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The Coronavirus Pandemic is Pushing Dairy Farmers to the Brink

Long before coronavirus upended everyone’s lives, Pennsylvania dairy farmer Brenda Cochran had been living in near-perpetual crisis. Five years of low milk prices have had the farm operating in the red, the family avoiding calls from creditors, and sometimes struggling to buy groceries. “There has never been a period of worse financial losses and … hopelessness than the past six years,” she said.

The U.S. has been losing dairy farms like the Cochran’s at a rate of nearly nine per day since 2015. Milk prices were expected to rise in 2020 for the first time since then, but the forecasts made a u-turn two weeks ago as the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic began to upend the dairy supply chain. Now, dairy prices are in freefall. Even as grocery stores struggle to keep dairy cases stocked, farmers across the country have begun dumping milk that their processors have no room for. “There’s no one who can sustain this,” said Cochran. “It’s over.”

With dairy farmers’ reserves tapped out, the year that was supposed to be a catch-up is turning into a disaster.

And yet, the depth of the crisis also appears to be motivating big dairy industry players to consider a supply management approach that has the potential reshape how dairy farmers emerge from the pandemic. The two largest U.S. dairy lobby groups released a plan on Tuesday morning to pay producers to reduce their production.

Pandemic Market Disruptions

As the nation stays home to slow the spread of COVID-19, fluid milk sales have increased by as much as one-third, stripping supermarket shelves and leading some stores to limit milk purchases. But the picture is more complicated: As shelter-in-place mandates went into effect, restaurants and schools canceled orders, leading to bottlenecks at processing plants and a larger overall milk surplus. Food service and institutional purchases alone account for about 30 percent of milk sales.

Like many processing plants, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery in western Wisconsin had orders suddenly canceled; 350,000 pounds of milk were returned to the plant. “The food industry was that big [a percentage of our market] and it just stopped,” said co-op board member and farmer Martin Hallock in a recent interview. To cope with the increase in supply, the plant is now running 24 hours a day, but there is still too much milk.

While more of the lost food service demand could ultimately shift to retail, it will take time for the markets to retool. Some supply chain blockages are due to cold storage facilities being full of dairy products packaged in large restaurant-size containers that cannot be immediately repurposed for grocery shelves.

Working out those kinks will not restore dairy markets, however. “We can’t match the volume of those missing markets,” University of Wisconsin dairy economist Mark Stephenson said in a podcast. Even a 1-2 percent milk supply surplus can result in a major collapse in prices, he said, and we may already be past that amount, as about 8 percent of the nation’s beverage milk is sold to school systems, which are now mostly closed. (Although many school districts are offering grab-and-go meals for students, the volume is far lower than when school is in session.)

In the last week, the prices paid to dairy farmers have crashed to levels not seen in decades. It costs a farmer about $20 to produce 100 pounds of milk. Forecasts for May put the farmer price at $12–“an absolute train wreck,” wrote one industry forecast. The American Farm Bureau Federation calculated milk prices down as much as 36 percent from mid-January, and last week National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), an industry group, estimated gross income for dairy farmers at $6 billion less than it looked two months ago.

As if the situation isn’t bad enough, many in the industry are concerned about further impacts on the supply chain as the virus spreads. There will be both bottlenecks and shortages as farmers, truckers, and processing plant workers fall ill, sending further ripples throughout the industry. The export market will be hit as well, as economies around the world contract as a result of the virus.

Already, farmers across the country are being asked to dump milk because their processors simply could not handle it all. Cochran’s farm got the call to dump milk last Friday—the first time their coop has ever asked them to do so at this scale. “We’re horrified. This is food,” she said. The family gave away what they could to neighbors, but have had to dispose of most of it. They do not know if they will be paid for the dumped milk.

Many dairy cooperatives have adopted quotas to keep milk production in line with what can be sold. Some are taking more extreme measures. In Wisconsin, Ellsworth Creamery sent a letter to its members on April 1 asking them to reduce their production by 7 percent and offering a buyout program to “encourage members to quit dairy farming.” Farmers must sell their cows by April 15 in order to benefit from the program, which agrees to pay out the farmer’s equity in the cooperative if they meet several criteria, including not selling their cows to another member of the co-op.

Already “Really Battered”

Losses from one event–even one at the scale and uncertainty of a global pandemic–can be weathered. But Lynne McBride, director of the California Dairy Campaign, says that dairy farmers have been “really battered for a number of years now,” by record-low prices, extreme weather, and a trade war.

Catherine de Ronde, a senior economist at northeastern dairy cooperative Agrimark, says that if this crisis had happened following years of high dairy prices, the impact could have been much different. Now, she says, “People don’t have any reserves left. They’ve been using them to sustain themselves for the last five years.”

Since 2015, milk prices paid to farmers have been well below their costs of production. As farmers struggled to keep milking even while losing money every month, many couldn’t make it. Farm debt and foreclosures rose, farm suicidesincreased, and the dairy crisis became front page news. From 2014 to 2019, 11,000 dairy farms shuttered, including 3,200 in 2019 alone—a rate of nearly nine per day. Meanwhile, overall milk production and the total number of milk cows increased, continuing a trend towards larger farms and a growing milk supply.

The last five years have roiled the entire industry, forcing out some huge players along with the thousands of family farmers. Dean Foods filed for bankruptcy last November, followed by Borden. Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the country’s largest dairy cooperative, was just approved to buy many of Dean’s assets. Family farmers and advocates have vigorously opposed the merger as anti-competitive, fearing it will drive farmer prices down even more and leave many with only one buyer, and the Justice Department began investigation of the merger. In the last 15 years, Dean and DFA have faced multiple lawsuits, both individually and jointly, from farmers alleging price manipulation and other anti-competitive conduct.

Even with much continued uncertainty, early 2020 looked like it would bring some relief, with farmer prices predicted to climb. More than half of dairy farmers chose not to enroll in Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC), the government dairy insurance program, estimating that higher milk prices would mean they wouldn’t see a payout.

Vance Haugen, a third-generation dairy farmer in Canton Township, Minnesota, looked at the 2020 price forecasts a few months back and thought he would be able to “do some catch-up.” In actuality, his farm had $7,000 more in bills than income in March. The disparity itself is not unusual; farmers often rely on credit, borrowing money early in the season and recouping it when they sell their product.

But this year, the farm’s savings are tapped out and its alternative income streams have dried up. When milk prices were low in the past, the farm could sell calves or temporarily bump up milk production. Now, cattle prices have dropped by as much as two-thirds, and Haugen’s milk cooperative has instituted a quota to keep its members from overproducing. He supports the quota, but it cuts off one of his options.

“We’ve used savings… we’re juggling credit cards. Knock on wood, we’ve been able to make everything work,” he said. “But you can’t keep doing this year after year after year.” Looking at the new future, he said, “things are looking pretty bleak.”

Advocating for Solutions

As the scale of the price drops have become clear in the last week, relief proposals have also come from many corners.

Some provisions in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act pandemic relief package and previous stimulus bills will help dairy farmers, including additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other nutrition programs and relaxed rules on to-go school meals, all of which could result in increased dairy purchases. The CARES Act also earmarks $9.5 billion for the hardest hit farm sectors: dairy, livestock, and farmers who sell in local markets, and allocates another $14 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to be spent at the discretion of Secretary Sonny Perdue.

The unrestricted nature of the $14 billion portion has raised concerns among family farmers. USDA dispersed $28 billion in similar funding in 2018 and 2019 to make up for farm losses caused by the trade war. The payments were based on production levels and bigger payments went to larger farms. Corporations like meat giant JBS also received millions. One analysis found that just 100,000 individuals collected 70 percent of the money. Many farmer advocates are issuing recommendations for how funds should be allocated this year to best help struggling dairy farmers in light of the pandemic.

In the last two weeks, senators, industry groups, dairy cooperatives, and others have urged USDA to address the crisis by reopening the Dairy Margin Coverage insurance program, using government funding to purchase dairy products for food banks, and supporting supply chain stabilization. But as the crisis has escalated, advocates say these measures don’t go nearly far enough.

Agrimark, which represents 1,200 farmers in the northeast, proposes establishing a temporary floor price for milk, set at a level that would keep farmers in business and ensure milk plants can continue processing. New England agriculture commissioners are asking for the same. Agrimark’s de Ronde says that bold solutions are needed given the scale of the crisis. The co-op supports reopening DMC and other policies, but, she says, those measures are “not going to keep people from going out of business.”

Lynne McBride, director of the California Dairy Campaign (CDC), agrees. “Our current farm policy is lowering milk prices and increasing production, which is the last thing that we need, especially now,” she said. “We need a change in direction.”

CDC has been part of a growing movement for federal dairy supply management, a policy that balances milk production with national demand to ensure that farmer prices do not fall below a certain level. In some systems, this floor price is based on average costs of production. U.S. farm policy was based on this approach for decades and many other countries have a version of the program, but it has been out of fashion in U.S. farm circles for years. Agriculture Secretary Perdue said last year that the program was not in line with “the spirit of entrepreneurship and economic liberty in the United States.” The last vestiges of dairy supply management in the U.S. were ended in the 2014 farm bill, just before the five-year price crash.

In 2018, with no relief in sight for struggling dairy farmers, a grassroots movement began to educate farmers and policy-makers about the policy. As farms have continued to fail, support has grown quickly, even among large dairy farmers, who McBride says are tired of losing money even as they grow. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both included versions of supply management in their presidential candidate platforms.

CDC and Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) have circulated letters calling for a supply management program to manage the current crisis. Amidst this rising tide, the biggest dairy cooperatives and trade groups representing processors have continued to oppose the idea, saying the practice would distort trade.

So it was a surprise to many observers when International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the two largest U.S. dairy lobby groups, released a new plan calling for temporary supply management this week. The plan, which the groups are presenting to Congress and USDA, would run from April to September and pay producers to reduce production by 10 percent.

“I’m delighted that groups like NMPF and IDFA are coming together to support dairy farmers,” said WFU Policy Director Kara O’Connor, in a phone interview. However, WFU, National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), and others are cautious about the proposal, raising initial concerns that it may not raise prices adequately for farmers. (Full disclosure: I consult with NFFC on dairy policy.)

Even with the catastrophic predictions for the industry, Lynne McBride remains hopeful about the potential for change. “There are ways to build incentives so you don’t continue to see 90,000-cow dairies continue to grow while smaller farms go out of business,” she says. The crisis is revealing long-standing problems with the industry. “As bad as things are, it points to a need to get a handle on production and figure out what the best and most resilient food system looks like for the long term.”


2020 US National Holstein Convention postponed for one year

The 2020 National Holstein Convention set for June 22-26, to be hosted by the Pennsylvania Holstein Association at the Lancaster Marriott, has been postponed for one year due to the national COVID-19 pandemic.

Together the Pennsylvania Holstein Association and Holstein USA determined the safety of the members and guests was top priority. The decision was made quickly so attendees would not make travel arrangements. Information regarding junior contests and activities, as well as the adult annual meeting proceedings will be forthcoming.

Pennsylvania will now host the convention from June 19-24, 2021, thanks to the Ohio Holstein Association’s willingness to forgo its year to host. The 2021 convention will remain at the Lancaster Marriott.

More information, like canceling hotel rooms, is available HERE. More will be shared as it becomes available.

Thank you for your understanding – we are all in this together. Stay safe!

Southwest Missouri dairy farmers forced to pour out milk during pandemic

In emergencies, many people rush to the store for eggs, bread and milk. When the coronavirus pandemic set in, that’s exactly what many did. Panic buying left store shelves empty, so many grocery stores now have limits on essential items. That’s affecting the people who produce them.

Scott Francka is a fourth generation dairy farmer.

“It’s one of those things that helps me get up in the morning, I guess. Puts a smile on my face,” he said.

Francka and his family milk their cows twice a day on their Polk County farm.

“Every twelve hours. We start at one in the morning and one in the afternoon,” he said.

That milk is sold to processors who turn it into dairy products like cheese, yogurt and obviously, gallons of pasteurized milk. Demand for those things declined when schools and many restaurants closed. Then it got worse.

“Three weeks ago is when it started, and everybody was going to buy all their milk out of the stores. It was flying off the shelf,” Francka said. “Demand was really high and unfortunately, stores got to where they were putting limits on how much they were buying.”

Those limits are causing big problems for dairy farmers like Francka.

Every other day, he said, the farm produces about 22,000 pounds of raw milk. On Sunday, he had to pour it down the drain.

“We dumped, I believe, 19,980 pounds I believe,” he said. “You put your heart into it. To watch your product flowing down the drain is just heartbreaking and emotional.”

Now, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the State Milk Board are calling for grocery retailers to stop telling customers how much milk they can buy. Governor Mike Parson agrees.

“I would hope they’d take a different view of that and allow those farmers to sell their product and let the consumer get what they want,” Parson said.

According to Francka, this is happening all across the country.

“It’s thousands of gallons over the entire United States and different co-ops and farms,” he said. “We’re talking a lot bigger picture than just what’s happening here.”

Francka said there’s an easy way for Missouri shoppers to support their local farmers for generations to come.

“Throw some extra cheese on your tacos. Pour an extra glass of milk. It’s healthy. Just use a little bit of extra product. It’ll go a long ways for us,” he said.

Francka still got paid for the milk he lost, because of a contact with a marketing co-operative. He said milk haulers, on the other hand, are not so lucky. Francka is hoping that was the one and only time he’ll have to pour out his product.

For the statement from the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the State Milk Board, click HERE



Jersey Canada announces cancellation of the 2020 World Jersey Cattle Bureau Tour

It is with great sadness that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Jersey Canada is cancelling the 2020 World Jersey Cattle Bureau Tour scheduled for this coming June and July. All paid registrants will receive a full refund. The WJCB board will be holding their meeting by e-conference.

We would like to thank the farms that chose to participate and the sponsors that came on board to support the tour.

Holstein Canada announces prefix sharing made possible to Junior members

Holstein Canada has announced that prefix sharing has been made possible to Junior members!

A great initiative for future Holstein producers across Canada. They have got some special perks for their junior members, including:

  • Free Holstein Canada membership! This lets you take part in Holstein Canada services, get preferred fees for Registrations, and gain access to awesome learning and training opportunities.
  • Junior Members also have the ability to start their own new prefix or share in their family’s prefix. You can start achieving all your Holstein dreams early!
  • Once they’ve signed up, Junior Members will receive an introductory New Members kit with a loyalty gift and bimonthly issues of InfoHolstein.

Find all necessary the information on Holstein Canada!


Dairy farmers begin to dump milk as California restaurants, schools close amid coronavirus pandemic

On a dairy in Galt, Arlin Van Groningen’s 1,250 cows continue to produce milk. The third generation dairy man’s majority of product is sold for butter and powder, which means he has so far escaped the coronavirus economic fallout.

“We haven’t had to do that and as far as I know,” Van Groningen said. “Our co-op, none of its members have had to dump milk.”

But other local dairies have not been so fortunate and have begun dumping milk because not enough people or restaurants are buying it during the statewide stay at home order.

According to the United Western Dairies, which represents 860 California dairies, about 10% is getting dumped.

“It is happening. It’s not a ton right now,” said Anja Raudabaugh,CEO of United Western Dairies.

Raudabaugh says there’s lots of supply, but demand is dwindling, largely in part due the mass closing of restaurants across the state. After Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order for people to stay to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, restaurants had the option to close completely or switch to delivery and take-out only.

Raudabaugh said because of that, the UWD has struggled “meeting our contracts in that area.”

Plus, schools are closed, which means another large portion of milk product is no longer heading to cafeterias.

“They’re generally processing over 100% of their capacity, but if they don’t have a contract that’s viable, then in most cases, it’s because the restaurant space for the most part has shut down,” Raudabaugh said.

Van Groningen said there’s also a transportation and grocery store issue, trying to get milk to grocery stores and markets. 

One solution: People will need to buy more milk.

“Most of our dairy farms are within 50 miles of most urban residents, so you are really guaranteeing a good, quality and safe nutritious product,” Raudabaugh said.


Permit transfer approved for controversial dairy

A controversial Eastern Oregon dairy is officially under new ownership, though it will likely be months before state regulators decide if the facility can reopen.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has approved the transfer of the former Lost Valley Farm in Boardman to Easterday Farms based in Pasco, Wash.

Easterday bought the property for $66.7 million last year.

Lost Valley Farm opened in 2017 and was permitted for up to 30,000 cows, making it the second-largest dairy in Oregon.

However, under previous owner Greg te Velde, Lost Valley almost immediately began violating the conditions of its permit for improperly handling and storing manure.

Te Velde declared bankruptcy in April 2018 amid allegations of persistent drug use and gambling. Later that year, he was stripped of his control over Lost Valley — along with two other dairies in California — and a federal trustee was put in charge.

The trustee, Randy Sugarman, decided to close and sell the dairy but was first responsible for cleaning up the site. On Dec. 30, 2019, ODA issued a “letter of satisfaction” for the cleanup, which included removing all cows, flushing barns and emptying wastewater lagoons.

ODA recently transferred the “zero-animal clean-up permit” to Easterday Farms, though the dairy cannot reopen until the state approves a new Confined Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO, permit. Easterday Farms has applied for a new CAFO permit, which is under review and expected to go out for public comment this summer.

Oregon’s CAFO program is jointly managed by ODA and the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Easterday Farms Dairy would have up to 28,300 cattle, with 8,000 mature dairy cows and 2,650 heifers housed under roof along with 1,700 mature cows and 5,950 heifers in open confinement. The farm plans to invest $15 million to bring the operation into full environmental compliance.

According to the CAFO application, the dairy will generate roughly 5.4 million cubic feet of liquid manure, 5.9 million cubic feet of solid manure and 11.7 million cubic feet of processed wastewater annually. The nitrogen-rich manure will be stored in lagoons and used for fertilizer on 5,390 acres of surrounding farmland, growing crops such as potatoes, onions and forage for the cows.

A coalition of environmental and animal rights groups has called for Oregon to reject the dairy’s permit and declare a moratorium on “mega-dairies,” citing the failure of Lost Valley Farm.

ODA has attributed problems at Lost Valley to poor management, and would look to Easterday Farms to achieve and maintain CAFO compliance going forward.


Dairy United as NMPF, IDFA Submit Request for Aid to Farmers, Processors

Last night, the National Milk Producers Federation, the largest organization of U.S. dairy farmers, and the International Dairy Foods Association submitted a request for assistance to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern offered the following statement:

“As most of the country shelters in place and large swaths of the foodservice sector come to a standstill, dairy sales outside retail channels have plummeted. Market prices have fallen rapidly, creating a crushing economic outlook for producers of nutritious, and necessary, milk and dairy products.

“While no plan can wholly remedy the losses that are occurring, dairy is responding with a united plan that can help mitigate the damage caused to it by the COVID-19 pandemic. After extensive discussions across the industry, we have developed this comprehensive action plan to address many of the key marketplace challenges created by the pandemic and are presenting it to USDA.

“We will engage in discussions with USDA in the coming days to discuss the proposal, urging the department, as we know it will, to move quickly to address the effects of the pandemic on our industry. We also understand the demands being placed on USDA at this time. Nevertheless, after five straight years of poor milk prices that were just starting to improve before the pandemic hit, USDA’s immediate actions here will be critical to help people survive the market devastation that has occurred. We look forward to working closely with USDA as we fight for dairy farmers.”

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

Additional Traits Enhance Selection Insights From CLARIFIDE® Plus Testing

New cow-wellness and fertility traits improve predictions for potential lifetime profitability

Dairy producers now have additional trait insights to help predict potential lifetime profitability. Results from CLARIFIDE® Plus genetic testing for Holsteins and Jerseys now include cow-wellness traits for cow respiratory disease and fertility traits for cow abortion, twinning and cystic ovary. Previously available only for Jerseys, Holsteins now have milk fever available among the cow-wellness trait insights. These new trait insights are in addition to cow-wellness traits for mastitis, lameness, metritis, retained placenta, displaced abomasum and ketosis, and calf-wellness traits for calf livability, respiratory disease and scours.

With the availability of more trait insights, Zoetis also has updated the Dairy Wellness Profit Index® (DWP$®), which helps producers predict potential lifetime profit of individual dairy replacements. The latest update incorporates additional traits impacting lifetime profitability, including cow abortion, twinning, cow respiratory disease and cystic ovary.

“We’re helping our customers build a cow for the future,” said Dave Erf, geneticist, U.S. Dairy Technical Services for Zoetis. “That cow needs less interventions, needs to live longer and needs to produce more milk over more lactations; essentially, deliver more ROI and profitability over her lifetime.”

Improved lifetime profitability prediction

The impact of DWP$ has benefits over other ranking methods, such as Net Merit (NM$).

“DWP$ has a three-pronged approach to improving production, fertility and health, simultaneously. NM$ is more focused on production and fertility, with a minor acknowledgment of health traits,” Erf said. Selection index updates and the incorporation of the new fertility and wellness traits into DWP$ also are increasing the accuracy of DWP$ in predicting potential lifetime profitability.

In a study, Zoetis ranked Holstein cows tested with CLARIFIDE Plus with the updated DWP$ from April 2020. There was an additional 1,442-pound difference in lifetime energy corrected milk (ECM) and $141 in lifetime income over feed costs (IOFC) per cow between the best 25% and worst 25% than when we ranked the same cows by DWP$ in 2018. This indicates the latest DWP$ updates have improved the accuracy of predicting lifetime profitability.

DWP$ predictions are a useful tool for dairy producers interested in using genetics as a method to improve their overall herd profitability. Incorporating DWP$ into breeding and culling decisions will help dairy producers create a herd for the future that is capable of higher lifetime profit when combined with best herd management practices. More information is available at

About Zoetis

Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, which are complemented by biodevices, genetic tests and precision livestock farming. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2019, the company generated annual revenue of $6.3 billion with approximately 10,600 employees. For more information, visit

Antiparasitic treatment could help battle COVID-19

Emerging research has demonstrated that Ivermectin, a widely available antiparasitic treatment for cattle, inhibits the causative virus for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in vitro.

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne have shown that the antiparasitic drug Ivermectin can reduce and kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the causative agent of COVID-19, 48 hours after exposure. The trial demonstrated that a single dose of Ivermectin could stop SARS-CoV-2 growing in cell culture.

Though this sounds promising, health authorities are warning people against self-medicating with Ivermectin as it could be fatal. The current research has not provided any information on appropriate dosage or delivery. Additional trials need to be carried out in humans before Ivermectin can be safely used.

Dr Kylie Wagstaff, who led the study, explains, “We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it.

“…Although the mechanism by which Ivermectin works on the virus is not known, it is likely, based on its action in other viruses, that it works to stop the virus ‘dampening down’ the host cells’ ability to clear it.”

Using Ivermectin to combat COVID-19 depends on the results of additional pre-clinical tests and clinical trials. Dr Wagstaff says that funding is urgently needed to continue research.


Ivermectin is a common veterinary drug, killing a wide range of internal and external parasites in livestock and companion animals. The drug is also used in human medicine to treat other parasitic infections like headlice and river blindness. Since Ivermectin included on the WHO model list of essential medicines, it is widely available and is an excellent candidate for re-purposing for other treatments.

Researchers have shown that the drug has strong anti-viral potential in in vitro trials – targeting both DNA-based and RNA-based viruses and inhibiting their replication. However, this in vitro efficacy hasn’t always translated in human trials.

Read the original abstract here.

Brown Swiss Association Announces Sale Postponements

Due to the COVID-19 situation, we have had little choice but to postpone the Shiloh Dairy Dispersal scheduled for April 16, 2020, Fond du Lac, WI. The new date of the sale has not yet been confirmed. We are currently looking at the end of May or beginning of June. Stay tuned to our webpage or Facebook to see updates regarding a new date for the sale.

Also, for the same reasons the Vin Vic Farm Dispersal scheduled for May 9, 2020, Mineral Point, WI has been postponed. The Cal Wessel Family are looking at a fall date for this 175 head dispersal.

“It got dumped in the manure pit”: Owego dairy farmer speaks out on COVID-19 struggles

Jim Moore has been involved in dairy farming for most of his life, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, he says his industry and the ones he serves have been affected.

Moore told 12 News the milk produced from his 80 cows at the Moore-Stream Farm is picked up every other day, but on Sunday, he found it wasn’t going where he thought it was.

“The milk truck driver couldn’t look me in the eye because he told me it’s going in a manure pit today,” Moore said, “Didn’t go to a processor, it got dumped in the manure pit.”

Many restaurants and bars have either closed or moved to solely delivery and pick-up options as part of New York’s fight against COVID-19.

But Moore says that business for restaurants and the food industry is also key for dairy farmers, and has hit his wallet hard.

“I’m scared for all the small farms. The restaurant and food industry has slowed down, they take a third of the milk products in this country,” Moore said. “From one month to the month before, I lost $2000. $2000 goes a long way to pay my fuel bill.”

Those dollars aren’t just vital for him and his farm operations, but also for business partners.

“The people I do business with count on my money to put product back in their line to sell to me,” Moore said.

But despite the frustration he has at the economy, he’s not ready to quit, but is asking for some help.

“I can’t give up yet,” Moore said. “These banks are going to have to help the farmers out, not just shut the door in your face.”


COVID-19 and Livestock: Is there a connection?

When reports of the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the US, very few people had likely heard of coronaviruses—with some notable exceptions: cattle producers and their veterinarians. 

It’s not that people involved with cattle health have any particular insight into the increasing human toll the novel coronavirus is inflicting. Rather, it’s a reflection that generations of cattle producers have recognized coronavirus as a significant cause of diarrhea in their young calves. 

What’s the connection between the novel coronavirus (designated “SARS-CoV 2”) causing COVID-19 across the world and the “scours” germ cow-calf and dairy producers deal with? Except for the name, very little. 

There are many different versions of human and animal coronaviruses throughout the world. Many animal caretakers have probably dealt with coronavirus infections for years without realizing it. Swine producers and their vets have fought Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) Virus and (historically) Transmissible Gastroenteritis (TGE) Virus. Companion animal veterinarians recognize Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) Virus as a cause of illness in cats – all coronaviruses. 

Considering the above list, it should be apparent that the vast majority of these coronaviruses stick to their own species. No human or cross-species illnesses have resulted from bovine coronaviruses, PED, TGE, or FIP. 

This is due to the very specific molecular makeup of the “spikes” on the surface of each different coronavirus version. In order for coronaviruses to cause infection, these specific spike molecules need to attach to very specific molecules on a body cell, in a lock-and-key fashion. Pig cells have different surface molecules than do calf cells, than do human cells, and so on. Additionally, respiratory cells have different surface molecules than do intestinal cells. This explains why different coronavirus strains affect specific species and body systems.

It also explains the variability in the usefulness of different coronavirus vaccines (fair for bovine coronavirus, good for TGE, poor for PEDV) in animals. Additionally, it also highlights the fact that our current animal coronavirus vaccines have no utility for people in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic. Severe adverse reactions (due to the additives in these products) can result from people using animal vaccines for themselves. 

Yet changes can occur to these viral molecules over time. A small shift in the molecular structure of the spike, and you may end up with a virus that can affect a different part of the body or different species. 

In investigating where COVID-19 cases began, authorities have pointed the finger at a “wet market” in one Chinese city. Wet markets are fascinating places where people can buy supplies, food, and live animals. The variety and number of live animals for sale can be astounding: chickens, pigeons, bats, rodents, snakes, and more. Throw in thousands of human shoppers and you have a unique opportunity for viruses to “try out” infecting species besides their normal host. Sometimes – apparently in this case – it works. 

There’s some historical precedence to fall back on here. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) took the world by storm in the early 2000’s. With its likely origin in a bat, it looks like that coronavirus slowly circulated among people in wet markets before it became efficient at infecting people. MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) emerged quite similarly more recently – with origins in bats and camels. Much more commonly, other circulating “normal” coronaviruses cause cold symptoms in people everywhere. 

Could common animal coronaviruses (e.g., bovine coronavirus or PEDV) ever morph into viruses that make people sick? Despite our long history with these germs, it hasn’t happened yet. When PEDV splashed into the world of pork production in 2013, it wasn’t because of a change in the virus: it simply was moved from overseas to the US. 

Despite its likely animal origin, the current coronavirus causing COVID-19 hasn’t yet made animals sick where human illnesses have been common. That’s the good news for our animals. Swings in global financial markets have occurred due to worries about restrictions on travel and other human activity, not any perceived problem with livestock or the food supply. 

But things can change. The COVID-19 situation bears close watching, especially if evidence emerges that the virus is behaving in a different manner than currently expected. 

Source: SDSU Extension

Dairy industry looking for new ways to use extra milk supply in wake of coronavirus pandemic

Many of you have told us about the limitations or lack of dairy products in grocery store aisles.

The American Dairy Association Mideast wants people to know there’s no cause for alarm and that there is more than enough milk being produced.

The dumping at Hartschuh Dairy Farm was a tough moment for them and other Ohio dairy farmers like Kevin Spreng, the owners of Willow Brook Dairy in Wayne County after getting a call from the processing plant.

“The processing plant has so much capacity and if milk’s not leaving the processing plant, they’re not taking it in and since we’re dealing with a perishable product, there’s some time sensitivity involved in it,” he said.

Spreng said he had to dump 6,200 pounds of milk on Thursday.

“We’ve gotta feed these cows tomorrow, we’ve gotta care for them, we have a staff of 10 full-time excellent employees who have been here every day through this pandemic and they have families at home,” he said.

“The dairy industry has been really turned around 180 degrees,” said Ty Higgins with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

They and the American Dairy Association Mideast said the loss of the restaurant and school markets have changed the production chain.

“The milk that went to produce cheese and yogurt and butter now is being produced for more fluid milk,” said Higgins.

“The underlying issue to all this is we’re getting word and experiencing ourselves that retailers are reducing and restricting the amount of dairy products available to consumers,” explained Spreng.

American Dairy Association Mideast CEO Scott Higgins said discussions have been positive with grocers. 

“Our message to our grocers and our grocer association is that there’s plenty of dairy products to meet their need, to lift those limits,” he said.

Scott Higgins said Kroger tells him they are getting the message out to their stores to remove limits. 

“There are many other stores that are doing the same thing and slowly but surely we’re getting that message out,” he said.

The organizations and farmers said this goes beyond the dairy industry and many other jobs and households could be impacted.

“One of the stories that we received from our local food bank is that they had gone to purchase 38 gallons of milk for that week’s distribution and were not able to get it,” said Spreng.

Food banks are an area Scott said he’s working to supply with the surplus. 

“We’re working as quickly as we can with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks and Ohio’s foodbanks to find a home for some of these dairy products that have no place to go right now,” he said.

One viewer told us her local grocery store lifted their limits after she called them. The bureau asks anyone who sees a store limiting the purchase quantity on milk to take a photo of the limit sign, note the location, date and time, and email it to


CoBank: Global Pandemic, Economic Hibernation Disorient Everything

COVID-19 has brought the U.S. economy to a screeching halt, ushering in a recession in the process. For most businesses, the sudden stop to the economy is more jolting than the financial crisis of 2008 and has forced hard, immediate decisions about employees and finances. According to a new Quarterly report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange, COVID-19 has also underscored the critically important nature of agriculture and other industries essential to rural America.

“This quarter will largely define the next year in terms of the economy and how severe the damage caused by the coronavirus will be,” said Dan Kowalski, vice president, Knowledge Exchange, CoBank. “Nearly everyone will be impacted to varying degrees and the pace of the recovery will be uneven. But the economy had been on good footing and it’s entirely possible that we can get back to reasonable strength within a few quarters.” The U.S. grain sector remains stuck in a rut, with pressure on commodity prices, weakening basis for corn and soybeans in some markets, and export volatility likely over the next two to three months. Since 2020 began, corn prices have declined by 12% and soybeans prices have dropped by 7%.

While crop farming fundamentals remain challenging, ag retailers enter the 2020 growing season on relatively stable footing. Retailers are optimistic for a full agronomy season given pent-up demand for fertilizer and crop protection products following last year’s complicated and wet fall application season.

The U.S. ethanol complex is navigating through an extremely difficult operating environment exacerbated by the recent collapse in crude oil and gasoline prices and a virtual overnight evaporation of demand. Several large players have restructured or exited the business, with more expected to do so over the next three months.

The U.S. chicken industry entered 2020 with optimism largely driven by expectations for renewed exports to China. That focus swiftly changed to the domestic market in early March when the spread of the coronavirus dramatically shifted the U.S. market to at-home eating, boosting chicken demand. Chicken production grew 7.7% in the first two months of 2020.

The U.S. cattle complex has seen a swift and sharp decline in the last month following the drop in global equities and oil prices. Since mid-January, April live cattle futures have fallen by approximately 25%. The beef complex profit pool is shifting in favor of packers at the cost of lower feeding margins. The loss of restaurant and foodservice customers due to COVID-19 will test beef prices this spring.

China’s demand for U.S. pork has set export records, but it hasn’t led to strong prices or profit margins. While international demand has been significantly higher than last year, so has U.S. pork supply. Hog producers are expected to realize negative margins through April, before margins turn to positive territory this summer. To realize strong margins, producers will need strong export growth to continue.

Milk prices have fallen precipitously in recent weeks due to COVID-19. The seasonal increase in milk supplies with the spring flush was met with economic weakness in China and other countries, impacting dairy exports. School closings have impacted fluid milk consumption. Home stockpiling has provided some price support, but not enough to offset the losses related to food service.

Despite strong exports, cotton prices have sunk to new lows on fears of slower global economic growth. U.S. cotton exporters are optimistic of faster export pace following India’s announcement of lockdown into the first half of April, which may impair India’s cotton export pace. Meanwhile, rough rice futures surged to new highs, driven by a surge in retail rice sales and tighter global stocks.

U.S. specialty crop growers are fearing an even tighter labor situation unfolding this spring as processing of new H-2A visa applications in Mexico is impaired by COVID-19 complications. Specialty crops growers have benefited from the surge in produce sales at grocery stores but saw reduced exports due to logistical issues related to COVID-19.

Broad segments of the power and energy sectors are likely to realize falling revenues in Q2 2020 and possibly beyond. Electric utilities will suffer from weakening electricity consumption by the commercial and industrial sectors. Rural water systems will also face challenges during the economic downturn.

The full Quarterly report is available on Each CoBank Quarterly provides updates and an outlook for the Global and U.S. Economic Environment; U.S. Agricultural Markets; Grains, Biofuels and Farm Supply; Animal Protein; Dairy; Other Crops; Specialty Crops and Rural Infrastructure Industries.


Why farmers are dumping milk – and how consumers can help

Wisconsin Farmers Union has received a number of inquiries from concerned consumers along the lines of, “Can’t farmers do something with the milk other than dump it? Why are farmers disposing of milk when I’m being limited on milk purchases at the store?”

This situation is indeed troubling. It is heartbreaking for farmers to have to dispose of their milk like this.

The reason this is happening right now is that many of the largest institutional buyers of dairy products, including schools and restaurants, abruptly closed nationwide — and they, in turn, abruptly cancelled orders that they had placed with cheese plants and milk bottlers. Since most dairy products are perishable, dairy processors can only store a limited amount of product that they don’t have a buyer for. Once their storage is full, they start turning away farmers’ milk from the plant because they have nowhere to put the finished product.

Farmers Union and other advocacy groups have urged the USDA to step in and buy surplus dairy products for distribution to food pantries, etc. We are hopeful that this will happen soon, and begin to relieve the current kink in the dairy supply chain.

The other thing that will hopefully happen, but this will take a bit more time, is for dairy products that were originally destined for restaurants to be re-packaged for retail sale. People are buying less food at restaurants right now, but they are buying more food at grocery stores. Unfortunately, it will take some time for food processors to make that conversion. A cheese plant that normally produces unbranded 50-pound bags of mozzarella cheese for restaurants cannot instantaneously convert its production line to make branded 16-ounce packages of cheese for grocery stores. Hopefully business owners will get creative and start coming up with new ways to meet consumer demand for dairy products outside of the restaurant supply chain.

There is one other important action that Congress could take. For many years, WFU has urged Congress to create a mechanism that would give farmers the economic incentive to balance their milk production with market demand, so that farmers never find themselves in the terrible situation of having to dispose of milk that doesn’t have a home. This current circumstance really drives home the need for balancing dairy supply and demand. While nothing could have entirely insulated the dairy industry from the impact of the global pandemic, farmers would be far better off in this moment if we had a program in place to help them quickly adjust their production in response to market conditions.

As a farm organization, we really appreciate consumers’ concern for farmers. If the grocery store where you usually shop is still limiting customers to only 1 or 2 gallons of milk, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection suggests that you ask the store manager to consider lifting that limitation. It appears the initial flurry of stockpile-buying has tapered off, and many stores can now keep the dairy case stocked even without limiting purchases. So please do continue supporting dairy farmers by buying their products. But let’s also work together for greater structural change that ensures we keep family farms on the land. Thank you, and stay well.

Kara O’Connor is Government Relations Director for Wisconsin Farmers Union, a member-driven organization committed to enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, rural communities and all citizens through educational opportunities, cooperative endeavors and civic engagement. Learn more at

Top Dairy Industry News Stories from March 28th to April 3rd 2020

Feature Articles:

Top News Stories:


U.S. dairy farmers dump milk as pandemic upends food markets

FILE PHOTO: The milking parlor at the Eble family’s Golden E Dairy farm near West Bend, Wisconsin, U.S., April 1, 2020. Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/USA TODAY via REUTERS

Dairy farmer Jason Leedle felt his stomach churn when he got the call on Tuesday evening.

“We need you to start dumping your milk,” said his contact from Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the largest U.S. dairy cooperative.

Despite strong demand for basic foods like dairy products amid the coronavirus pandemic, the milk supply chain has seen a host of disruptions that are preventing dairy farmers from getting their products to market.

Mass closures of restaurants and schools have forced a sudden shift from those wholesale food-service markets to retail grocery stores, creating logistical and packaging nightmares for plants processing milk, butter and cheese. Trucking companies that haul dairy products are scrambling to get enough drivers as some who fear the virus have stopped working. And sales to major dairy export markets have dried up as the food-service sector largely shuts down globally.

The dairy industry’s woes signal broader problems in the global food supply chain, according to farmers, agricultural economists and food distributors. The dairy business got hit harder and earlier than other agricultural commodities because the products are highly perishable – milk can’t be frozen, like meat, or stuck in a silo, like grain.

Other food sectors, however, are also seeing disruptions worldwide as travel restrictions are limiting the workforce needed to plant, harvest and distribute fruits and vegetables, and a shortage of refrigerated containers and truck drivers have slowed the shipment of staples such as meat and grains in some places.

Leedle could likely sell his milk if he could get it to market. Dairy products in grocery stores have been in high demand as consumers stay home during the pandemic, though panic buying may be slowing. Earlier this week, a local market told Leedle’s wife she could buy only two dairy products total per shopping trip as retailers nationwide ration many high-demand products.

“It’s just gut-wrenching,” said Leedle, 36, as he stood inside his barn, with cows lowing softly as the animals were giving milk that would be funneled directly into a manure pit. “All I can see is that line going down the drain.”

Leedle has dumped 4,700 gallons of milk from his 480 cows each day since Tuesday. The 7,500-member DFA told Reuters it has asked some other farmers in the cooperative to do the same but did not say how many.

Dairy cooperatives oversee milk marketing for all of their members and handle shipping logistics. Leedle said he will be paid for the milk he and other farmers are dumping, but the payments for all cooperative members will take a hit from the lost revenues.

Land O’Lakes Inc., another cooperative, has also warned its members they may have to dump milk. Another cooperative, Wisconsin-based Foremost Farms USA, was even more grim.

“Now is the time to consider a little extra culling of your herds,” the cooperative said in a March 17 letter to members. “We believe the ability to pick up and process your milk could be compromised.”

The cooperative, which also owns butter and cheese processing plants, said milk-dumping might also be on the horizon.

The dumping comes even as consumer demand for dairy has soared. Panic buying has left grocery store shelves nearly empty in recent weeks amid business shutdowns and quarantines nationwide. Retail purchases of milk rose nearly 53% for the week ended March 21, while butter sales surged more than 127% and cheese rose more than 84%, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to Nielsen data.

Grocers have been charging consumers more, too. The average retail price of cow’s milk was up 11.2% for the week ended March 21, compared to a year earlier, the Nielsen data shows.


Finding enough truck drivers is part of the challenge. Agriculture groups have lobbied states to increase truck weight limits on highways to enable more food to be delivered.

Dean Foods Co, which has been starting some plant shifts earlier and running later, is offering $1,000 sign-on bonuses for drivers with dairy experience as it struggles to fill 74 open positions, a company spokeswoman said.

Another major problem: The sudden shift in demand from restaurants – now closing en masse – to grocery stores creates severe logistical challenges. Suppliers struggle to make the shift from wholesale packaging for restaurants to preparing retail products for stores.

“About half of U.S. consumers’ food budget was spent on restaurants, and we’ve shut that spigot off,” said Matt Gould, editor at trade publication Dairy & Food Market Analyst.

It would take millions of dollars, for instance, to install new equipment to switch a plant from making one type of cheese – such as barrel cheese used to make processed slices for fast-food restaurants – to producing cheddar wedges for grocers, said dairy analysts. Even switching from bagging 10 lb bulk bags of shredded cheddar for food service to 8 oz bags for retail stores would require costly new packaging robots and labeling machinery.

Schreiber Foods Inc, one of the country’s top dairy product manufacturers and food distributors, is cutting hours for workers at its dairy processing plants that normally supply the restaurant industry and adding staff to plants that stock the U.S. retail market, said spokesman Andrew Tobisch.

As of last week, the plants serving retail were bottlenecked.

“We’ve almost had too many trucks showing up at some of our plants,” Tobisch said. “The deliveries get backlogged and the drivers are having to wait longer and longer.”

Trucks heading to restaurants, meanwhile, are getting sent back. Sartori Cheese in Plymouth, Wisconsin, has had restaurant customers refuse shipments of food they had ordered, said president Jeff Schwager. Some restaurant customers have called, asking if they can return orders delivered weeks ago. But processors can’t take the cheese back and resell it – or even donate it – because they can’t ensure it has been safely handled, Schwager said.

Some of Sartori’s grocery retailers are telling Schwager they are closing their gourmet cheese counters with their displays of huge cheese wheels, in favor of pre-packed, grab-and-go wedges. The stores want to redeploy those cheese counter crews to stock shelves and handle other tasks, Schwager said.

That means Sartori Cheese will need far more film wrap of a different size that is now in short supply as demand skyrockets.

Meat producers and fruit-and-vegetable farmers are also struggling with the shift from wholesale to retail, causing plentiful products to run short on grocery store shelves.

Paul Sproule, a potato farmer in North Dakota, said processors who churn out french fries and other restaurant products have stopped buying. Most can’t pivot to retail because they don’t have customer-facing packaging or relationships with stores for shelf space.


In rural communities, smaller food retailers such as bakeries are starting to stock products that have been running short at grocery stories. In the farm town of Rossville, Indiana, local baker Sandra Hufford’s picked up grocery products from a food distributor, including butter, cartons of cottage cheese and gallons of milk.

“They told me that they had a lot of customers not wanting to pay right now, and they needed cash-paying customers,” said Hufford, who owns the Flour Mill Bakery.

Hufford stocked up her bakery’s refrigerated case and posted what was available for pickup and delivery on the shop’s Facebook page. Word spread. Now, customers from as far as Indianapolis – 60 miles away – are placing orders and driving out to pick up groceries.


European Commission announces aid for farmers amid coronavirus pandemic

On 2 April, the European Commission proposed a package of measures to soften the blow of the coronavirus pandemic on the EU economy.

According to analysis from Reuters, the package includes a short-time work scheme and easier access to funds for farmers.

The Commission expects the EU to go into a deep recession this year as the pandemic slows economic activity to a crawl across the 27 members states.

“The depth and the breadth of this crisis requires a response unprecedented in scale, speed and solidarity,” the EU executive said in a document outlining the measures.

To prevent firms from laying off workers when there is not enough work, the Commission proposed that all EU countries adopt a German scheme under which employers cut working hours, not jobs, and the government pays for the difference in salaries, so that workers retain their spending power.

“[It] can benefit all the member states who want to use it,” Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told a news briefing.

To finance the plan, the Commission would borrow 100 billion euros on the markets against 25 billion euros in EU governments’ guarantees using its triple-A rating. It would then lend the money cheaply to member states, many of which have lower credit ratings.

Once asked by a government for help with wage subsidies, the Commission would verify how much extra that country was spending on the scheme and decide the terms of the loan, including the amount, the maximum average maturity and pricing.

A Commission proposal for a loan would then have to be approved by EU governments.

The Commission also proposed to increase cash advances to farmers under the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy and give them more time to apply for support.

The proposed measures, which still need the approval of the European Parliament and EU member states, will apply retroactively from 1 February and will be available until 31 December.

Read more about this story here.

Vegans abuse farmer delivering dairy during coronavirus crisis

A farmer and his pregnant wife are devastated after being abused online by vegans for delivering dairy products to the elderly and vulnerable self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.

Activists sent abusive messages to Chris Wilson’s farm business Facebook page, Streamvale Open Farm, based in County Down, Northern Ireland.

In a video appeal, Mr Wilson urged a group of vegans to stop sending him and his pregnant wife, Helen, abusive messages online.

He said: “I have been up since four o’clock this morning looking after our animals, caring for our sheep, and making sure our lambing is going OK.

“I was out early this morning delivering dairy products to vulnerable people, out on the road since half four and we will probably be working right through to 10 o’clock tonight.

“I’m not saying that because I think I’m doing anything special – there’s plenty of nurses and doctors doing far more than me.”


Mr Wilson explained that his wife, Helen, who runs the company’s Facebook page, was at home feeling “devastated” after coming under attack from vegans, who believe that what they are doing is wrong.

“I just don’t think it’s right,” said Mr Wilson. “She’s sitting there worried because of the comments people are saying, how cruel we are and how dare we be delivering dairy products.”

Mr Wilson described accusations of them “marking a sheep with paint, so we know if it’s a twin or a single is cruel, and how we are going to slaughter these lambs at Easter”, as “just unbelievable”.

Dietary choice

He said: “I have no issue if you’re a vegan, at all. And plenty of people have different dietary requirements for different reasons.

“But that’s your choice. We are doing our best to survive ourselves through this and just to be slated online has just really p*ssed me off.”

He added: “I’m upset for my wife, who is feeling very anxious over the whole thing, and I don’t think it’s fair. If you’re a vegan, I have absolutely no issues with that, but don’t feel the need to come on and bombard us with messages. I’ll just leave it at that. Let us do what we do, and you do what you do.”

Streamvale Open Farm is a family farm that officially opened its doors to the public in 1989. Visitors can see cows being milked, and lambs, goats and rabbits being fed throughout the day. The farm is currently temporarily closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic. The family has been farming the land for more than 100 years and it is still a working dairy farm.

Seven tips to deal with vegan activists

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says farmers are reporting they are increasingly coming under attack on farms and it has issued the following advice to members.

If you do come across extremists on your farm or have suspicions they may have been on farm:

  • Be aware they may be live streaming the encounter.
  • Calmly and politely ask them to leave.
  • Call the police and alert them to their presence or log the incident if they have left.
  • Inform the UFU, your processor, and quality assurance scheme (they may wish to organise a spot visit of the site).
  • Gather your own photo or video evidence of faces, car registrations, and any damage caused (this will be useful if you wish to attempt to prosecute them and for industry intelligence).
  • Check the site and other sites for hidden cameras.
  • Consider suspending social media accounts if picked up by the press.


Barn Fire Wipes Out Entire Herd of Dairy Cattle

It was a tragic day for a Wisconsin dairy farm family on Wednesday when their barn was destroyed by fire, killing between 50 to 60 head of dairy cattle.

According to the Boyd Fire Department, crews were called to a farm just after 2:00 a.m. and found the structure fully engulfed in flames.

Family members were able to get some of the animals out safely, but lost the majority of their animals.

No people were injured in the incident and there is no official word on how the fire was started.

Source: NY Ag Connection

After financial hit from coronavirus response, dairy farmers are adapting

The timing of the COVID-19 outbreak couldn’t have been worse for dairy, like so many industries.

“We were starting to see some good prices in the industry, finally,” said Lucas Sjostrom, the executive director for the Minnesota Milk Producers Association.

Of all the commodities impacted, milk has been one of the hardest hit.

“So, when restaurants are down, cheese isn’t sold. When cheese isn’t sold, markets are down, especially in the Upper Midwest,” he said.

Lucas Sjostrom says right now, consumers are seeing fewer milk options at grocery stores, and there’s a reason for that.

“One and 2% are their top skews or top two products at the bottler,” he said. “So they’ve been focusing on that and sacrificing skim and whole in a large way.”

“The first couple weeks were kind of a punch in the throat,” said Alise Sjostrom, Lucas’ wife and one of the owners of Redhead Creamery near Brooten.

Without consumers coming into their store, they’ve had to re-invent the cheese wheel, so to speak, by adding deliveries.

Farms forced to dump gallons of milk

“People are so crazy about it. They are excited to have cheese delivered to their house,” she said.

Social distance deliveries mean dropping off packages of cheese at a client’s front door.

The creamery is hoping restrictions are lifted by the summer, when they have the most visitors. But after this is over, deliveries could be a permanent part of their business plan.

“We continue to adjust and adapt with the market. And who knows, maybe a delivery service is something that we incorporate into our plan,” Alise Sjostrom said.


Today’s Dairy Difficulties to Reverberate for Several Months, NMPF’s Vitaliano Says

National Milk Producers Federation Chief Economist Peter Vitaliano says current coronavirus-created gloom over dairy prices as expressed in futures markets may turn out be overstated in the end, but that the pain felt by producers over the next few months will be real, as lower prices make their way into milk checks paid to farmers for their milk.

“These are unusual circumstances that I’m not sure the futures have figured them out yet,” Vitaliano says in an NMPF podcast released today. Because milk in stores now was purchased at earlier, higher prices, “producers are not seeing this in their milk checks yet,” he said. “That’s going to come over the next several months, because the forecasts are all indicating that we’re going to be to be hitting the trough in May and June.”

Vitaliano also said that a USDA aid package for dairy farmers would be most effective if “they would pretty much follow” recommendations NMPF made in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last week. NMPF in its letter called for:
  • Additional dairy-product purchases, which will help Americans in need during what may be a period of very high demand at food bank;
  • Compensation for milk disposal, a real possibility as logistical challenges on the farm and at manufacturing plants may create severe disruptions; and
  • Re-opening signup for participation in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program, the main safety net for dairy farmers, especially small and medium-sized producers. DMC participation declined in 2020 because of forecasts for higher prices that have been radically revised in light of coronavirus.
To listen to the full podcast, click here. You can also find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud and Google Play. Broadcast outlets may use the MP3 file. Please attribute information to NMPF.
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

Ontario Spring Discovery Show Postponed

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Ontario Spring Discovery Show committee has no choice but to postpone the Ontario Spring Discovery Show. The new dates of the show have not yet been confirmed. We are currently looking at the end of May or beginning of June. Stay tuned to their Facebook page to see the updates regarding the NEW dates of the show.


Why Is This Happening? Milk Dumping Explanation For Non Farm Consumers

You have no idea how difficult bringing this news to our loyal farm audience is – especially for me, a dairy kid and life long lover of Wisconsin agriculture. Since Covid-19 has changed all our world’s, I’ve been asked to try and connect the dots on this latest destruction of Wisconsin’s dairy industry and why it’s happening.

I am not an expert, and we’re diligently working to gather all the facts as I type this – but I’ll give the basics.

Wisconsin’s dairy industry was just looking forward to a slight recovery when Covid-19 hit the world in January. Here’s what it did to agriculture almost immediately.

Schools closed. The number one market for fluid milk in the United States is the school lunch program. Although schools are still trying to make that milk available to students, the volume is down considerably. That immediately impacted where fluid milk could go.

Covid-19 impacts farm, agribusiness and food processing workers too. Even with social distancing, some Wisconsin food processors have been impacted be the lack of available workers to keep all production lines fully rolling. That means generating fewer products and using less raw dairy.

You cannot “shut off” a milk cow. At this time of the year, Wisconsin traditionally sees an uptick in the amount of milk produced. We call it “spring flush” because many calves are born in spring, and milk production on farms escalates. Experts didn’t believe the spring flush would be as great this year because of a fairly mild winter – but they didn’t expect Covid-19 at all.

Why is milk still being limited at grocery stores? That’s a judgement call by every food retailer out there. The same judgement they make about pricing of fluid milk or any other dairy product. There is very little correlation to what farms are paid for their milk. Obviously there is fluid milk available, but if it can’t be processed – they have concerns about still having product available for their customers.

What else can be done with this milk? Well today Wisconsin’s Acting Ag Secretary, Randy Romanski, is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to immediately begin purchasing dairy products that can be funneled to food banks and other government assistance programs across the United States. I also know there are other states making the same plea. Wisconsin dairies work cooperatively to “share” milk supplies when they can and channel more towards cheese, butter, yogurt and other dairy products. Right now between the employee impact of Covid-19, distance and demand – processors feel this is their only option on the short-term.

How long will it last? Nobody knows. How long will Covid-19 impact your life? Nobody knows.

What can I do as a consumer to try and help? There’s a few things.
1) Of course, buy more dairy as you can. People have suggested using fluid milk to make your own butter if you don’t routinely drink much milk. That’s possible, but generally the fluid milk you would drink doesn’t contain enough cream to really make butter. You can also try making ice cream. The Wisconsin Ag In The Classroom has directions on how you and your kids can try this together on a smaller scale. Remember, you can successfully buy and freeze cheese and butter too.

2) Donate milk to your local food bank. Here’s one link that can get that done. Because of Covid-19, you cannot just bring milk to the food bank. Financial donations are the only real way to go for now. This particular link allows only for the purchase of Wisconsin milk/dairy.

3) Write your state and federal officials an email and let them know your opinions. Don’t stop there – communicate directly with the governor, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in DC, and even the president. Yes, Covid-19 is terrible and they are busy trying to manage through that – but this situation may literally mean the death of a dairy operation.
Federal Information –
http://Ask a Question
Call 1-844-USAGOV1 (1-844-872-4681)
State Information:
Governor: Tony Evers.
Phone Number: 1-608-266-0382

4) And maybe most importantly – express your support for Wisconsin dairy farms. Big or small, this is impacting them all. If you know a dairy farmer or their family – call them, email them, send them a message of hope. People are being encouraged to show support throughout social media with: #FarmNeighborsCare

5) It may not be fashionable, but pray. In whatever form you want. Pray that Covid-19 dissipates. Pray that life begins to return to a somewhat normal patterns. Pray that this milk dumping situation is just a temporary story. Pray for all the farm families that are trying to make their way through this.

Again – I’m no expert. But I am dedicated to doing whatever I can to try and share the stories of Wisconsin farm families with those of you that may not know as much about the industry that’s still the backbone of this state.

Source: Mid West Farm Report

Fonterra’s China Farms on sale

The farms, carrying 31,000 milking cows housed in a feedlot system, are now worth $500 million.

Over the past 10 years the co-op has invested over $1 billion in the farms with very little returns.

In its interim results announced last week, the co-op wrote down another $61m from the farms’ value. Last year it wrote down $200m.

Fonterra chief financial officer Marc Rivers says “new information” led to the latest writedown.

“Clearly as you go through a sales process, you get new information: this has to be considered as you look at value of assets on your book.

“The writedown reflects that, as we closed out the half year.”

Fonterra is also reviewing its joint China farming venture with Abbotts.

Rivers says it is continuing to look for opportunities to improve the performance of the business: the joint venture suffered a $65 million impairment to align with China Farms’ sale process and ongoing animal management costs.

Fonterra is also selling its joint venture stake in DPA Brazil: the co-op wrote down $31m in DPA’s value.

Source: Rural News

IDFA Statement on CARES Act and Need for Immediate Dairy Purchases by Government

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, released the following statement today on Congressional passage of the $2 trillion CARES Act and highlights the need for the federal government to make dairy purchases:

“The International Dairy Foods Association commends Congress for acting swiftly and decisively to bring financial relief to American businesses, households and workers as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has delivered an historic blow to our nation’s economy and workforce. On behalf of America’s dairy industry, IDFA is grateful that this bipartisan bill has put a special emphasis on businesses large and small, farmers, and our rural communities who grow, process and distribute many of the foods and beverages that are so vital to Americans during this crisis. We urge Congress to continue to be mindful of the critical part the food industry plays in our national security, economic security and food security. The United States is the world’s most productive food and agricultural economy in the world, and our legislators and federal officials must do everything in their power to ensure continuity of operations throughout the food supply chain. Our food security is absolutely essential.

“Now we are seeing record jobless claims for Americans, which presents hardships to families just trying to put nutritious, wholesome food on their tables. Our federal government must now turn its attention to those Americans most in need by ensuring our food banks, pantries and distributors have an abundant supply of food for families trying to make ends meet. The CARES Act includes billions of dollars to support federal nutrition and feeding programs, as well as $450 million for USDA to provide food banks with additional resources for food and distribution. With resources in place through replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation, billions for nutrition and feeding programs, and millions to support our food banks, it is incumbent on USDA to act without delay.

“We urge USDA to act today to make record purchases of fluid and powdered milk, cheese, and other dairy products, as well as other foods and commodities, to equip our food banks for a surge of food-insecure Americans and to bring certainty and balance to the marketplace due to whole sectors of the economy shutting down due to COVID-19.

“The closure of restaurants, cafes, bars and other food service operators as a result of COVID-19 has created a major market gap for our dairy producers and processors. While retail sales have climbed steadily, the loss of foodservice, which accounted for roughly 50% of all food sales, has presented a significant challenge to our industry. USDA should act now to direct those products to food banks to help people in need. This will prioritize those most in need, provide certainty to producers and agribusinesses, and restore needed balance in the marketplace.”

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3 million jobs that generate $159 billion in wages and $620 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent 90 percent of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.

GENYOUth Launches COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Campaign and Movement to Give Schools Critical Resources Needed to Feed Students

Organization invites schools nationwide to apply for grants of up to $3,000 for equipment and resources to help facilitate school meal delivery and distribution during school closures

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

GENYOUth, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating healthier school communities, announced today the establishment of the COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund to assist schools nationwide as they strive to provide school meals containing essential nutrition to students during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Approximately 124,000 U.S. public and private schools across the nation are now closed as a result of COVID-19 but they remain a critical source for the 30 million students who rely on school meals for a substantial portion of their daily nutrition. Across the nation, school nutrition professionals and volunteers are adopting new methods of delivering healthy meals during school closures, employing a variety of solutions – grab and go, drive through pick-up, bus stop drop-off and summer meal sites – to ensure students receive the vital nutrition they need. While federal funding continues to support school feeding programs, additional funding is crucial to provide schools with the necessary resources for food storage, single-serve packaging, distribution, delivery and sanitation/safety protective gear as they adapt to new means of delivering healthy meals to feed our nation’s children.

GENYOUth established the COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund

To meet this unprecedented need, GENYOUth is launching a national campaign and movement, “For Schools’ Sake – Help Us Feed Our Nation’s Kids!” This is a national call-to-action for corporations, foundations, athletes, influencers and individuals to raise their hands with urgency and compassion to support the COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund and spread the word to help feed the need #ForSchoolsSake. They can do this by making a donation at and by posting pictures with their hands raised in support for school nutrition professionals and volunteers on their social media channels.

The campaign also invites schools to apply for grants of up to $3,000 per school feeding site to purchase supplies for meal distribution and delivery. Schools can apply at

“I cannot underscore how critical the need is right now for the 30 million kids who rely on school meals. The demands are urgent and time-sensitive to support our front-line school nutrition workers as they feed our nation’s students,” said Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth. “To date, beginning with the support of America’s Dairy Farmers, the NFL Foundation and purpose-driven corporations, we have raised almost $3 million to provide critical resources to schools across the nation. By raising your hand and donating to this fund, we can ignite a movement that will benefit tens of millions of students.”

In addition to the generous commitments from America’s Dairy Farmers, initial commitments from top corporations and foundations include the American Beverage Association, Arby’s Foundation, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, NFL Foundation, PayPal, PepsiCo Foundation and TD Ameritrade. Their support provides a solid foundational starting point knowing the urgency to raise millions of dollars to meet the unprecedented demand is great.

“One of the most important things right now is making sure children across the country who rely on school for their meals are receiving the nutrition they need,” said NFL Commissioner and GENYOUth Board Member Roger Goodell. “It’s critical that meals are distributed safely to the students who need it most and we’re proud to support our partner GENYOUth who is making that happen.”

“America’s Dairy Farmers have had a long-standing commitment to youth wellness for over a century,” says Audrey Donahoe, dairy farmer, and Chair of National Dairy Council. “I am proud of our continued commitment to the front-line workers feeding our nation’s youth – the school nutrition personnel and volunteers – who help schools at the grass roots level flourish by increasing access to school meals during this most critical time.”

Since GENYOUth’s inception almost a decade ago, the non-profit has provided $100 million in grants and equipment to schools. With GENYOUth’s extensive network of schools, through its flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60, and with the help of generous donors, an immediate and substantial impact can be made to support U.S. school communities during this unprecedented time.

About GENYOUth

GENYOUth is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that creates healthier school communities. We convene a network of private and public partners, including Fortune 100 companies and foundations, to raise funds for youth wellness initiatives that give youth the inspiration, motivation and programs to be healthy high-achieving students. GENYOUth’s flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60, enrolls over 73,000 U.S. schools, reaching over 38 million students. Our school nutrition grants increase access to healthy school meals among food insecure students. NFL FLAG-In-School is GENYOUth’s fastest growing program with over 20,000+ school communities reaching over 11 million students while AdVenture Capital brings out the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of students with the support of corporate mentors to solve real world problems. For more information about GENYOUth or to make a donation, visit

About the NFL Foundation

The National Football League Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football – from players at all levels to communities across the country. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football, and the communities that support our game. For more information on the NFL Foundation, visit:

About National Dairy Council

National Dairy Council (NDC) is the non-profit organization dedicated to bringing to life the dairy community’s shared vision of a healthy, happy, sustainable world – with science as the foundation. NDC provides science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier nation, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media. NDC has taken a leadership role in promoting child health and wellness through programs such as Fuel Up to Play 60. Developed by NDC and the National Football League (NFL), Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. For more information, visit

Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s statement on COVID-19

Source: Dairy Farmers of Ontario

View PDF

From Cheryl Smith, Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s Chief Executive Officer: 

“During these uncertain times that see our lives changing day by day, including the closing of all non-essential services in Ontario, be assured Ontario’s dairy farmers remain fully operational and engaged in producing high-quality milk for all communities across the province.

“We continue to be in constant contact with our partners along the supply chain, as well as with provincial, federal and local governments and Dairy Farmers of Canada to ensure you have uninterrupted access to domestic dairy products.

“We are also focused on keeping Ontario’s 3,400-plus dairy producers, their families, processors, transporters and those working in support industries safe and healthy. We want to thank the many public health officials, organizations, front-line healthcare workers and all those who, tirelessly, provide care and work to contain the spread of this virus in a challenging environment.

“Dairy Farmers of Ontario continues to be committed to supporting the communities where we work and live. Not only providing high-quality milk for the entire province, but also by ensuring we continue to take every step necessary to operate safely and responsibly at this time when it matters most.”

CWT Assists with 2.2 Million Pounds of Dairy Product Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) member cooperatives accepted 11 offers of export assistance from CWT that helped them capture sales contracts for 291,010 pounds (132 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese, 299,829 pounds (136 metric tons) of cream cheese, and 1.629 million pounds (739 metric tons) of whole milk powder. The product is going to customers in Asia, Central and South America, and the Middle East. The products will be delivered from March through June 2020.

CWT-assisted member cooperative export sales contracts for 2020 total 8.856 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 1.276 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat), 1.840 million pounds of cream cheese and 8.790 million pounds of whole milk powder. The product is going to 22 countries in six regions. These sales are the equivalent of 189 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers and all dairy cooperatives by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price. It does this by helping member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share for U.S dairy products. As a result, the program has significantly expanded the total demand for U.S. dairy products and the demand for U.S. farm milk.

The amounts of dairy products and related milk volumes reflect current contracts for delivery, not completed export volumes. CWT pays export assistance to the bidders only when export and delivery of the product is verified by required documentation.

All dairy farmers and dairy cooperatives should invest in CWT. Membership information is available on the CWT website.

The Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) Export Assistance program is funded by voluntary contributions from dairy cooperatives and individual dairy farmers. The money raised by their investment is being used to strengthen and stabilize the dairy farmers’ milk prices and margins. For more information about CWT, visit

Dean Foods finds buyer for ‘substantial portion’ of business operations amid Chapter 11 proceedings

Dean Foods Co. announced Tuesday that Dairy Farmers of America is the winning bidder for a substantial portion of the company’s business operations, according to a news release.

As part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, Dallas-based Dean Foods (NYSE: DF) had a comprehensive sale process and auction in which DFA will acquire 44 of Dean’s fluid and frozen assets for $433 million in cash.

The deal, which is subject to final approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, means DFA will acquire all assets, rights, interests and properties for those facilities.

As part of the court-supervised sale process, Dean also designated:

  • Prairie Farms Dairy eight additional facilities, two distribution branches and other assets for $75 million
  • Mana Saves McArthur, LLC a facility in Miami
  • Producers Dairy Foods a facility in Reno
  • Harmoni, Inc. as the winning bidder for the Uncle Matt’s business.

“We ran a competitive auction process and are pleased to have reached these agreements, which we believe represent the best path forward for our stakeholders,” Eric Beringause, president and CEO of Dean Foods, said in a release. “Dean Foods has strong and long-standing relationships with DFA and Prairie Farms Dairy. We are pleased that through these transactions, substantially all of our processing assets will continue to operate as dairies and will be owned by our dairy farmer partners.”

A hearing to seek required court approvals is scheduled for April 3. If approved, the transactions are expected to close at the end of April.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright are legal advisors to Dean Foods, while Evercore is its investment banker and Alvarez & Marsal is its financial advisor, according to the release.

Source: Biz Journal

Wisconsin cheesemaker gives economic lifeline to dairy farmers

A Wisconsin cheesemaker is among businesses giving dairy farmers that are reeling from a tumble in the price of milk an economic lifeline during this pandemic.

“We acknowledge we’ve been lucky, our team’s done a great job,” Reeseville-based Specialty Cheese Company General Manager David Scharfman says. Scharfman says his spike in sales provides a market for area dairy farmers. “The coronavirus has increased the demand for Amazon sales, for our e-commerce, shelf-stable cheese product.”

Specialty Cheese Co. is a traditional cheesemaker, but Scharfman says its baked, cheese snack, Just The Cheese, has sold well since its introduction two years ago and is challenging the firm to keep up with its purchase orders now. With the demand, dairy farmers losing customers as the result of COVID-19-caused closures of schools, restaurants and other foodservice have Specialty as a safety valve.

“I wouldn’t be as arrogant to say they’ve turned to us specifically, but there is definitely an increased reliance on cheese producers and manufacturers to be a constant customer for those farmers,” he says.

Bob Schwandt is a long time dairy farmer in Juneau and says the milk price tumble is difficult to absorb. “And right now we’re really in a tight squeeze,” Schwandt says.

Schwandt says the cancellation of planned farm auctions destroys most chances to acquire needed, replacement farm equipment at affordable prices. He says the possible cancellations of annual, upcoming farm breakfasts, brunches, and week-long events and the crowds they bring will also hamper the industry.

Schwandt belongs to the farm cooperative, Foremost Farms-USA, and says a recent letter to members urging them to consider dumping milk in order to cope with a collapsing market was difficult for many members.

“We are asking our members to voluntarily reduce your milk production to the best of your ability,” the letter says. “We also need to be prepared for scenarios that would require members to dump milk on member farms,” the letter states.

“It is a sad situation,” Schwandt says of the thought of dumping milk. “There [are] a lot of people going hungry who could use these products.”

“The coronavirus outbreak has caused milk prices to drop down to unprofitable levels this spring, right when we need money to buy supplies for the spring planting season,” dairy farmer John Rettler of Neosho, president of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative in Madison told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.   

“Since the coronavirus pandemic began, all of that optimism (over increasing milk prices in February) has disappeared,” Rettler said. “Now, farmers are simply looking for ways to ensure their milk continues to get picked up in the coming weeks as the situation continues to play out.”

Workers produce jalapeño cheese snack products Thursday, March 26, 2020 ash shown at the Specialty Cheese Co. Inc. in Reeseville, Wis. The Dodge County cheese maker has been swamped with orders for shelf stable cheese snacks such as these Just The Cheese, crunchy toasted cheese snacks.

The $2 trillion economic stimulus package passed by Congress included $14 billion for supporting farm income and crop prices and $9.5 billion for specific producers including dairy and livestock farmers. Yet it’s still unknown how the money would be distributed and how quickly farmers would get it. Schwandt says he’s planning as if his farm operation will not receive the federal emergency help.

Just The Cheese snack products are shown Thursday, March 26, 2020, at the Specialty Cheese Co. Inc. in Reeseville, Wis. The Dodge County cheese maker has been swamped with orders for shelf-stable cheese snacks such as these crunchy toasted cheese snacks.

Cheese producer Scharfman says about 70% of the company’s milk comes from dairy farms within 30 miles of the processing plant in Reeseville. people.

“We have to do the best we can to help them out however we can,” Scharfman says.


US milk prices plunge, farmers suffer amid COVID-19 pandemic

Plunging milk prices and less demand make Josh Salentine a bit uneasy.

“So basically how it’s affecting us is the markets,” he said. He’s a dairy farmer in Luxemburg.

He says farmers like himself depend on selling milk and cheese to schools and restaurants.

With both now closed, “that means no cheese, no sour cream, no fluid milk on the tables and the dairy markets have reflected that these last three days,” he explained.

But that’s not the case for all farmers. It depends on what kind of farming you do. So even though the situation might be bleak for farmers like Salentine, the general manager of a local hydroponics farm says coronavirus spread doesn’t impact his business as much.

“Today we harvested our first cutting of lettuce for the season,” said Darren Vollmar at Ledgeview Gardens.

Like dairy farmers, some fruits and vegetables he grows are sold to schools and restaurants.

Unlike dairy farmers, Vollmar says there’s one thing he isn’t seeing.

“Our products probably aren’t going to find the same kind of price plunge as dairy has been feeling and effected by so that’s a positive point for us,” said Vollmar. “But if our customers can’t get to us then we’re going to be in the same situation. So hopefully we’ll be able to go out into those areas and be in public and sell.”

Although just about everyone is in some way impacted by COVID-19, that impact looks different depending on what you do.

“Just get the economy rolling again,” Salentine hopes.

“We’re still growing as a normal season,” said Vollmar.


Canadian Master Breeder Earl Osborne dies at the age of 91

It’s with great sadness we share the passing of Master Breeder Earl Osborne.  The Bullvine’s Murray Hunt shares the following comments: 

“I had the great priviledge to work with Earl during his time as Holstein Canada President and Director. Earl brought common sense, wisdom, kindness and vision to everything he did as a director of numerous organizations and in his community outreach efforts, of which there were many. I still marvel at how he was able to grasp and excel at each new task and initiaitve he encountered. To his family, who he loved and valued greatly, I express the condolences from my family and wish that you know that the world has lost a truly great human being. May God Bless You All.”

Robert “Earl” Osborne, formerly of Ripley, died March 28, 2020, at the age of 91.

Mourning his loss are his wife, Marion; her family, and Earl’s six children: Kathryn (John Mounstephen), Steven (Linda), Janice (Frank Stokman), John (Susan), Vern (Ornella), and Shirley (Rudy Fiebiger); and sister-in-law Margaret Osborne.

He will be missed by his grandchildren, Ryan (Corryn) Mounstephen, Blake (Nadia) Mounstephen, Stacey (Mike Duffield), Jennifer (Gray Mackenzie), Adam Osborne (Sarah), Jessica (Jae Fortier), Deirdre (Scott Maidens), Caitrin (Stephen Le Roux), Brie (Alex Lam), Courtland Osborne (Katie), Spencer Osborne, Alex Osborne (Jess Taylor), Natalie and Alaina Osborne, Matthew (Cindy) Fiebiger, and Andrew (Jacq) Fiebiger; and 26 great grandchildren.

Earl is predeceased by his beloved first wife, Barbara Ann; parents, Russell and Elizabeth; brother, Carman; and dearly loved grandson, Michael Fiebiger.

Born June 24, 1928, Earl grew up in Ripley, moving with his family to a farm just outside of Guelph as a young man. He met and married the first love of his life, Barbara Ann (Radford), and together they raised six children and operated a master breeder herd dairy farm.

They hosted local and international visitors and travelled extensively when Earl served as president of Holstein Canada. Earl was invited to share his knowledge in China, South America, Mexico, the United States, and across Canada. He served for several years as an official judge for Holstein Canada and served on various milk committees for Wellington County and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

Earl enjoyed friendships in the tractor-pulling circuit and volunteered at local agricultural fairs. He was a devoted member of the Stone United Church, where he served as an elder and sang in the choir for many years. Earl and Barbara had a wide circle of friends and were known as gracious hosts, devoted parents and active members of their farming and local community in Eramosa Township.

After Barbara’s untimely death in 1994, Earl was blessed to find happiness again, with the second love of his life, Marion (Neilson, nee Leslie), and they were married in 1996.

Earl and his children welcomed Marion and her family with open arms, including her three daughters, Cynthia (Greg Howell), Marilyn (Stephen Boehm), the late Joyce; grandchildren, Lauren (Evan), Rae Brynn (Jonathan), Emily (Ben), Hannah (Kurtis), Eric, Jessie; and one great-grandson.

The newly-blended family will miss him dearly. Earl was very proud of his family, and his legacy will live on in their memories.

Arrangements entrusted to the Wall-Custance Funeral Home and Chapel, Guelph, 519-822-0051 or

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the interment will be held in a private service at Woodlawn Cemetery, Guelph.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

As expressions of sympathy, donations may be made to a charity of your choice.

A tree will be planted in memory of Earl in the Wall-Custance Memorial Forest, University of Guelph Arboretum. Dedication service, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, at 2:30 p.m.

New US poll sheds light on farmers’ COVID-19 concerns

Nearly 90 percent of farmers surveyed indicate they are at least somewhat worried about the impact COVID-19 will have on their business. More than 50 percent are very or extremely worried about the potential impact, according to a US farmer survey conducted last week by DTN and Farm Market iD.

More than half of farmers polled are worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their business.

“We know that COVID-19 is taking a toll on populations around the world,” said John Teeple, DTN senior vice president-agriculture. “Our farmers are entering a stressful planting season and now have to contend with the challenges associated with this global pandemic. They are on the frontlines of ensuring that our world has food to eat.”

As many farmers across the United States start planting crops, they are making changes in their business in an attempt to lessen the impact on COVID-19.

“The survey results indicate that farmers are delaying large purchases and instituting conservative farming decisions,” said Steve Rao, CEO of Farm Market iD. “Agribusinesses should take notice to the challenges this presents their businesses. Surveyed farmers voiced changes they want from their agribusiness partners including open communication about the situation, reduced pricing or discounts and delayed payment structures, among other solutions.”

The survey, conducted between March 25 and March 27, 2020, revealed that 70 percent of farmers surveyed are satisfied with how the current administration is handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. “This may be an important and early indicator for the 2020 presidential election as we found that 90 percent of respondents plan to vote in the fall,” said Steve Matthesen, CEO of DTN. “If they were pressed to vote today, more than 80 percent would vote for the current administration.”

DTN and Farm Market iD routinely survey farmers to stay on top of trending topics. In a recent DTN/The Progressive Farmer Agriculture Confidence IndexTM report, results pointed to similar levels of support for the current administration.

“We believe that farmers across America continue to support President Donald J Trump and his administration. Their support of how the COVID-19 situation is being handled at the highest levels strengthens that commitment,” Matthesen said.

In support of rural communities dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, both DTN and Farm Market iD have each announced a $1,000 donation to Feeding America.

“We’re proud to support this important organisation who is helping keep our rural communities fed during this challenging time,” said Teeple.

For more information and to view poll results from the DTN and Farm Market iD survey, visit

Coronavirus Package Aids Dairy, More Measures Needed as Marathon NMPF Efforts Continue

As Congress attempted to navigate the national response to COVID-19 by passing three coronavirus response packages in March, all of which became law, NMPF’s government affairs team worked to ensure dairy-farmer needs were top of mind in agriculture-related provisions of the new laws, gaining success on several fronts.

A crucial advance came with the March 27 passage of a massive, $2 trillion stimulus bill approved on March 27 that creates a $9.5 billion coronavirus agricultural disaster fund that specifically includes dairy among the producers targeted for aid. The bill also provides $14 billion in additional funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation that USDA can use to assist producers in various ways. Finally, the measure aids small businesses, a key link in the entire dairy supply chain.

“We are very grateful that Congress understands the significant economic challenges our farmers face and is rising to that challenge on a bipartisan basis,” Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, said of the package, the third – but not the last – congressional coronavirus bill. “Dairy farmers have worked 24/7 to produce safe, affordable, and nutritious products for families throughout the coronavirus crisis, even as their own economic outlook grows darker.”

The specific attention to dairy – thanks in large part to the bipartisan attention from lawmakers ranging from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson – was encouraged and aided by the work of NMPF government relations staffers Paul Bleiberg and Claudia Larson, who coordinated with other NMPF staff and across the dairy community to work with lawmakers on dairy’s behalf.

With Washington policymakers working around the clock, many from home, “it’s kind of like, what day is a weekend, what day is a weekday. But we’ve been having many conversations on Capitol Hill, on the House side, on the Senate side, folks in USDA,” said Bleiberg, NMPF’s vice president for government relations, in an NMPF podcast. “And of course, with our own membership, because everybody is worried about the situation, everybody wants to know what’s going to happen here because people have to get answers.”

Beyond the main stimulus bill, the second coronavirus package that passed Congress included additional funding and flexibility for nutrition programs — specifically, an additional $1.2 billion for nutrition programs. It also allows states and USDA to waive administrative requirements for SNAP and WIC as well as group-setting meal requirements for school meal and adult and childcare meal programs. The first aid plan was relatively smaller and did not address agriculture.

The NMPF government affairs team continues to work closely with both chambers of Congress and USDA, encouraging additional actions that help ensure dairy producers and workers continue to feed Americans without interruption and that families facing food insecurity have access to nutritious food, including the healthy milk many have access to most readily through nutrition programs. It’s also closely coordinating with government affairs staff from other cooperatives and dairy organizations and actively seeking feedback and ideas from members, including by leading a conference call with NMPF communications staff that included cooperative government relations and communications representatives.

NMPF will continue its multi-front approach to best address dairy’s needs and looks forward to working with Congress and the Trump Administration on additional responses anticipated in coming weeks.

Source: NMPF

Upstate dairy farmer brings joy to sick Pa. boy with adorable calf video

An Upstate New York dairy farmer recently sent a video featuring an adoring calf licking and nibbling his ears to raise the spirits of a sick Pennsylvania youngster who was hospitalized with a high fever.

The farmer, Nathan Chittenden, whose family runs Dutch Hollow Farm in Stuyvesant N.Y. in Albany County, was made aware of the boy’s condition due to the farm’s affiliation with the American Dairy Association North East. The group, which serves dairy farmers throughout the Northeast, is dedicated to raising awareness of dairy farms, how they work and their importance in society.

In response to school closures earlier this month, the group encouraged kids stuck at home to use the association’s website to take virtual tours of three dairy farms. A comment from an appreciative Collegetown, Pa. mother was posted on the group’s Facebook page, noting that A.J., her sick, 4-year-old son, loves cows.

Between milking 800 cows to produce more than 6,000 gallons of milk to keep up with grocery demands, Chittenden filmed a video featuring some lovable calves and sent it to the Pennsylvania family, along with posting it on the dairy association’s Facebook page.


Nate Chittenden

Dairy farmer Nate Chittenden, whose parents and brothers run Dutch Hollow Farm in Stuyvesant N.Y., is shown with his immediate family and one of his favorite calves.

Chittendon said the mom and her son were thrilled.

“He sent me a video message back, thanking me. He loves cows and wants to come visit here and kiss them as soon as he can,” Chittenden said.

The family declined to be interviewed and Chittenden said he wanted to respect their privacy. A spokesman for the dairy association said the boy is currently “doing much better” and tested negative for the coronavirus.

“I think we’re all feeling the social isolation of this (coronavirus pandemic),” Chittenden said. “Anything we can do to reach out to people that need a pick-me-up, that’s the least we can do.”


‘Remove that video straight away’ – farmer reports PETA

Dairy farmer Peter Hynes is demanding that the animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) UK removes a video of his daughter from their Twitter profile.

In a public address on his own Twitter profile, Hynes says the group did not have his permission to use the video. The video itself features one of Hynes’ daughters reading to calves on their family farm.

While Hynes acknowledges that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, he points out that the organisation did not have his permission to use the video.

Full apology

“I’m demanding that you remove that video straight away, I do not agree with it in any way nor do you have any permission to use it,” Hynes said on Twitter.

“I’m also demanding a full, public apology for myself, my family and especially my daughter…”

“You constantly discuss about things being exploited, you’re exploiting my daughter today. Shame on you for exploiting my daughter to promote your own ways.”

Hynes says he has reported the Tweet to Twitter.

Dairy farmer Peter Hynes disputes Peta’s use of his Twitter video featuring one of his daughters.

PETA UK posted the video with a caption that includes the lines: “Sadly, most cows on dairy farms are slaughtered when they’re 5 or 6. We hope that these babies will be spared the horrors of the abattoir.”

A number of farmers have joined the social media debate and pledged their support to Hynes, saying they have also reported the content.

PETA UK has been contacted for comment.


Jersey Canada’s Head Office Closed

Jersey Canada’s physical location will be closed until at least April 8th to comply with the Ontario Government’s mandatory order. However, staff will be working remotely and still available during regular office hours. Please bear with us during this time, as our capacity to respond in our usual timely manner may be affected.

This is a great opportunity to ensure all your registrations and transfers are up to date!

Visit the Jersey Canada website.

The Elanco Foundation Announces Efforts to Support Food Security Amidst COVID-19 Crisis

Today, the recently-formed Elanco Foundation pledged more than $700,000 to help fight rising food insecurity challenges due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The funds will support organizations and food banks in communities across Elanco Animal Health’s (NYSE: ELAN) footprint, including Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, the European Food Banks Federation and food banks in Winslow, Maine, Ft. Dodge, Iowa, Clinton, Ind., the Kansas City area, and Greenfield, Ind. communities. The Elanco Foundation will continue to monitor the emerging food security issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis in other regions of the globe.

“In this time of uncertainty, the health and well-being of our employees, customers, animals and the communities where we operate are our top priority,” said Jeff Simmons, Elanco president and CEO. “Such an unprecedented time underscores the critical importance of a safe, affordable food supply, particularly meat, milk and eggs. And the needs are growing. There is no better time than during an urgent philanthropic need to launch our newly created Elanco Foundation to deliver on our promise of health by increasing access to healthy animal protein for all people. We challenge everyone to help us ‘fill the banks.’”

“The COVID-19 outbreak, both globally and in our own backyard, is making food access difficult for many families,” said Kristin Bloink, Board chair of the Elanco Foundation, and vice president, Global Research and External Innovation at Elanco. “Because the Elanco Foundation is dedicated to two causes – food security and human-animal bond – we knew we needed to find a way to help the communities where we work and live during this unprecedented time.”

In Indiana, where Elanco’s global headquarters are located, the company is leading a coalition to raise $1.6M to feed 10,000 families with children in the Indianapolis Public School (IPS) system for the next eight weeks. Eight in 10 IPS kids struggle with food security. Through the efforts of Gleaners Food Bank, buses are delivering emergency food boxes to a variety of IPS locations. The funds from Elanco Foundation will meet food needs for about 2,500 IPS families over the next eight weeks.

“In recent weeks, Gleaners has been asked to step up and serve. Thanks to the generosity of organizations like the Elanco Foundation, we have been able to do so,” shares John Elliott, president and CEO of Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. “We’ve more than doubled distribution at our onsite pantry. We’re adding mobile pantries in a variety of communities in our service area, and partnering with IPS to ensure that families who need help, receive it. We’re grateful to Elanco for leading this corporate challenge to ensure that no one – and particularly no child – is left hungry due to this pandemic.”

About the Elanco Foundation

Established in 2019 by Elanco Animal Health, the Elanco Foundation amplifies Elanco’s impact by improving the well-being of people and animals around the world. These efforts align with the focus of the new Elanco Foundation, which is committed to philanthropic investments, strategic partnerships and volunteer engagements connected to food security and the human-animal bond. Food security efforts will strive to improve health of people through increased access to animal protein from food systems, sustainable farming, and protein education. Human-animal bond efforts aim to ensure individuals have the animal companionship they need to thrive, including focus on service dogs and animal-assisted interventions.

Elanco’s corporate social responsibility platform, Elanco’s Healthy Purpose™, will work alongside the Elanco Foundation to discover and advance the ways that improving animal health can help address global issues in mental health, physical health and the health of the planet. The Foundation seeks to drive near-term results and sustainable solutions through the power of animals, the promise of health and the potential for change.

To learn more about the Elanco Foundation, visit

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