Archive for Dairy Industry – Page 2

“Grass-Fed” milk may actually not be. But a new technology could change that

How much fresh grass did the “grass-fed” cows who make your milk eat? A team of scientists from Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has found a new technique they say can determine exactly that. Their findings, reported in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry last month, suggest that fluorescence spectroscopy—a relatively cheap and simple form of light measurement—could be a way to assure shoppers about “grass-fed” claims in the supermarket. And it could prove to be an important tool for transparency in the organic dairy sector, where cows are required to spend time foraging outdoors—something critics allege doesn’t always happen.

By law, cows that produce organic milk are required to have outdoor access. But there’s reason to believe that isn’t always happening.

To understand why this technique could prove to be transformative, it’s important to first address a simple question: Don’t all cows eat grass? You could be forgiven for thinking so. Anyone who takes a stroll down the dairy aisle at the local supermarket will be confronted by a range of jugs and cartons labeled “grass-fed,” or that feature illustrations of bovines grazing contentedly near the shade of old-timey barns. But the reality behind the marketing is not so simple. Though smaller herds often spend the warmer months outdoors, foraging the grass that makes up most of their diets, the vast majority of American milk comes from cows confined inside large, concrete-floored dairy barns. These cows are fed grass in the form of cut hay, as well as grain silage and crude protein (which can range widely, from soybean meal and day-old bread to red Skittles and chicken feathers). They don’t forage on pasture.

It’s in organic milk where things get tricky—where the matter of what cows eat, once an easy quiz for kindergarteners, becomes a question worthy of the hardest-nosed investigative journalists.

By law, cows that produce organic milk are required to have outdoor access. And not just token access. According to the National Organic Program’s “Access to Pasture” rule, organic dairy cows must spend at least 120 days each year outside; fresh, foraged grass must be a minimum of 30 percent of their diets. But there’s reason to believe that isn’t always happening.

Last May, The Washington Post’s Peter Whoriskey published an exposé alleging serious fraud at an organic dairy north of Greeley, Colorado. The Aurora Dairy’s 15,000-cow herd—huge, considering that the vast majority of organic dairies milk fewer than 100 cows—produces certified organic milk that ends up on shelves at Costco, Safeway, and Walmart, according to the article. But when the Post dropped in on eight different occasions over the course of 2016, something seemed off: Each time, Whoriskey wrote, the fields were empty. Satellite imagery seemed to confirm this account.

Aurora Dairy is an organic dairy farm, so cows are required to have outdoor access. But when the Washington Post dropped by on eight separate occasions, its fields were empty. Above, Aurora’s facility in Stratford, Texas

For its part, Aurora dismissed the Post’s visits as “drive-bys,” and suggested the cows just happened to be inside when the visits took place. But Whoriskey didn’t rely just on anecdotal evidence: the Post brought receipts. By testing the fats in Aurora’s product, the paper found a nutritional profile that was much closer to conventional milk. That was an important finding because, in general, grass-fed milk tends to be higher in beneficial fats like conjugated lineolic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. Conventional milk is higher in omega-6 fats, which are more abundant in feed grains.

There’s still debate over whether grass-fed milk is healthier, though multiple studies have found that pasture grazing increases good fats in milk (see here and here). But if chemical differences in the milk produced by grass-fed and conventional dairy cattle are so apparent, why can’t the industry apply empirical standards to claims like “certified organic?”

One issue is that gas chromatography—the method of nutritional analysis the Post used to fact-check Aurora’s claims—is too cumbersome and time-consuming to be feasible at scale. It’s also expensive. According to Logan Peterman, an agricultural research manager at Organic Valley, the country’s largest organic dairy cooperative, it can cost as much as $100 per sample, a cost he says is financially prohibitive for most organic dairy farmers and processors.

Which is where the Iowa State study comes in.

Rather than analyze milk’s fat content, the Iowa State scientists used fluorescence spectroscopy—a method that can be thought of as a kind of molecular fingerprinting, one that involves beaming light at the product and measuring for luminescent signals in response. Unlike nutritional testing, which usually requires samples to be sent away to a lab, the results are instantly visible. (Spectroscoptic techniques are already being considered elsewhere in the food industry, including new methods for rapid E. coli detection and spotting fake oregano.)

Spectroscopy can reliably detect how much fresh grass a dairy herd is getting, which may herald the dawn of a new era of transparency in the industry.

“Spectroscopy is easy,” says Jacob Petrich, an ISU biochemist who co-authored the study. “There’s really no sample preparation involved. You just need to shine light on the sample, and there are signatures in the milk that you can see. There’s very little preparation to be done, and you get the answer almost immediately.”

Not all foods carry the kind of fluorescent markers spectroscopy can easily measure. But milk happens to contain a strong and readily detectable signal: lingering traces of chlorophyll that have been metabolized by the cow. Think back to freshman year biology—chlorophyll is the green pigment responsible for converting the sun’s light into energy, abundant in grass. When exposed to a certain frequency of light in cow’s milk, it returns a bright, easily detectable cue. This method takes the guesswork out of the grass question, according to the study—the scientists found they could instantly spot the differences between various types of milk.

When the researchers compared milk from a true grass-based dairy to samples from the grocery store, the chlorophyll content varied dramatically. Control samples were taken from Radiance Dairy, a small, pasture-based operation in Fairfield, Iowa, where cows forage 85 percent of their diets from fresh pasture during the grazing season—far more than the 30 percent required by law for organic producers. (Individual brands were anonymized in the study, and the co-authors wouldn’t tell me which specific ones they bought.)

Francis Thicke—Radiance’s owner, who was the Democratic Party’s candidate for Secretary of Agriculture in Iowa in 2010 and just finished serving a term on the National Organic Standards Board—tells me by phone that his cows don’t eat only grass. Given the state of modern cow genetics, he says, the animals do a little bit better with some grain, and that corn is a good way to lure them back into the barn at the end of the day. But his animals do spend the vast majority of their time outdoors, grazing.

And it shows in their milk. The concentration of chlorophyll metabolites in Radiance Dairy milk ranged from 0.13 to 0.11 micromolar, compared to only 0.09 to 0.07 micromolar in a range of organic milk the scientists bought from the supermarket—about 50 percent higher, on average. But the differences were even starker in store-bought conventional milks, which the study found ranged from .04 to a mere .01 micromolar, four to 10 times lower than Radiance Dairy’s milk.

Cows grazing on Radiance Dairy farmRadiance Dairy

When animals spend the vast majority of their time outdoors, grazing, it shows in their milk. Above, cows on pasture at Radiance Dairy in Fairfield, Iowa

It’s not that these findings have human health implications, in and of themselves. The presence of chlorophyll in milk doesn’t have any specific nutritional benefits that we know about. (Interestingly, the study does point out these higher chlorophyll levels cause grass-fed milk to degrade more quickly in light, an issue easily solved by an everyday cardboard carton.) But the results do seem to establish that spectroscopy can reliably detect how much fresh grass a dairy herd is getting, which may herald the dawn of a new era of transparency in the industry. We as shoppers might not be able to tell how our milk was produced without a Washington Post exposé, but dairy brands could use this method to put more teeth into their process claims.

Mark Rasmussen, a co-author of the paper and the Leopold Center’s executive director, tells me that integrating the method into existing supply chains would likely not be difficult. Commercial milk trucks already conduct quality testing when they pick up product from dairies, he says, and it would be simple enough to fold this process into the existing regimen. The question is whether the industry will be interested in such testing.

One major player already is. When the Leopold Center, one of the nation’s oldest and best-known centers for agro-ecological research, was crippled by targeted funding cuts by the Iowa State legislature last year, much of its in-progress research was put on hold or quashed outright. But a private-sector partner took an interest in this specific area of research and was able to provide some additional financial support—Organic Valley.

Spectroscopy could help create a new premium market, a better-than-organic standard that’s easily verified by science.

Peterman, who helps develop the cooperative’s on-farm standards, tells me that the company has long been interested in testing, but never felt gas chromatography was workable. Yes, it’s burdensome, but the flaw is even more fundamental: chromatography measures nutritional content, and Organic Valley is more interested in highlighting agricultural practices. Research on the human diet and individual fatty acids will continue to evolve, Peterman says, and the company doesn’t want to base its strategy on any one nutritional component. Ultimately, the cooperative believes that the healthiest, most desirable milk comes from cows who graze on grass—and is keenly interested a standard that can measure grass-based practices empirically. Spectroscopy may make that possible for the first time.

The technology has the potential to provide Organic Valley with two tantalizing benefits. First, it could help ensure its own members—2,000 organic dairy farmers across the country, with an average of 72 cows apiece—are providing the pasture time they claim to be. Organic certifiers determine how much grass a herd eats using what’s called the “subtraction method”: farmers keep a log of how much dry matter they feed their animals, and the certifier subtracts that from the total amount of calories the animals would need to stay healthy. Whatever’s left is considered calories taken from the outdoors. Peterman generally has no complaints about this, but acknowledges that it relies on trust and provides only a very general estimate. He thinks spectroscopy would offer an additional data point that would be a useful check against subtraction estimates.

Second, and much more significantly, Organic Valley hopes spectroscopy can bring potential financial benefits. According to Peterman, the cooperative’s cows on average get about 55 percent of their protein from grass during the grazing season—well above the 30 percent standard required by law. Spectroscopy could help create a new premium market, a better-than-organic standard that’s easily verified by science. Organic Valley has already started to market “grassmilk,” a premium product it says comes from 100-percent grass-fed cows who never eat grain. Spectroscopy—with the reassuring presence of hard, fast data—could make it even easier to convince customers of claims like these, and further differentiate such products from more standard offerings in the market.

Spectroscopy could help Organic Valley’s members ensure they’re providing the pasture time they claim to be and bring financial benefits, too

That could be a major development in the organic dairy industry, where farmers who work hard to do the more logistically difficult, expensive thing—feed a small herd on grass—have not had a clear, reliable way to telegraph that effort to the consumer. Spectroscopy could change that. And it could provide a way for the companies and producers who market grass-fed milk to charge a premium price.

But could the technique be used to combat industrial-scale fraud? Among those who feel the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hasn’t done enough to protect the organic standard’s big-business imitators, the Aurora Dairy case is one particularly troubling example of poor oversight. When the Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit organic standards watchdog, filed a formal complaint with USDA regarding the allegations made in the Washington Post article, the agency did perform a follow-up inspection. And though it said it found no evidence of wrongdoing, the circumstances were murky. The agency wouldn’t tell the Post’s Whoriskey if the visit was announced in advance—which critics say could have given the company time to make everything inspection-worthy. 

At the time, Thicke from Radiance Dairy was on the National Organic Standards Board, and was able to ask Betsy Rakola, the National Organic Program’s director of enforcement and compliance, about what happened with Aurora. He says she told him that the visit was in fact pre-arranged, which he feels is evidence of large-scale farms being held to a different standard. But when I reached out to USDA, the agency was unwilling to confirm or deny Thicke’s allegation on the record.

Pre-arranged audits or not, it seems clear that oversight is a sticking point. “We need much better enforcement on this issue,” says Thicke, pointing out that he feels truly organic practices are not possible on such a large scale.

Farmers who feed a small herd on grass have not had a clear, reliable way to telegraph that effort to the consumer. Spectroscopy could change that.

“I don’t think that you can possibly graze 15,000 cows and milk them twice a day,” he says. “It’s biologically, physically impossible to do that—for the cows to go out far enough to get grass and come back. That just can’t be done, because it’d be too far to walk. Besides, they’re on a desert.”

Could spectroscopy help clear up the mystery of Aurora’s alleged misconduct, level the playing field (or grazing field?), and make it easier to tell that organic milk really is organic? Both Peterman and Thicke are optimistic—though they feel strongly that organic is a process certification, one that can’t be boiled down to a mere number, even if some concrete data would be a helpful supplement. And both acknowledged that a scientific test of this kind could give rise to new forms of fraudulent behavior.

“Human ingenuity is incredible,” Peterman says, with a laugh. “And I would say one of the things human beings are the most gifted at is cheating.” He gives the example of an Organic Valley imitator that cropped up near the company’s headquarters in northwest Wisconsin, called Omega Valley—which achieved high levels of Omega-3s in its milk not by grazing cows on pasture but by stuffing them with huge quantities of flaxseed meal. (I couldn’t independently verify this practice, though the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board mentions that the company had boosted the animals’ omega-3 levels with proprietary feed.)

Thicke says that fraud has always been a part of the dairy industry, pointing out that in the 19th century farmers sometimes bulked up their product by diluting the milk with water. It could be hard to catch someone in the act, and virtually impossible to prove guilt after the fact, though occasionally there were clues: “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong,” wrote the naturalist Henry David Thoreau, “as when you find a trout in the milk.”

For now, the critics of organic standards enforcement have mostly circumstantial evidence to go on. We’ll see whether spectroscopy leads to more transparency across the industry, or simply provides another way to game the system.


Mexico lifts tariffs against U.S. cheese, but bad weather will have hug impact going forward

The May 17 announcement that the U.S. has agreed to lift its steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, removing major obstacles for ratification of the renegotiated North American free trade pact by all three countries.  Mexico, in turn, lifted its retaliatory tariffs against U.S. cheese exports. The break in the logjam could improve dairy prices and the chances for passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement and perhaps help end the trade dispute with China.

The USMCA contains provisions to boost U.S. dairy and poultry to Canada, establishes updated sanitary and phytosanitary controls, improves access for U.S. wheat and wine — among other things. But the primary benefit for U.S. farmers and ranchers is that it would maintain virtually zero tariffs between the three countries that were established in the current pact.

Meanwhile, the USDA’s preliminary 50-state data put April output up 0.1 percent, according to the May 20 Milk Production report. Output was 18.43 billion pounds, with output in the top 23 producing states at 17.4 billion pounds, up 0.3 percent. Revisions lowered the original 50-state March total by 40 million pounds, to 18.873 billion pounds, down 0.6 percent from March 2018.

Milk output will also likely be impacted down the road considering what weather is currently doing to crop planting. The latest Crop Progress report shows only 49 percent of the corn crop was planted, as of the week ending May 19, up from 30 percent the previous week, but down 29 percent from a year ago and 31 percent behind the five-year average; 19 percent of the corn has emerged, up from 10 percent the previous week but 28 percent behind a year ago and 30 percent behind the five-year average.

U.S. Dairy Industry Comes Together to Advance Leadership Role in Global Sustainability

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Hosts 2019 Dairy Sustainability Forum

The Dairy Sustainability Alliance® of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy recently concluded its eighth annual Dairy Sustainability Forum. The two-day event hosted more than 200 attendees, including 40 dairy farmers as well as processors, major food companies, environmental organizations and government officials. The primary topic of discussion was working across the industry to advance U.S. dairy’s key role in addressing sustainability in the global food system.

A key part of the event was devoted to reporting progress through the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment. The Stewardship Commitment was launched by the Innovation Center in late 2018 to demonstrate and transparently report how U.S. dairy is responsibly produced and positively impacts communities in important areas such as environmental and animal care.

“The Stewardship Commitment draws upon globally recognized standards and delivers on our aim to work collaboratively from farm to retail to advance U.S. dairy sustainability,” said Barbara O’Brien, president of Dairy Management Inc. and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

Twenty-two dairy cooperatives and processors have adopted the Stewardship Commitment, representing two-thirds of all milk produced in the U.S. Going forward the Stewardship Commitment will enable these and other companies to report progress and show positive social, economic and environmental impact.

Integral to ongoing progress is new technological innovations and resources, which were also a key focus of the forum. For example, advances in practices and technologies like the use of cover crops and perennial crops were presented. Attendees also heard about developments in the ways cow manure can be converted into clean power, renewable fuel for vehicles and high-quality fertilizers for healthy soils. “Dairy is a part of the environmental solution,” said Newtrient CEO Steven Rowe, who addressed the forum.

Another forum topic highlighted the work of Dairy Nourishes America (DNA), a partnership between the U.S. dairy community and Feeding America focused on developing community-level engagements to increase the servings of milk, cheese and yogurt for more than 40 million food-insecure Americans. Presentations and discussions focused on expanding the relationships between dairy companies and food banks to provide more consistent supply of nutritious dairy foods to those in need, given dairy is one of the top requested items at food banks.

Forum attendees also received a copy of the 2018 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report, which details the community’s progress and actions in important areas such as the environment and animal care.

Finally, the eighth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards ceremony honored innovative dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet. Click here for more information on this year’s winners.

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® is a forum that brings together the dairy community to address the changing needs and expectations of consumers through a framework of shared best practices and accountability. Initiated in 2008 by dairy farmers through the dairy checkoff, we collaborate on efforts that are important both to us and our valued customers – issues like animal care, food safety, nutrition and health, the environment and economics. The Innovation Center is committed to continuous improvement from farm to table, striving to ensure a socially responsible and economically viable dairy community. Visit for more information about the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

The Dairy Sustainability Alliance® is the vehicle for broad stakeholder engagement with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®. It is a multi-stakeholder group consisting of individuals from across the dairy community, including farmers, cooperatives, processors, industry suppliers, food service and retail, government, civil society and agricultural groups. Through in-person meetings, webinars and newsletters, Dairy Sustainability Alliance® members share knowledge, collaborate on issues affecting the industry at large and accelerate progress toward common sustainability goals.


Source: Business Wire

New Zealand urges farmers to update animal identification before moving day

Almost 8,000 dairy farming locations are yet to re-register with the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme ahead of Moving Day, Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said on Saturday while urging earlier re-registration.

Moving Day is part of dairy farming culture in New Zealand. As the new season starts, thousands of sharemilkers around the country move their cows, equipment and families to new farms, which may facilitate disease spreading.

“One thing the Mycoplasma bovis response has highlighted is the low levels of compliance with NAIT,” O’Connor said in a statement, referring to the widespread cow disease in New Zealand.

“Following a recent NAIT system upgrade, every person in charge of animals must re-register their NAIT location,” the minister said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has increased the number of compliance staff who have conducted 455 on-farm inspections so far this year.

“We need to get to a position where every single animal movement on every single farm in the country is recorded,” O’Connor said.

“We’re trying to stop Mycoplasma bovis going through the entire national herd. We are on track to eradicate this disease and we need the support of farmers, so get on to NAIT and complete your re-registration,” he added.


Source: Xinhua

Fonterra and Nestle consider sale of dairy joint venture in Brazil

Apparently, Fonterra has plans to shut over 100-year old Dennington factory in Australia.

Swiss multinational food and drink firm Nestle SA and multinational dairy company Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited have reportedly announced that they will review strategic alternatives for their joint venture Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) in Brazil, which could include a potential sale.

Reportedly, Nestle has divested several underperforming businesses, including its skin health unit and has been currently streamlining its portfolio.

As per reliable sources, the review will check the long-term growth and accomplishment of the business which posted sales revenue of 1 billion Brazilian reais ($247.5 million) in 2018. The review is anticipated to be ready by the end of the year 2019.

Reportedly, Nestle and Fonterra established DPA joint venture with equal partnerships in the year 2003 to produce and commercialize chilled and liquid dairy products in LATAM. The JV was retained in the year 2014 to focus on chilled dairy in Brazil, with Fonterra owning 51 percent stake and Nestle taking remaining 49 percent.

Miles Hurrell, Chief Executive, Fonterra, reportedly stated that the review on DPA Brazil into future ownership options and whether to sell is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Apparently, Fonterra has plans to shut over 100-year old Dennington factory in Australia. The company has 98 employees at Dennington and Fonterra’s top priority will be to support them, Hurrell added.

Fonterra’s revenue for the nine months to 30 April 2019 was $15 billion, up 1% during the same period last year. The volume of sales was 16.6 billion liquid milk equivalent (LME), up 4%. However, normalized EBIT was down 9% to $522 million.

For the record, Fonterra, founded in the year 2001, is a New Zealand based multinational dairy cooperative owned by nearly 10,500 farmers in New Zealand. The company is responsible for around 30 percent of the dairy exports of the world.


Source: DEC Research News

Australian Dairy Industry Takes Further Hit as Drought Conditions Become ‘New Norm’

The Australian dairy industry will need to contend with drought as the “new norm”, a diary giant has warned after the closure of a processing plant.

Almost 100 staff will lose their jobs at the century-old Dennington plant in Western Victoria after continued drought conditions made it “not viable” to continue operations, Miles Hurrell, the chief executive of dairy multinational Fonterra, announced on Thursday.

“This is not a one-off for this season, it’s the new norm for the Australian dairy industry and we need to adapt,” Mr Hurrell said.

“With the reduced milk pool in Australia, we must put it into our highest returning products and most efficient assets. Dennington is over 100 years old and not viable in a low-milk pool environment.”

Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy producer, also slashed its full-year guidance and said it expects earnings per share in the range of (NZD) 10-15 cents instead of its earlier estimate of (NZD) 15-25 cents.

“The Australian ingredients business continues to feel the impact of the drought and other significant changes that mean there is excess manufacturing capacity in the Australian dairy industry,” Mr Hurrell said.

Workers at the Dennington plant, which opened in 1911, were informed of the decision on Wednesday, with milk suppliers reportedly being given a November closure date.

Frank Kelly, the site’s National Union of Workers delegate, said the closure “hasn’t really hit home yet”, though workers had been expecting bad news since October when the plant stopped producing a Nestle product for export.

“Once that decision was made … we were always in a bad position … we were down to probably 30 or 40 per cent capacity,” he said.

The closure’s impact is likely to be felt throughout the broader community as well, Mr Kelly added.

“It’ll definitely affect the community, and the uncertainty about the site, what’s going to happen to it, that sort of thing.”

Farm earnings expected to fall

Dairy farming accounts for around 6 per cent of Australia’s agricultural production, and generates $3 billion of agricultural export income, however the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources noted drought is expected to be a “major influence” on earnings this year.

“Average farm cash income is projected to decline by around 42 per cent in 2018–19 to $93,000 per farm,” the department’s industry overview, updated on May 6, noted.

“Lower crop production is contributing to higher prices for fodder and feed-grains. The drought has also reduced the availability of pasture on dairy farms in drought-affected regions, increasing expenditure on purchased feed.

“Dairy farmers in the Murray region have also been faced with higher water prices because of increased competition for scarce supplies.”

In February, Woolworths announced it would no longer sell its $1 per litre milk in response to the increased pressure on dairy producers.

“In our consultation with industry bodies … we’ve heard the outlook will continue to be extremely tough for dairy farmers,” Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci said.

“This is affecting milk production and farm viability, which is devastating for farmers and the regional communities in which they live.”

After an initial period of resistance, Aldi and Coles followed Woolworths’ lead in a move that was welcomed by the industry.

However, the agriculture department noted that the “slightly higher milk prices are expected to be offset by decreased average milk production per farm and increased expenditure on fodder”.

No rain on horizon

The Bureau of Meteorology published new data in May showing winter will be drier than average in New South Wales, Victoria, south-eastern South Australia, northern Tasmania, the Northern Territory, and parts of Western Australia.

Meanwhile, drought-ravaged Queensland is not expected to hit historical averages for rainfalls for June to August.


Source: The New Daily

Budget 2019 a Positive Sign for Canadian Dairy Farmers

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) welcomes today’s Budget 2019 announcement, which contains a funding envelope of $3.9 billion to compensate Canada’s dairy, poultry, and egg sectors for the impact of concessions granted in the recent Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Of that amount, $2.15 billion would be available for income losses and another $1.5 billion for a Quota Value Guarantee Program.

“The federal government recognizes the impact of trade agreements on our sector and is following through on its commitment to support our domestic dairy industry,” says Pierre Lampron, DFC’s President of the Board of Directors.

The combined impact of concessions granted under CETA, CPTPP, and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) represent annual losses of 8.4% of Canada’s milk production.

Today’s announcement focuses on the agreements that have been ratified. “We also welcome the government’s commitment to continue the dialogue on the future impact of CUSMA on our sector,” added Mr. Lampron.

Additional comments will follow once details of the announcement are provided.


Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada

Farmers quietly confident in Jersey breed amid renewed signs of embattled dairy industry

Few farmers at the Western District Jersey Breeders dinner knew of the Dennington factory’s fate, but for one what came to mind was said “I told you so”.

Bookaar dairy farmer Roger Heath said he had ended his supply contract with Fonterra after becoming “disappointed” in the company.

“They will keep shutting down plants, they are just not going to get the milk that they need,” Mr Heath said. 

“There is less farmers around, there is more milk around, and if they’re not prepared to pay the price they’re not going to get the milk.”

Mr Heath was honoured at the dinner for his family’s 75 years of Jersey cow breeding after his great grandmother established the breed in 1943. 

He said he was optimistic about the breed’s role in the dairy industry’s future.

“The way they convert their feed just gives us an edge over other breeds.” Mr Heath said. 

“We are more likely to be able to survive with the way the industry has been.

“I could see us going forever, who knows.”


Source: The Standard

Owner Collected Data: The Future of the Dairy Industry

Traditionally, in dairy cattle breeding, it has been a rule that only third party captured and verified data had been allowed to be published. By extension, anything less than that is considered second rate and must not be published. Is that the way for the future? The Bullvine is laying all the cards on the table so tomorrow’s dairy people can see both from the past and to the future.

What’s Behind Us?

Over the past 150 years, investors put their dollars down and imported dairy breeds into their countries. To protect their investments, they started their own breed societies to record and verify lineage. DHI’s were started to authenticate yield and % Fat and for management purposes. Independent expert conformation evaluators were hired to compare animals to a visual ideal. All these steps were used to confirm that the animals were what their owners claimed them to be in most countries, that has been the basis for publishing performance and genetic information for commercial purposes.

Minimum accuracy levels of at least 80% REL, were required for listing sire daughter proofs until genomic indexing came on stream a decade ago. DHIR cow records were considered to be accurate, only requiring monthly DHI supervisor visit results being used in the calculations of lactation totals. Owner recorded production records were not considered unbiased and publishable. The functionality of a cow was determined by breed society conformation scoring.

Everyone Benefited

Breeders that have been marketing breeding stock received financial benefit by having publishable information to document the animals they were selling. Breed societies gained memberships and business because cattle owners wanted to be part of the selling crowd. DHI’s benefited through dairy farmers participating in their programs. A.I. benefited because dairy farmers could trust the published information on their sires. Researchers benefited because they had reliable data to analyze. Genetic evaluation centres helped by knowing the data they used could be depended upon as accurate and third-party verified. Internationally standards were developed for all forms of dairy cattle data and rules and regulations were adhered to. Dairy farmers benefited because they had information to breed, feed, manage and perhaps market their animals. Moreover, so dairy cattle genetic and actual performance advancement occurred at a slow to moderate rate.

Past Data Collection will not take your Dairy into the Future

Dairy folks have been trained to require 90+% accuracy when making sire selection decisions. However, the fact is that the last 5-10% in accuracy for a few traits is too costly for what it adds in improving overall herd profitability. Having expanded information from many more observations including health, reproductive, efficiency and functional traits that directly influence bottom line profit far out-weigh the last ten per cent inaccuracy for any single trait.  Furthermore, beyond genetics, the expanded animal data will be very valuable for nutrition, management and business purposes.

Dairy Data Isn’t the Destination

For many dairy people, who are comfortable with the past, the future with automated systems looks frightening. Yet for many progressive dairy people wanting to advance and to be viable and sustainable, they realize that the future provides opportunities when it comes to animal information and how to use it.

The following are some Factors that will mark the Turning Point in Data Collection:

  • Animal parentage will be determined using a sample supplied to a DNA lab. Tomorrow’s breeders will target the gene composition of their animals – much more than breed purity.
  • Only the genetically elite purebred females will be selling for more than their value as milk producers. The days of $3000+ for above average bred heifers are behind us.
  • The most accurate lactation information for a cow will be the on-farm computer captured weights and compositions from every milking during a lactation. Soon there will be routinely calibrated devices accurately to measure %fat, %protein and udder health, with more measurements to come, at the parlour level. A cow measured 100 to 900 times in a lactation will have more accurate information than from 4-8 supervised test day samples run through an internationally certified lab. Since all cows in a herd will have data captured using the same device, within-herd comparisons will be accurate.
  • Dairy managers will require more milking cow information on health, feed conversion/feed intake, stress factors, rumination, mobility, reproduction, and more. They will want the information instantaneously with all on-farm data capture systems linked, combined and modelled in order to feed, breed and manage in real time.
  • Dairy managers will also want on-farm data capture and analysis systems that include calves, heifers and dry cows.
  • Herds will be mated on an animal group basis, determined by genetic merit, instead of animal phenotype. Epigenetics and nutrigenetics information will be used when making mating decisions.
  • Genomic indexes will increase in accuracy, to 80%-90% REL, within the next decade provided there is phenotypic data captured on-farm and shared to central databases for analysis.
  • 95+% of the sires used will be genomically evaluated, and their sexed semen will produce 95+% female offspring. There will be no need to keep sires in stud after 50,000 doses have been frozen.
  • The availability of more and more on-farm economically relevant data will far out-weigh the value of third-party verified data on a limited number of traits for 95+% of dairy farms.
  • Plan for the rate of change and animal improvement to be even faster in the future.
  • Tomorrow’s dairy operators will require all the data, from the field to the fork, to be successful.

Are There Steps to Get to the Future?      

The short answer is yes. However, it will require proactive and dynamic decisions by the dairy industry:

  1. Dairy people will decide for themselves what individual dairy animal data and information they will consider, trust and use.
  2. Individual animal data/information, when published, will be labelled as to the data source.
  3. On-line apps will be used for sourcing, comparing and benchmarking data and information.
  4. Computer software-based learning technologies will provide herd managers with comprehensive and forecasting models, so dairy enterprise plans and strategies can be achieved.
  5. Dairy cattle owners will focus their genetic improvement planning on their herd’s economically important needs.
  6. Private company proprietary genetic indexes are here to stay. Companies will need to be able to show relevance and accuracy for their indexes.

Time and technology will wait for no person. You will either be with or ahead of change, or you will quickly finish behind the pack.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

‘The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.’

Past measures that were in place to protect the innocent from wrong information have served the dairy improvement industry well. However, the future will use animal data and information much differently.

Dairy people, their advisors and service providers, are already in the Age of Data Super Power. The volume of data will increase exponentially. The large volume of data points for many more factors will lead to high overall accuracy and facilitate dairy farm success.

Organizations and breeders that stick with the past will remain in the past. In the future individuals and organizations that implement new procedures, new technology, new systems and new disclosure and accountability protocols will be the leaders.




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Dairy Association To Pay $40 Mil To Settle Claims Of False Pricing That Depressed Milk Prices

An association of dairy cooperatives will pay $40 million to settle claims by farmers that false pricing data depressed milk prices.

Twenty-six thousand farmers settled a class-action lawsuit against DairyAmerica Inc., a dairy cooperative that represents the United Dairymen of Arizona, among others.

Farmers claim the association knowingly provided false pricing data to the USDA, which depressed already low raw milk prices.

The settlement comes at a time when dairy prices are at record lows in the state.

Arizona now ranks fifth-lowest for major dairy producing states, according to the USDA’s May milk production report.

Source: KJZZ

Does dairy need a closer look at its brand as people turn to what they believe are ‘healthier’ alternatives?

As consumers look to the shelves for what they consider to be healthier food options, alternative milks have been muscling in on the dairy market.

But research often points to old-school dairy milk being the more nutritious option to have in your cup of tea or coffee, or on your breakfast cereal.

And one nutritionist, who has worked alongside the dairy industry, believes misconceptions about plant-based milk’s health benefits over dairy milk was a clear sign the dairy industry needed a re-brand.

Nutritional food scientist Dr Anneline Padayachee said the idea that dairy milk was “worse for you”, health wise, was misguided, and the industry needed to ensure it did not become more unfavourable with consumers.

“It’s traditional. It’s children’s food. It’s seen as what you have a dash of in your cup of tea or on your breakfast cereal — when it is not that at all,” she said.

“Plant milks really are fixated on functional benefits, and they’re actually promoting their products on a range of health benefits for a specific health outcome.

Alternative milks, or ‘mylks’ as they’ve been dubbed, still only represented a small share of the overall milk market but it has been increasing.

According to figures from Dairy Australia it has risen from 5 per cent to 7 per cent between 2010 to 2017.

That accounts for 95 million litres of milk.

It is a shift that is well documented, and while many reports attribute the change, in part, to intolerances, they say people are looking for a more environmentally friendly and healthier option to have in their morning coffee or on their breakfast cereal.

Dairy milk needs a re-brand

Dr Padayachee said there were a number of reasons why dairy’s reputation was taking a hit.

“In the 1970s and 80s fat was demonised,” she said.

“Then we’ve got the fact that your plant-based products are just that — plant based.

“So when you hear that, it automatically infers that if you have a plant milk it’s going to be healthier version. But it doesn’t actually mean that, it’s about your overall dietary quality.”

The nutritional benefits of milk have been seconded by senior spokesperson and accredited practicing dietitian for the Dietary Association of Australia, Margaret Hays.

She said consumers needed to be better informed on the best options for their diet and not fall for fashionable trends.

“It comes down to the individual and what they’re using it for,” she said.

“A lot of people don’t have any clue when I start explaining protein content, and vitamin and mineral content.

“There’s the information out there if people want to see it, but people are so quick to jump on board when someone is spouting-on about something.”

Dairy industry monitoring developments

The move from dairy milk to alternative milk has been recognised by the dairy industry’s main research body, Dairy Australia.

Managing director David Nation said dairy made up 93 per cent of milk sales.

But research done for Dairy Australia also showed about a third of consumers who purchased plant-based products also bought dairy milk.

Mr Nation said it would be a concern if consumers moved away from dairy for incorrect reasons, “if people have foregone milk for the wrong reasons and given up milk when it is actually the healthiest food they could be consuming,” he said.

Mr Nation agreed there was work to be done by the industry to give it a better name, nutritionally.

“Our challenge is to continue to talk about the value that it has in everyone’s diet, at all ages.”

Debunking myths about dairy

Dr Padayachee said “flexitarians” looking to have a better impact on the environment and health were often the ones to move towards plant-based milk.

But nutritionally, plant-based milks were often inferior.

“If a plant-based milk is properly supplemented — so it has added calcium and different vitamins and minerals added to it — then from that perspective [plant based and dairy milk] are fairly similar,” she said.

Dr Padayachee said she was aware of many major plant-based milk brands that did not supplement their products, and even with supplements there were nutritional aspects of dairy milk that could not be mimicked.

“There are a lot of naturally bioactive components to milk,” she said.

She said dairy’s nutrients were also more easily digested in the human body than other food products.

Does milk make you fat?

Dr Padayachee said another misconception about dairy milk was that its fat content was bad for you.

She said there was no doubt, comparing almond milk and full cream dairy milk, almond milk had considerably less calories.

But she said calories in general had been demonised when they should not be because overall health should not be measured on a food’s energy content.

“When you eat something you’re not just measuring energy, you’re also intaking nutritional composition,” Dr Padayachee said.

She said the fat content of milk was also relatively low compared to many other products.

“Full cream milk has got about 4 per cent fat max, so we’re talking about a product that is 96 per cent fat-free,” she said.

“If you think about that, other products make a huge marketing campaign about that. It’s not a bad thing.

“Plus, you also need fat to enhance your absorption of different nutrients as well.”

When are plant-based milks better for you?

When it comes to digestibility and nutrition, there is a clear time when plant-based milks are better for you.

“It would definitely be better for you if you’re lactose intolerant,” Dr Padayachee said.

There are also a number of reports that indicate plant-based milks are better for the environment.

According to a University of Oxford study, producing a glass of dairy milk results in almost three times the greenhouse gas emissions of any non-dairy milks.


Source: ABC News

Industry rival asks Synlait to stop building Pokeno factory

Managing director of GMP Pharmaceuticals, Qing Ye, pictured at the Auckland factory in East Tamaki.

A rival Chinese dairy manufacturer has thrown a spanner in the works of Synlait’s $280 million Pokeno factory.

Managing director of GMP Pharmaceuticals Qing Ye (also known as Karl Ye) has sent a “cease and desist” request to Synlait to stop work on the factory.

Ye is also 100 per cent owner and shareholder of New Zealand Industrial Park Limited, and has bought land adjacent to the Pokeno factory. The letter has been written in his capacity as owner of NZPL. 

Synlait chief executive Leon Clement said the letter was a request and not an order, so work was continuing on the plant, which is due to be completed by August.

Ye’s letter follows a Court of Appeal decision two weeks ago, which restored covenants affecting the near-complete factory. The historic covenants had said the land where Synlait was building the factory could be used only for farming, forestry or lifestyle blocks.

Synlait bought the land in February last year from Stonehill Trustee. As a condition of the land sale, Stonehill had agreed to remove the covenants.

In May last year Ye bought 84.5 hectares of land adjacent to the factory site. When Stonehill applied to have the covenants removed he objected, and the case went to the High Court, which found in Stonehill’s favour.

In the meantime, Synlait started work on the factory, which is set to take milk from about 100 farmers in the Waikato district.

Asked if the company had done its due diligence, Clement said it had.

“We’ve been clear in our assessments and the advice we’ve received, that was consistent with the High Court finding. The outcome of the Court of Appeal has come as a surprise to us and other parties. The development at Pokeno is consistent with the zoning of the land which is for industrial and consistent with the surrounding area because there’s another nutrition site in the surrounding area,” Clement said.

Synlait was in discussions with all parties and had a range of options it could follow, including legal routes and appeals.

The company would be taking milk from contracted farmers from June 1, the first day of the new milking season, but it could not be processed at the factory.

“The dairy industry is good at supporting each other in terms of finding contingencies and making sure there are arrangements put in place. We help out our dairy colleagues from time to time and I expect we’ll able to lean on those,” Clement said.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said Synlait’s farmers would receive the price for the milk originally contracted, but the company’s profits might be hit if the factory could not be built on time.

Clement said the cease and desist order had a deadline on it, which he was not prepared to divulge.

“We’ve got to think about protecting the interests of our investors, staff and suppliers,” he said.

There are 160 workers on the site, and it is expected to provide 50-70 jobs once it is commissioned.

Although Ye is managing director of GMP Pharmaceuticals, the land he bought adjacent to the Pokeno factory is in the name of New Zealand Industrial Park Limited, of which he is the only shareholder.  

GMP describes itself as “a leading privately-owned Australia and New Zealand based manufacturing company specialising in complementary healthcare products, natural health and dairy products”.

In 2016 former prime minister Bill English and Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross  were guests of honour at the opening of its new East Tamaki facility.

Ye would not respond to requests for an interview over the issue. 


Source: Stuff

NMPF Celebrates Lifting of Tariffs Against U.S. Dairy; Hard Work Remains on Trade

The National Milk Producers Federation today celebrated Mexico’s lifting of retaliatory tariffs against U.S. cheese exports. Still, hard work remains for lawmakers and officials to further improve the trade outlook for dairy farmers, with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement yet to be approved and a prolonged trade dispute with China clouding dairy exports.

“Dairy farmers have much to celebrate, with the resumption of normal business with our largest export partner,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “To move forward in boosting exports, Congress needs to pass the USMCA, and administration officials need to resolve the latest impasse in U.S. negotiations with China in a way that’s favorable to producers. Meanwhile, trade negotiations with Japan and other key partners also must move ahead. The time for progress on all fronts is now.”

Mexico is the largest destination for U.S. dairy products, with Mexico purchasing $1.4 billion last year. Mexico’s retaliatory exports against dairy resulted from the U.S. imposition of tariffs against Mexican metals last year. After the three nations announced the end of the metal tariffs on Friday, the retaliatory tariffs were lifted shortly thereafter. Canada, the second-largest destination, also lifted its retaliatory tariffs against U.S. yogurt.

The USMCA, concluded last fall but still not voted on in Congress, would restore trade certainty with our largest export market and increase access to Canada’s market while making key changes to Canada’s trade-distorting dairy-pricing policies. Meanwhile, trade conflict with China, the third-biggest buyer of U.S. dairy, intensified last week. The escalation of trade tensions has left tariffs on U.S. dairy exporters in place, and China recently increased tariffs on U.S. lactose and infant formula, among other goods, showing continued trade damage to U.S. farmers.

The USDA is currently considering assistance to farmers harmed by trade-related actions. NMPF continues to advocate that the USDA develop a robust dairy package that reflects the damages producers have faced.


Source: NMPF

Lifelong dairy farmer sells his herd amid market crisis

Dairy Crisis

As life-long dairy farmer, Ryan Dunham of rural Westby says the hardest thing about selling his Holstein herd is figuring out what to do next.

Ryan Dunnum had tears in his eyes as he looked over the empty milking parlor that he built. It hadn’t been used since the end of April, when he decided enough was enough and sold most of his herd.

The weight of dairy market volatility started to feel overwhelming in January, he said, after frigid temperatures caused the parlor pipes to freeze and his herd blew through feed to keep warm and produce milk.

“I always had high optimism,” he said. “It was a drain… we’re here where we’re at now, going ‘Can you do it? Can’t you do it? Do you want to do it?’ then the question comes, ‘What are you going to do?’”

His farm is one of hundreds in Wisconsin that have shuttered this year. The rate of dairy closures has increased from two per day in Wisconsin in 2018 to three per day in 2019 so far. But he hopes to jump back into the business if the market price for milk rises and the cost of feed lowers.

Dunnum, who bought his first cow at age 5 with the money he earned from helping his father harvest tobacco, grew the herd to 105 during the course of 38 years. Both sides of his family farmed for generations but now he thinks he was “the last Dunnum in the world to milk cows.”

His 120-acre farm, aptly named Top of the Town, sits on a hill in Westby where he says he can see 4th of July fireworks from surrounding cities on all sides.

Dunnum bought the business from his mother in 2006 after his father passed away. She remembers milking cows by hand before she went to school each morning. In 2015, Dunnum brought his mother up to the new milking parlor to show her how technology changed the industry.

“It wasn’t her style,” he said with a chuckle.

Dairy Crisis
14 heifers are all that remain on Ryan Dunham’s farm in rural Westby. Dunham made the hard decision to sell his 50 head milking heard in April due to the challenging finances he faced from low milk prices.

He hoped to pass the family business to one of his six children, two boys and four girls whose ages range from 3 years-old to 18 years-old. He and his wife lost their seventh child at nine days old, to E. coli sepsis in the lungs, in 2012.

Today, Dunnum’s herd is down to 14 after he sold most of his cows to slaughter to pay bills and keep a cash flow going, after he realized it was costing too much to buy feed.

With the help of his neighbors and two of his children who stayed home from school, his herd was loaded onto trucks one day and taken to Equity Cooperative in Sparta. The cows that remain on Dunnum’s farm are young stock that he hopes to use to get the business going again, if he decides to try to go back into the dairy industry.

“Right now, I’m just kind of like a displaced farmer,” he said.

Dunnum, who got up every morning for decades to take care of his herd, now finds himself without direction, without that routine. “It’s almost like trying to take a wild animal and caging it,” he said.

Dairy Crisis
A concrete Holstein cow given to Ryan Dunham by his wife, Jamie, marks the entrance to their now defunct dairy farm in rural Westby.

Before he quit, he sold his milk to Westby Cooperative Creamery, a 115-year-old organization owned by more than 200 farmers that produces cultured products and cheeses, where he sits as a board member with two years left on his term.

The board gave him time to rebuild his herd, if that’s the route he takes.

“I told them, ‘the cows gotta go, but I really would like to stay on the board,’ so they said they’d hold my seat until the 31st of July to see if I can get cows back,” Dunnum said.

He and his wife considered diversifying their agriculture products to provide a boost to their income amid the crisis and bought an established Christmas tree farm last year as well as an Angus cow for Dunnum’s son before realizing the beef market wasn’t much better than dairy. Top of the Town Farm produces oats, alfalfa and corn across three 40-acre plots.

“Back in the day, most farms were paid for with one crop,” he said.

There were nine dairy producers within a few miles’ radius of Dunnum’s farm before the market downturn. Now he counts two that remain. He knows dairy producers are consolidating and growing larger to survive, but bucks the idea of needing to “get big or get out”.


“You start adding more cows, now you need more help but now you have expensive help, now you need more cows to pay the help but now all of a sudden you need more land, you need bigger equipment, and all of a sudden your margins start shrinking, and you start losing control,” he said. “It isn’t a family farm anymore.”

Dunnum Dairy empty barn
The barn adjacent to Dunnum’s milking parlor can hold up to 80 cows, but stands empty after he sold off 90% of his herd at the end of April.

He built the milking parlor and an adjunct barn for his milking herd that can hold up to 80 cows at one time a few years ago, but the barn never met capacity.

“I never hit that mark because of timing and pricing,” he said.

The stress of the volatile market, 18-hour work days between the tree and dairy farms, and the inability make ends meet took its toll on his family. Communication and trust between Dunnum and his wife broke down when she found out he wasn’t able to pay some of the bills.

“I feel like I let her down,” he said, his voice breaking. “Everything’s imploding and what do you do?”

He said it would take about $25,000 to get his dairy business rolling again, but banks are hesitant to provide a loan with only his equity as collateral, without evidence of a cash flow.

Dunnum has some feed left in his silo that he’s saving to jump start his small herd if the market improves. His pasture is overgrown with the grass his cows used to eat. A self-proclaimed optimist, Dunnum believes there’s something better.

“I talked to my 15-year-old son the night I sold the cows,” he said with a sigh, his voice echoed in the empty milking parlor. “He was upset. ‘I said you know what? Maybe this is the end of the curse.’ Years, generations. The amount of work I put in to this.”


Trump trade war hits US dairy exports to China

The US Dairy Export Council reported earlier this month that exports to China had fallen 43 per cent since the tariffs went into effect last July.

The overall March volume was half of what it was a year ago, before retaliatory tariffs hurt US competitiveness.

Chinese dairy imports have grown by 13 per cent in the first quarter compared with last year.

«But the United States has been left out of the China expansion,» the export council said.

Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin executive director Shelly Mayer said the latest tariff exchange and lack of progress on reaching a new trade deal would affect on the entire industry.

International trade was key to helping lift five years of low prices.

Ms Mayer said trade disputes with countries such as China could leave the door open for Europeans and others to fill orders.

But the US has moved into other markets including into markets which have been Australian strongholds.

The US export council reported record volumes of cheese were exported in March to a growing customer base in South Korea, Japan, South-East Asia, the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region and Central America.

The US dairy industry is also hopeful last week’s agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada will speed the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The United States agreed to end Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from its North American neighbours.

US dairy officials expect that in return Mexico will drop its retaliatory tariffs against US dairy products including duties as high as 25pc on US cheese exports to Mexico.


Source: Farm Online

Dairy industry cheers rollback of tariff

U.S. dairy officials today congratulated the governments of the United States, Mexico and Canada for reaching an agreement to roll back metal tariffs that have soured U.S.-Mexico cheese trade and slowed passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The United States agreed to end Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from its North American neighbors. In return, U.S. dairy officials expect that Mexico will drop their retaliatory tariffs against U.S. dairy products – including duties as high as 25 percent on U.S. cheese exports to Mexico.

“This is an important development for the U.S. dairy industry, and we applaud the hard work of negotiators from all three countries that made it possible as well as the numerous members of Congress that have insisted upon the need to resolve the Section 232 metal tariffs dispute with our North American partners,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “If Mexico lifts its tariffs on U.S. dairy in response, it would be a welcome return to normalcy with our number one export market. It would also build vital momentum for swiftly advancing USMCA towards passage.”

“America’s struggling dairy farmers are in need of some good news, and today’s announcement certainly helps,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This paves the way for Mexico to drop retaliatory tariffs that have harmed dairy, and for Congress to take its next step to help our producers – to vote on USMCA and quickly ratify it.”

Mexico is, by far, America’s biggest dairy customer, with $1.4 billion in sales last year. U.S. products accounted for 80 percent of Mexican dairy imports by value in 2018, but that dominant market share was being jeopardized by the retaliatory tariffs.

The tariffs were likewise making it politically difficult for Congress to pass USMCA – a pact that modernizes the North American Free Trade Agreement, maintains U.S. dairy sales into Mexico, expands dairy market access in Canada, and reforms many nontariff barriers.

Vilsack and Mulhern also stressed the importance of finding similar common ground with China, which also slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dairy exporters in 2018 and recently upped the ante by hiking them further on some products. As a result of last year’s move by China, U.S. exports to that fast-growing dairy market fell by more than 40 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year. NMPF and USDEC have consistently advocated the urgency of resolving both the 232 and China disputes to allow our exporters to compete effectively in those markets.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council is a non-profit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. Its mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and assist the U.S. industry to increase its global dairy ingredient sales and exports of U.S. dairy products. USDEC accomplishes this through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers and advance industry trade policy goals. USDEC is supported by staff across the United States and overseas in Mexico, South America, Asia, Middle East and Europe. The U.S. Dairy Export Council prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, disability, national origin, race, color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, marital status, military status, and arrest or conviction record.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. NMPF’s member cooperatives produce the majority of U.S. milk, making NMPF the voice of dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. For more, visit

90,000 Less Dairy Cows in the US in the past year

The latest USDA production report for the US shows that milk production con continued its monthly decline in April, but is up slightly on the year while the herd continues to contract. Milk production in the U.S. was up one-tenth of a percent to 18.4 billion pounds with production per cow up 21 pounds—the highest for the month since reports started in 2003. The herd size was down 90,000 milking cows from last April and 1,000 from the prior month. Michigan continues to have the most productive cows in the nation. Virginia and Illinois had the largest decrease in milk production; Texas and Colorado had the largest increase. 


Are our family farmers on road to extinction?

Only a few weeks ago, the New York Times, of all newspapers, did an up close and personal look at Wisconsin’s dairy industry and concluded that the state’s milk farmers are facing extinction.

We were saying that way back in the so-called good old days, when Dwight Eisenhower was president and his agriculture secretary, Ezra Taft Benson, was cutting farm subsidies all the while milk prices were plummeting. Benson, a devout Mormon, believed farm price supports were a blatant example of socialism. To us farm kids at the time, Benson became a nasty name.

Many family farmers in the ’50s calculated that at the end of the day, they had actually lost money. It was costing them more to feed and nurture their milk cows than they received from the cheese factories and other milk processors who bought their milk.

Those days were probably the beginning of the long decline in the number of family farms that has escalated to alarming numbers in just the past couple of years, and has led to stories like the one in the Times last month. Yes, there have been rebounds and better times in the nearly 70 years since Ezra Taft Benson was secretary, but in the long run, family farmers have been left behind.

There has never been a satisfactory answer to dealing with surplus production, as one example. Farms aren’t like factories, after all. If too much of a product is being manufactured, the factory can simply be idled for a few months. If too much milk is being produced, how do you get thousands of independent farmers to act as one? It’s impossible.

The current low milk prices being paid to farmers is a direct result of the glut of milk on the market.

All that, of course, has been bad enough. But now, as if farmers had not already suffered enough economic harm, they’re being asked to do more — like suck it up during Donald Trump’s tariff war with China.

The dairy industry had been holding out hope that the surplus problem could be eased by building stronger international sales. China was seen as an important part of that. Unfortunately, the tariff war has dashed all hopes for that.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council reported last week that the volume of dairy exports to China has fallen by 43 percent since Trump’s tariffs went into effect. Those close to the situation are afraid that once American farmers lose those sales, they will be much harder to win back. When you’re forced to forge new relationships for a product, they usually last.

Nor are dairy groups impressed with Trump’s plan to send one-time cash payments to farmers hurt by the tariffs. Shelly Mayer, executive director of Professional Dairy Producers, has proclaimed that the aid promised by Trump isn’t nearly enough to make up for the revenue farmers are losing.

Last year, Wisconsin led the nation in farm bankruptcies for the third year in a row. Between Jan. 1 and May 1 this year, more than 300 family farmers have called it quits.

They’re being told by Trump and Republican legislators that they should just hold tight and suffer short-term pain for long-term gain.

Sounds good, but it’s not a recipe for survival.


Source: The Cap Times

2019 RWDCA Award Recipients Announced

The Red and White Dairy Cattle Association is pleased to announce the 2019 RWDCA Award Recipients.

The Larry Moore Master Breeder Award for 2019 goes to Milksource Genetics LLC of Kaukauna, WI. This award is presented to a person(s) who is a member of the RWDCA and has done an outstanding job of breeding a herd of Red & White cattle supported RWDCA programs and endeavored to promote and advance the Red & White Cow.

J.P. “Doc” Ostrander Young Breeder Award for 2019 will be presented to Andrew and Jodene Stuewe of Flower-Brook Holsteins, Hamburg, MN. The award is given to a person who is a member of the RWDCA, who has done an outstanding job of breeding a herd of Red & White cattle supported RWDCA programs and endeavored to promote and advance the Red & White Cow.

Don Albrecht Distinguished Service Award for 2019 will be awarded to Verlo Dewall. This award is presented to a person that has contributed greatly to the success and promotion of the Red & White cow — awarded in memory of Don Albrecht who contributed significantly to the betterment of the RWDCA.

The Gary Mayhew Keystone Award this year will be given to Nancy Sell, Watertown, WI. This award is presented to a grassroots member that has given dedicated support to the Red & White Breed and the RWDCA. In memory of Gary Mayhew who actively promoted the Red & Whites and provided service to the RWDCA and it’s members.

These awards will be presented at the 2019 RWDCA National Membership Meeting and Brunch to be held June 23rd at the Darboy Club in Appleton, WI.


Current New Zealand milk season looks good but not record breaking

With just over a fortnight to go, the country’s current milk season looks to have been a good – but not stellar – year for processors as dry weather at the tail end crimped production.

Production was initially very strong on the back of excellent pasture growth.

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s milk production was running about 5 percent higher season-to-date in January compared to last year. However the country’s dominant milk processor now expects total collection will be 0.3 percent higher at 1,510 million kilograms of milk solids due to hot, dry weather. Fonterra collects more than 80 percent of New Zealand’s milk.

“Warm and dry weather from early January brought with it drought-like conditions for much of New Zealand,” said Julia Jones, NZX head of analytics. The New Zealand dairy season runs from June 1 to May 31.

“As dry conditions continued over the following months, farmers were left at a crossroads, deciding whether to reduce milking frequencies earlier than normal or to apply extra feed to extend milk supplies further into the season,” she said.

Industry feedback suggests many opted to dry off and focus more on profit rather than meeting production targets, she said.

It’s not just Fonterra’s farmer looking at a good year.

“Westland’s milk supply from supplying farms in the ’18/19 season to date is up 3.45 percent on the 2017/18 season for the same period. This is up 1 percent on budget, as we had predicted an increase in supply,” said chief executive Toni Brendish.

Westland Milk Products is located on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island and has signed a conditional agreement to sell the cooperative to Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group for $588 million.

Brendish said Westland expects to achieve 65-66 million kgMS this year, slightly below its five-year average of 67 million kgMS. Westland processes between 3 and 4 percent of New Zealand’s milk, depending on fluctuations in the national milk supply.

“The increase in supply is largely because we expected, and experienced, better weather in 2018/19. Both 2017/18, and 2016/17 were cold wet seasons that had a direct negative impact on cows’ production,” she said.

While the weather was better than previous seasons, the recent drought has impacted.

“Overall we have had a steady season and we are 3 percent up on last year, albeit we had a very strong start to the season and have been impacted by dry conditions through late February, March and April,” said Miraka chief executive officer Richard Wyeth. Miraka is owned by several Maori trusts and Vietnam’s Vinamilk, operating near Taupo.

“So at the start of January we were looking at another record year by quite a margin, however, we will end the year slightly ahead of previous seasons but slightly behind budget,” he said. Miraka collects 25-26 million kgMS or around 1 percent of the market share, he said.

Shane Lodge, supply and environment manager for Yili-owned Oceania Dairy, said it would collect 250 million litres, “in line with our budget.” Oceania collects around 1.25 percent of New Zealand’s total milk from near its Glenavy Plant on the South Island.

He said Oceania currently has 73 suppliers and has no plans to increase supply numbers for the upcoming season. The site continues to expand processing capacity, he said.

“We are currently adding an additional canning and blending plant, a third UHT line, both due for completion in 2019, and a new laboratory due for completion in 2020. Current staff members are 315 and the plan is to be close to 400 by Christmas 2019,” he said.


Source: Scoop

Finalists Named for 66th Princess Kay of the Milky Way

Dairy princesses from across Minnesota gathered for the Dairy Promotion and Leadership Event held May 17-19 at the Courtyard by Marriott in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The weekend consisted of a leadership training, a chance to compete for a finalist spot for Princess Kay of the Milky Way and plenty of networking opportunities.

2019 Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalists. Front L to R: Elizabeth Golombiecki, Elizabeth Krienke, Lexie Lange, Brittney Tiede, Rachel Paskewitz. Back L to R: Kayla Biel, Amy Kyllo, Grace Jeurissen, Donna Honer, AnnaMarie Sachs.

The leadership conference offered the princesses a chance to learn about themselves and how to use their skills to promote dairy. They also learned how to be better advocates for the dairy community and networked with industry leaders and peers.

To compete to be a finalist for Princess Kay of the Milky Way, each princess had to submit an application, participate in a personal interview, prepare and deliver a speech, and participate in a mock media interview. From there, 10 finalists were named to go on to compete for the title of Minnesota’s 66th Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

The finalists include:

  • Kayla Biel, Harmony, daughter of Kevin and Kelly Biel, and representing Fillmore County;
  • Elizabeth Golombiecki, Morris, daughter of Julie Golombiecki and the late Ron Golombiecki, and representing Stevens County;
  • Donna Honer, St. Cloud, daughter of Scott and Toni Honer, and representing Stearns County;
  • Grace Jeurissen, Lester Prairie, daughter of Rick and Mindy Jeurissen, and representing McLeod County;
  • Elizabeth Krienke, Lester Prairie, daughter of Kraig and Rachelle Krienke, and representing McLeod County;
  • Amy Kyllo, Byron, daughter of Paul and Susan Kyllo, and representing Olmsted County;
  • Lexie Lange, Sherburn, daughter of Mark and Joanna Lange, and representing Martin County;
  • Rachel Paskewitz, Browerville, daughter of Alan and Vicki Paskewitz, and representing Todd County;
  • AnnaMarie Sachs, Eyota, daughter of Charlie and Carrie Sachs, and representing Olmsted County; and
  • Brittney Tiede, Le Center, daughter of Lloyd and Diane Tiede, and representing Le Sueur County.

These 10 young women will have their likeness carved in blocks of butter during the 2019 Minnesota State Fair. Princess Kay and county dairy princesses make appearances to help explain dairy farm families’ commitment to taking care of their animals and resources while providing nutrient-rich dairy products.


EU dairy could suffer in trade war with US – Irish products hardest hit

A new report from Rabobank says the makings of a trade war between the US and the EU are brewing, and it’s not good news for European dairy.

On April 12, 2019, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced it is considering levying additional tariffs on European products included in 317 tariff codes, valued at approximately $21bn.

The US list of 317 European products includes 44 dairy tariff codes, which cover European butter, yogurt and cheese varieties with a 2018 import value of $1bn.  However, of the more than 400 tariff codes on the EU list, only 11 include dairy products, and US dairy exports to the EU valued only $100m.

The recent announcement publicizes a more-than-a-decade-old dispute between the US and the EU. While butter, cheese, and yogurt imports account for a small percentage of US supply, and EU exports to the US represent a small percentage of European output, additional tariffs on selected European dairy exports to the US will create winners and losers, the authors of the report said.

EU affected more than US

Mary Ledman, global strategist – dairy at Rabobank, said, “In general, specialty European cheeses are high value and not necessarily as price sensitive at the retail level.  However, a 100% surcharge on top of an already pricey product could have customers choosing a less-expensive domestic cheese or non-EU import.

“Many imported European cheeses are marketed and distributed by specialty food companies, which also carry domestic specialty cheeses in their product lines. As a result, an additional 100% tariff on European cheeses is likely to reduce the competitiveness of European cheeses in the US market, decrease the promotional activity of European cheeses, encourage US consumers to explore less-costly domestic specialty cheeses, and provide a competitive advantage to non-EU imported specialty cheeses.”

The report notes that the EU stands to lose more than the US, because US imports of European dairy products far exceed European imports of US dairy.

In this case, the winners would include, but not be limited to, the specialty dairy manufacturers across the US and in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and other non-EU countries.

Biggest losers

Individually, the biggest loser is likely to be Ireland, with nearly 34,500 metric tons of annual dairy exports at risk of higher tariffs.  Rabobank said nearly all US imports of Irish butter and cheese are covered under the 44 codes. More than 96% of cheese imported from France, Spain and the UK are included, as well as 75% from Denmark and Germany, and almost 50% of Italian cheese could be affected.

The US annual allocation of licensed EU butter is 9,616 metric tons and, as a result, Rabobank said the vast majority of Irish butter is subjected to the non-licensed TRQ rate of $1.541/kg. The report says the worst-case scenario is that if an additional 100% tariff was applied, US consumers would be paying double for European butter – and European branded butter is already twice the cost of US branded butter.Collectively, Rabobank said, the EU-28 can ill afford to lose the US as a market for more than 100,000 metric tons of cheese, especially with the uncertainty of a hard Brexit looming, which would place the UK’s 400,000 metric ton cheese market up for grabs.


No shortage of accolades for multi-generational Jersey enterprise

More than 70 years and three generations have got Bushlea Farms in South Gippsland to where it is today.

The dairy farm and Jersey stud at Koonwarra, in South Gippsland, is a team effort run by Wayne and Lisa Kuhne and their 11-year-old daughter Ruby along with Wayne’s parents Keith and Pat.

They are continuing a legacy started by Wayne’s grandparents, Norm and Marge, who began milking agisted Jersey cows in 1945, and it’s those exact bloodlines that are still part of their herd today.

“Four of the cow families bought back then are still in the herd,” Wayne said.

“We’ve always had Jerseys they’ve been good to us. Their feed efficiency is good and they’re a good=sized cow to work with. We find them trouble-free.”

Working on 194ha, the Kuhnes milk 400 cows, having slowly increased milking numbers from 370 in the past few years.

“Once we finish calving later in the year we’ll be at 450 milkers,” Wayne said.

“With the improvements to the farm over the years we’ve picked up more milking area. We’re now milking to what we’re able to milk — it’s been a natural progression.”

On a roll: Employees Will Thorson and Courtney Pulhan with Bushlea Jersey stud’s managers Wayne and Lisa Kuhne and Wayne’s parents Keith and Path Kuhne. The Kuhnes began milking Jerseys in 1945 and some of the original bloodlines are still in the herd.

The Kuhnes bought two new properties at Koonwarra back in 2000. They continued to milk at Keith and Pat’s farm for the following two years while they improved pasture, laneways and water infrastructure on the new farms in addition to building a new dairy.

“We owned the farm for two years before we did any of those things, so we were able to take our time and work things through,” Wayne said.

“When we left Mum and Dad’s place we milked in a six-a-side herringbone. The last year we milked there we milked 170 cows, which was about eight hours of milking a day.”


THEIR 20-a-side rapid-exit dairy, built in 2002, has sped up the milking process.

“We went to 20 or so dairies and took different things we liked from each dairy, put it all together and built this one,” Wayne said.

“We can milk 220-240 cows an hour with the rapid exit.”

The rapid exit is similar to a conventional herringbone according to Wayne, but each stall lifts away from the front of the cow, allowing each cow to walk straight out, speeding up the process.

Wayne’s father Keith is in 70s and still “loves milking cows”.

“Dad and I milk every morning, and the afternoon milking we rotate around. I don’t mind getting up — mornings are the best milking,” Wayne said.

School student Zali Deenen helps with weekend milkings, while full-time employee Courtney Pulhan, takes on afternoon shifts.

The Kuhnes take control of pasture improvements and fodder conservation, with the help of part-time employee, Willis Thorson, who does most of the tractor work.

Wayne said they were now preparing to re-sow pasture and break their annual pasture improvements into blocks of 50-80ha each year.

Fertiliser blends are applied between six to eight times a year on the milking blocks — depending on the autumn break and amount of rain — and four to five times a year on the two outblocks of 61ha and 97ha, which are used as heifer and bull blocks.


THE Kuhnes have supplied milk to ACM for about 12 months; a decision based on price and the fact ACM is Australian owned.

“Their payment system suits our milk flow system. When we met with them we were really happy; it’s been an excellent change,” Wayne said.

Herd production floats between 6000 and 7000 litres and around 550kg of milk solids.

“(Milk solid) has been up around 600kg, but it just depends on the price of commodities — the price of the broader feed we have to bring in — and what we’re getting paid, to the production we end up with. Production will be down a bit this year with the cost of grain and hay,” Wayne said.

“Over the past couple of years milking more cows, we’ve concentrated more on farm production rather than per cow production. Per cow (production) I don’t think reflects profitably.

“Profitability and per cow production are two different things.”

When it comes to farming, Wayne said there were only certain things you could control and they were the things you should try to do well.

“Those you can’t control, you just have to work with,” he said.

“I’m pretty optimistic about the industry. There seems to be so much negativity, but I wish there was more positivity.”

“The cows; it’s my family business, where I’ve grown up and where my daughter is growing up. It’s my life and it’s more than a job. Yes it’s a lifestyle, but it’s a business as well.

“I think I have the perspective that things can be a lot worse. You can go to lots of different places around the world and it’s a lot worse. We need to keep that in mind at times.”

Queen of Jerseys: Keith, Wayne and Ruby Kuhne have enjoyed success in the dairy show ring.


CALVING is split between February and March and a second in July and August.

“Calving was always about 50:50, but now it’s more two thirds in July and August,” Wayne said.

“We haven’t done it on purpose, it’s just worked that way when cows have got in calf. But it’s working out and suiting the farm better now.

“In years gone by we could make good money in the autumn, but I don’t think we quite get paid as much we used to in autumn — commodities to make milk in autumn have got too expensive.

“We used to be able to push autumn calvers, but now we set out with ‘this’ what we can afford to feed and ‘this’ is the production we’ll get.”

All 900 cattle are registered under the Bushlea prefix.

“It is a costly exercise and that’s why I say if you’re doing it you have to be prepared to sell those good animals,” Wayne said.

All females are reared along with about 80 bulls selected on pedigree at birth.

Wayne said “without a doubt” the biggest offshoot to the stud was their private, on-farm bull sales, with 80 bulls sold annually. Trying to a find a bull that ticks all the boxes could be tricky, Wayne said.

“One of biggest things is trying to find an outcross — it can get quite closed with inbreeding,” he said.

“We look at bulls from across Australia, US, Europe and Canada, so it does take time.”


BUSHLEA embryos have sold around Australia and internationally and Wayne said they often traded embryos.

“We’ve had 25 on-farm sales over the years with 21 annual sales. But when we bought the property at Koonwarra we ceased the sales to build numbers,” Wayne said.

In 2017, the Kuhnes sold their cow Bushlea Van Fernleaf 10 EX-93, at a Global Impact Sale at Camden Showgrounds in NSW for an Australian record price of $50,000.

“In January 2017 Van Fernlean 10 was supreme champion at IDW (International Dairy Week at Tatura) as a four-year-old cow,” Wayne said.

“After she won that, we thought it was a great opportunity to sell her; being such a young cow to win that title, she had so many years in front of her.”

Van Fernleaf went on to win supreme champion again at IDW in 2018 for her new owners, a US-Canadian-Australian syndicate.

While the Kuhnes have eased off the number of shows they attend, they still like to “put their cattle out there for promotion” at International Dairy Week and Warragul Show.

“We like to present them as well as we can,” Wayne said.

“We say the judge is judging, but also there are other people watching and other exhibitors, so it’s important that cows are presented as well as they can be.

“When you have a good show you take it. When you don’t, you move on”.

Source: WeeklyTimes

Genomics revolution lifts dairy farm production

A high-tech revolution is occurring on Australian dairy farms but it’s not one that’s readily visible. The technology is not a bright, shiny piece of machinery, nor some fancy computer software.

But it’s embedded in almost every calf born on dairy farms and is having a profound impact despite being around for only a decade.

It’s genomics – the use of genetic information (in the form of DNA markers) to predict the performance of animals. This is being used to select the best performing animals from which to breed -both the bull sires bred by artificial breeding companies worldwide to supply semen to the dairy industry and the heifers and cows used by farmers to breed replacement animals.

Australian Professor Ben Hayes was one of the co-inventors of the genomic prediction technology and led much of the work that saw it adapted into the Australian dairy industry’s breeding values.

He told the Herd ’19 conference at Bendigo, Vic, in March that the technology had delivered on much of its early promise.

Farmers at both that conference and the Australian Dairy Conference in Canberra in February described how they were using genomic information as a routine part of breeding decisions on their farms.

But a word of warning was sounded at the Bendigo conference – with a Dutch herd improvement manager providing insight into unintended consequences of genomic selection.

Prof Hayes told the conference the idea that DNA could be used to identify the best performing animals had been researched since the 1960s.


Source: North Queensland Register

Dairy Industry Cheers Rollback of Tariffs That Bolsters USMCA Chances

U.S. dairy officials today congratulated the governments of the United States, Mexico and Canada for reaching an agreement to roll back metal tariffs that have soured U.S.-Mexico cheese trade and slowed passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The United States agreed to end Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from its North American neighbors. In return, U.S. dairy officials expect that Mexico will drop their retaliatory tariffs against U.S. dairy products – including duties as high as 25 percent on U.S. cheese exports to Mexico.

“This is an important development for the U.S. dairy industry, and we applaud the hard work of negotiators from all three countries that made it possible as well as the numerous members of Congress that have insisted upon the need to resolve the Section 232 metal tariffs dispute with our North American partners,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “If Mexico lifts its tariffs on U.S. dairy in response, it would be a welcome return to normalcy with our number one export market. It would also build vital momentum for swiftly advancing USMCA towards passage.”

“America’s struggling dairy farmers are in need of some good news, and today’s announcement certainly helps,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This paves the way for Mexico to drop retaliatory tariffs that have harmed dairy, and for Congress to take its next step to help our producers – to vote on USMCA and quickly ratify it.”

Mexico is, by far, America’s biggest dairy customer, with $1.4 billion in sales last year. U.S. products accounted for 80 percent of Mexican dairy imports by value in 2018, but that dominant market share was being jeopardized by the retaliatory tariffs.

The tariffs were likewise making it politically difficult for Congress to pass USMCA – a pact that modernizes the North American Free Trade Agreement, maintains U.S. dairy sales into Mexico, expands dairy market access in Canada, and reforms many nontariff barriers.

Vilsack and Mulhern also stressed the importance of finding similar common ground with China, which also slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dairy exporters in 2018 and recently upped the ante by hiking them further on some products. As a result of last year’s move by China, U.S. exports to that fast-growing dairy market fell by more than 40 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year. NMPF and USDEC have consistently advocated the urgency of resolving both the 232 and China disputes to allow our exporters to compete effectively in those markets.


Source: NMPF

Wisconsin Dairy Needs to Expand its Markets Worldwide

Consumers from around the world enjoy agriculture products that come from our state’s farm fields and agriculture processing firms. Wisconsin is consistently one of the top exporters of dairy-related products in the nation. As milk production in the United States continues to increase, it is more and more important to create value-added products and identify new markets for those products, here at home or around the world.

The 31 members of Dairy Task Force 2.0 recognize the importance of trade and international markets to our state’s dairy community. To help our cheesemakers research and develop new products targeted for export markets, the Task Force called for a study on the possible development of a Wisconsin Cheese Brand and Export Board.

Another recommendation emphasizes the importance of value-added and specialty cheese in our state. Today, nearly half the nation’s specialty cheese is made in Wisconsin by a diverse array of cheese businesses. To better understand changing consumer tastes and demands, Task Force members recommended conducting an in-depth consumer study to gain additional market understanding. They also recognized the significant up-front costs of starting a dairy processing business, and sought ways to establish incubator facilities for start-up dairy processors.

Much of Wisconsin’s specialty cheese is made by artisan cheesemakers who may produce smaller amounts of product. To help reach consumers across the country, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommended an analysis on consolidating multiple companies’ products for joint distribution. Other recommendations sought to increase demand for fluid milk consumption and advocated for dairy product vending machines to be placed in Wisconsin public schools.

Dairy Task Force 2.0 members also passed a recommendation asking for an increase in dairy processor grant funding, an item that was included in Governor Evers’ 2019-2021 biennial budget proposal. Increased funding will promote and encourage growth and innovation in Wisconsin dairy plants. To ensure Wisconsin’s innovative dairy products are positioned for success in the marketplace, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 also approved recommendations for truth in food labeling and asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make needed regulatory changes to product standards of identity.

Wisconsin’s dairy products are the best in the world. The best products require the best milk. Our state’s hardworking dairy farmers produce some of the highest quality, most nutritious milk every day. Recognizing this, members of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 passed a recommendation supporting the National Dairy FARM program and equivalent programs that are science-based and cow-centric. Members also recommended changes to the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) to increase our milk quality standards.

The team at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection works to develop our markets locally through Farm to School; Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin; and Something Special from Wisconsin™. The Wisconsin International Dairy Export (WIDE) initiative, in collaboration with industry partners, brings in buyers from across the world to learn more about our state and its dairy products. The work of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 will help guide the state’s marketing efforts for years to come. For more on the Dairy Task Force 2.0, visit


American dairy farms struggle in Chinese market after tariffs

As the battle over tariffs with China continues, the already suffering dairy market is taking another hit.

Stan Ryan, the President and CEO of Seattle-based Darigold, which has a plant in Lynden, tells KOMO the rising duties for U.S. exports gave competitors an edge.

“The countries we compete against to earn customers in China don’t have the same duties, so the market dried up overnight,” he says.

Ryan says Darigold does about $50 million of business with China.

Prices for dairy products are depressed due to chronic oversupply and Ryan says these new tariffs are stressing dairy farms further.

He hopes the U.S. trade representative “will see this through and will come out with a good logical outcome.”


Holstein Association USA’s 2018 Herds Of Excellence

Sixteen Registered Holstein® breeders have earned the distinction of 2018 Herd of Excellence by Holstein Association USA. There are three herd size divisions, Small Herd (10-99 cows), Medium Herd (100-499 cows), and Large Herd (500+ cows). Each division is based on the number of cows included in Mature Equivalent (ME) production averages for each herd.

The Herd of Excellence designation honors Registered Holstein breeders who have developed Holstein herds that excel in both production and type.

To be recognized with this accolade, herds must have classified within the last year and have an age-adjusted average classification score of 83 points or higher; have at least 70 percent of the herd homebred; and be enrolled in the Association’s TriStarSM production records program. Additionally, qualifying herds must meet the following production criteria:

  • Large Herd Division – 15 percent above breed average ME for milk, fat and protein
  • Medium Herd Division – 20 percent above breed average ME for milk, fat and protein
  • Small Herd Division – 25 percent above breed average ME for milk, fat and protein

Of the 16 herds, two are first year recipients – Charles M. Maurer, Maurer Farm, Chilton, Wis. and Darrell & Bonita Richard, Darita Holsteins, Goshen, Ind.

Bruce, Brenda & Bret Long, B-Long Holsteins, New London, Wis. and Hilrose Holsteins, Sherwood, Wis. both received the award eight years. Thomas J. Kestell, Ever-Green-View Farms, Waldo, Wis. is a nine-year recipient.

This year’s honorees are:

Large Herd Division:

– The Siemers Family, Siemers Holstein Farms Inc, Newton, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 35,750M 1,389F 1,070P

– The Migliazzo Family, Dinomi Holsteins, Atwater, Calif.

ME Production Averages – 35,344M 1,331F 1,129P

– Bradley Cates, Co-Vale Holsteins, Preble, N.Y.

ME Production Averages – 31,164M 1,256F 970P

Medium Herd Division:

– The Koepke Family, Koepke Farms Inc., Oconomowoc, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 34,719M 1,430F 1,042P

– The Koester Family, Koester Dairy Inc., Dakota, Ill.

ME Production Averages – 33,856M 1,343F 1,059P

– Daniel J. & Nancy Pagenkopf, Paradise-D Holsteins, Lancaster, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 32,694M 1,359F 1,003P

– Charles M. Maurer, Maurer Farm, Chilton, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 32,734M 1,251F 998P

Small Herd Division:

– S. Scott & April D. Cooper, Appealing Holsteins, Delta, Pa.

ME Production Averages – 37,484M 1,395F 1,127P

– George Malkemus & Anthony Yurgaitis, Arethusa Farm LLC, Litchfield, Conn.

ME Production Averages – 37,110M 1,349F 1,158P

– Bruce, Brenda & Bret Long, B-Long Holsteins, New London, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 35,341M 1,332F 1,092P

– Thomas J. Kestell, Ever-Green-View Holsteins, LLC, Waldo, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 40,015M 1,592F 1,219P

– Grafton County Farm, Grafco Holsteins, North Haverhill, N.H.

ME Production Averages – 33,970M 1,347F 1,051P

– Jeffrey A. & Kate Hendrickson, Jeffrey-Way Holsteins, Belleville, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 33,695M 1,256F 1,061P

– Joseph A. Brantmeier, Hilrose Holsteins, Sherwood, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 33,420M 1,254F 1,001P

– John W. & Evelyn A. Hamilton, Hill-Ton Holsteins, Cuba City, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 35,181M 1,322F 1,082P

– Darrell & Bonita Richard, Darita Holsteins, Goshen, Ind.

ME Production Averages – 34,402M 1,565F 1,067P

Since its beginning in 2008, the Herd of Excellence honor has become one of the most coveted Holstein Association USA awards. These 16 Holstein breeders are acknowledged for having mastered the art of breeding balanced cattle – exceptional conformation paired with high production. Congratulations to the 2018 Herd of Excellence honorees.

The awards will be presented during Holstein Association USA’s 134th Annual Meeting in Appleton, Wisconsin on June 26, 2019.

Read more about these remarkable herds in the Spring 2019 issue of The Pulse. Select pages of The Pulse are available online at under the Latest News tab, then click The Pulse.

Holstein Association USA, Inc.,, provides products and services to dairy producers to enhance genetics and improve profitability–ranging from registry processing to identification programs to consulting services.

The Association, headquartered in Brattleboro, Vt., maintains the records for Registered Holsteins® and represents approximately 30,000 members throughout the United States.


This Sustainable Technology Could Save America’s Dairy Farms

Craigs Station Creamery campus in Linwood, New York

Craigs Station Creamery looks like a typical small dairy, the kind of farm that was once ubiquitous across rural New York state. Chris Noblehurst, whose farm is one of the eight that makes up the creamery joint venture, hopes the business can be different enough to succeedwhere other dairy farms today are struggling. The dairy farm cooperative does things a little bit differently, starting with their power source. The creamery uses a mechanism called an anaerobic digester to break down a mixture of food waste and cow manure to turn it into usable electricity that powers the entire operation.

Dairy farms today face sharp criticism for their contribution to air and water pollution—criticism that’s punctuated by hits to the dairy industry like the rising popularity of plant-based milk alternativesand a decreasing dairy export market. Sustainable technologies like biodigesters offer dairy farmers a way to mitigate environmental impacts and maybe even win back those elusive American millennial consumers.

There are 248 anaerobic digester projectson livestock farms across the United States, 198 of which are located on dairy farms. Dan Blaustein-Rejto, a senior food and agriculture analyst at the Breakthrough Institute, says that according to EPA projections based on farms that could potentially adopt the anaerobic digesters, the technology has the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector by about ten percent.

That’s not an insignificant reduction, Blaustein-Rejtosays, and there are other benefits too. “Anaerobic digesters, at least according to the EPA’s research, can cut methane emissions from the average dairy or hog farm by about 85 percent, so that’s a really huge reduction of one of the main sources of emissions.”

Not everyone is a fan of the technology. “Some people are more pessimistic,” says Blaustein-Rejto, citing complaints about local air pollution and other environmental health issues. Residents of Fort Collins, Colorado in 2017, for example, raised so many complaints about the noxious odors coming from a local biodigester that the facility was eventually closed. On the other hand, biodigesters can help keep nutrient runoff from manure out of local waterways. “If it weren’t being used,” says Noblehurst, “it would be sitting in a lagoon.”

Maintaining these systems can pose a significant financial challenge for the farms who have them, however, says Blaustein-Rejto, as federal funding and state financial incentives are often available for upfront costs (this was the case forthe biodigester at Noblehurst Farms, for example), but not necessarily for the expenses associated with the upkeep of these systems.

That’s why Noblehurst hopes investments in sustainable technologies, like the biodigester and an on-farm water recycling system they installed, will ultimately help the creamery attract new consumers, the kinds of consumers that the American dairy industry is so desperately seeking these days.

Noblehurst has been intently focused on these strategies since his return to the family farm ten years ago. Before that, he worked for a bank in New York city researching the California fruit and vegetable growing market, where he was struck by the impact of farmers finding more direct paths to their customers.

“I learned a ton about that industry that sort of paralleled what’s going on in dairy,” he says, explaining how, over the years, consumers have increasingly come to demand transparency from the people who grow their food. Noblehurst sees the dairy industry struggling, and is convinced part of the problem is farmers failing to make that direct connection. “I saw a lot of businesses in the fruit and vegetable space becoming successful because they were able to have that supply chain story,” which is now something he hopes the creamery can do with its cheese.

The creamery puts the faces of its farmers and their families on the cheese it sells—cheese produced in a facility located right next to the farm. This is all designed to tell consumers that the cheese made here comes from a family farm and not some impersonal corporate farming operation, but the line between family farm and corporate operation has long been a pretty blurry one.

The vast majority of farms today are family farms—98% according to the 2017 USDA Ag Census—but like many businesses, small and large alike, most are structured as a corporation under the law. At the same time, the consolidation of farms is a real phenomenon impacting farmers—a handful of large-scale farms are responsible for most of the food produced in the U.S. today, including dairy foods.

Much like “GMO” or “organic,”corporate farming has come to take on a meaning beyond the literal definition. Consumers suspect a kind of soullessness with corporate farming, which they fear translates to poor treatment of the soil or the crops, the farmworkers or the animals. But in the dairy industry today, farmers have to find ways to scale up in order to survive.

“I’m not sure that us as farmers would be able to get in there without the support of DFA,” says Noblehurst, referring to Dairy Farmers of America, the national dairy cooperative that is a funder the creamery that helped the operation land a number of national grocery chains as regular customers. “DFA brings the corporate relationships, you know, the Stop n Shops, the ShopRite, the Giant Foods,” he explains.

At the same time, the creamery is a cooperative of just eight small dairy farms. The milk is processed in a facility that’s just a short walk from where many of the cows are milked, and the other farms are all located within 30 miles.  Even though Noblehurst and the other farmers had to convince local residents that housing the processing facility right there at the farm was a good idea, the cooperative felt it was important to keep the creamery and the cows close together.

Finding the balance between the tradition of the small farm and those necessary economies of scale is a constant calculation, says Noblehurst. “We have so much technology available to us today that we’re almost unable to keep up with.”

Whether it’s because the technology is impractical for a farm of their size or it costs too much, the newest technology isn’t always the right fit. For example, the cows are milked on a rotary milker, an investment the farm made about ten years ago after moving away from an older parallel parlor system, but robotic milkers aren’t yet a viable option. 

Robotic milkers are still too expensive, even though turning to them would cut labor costs and demand. “It’s becoming much more like, there’s people that just milk cows, people that just do the cropping, so finding [these] highly specialized people…is becoming more challenging, especially in rural areas,” Noblehurst says.

The business often has to be creative about finding workers, whether it’slocal residents (the farm hires workers from an organization that employs developmentally disabled area residents to work the biodigester, for example), students from Cornell University or H-2A visa workers.

“Not a lot of young people are coming back to these jobs,” says Noblehurst, whose family has farmed for generations. Some of the farm’s buildings date back to the 1960s, which is a history Noblehurst is eager to convey even as he shows off the newer technologies like the biodigester. “I think consumers need to know that story [too],” he says. “They want to know that they’re supporting something that’s looking ahead.”


Western Australia’s biggest dairy farm set to end milk production

Milk production is likely to cease on WA’s biggest dairy farm and the land put to other uses, according to owner Ross Woodhouse.

Mr Woodhouse, who put his Scott River farm on the market earlier this year, said the sale wasn’t yet settled, but frontrunners for a purchase included a blue gum tree operator.

There were also several neighbours interested in buying separate properties under his operation, mainly for avocado trees and beef production, with just 20 per cent retained for dairy production.

Mr Woodhouse, who produces 20 million litres a year, or 6 per cent of WA’s production, is selling 4000 hectares over 13 properties, including a $1.3 million milking shed.

A price rise following Woolworths’ axing of $1 a litre milk in February, equivalent to an extra 2.5¢ a litre across his full production, had been a big help. But Mr Woodhouse said he was still struggling to break even because of low farm gate prices and a string of dry seasons meaning big feed bills.

“Although the land itself is in demand, milk production is not considered an attractive option to buyers, demonstrating how tough things are across the industry,” he said. “While it would mean some farmers can increase production, more and more, good farmers will exit the industry, and fresh milk could soon become a niche product.”

From July 2018 to March, WA milk production is down 2.6 per cent from a year earlier, according to Dairy Australia.

Australia wide, production is down 6.7 per cent, with NSW and Queensland hit hardest because of drought conditions.

Mr Woodhouse said several other dairy farmers in his area planned to sell or were in the process of selling. These included one property which was under offer by a blue gum tree operator.

Adding to woes, farmers are bracing themselves for another dry season and hefty feed costs, particularly north of Busselton where there had been no meaningful rain to stimulate pasture growth.

“We are in a better position than most as our area had some rain in early April,” Mr Woodhouse said.

“If we get some more rain soon the pastures will really get going in our area. But some areas further north have not had any good rains and there’s a lot of angst out there.

“Many dairy farmers won’t be able to last through another very dry year that requires big feed costs and the volume of milk could really fall.”


Wisconsin Officially Sets New Milk Production Record in ’18

America’s Dairyland stayed true to its name last year as the state set another record for total milk production. The latest government figures from the USDA confirmed that Wisconsin produced 30.5 billion pounds of milk in 2018, about one percent more than the previous record of 30.3 billion harvested in 2017. Milk per cow also rose to an all-time high of 24,002 pounds, up 277 pounds from the year earlier.

As of January 1, there were 8,110 licensed milk cow operations in the state. That was down 691 from a year ago, and the fourth consecutive year that the herd count was below the 10,000 mark in generations.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s overall livestock inventory decreased slightly last year. As of January 1, about 3.5 million head of cattle were counted in the state.

The total number of milk cows at year’s end was around 1.27 million head, about 5,000 less than the previous year–keeping Wisconsin second behind California for number of milk cows.

Source: USAGnet

Dairy farmers continue to struggle as USMCA stalls

 American Dairy farmers are struggling to survive. Literally.

“We’re seeing suicides at all-time high in the dairy industry,” said Michael McMahon, a dairy farmer from upstate New York.

While help is on the way, it’s not coming fast enough for too many in the business of putting milk on American tables.

According to McMahon, these are dreadful times for him and his fellow farmers.

“Emptying out their retirement funds and going the limit on their credit cards just to stay in business,” he said.

The price of milk has been below the cost of production for five years, forcing many small and medium-sized dairy farms out of business. McMahon says international trade disputes are just making things worse.

“When NAFTA was put on the shelf to be dissolved, all of a sudden these trade wars and tariff barriers went up between U.S. and Mexico and U.S. and Canada,” he explained.

“In the past year, you saw more than seven dairy farms failing every day in the United States,” said Alan Bjerga, senior VP of communications for the National Milk Producers Federation.

Bjerga says there’s optimism that the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, which would replace NAFTA, could provide some relief by expanding market access to Canada and ending some Canadian policies that were problematic for U.S. producers.

But Congress must first approve the USMCA and right now it’s stuck in both the House and the Senate.

Congressman Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, says while he knows dairy farmers need help now, the USMCA still needs work to ensure dairy farmers get a fair shake.

“We want to make sure that trade deals are enforceable and Canada is just not changing the name of the program and still doing the same thing that they’ve done in the past,” Brindisi said.

“Give us back our trade markets,” McMahon declared.

McMahon says a truce in the trade war could ease the dairy crisis and save both businesses and lives.


Tariff battle with China hurting Pacific Northwest dairy industry

The ongoing tariff battle between the United States and China is already having a ripple effect on farmers and business owners right here in the Pacific Northwest.

More than 450 Northwest dairy farms in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana rely on Darigold to process their milk into products that ship all over the United States and the globe.

“Large amounts of the ingredient gets marketed and sold and distributed around the world – 20 countries, of which, China is one of them,” said Stan Ryan, the president and CEO of Darigold.

But the trade war and increasing tariffs have shot Darigold’s duty to 25 percent, and even higher on some products for the $50 million of business they were doing in China.

“Our competing origins, the countries we compete against to earn customers in China don’t have those same duties so the market dried up for us overnight,” said Ryan.

Other Northwest crops are impacted too – apples, cherries, potatoes and much more.

Kara Kostanich | Tariff battle with China hurting local dairy industry

Kara Kostanich | Tariff battle with China hurting local dairy industry

“If they can’t sell their products overseas, it means less money, which means fewer jobs, and that really impacts our livelihood and the livability of our families in the state of Washington,” said former Washington Governor Gary Locke, who is also a former U.S. Ambassador to China and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Ryan says the tariffs are preventing the already troubled dairy industry from seeing improvement.

“The environmental contributes to already depressed farm prices – so it hurt our local farmers,” said Ryan.

The depressed farm prices are due to chronic oversupply.

Just last year Darigold opened an office in Shanghai because of what Ryan calls an unbelievable long-term growth opportunity.

So for now, since business has all but stopped, the office remains busy with potential future customers so they are ready when the tide turns.

“We are investing in it and we have the faith that our U.S. trade representative in the administration will see this through and will come out with a good logical outcome,” said Ryan.


Raw milk regulations need ‘a little bit of flexibility’

Farm Fresh South is a boutique dairy farm at Woodlands, specialising in raw milk sales.

Owned by Logan and Melissa Johnson, they milk about 30 cows, and calve four times a year on their 21ha farm.

While they are not certified organic, they operate organically.

The milk they do not sell goes to their calves or gets made into butter for their own use.

They also took part in the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) recent survey of suppliers and clients’ views on current regulations around the supply and sale of raw milk.

Mr Johnson said for the most part, the regulations and their intent were good and worked well, but some of the requirements inhibited small business growth.

”We want our business to be successful, and there has to be room for small businesses to grow,” he said.

”A little bit of flexibility is needed.”

He would like to see changes to the requirement that a wordy health warning be included in every advertisement.

”I have no issue with the warning display required on advertising on the bottle or point of sale,” Mr Johnson said.

”However, at present, if we wanted to support the local school and put a wee ad in their newsletter, the whole ad would be only the warning.”

They would also like to be able to sell their milk from the farmers’ markets but are unable to do so.

Customers can either have it delivered to their door or buy from the vending machine at the farm.

”We would like to deliver milk to customers’ work for them to take home, but we can’t as only home deliveries are allowed.”

He would like to be able to sell raw milk to cafes for use in coffees and would be keen to set up a ”Milk Lovers Club” type system where cafe customers who want raw milk receive a card and they can only get that milk when showing their card.

”That allows traceability.

”The customers get what they want and the cafe gets what it wants.

”It can be done properly but at the moment the regulations do not allow that”.

He would also like to see the ministry’s information about raw milk to be balanced and in context.

”The information MPI puts out about raw milk on its website talks about cases where raw milk was a risk factor in health breakouts, but doesn’t clarify whether it was direct from a vat intended for pasteurisation, or what other risk factors were.

”At the moment it is not balanced,” he said.


Source: Otago Daily Times

Ettrick family struggles to grow their herd amid the dairy crisis


Wegnerlann Dairy Farm LLC, increased its herd from 500 cows to 800 in 2016, before the market turned.

At the time, farm owners Jeff and Betty Wegner of rural Ettrick decided to add to their herd because they wanted their son, Tom Wegner, to have the opportunity to make a good living as a dairy farmer.

“That’s why many family farms decide to expand, because they want all family members to have a role,” said Annaliese Wegner, a fifth-generation farmer and Tom’s wife. “If you just had 100 cows, it might be hard to provide an income for every family member.”

“At the time [milk] prices were looking really good,” Tom said. The farm took out loans to purchase the new additions to their herd, but when it came time to pay the bank back, milk prices started to plummet, and their business began to feel the impact of the market fluctuation.

“It’s hard to make a profit,” Annaliese said.

Wegnerlann calf
A young calf eats grain while in its pen on the Wegnerlann Dairy farm. 

Wegnerlann Dairy LLC produces conventional milk, which is shipped through Dairy Farmers of America and bottled and sold to Kemps in Rochester and surrounding towns.

Sales of conventional milk dropped 4.5% nationwide in March, compared to 2018, while milk production increased 0.4% in Wisconsin when compared to the previous year, according to USDA reports.

“You have to make cuts where you can, when you can,” Tom said. The farm had to put off repairs and the purchase of new equipment.

“We’re just getting by, really. Trying to do the best we can with what we have and wait for the milk price to go back up,” Annaliese said.

In 2018, Wegner Dairy Farms collected close to $50,000 through USDA subsidy programs.

Of that, $30,000 was from the Margin Protection Program for dairy, which is meant to support producers when the difference between the milk price and the feed cost falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer, according to the USDA. The remaining $20,000 the farm received was from the Market Facilitation Program, implemented to help agriculture and dairy producers who were impacted by the 2018 trade war between the U.S. and China.

Wegner Cow
A cow stands in a free stall barn at Wegnerlann Dairy farm.

Regardless, the subsidy programs have had minimal impact on the industry, Tom said.

“I think the general public sees the [total amount paid out to subsidy recipients] as ‘wow, farmers are getting all these millions of dollars from the government to keep themselves going’ but really we’re not, divided amongst us all it doesn’t add up to much,” he said.

Tom’s parents, Jeff and Betty Wegner, built their business in 1986 in a shallow valley. Tom, a second-generation farmer, and Annaliese, who was raised on a dairy farm in Baldwin, began working Wegnerlann in 2011 after they graduated from UW-River Falls with degrees in dairy science.

Today, Wegnerlann Dairy can milk 16 cows at one time, with the help of new technology, and each of the 800 cows is milked three times a day.

Nine full-time employees work and live on the farm in addition to the four members of the family and one part-time employee. It takes roughly eight hours to milk the entire herd. The Wegners get feed for the cows from a custom harvester as their land is dedicated to maintaining and raising the herd.

Calves are born on the Wegner farm, and once they’re weened at 8 weeks, they’re assigned to a pen where they eat grain and drink water until they reach a certain age. The family works in partnership with a custom heifer raiser who cares for the calves at a separate facility not owned by the dairy, where they mature in a pasture.


“It’s just another way to make things easier on us,” Annaliese said.

“Less labor for us, less land-based need for a herd, less feed you need to have on hand,” Tom said.

Despite market setbacks, Tom is confident the price of milk will go back up. “It has to” he said, and sees evidence of a price increase to take place during the second half of 2019.

Annaliese and Tom attribute that possible market price increase to a decrease in milk supply due to area dairy farmers who were forced to sell off their herd and abandon the dairy business after experiencing income loss year over year.

“Many dairies have sold or quit milking cows in the state of Wisconsin last year, so there’s less milk on the market and that’s helped increase the price a little bit,” Tom said

Source: La Crosse Tribune

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist Trish Rankin from Taranaki is the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

The prestigious dairy award was announced the Allflex Dairy Women’s Network’s conference gala awards dinner in Christchurch this evening (WED 1 MAY).

The other finalists were Kylie Leonard who farms north of Taupo, Julie Pirie from Ngatea in the Waikato and Southlander Emma Hammond.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee who heads up the judging panel Alison Gibb said “What impressed the judges was Rankin’s self-awareness, her preparedness to grow and focus her ‘make it happen’ attitude towards problem solving environmental issues.”

Rankin balances teaching part time at Opunake Primary School and being on farm full time in South Taranaki with her husband Glen and their four boys. A passionate environmentalist, she has undertaken the Kellogg Leadership Programme this year with the main purpose being a research project focused on ‘how can a circular economy model be developed on a NZ dairy farm.’

Rankin says she is both a farm assistant and CEO of their farming business, having learnt over the years to milk, drive tractors, feed stock and do fences as well as sort the Health and Safety and human resources out.

An active Dairy Enviro Leader (DEL) and member of the NZ DEL network Rankin is also Chair of the Taranaki DEL group. In 2018 she was elected onto the National Executive for the NZ Dairy Awards and last year was selected as a NZ Climate Change Ambassador as part of the Dairy Action for Climate Change.

Gibbs said the strong message from this year’s finalists was although each was very passionate about their own farming operation, they all had an inner drive to go beyond and make the dairy industry a better place for all and future generations.

“They all want to make their mark in the dairy industry and feel a real need to get out beyond the gate to make a difference and to do their bit to leave the dairy industry better than it was before.”

All the women are heavily involved in business and community networks while finding time to work on professional development and spend time with family.

The award was presented by Mike Cronin, Fonterra’s Managing Director of Co-operative Affairs.

“It was my absolute pleasure to present Trish with the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award,” Cronin said.

“Her passion for the environment, sustainable farming and community leadership represent the finest qualities of our Co-operative. I would also like to congratulate the other finalists for their dedication and commitment to our Co-op and the wider industry.”

As Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Rankin receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional business development programme, sponsored by Fonterra.


Source: Dairy Women’s Network

Thanh Hoa to have $162.6 million dairy cow farm

TH Group on Wednesday started construction of its high-tech concentrated dairy cow farm cluster project in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Located in Yen My and Cong Binh communes of Nong Cong District, the VND3.8 trillion (US$162.6 million) project is set to house 20,000 cows.

The farm cluster will use modern technology to help TH Group meet the increasing demand for fresh milk in the domestic market.

Its milk products under TH true MILK have met with international standards from dairy cow management of Afimilk (Israel), veterinary management of Totally Vets (New Zealand) and financial management of SAP (Germany).

At the ceremony, the group also introduced sustainable development model of the dairy sector with farmers under high-tech co-operatives.

Accordingly, TH Group will help farmers apply high technologies such as cloud computing and internet of things into its production through co-operative model. Its first model has been implemented in Da Lat through the Dalatmilk brand. Dalatmilk has installed electric chips in cow herds at each farmer household to monitor cows’ health through computers or smartphones. It also provides medicine and food and buys milk from households in the programme.

The model will be implemented in Thanh Hoa, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Cao Bang, Quang Ninh, Cu Chi (HCM City) and Ba Vi (Ha Noi).

Thai Huong, TH Group’s founder, said she hoped to support farmers with some 200,000 cows through the high-tech co-operative model by 2025. Meanwhile, the group also aims to double the number of cows under its close breeding chain to 400,000.

TH Group and Wuxi Jinning International Food City, China’s largest wholesale unit last month signed a deal on consumption of food products, agro-product and dairy products in the Chinese market.

Its milk brand – TH true MILK accounts for 40 per cent of market share in Viet Nam with more than 70 products. Its fresh milk capacity growth rate was over 22 per cent and total revenue of VND7 trillion last year.


Source: Viet Nam News

“I wouldn’t be in the industry if I didn’t love my cows”: The reality of working on a dairy farm.

Where I live, if I take the back road to Byron Bay around 3pm I’ll be stopped by a man and his cows.

They fill the road as they move from their grazing paddocks to the milking sheds. As consumers we don’t often think about who the people are that grow or produce our food, but coming face to face with a bunch of cows really makes you think.

This is how I get milk on my table. This man got up at 4am this morning, and has done for all of his farming life.

It’s a lifestyle a lot of Australians don’t come into contact with directly, so there are naturally some preconceptions people have about the responsibilities and challenges of running a dairy farm.

I spoke to Ebony King, a 21 year old (pictured above) who works on a dairy farm run by Wes and Rita Hurrell in Yankalilla in South Australia.

Ebony helps with the day-to-day running of the farm, which includes implementing strict practices around animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

“Some people think dairy farmers don’t care about or love their cows and that they treat them poorly. We do everything we can to keep our cows happy and healthy,” Ebony tells Mamamia. “They have us looking after them 24/7. And we have a vet who is always on call. They even have a nutritionist.

“Yes, it is a business. But if we didn’t look after and love our cows then they wouldn’t produce quality milk.”

Working on the land: Ebony King and her boss Wes Hurrell. Image: Supplied.

She explains further: “I wouldn’t be in the industry if I didn’t love my cows, because it’s hard work not just on your body, but social life and relationships [too], because of the hours worked.

“I love watching cows do well, see them calve, and then go on to do great production when you have raised and bred those cows. [It’s] rewarding.”

Ebony’s employer, Rita Hurrell, agrees that it’s a job you can only do if you really love it.


Contracts favouring farm owners are the ‘dark side’ of dairy industry

A Waikato dairy farmer, husband and father of four says his family lost everything this season after a contract milking agreement went “completely wrong”.  He shared his views on condition of anonymity. 

OPINION: I am a contract milker.  I have also been lower order sharemilking.

While I think these are great avenues for dairy farmers to progress or build themselves up to farm ownership, there is a dark side to this industry that we don’t like to talk about.

As a contract milker, I am paid a fixed amount for every kilogram of milksolids I send to the factory.

As well as the normal expenses that go with operating a business, I have an agreed set of additional expenses.

The norm would be power, labour, shed detergents, rubberware, fuel and motorbikes.

I rely heavily on the farm owner to provide me with figures as to what those costs may be but in my experience, farm owners often don’t know or are reluctant to provide those figures.

We are lucky in this industry that we can often find others in our position who are willing to share this information with their fellow contract or lower order sharemilkers.

But what happens if we can’t find those figures? We give it our best guess and we take those figures to the bank, where finance is approved based on those numbers.

So the bank has approved our lending, we have signed the contract and started work.  We’ve managed to drag ourselves through calving and mating and can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Now those figures, those numbers, those best guesses are actuals – they have meaning and substance and they are wrong.

The situation only gets worse.  What happens to those that get it all wrong or were given wrong information? Surely if the owners gave them those numbers, they must be entitled to some sort of compensation?

No, they are not, because the contracts and the current legislation are structured in a way which protects the farm owners and not the little guy.

Not the guy who has put his family’s whole livelihood on the line. Not the guy who has workers depending on him to pay them on time. Not the guy out in the rain, working long days to keep the farm running.

What rights does he have? None. He can lose everything. Because he is not an employee, he has no employment rights, so he does not get holiday pay or weekends off.

He does not have the right to subcontract out his job or determine how performs his duties.

When you look at the difference between an independent contractor and an employee, you can see that contract and lower order sharemilking is a grey area that falls into both categories. 

That being the case, we need a complete overhaul. We need rights.

We need to be able to expect to be paid for our work, regardless of whether or not that person has the skills or ability to guess what his power bill will be.

He should not have to have his spouse work every weekend, holiday and public holiday just to earn his expected wage.

This is the dark side of dairy and the industry cannot afford to lose these young, energetic and passionate people. 

We are better than that.  We pride ourselves on being the backbone of this country.

Do we not as a community gather together and support each other, share our knowledge with one another? Help one another when our neighbour is in trouble?

Even if we have no legal obligation right now, surely we have a moral obligation to our new generation of farmers to give them the opportunity to make their mark on our industry.

We are asking – demanding – that the legislation and contracts are changed so these farmers have the chance they deserve to provide for their families and continue to grow our industry.

Let’s leave this dark side of dairy behind us once and for all.


Source: Stuff

Danone CEO Says Plant-Based Could Become as Big as Dairy in U.S.

Danone’s U.S. plant-based business could become as big as its traditional yogurt business there in 10 years, according to Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Faber.

The unit, which includes Silk and So Delicious, currently generates less than $1 billion in sales, compared with the $2 billion in dairy. But the category is growing faster as consumers race to adopt vegan alternatives to everything from yogurt to hamburgers.

“Penetration is very high and it’s very widely adopted already,” Faber said in an interview at a company event in Barcelona.

Danone placed a $10 billion bet on veganism with its 2017 acquisition of WhiteWave Foods and plans to triple its total plant-based revenue to about 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) by 2025. The company has been expanding the Alpro brand in Europe with new products like vegan ice cream. Danone will start selling plant-based yogurts under Activia, its largest brand, in countries like Spain, France and the U.K. within the next 12 months.

Dairy isn’t dead, though, with Faber pointing to fast-growing yogurt segments like high-protein and probiotics that have been making a comeback among consumers.

Coffee High

Faber is also eyeing coffee for further growth as the company takes aim at bigger rivals like Nestle SA and JAB Holding Co. Danone is adding more ready-to-drink options to the Alpro line, such as soy-based Ethiopian coffee with caramel, and expanding it in new markets in Europe.

In the U.S., it’s focusing on Stok, a cold-brew coffee brand that came with the WhiteWave purchase. Stok’s revenue rose to $50 million from $3 million in two years and continues to grow at a double-digit rate. Faber said Stok will focus on the U.S. market in the next couple of years before possibly extending to other markets, such as the U.K.

Faber said he couldn’t rule out creating additional coffee brands in the future.

Source: Bloomberg 

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