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From Two Bulls, Nine Million Dairy Cows

There are more than 9 million dairy cows in the United States, and the vast majority of them are Holsteins, large bovines with distinctive black-and-white (sometimes red-and-white) markings. The amount of milk they produce is astonishing. So is their lineage. When researchers at the Pennsylvania State University looked closely at the male lines a few years ago, they discovered more than 99 percent of them can be traced back to one of two bulls, both born in the 1960s. That means among all the male Holsteins in the country, there are just two Y chromosomes.

“What we’ve done is really narrowed down the genetic pool,” says Chad Dechow, one of the researchers.

The females haven’t fared much better. In fact, Dechow—an associate professor of dairy cattle genetics—and others say there is so much genetic similarity among them, the effective population size is less than 50. If Holsteins were wild animals, that would put them in the category of critically endangered species. “It’s pretty much one big inbred family,” says Leslie B. Hansen, a Holstein expert and professor at the University of Minnesota.

Any elementary science student knows that genetic homogeneity isn’t good in the long term. It increases the risk of inherited disorders while also reducing the ability of a population to evolve in the face of a changing environment. Dairy farmers struggling to pay bills today aren’t necessarily focusing on the evolutionary prospects of their animals, but Dechow and his colleagues were concerned enough that they wanted to look more closely at what traits had been lost.

For answers, the researchers have begun breeding a small batch of new cows, cultivated in part from the preserved semen of long deceased bulls, to measure a host of characteristics—height, weight, milk production, overall health, fertility, and udder health, among other traits—and compare those to the modern Holsteins we’ve created. The hope is that they might one day be able to inject some sorely needed genetic diversity back into this cornerstone of livestock agriculture, and possibly reawaken traits that have been lost to relentless inbreeding.

“If we limit long term genetic diversity of the breed,” Dechow says, “we limit how much genetic change can be made over time.”

In other words, we could reach a point where we’re stuck where we’re at. There will be no more improvement in milk production. Fertility won’t improve. And if a new disease comes along, huge swaths of the cow population could be susceptible, since so many of them have the same genes.

HOLSTEINS TODAY are responsible for the vast majority of milk we drink and much of our cheese and ice cream. For at least the past century, these animals have been prized for their voluminous output. Over the last 70 years or so, humans have introduced a variety of methods to ramp up production even further. In 1950, for example, a single dairy cow produced about 5,300 pounds of milk a year. Today, the average Holstein is producing more than 23,000. In 2017, a prize-winning cow named Selz-Pralle Aftershock 3918 cranked out 78,170 pounds of milk—more than 200 pounds every single day.

“These cows are real athletes,” says Hansen.

This benefits consumers by keeping food prices low. It benefits farmers because they save on costs when fewer cows produce the same amount of milk. It also benefits the environment because a cow’s digestive system produces considerable amounts of methane and waste. (Although high-producing Holsteins consume more energy and generate more waste per cow, researchers estimate that the efficiency gains result in significantly reduced environmental impacts overall.)

Part of this success story has to do with changing the way Holsteins are raised and managed. But the biggest change has been in the way cows are bred. Long ago, farmers would bring in bulls from other farms to get their cows pregnant—a way of ensuring genetic diversity, or “stirring the pot,” as Hansen says. In the 1940s, they began to use artificial insemination. This way, a single dose of bull semen could be used to impregnate a whole lot of heifers. Soon, technology allowed the semen to be frozen, which meant a bull could father calves for decades, even long after he was dead. Meanwhile, the dairy world was keeping very detailed records, so the bull studs who sell the semen could tell which bull went on to produce the best offspring—and by the best offspring, they meant the daughters who produced the most milk.

By this point, a highly sought-after bull would sire thousands of daughters. Carlin-M Ivanhoe Bell, a bull born in 1974, had more than 80,000 offspring. Most bulls have fewer, though their progeny still number in the thousands. By the 80s, it was clear inbreeding was increasing significantly.

In the early days of artificial insemination, bulls would have to prove their merit in real life. That is, they’d sire 100 daughters, then when those daughters calved and began producing milk, their output was measured. The better the output, the more marketable the bull. This “progeny testing” was a valuable process, but it took several years to determine if a bull was any good.

In 2009, new technology came along: big data and genomic selection. Today, a bull’s marketability is determined by a computer. A complex algorithm analyzes the bull’s genetic makeup, taking into account the health of his offspring, their milk production, the fat and protein in the milk, and other traits, to come up with figures that rank him against other bulls. The key figure is called lifetime net merit. It represents the average amount of money a farmer can expect to earn over the offspring’s life by choosing this bull over another one.

While this allowed farmers to more efficiently evaluate animals across many key traits, the process also led to even higher rates of inbreeding. The “inbreeding coefficient” for Holsteins is currently around 8 percent, meaning an average calf gets identical copies of 8 percent of its genes from its mother and its father. That number is in comparison to a baseline of 1960—and it continues to increase by .3 or .4 every year.

“Inbreeding is accumulating faster than it ever has,” Dechow says.

But is 8 percent too much? Dairy experts continue to debate this. Some argue that Holsteins are doing their job, producing a lot of milk, and that they’re a relatively healthy bunch. Hansen, however, notes that if you breed a bull to his daughter, the inbreeding coefficient is 25 percent; in that light, 8 seems like a lot. He and others say while inbreeding may not seem like a problem now, the consequences could be significant.

Fertility rates are affected by inbreeding, and already, Holstein fertility has dropped significantly. Pregnancy rates in the 1960s were 35 to 40 percent, but by 2000 had dropped to 24 percent. Also, when close relatives are bred, it’s more likely for cows get two copies of unwanted recessive genes, where serious health problems could be lurking.

“Something needs to change,” Hansen says.

For Dechow, the concern is the rate of increase and what that means for the future of the breed. “Imagine you’ve got a cow who has 100 really good genes and 10 really horrible genes. You eliminate that cow from your breeding program because she’s got 10 horrible genes,” he says, and “you’ve lost her 100 good ones, as well. You’re losing long-term genetic potential.”

DECHOW GREW UP ON a dairy farm, so long before he knew the ins-and-outs of the cow’s genome, he could see some of what was happening.

Holsteins look very different than they did 50 years ago. For one thing, they’ve been bred to have longer and wider udders, rather than deep ones. A deep udder can touch the ground, making it much more prone to infection or other problems, so that’s a change for the better. But other changes could be problematic. For example, modern Holsteins are bred to be tall and thin, to the point of boniness. That thinness is a byproduct of milk production, because “they’re directing the energy they consume towards milk,” Dechow says.

But it’s also something of an aesthetic choice. The ideal Holstein cow—at least in the view of people who judge these things—is “feminine and refined.” That means thin and angular. The problem is, a tall, thin cow isn’t necessarily the healthiest cow and shorter and rounder cattle are more likely to get pregnant.

A few years ago, Dechow and others started to wonder, just how significant was the inbreeding and loss of diversity? In the early 50s, there were about 1,800 bulls represented in the population. They knew there were fewer today, but they had no idea how few. Dechow and his colleagues Wansheng Liu and Xiang-Peng Yue analyzed the paternal pedigree information of nearly 63,000 Holstein bulls born since the 1950s in North America.

“We were a little bit surprised when we traced the lineages and it went back to two bulls,” he says. They’re named Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation and Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief. Each one is related to about half the bulls alive today. Essentially, Elevation and Chief outcompeted every other bull on the market. Even Select Sires, a company that is in the business of selling bull semen, was surprised by the findings. Charles Sattler, a company vice president, sees the news as a bit of a reality check, but not a cause for alarm. “Probably the biggest concern is, are there any really valuable genes we may have lost along the way that we could make use of today?” he wonders.

Not too long ago, there was another Y chromosome represented, that of Penstate Ivanhoe Star, born in the 1960s. His decline demonstrates one problem with all this inbreeding. In the 1990s, dairy farmers around the world started noticing calves being born with such serious vertebrae problems, they didn’t survive outside the womb. Around the same time, calves were being stillborn with a condition called bovine leukocyte adhesion deficiency. It turns out Star, and his prolific son, Carlin-M Ivanhoe Bell, had problematic recessive genes that didn’t come to light until a few generations of inbreeding. 

After this discovery, farmers stopped breeding cows to Star’s descendants and that problem was resolved. But could other problems be lurking within the chromosomes of our remaining Holsteins? What had been lost with all this inbreeding? These questions troubled Dechow enough that he began searching out some of those old genes.

That required digging into the archives of the National Animal Germplasm Programin Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s like a seed bank, except it collects ovarian tissue, blood, and semen from domesticated animals, and it holds about 7,000 cocktail-straw-sized semen samples from Holstein bulls.

Dechow’s team found two that weren’t related to Chief or Elevation, so they took those samples, got eggs from top-notch females, and created embryos to implant into surrogate Penn State heifers. The idea was to combine the half-century-old Y genetics with DNA from females who are among the finest examples of modern-day milk production. Over the course of 2017, the animals wound up giving birth to 15 calves, seven of them male. The oldest of these animals are about two and two now have calves of their own.

Every parameter in the development of these cattle will be measured, and their DNA is being analyzed and compared to the general population. It turns out that not a lot is known about the Y chromosome, so this is an opportunity to use this newly-introduced variation to understand it better.Semen samples were also taken from the bulls and sent to the germplasm bank in Colorado. Dechow can already see a difference on the ground in the way these cattle look. They’re a bit shorter than most Holsteins, and also heavier. They’re also a little less docile than average.

Select Sires has collected semen samples from the bulls and run them through its grading program to so-so results; they came out in the middle of the pack. They’ve offered some of these samples for sale to dairy farmers, but sales so far have been minimal. Dairy farmers today are already struggling financially, and it’s not easy to convince them there’s a benefit to getting DNA from average bulls.

Dechow is still hopeful that there will be more to gain from this research once the cattle mature.

“My pie-in-the-sky dream,” Dechow says, “is that we’ll able to show these old genetics still have something to offer.”

Source: Undark.

While many are leaving dairy farming, Jason Bagley is just getting started

Jason Bagley, a 12 year old from Farmington joined the 4-H dairy program four years ago. His career path includes studying at the University of New Hampshire then returning to farm and milk cows.


While many consider the future of the dairy industry bleak, Jason Bagley has made great strides with his herd and is looking towards a future in the industry.

Bagley is an active 4-H member. He has been showing dairy animals for four years.

Bagley got his first Milking Shorthorn when he was eight years old. That cow placed third in the Milking Shorthorn Futurity class at Fryeburg Fair last week.

His herd has eight females and one bull. In September, the first heifer calf from a cow he owned was born.

Bagley said he got his interest in Milking Shorthorns from his dad, Dan Bagley, who worked for the Cate Farm in Warren, New Hampshire.

“I like going to the fairs, traveling all over,” the younger Bagley said.

Mom Lilly Bagley said some states her son has been to are New York, Kentucky and Massachusetts.

“I learn a lot,” Jason said. “Dairy farming has taught me how to take care of money, about respect and responsibility.”

His dream is to attend the University of New Hampshire, where his mom went to school, to study animal husbandry and welfare.

“I plan to work at a small grocery store while there to pay for my college student loans,” Jason said. “Then I’ll come back and farm.”


World Brown Swiss Breeders to Gather at WDE 2020

The Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders’ Association of America is excited to welcome more than 500 people from over 25 countries to the World Brown Swiss Conference held in conjunction with the World Dairy Expo. Held every four years, this is the first time the United States is hosting the conference since 2000. Make plans now to gather in Madison, Wisconsin September 28 through October 3, 2020 for the Brown Swiss global experience of a lifetime.

 The 2020 World Brown Swiss Conference comes at a remarkable time in the agricultural industry when Brown Swiss genetics continue to gain in popularity worldwide. “The global breed interest is a direct result of component pricing, heat tolerance, calm temperament, milk quality, sire selection and a pure love for the Brown Swiss Cow,” explains Norm Magnussen, Executive Secretary of the Brown Swiss Breeders’ Association of America. “Demand for Brown Swiss genetics is at an all-time high with a world population of well over five-million cattle. We want to keep the momentum going by hosting the finest world conference in history. It is more important than ever to hold onto our critical role in improving dairy genetics worldwide.”

Kicking off the 2020 World Brown Swiss Conference will be a welcome reception hosted by the Voegeli family on their renowned 165-year-old farm in Monticello, Wisconsin. There will also be several pre-conference farm tours featuring a variety of dairy operations.

The objective of the conference will be to continue fostering the demand for Brown Swiss worldwide. Coupling this event with the World Dairy Expo will allow attendees to learn the newest in dairy science, technology and techniques for their operations. The conference will also feature U.S. and international speakers with presentations on timely industry and breed topics highlighting the importance of the Brown Swiss breed in the world dairy population. “Presentations on cutting-edge technology from around the world will be the core of the conference’s technical sessions,” says Magnussen. “Additional highlights will be the International Brown Swiss Show and the World Premier Brown Swiss Sale.”

The combination of elite Brown Swiss cattle and innovative industry technology will make for a very special event. “Attendees will not only gain knowledge and build lasting contacts at our World Brown Swiss Conference, but they will also have the opportunity to experience the ‘Greatest Dairy Show on Earth’—the International Brown Swiss Show,” Magnussen states. “They will see some of the best Brown Swiss in the world along with having the unique opportunity to assemble with other motivated and forward-thinking people.”

All Brown Swiss enthusiasts are invited to this special event as the breed is celebrated worldwide and specially to honor the two-year reigning Supreme Champion of World Dairy Expo, the Brown Swiss Cow, Cutting Edge T Delilah!

New Zealand dairy farm fined $42k for converting indigenous vegetation to pasture


A large Central Otago dairy farm operation with a track record for community involvement has been fined $42,000 after converting 12.2 hectares of indigenous vegetation into pasture for intensive dairy grazing.

Devon Dairy Farms, which operates a large farm with about 4000 dairy cows at Hawea Flat, was sentenced on Monday after converting the 12.2 hectares of indigenous vegetation, which included short tussock grassland and cushion field plants, into pasture.

Judge Brian Dwyer, in the Environment Court in Invercargill, said in 2015 the 12.2 hectares on the property was identified as a potential “significant natural area” as it contained a number of indigenous plant species.

But between May 2015 and November 2016 the 12.2 hectares was converted by Devon Dairy Farms from the indigenous vegetation into pasture land, he said.

Just over 12 hectares of indigenous vegetation was converted into pasture for intensive dairy grazing (file photo).
Just over 12 hectares of indigenous vegetation was converted into pasture for intensive dairy grazing (file photo).

The clearance of the indigenous vegetation was contrary to provisions of the district plan and no resource consent was obtained.

It was not possible to reinstate the land to its original condition, the judge said.

“This offending involved the clearance of 12.2 hectares which was a habitat for vulnerable indigenous vegetation.”

Its protection was a matter of importance and the offending was serious, the judge said.

“The defendant was aware the land contained indigenous vegetation but was determined to use the land as a feed lot for 700 pregnant cows which could not be held elsewhere on the farm.”

The judge, however, said Devon Dairy Farms was a first-time offender and had a track record of community involvement.

This included providing public access through its property to the Clutha and Hawea rivers; and it had entered into an agreement with the Queenstown Lakes District Council to provide access through its property to new sewage ponds which would save Queenstown Lakes ratepayers about $6 million.

Also of “considerable significance” was that, following the offending,  Devon Dairy Farms instructed an ecologist to identify mitigation measures it might undertake.

The ecologist identified another 34 hectares on the farm which was a habitat for a range of indigenous plant species worthy of protection.

A director of Devon Dairy Farms subsequently entered into an agreement with QE11 Trust for the registration of a covenant over the land, achieving its protection in perpetuity, the judge said.

The cost of doing this was about $80,000.

These actions constituted real remorse, the judge said.

Michael Walker, lawyer for Devon Dairy Farms, when outlining the  good the company had done in the community, said it had previously been described by a Ministry for Primary Industries investigator as one of the best managed and structured farms he had seen.

“The point i am trying to make is they are genuinely remorseful, they are an extremely positive example of modern day dairy farming and [have]  made an enormous commitment to the community.” 

In sentencing, Judge Dwyer fined Devon Dairy Farms $42,000, ordered the company to pay solicitor costs and to reimburse the Queenstown Lakes District Council more than $23,000 in investigation and related costs.  


Vilsack: Japan Trade Deal Lags Behind TPP For Dairy

Last week, the Trump Administration celebrated the signing of a partial bilateral trade deal with Japan. Agriculture concerns were addressed in this partial trade pact. The idea was to get agricultural exports to Japan back on an even playing field with the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This has been accomplished, for the most part. A voice for the dairy industry says this agreement doesn’t give their industry the same level playing field as TPP would have.

The United States had been a part of TPP, but President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal when he took office. The President said the agreement was going to give all of agriculture a level playing field in Japan. However, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack says the deal is not as good for the dairy industry as TPP would have been. There is still room for growth.

For the complete article from the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network CLICK HERE

Minnesota Court of Appeals orders state to reconsider dairy expansion

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ordered state pollution regulators to reconsider their decision to grant a permit for a mega-dairy farm, saying the regulators failed to consider greenhouse gas effects when they decided a farm in southeastern Minnesota could expand its herd.

In a ruling Monday, the judges called the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s decision not to conduct a full environmental review of the dairy expansion “arbitrary and capricious.” The Star Tribune reported the ruling raises the possibility that the state could start considering climate change effects when permitting large-scale dairy farms.

Daley Farms of Lewiston had been granted a permit to expand its milking operation from 1,500 to 3,000 cows, which would be considered a large operation in Minnesota.

Environmentalists argued the expansion would create more than 46 million gallons of manure each year, generating so much methane that it would become the 43rd-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the state.

“Mega-dairies and factory farms in Minnesota are significant contributors to greenhouse gas pollution, and we’re glad the Court of Appeals is forcing the MPCA to study the impact of this pollution,” Amelia Vohs, a lawyer for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, said in a statement.

Matthew Berger, a lawyer for the Daley family, said the judges didn’t necessarily require pollution regulators to change their practices, but rather told them “to look and make a decision and explain their decision.”

“I see it as more of a procedural, minor issue,” Berger said. He said his clients haven’t decided whether they’ll ask the Supreme Court to review the case.

Ben Daley said the farm is a family business that they want to pass on to the next generation.

“I am a fifth-generation dairy farmer,” Daley said. “My nieces and nephews that went to school and came back love farming; they want to continue this family business and maybe give it to their children.”


New Zealand Dairy real estate have suffered the biggest decrease in sales although their prices have improved

The number of farms being sold is up compared to a year ago, while farm prices are slightly weaker.

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand recorded 270 farm sales in the three months ended September compared to 250 in the same period of last year, an 8% increase.

However, sales were down on an annual basis, with 1361 farms sold throughout the country in the 12 months to September, down 6.7% compared to the previous 12 months.

Dairy farm sales suffered the biggest decline sales down 37% compared with the previous 12 months, followed by finishing farms -7.8%, arable farms -4.4%, while grazing properties went against the trend and recorded a 3.2% gain in sales for the 12 months.

Prices were softer, with the REINZ All Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in the mix of sales by farm type, size and location, down 4.3% in the three months to September compared to the three months to August, and down 3.9% compared to a year earlier.

Conversely, although dairy farm sales were weaker their prices were firmer, with the REINZ Dairy Farm Price Index rising 10.3% in the three months to September compared to the three months to August, and rising 20.6% compared to a year earlier.

REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said prices in the rural sector remained steady on relatively light volumes, but reflected a gradual easing over the last two years, although farmers remained cautious.

Sales of lifestyle blocks were up marginally, with 1650 lifestyle block sales in the three months ended September, up 2.9% compared to the same period of last year, while median prices were 8.8% higher than a year ago.

Peacocke said the figures reflected “a degree of volatility” in the lifestyle market.


Australian dairy farmers are grateful for lifeline of hay

LIFELINE: Mark Livermore, Hastings dairy farmers Riley, Col and Bob Baker and Wauchope Rotary’s Reg Pierce with the first of the hay. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

Dairy farmers across the Hastings and Manning are grateful for donations of hay as they continue to battle through drought.

Over the next three weeks, three b-double trucks will deliver over 100 tonnes of hay to strugglings farmers as the result of a partnership between Rotary and Real Dairy Australia.

Hastings dairy farmer Bob Baker said the hay will be a welcomed relief to farmers across the region as they continue through the ongoing struggle of drought.

«We are optimistic about the future of farming but this drought has hit some farms on the coast as well,» Mr Barker said.

«We have never had to purchase hay for our animals so to have already purchased three semi’s of fodder this calendar year is hard.

«We are grateful and thankful for this hay and know other local farmers are as well.»

Mr Baker said to buy hay is one thing but to have to pay the inflated rates due to increasing demand is another kick in the teeth.

«Hay is getting more and more expensive and with freight costs on top even purchasing hay is getting to be unaffordable – but what else can you do?» he said.

«We are all so grateful for organisations like Real Dairy Australia and Rotary and the wider community who continue to help us.

«This hay and support shows we are not forgotten and that we will get through this together.»

Wauchope Rotary’s Reg Pierce said while it is known that farmers out west are doing it tough there are also farmers closer to home who are struggling.

«Through our work with the drought relief effort we have been able to donate and distribute approximately $1.7 million to farmers across our Rotary district but it is concerning to hear more and more farmers closer to the coast are battling as well,» Mr Pierce said.

«Every single day I get phone calls from people who are at desperately seeking assistance and it is heartbreaking getting a glimpse into the battle they are fighting through.

«We know this hay will only help temporarily but knowing we are able to make a real difference even for a small amount of time is priceless.»

Mr Pierce said Rotary was approached and together with Real Dairy Australia, from October 10, 16 farmers across the Hastings and Manning will receive hay for their animals.

«We were approached and through Rotary Australia World Community Service we were able to fund the hay coming,» he said.

«The farmers who are getting the hay have also decided among themselves how the hay is getting distributed.

«We will assist in any way we possibly can and will continue to do so until the drought breaks.

«We know the drought is hitting everyone hard and it is easy to mistake a few drops of rain for the drought breaking but the reality is our farmers are doing it tough and Rotary is here to help in any way we can.»

Dairy consultant, Mark Livermore has been instrumental in the partnership with Rotary and say the first truck to arrive has been well received.

«Today we have delivered an hay lifeline to our local farmers with a dollar value of around $18,000,» Mr Livermore said.

«This will then be followed by at least two more hay runs to the area to help farmers in the Manning and wider Hastings region.

«We know our farmers are doing it tough and it is critical that we as a community continue to rally behind them to get them through.»

Mr Livermore said the hope is that the hay runs can continue with the support of community groups like Rotary and the wider community.

«We hope these hay runs can continue and we will be seeking support from the community to help ease the cost to our farmers who are battling.»

Source: Gazette

There’s only 196 dairy farms left in Tennessee, but MTSU plans to help them out

Middle Tennessee State University is working to keep milk local.

The director of the dairy program at MTSU says the state has lost about 300 dairy farms in about the last 5 years.

About 100 years ago, MTSU had only one dairy cow. Now, they’ve got about 100 more.

It’s all part of efforts to keep the dairy farm industry alive in Tennessee.

Students do pretty much everything at the MTSU farm laboratories, from the milking to the cleaning to the feeding.

The goal is to educate the next generation of dairy farmers as more and more of them go out of business.

Director Matthew Wade runs the MTSU farm laboratories. He says the state is losing about 32 dairy farms every single year.

He adds there’s only 196 dairy farms left in the state. Wade says the price of milk has stayed about the same for the past 30 years. Meanwhile, the expenses have tripled.

But MTSU has a plan to help those farmers out.

The school played an integral part in the Tennessee Milk Program, which means milk sold with the special red logo was sourced, processed, and bottled entirely in Tennessee.

Milk sold with this special red logo was sourced, processed, and bottled entirely in Tennessee. (FOX 17 News)

Which means by buying that milk, Tennesseans are directly helping a local farmer.

Other dairy farms have jumped on board as well, hoping to keep the next generation of farms alive.

Source: Fox17

Dairy Defined: Milk ­– A Great Addition to Your Science-Based Diet

Call it old-fashioned, but dairy believes in science. For example, it takes climate change seriously – that’s why North America’s dairy sector, which is dominated by U.S. production, is the only one worldwide whose total greenhouse gas emissions have declined from 2005 levels, according to a UN study.

Dairy also closely examines research on hot-button topics like plant-based versus dairy beverages – where studies consistently show consumer confusion over nutrition and support for clearer labels. And the sector understands that “industry-funded research” will not be seen as quite the same as “independent” studies. Fine – even though industry transparency standards are high, critics will believe what they believe.

But if you don’t want to believe what dairy tells you – will you believe Consumer Reports?

In its November issue, Consumer Reports’ food-testing team evaluated 35 plant-based beverages, including almond, coconut, oat and soy varieties, for nutrition and taste, also comparing them with milk. The result? “Few of the drinks we tested match cow’s milk for nutrition,” the authors wrote. Experts also noted that consumers “are confused about plant milks’ nutritional profile” and that in terms of calcium intake especially, “you may be missing out” with plant-based beverages.

The study found that, along with often relying on added sugars for flavor, industrially produced plant-based beverages also include concerning additives linked to higher risks of kidney disease, heart disease, bone loss, and inflammation. That’s not exactly the story a vegan lobbyist might want you to read, but facts are facts. And by the way — they’re the same facts the Food and Drug Administration is examining as it considers enforcing already existing standards on what milk is, and what it isn’t. (We at NMPF have sent them a road map with some suggestions.)

That’s not the only interesting study of recent note. CNN recently picked up on research from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland showing that when it comes to hydration, milk outperforms even water, due to its unique blend of nutrients. The lactose in milk, for example, helps slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach, maintaining hydration longer. Beverages with higher concentrations of sugars, such as juices and sodas, use up the water that’s needed to dilute them.

These are only two studies. There are more. Did you see the one from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Heart Association? It recommended that children under 5 drink only milk and water, specifically warning against replacing milk with plant-based beverages. And how about last year’s University of Wisconsin study showing that, once you factor in packaging and transportation, soy and almond beverages have a larger carbon footprint than milk, with almonds exponentially higher in water use?

The evidence keeps coming in: Milk is a highly nutritious, climate-compatible beverage that benefits consumers. And it’s not just dairy sources saying that – it’s respected scientists in reputable publications. (A few more studies of interest are listed below for ease of reference.) From the evidence, one might just conclude that milk is an excellent part of a science-based diet. But maybe it’s just old-fashioned, thinking a debate should be focused around facts instead of marketing.

A few links of interest for additional examination:

(Note: NMPF’s Dairy Defined each week explores today’s dairy farms and industry using high-quality data and podcast-style interviews to explain current dairy issues and dispel myths.)

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

Chobani unveils product to help raise money for American farmers

In honor of National Farmer’s Day, Chobani, America’s #1 Greek Yogurt Brand, is celebrating the American dairy farmers who are the backbone of many rural communities and are facing deep challenges to their livelihood. Building upon the company’s dairy industry initiative Milk Matters™, Chobani is launching their second limited-edition charity flavor, called Farmer Batch, which is made in partnership with American Farmland Trust (AFT), a non-profit dedicated to saving the land that sustains us by protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.

Chobani is donating 10 cents from every purchase of the new Farmer Batch Chobani® Greek Yogurt Milk & Cookies 4-pack to AFT to offer multiple microgrants of up to $10,000 to help farmers transfer or protect their land, strengthen their farm business, or develop climate plans.

Chobani employees, local communities, and fans are encouraged to go on social media and #thankafarmer in their lives in celebration of National Farmer’s Day.

“At Chobani, we always try to use food as a force for good,” said Peter McGuinness, President of Chobani. “We believe the most important thing we can do is make a difference. And we want to continue our mission led innovation to help make a meaningful difference in dairy for the communities we operate in, the farms we source from, and the fans for whom we make our food.”

Farmer Batch aligns with Chobani’s mission to help strengthen America’s milkshed at a time when many dairy farms are facing significant challenges. America has lost an average of five dairy farms per day for the past 10 years — a staggering 17,000 in all.

“Dairy farms are critical parts of the economy and landscape in communities across America but dairy farm families are facing tremendous change due to a weak dairy economy, disruptions from severe weather, and an aging farming population,” said David Haight, AFT Vice President of Programs. “We are proud to stand beside Chobani in helping dairy farmers plan for the future as they face these daunting challenges.”

To learn more information about Chobani’s partnership with AFT and to learn how to spread the word and thank a local farmer, visit

Raw milk: the benefits are unclear but the dangers are real

According to some of its online proponents, unpasteurised or “raw” milk can “heal the gut”, boost the immune system, prevent allergies, give you healthier skin and even contribute to bodybuilding. Perhaps more common is the idea that pasteurisation – the heating process used to kill harmful bacteria in milk – reduces the amount of vitamins and “good” bacteria in the drink, so raw milk is supposedly better for you. Recent media reports suggest this perception is creating a growing demand for raw milk that some farmers are happily responding to.

So what does the scientific evidence say? There’s some data to indicate pasteurisation can have a small effect on milk’s nutritional content. But drinking raw milk comes with the risk of contracting serious and potentially lethal infections.

Pasteurisation, named after scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), involves heating certain types of food and drink to about 72°C for a minimum of 15 seconds and then rapidly cooling them to 3°C. This process reduces the numbers of potentially harmful bacteria (pathogens) and other microorganisms that reduce the shelf life of the product.

A 2011 meta-analysis compared the results of 40 studies investigating the effects of pasteurisation on vitamin levels in milks. It showed pasteurisation did reduce the amount of vitamins B1, B2, C and folate in milk. But the authors also concluded that, apart from vitamin B2, levels of these vitamins were so low to begin with that milk wasn’t an important dietary source of them.

They also found some of the published scientific evidence suggested that raw milk may offer some protection from allergies. However, the numerous environmental factors involved in farming prevented any clear conclusions being made.

Another study from 2015 looked at how often 983 babies under 12 months suffered fevers and respiratory tract infections such as colds (as recorded by their parents). It compared those who were given raw milk and those who had UHT (ultra-high temperature processed) milk, which is heated to a much higher temperature (135°C) than in regular pasteurisation.

The authors concluded that drinking raw milk in the first year of life could reduce the risk of fevers and respiratory infections by about 30% compared to UHT milk. They stated that if a method could be found to remove pathogens from milk with only minimal processing, then this could have an enormous impact on babies’ health, given how common these infections are.

But it’s important to emphasise this isn’t the same as saying raw milk has protective powers for anyone who drinks it. It’s also worth considering that babies under 12 months are usually recommended breast milk or formula because they cannot obtain all the nutrients they need from any cow’s milk. Perhaps most importantly, such young infants are at particular risk from the pathogens in raw milk, which can threaten even healthy adults.

Harmful bacteria

The average human body contains around 39 trillion individual bacterial cells – more than the total number of human cells in the body. We need a mixture of microorganisms, perhaps commonly known as “good” bacteria, to fight off the bad ones.

Since microorganisms are found everywhere from the Antarctic to the bottom of the sea, it’s perhaps unsurprising that they are commonplace on the average dairy farm. Some harmful bacteria that have been associated with raw drinking milk include Mycobacterium bovis (the causative agent of bovine TB), Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria and the toxin-producing E. coli.

Raw milk has been linked to food poisoning from Campylobacter. royaltystockphoto/Shutterstock

Research has shown drinking raw milk can lead to infections with these pathogens. In Colorado, US, in 2015, 12 people were infected with a drug-resistant strain of Campylobacter jejuni after drinking raw milk. Although no one died, one person was hospitalised and all had symptoms ranging from bloody diarrhoea to stomach cramps and headaches. Similarly, in Wales in 2017, 18 cases of Campylobacter infection were reported from people who had drunk raw milk.

Because of the dangers related to raw milk, its sale is often strictly regulated. For example, in most of the UK it can only be sold by registered producers who use approved production methods. Farms have to be inspected twice a year, and the milk has to be labelled with a health warning and tested four times a year for the presence of pathogens. But in Scotland, selling raw milk for drinking is prohibited entirely, as it is in Canada and Australia.

The evidence for the benefits of drinking raw milk is mixed but the research generally suggests that the potential contamination of raw milk with harmful bacteria is too big a risk compared to any perceived health benefits.

Source: The Conversation

Farmers Have More Sex Than People With Any Other Job

Apparently when you’re done plowing a field you want to keep the plowing going at home.

According to a new survey, farmers say they have more sex than people with any other job. One in three say they have sex daily.

The top six jobs that report having the most sex are:

  • Farmers
  • Architects
  • Hairdressers
  • People in advertising
  • Lawyers
  • Teachers

The survey didn’t release a bottom five list… just the last-place job: Journalists have the least sex.

The survey also asked people to rate how GOOD they are at getting-it-on, and farmers were on top there too. 67% say they’re, “incredible.”

The five jobs where people say they’re the best at getting-it-on are:

  • Farmers
  • Doctors
  • Architects
  • Construction workers
  • People in advertising

Read more at the Daily Mirror.

Court puts brakes on Minnesota dairy expansion

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday, Oct. 14 put a halt to the proposed expansion of a Winona County dairy farm and referred it back to state regulators.

The state Pollution Control Agency had previously determined that the project did not require the completion of an environmental impact statement. But on Monday, the court ordered the agency to reconsider whether one was necessary.

In remanding the project back to the agency, the court also revoked approval of the project.

The approval of the project was appealed to the court by the nonprofit Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. The organization represented itself in the appeal as well as the nonprofit Land Stewardship Project, according to a press release.

The agency did carry out an environmental review of Daley Farms’ proposed dairy expansion before approving the modifications it involved, but opted not to conduct the kind of study that would have produced an impact statement. A limited liability company, Daley owns and operates three dairies in Winona County and is managed by members of the same-named family.

Impact statements, according to the advocacy center, contain project alternatives and note the “cumulative impact” that proposals could have on nearby and future developments.

The advocacy center argued that the agency’s initial review did not account for the greenhouse gas emissions that the expansion could produce. According to court documents, the expansion would increase Daley’s dairy cow count from approximately 1,700 to approximately 4,600, and would result in the annual production of approximately 46 million gallons of manure.

Export reports that the center submitted to the court claimed that the expanded operation would become the state’s 43rd largest emitter of greenhouse gasses. The pollution agency, according to court documents, argued in response that it did not need to consider the emissions because “Daley Farms does not require an air emissions permit.”

Ultimately, the court agreed that the agency ought to include the expansion’s potential to release greenhouse gasses in its initial review. It stopped short, however, of ordering an impact statement to be produced.


Cleanup complete at controversial Oregon dairy

Oregon farm regulators are satisfied with the cleanup of a defunct Oregon dairy with a history of wastewater violations and are reviewing a proposal to restart its operations.

Inspectors from the Oregon Department of Agriculture have verified that solid and liquid waste was fully removed from Lost Valley Farm before the Oct. 31 deadline established under a legal agreement.

No cattle are currently allowed to occupy the facility in Boardman, Ore., but its plumbing and waste infrastructure is clean and functioning, said Wym Matthews, manager of ODA’s confined animal feeding operation program.

“It can sit there and accept stormwater without any discharge activity,” he said.

The large dairy was controversial in Oregon even before it began operating in 2017 due to concerns about the environmental effects of housing up to 30,000 cows at the facility.

Repeated problems with wastewater management prompted ODA to fine the dairy more than $10,000 and eventually to seek the revocation of its CAFO permit last year.

Meanwhile, Greg te Velde, the facility’s owner, filed for bankruptcy and lost control of his dairies after a judge found he had continued gambling and mishandling money.

The trustee appointed to operate Lost Valley Farm and te Velde’s two dairies in California, Randy Sugarman, reached a deal with ODA to clean up the facility while restructuring the overall company’s debt.

The budgeted cost of the cleanup was $2.3 million, which Sugarman said was a “sizable sum” but likely represents “a small fraction of the estate’s potential administrative liability to the State of Oregon,” according to a bankruptcy document.

Sugarman was required to continue overseeing the facility’s cleanup and operations even after the dairy was sold to Easterday Farms earlier this year for $66.7 million.

Ongoing monitoring of groundwater at the site has shown no signs that wastewater discharged from manure lagoons has negatively affected the aquifer, said Matthews.

Though ODA will submit a “letter of satisfaction” regarding the site’s cleanup, Sugarman will remain responsible for overseeing the facility until Easterday Farms obtains a new CAFO permit for the dairy, he said.

An application for such a permit is already under review by ODA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, which will eventually release the plan for public comment, Matthews said. “We will propose a pretty broad outreach.”

Aside from Lost Valley Farm, the two dairies owned by te Velde in California are also slated to be sold.

A bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of nearly 2,000 acres and equipment owned by the G.J. te Velde Dairy in Tipton, Calif., for $28.75 million. The property is being sold to Maricopa Orchards, with the closing expected in January 2020.

The Pacific Rim Dairy, on 2,700 acres near Corcoran, Calif., is being upgraded with a manure digester to improve its environmental performance and to make it more appealing to potential buyers.

In a proposed bankruptcy plan, Sugarman said he’s listed the facility for sale for $56 million and wants to sell it “as expeditiously as possible.”

“Nonetheless, the California dairy sector is experiencing a dramatic drop and volatility in land values, livestock values and milk prices, so that it is extremely difficult to predict when and if the Trustee will receive a reasonable offer,” he said.


South Carolina County with only 1 dairy farm left could be lost

Megan Dobbins’ entire life was based around the family dairy farm. At its peak, Pine Lane Farm, now called Four M Farm, had 300 cows. Now that she no longer sees them every day, she said she feels empty.

“It’s a sad, empty feeling to know that there’s no cow standing out here,” she said. “You can’t just walk out here and love on one because they’re gone and you’ve seen them out here your whole life. And they’re just gone.”

Four M Farm in Townville was one of the last conventional, family-owned dairy farms in Anderson County before it closed earlier this year after 46 years. The last milking day for the Dobbins family was April 3 and the cows were sold off later that week.

In South Carolina, the number of dairy cows has continued to drop. At its peak, there were about 190,000 cows in 1945, according to Adam Kantrovich, associate professor of agribusiness at the Clemson University Cooperative Extension.

As of July, there were 14,000, according to United States Department of Agriculture estimates.

Twenty years ago, there were 33 dairy farms in Anderson County, according to Kantrovich. By 2012, only seven were still producing and selling milk. Now, there’s only one.

Dobbins remembers the day they sold their dairy cows.

“The morning the cows left, we loaded them up on potbelly trucks and you look at the cows you’ve raised from calves, and you think, ‘I hope she knows I tried. I hope she knows that,'” Dobbins said as her voice broke.

Dobbins, 35, said she knew all the cows on the farm, but she had a favorite: a Brown Swiss cow named Candy.

“They were family,” Dobbins said, rolling up her left shirt sleeve to show a tattooed color portrait of Candy on the farm. Her right arm bears a tattoo of the farm itself.

Experts at the Clemson University Cooperative Extension confirmed that Anderson County’s last known operating dairy farm is L.D. Peeler’s 41-year-old Milky Way Farm in Starr.

Milky Way Farm sells unpasteurized milk and also sells milk to the public, which is what sets it apart from the pasteurized milk once sold to a co-op by Four M.

In other situations, being the only producer of something might be a positive thing, but Peeler said it’s the opposite.

Because so many local dairies have gone out of business, so has the infrastructure needed to maintain them.

He finds himself having to travel to other states to get the replacement parts he needs to keep his equipment running.

“As long as I’ve been in the dairy business, I have never, ever thought about exiting the business, but it has crossed my mind now,” Peeler said.

Peeler said he’s not making a profit at this point, but he’s able to make ends meet. His son runs the day-to-day operations of the farm and loves doing it, so Peeler keeps the farm going.

The purchase price of milk peaked at $27.30 in 2014 and then plummeted and hasn’t rebounded much since then, Kantrovich said.

The popularity of nut milks has also played a role by causing the demand for cow’s milk to decrease.

It costs $17 per cow per day to get 100 pounds of milk, Dobbins and Peeler both said. But a co-op buyer would only pay $16 and $14 respectively for the same amount. That doesn’t account for the other costs of keeping the farm running.

And, statewide, milk production in 2018 dropped to an annual average below what farmers would need to be financially sustainable, Kantrovich said.

The average consumer probably won’t notice anything as small family farms die off, Kantrovich said. But it’s a life-altering shift for the farmer, whether they switch to another product or shut down the farm altogether.

The decision to close the family farm or change the farm’s product is usually especially hard because these farms often go back several generations, Kantrovich said.

“They usually do not want to be the last generation farming, they may feel as if they are letting down themselves, their family and previous generations,” he said. “They may feel as if they have somehow failed, but they have not.

“Farming is a business, it is a family business, but it is also a way of life — a hard but good life.”

There are still some animals living on the land at Four M Farm. Dobbins’ ideal outcome would be to turn the farm into an agritourism destination focused on educating people about farmers and their products.

“For so many kids, you’ve taken away knowing where the food comes from,” she said. “We go to the grocery store and get it, but how does it get to the grocery store?

“If you kill all the farmers off, where’s your food gonna come from? Do you want it to be all processed and out of a plant?”

She’s not sure if her dreams of agritourism can happen, but she doesn’t want to see her family’s land sold off.

“With it being so close to the interstate, somebody could come and try to develop it,” she said. “You just never know. I would hate to see it all leveled out and be a strip mall.”


U.S. Consumers Snap Up Italian Parmesan Before Tariffs Hit

U.S. consumers who appreciate the tang of aged Italian Parmesan cheese as an aperitif or atop their favorite pasta dish are stocking up ahead of next week’s tariff hike and as dairy producers in the two countries square off.

The Italian agricultural lobby Coldiretti said Friday that sales of both Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, aged cheeses with a distinctive granular quality that are defined by their territory of origin, have skyrocketed in the United States by 220% since the higher tariffs were announced one week ago.

The new tariffs — up from $2.15 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) to around $6 a kilogram — take effect on Oct. 18. Parmesan cheese is on a long list of EU products targeted by the Trump administration for retaliatory tariffs approved by the World Trade Organization for illegal EU subsidies to aviation giant Airbus.

Coldiretti says American consumers as a result will pay over $45 a kilogram, instead of $40 — which is expected to hurt sales in the U.S., the second-largest export market after France.

Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese consortium, says the tariffs threaten the economic health of 330 small dairy producers in the area around Parma and the 50,000 people who work in the production supply chain.

“I believe that … Europe has understood that this is a commercial attack,” Bertinelli told The Associated Press this week.

The consortium produces 3.7 million Parmesan wheels a year, each weighing an average of 40 kilograms (88 pounds) and aged from more than 18 months to over 30 months.

Parmigiano Reggiano is produced in a defined territory from the Apennine mountains to the Po River from the milk of 250,000 cows raised in the same territory to earn its “protected designation origin,” a label given to specialty foods from a specific geographic region.

The U.S. National Milk Producers Federation has welcomed the tariffs on the Italian cheese, saying U.S. producers have been improperly blocked from selling their “common name” Parmesan in Europe, contributing to a $1.6 billion dairy trade deficit with the EU.

The milk producers’ lobby said the use of “geographic indication,” like Parmigiano Reggiano, has been “abused” to limit competition of cheese imports from the United States into the EU. It argues that Europe should allow the “high-quality American-made foods” using common names to compete next to the products certified with “protected origin” names.

But Italy’s agriculture minister, Teresa Bellanova, vowed to protect Italian businesses against imports of what she sees as copy-cat products.

“Hands off our names, enough identity theft,” Bellanova said last week. “U.S. producers want to upend reality and use common names to sell their products in Europe. If their project is to sell fake Parmesan or mozzarella in Europe, we have to make clear it will never happen.”


Cargill creates new business unit focused on animal, human health

Global commodities trader Cargill Inc is launching a new business unit focused on animal and human health products as part of a reorganization of its animal nutrition business, the company told Reuters on Wednesday.

Cargill said its animal nutrition and health group will now consist of three units: Cargill Animal Nutrition, combining its existing feed, nutrition and pre-mix businesses; Cargill Aqua Nutrition; and the new Cargill Health Technologies.

This marks the latest reorganization effort by the Minnesota-based firm, as a sour farm economy, adverse weather and an ongoing U.S.-China trade war have dragged on profits for global agricultural companies.

The move also comes as Cargill has shuttered animal-feed mills in China, in part because the rapid spread of the fatal hog disease African Swine Fever (ASF) has reduced demand.

Cargill’s animal nutrition and protein businesses have been under pressure in recent months, as poor weather disrupted U.S. Midwest cattle shipments and ASF reduced hog feed demand in China.

The new unit will focus on “specialty health ingredients, building a digestive and immune business for humans and animals,” the company said in a statement.

Chuck Warta, currently president of Cargill’s animal nutrition and pre-mix business, will head up the new unit.

Adriano Marcon, president and group leader for Cargill’s aquaculture business globally, will be in charge of Cargill Animal Nutrition. Pilar Cruz, president of its compound feed business, will head up Cargill Aqua Nutrition.

The company is set to report its fiscal 2020 first quarter earnings on Thursday. The company said the reorganization will not change how Cargill will report its different business segment earnings on Thursday.

In July, the company reported a 41% drop in adjusted quarterly profit for its fourth quarter, citing supply disruptions stemming from the U.S.-China trade war and also flooding in the central United States that hit marketing and transportation of grains and livestock.


Hertfordshire dairy fire: Blaze ravages listed, derelict buildings in Codicote again

A blaze has ravaged a thatched Grade II-listed property – for the second time in four years.

More than 50 firefighters were sent to Node Court in Codicote, Hertfordshire after an alert at about 00:15 BST.

The building has been derelict since a fire several years ago.

The 1928 detached property was partially gutted by arson in 2015 which caused £3.5m of damage and was described at the time as “the largest [fire] of its kind in the UK”.

In 2017, a 24-year-old man was jailed for more than three years after admitting setting it on fire.

Crews remain in the scene damping down on Friday and an investigation into the cause will begin shortly.

According to Historic England, the building was constructed in 1928 for an American businessman as a model dairy, which at the time “set standards for hygiene and efficient dairy farming in England”.

Source: BBC

Dairy advocate Dean Strauss dies at 48

Dean E. Strauss, age 48 died peacefully on Sunday September 29, 2019 at the Sharon Richardson Community Hospice Center surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Sheboygan on September 10, 1971, a son of Edward and Sandra (Hoppe) Strauss.

Dean attended St. Paul’s WELS Lutheran grade school and was a 1990 graduate of Sheboygan Falls High School. Dean graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Platteville with his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture in 1993.

Dean was active in 4H, FFA and High School Wrestling. He was a member of his College Fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho, where he served in a leadership position.

Kris Pool and Dean Strauss were united in marriage on December 23, 2015.

Dean’s passion for promoting the dairy industry was endless. We have all experienced Dean’s energy and excitement while telling us about a farm tour, been amazed at his dedication serving on numerous boards and committees and remained inspired by his passion for dairy promotion and Wisconsin cheese! Dean served on several boards including the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center board, including being one of the initial funders or “believers” in the center, the Executive board of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and the Dairy Policy Committee for Wisconsin Farm Bureau.

Previously, he served on the boards of the Wisconsin Beef Council, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin and Dairy Management Inc.

Dean, Kris and the Strauss family have hosted thousands of children and adults for farm tours, and Breakfast on the Farm. Additionally, he supported community events such as the local fair, car racing and the local food bank. He and his family also donate resources for the REINS program, a non-profit that uses therapeutic horse riding to help improve the lives of those with special needs

Dean’s leadership and advocacy won state and national awards including the Dairy Business Association Dairy Advocate of the Year and an Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability award. He has given so much to the dairy community and to his local community. Dean shared dairy’s story on the farm’s blog,

Dean also was serving as financial secretary of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Howards Grove, and on the Town of Sheboygan Falls Farmland Preservation Committee .

Surviving Dean is his loving wife, Kris, step daughter, Ava and a step son Sam, Ed and Sandy, his parents, his brother Darin (Tanya), his sister, Sara (Rick) Knoflicek, Tim and Judi Pool, his In-laws, Maternal Grandmother, Arline Hoppe. Dean is also survived by Brothers and Sisters-in-Law, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles.

Dean was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Elton and Myra Strauss and his maternal grandfather, Reuben Hoppe.

Friends may call at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church 441 Millersville Avenue, Howards Grove on Saturday October 5, 2019 from 3 pm until 8 pm. Visitation will continue at St. Paul’s on Sunday from 1 pm until the service at 3:00 pm. Pastor Aaron Mueller will be officiant. Private interment will be held at St. Paul’s Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund for St. Paul’s Lutheran School has been established in the name of Dean E. Strauss. We wish to thank all care givers for Dean’s care over the last 2 ½ months including The Sharon Richardson Hospice this past week; monies also can be designated to the Hospice center or the Professional Dairy Producers Foundation.

Kris and the Strauss family wish to thank all that supported them thru this journey and the help given thru the Go Fund Me account.

Zimmer Westview Funeral and Cremation Care Center is assisting the family. Please visit to leave online condolences.


Why Does Dean Foods’ Market Cap Pale Next to Beyond Meat’s?

I’m about to embarrass myself with my rudimentary knowledge of finance and the stock market. The two mathematical facts I’ll discuss:

  • Beyond Meat has a market capitalization of nearly $9 billion.
  • Dean Foods has a market cap of $100 million.

When I wrote this, Beyond Meat’s stock price was $146 a share, down considerably from its high of $235 back in July, but still extraordinary for a company that’s been in business just 10 years and publicly held for just five months.

Beyond Meat has been growing in sales, but has never made a profit. It lost $30 million on sales of $88 million last year, according to its IPO filing. It has significant competition, led by Impossible Foods, whose Impossible Burger is being sold at restaurant chains including Burger King and White Castle. Jumping into this category are companies like Tyson, Nestle, Smithfield and Hormel.

Dean Foods is quite a different story … on a couple of fronts. It is far and away the leading milk processor in the U.S. Years ago, when I was editor of a dairy magazine, I recall Dean claiming to be the biggest milk bottler in the world. At nearly $8 billion in sales – two-thirds of that fluid milk – that’s conceivable. One estimate I’ve seen is that one-third of all fluid milk in the U.S. carries a Dean brand.

Those are powerful statements that not many companies in any category can make. And what does that buy you? A measly $100 million market cap.

Milk consumption has been on a decades-long decline in the U.S. And it’s being further assaulted by non-dairy “milks” from things like soy and various nuts, and recently we learned it can be made by fermentation and cell culturing.

Dean’s sales have been stuck at about $7.8 billion for at least three years now, and it ended 2018 with a loss of $327 million. The company carries $887 million in debt. Its stock price once neared $73 a share (early 2007) but closed the day I wrote this at $1.11. This past summer it dipped below $1.

Beyond Meat’s backers include celebrities like Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio. Tyson Foods was in but pulled its 6.5% stake just before the IPO because it’s joining the faux meat fray.

Beyond Meat is cool. It’s trendy. It’s on the upswing. Even my kids, who are usually indifferent to food industry news, have asked me if we’re writing about the company. Yes, we have. A lot.

My point? Even I’m not sure. Maybe I’m sad that a reputable, well-run company with a nearly 100-year history is foundering. One whose products deliver health and nutrition to one-third of us. One that, up to 17 years ago, was run by a descendant of the founder, one of the pioneers of the modern food industry.

Meanwhile, an upstart with sales that wouldn’t make it onto many radar screens has a multi-billion-dollar valuation. But that’s the current state of affairs of this crazy food & beverage industry.


Dairy farmer’s emotional message after selling the last of his cows

A Queensland dairy farmer has struck a nerve across Australia with his heartbreaking story, after being run into the ground by the major supermarkets.

After nearly 60 years of on their dairy farm near Toowoomba, Scott Priebbenow and his elderly parents have sold the last of their herd for mince meat.

The devastated farmer spoke with Alan Jones, saying he can’t understand what’s going on.

“Right now I’m standing out in the paddock, looking around and going around in circles because it’s all a blur.

“It still gets to me Alan that this could have been so simply fixed.”

Scott lashed out at the supermarkets who he says “have pulled the wool over Australia”.

“There’s so many people out there that want to help there and they can’t because they’re tied to whatever the supermarkets want to do.

“They put up all these great statements about what they’ve done to help out the farmer but seriously Alan they’ve done nothing!

In February, Coles and Woolworths publicly announced a 10 cent per litre increase to the price of their home brand milk, with 75 per cent of that going back to farmers.

Then in August, the major supermarkets raised the price another 10 cents per litre but didn’t tell anyone about it and didn’t pass any of the money back to farmers.

“You dirty, rotten, mongrel bastards! We need that 10 cents. We need that for us!” says Scott.

“There’s so many people going out of dairying, there’s so many people that have sent their cows to be turned into mince like mine did last week.

“Now, I don’t know what’s going to happen. The world, it’s just gone mad.”

Alan Jones agrees, saying “the horse has bolted”.

But, he’s promised to hold the federal government to account until the save our farmers.

“Scotty, you’re magnificent, you’ve stirred a nerve in Australia and now it’s up to whether Mr Morrison is prepared to respond.”

Source: 2gb

U.S. Farm Struggle Not So Bad Unless You Have Cows, Analyst Says

Corn and soybean growers in the U.S. aren’t doing so bad, according to at least one agricultural analyst. But dairy farms are in trouble.

Net incomes for crop farmers are now in-line with the 30-year average, and prices are close to where they were before the U.S.-China trade war began, said Jonas Oxgaard, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York. Meanwhile, widely reported weather losses have been primarily covered by insurance, he wrote in a note.

There is a rise in delinquencies and bankruptcies, he said, but it’s largely attributable to dairy farming, with the highest number of bankruptcies in Wisconsin, which produces 14% of U.S. milk. The large grain producing states aren’t heavily represented. The result: These rates shouldn’t be used as an investment guide for seed sellers and other farm product companies, he suggested.

“Rather, look at expected farmer net income, which we believe will be maintained at breakeven rates for the foreseeable future,” Oxgaard wrote.

Oxgaard’s comments come just weeks after the U.S. revised its forecast for farm profits, predicting a 5% rise in 2019 once the Trump administration’s $19.5 billion direct farm aid program — designed to lessen pain from the U.S. China trade war — is figured in.

While the revised USDA forecast suggests farmers will have their most profitable year since 2014, the numbers are still 2.3% below average farm profits since 2000, and almost 30% below their net income in 2013.


US tariffs on EU dairy will hit hard says Rabobank

Mary Ledman, global dairy strategist at Rabobank, says the US tariffs on EU dairy products will have a big effect.

In total about 107,000 metric tons of EU dairy products fall into the 65 HTS codes subjected to an additional 25% ad valorem tariff on October 18.

US total cheese imports tallied nearly 176,000 metric tons in 2018, with EU cheeses representing 134,000 metric tons, Ledman said.

The 58 cheese HTS codes subject to the additional tariff represent about 55% (73,000 metric tons) of US imports of European cheeses in 2018, and Ledman said Italian cheeses are most vulnerable, with nearly 20,000 metric tons (about 60%) of their 2018 cheese exports to the US covered by HTS codes subject to the additional tariff.

Ireland will feel the brunt of the additional tariffs on both butter and cheese exports to the US, Ledman said. The combined Irish cheese (20%) and butter (80%) exports to the US in 2018, totaled more than 35,000 metric tons that would be subjected to the additional tariff. Through July 2019, Irish butter and cheese exports are running ahead of the prior year by more than 30%, likely in anticipation of the potential higher tariffs.
Market impact

“The longer the higher tariffs are imposed, the greater the market erosion,”​ Ledman said.

“In the short-term, less than three months, limited market impact is expected. Longer-term, higher-priced imports will face greater competition from both domestic and global specialty butter and cheese manufacturers.​

Ledman added that a 25% surcharge on top of an already expensive 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 25% 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, Ledman said.

“Collectively, the EU-28 can ill afford to lose the US as a market for over 73,000 metric tons of cheese, especially with the uncertainty of a hard Brexit looming, which would place the UK’s 400,000 ton cheese market up for grabs.”​


Nunes files $75M lawsuit over Esquire story about ‘secret’ Iowa dairy

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has filed a $75 million lawsuit against Esquire magazine and political reporter Ryan Lizza, claiming a September 2018 article detailing the family’s dairy operation in Iowa was trying to damage his reputation.

Nunes filed the complaint against Lizza, now Politico’s chief Washington correspondent and a CNN contributor, and Hearst Magazines over the article entitled “Devin Nunes’ Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret,” according to documents obtained by The Fresno Bee.

The story details how Nunes’s family sold their California farmland in 2006 and “secretly” moved its dairy operation to Sibley, Iowa, a community that frequently relied on labor from undocumented immigrants.

In the lawsuit, Nunes claims the article’s characterization of it being a “politically explosive secret” was defamatory.

“The Lizza Hit Piece was knowingly and intentionally flawed,” the lawsuit states. “Lizza came to Sibley with preconceived storyline. He fabricated a ‘secret’ where none existed.”

The Fresno Bee, Nunes’s hometown newspaper, noted that it had previously covered the family’s move to Iowa before Esquire published its article.

Nunes’s lawsuit against Lizza and Hearst is the fifth legal fight he’s engaged in this year. It is the second case against a news organization after he filed a lawsuit against the Bee’s owner, McClatchy Company, in April over alleged “character assassination.”

The Republican sued Twitter, GOP operative Liz Mair and two parody accounts —  “Devin Nunes’ Mom” (@DevinNunesMom) and “Devin Nunes’ cow” (@DevinCow) — in March. The social media giant last month refused to identify the people behind the online profiles. 

He also filed a racketeering lawsuit in federal court in Virginia against research firm Fusion GPS and the Campaign for Accountability, accusing the two of working to interfere in his efforts to investigate Fusion GPS and the origins of the infamous Steele dossier. 

Nunes’s suit makes a point of noting that Lizza was fired by his previous employer, New Yorker magazine, in 2017 for allegations of sexual misconduct. Lizza pushed back on the firing and said he was “dismayed” the publication had portrayed “a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate.”

CNN and Politico investigated the allegations and determined there was no reason to keep Lizza off the air or terminate his employment, the Bee reported.

Nunes accuses the reporter and the magazine of publishing the story to tarnish his reputation and distract from Lizza’s controversy.

“The Defendants published click-bait, sensationalist, egregious misstatements simply to sell magazines and, in Lizza’s case, to distract readers from his negative image and history as a sexual predator and to improve his standing,” the lawsuit states. “The Defendants’ had an axe to grind against Plaintiff, and wrote the hit piece in order to accomplish a nefarious purpose. Defendants’ misconduct exemplifies the very worst of modern ‘journalism.’”

Nunes is seeking $75 million for “actual damages, including, but not limited to insult, pain, embarrassment, humiliation, mental suffering, injury to his reputation, special damages, costs and other out-of-pocket expenses.”

Nunes grew up on a dairy in Tulare County, Calif., and has identified himself as a farmer. However, the Bee noted that he did not report earning any income from a farm for more than a decade. 

Nunes filed and dropped one a lawsuit against a retired Tulare County farmer and several Democratic activists who in 2018 contested Nunes’s description of himself as a farmer on ballots. The lawmaker won a legal challenge and was allowed to describe himself as a congressman and farmer.

He then listed the family’s California farm as being worth no more than $15,000 on his latest financial disclosure document from August.

Source: The Hill

Fonterra factory built to make ‘secret recipe’ mozzarella sitting all but idle

As disappointed farmers deal with Fonterra’s poor performance it emerges a new multi-million dollar cheese plant is hardly being used. Business editor Maria Slade reports.

Fonterra once called it “the single largest foodservice investment in New Zealand’s dairy industry”.

Now its $240 million mozzarella cheese plant at Clandeboye near Temuka is sitting close to idle thanks to lack of demand.

The Clandeboye dairy factory’s third line making Fonterra’s “secret recipe” mozzarella was opened to much fanfare a year ago, with the co-operative claiming it was able to produce enough of the cheese to top half a billion pizzas a year.

Fonterra has described the cheese as “the jewel in its foodservice crown”. Scientists at its Palmerston North Research and Development Centre found a way to make mozzarella in hours, rather than the months it takes to make the cheese traditionally. The cheese was already topping half of the pizzas in the fast-growing Chinese market, and the new Clandeboye plant had been constructed to meet demand, the co-operative said last year.

But this week Fonterra conceded ‘Mozz 3’, as it’s known, has been running at just 25% capacity since the start of the milk season on June 1 because demand for the mozzarella has not been as high as initially forecast.

Ads Hendriks, the Federated Farmers Dairy Industry representative for South Canterbury, says he first became aware that Mozz 3 was not operating as hoped at an open day at Clandeboye earlier in the year.

“What I understood is they overestimated, probably, that market segment at this stage. It’s not exactly wonderful planning if you make these big investments, but what can you do as a farmer? There have been a few silly investments.”

The dairy industry is about to hit peak milk season, and Hendriks understands Fonterra will start firing up the plant to get rid of the milk. “There will be quite a bit of mozzarella where there’s probably not yet the market, so it’s a little bit of a concerning thing.”


Dairy farmers have good reason to be disappointed in Fonterra’s performance. Last week the company announced it had made a net loss after tax of $605m for 2019 – its second-ever loss after the $196m in red ink it delivered last year. The loss was largely due to a $826m revaluation southwards of its businesses, and came with an admission that it had got too big for its boots in trying to be a global player.

Agricultural economist Peter Fraser says capacity utilisation in the dairy industry is important because of the high fixed costs of the plant, and normally Fonterra is good at it.

Foodservice products like mozzarella are sold to particular customers on a business-to-business basis. “You don’t just build something and then hope people will turn up and buy,” Fraser says. “Fonterra’s really good at customising the product just to what the business actually needs. When they’ve built a brand new plant like that it kind of suggests something’s gone wrong somewhere.”

Of course farmers are concerned, says Michelle Pye, the Southern Canterbury representative on the Fonterra Shareholders Council. They had been aware about the under-utilisation of the third mozzarella line and had asked numerous times what was going on. “It was raised at a recent meeting in Ashburton where we were given a clear answer about volumes and expectations, which went a long way to allay farmers’ frustrations and help farmers understand the realities of business.  

“You need to build capacity before building demand and the plant was never built on the basis of it operating at full capacity in the first few years,” she says.

Fonterra’s director of New Zealand manufacturing, Alan Van Der Nagel, says demand for its mozzarella is continuing to grow, and without the third plant at Clandeboye it would have been supply-constrained and missing out on profitable sales.

“We are expecting significant quick service restaurant demand to come on stream out of Mozz 3 during the next six months,” he says.

Source: The Spin Off

Five Washington County dairy farms get $2.5 million from state

In the first round of New York state dairy farm transition grants, announced in September, Washington County dairy farms fared well, with the bulk of the Capital Region awards going to five county farms.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded the transition grants. This new program is timely because it helps dairy farmers diversify their operation or transition the farm while still protecting the land,” said Agricultural Stewardship Association Executive Director Teri Ptacek. “We look forward to working with these farm families.”

The state’s dairy transition grants, announced late last year, allow farms to transition operations to the next generation, diversify the farm operation or convert to non-dairy operations to ensure the land remains used for agricultural purposes.

ASA, the agricultural land trust for Washington and Rennselaer counties, administers the applications and grants. These grants will help ASA conserve more than 2,500 acres on eight dairy farms in Rensselaer and Washington counties.

“We had an overwhelming response,” said ASA’s Katie Jilek regarding the applications for this first round.

Jilek explained that the $2.5 million in dairy farm transition grants assist the farms, and this round conserved 1,739 acres on five Washington County farms.

The county farms include, in Fort Edward and Argyle, $413,670 to protect 260 acres of the New Generation Farm; in Fort Ann and Kingsbury: $859,075 to protect 648 acres of the Burch Family Farm; in Whitehall: $517,737 to protect 357 acres of the Adams Acres Farm; in Hartford: $369,261 to protect 309 acres of the Chapin Family Farm; and in Greenwich: $324,968 to protect 165 acres of the Liddleholme Farm.

Nonetheless, the amount of funding listed is misleading, Jilek said, because related costs, such as for land surveys, are taken from the total award.

“This is not a quick fix,” Jilek said, adding that the farmers are not given the money until their project is completed.

The Governor’s Office also announced a second round of dairy transition grants, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis through ASA.

“Farmers cannot apply on their own. They have to go through a land trust,” Jilek said.

Source: Post Star

Class III Milk Climbs Higher in Chicago Thursday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Class III milk continued its march higher. October gained 12 cents to $18.48, November gained 5 cents to $18.37 and 2020 saw gains for January – March of 1-7 cents to finish averaging at $16.79 per cwt. Class IV milk was unchanged throughout the trading months – October holding at $16.45.

Dry whey unchanged at $0.34.  Twenty-one trades were made, ranging from $0.3375 to $0.3425. Blocks up $0.02 at $2.02.  Two trades made ranging $2.01 to $2.02. Barrels up $0.01 at $1.77.  Six trades made, ranging from $1.7675 to $1.77. Butter up $0.0125 at $2.1850.  Eight trades were made, ranging $2.1750 to $2.1925.  Nonfat dry milk down $0.0050 at $1.1350.  Two trades, ranging from $1.1325 to $1.1350.

UW deans’ statement about final approval of the Dairy Innovation Hub proposal by the Joint Finance Committee

With the final approval of the plans for the Dairy Innovation Hub by the Joint Finance Committee earlier today, we are excited to begin to implement the vision at our three campuses. The vision was originally crafted by industry partners following the UW System-sponsored Dairy Summit in 2017 and further refined by members of the state’s Dairy Task Force 2.0. This reinvestment will allow the agricultural programs within UW System to train current and future industry leaders and transfer new knowledge to farms, processing plants, fields and beyond.

The long-standing partnership between faculty in our colleges and the Wisconsin dairy industry is special. In the 1880s, Gov. W.D. Hoard called on professors at the University of Wisconsin to assist struggling wheat farmers with the conversion to dairy. The discoveries and innovations researchers made in partnerships with farmers made this “America’s Dairyland.” In the 1980s, UW researchers worked with innovative producers and processors to map the course for Wisconsin to be a home for high-value specialty cheese. Today, we have a similar opportunity to create an industry-wide shift in our agricultural economy.

During this time of great stress for our state’s dairy farm families, our faculty and staff are dedicated to expanding our research and teaching to help bring new technologies and approaches to strengthen the industry and the communities that depend upon it. The state’s commitment, finalized today, will ensure we are well-positioned to ask innovative research questions and deliver high-impact and novel solutions.

We look forward to sharing success stories that will result from our work.

Dale Gallenberg, Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Wisconsin–River Falls

Kate VandenBosch, Dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Wayne Weber, Dean, College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture, University of Wisconsin–Platteville

Filament and Hillstrom PR to unite businesses

Filament and Hillstrom PR are excited to announce the merger of their two firms under the Filament brand, elevating both agencies passion, focus and commitment to marketing excellence.

“With a specific focus on issues and crisis management, Hillstrom PR’s 30+ years of experience deepens the level of service available through Filament,” says Ed Peck, president of Filament. “Jane Hillstrom and Hillstrom PR are synonymous with reputation management and we are thrilled to welcome Jane into the Filament family.”

Hillstrom PR provides strategic direction for a wide range of agricultural and food clients, including national and state trade associations and private companies, complimenting Filament’s client partners.

“Filament’s proficiency in digital marketing combined with their team’s depth of marketing know-how, provides a new dimension of marketing expertise to my clients,” says Jane Hillstrom, president of Hillstrom PR. “By joining forces, we will deliver a better product to all of our clients.”

Hillstrom PR further builds on Filament’s dedication to the cultural mantra – We live it. The ability to put oneself in clients’ customers’ shoes and understand the daily challenges, paired with marketing excellence, will continue to be the backbone of Filament.

For more information about Filament, go to or call (608) 310-5335.

Filament is the only marketing agency focused solely on animal agriculture. This Madison, Wisconsin-based team combines their passion for agriculture with savvy marketing expertise to deliver unmatched results to their clients. Hands-on experience milking cows, hatching chicks, breeding pigs and pitching stalls, fuels Filament’s marketing insights. Get to know Filament at

Hillstrom PR is known for reputation management and has written crisis plans for national brands and messaging on confidential, serious issues. This Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin-based team’s experience encompasses reputation management for companies dealing with national food recalls and federal crimes to murder:

US Ag secretary: No guarantee small dairy farms will survive

President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary said Tuesday during a stop in Wisconsin that he doesn’t know if the family dairy farm can survive as the industry moves toward a factory farm model.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters following an appearance at the World Dairy Expo in Madison that it’s getting harder for farmers to get by on milking smaller herds.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue said. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”

Perdue’s visit comes as Wisconsin dairy farmers are wrestling with a host of problems, including declining milk prices, rising suicide rates, the transition to larger farms with hundreds or thousands of animals and Trump’s international trade wars.

Wisconsin, which touts itself as America’s Dairyland on its license plates, has lost 551 dairy farms in 2019 after losing 638 in 2018 and 465 in 2017, according to data from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Legislature’s finance committee voted unanimously last month to spend an additional $200,000 to help struggling farmers deal with depression and mental health problems.

Jerry Volenec, a fifth generation Wisconsin dairy farmer with 330 cows, left the Perdue event feeling discouraged about his future.

“What I heard today from the secretary of agriculture is there’s no place for me,” Volenec told reporters. “Can I get some support from my state and federal government? I feel like we’re a benefit to society.”

Getting bigger at the expense of smaller operations like his is “not a good way to go,” said Darin Von Ruden, president of Wisconsin Farmers Union and a third generation dairy farmer who runs a 50-cow organic farm.

“Do we want one corporation owning all the food in our country?” he said to reporters.

Perdue said he believes the 2018 farm bill should help farmers stay afloat. The bill reauthorizes agriculture and conservation programs at a rough cost of $400 billion over five years or $867 billion over 10 years. But he warned that small farms will still struggle to compete.

“It’s very difficult on an economy of scale with the capital needs and all the environmental regulations and everything else today to survive milking 40, 50, or 60 or even 100 cows,” he said.

Perdue held a town hall meeting with farmers and agricultural groups to kick off the expo. The former Georgia governor seemed to charm the crowd with his southern accent and jokes about getting swiped in the face by a cow’s tail.

Jeff Lyon, general manager for FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative in Madison, asked Perdue for his thoughts on Trump’s trade war with China.

Trump’s administration has long accused China of unfair trade practices and has imposed escalating rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports to press for concessions. The administration alleges that Beijing steals and forces foreign companies to hand over trade secrets, unfairly subsidizes Chinese companies and engages in cyber-theft of intellectual property. China’s countermoves have been especially hard on American farmers because they target U.S. agricultural exports.

According to a September analysis by the U.S. Dairy Export Council, U.S. dairy solids exports to China fell by 43 percent overall in the 11 months starting in July 2018, when China enacted the first round of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dairy products. About 3.7 billion pounds of U.S. farmers’ milk had to find other markets during that span, the analysis found.

Chinese leaders have said they’re ready to talk but will take whatever steps are necessary to protect their rights.

Perdue responded to Lyon’s question by calling the Chinese “cheaters.”

“They toyed us into being more dependent on their markets than them on us. That’s what the problem has been,” he said. “They can’t expect to come into our country freely and fairly without opening up their markets.”

The secretary said the Trump administration is working to expand other international markets, including targeting India, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia. He said he had expected Congress to ratify a new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA but noted that Washington has been distracted over the last few days, an allusion to impeachment proceedings against Trump ramping up last week.


This story has been updated to correct Perdue’s quote that begins, “In America.” It should end with the word “profitability,” not “probability.”

Urban ‘Floating Farm’ creates local dairy for cities

Dutch businesswoman Minke van Wingerden looks on proudly as one of her 32 brown-and-white cows makes a pit stop at an automated milking station on an unusual farm: a platform located on one of the waterways in Rotterdam port.

Ms. Van Wingerden is one of the developers of the “Floating Farm,” testing whether small-scale, sustainable dairy farming is feasible in the heart of one of the world’s most urban, industrial areas – far away from rolling green fields of a traditional agribusiness.

“This idea started in 2012, my partner Peter he was involved in a project in New York and then Hurricane Sandy hit New York very badly, so it was flooded and after two days there was no fresh food on the shelves anymore because the logistic hub was also flooded,” she said.

“So then we realized, ‘why not produce fresh food healthy food on the water close to the city?’, and that’s where the idea came up.”

The cows, seemingly unperturbed by their futuristic setting on the fringe of Europe’s largest and busiest port, can rest on the upper level of the structure or head to a feeding station for a mix of hay, grass clippings, and beer byproducts.

Milk and manure processing facilities are located on the lower deck, as well as the visitors’ entrance and store. A quayside pasture gives the animals the chance to be on dry land.

The structure’s roof is used to collect rainwater. Power for the farm comes from a solar panel array floating nearby.

“The amount of arable land is decreasing and the world population is growing so how can we produce enough healthy food in the future?,” Ms. Van Wingerden said. “Seventy percent of the world is water so why not use the water to produce fresh healthy food near to the consumers?”

Close to the town of Schiedam, the farm is located in one channel of the “Merwehaven,” a harbor within the sprawling 65 square mile port, which handles containers ships from all over the world.

The whole farm site is kitted out with the latest in dairy tech such as an automated feeding system, manure-scooping robots, self-serve cleaning stations, and the smartphone app on-site farmer Albert Boersen uses to monitor his cows.

“We try to be as circular as can be and it’s still a [matter of] research how we can find out more circles in this farm,” Ms. Van Wingerden says.

As part of its aim to be self-sustainable, the farm already has a manure separator used to separate dry material from urine, with the dry part used as bedding for the cows and the urine turned into an organic fertilizer.


Dutch tractor protest sparks ‘worst rush hour’

Tractor-driving farmers taking to the streets to demand greater recognition caused the worst ever Dutch morning rush hour on Tuesday, according to motoring organisation ANWB.

There were 1,136km (700 miles) of jams at the morning peak, it said.

Farmers reacted angrily to claims that they were largely responsible for a nitrogen oxide emissions problem.

A report has called for inefficient cattle farms to be shut down and some speed limits lowered to cut pollution.

Farming groups believe they are being victimised while the aviation industry is escaping scrutiny.

How big were the protests?

The tractors arrived early on Tuesday, some of them knocking down fences to get there. Three people were arrested, according to public broadcaster NOS.

Thousands of farmers, many on their tractors, took part in the protest in a field in the centre of The Hague. Police said 2,200 farmers joined the protest.

Hague mayor Pauline Krikke warned of an “unsafe situation” but no further trouble was reported and drone pictures showed dozens more tractors parked on Scheveningen beach while their owners joined the demonstration.

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At the scene

Anna Holligan, BBC News, The Hague

Amber lights flashing, horns blaring, the “green army” rolled in and their message was unambiguous.

“No farmers, no food”, “You love bread, meat and fries, without farmers you wouldn’t have them,” the slogans read.

Presentational white space

Every farmer felt the same frustration, that their industry was being targeted by a government scrambling to hit its climate goals.

“Suddenly everyone is worried. We’re getting blamed and badly represented in the media, everyone is blaming us for climate change but planes are worse than farmers and no-one is talking about them,” Vincent, a 17-year-old dairy farmer told me.

Huddled inside their cab, young couple Geert-Jan and Danielle feared for the future.

Presentational white space

Beyond this muddy protest site, police were poised to block any attempt to drive closer to the seat of power.

If the government wants to avoid the farmers’ wrath, it must ensure that lucrative businesses such as motor-racing, airports and multinationals are subject to equal scrutiny.

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Beyond The Hague, tractors snarled up motorways and main roads across the country.

As the tractors headed home the main infrastructure agency warned of major disruption for the evening rush hour too.

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It was not just the farmers who took to the streets but their children too, as they headed to a Christian primary school on toy tractors in the eastern farming town of Ommen.

How serious is the crisis?

The Dutch top court, the Council of State, ruled in May that Dutch rules for granting building and farming permits breached EU law on protecting nature from nitrogen oxide emissions such as ammonia and nitrous oxide, prompting a halt in thousands of projects including new roads, housing blocks and airports.

Nitrogen oxides play a significant role in air pollution and biodiversity and nitrous oxide has a stronger greenhouse gas effect than CO2.

Nitrogen dioxide air pollution 5-10 January (sequence is played twice)

Last week an advisory committee said drastic measures were needed, both in farming and on Dutch roads.

Liberal MP Tjeerd de Groot called for livestock production to be halved, meaning six million fewer pigs and 50 million fewer chickens, prompting a furious reaction from farmers.

Tractors in The Hague on 1 October
The farmers complain that they have been ignored by Dutch media while the climate change protesters have a louder voice

He blamed intensive livestock farming for much of the Netherlands’ nitrogen emissions problem and argued that the key to the future was modern, sustainable agriculture.

Agriculture minister Carola Schouten promised the protesters on Tuesday that as long as she was minister there would be no halving of livestock. Dutch society had to appreciate its farmers more, she added.

Farming groups believe measurement of carbon dioxide and nitrogen is inaccurate and the debate over emissions has been hijacked by city-based climate change protesters.

“We feel as if we’re being put in the dunces’ corner by city types who come and tell us how things should be in the countryside,” one of the protest organisers, Mark van den Oever, told the Trouw website, adding that farmers shouldn’t be blamed for the whole nitrogen issue.

Farmers protest with their tractors during a national protest at the Malieveld in The Hague on 1 OctoberEPA
Tractor drivers and protesters continued to arrive throughout the morning ahead of the Hague protest

Last month, broadcaster RTL Nieuws reported that the worst pollution problems facing the Dutch were around Amsterdam, nearby Schiphol airport and Rotterdam.

The government has been criticised by climate campaigners for pushing ahead with the return to Formula One motor racing at Zandvoort next year. The sports minister said he was hopeful that measures to tackle nitrogen emissions would not affect the race.

The Dutch government has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions next year by 25% of 1990 levels. Last month a health watchdog said emissions had been cut by 15% cut in that time, largely by reducing methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. Carbon dioxide levels have remained the same.

Source: BBC

Which drink is best for hydration? Hint: It isn’t water

When you’re thirsty and in need of a drink, which beverages are best at keeping you hydrated?

Sure, you can always reach for a glass of water — but plain H20 isn’t the most hydrating beverage around, according to a study from Scotland’s St. Andrews University that compared the hydration responses of several different drinks.
The researchers found that while water —both still and sparkling –does a pretty good job of quickly hydrating the body, beverages with a little bit of sugar, fat or protein do an even better job of keeping us hydrated for longer.

The reason has to do with how our bodies respond to beverages, according to Ronald Maughan, a professor at St. Andrews’ School of Medicine and the study’s author. One factor is the volume of a given drink: The more you drink, the faster the drink empties from your stomach and gets absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can dilute the body’s fluids and hydrate you.


The other factor affecting how well a beverage hydrates relates to a drink’s nutrient composition. For example, milk was found to be even more hydrating than plain water because it contains the sugar lactose, some protein and some fat, all of which help to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach and keep hydration happening over a longer period of time.

Milk also has sodium, which acts like a sponge and holds onto water in the body and results in less urine produced.

The same can be said for oral rehydration solutions that are used to treat diarrhea. Those contain small amounts of sugar, as well as sodium and potassium, which can also help promote water retention in the body.
The most hydrating beverages, ranked

“This study tells us much of what we already knew: Electrolytes — like sodium and potassium — contribute to better hydration, while calories in beverages result in slower gastric emptying and therefore slower release of urination,” said Melissa Majumdar, a registered dietitian, personal trainer and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who was not involved in the study.

Sugar in moderation

But here’s where it gets tricky: Beverages with more concentrated sugars, such as fruit juices or colas, are not necessarily as hydrating as their lower-sugar cousins. They may spend a little more time in the stomach and empty more slowly compared to plain water, but once these beverages enter the small intestine their high concentration of sugars gets diluted during a physiological process called osmosis. This process in effect “pulls” water from the body into the small intestine to dilute the sugars these beverages contain. And technically, anything inside the intestine is outside your body.


Juice and soda are not only less hydrating, but offer extra sugars and calories that won’t fill us up as much as solid foods, explained Majumdar. If the choice is between soda and water for hydration, go with water every time. After all, our kidneys and liver depend on water to get rid of toxins in our bodies, and water also plays a key role in maintaining skin’s elasticity and suppleness. It’s the cheapest moisturizer you’ll find.

While staying hydrated is important — doing so keeps our joints lubricated, helps prevent infections, and carries nutrients to our cells — in most situations people don’t need to worry too much about how hydrating their beverages are.

“If you’re thirsty, your body will tell you to drink more,” Maughan said. But for athletes training seriously in warm conditions with high sweat losses, or for someone whose cognitive function may be negatively impacted by working long hours without beverage breaks, hydration becomes a critical issue.

Can beer and lattes keep me hydrated?

Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which causes you to pass more urine, so when it comes to alcoholic beverages hydration will depend on a beverage’s total volume. “Beer would result in less water loss than whiskey, because you are ingesting more fluid with beer,” Maughan said. “Strong alcoholic drinks will dehydrate, dilute alcoholic drinks will not.”

When it comes to coffee, how well your java hydrates you will depend on the amount of caffeine you consume. A regular coffee with about 80 milligrams of caffeine — roughly what you would find in 12 oz. of Folgers’ house blend — would be pretty much as hydrating as water, according to Maughan’s research.
Consuming more than 300mg of caffeine, or about 2-4 cups of coffee, could cause you to lose excess fluid as the caffeine causes a mild, short-term diuretic effect. This is more likely to happen with someone who doesn’t typically consume caffeine, and it could be offset by adding a tablespoon or two of milk to your cup of joe.
Source: CNN

Banana Milk Joins The Dairy Wars

The bottles and cartons may look serene in the grocery store aisles, but dairy wars are happening behind the scenes as companies compete for your attention and money. You have probably seen regular, soy, almond, oat, pea and other milk products line the shelves. Now, banana milk is growing in popularity. Jeff Richards, the founder and CEO of Mooala, shared more information about banana milk in an interview.

Milk From Bananas

Mooalamakes dairy-free, organic beverages with plant-based ingredients, such as banana, almond and oat milk. Its best-selling product is the original banana milk, which is nut-free, dairy-free and made from six ingredients.

“Back in 2012, I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance and had to make the switch to dairy-free products. There was a real need in the marketplace for organic, plant-based milk alternatives made from real ingredients. I started with bananas because they are Americans’ favorite fruit, an incredible bang for the buck nutritionally, and most importantly, they are free of the top eight allergens,” Richards said.

Richards had a mild nut allergy, but making banana milk taste good was a challenge because water and mashed bananas did not work. He mixed test batches in his kitchen until he found a recipe he liked.


“I took the recipe to the University of Minnesota to make sure it was something that could be commercially produced. Through a unique batching and cooking process, we were able to achieve a rich, creamy flavor. The creaminess of the bananas and sunflower seeds with a hint of cinnamon really gives the product an awesome banana bread taste while containing just 3 grams of sugar and 60 calories per serving,” Richards said.

Bananas and the Environment

“Bananas are excellent for anyone who cares about their carbon footprint. They are grown in natural sunlight, there is hardly any packaging, and they keep well. At Mooala, we source all of our organic bananas from suppliers who focus on sustainability, responsible sourcing and social responsibility. We also donate a portion of all sales to nonprofit microfinance organizations in impoverished countries,” Richards said.

Richards is not worried about bananas going extinctfrom Panama disease. He points out that this is not the first-time bananas have encountered fungus problems.

“There are many great research and development teams at work right now looking to either modify the Cavendish banana or to find the right fungicide to end the current problem. Colombian farms are working diligently to contain the affected crops as well. As with any potential supply issue, including the California droughts and the impact on almond farming earlier this decade, we are concerned but remain optimistic that a positive solution will result with so many people focused on addressing the problem,” Richards added.

Plant-Based Industry Growth

The dairy-alternative industry focuses on dietary restrictions and animal welfare concerns. At first, the available selection of plant-based milk alternatives was limited and either loaded with sugar or questionable fillers like carrageenan. Today, the plant-based industry has grown, and there are more options for consumers.


“Plant-based milk alternatives have delivered a little bit of fun back to a dairy aisle that has seen little excitement for generations. So far, sales are solid in the competitive and crowded dairy aisle. In fact, last year Mooala tripled its sales and expects to double again this year, making it one of the fastest among newcomers to the alternative-milk category,” Richards said.

Although he hears the arguments about cow milk versus plant-based milk often, Richards thinks the two will coexist long-term. Mooala’s internal studies show that over 70% of consumers are purchasing one of its products in addition to another milk in the dairy aisle. Many Americans are buying both plant-based and dairy milk. Richards expects the plant-based industry to continue to grow.


The Ohio State University Takes First in National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest

The Ohio State University finishes first among eighteen schools in the National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest on September 30. Coached by Bonnie Ayars, The Ohio State University team placed seventh for reasons with a score of 788. The team consists of fourth-place overall individual Billy Smith and ninth-place overall individual Lauren Almasy along with Sarah Lehner and Ian Lokai. Other top five teams include Penn State University, University of Minnesota, Iowa State University and Michigan State University. Receiving individual top honors is Madison Dyment of the University of Kentucky with a score of 845. Rachel Coyne of the University of Minnesota, Tanner Morrison of the University of Minnesota, Billy Smith of The Ohio State University and Caleb McGee of Penn State University round out the top five individuals.

Teams and individuals receiving recognition include:

Top Ten Teams – Overall:

  1. The Ohio State University, 2,464, team members: Lauren Almasy, Sarah Lehner, Billy Smith and Ian Lokai, coached by Bonnie Ayars
  2. Penn State University, 2,463, team members: Daniel Kitchen, Caleb McGee, Gregory Norris and Belle Dallam, coached by Dale Olvery
  3. University of Minnesota, 2,459, team members: Rachel Coyne, Tanner Morrison, Sierra Swanson and Kaleb Kruse, coached by Dr. Les Hansen, Alicia Hiebert, Eric Houdek and Gabriella Sorg
  4. Iowa State University, 2,455, team members: Taylor Currie, Trevor Malven, Carley Krull and Nathan Arthur, coached by Christen Burgett and Matt Henkes
  5. Michigan State University, 2,453, team members: Lauren Heberling, Cameron Cook, Allison Schafer and Madeline Meyer, coached by Joe Domecq and Sarah Black
  6. Oklahoma State University, 2,435, team members: Erin Leach, Shane Robison, Lora Wright and Justin Chupp, coached by David Jones
  7. University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2,426, team members: Emma Olstad, Allie Breunig, Kennedy Stumpf and Alyssa Templeton, coached by Brian Kelroy and Trent Olson
  8. Virginia Tech, 2,411, team members: Todd Allen, Kennedy Crothers, Ryan Wheatley and Christine Putman, coached by Katharine Knowlton and Shelby Lager
  9. Cornell University, 2,403, team members: Allison Herrick, Meghan Coldwell, Paige Demun and Cobly Castle, coached by Kevin Ziemba
  10. University of Wisconsin – Platteville, 2,397, team members: Avery Kotlarczyk, Brianna Hall, Otis Johnson and Charlie Elliott, coached by Cory Weigel

Top Ten Individuals:

  1. Madison Dyment, 845, University of Kentucky
  2. Rachel Coyne, 834, University of Minnesota
  3. Tanner Morrison, 833, University of Minnesota
  4. Billy Smith, 830, The Ohio State University
  5. Caleb McGee, 829, Penn State University
  6. Carley Krull, 829, Iowa State University
  7. Brandon Almeida, 828, Cal Poly State University
  8. Avery Kotlarczyk, 828, University of Wisconsin – Platteville
  9. Lauren Almasy, 828, The Ohio State University
  10. Kennedy Crothers, 827, Virginia Tech

Top Ten Teams – Reasons:

  1. Penn State University, 812, coached by Dale Olver
  2. Michigan State University, 812, coached by Joe Domecq and Sarah Black
  3. Iowa State University, 807, coached by Christen Burgett and Matt Henkes
  4. Cornell University, 806, coached by Kevin Ziemba
  5. Oklahoma State University, 801, coached by Davide Jones
  6. University of Minnesota, 800, coached by Dr. Les Hansen, Alicia Hiebert, Eric Houdek and Gabriella Sorg
  7. The Ohio State University, 788, coached Bonnie Ayars
  8. University of Wisconsin – Platteville, 785, coached by Cory Weigel
  9. University of Wisconsin Madison, 784, coached by Brian Kelroy and Trent Olson
  10. Virginia Tech, 784, coached by Katharine Knowlton and Shelby Iager

Top Ten Individuals – Reasons:

  1. Madison Dyment, 282, University of Kentucky
  2. Caleb McGee, 274, Penn State University
  3. Cameron Cook, 274, Michigan State University
  4. Erin Leach, 273, Oklahoma State University
  5. Taylor Currie, 272, Iowa State University
  6. Gregory Norris, 271, Penn State University
  7. Trevor Malven, 271, Iowa State University
  8. Tanner Morrison, 270, University of Minnesota
  9. Brandon Almedia, 270, Cal Poly State University
  10. Kennedy Crothers, 270, Virginia Tech

The National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest is made possible in part through the generous support of Platinum Level Sponsor, Bayer Crop Science; Gold Level Sponsor STgenetics; Silver Level Sponsors, Bio-Vet, Inc., Lakeshore Federated and Masters Choice Hybrids; and additional supporters.

Serving as the meeting place of the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo brings together the latest in dairy innovation and the best cattle in North America. Crowds of nearly 65,000 people, from nearly 100 countries, will return to Madison, Wisconsin for the 53rd annual event, October 1-5, 2019, when the world’s largest dairy-focused trade show, dairy and forage seminars, a world-class dairy cattle show and more will be on display. Visit or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramSnapchat or YouTube for more information.

The cows that could help fight climate change

A hefty slice of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the smelly bodily functions of livestock. Can tinkering with the microbes in their guts help to save the planet from climate change?

The cows grazing peacefully in the vicinity of New Zealand’s farming science research institute AgResearch look much like any other. They plod slowly around the pastures, heads bowed as they tear up mouthfuls of grass and let out soft, low moos.

But some of these animals are not like the cattle you might find on other farms. Away from view, inside the hard-working stomachs of these cows, an experiment that could potentially change the planet is taking place.

They have been given a vaccine against certain gut microbes that are responsible for producing methane as the animals digest their food. Methane is one of the most egregious of greenhouse gases, roughly 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

AgResearch’s aim is to develop this vaccine, along with other anti-methane methods, in an effort to allow us to continue eating meat and dairy products while lessening the impact the livestock industry has on the environment. Beef without blame, you might say; and cheese with a clear conscience.

Estimates vary, but livestock are reckoned to be responsible for up to 14% of all greenhouse emissions from human activities. Alongside carbon dioxide, farming generates two other gases in large quantities: nitrous oxide from the addition of fertilisers and wastes to the soil, and methane. The latter is largely belched out by ruminants – principally sheep and cattle – and accounts for more than a third of the total emissions from agriculture. The average ruminant produces 250-500 litres of methane a day. Globally, livestock are responsible for burping (and a small amount from farting) the methane equivalent of 3.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.

But the scientists at AgResearch hope it may be possible to reduce the contribution livestock farming is making to global warming.

Their approach builds on work by Sinead Leahy, a microbiologist at AgResearch who is currently on secondment to the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre. The methane produced by ruminants comes from some 3% of the vast number of microbes that live in the rumen, the first section of the gut. The guilty organisms belong to an ancient group called the archaea, and they are capable of living in environments where there is no oxygen.

Through a process known as enteric fermentation, these microbes decompose and ferment the plant materials eaten by the animals, producing methane as a byproduct. To release the pressure that can build up as this gas is produced, the animals then burp it out.

To weed out the bacteria responsible, however, Leahy and her colleagues had to find a way of reproducing the oxygen-free conditions of the rumen in their laboratory. Using DNA technology, they were then able to sequence the genomes of some of the key species.

“Understanding what makes these microbes different from other types that are also important for ruminant digestion is essential,” says Leahy. “Through our research we were able to look across the different types of gene sequence [in the microbes] and pick out targets [shared] across all varieties of methanogen. These then became the top targets for the development of a vaccine.”

This work allowed the team at AgResearch to systematically design vaccines that targeted several microbe species at the same time.

“There are about 12 or 15 species in the subset of archaea we’ve tried to target,” says Peter Janssen, principal investigator of the methane mitigation programme at AgResearch, who has identified various methane-producing microbes in the rumen of sheep and cows. Given by injection, the vaccine is designed to stimulate the animals’ output of anti-archaea antibodies in their saliva, which is then carried into the rumen as the animals swallow.

So far only a small number of cows and sheep have been given the vaccine in trials by the AgResearch team. But the team has picked up a good level of antibody in the saliva and also in the rumen, and antibodies have been recovered from faeces as well, according to the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, the major funder of the research since 2006. Having shown that vaccinated animals are actually making the antibody, they’re now trying to demonstrate that this does indeed suppress the formation of methane.

To test this, animals must spend time in a respiratory chamber – a large transparent box, sealed except for a flow of fresh air. Stale air leaving the box is sampled for its methane content.

The researchers are also attempting to make measurements outside the laboratory too to better replicate what goes on in the field. One approach is to use a modified feeding trough into which the animal has to put its head to eat. “While their noses are in the feeding trough a gadget inside it can sample their breath,” says Janssen. Even more cunning is a device that can be strapped on to an animal’s back. “It has a little plastic tube that finishes just above the animal’s nose. As the animal exhales the device sucks up a sample of its breath.”

Neither technique compares for accuracy with the respiration chamber, but both serve to give a good idea of what’s going in large numbers of animals. But definitive proof that vaccination cuts the amount of methane belched out by cows is still lacking.

Janssen and his colleagues do know from previous work using drugs that suppressing the methanogens yields the promised reduction. But Janssen and Leahy are not the first to try making a vaccine against methanogens, the term for any microbe manufacturing methane. Some Australian scientists had a go in the 1990s, but were unsuccessful. The AgResearch team are confident their approach, informed by genetics, will yield better results.

But vaccination isn’t the only idea for cleaning up cows’ breath. Animals vary in their output of methane, and some at least of this variation is attributable to genetic differences. Eileen Wall, head of research at Scotland’s Rural College, explains that this offers scope for selective breeding for animals that produce less methane. She sees this not as something to be done in isolation, but as part of a wider breeding programme to develop healthier and more efficient sheep and cows – both these attributes also reduce the greenhouse gases generated per unit of meat and milk.

“Over the past 20 years we’ve already reduced the environmental footprint of milk and meat production in the UK by 20%,” she says. Breeding for low methane would simply be an add-on to existing programmes. She and her colleagues are experimenting with methods of doing just this.

Not everyone is quite so confident. Breeding animals in this way could be time-consuming and expensive, warns Liam Sinclair, who studies rumen metabolism at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, UK.

Another alternative is to feed animals on a diet less to the liking of the archaea. This can be partially effective, says Phil Garnsworthy, who specialises in dairy cow nutrition at the University of Nottingham, so long as it continues to allow the animals to go on producing milk and meat.

“You can probably reduce methane by about 20-25% by altering diet,” he says. One study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, estimated it might be possible to reduce global methane emissions from cows by 15% by changing their diet. But Garnsworthy believes more may be possible. In the UK, he says, farmers mainly use grass-based silage.

“If you changed just to maize-based silage you might see a drop in methane production of 10%.”

The more fibre a cow eats, the more methane it produces, but adding legumes and various oils such as linseed and soya to their diet can be helpful, adds Sinclair.

“Better quality feeding makes animals more productive, and more productive animals produce less methane,” he says.

Adding seaweed to a cow’s diet has also been shown to beat the methane-producing bugs.

One slightly wackier approach to be proposed is to fit cows with burp-collecting backpacks, while students at the Royal College of Art in London have designed a device that could be attached to a cow’s nose ring to convert the exhaled methane into the less potent, but longer-lasting carbon dioxide.

A more realistic alternative, however, are feed additives such as ionophores, which are already used in some parts of the world to boost weight gain in animals and could also be used to inhibit the methane-producing archaea. But these are not without their problems.

Ionophores, which are classed as antibiotics, are banned for use in animals in the European Union due to concerns about how the over-zealous use of these agents in agriculture has helped to fuel drug resistance in bacteria. The ban is controversial because ionophores are not used in human medicine and act in different ways from therapeutic antibiotics.

There are other additives on offer that could also help to inhibit methane in livestock. One that has most recently gathered interest is 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP), which works by lowering the efficiency of the chemical pathway along which archaea convert carbon into methane. The company behind the additive hopes for a 30% reduction.

Another option is to give cattle probiotics, or helpful bacteria, to aid their digestion. Elizabeth Latham, a former researcher at Texas A&M University and co-founder of Bezoar Laboratories, has been developing a probiotic to tackle methane from cattle and claims it can reduce emissions by 50%.

But chemical inhibitors and probiotics like this would have to be added daily to feedstuffs, and would be hard to deliver to animals fed mostly on grass. It is likely to be an expensive option. A vaccine would potentially only need to be given once, or perhaps would need just an annual booster.

Regardless of the approach used, messing with the pattern of microbial life in the gut will alter its ecology – possibly with unforeseen consequences. The gut microbiome is closely linked to health, and changing it can increase the risk of disease. There is even some association in humans between gut bacteria and mood, although it is unclear if reducing methane-producing bacteria would lead to depressed cows and sheep, or what effect this might have on their meat and milk.

Janssen thinks it is unlikely. “We don’t get any signals that we’re going to inhibit the ability of animals to turn grass into meat or milk,” he says.

But until further tests prove that hacking the guts of livestock can cut their emissions without being detrimental to the animals or the products they are farmed for, the world will have to wait with bated breath.

Source: BBC

Three-Peat for SUNY Cobleskill in Post-Secondary Dairy Judging Contest

For the third year in a row, SUNY Cobleskill captured the overall team honor in the International Post-Secondary Dairy Cattle Judging Contest on Monday, September 30, 2019. Cassie Menedez carried her team to the top as the high individual overall. She was joined by her teammates Kathryn Bosley, Angela George and Laura Littrell. Kaskaskia College followed as the second-place team overall and the first-place team in reasons, making this their fourth reasons title in a row. The succeeding top teams were: Northeast Iowa Community College in third, Modesto Junior College in fourth and SUNY Morrisville in fifth. In the Practical Contest, Northeast Iowa Community College placed first overall, followed by Kaskaskia College in second.

Teams and individuals receiving recognition include:

Top Ten Individuals – Overall:

  1. Cassie Menedez, 802, SUNY Cobleskill
  2. Cole Kruse, 799, Kaskaskia College
  3. Joey Freitas, 785, Modesto Junior College
  4. Laura Littrell, 776, SUNY Cobleskill
  5. Sarah Quallen, 776, The Ohio State University – Agricultural Technical Institute
  6. Angela George, 761, SUNY Cobleskill
  7. Catie Lang, 760, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
  8. Amanda Engelken, 758, Kaskaskia College
  9. Collin Wille, 755, Northeast Iowa Community College
  10. Justin Huff, 752, Kaskaskia College

Top Ten Individuals – Reasons:

  1. Cole Kruse, 234, Kaskaskia College
  2. Cassie Menedez, 228, SUNY Cobleskill
  3. Joey Freitas, 227, Modesto Junior College
  4. Korey Oechsle, 227, The Ohio State University – Agricultural Technical Institute
  5. Amanda Engelken, 226, Kaskaskia College
  6. Rachel Scidmore, 226, Kaskaskia College
  7. Matt Lange, 226, University of Guelph
  8. Laura Littrell, 225, SUNY Cobleskill
  9. Sarah Quallen, 224, The Ohio State University – Agricultural Technical Institute
  10. Angela George, 224, SUNY Cobleskill

Top Ten Teams – Overall:

  1. SUNY Cobleskill, 2,339, team members: Kathryn Bosley, Angela George, Cassie Menedez and Laura Littrell, coached by Carrie Edsall
  2. Kaskaskia College, 2,309, team members: Cole Kruse, Amanda Engelken, Rachel Scidmore and Justin Huff, coached by Aaron Heinzmann
  3. Northeast Iowa Community College, 2,230, team members: Brandon Gilbertson, Derek Littrel, Austin Raymond and Collin Wille, coached by Mariah Schmitt, Karla Schmitt and Dave Lawstuen.
  4. Modesto Junior College, 2,217, team members: Joey Freitas, Elizabete Neves, Gabbie Gregorio and Marcus Marsigli, coached by Bill Hobby
  5. SUNY Morrisville, 2,214, team members: Heidi Moss, Devin Kuhn, Keltan Tanguay and Haley Christie, coached by Ashley Adams.
  6. The Ohio State University – Agricultural Technical Institute, 2,191, team members: Sarah Quallen, David Miley, Korey Oechsle and Tyler Hephner, coached by Don Hange and Royce Thornton
  7. Highland Community College, 2,177, team members: Carli Reeverts, Jared Dickman and Brooklynn Hollis, coached by Kristi Dinderman
  8. Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, 2,120, team members: Sarah Kearns, Catie Lang, Levi Kindschi and Nicole Statz, coached by Ryan Weigel
  9. Michigan State Ag Tech, 2,074, team members: Grace Platte, Jessie Nash and Caitie Theisen, coached by Joe Domecq and Sarah Black
  10. Lakeshore Technical College, Team A, 1,987, team members: Emily Pankratz, Heather Griesmer, Meghan Becker and Marina Hoeve, coached by Craig Lallensack

Top Five Teams – Reasons:

  1. Kaskaskia College, 683, coached by Aaron Heinzmann
  2. SUNY Cobleskill, 677, coached by Carrie Edsall
  3. Modesto Junior College, 660, coached by Bill Hobby
  4. The Ohio State University – Agricultural Technical Institute, 645, coached by Don Hange and Royce Thornton
  5. Northeast Iowa Community College, 643, coached by Mariah Schmitt, Karla Schmitt and Dave Lawstuen

Top Five Teams – Practical Contest:

  1. Northeast Iowa Community College, 636
  2. Kaskaskia College, 621
  3. Southwest Technical College, 613
  4. Lakeshore Technical College, Team A, 595
  5. Fox Valley Technical College, Team A, 589

Top Five Teams – Linear Contest:

  1. Kaskaskia College, 310
  2. Northeast Iowa Community College, 295
  3. Fox Valley Technical College, Team A, 280
  4. Lakeshore Technical College, Team A, 255
  5. The Ohio State University-Agricultural Technical Institute, 255

Top Five Teams – Corrective Mating:

  1. Northeast Iowa Community College, 180
  2. Fox Valley Technical College, Team B, 170
  3. Lakeshore Technical College, Team A, 161
  4. Southwest Technical College, 158
  5. University of Minnesota-Crookston, 154

Top Five Teams – Commercial Class:

  1. Southwest Technical College, 145
  2. Modesto Junior College, 134
  3. Kaskaskia College, 131
  4. Lakeshore Technical College, Team A, 121
  5. Fox Valley Technical College, Team B, 116

Top Five Teams – Registered Class:

  1. Kaskaskia College, 199
  2. The Ohio State University – Agricultural Technical Institute, 187
  3. Northeast Iowa Community College, 174
  4. Southwest Technical College, 168
  5. Modesto Junior College, 168

The International Post-Secondary Dairy Cattle Judging Contest is made possible through the generous support of Platinum Level Sponsor, Bayer Crop Science; Gold Level Sponsors, STgenetics and Westway Feed Products; Silver Level Sponsors, Bio-Vet, Inc., Lakeshore Federated Dairy Cooperative and Masters Choice Hybrids; and many additional supporters.

Serving as the meeting place of the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo brings together the latest in dairy innovation and the best cattle in North America. Crowds of nearly 65,000 people, from nearly 100 countries, will return to Madison, Wisconsin for the 53rd annual event, October 1-5, 2019, when the world’s largest dairy-focused trade show, dairy and forage seminars, a world-class dairy cattle show and more will be on display. Visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube for more information.

Diverse Virtual Farm Tours Come to World Dairy Expo

The World Dairy Expo Youth Fitting Contest presented the first-ever WDE Overall Fitter Awarf during the tenth annual contest on Sunday, September 29. 42 contestants represented 7 U.S. States, and 1 Canadian Province. These contestants, ranging in age from 13-21, were allotted 60 minutes to prepare their animal to be show-quality ready. Judging the Youth Fitting Contest was Adam Hunt, Genetic Consultant with Select Sires Genervations in Ecinburg, Ontario, Canada.

Ryan Lawton, Newark Valley, N.Y., was named the WDE Overall Fitter after topping the Senior Male Division. For this achievement, Lawton received a jacket and clippers, sponsored by Images Custom Embroidery and Heiniger USA, respectively. Hannah Nelson, Ellsworth, Wis., was the top finisher in the Senior Female Division. Her and Lawton were each presented clippers from Clipper Parts & Repair, in recognition of their accomplishments. The first place finishers in the Intermediate Male and Female Divisions, Dakota Brown, Deefield, Wis., and Dana Johnson, Tomah, Wis., respectively, were presented clippers by Heiniger USA.

Other awards include neck medallions and cash prizes to the top five finishers, courtesty of the Klossner Family, Kelly Reynolds and FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative

Placings for the Youth Fitting Contest are as follows:

Intermediate Female

  1. Dana Johnson, Tomah, Wis.
  2. Adhyn Schell, Lewiston, Minn.
  3. Sydney Kauffman, Stratford, Wis.
  4. Ashlee Garbers, La Crosse, Wis.
  5. Mariah Eichenberg, Fort Atkinson, Wis.

Intermediate Male

  1. Dakota Brown, Deerfield, Wis.
  2. Randy Winch, Fennimore, Wis.
  3. Wesley Winch, Fennimore, Wis.
  4. Jacob Harbaugh, Marion, Wis.

Senior Female

  1. Hannah Nelson, Ellsworth, Wis.
  2. Alissa Maier, Jim Falls, Wis.
  3. Brooke Hammann, Barron, Wis.
  4. Megan Ford, Thornbury, Ontario, Canada
  5. Haley Beukema, New Richmond, Wis.

Senior Male

  1. Ryan Lawton, Newark Valley, N.Y.
  2. Robert Nagel, Clymer, N.Y.
  3. Johnathan King, Schuylerville, N.Y.
  4. Dillon Freeman, Bremen, Ind.
  5. Rick Heslinga, Stephenville, Texas

Serving as the meeting place of the global dairy industry, World Dairy Expo brings together the latest in dairy innovation and the best cattle in North America. Crowds of more than 65,000 people, from nearly 100 countries, will return to Madison, Wis. for the 53rd annual event, October 1-5, 2019, when the world’s largest dairy-focused trade show, dairy and forage seminars, a world-class dairy cattle show and more will be on display. Visit or follow WDE on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube for more information. 

Why The Beef And Dairy Industries Are On A Cow Path to Oblivion

Cows and the industries that depend on them are on very rough terrain. The beef and dairy sectors need to start paying far more attention to the environmental and obesity impacts of their products and production processes. If they don’t, they will face declining fortunes and irrelevancy. Yet that’s a fate they can begin reversing now if they take the right steps.

The trends are ominous. Environmental activists have been pointing out the brontosaurus-sized carbon footprint of eating small amounts of beef, comparing it to the minuscule atmospheric impact of plant-based alternatives. Upstart companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have developed great-tasting and wildly popular burger substitutes.

The beef industry’s cousin – the dairy industry – is also suffering. Milk consumption continues to decline despite the industry’s marketers having convinced celebrities to wear milk mustaches for 21 years. And recently, a report from think tank RethinkX predicted the dairy and cattle industries will be defunct by 2030, as scientists develop new types of meat- and milk-type products that are tastier and easier on the environment at a lower cost.


If you work in these industries, these trends and predictions should be scary enough. But even scarier is that the sectors appear to have been too focused on cows and cow production to even notice. They risk even more decline unless they re-define why they are in business: to give consumers the types of meaty-tasting protein and healthier drinks they want now, even if it means turning away from cows. Industries that cling to the “cow model” must retool themselves before the non-cow-based industries poach more of their business.

Consumers are newly aware of the impact of cows on the environment and their own health. The United Nations says that beef production accounts for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, and some estimates are even higher.  While beef is the worst offender, dairy production has a far greater environmental impact than even pigs and poultry.


Deforestation to make room for the cattle industry is also a major reason why Amazon rainforests are burning, a threat to a region called the “lungs of the earth.” And early this year a report in The Lancet, a highly regarded medical journalblamed cattle production for more than half the food industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. The report urged that meat consumption be reduced in half by 2050.

Meat consumption remains strong, but people are eating less beef. Per capita consumption is down about one-third since the peak in the 1970s. However, sales of plant-based “meats” have risen by 31% in grocery stores alone over the past two years. Impossible Burgers can be found in 17,000 restaurants, including the Impossible Whopper now offered at Burger King, and Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burgers at 53,000 restaurants. Just last week, restaurant behemoth McDonald’s announced it will test its new P.L.T. – plant, lettuce and tomato – “burger” in select Canadian restaurants.

The dairy industry has also missed the mark. It has been concentrating on increasing milk production per cow — up 13% from 2009 to 2018 – rather than on milk consumption, which has plunged from 30 to 18 gallons annually since the 1970s. In contrast, consumption of plant-based milk-like beverages has gone up by 9% from 2017 to 2018 alone. All told, dairy milk sales are projected to decline by 27% between 2013 and 2023 while sales of non-dairy alternatives are expected to rise by 108% over the same period.

Yet the beef and dairy industries don’t seem to be worrying, much less innovating. Other companies are reading the tea leaves of consumer sentiment, listening to the science and developing blockbuster plant-based alternatives. As reported by Nielsen, 21% of meat buyers are buying alternatives.

The problem is that the cow-based industries are focusing on cows, not consumers. The sectors are shying away from owning the public health and environmental problems they have helped create. Instead, they are wasting time trying to legislate/restrict how the word “meat” or “milk” is used in packaging and advertising. The U.S. Cattleman’s Association petitioned the US Department of Agriculture last year to stop vegan meat alternatives from using the word “meat,” even “plant-based meat,” in their labeling. Two years ago the dairy industry asked the USDA to do the same thing and ban the word “milk” from soy-based products.

Cow-based industries should stop yelping and learn from the cautionary tale of automakers, which let Tesla pioneer the clean-energy car alternative and have had to scramble to catch up. They can learn from Coca-Cola, which circled the wagons around its iconic red can and ignored trends towards healthier beverages for over a decade. They can take lessons from conservative and complacent Blackberry, which opened the door to iPhone and Android smartphone dominance.

If they don’t change, the meat and dairy industries risk becoming irrelevant. Awareness will continue to spread on the environment and health impacts of meat. And millennials – a quarter of whom say they are vegetarian or vegan – will become an even bigger consumer segment.

Here is what the beef and dairy industries should be doing:

  • Redefine their businesses from offering cow-based products to delivering “clean” protein. While the cost of alternative beef and dairy products is higher today, the RethinkX report predicts that the cost of plant proteins will be five times cheaper by 2030 and 10 times cheaper by 2035 than existing animal proteins. These industries need to anticipate this eventuality and aggressively move to identify and adopt innovative non-animal protein products and practices. Pursuing the current course is a losing proposition.
  • Lead – not fight — the change to “better-for-you” meat and dairy. Digging in on label specifications will not deter this tsunami of change. It would be much wiser to develop more plant-based alternatives instead of letting new companies run away with the business. These industries should note that despite the sluggish initial response to healthier beverages by the soft drink industry, that sector has come around – and today no longer looks like the industry of the 1980s in which companies like Coca-Cola sold primarily carbonated beverages. Today Coke and PepsiCo deliver a range of beverages to meet a wide continuum of consumer demands.
  • Think like consumer marketers, not like commodity product sellers. The “cow” industries never learned the lessons of the 1970s when soft drinks overtook milk consumption. Milk producers missed that consumers were shifting their preferences to more refreshment beverages. The milk industry’s attachment to cow-sourced products remains entrenched. But it must change to providing nutrition and protein solutions that consumers now need from dairy and meat.

While many consumers will still want their burgers and cow milk, it won’t be enough to save the cattle industry. I’m waiting for at least one beef or dairy producer to soon break away from the herd, show some leadership, and move in this new direction. Otherwise, the herd will be culled.

Source: Forbes

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