overwhelmed by your responses. I really didn’t realise you cared this much about our milk and our cows. I was literally shedding tears in the cafe while I read your comments.”

Many of the supporters suggested crowdfunding to bankroll a new version of the company, so Herud came up with a plan: 60 people could buy [and name] a cow for between $1500 and $1800 each to pay for a new herd. If that happened, he estimated he would need about another $300,000 to set up a more efficient version of the business. All investors could be shareholders in the new company.

“We’d love people to be able to buy a cow and have their own cow, “Herud told Stuff.

Herud is looking for a like-minded farmer to provide land and handle milking of a Happy Cow herd.

Herud is looking for a like-minded farmer to provide land and handle milking of a Happy Cow herd.

“Just get regular updates on what’s happening with their cow. Maybe classrooms could have their own cow and use it as a learning experience.”

It was just an idea, but Herud was optimistic it could work. There were other factors, though, that would need to fall into line first.

“The biggest thing that’s going to hold us back is trying to find a farmer who would farm the Happy Cow Milk way,” Herud said.

Happy Cow Milk’s calves are left with their mother for up to 15 weeks.

“They’d have to farm sustainably using our sustainable systems and all our calves have to stay with their mothers. That’s the deal-breaker for most dairy farmers.

“I’ve always wanted to partner with a farmer and say, ‘This is what the customers want, can you farm that way?’ and I’ve never been able to find anyone to do it so that’s why I did it myself and I really didn’t have the resources to do it myself.

“If we can find a farmer then I think we’ve got a goer.”

Other changes would be necessary too, Herud said, particularly finding a contract processor. Production and distribution costs weighed heavily on the old business model.

“Our priority is to farm inefficiently, I suppose, which means that our cows get a better life and our environmental impact is much lower. For us to be more inefficient on farm we need to be as efficient as Fonterra on the processing side of things so that we can still price our product in an affordable range.”

Contractor options were limited in the South Island, Herud said, so he was open to working with a North Island farmer based near a processing facility.


U.S. Dairy Export Council Seeks Market Growth in China

The U.S. Dairy Export Council Monday announced a partnership with a university in China to grow U.S. exports in China. The Council has signed a memorandum of understanding with Jiangnan University to dairy exportestablish the U.S.-China Dairy Innovation Center at the university.

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Dairy Export Federation President and CEO says the partnership is a “game-changing agreement” that will lead to opportunities that benefit both China and the United States. The partnership aims to encourage the development of China-friendly product formulations that incorporate U.S. dairy products and provide research with U.S. dairy products at the university. Vilsack says China is a “top priority market” for the U.S. dairy industry and calls the university one of the best food science schools in China.

The partnership is part of the Next Five Percent initiative, an industry-wide effort launched in 2017 to increase annual U.S. dairy exports from the equivalent of about 15 percent of U.S. milk solids to 20 percent.

Source: Global News Wire

Cream and butter popularity has Quebec’s dairy farmers producing more than ever

In just two years, daily milk production in Quebec has increased by 1 million litres

Quebec’s dairy farmers and producers are scrambling to expand operations due to an increased interest in butter and cream, thanks in large part to the “foodie” movement.

In the last 30 years, the increase in demand for dairy products has mostly followed Canada’s population growth, with the exception of two time periods.

There was a decrease in demand in the early ’90s due to studies that pointed out animal fat, including milk fat, could lead to high cholesterol. 

Since 2013, though, there’s been a sharp increase in demand — almost 25 per cent more.

For Peter Strebel, who owns Strebel Farms in Saint-Blaise-sur-Richelieu, 50 kilometres southeast of Montreal, that growth has had an impact on his daily output.

“It’s a little bit more challenging to be able to follow production,” he said.

“To increase milk production, it’s about a two-year production cycle. You have to have a calf, she has to get pregnant, you have to raise her and everything. It takes about two years before you can raise your milk production with your own animals.”

Also necessary to expand production: a bigger barn, more crops to feed the cows and bigger production capacities. It means that processing facilities also need to grow.

Health and taste

The increased interest in dairy with a higher fat content — such as butter and cream — can be directly linked to two things: studies showing that dairy saturated fat could actually reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and the rise of the foodie.

“Over the years, the science brought more light to the fat category. In the last decade, most science has succeeded in demonstrating that saturated fats were not as bad as some lobbyists would pretend,” said Alain Bourbeau, the general manager of the Quebec Milk Producers’ Federation.

Celebrity chefs have also played a role. Their love of using butter and cream to flavour dishes has Canadian foodies turning more and more to those dairy products.

“Let’s say our average farm five years ago had about 50 to 55 cows. Now, we are over 75 cows,” said Bourbeau.

“You need more cows to produce that milk. It has an effect on the average size of the farm as well as the day-to-day pick up of milk.”
In 2015, the average production of milk in Quebec was around eight million litres per day. Just two years later, the daily average has increased to more than nine million litres per day.

Adapting to demands

For Strebel, the increase in demand came at a good time. He was already expanding his farm for his sons who will eventually take over the business.

But many dairy farmers in Quebec are just now catching up to the demand. Also struggling are the processing facilities, where production capacities are limited.

“It’s a lot of milk that involves having more resources at the farm gate, more resources on the road, more resources to process all that milk,” Bourbeau said.

“That’s why it’s not small change. It has a huge impact and it’s a positive one, most of the time.”

In order to meet the demands of dairy with higher fat content, processing facilities are left with more of the byproduct, the skimmed milk left behind when making butter and cream.

The byproduct can be used to make dried milk for animal feeding or powdered skim milk. In February, almost a million litres had to be thrown away because it couldn’t be processed.

But Bourbeau points out that amount is less than 0.02 per cent of Quebec’s yearly dairy production total.


Source: CBC News


Dairy farmers hanging on, despite difficult times

Dairy farmers across the United States are in a crisis situation, according to Celeste Blackburn, President of the American Dairy Association of Tennessee’s board of directors.

“We are basically too good at what we do,” said Celeste.

One healthy, high producing cow gives about 105 pounds of milk per day, and at Blackburn Dairy Farm they keep their cows healthy. It has been a Grade A dairy since 1957.

Although operating costs have gone up, the Blackburns, like other dairy farmers, have seen a decrease in milk prices. Last year they were paid $1.80 per gallon, but that has dropped to $1.69 per gallon this year. Celeste said they hope to see prices level out around September.

“Even then we won’t be breaking even,” she said. Still they must continue maintaining their herd in top condition.

“Our cows are like our children. When one gets sick, we contact their doctor,” she said.

Celeste is a third generation dairy farmer and her husband Albert has followed in the footsteps of his father and his father’s father to the sixth generation on the family farm in Dumplin Valley that dates back to 1893.

Celeste reminds people that milk has to compete against 60,000 alternative products, including plant-based milks, such as almond milk that has seen sales growth of 250 percent over the past five years. The outlook seems a bit grim.

Last month, 11 dairy farms in East Tennessee received notice from Dean Foods, their milk purchaser, that their contracts would be terminated in 90 days. Dean Foods Company is the largest processor and distributor of milk and other dairy products in the United States.

Fortunately, the five dairy farms in Jefferson County continue producing milk, but their owners all have concerns. Four of them sell milk to Piedmont Company, while the Blackburn’s market is Dairy Farmers of America (ADA) Cooperative.

As president of the ADA, Celeste is not permitted to do any lobbying. However she plays a major role in guiding other dairy farmers in promoting their product. She also helps manage programs that contribute dairy products to food banks.

“Our job is to educate the public,” said Celeste.

Albert also wants to reassure people that there is no food more tested and regulated than milk and dairy products.

Despite the conscientious dedication of most dairy farmers, between 2016 and 2017, the number of people working on dairy farms in Tennessee was reduced by 17. Herds have decreased by 3,000 milk cows. According to Celeste, who is also on the Tennessee Beef Council, the price of beef is down, so there has been no great demand for that market to absorb dairy cows.

So, Celeste and Albert, along with the other dairy farmers, will continue milking their cows twice a day (on Sundays and Christmas, too), and promoting the health benefits of milk.

The USDA reports that dairy products are the primary source of calcium in the American diet. Milk is a good source of calcium, Vitamin D, potassium, and protein. According to the National Dairy Council, milk is filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit everyone’s health. Calcium builds healthy bones and teeth and maintains bone mass. Protein serves as a source of energy and builds and repairs muscle tissue. Potassium helps maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Remember, too, that dairy farmers are independent business people who work hard and are strictly regulated for safety. They love what they do. Even now Celeste says they are hopeful and optimistic about the future of the dairy industry.

She recommends one way to help dairy farmers, if you are so inclined. “The next time you buy a gallon of milk, buy an extra one and donate it to a food bank for someone who needs it but can’t afford it,” said Celeste.


Source: The Standard Banner

Wisconsin’s Milk Wars of 1933

Vintage Wisconsin: Milk, Symbol Of Purity, Source Of Conflict

Despite its wholesome associations with with goodness, mothering and love, milk has also occasionally been a source of conflict.

In Wisconsin, low milk prices during the Depression led some farmers to reduce supplies of milk by pouring it out as part of what became know as the “milk strikes.” 

Things got so heated that on May 16, 1933, 75 members of the National Guard were mobilized to quell the violence.

Dairy wasn’t the only source of contention. Depressed prices led to violence and strikes in many agricultural sectors. By 1933, dairy farmers were receiving less than half of what they had made for their milk in 1930.

Desperate to get more for their milk from manufacturers, the Wisconsin Cooperative Milk Pool, one of several dairy organizations, called for a statewide milk strike beginning on Feb. 15, 1933. Farmers would withhold milk supplies until they received a better price.

Tensions flared around the state. Farmers in Outagamie County dumped truckloads of milk and shut down a number of dairy plants. Others blocked roads with barricades of logs, boxes and their own bodies to stop the milk trucks.

The strike lost steam, though, as the days passed as milk trucks found alternative routes. A truce was called on Feb. 22 with Gov. Albert Schmedeman promising to study the prices.

But when prices didn’t improve, the Milk Pool called for another strike in May. This one would be bigger with the influential Farmers’ Holiday Association pledging to join the strike. Although the Farmers’ Holiday Association pulled out at the last minute, unemployed sympathizers from the city joined the strikers, bringing their lessons learned from factory strikes to the countryside.

One man laid on the tracks to stop an interurban train east of Waukesha. Strikers in cars across the state swooped down on trucks and dumped loads of milk. In Mukwonago, strikers tossed a harrow onto the road to puncture truck tires.

The violence and intimidation led the state to mobilize the National Guard to keep the roads open. The troops were armed with tear gas and bayonets.

One of the worst clashes happened in Waukesha County in what came to be known as the Battle of Durham Hill. National Guardsmen took on around 350 strikers with tear gas and then a bayonet charge into the crowd. An account of the day described, “unbelieving farmers kept looking around to see if they really were being prodded with cold steel.”

The strike ended on May 19. After a summer of waiting for help, the farmers called a third strike, more violent than the others but also no more successful in raising prices. Among the damage of the third strike were seven bombs detonated at cheese factories; 34,000 pounds of milk dumped in Racine; and the shooting death of a striking farmer on the picket line outside Madison.

Conditions did begin to improve for farmers in 1934.


Chicago Mercantile Exchange dairy markets mostly up Monday

at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Monday, the dairy markets were mostly up.   Class Three milk for April was up $.02 at $14.27 a hundredweight.  May was up $.03 to $14.30. June was up $.06 to 14.72. July was up $.07 to $15.30.  Milk futures from August through December were all up four to seven cents, and unchanged early next year.

Grade AA Butter was up $.0050 at $2.22 per pound.  Sixteen carloads were sold with prices ranging from $2.21 to $2.2250. Barrels were up $.0050 at $1.4450 per pound. Six carloads sold with prices at $1.4450 and $1.4475. 40-pound blocks remain unchanged at $1.53 per pound.   No sales were recorded. Nonfat dry milk was unchanged at $.69 per pound.  No sales were recorded. Dry whey was down $.0050 at $.28 cents per pound.  One carload was sold at that price.

New U.S.-China partnership lays groundwork for dairy export growth

Innovation deal marks next step in multi-faceted approach to raise U.S. dairy profile in the world’s largest dairy importer.

China’s Jiangnan University and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) have formed a new innovation partnership that helps pave the way for U.S. dairy export growth in China. Jiangnan University’s Vice President Xu Yan and USDEC President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Vilsack signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) formalizing the relationship on March 30 on Jiangnan University’s campus in Wuxi.

“The Jiangnan partnership is a concrete, game-changing agreement that will lead to fruitful new opportunities that mutually benefit both China and the United States,” Vilsack said. “China is a top-priority market for the U.S. dairy industry, and we are very excited to be working with one of the best food science schools in the nation.”

“We are very pleased to establish the U.S.-China Dairy Innovation Center at our university together with USDEC,” said Xu. “The center aims to facilitate research innovation and technical services for the dairy and food industries and also strengthen education cooperation and research collaboration in dairy science and technology between our two countries.”

USDEC expects the MOU will deliver three major benefits. It will:

  1. Encourage the development of innovative, China-friendly product formulations that incorporate U.S. dairy ingredients, particularly whey and milk proteins and skim milk powder.
  2. Enable U.S. dairy suppliers to be more engaged with and responsive to China’s food industry through access to in-market facilities and opportunities for jointly pursuing innovation projects that leverage U.S. dairy ingredient functionality, versatility and nutrition.
  3. Enrich students’ academic experiences in Jiangnan University’s dairy science and technology programs with practical hands-on R&D skills using U.S. dairy to jumpstart careers upon graduation.

“This MOU is further evidence of the U.S. industry’s desire to elevate its presence and demonstrate its commitment to meet the needs and desires of Chinese customers and consumers with sustainably produced U.S. dairy products,” said Vilsack.

The agreement follows a series of USDEC-led efforts aimed at building relationships in China and removing barriers to trade to level the playing field with competitors, including last year’s MOU on U.S. dairy plant registration and the unilateral reduction in Chinese cheese tariffs.

Said Vilsack, “They are all part of USDEC’s broader global marketing strategy to expand people, partnerships and promotions in key markets and drive growth toward The Next 5%.”

The Next 5% is the industry-wide effort launched in 2017 to increase annual U.S. dairy exports from the equivalent of about 15 percent of U.S. milk solids to 20 percent.

Following the MOU signing, Vilsack addressed 150 food science majors at Jiangnan University. His presentation, “The Importance of Climate Smart Agriculture to Meeting World Food Needs,” explored the need for collaboration and innovation in tackling agricultural sustainability as the world’s resources grow increasingly strained.


Source: Globe Newswire

Finding a buyer in a dry market: Pa. dairy farms roiled by Dean Foods pullout

On a damp, muddy afternoon last week, Charlie Walls steered a 5,600-gallon refrigerated truck along the bumpy roads of rural northwest Pennsylvania, collecting milk from a route of dairy farms to haul to a processing plant near the Ohio border.

Mr. Walls, a milk hauler in this region for 50 years, could not recall a time when so many of his customers along this route were so distressed. It had come out of nowhere, a certified letter in the mail last month: Dean Foods, the Dallas-based food distribution giant, would stop purchasing their milk on May 31.

Dean Foods’ decision to end contracts with at least 42 Pennsylvania farms — and more than 100 farms in eight states — is the latest blow for the local dairy industry. The move has set off a furious, two-month scramble for small, family-owned farms to find another buyer at a time that the market is flooded with milk and prices have hit rock bottom.

“A cancellation notice like this is almost a termination of the business notice,” said Dave Swartz, assistant director of programs at Pennsylvania State University Extension with a focus on the dairy industry.

“Those farms will have to find a new buyer and right now it’s very questionable whether they can do that,” Mr. Swartz explained. “There’s more milk than what we need in the nation.”

Charlie Walls, 70, operator of Walls Dairy Transport, walks into a barn while milk is pumped into his truck at a farm on March 28 in Mercer, Pa. Walls’ company hauls about 5 million pounds of milk from farms in Clarion and Mercer counties to processing facilities.(Andrew Rush/Post-Gazette)

The market imbalance has squeezed the budgets of dairy farms for the past couple of years.

Prices soared after the Great Recession as other countries demanded more American milk and the dollar was cheaper, driving U.S. exports higher. From 2009 to 2014, the average annual price nearly doubled from $12.83 to $23.97 for a hundred-weight of milk — the standard measurement that amounts to 100 pounds, or about enough to fill a 10-gallon tank.

Since 2014, however, the export market leveled off and dairy alternatives, like almond, coconut and soy, became more popular on grocery store shelves.  

In February, the average dairy price in Pennsylvania tumbled to $15.57, about 15 percent below the average price one year earlier, according to a monthly market report from the PennState Extension. The report projected prices to rise slightly later this year but fail to reach a point that allows farms to break even. 

This year, Walmart opened its own dairy processing plant near Fort Wayne, Ind., eliminating business for the Dallas-based food distribution company that had previously supplied milk to the retailer. 

Without naming Walmart, Dean Foods, in its termination notice to farmers dated Feb. 26, said the retailer’s plant is the main reason it must cease milk purchases. 

Cathy Heim holds a cancellation letter she received from Dean Foods with her husband, Jim, at their dairy farm March 28 in Mercer County.(Andrew Rush/Post-Gazette)

“The second reason is bigger than all of us,” the letter read. “The steady increase of raw milk production combined with the decrease of Class I fluid dairy consumption. Quite simply, the diary industry is producing more milk than people are consuming.”

“We know you understand these market conditions all too well,” the letter continued.

Many farmers in northwestern Pennsylvania are looking to Mr. Walls for a lifeline. If a farm doesn’t have a buyer, it’s nearly impossible to stay in business.

Milk purchased by Dean Foods makes up about a quarter of the 5 million pounds that Mr. Walls transports each month. “It’s to my benefit that I find them another buyer,” he said. “I’m doing all I can to find another home for their milk.” 

Last week, Mr. Walls, 70, of Emlenton, Venango County, spent four hours driving his route of farms contracted with Dean Foods, passing by fertilizer sellers, farm equipment dealers, feed suppliers, veterinarians. He even crossed paths with a Dean Foods milk inspector. All of them would feel the blow of closing farms.

His first stop was Simon Byler, 28, who with his wife took over a farm of about two dozen cows after his father passed away in 2013. 

A cat stands in a barn at the Byler family dairy farm in Mercer, Pa. (Andrew Rush/Post-Gazette)

While Mr. Byler acknowledged he had other opportunities — he could join his brothers in the carpentry and construction trades — selling the farm would come with heartache. A concrete slab by the barn held imprints of tiny hands and initials from young family members. 

“You got a little time left,” Mr. Walls said to him. “You’re not up against a wall yet.”

The second stop was a 26-acre farm with 33 cows, purchased four years ago by Levi Lee. Mr. Lee said he poured money into renovating the barn and is in the middle of building a bigger house for his family. If he can’t find another buyer, he said, he’ll likely experiment with sheep or other animals on a small amount of grazing land. 

Mr. Walls’ plan at the moment is to press nearby cheese plants to take on more milk. While Americans are drinking less milk, they are eating more cheese. 

But even when availability is found, it’s complicated. There are some cheese plants in Ohio that might take milk shipments, but transportation costs would rise and Mr. Walls would have to hike his bills. “I can’t do that to them,” he said.

So far, at least one distributor has agreed to pick up some Dean Foods contracts when they expire. 

Schneider Dairy, based in the South Hills, will take milk from four farms in Clarion and Venango counties after a branch manager for the company heard about the trouble at a church service.

“At the end of the day, these farmers were going to lose everything,” said Justin Schneider, the company’s marketing and new business development manager. “We didn’t really need the milk … We kind of felt a duty to do something and to do the right thing.”

Most other farmers feel they are running out of luck. 

At another of Mr. Walls’ stops last week, Jim and Cathy Heim had a tone of resignation. The fifth-generation farmers have been contracted with Dean Foods for 20 years, and none of their children are interested in taking over the farm. 

“We’re probably going to hang up our hats,” Mr. Heim said. 


Dairy Groups Applaud U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement

Improved FTA Addresses Several Dairy Concerns

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today applauded the Trump Administration’s swift and effective negotiation with South Korea regarding the terms and implementation of the U.S.-Korea free trade Agreement (KORUS).

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the two dairy groups expressed appreciation that trade officials were able to secure a result with South Korea that addressed certain dairy industry concerns while preserving the overall agreement.

South Korea is the fourth-largest U.S. dairy export market. Last year, it accounted for over $230 million in U.S. dairy sales. It is also the second-largest cheese market in the world.

“Preserving free trade agreements (FTAs) like this one is essential to strengthening our economy and expanding opportunities for America’s dairy producers and processors,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC.

With KORUS, the U.S. dairy industry will remain a competitive dairy exporter to South Korea in a world in which most other major dairy exporters have access to the South Korean market through a trade agreement. This puts U.S. companies, shipping products, manufacturers and American-made milk on the same footing with dairy competitors from other countries.

“KORUS has had a demonstrable impact on the success of U.S. dairy exports,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “A renegotiated KORUS will strengthen our trade relationship with Korea, ensuring that the country continues to receive nutritious U.S. dairy foods. This will benefit both Korean citizens and the U.S. farmers producing these products.”

Leading up to the KORUS negotiations in early October 2017, USDEC and NMPF encouraged an approach that would address specific U.S. concerns, including that of customs procedures, while preservingthe agreement. U.S. dairy exporters have repeatedly encountered challenges with South Korea’s overly narrow interpretation of which goods qualify as those originating from the United States. This meant that even goods produced in the United States with American-made ingredients and certified as such by the U.S. Department of Agriculture sometimes faced rejection. The letter thanked USTR for recognizing these types of issues and their impact on trade. “Resolving them can ensure that the agreement operates as it was truly intended to,” the groups said.


Nearly Two Dozen Pennsylvania Dairymen Find New Distributor After Previous Contract Termination

After nearly two dozen dairy farmers lost major contracts this month, there now could be some hope for the future.

Harrisburg Dairies is taking in five farms affected by dean food’s recent decision to downsize, and we’re told more farms could be added to that list this week.

Dave Smith with the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association is uncertain for the future, but hopeful of a new contract.

“We certainly hope the rest of the dairy farms in the state will find some new markets for their milk, but we don’t know yet,” says Smith.

It’s a billion dollar industry here in Pennsylvania.

“I think it’s important to everybody in Pennsylvania and Lebanon County to be supportive of these dairy farms.”

In recent years milk alternatives have been pushing the classic milk aside.

“I would ask that people be very aware of buying real dairy products and not imitation products,” says Smith.

Smith says this could be cyclic and temporary for dairy farmers that are without a contract today.

“There’s a few here and a few there we are hopeful that things will balance out and we will find a few other markets for their milk.”

After all these cows go beyond Pennsylvania. Our dairy is practically everyone’s dairy.

“It’s very important for us to keep our infrastructure of dairies here in Pennsylvania because there’s a lot of population based to the east of us talking about Baltimore, Philly to New York,” says Smith.

Lebanon County makes the top five county list in PA for dairy production, meanwhile Lancaster is number one in the state.

Source: CBS21

Does The A2 Milk Company Ltd Face A New Threat In China?

A2 Milk Company Ltd (ASX: A2M) could be facing a new threat in China, media reports indicate.

The NZ Herald reported this morning that global giant Nestle was launching its own brand of a2 milkprotein products to compete with the A2 Milk Company.

For those who don’t know, a2-only milk products are thought to be healthier than regular milk products, which contain both a1 and a2 proteins. According to the a2 Milk website:

“The one big difference [in a2-only milk products] is in the type of cow.

Different cows naturally produce milk with different protein structures. Our farmers select and separate cows that only produce A2 beta-casein protein. Then, they milk them separately. All other dairy milk has a mixture of A1 and A2 proteins. Research shows that A1 and A2 are digested differently. Many people all over the world tell us they can feel the difference when they drink a2 Milk.”

The a2 Milk Company has been sponsoring and tracking research into the health effects of a2 Milk. One study on the a2 website found positive effects from drinking a2 milk versus regular milk.

A2 Milk Company shares have been flying high over the past year, rising more than 400% in the last 12 months, according to Google Finance.

However, the a2 Milk share price was down 7% to $12.13 this afternoon following the news of Nestle’s entrance into the market.


Source: Rask Media

U.S. Senator says proposal would help dairy farms

Struggling dairy farmers would get refunds to make up for a failed milk-pricing insurance program, under a plan proposed by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Many of upstate New York’s 4,420 dairies paid millions of dollars into the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Margin Protection Program, which is supposed to cover production losses when the price of milk falls or feed costs rise.

But Gillibrand says the program hasn’t paid out, despite all the large sums farmers put into it.

“I’ve heard from dairy farmers all over New York that the current dairy insurance program is not working,” she said. “Right now, our dairy farmers are in the midst of a serious financial slump through no fault of their own.

“Milk prices are now much lower than the cost it takes farmers to produce that milk, and farmers are struggling to pay their workers and bills.”

The Dairy Premium Refund Act she has proposed would return all the premiums farmers have paid. Farmers would automatically receive a check in the mail at the end of the production year for any insurance premium funds not used to pay claims to them during the previous year.

The bill proposes no new spending, would provide payments retroactively since the MPP program was implemented in 2015, and would apply to all future MPP program years, Gillibrand said.

New York Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman said, “The senator’s proposal underscores that the Margin Protection Program did not work for New York’s dairy farmers. It is important that we work to find a more flexible, reliable safety net in the 2018 Farm Bill that addresses the serious times farmers are facing with another year of low milk prices.”

Andrew Novakovic, Cornell University professor of agricultural economics, said, “While it was certainly well intended, MPP-Dairy has not proven to be a particularly helpful or effective support for dairy farmers, who have suffered below average returns since 2015. In its first two years of operation, farmers paid $96 million in fees and premiums, but only $12 million was paid in ‘indemnities’.”

Gillibrand’s proposal is the second initiative she has announced recently to help dairy farmers.

A proposed Dairy Farm Sustainability Act would establish a milk price floor of $23.34, which is the current cost of production. At present, however, farms are getting less than $17 per hundredweight for milk.

Under Gillibrand’s plan, farms would get 45 percent of the difference, up to the first 5 million pounds of milk they produce.


Source: Troy Record

Scientists more pessimistic about eradicating cow disease

A long awaited report into mycoplasma bovis has provided no definite answers on how the disease got here and whether it can be eradicated.

A cull of 22,000 cows began this week, and the ministry raided three properties as it continues to investigate how the bacteria arrived here.

In its latest report, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ technical advisory group said it was still feasible and desirable to eradicate the disease but the task was bigger than first thought and some members of the group were more pessimistic.

They say there is uncertainty about the cost and effectiveness of efforts to control mycoplasma bovis, and believe success is unlikely.

The disease may have spread undetected from as early as 2015 and the system used to track animals, whether infected or not, has failed, the report said.

For the report scientists looked at seven potential routes of entry – including imported live cattle, frozen semen and embryos, veterinary medicines, and biological products.

While the report reaches no conclusions that any of these are to blame, it does put the risk of imported semen and embryos higher than other pathways.

It recommends that more research needs to be done on imported genetic material, and also says imported live cattle should be located and surveyed.

The group suggests further analysis of the economic impact on the dairy sector was required to establish whether attempts to eradicate are even worth it.

The technical group is meeting in the next few weeks to discuss what the next steps for the outbreak should be.

What we know about the disease

  • Mycoplasma bovis was first identified in New Zealand on 22 July, 2017 after sick cattle were reported at one of the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farms.
  • The disease causes mastitis, pneumonia, abortions and lameness, and can result in the deaths of cows and calves.
  • The disease can be hard to detect and treat because it has special characteristics including: The lack of a cell wall so that certain widely-used antibiotics are not effective; an ability to hide away from the immune system so that infections are difficult for cows to fight; the ability to create conditions that allow evasion from antibiotic treatment (eg within large abscesses).
  • Not all infected cows get sick or show signs of the disease, making it hard to detect. Some shed the disease without becoming ill, allowing for transmission between farms if these cows are moved.
  • It is mainly spread through ‘nose to nose’ contact between cattle through mucus and bodily fluids, and by direct contact between infected animals and equipment.
  • Mycoplasma bovis does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk. There is no concern about consuming milk, milk products, or meat.
  • While some of the conditions can be treated, affected cattle will always be carriers of the disease.
  • In Australia, the disease is throughout most dairying regions and had devastating impacts on some individual farms, leading to cows and calves being killed.
  • Since the disease arrived in Australia farmers have been using a PCR test, which detects evidence of infection in bulk milk.


Source: Radio NZ

China gets creative with dairy

Fonterra chief operating officer NZMP Kelvin Wickham says when it comes to finding new ways to consume dairy products, the Chinese are incredibly creative.

He looks after operations for Fonterra’s NZMP business — the division that sells dairy ingredients to food makers. Though dairy ingredients are used in obvious places they are also now turning up in products that are uniquely Chinese.

There are the well-known international staples such as slices of cheese on hamburgers and melted mozzarella on pizza. Wickham says these are now popular in China.

Fonterra’s butter and cream can be frequently found in cakes, biscuits and other cooking

No surprises there. Yet Fonterra’s cheese now makes its way into lollipops, as well as into a brand of fish and cheese-flavoured sausage. Chinese consumers also enjoy having cream cheese in glasses of “tea macchiato”, a popular drink.

Wickham says: “This creativity mixes Chinese tastes with Westernisation. Consumers in China love fast food, which can use a lot of dairy, but with food like fish and cheese sausages they are making it their own.”

He says another popular fad is the so-called muddy bun. It’s a form of chocolate cake where the whole point, and part of the fun, is to leave smears on your face, which can be licked off. NZMP dairy ingredients are an essential part of the experience.

There is more serious innovation. Like everywhere else in the world, the Chinese are interested in their health and wellbeing. Another trend helping NZMP is that consumers want to see a transparent supply chain. In some cases this can mean tracing the milk they drink right back to a farm. More regularly it is about knowing their milk comes from grass fed cows.

Fonterra is seeing a growing demand for paediatric dairy products in China. In effect this is an extension of the infant formula business where parents want their children to go on drinking milk as they grow.

Chinese consumers are also looking for medical dairy products. Wickham says Fonterra has recently introduced a fast-acting milk concentrate product. This helps with muscle recovery and works within two hours. It can be used after workouts, but is also given to people experiencing trauma or recovering from disease. It also helps the elderly.

Wickham says the gold standard for this kind of product has always been whey protein, but that’s not popular because it has an unpleasant taste. Using milk gives it a better flavour and makes it easier to digest. It can be made into a drink or included in foods such as a protein bar.

This creativity is helping ensure Fonterra’s China business continues to grow at a clip. Its food service business in China grew 48 per cent last year and has doubled in the past four years. Chinese dairy imports are expected to double again by 2020.

“The business is strong, it is growing and it will continue to grow and expand into new areas.” says Wickham.

Fonterra is riding a trend which means it has the right product in the right place at the right time. He says: “The growing affluence and urbanisation in China helps. As people and nation move up the GDP curve, they put more protein in their diet and one of the first proteins they choose is dairy.”

He says the numbers are huge: today Chinese consumers drink 1000 glasses of our milk every second.

This has led to a point where one out of every four Fonterra tankers on the road is collecting milk that will go to China. The country is Fonterra’s number one market and accounts for about a quarter of its value.

Wickham says there is plenty of room left for growth. Though dairy is established on China’s eastern seaboard, there is scope for it to reach people living in inland or secondary cities.

“At the moment the average Chinese person eats about 100 grams of dairy a year. In Western markets that number is around 2.6 kilograms”, he says.

Fresh milk is another area where Fonterra can see considerable expansion. In January it launched a new fresh milk product in China. The company worked in partnership with Hema Fresh, an Alibaba offshoot that mixes traditional and online shopping.

Wickham says until now most milk sold in China has been the long life variety. Its name, Daily Fresh, reflects the difference. It is sold from refrigerated cabinets.

For now Fonterra and Hema Fresh sell their refrigerated milk in 14 stores in Shanghai and Suzhou. Freshness is a huge part of the product’s appeal. The milk comes in 750ml bottles marked with the day of the week to emphasis their freshness. Each store is restocked overnight. The milk comes from Fonterra-owned farms in China.

Though volumes are modest for now — sales are around three tonnes a day — the plan is to scale up as Hema Fresh rolls out more stores across China. Fonterra says the business is part of a move upmarket as Chinese consumers become more sophisticated.

Wickham says the Daily Fresh project shows how Fonterra intends to progress with partnerships in China and elsewhere in the world.

He says business partnerships are often tested, sometimes to breaking point, and China is no different. Yet he continues to see huge value in the partnership model for Fonterra.

It means companies can bring different strengths to the relationship.

“NZMP is not a spot trader. We’re looking for long-term partnerships. Some may involve equity, others are joint ventures. We may partner with companies in some areas and compete with them in others,” he says.

Last year Fonterra’s revenue from China was around $3.4 billion; it’s earnings were $209 million — that’s up 60 per cent on a year earlier.

During the year Fonterra’s foodservice business, Anchor Food Professionals, passed the $2b annual revenue milestone. The target is for this to reach $5 billion by 2023.

Wickham says the business is important for Fonterra, as it means a move to high-value products and gives the business a more positive long-term outlook.


Source: NZ Herald

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