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Immigration Raid: Guatemalan Worker Arrested on Dairy Farm

A dairy farmer says seven federal immigration officers came onto his property without permission, arrested a Guatemalan worker without producing a warrant and handcuffed the farmer when he video-recorded their actions.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, tweeted that she was “deeply troubled” by what happened and called for an immediate investigation.

Farmer John Collins said officers handcuffed worker Marcial de Leon Aguilar in his milk house in central New York on Wednesday morning. Aguilar lives on the farm with his wife and children. Collins said Aguilar has proper documentation to work there and has taxes withheld from his paychecks.

At his initial court appearance in U.S. District Court in Syracuse on Thursday, Aguilar was charged with unlawfully re-entering the U.S. following previous removal and was held without bail pending a hearing on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. It wasn’t clear if he had a lawyer who could comment.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement Thursday saying Aguilar was lawfully arrested by deportation officers under an “administrative arrest warrant for immigration violations.” ICE said it has removed Aguilar from the U.S. three times, most recently in January 2014.

Officials said Aguilar has criminal convictions for reckless aggravated assault and illegal re-entry.

Collins said Aguilar’s pregnant wife recently was caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally with the couple’s four children and has been meeting with ICE officers as she seeks asylum because of violence in Guatemala. Guatemala, which is in Central America just south of Mexico, has been ravaged by shootings and gang brutality in recent years.

Collins said he tried to take photos and video as Aguilar was led to a vehicle but officers grabbed his phone, threw it in the road and handcuffed him, threatening to arrest him for hindering a federal investigation. He said they released him before driving off with Aguilar.

“This was something you see on TV,” Collins told the Syracuse Post-Standard . “You don’t expect it to be here.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, said he’s concerned with a “dramatic increase” in ICE raids and “overly aggressive tactics.” He didn’t specifically reference Aguilar’s arrest.

Cuomo said this year’s state budget allocates $10 million to the Liberty Defense Fund, a program launched last year to provide legal assistance for immigrants targeted by ICE raids.


Family farms decimated by Wisconsin’s dairy crisis

Kyle Kurt pauses by one of his favorite cows rolling over and looking at him in Dane, Wis. Kurt, has been dairy farming since high school. He has a beautiful herd of cows, and he has given everything to keep the farm going. But now in his third year of fallen milk prices, he’s selling the cows and quitting dairy. Monday he has a farm liquidation auction.(Photo: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

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

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

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

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



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

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

Entire communities are falling apart as small farms go under, said John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders, an advocacy group based in Madison, Wis. Grain mills, car dealerships and hardware stores suffer. The local tax base erodes. Churches and schools struggle or close.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You need a good year to make up for what you lost,” Kurt said, figuring that he has used up about $150,000 in his farm equity to weather this downturn. “It’s at the point where it would be reckless for me to keep going and burn through everything I have worked for the last 18 years,” he added.

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

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

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

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

Legal wrangling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I just walked away,” he said.

More debt than ever

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 12 bankruptcy was created by Congress following the farm crisis of the 1980s, specifically for farms and commercial fishermen. It allows farmers to “cram down” secured debt, such as land mortgages, to a more affordable level. The debt limit for a Chapter 12 filing is $4,135,150.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


European milk market changes impact US farmers

Rock-bottom prices are being paid to farmers for raw milk right now across the United States.

In many cases, $16 per hundredweight (approximately nine gallons of raw milk) doesn’t begin to cover the cost to create it from feeding the cow to milking and storage. “All farmers are feeling this impact,” explained Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University field specialist for dairy product economies. “It is a bleak picture for the next 12 months.”

In Europe, a literal lake of milk is being held in hopes of raising the price paid to farmers. In fact, Brussels purchased a substantial stockpile of milk in hopes of raising the price, or at least stabilizing it with no impact. Brussels has, in fact, been buying up milk since 2015. In addition, the European Commission has purchased 380,000 metric tons of skim milk powder since 2015 with public money and stockpiled it in warehouses across Europe. To put it in perspective, 380,000 metric tons is what the country of France produced in a single year.

Chairman of the German Dairy Association Romuald Schaber explained that the powder is anything but powerful for Europe right now. “The powder is the problem,” he stated in an address to German leaders in early January. “It’s the Sword of Damocles hanging over us all.”

When milk farmers were floundering in 2015, Europe’s Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan stepped in. The Agriculture Commission handed out over $1 billion in aid through several programs to farmers because of what was described as “the perfect storm.” Milk production quotas were eliminated at the same time as Russia began a ban on imports of fresh European foods. The once stable market crumbled as milk flooded the area and had nowhere to go.

Of that aid package, over $640 million was used to purchase skim milk powder at a fixed price from farmers. This purchase may have given farmers cash at the time, but it lowered the value of powdered skim milk from 1,720 pounds per metric ton in January 2014 to 1,400 pounds in January 2018.

With large stockpiles and excess milk in the market, Europe is no longer importing US milk or products as it once did.

Add into the equation that Americans drink less milk than they did just three years ago, a trend that is expected to continue through 2020. The trend is expected to level out at a yearly consumption of 10 gallons per person in the United States, down from 29 gallons per person in the mid-1980s.

Mintel, a market research firm, noted that it is non-dairy milk consumption that is on the rise. “Growth of non-dairy milk will continue as consumers perceive it as a better-for-you alternative to dairy milk, with more adults and families opting for plant-based beverages,” Mintel stated in their research released in February 2018. “Non-dairy milk sales are expected to grow to over $3 billion per year by 2020 while US dairy milk sales will decrease to $15.9 billion by 2020, an 11 percent drop.”

A glimmer of hope still exists for US farmers as a new tariff fee set by China is down by four percent, from 12 to 8, for cheese and from 20 percent to 0 on protein formula for people with nutritional needs. In addition, prepackaged infant food tariffs will decline from 15 percent to 2 percent.

China’s demand for cheese has grown exponentially since 2016 when imports totaled 213.7 million pounds, up 133 percent over 2015 numbers. At the end of 2017, imports of butter, cheddar by the block and barrel as well as Grade A milk were all on the rise from the US to China. However, new tariffs on aluminum and other manufactured goods being imposed by the United States could hamper this upswing as 2018 progresses.

Source: The Budget

Upstate NY dairy farmer says ICE officers stormed his farm without a warrant, cuffed him, threw his phone

Immigration officers stormed John Collins’ barn without a warrant, he said, then cuffed him and threw his phone when he questioned them. (provided photo)

John Collins was standing outside the milk house at his dairy farm this morning when he heard yelling coming from inside. He ran in, he says, and saw his worker, Marcial de Leon Aguilar, pinned up against the window by armed men.

The men did not identify themselves and were screaming at Aguilar, Collins said.

“I run and say, ‘What the hell is going on in here?'” Collins said.

Then the men told Collins they were officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He asked them for a warrant or some paperwork to explain what they were doing. They had none, he said, so he ordered them to get off his property and leave Aguilar alone.

As this happened, Collins said, Aguilar’s children watched. They were waiting nearby for the school bus to come. Collins said the officers put Aguilar in handcuffs and took him across the rural road to their vehicles. At least seven officers had come onto the small farm, Collins said.

Adrian Smith, a spokesman for ICE, said he was looking into the situation and would comment when he knew more.

Collins said he followed the officers cross the street and asked them why they were taking Aguilar, but he didn’t get a straight answer. He also continued to ask for paperwork, but was not offered any by the ICE officers. 

Aguilar and his wife, Virginia, are Guatemalan. Aguilar has worked for Collins for about nine months, Collins said. Aguilar, his wife, and his children live in a home on Collins’ property.

Collins said Aguilar had proper documentation to work for him. And he’s been paying taxes since working for Collins.

Aguilar’s wife, Virginia, and the couple’s four children were not in the U.S. until recently. She was caught crossing the border, illegally, with the children. Collins said she has been meeting with ICE officers since she arrived, and is seeking asylum for herself and the children because of the violence in Guatemala. Collins said Virginia met with ICE officers as recently as last week, and has another meeting scheduled for this Friday. At times, Aguilar has accompanied his wife, who is pregnant, to some of the meetings, Collins said.

Collins said he isn’t sure why ICE officers came for Aguilar and he was upset that they came onto his property without any notification or permission and roughed up Aguilar in front of his four children.

Just like police officers, ICE officers are required to provide a warrant before they go onto private property.

“ICE needs a warrant. If they go on someone’s property without one, they are violating the law,” said immigration law expert and Cornell law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr.

Collins said the officers gave him nothing when he continued to ask.

Collins followed the ICE officers across as they took Aguilar, in handcuffs, to their three waiting vehicles.

“I told them you can’t come in here without a warrant,” Collins said. “They can’t take someone and throw them up against the wall because of the color of their skin.”

Collins attempted to take photos and video with his phone. When he did that, he said, one of the ICE officers grabbed his phone and threw it into the road. Then they handcuffed him and threatened to arrest him for hindering a federal investigation, he said.

But then the officers uncuffed him and left with Aguilar in the backseat of a dark Dodge Caravan.

“This was something you see on TV,” Collins said. “You don’t expect it to be here.”


Dairy back in NAFTA’s crosshairs

An updated NAFTA must include increased access to Canada’s protected dairy market, four Republican senators said Tuesday – just days before ministers from all three countries are expected to meeting Washington, D.C.

In a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canada’s Ambassador to Washington David MacNaughton, Senators Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania), Michael Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) and Cory Gardner (Colorado) called on the Canadian government to open up its dairy market as renegotiation talks move forward.

“As lawmakers who have championed free trade and do not want to shrink the size of the trading relationship between our two countries, we were encouraged to learn of your concerns about trade policies that are “zero sum” and “explicitly protectionist,” the letter reads.

“Therefore, in that same spirit of strong free trade, we respectfully request that you prioritize reforming and liberalizing Canada’s protectionist dairy policies.”

Canada’s supply management system – which regulates the production of dairy, eggs and poultry – has found itself in American crosshairs during ongoing NAFTA talks.

The United States has demanded Canada eliminate its entire supply management system within a decade and alter its milk classification system.

Canada has repeatedly said that’s a non-starter. Both Freeland and MacNaughton have repeatedly defended the supply management system, arguing the United States currently has a significant dairy surplus compared to Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also pushed back against the demand.

All three NAFTA ministers are expected to meet in Washington, D.C. this week, a senior government source said. The meeting follows several days of negotiations by the three country’s chief negotiators and other officials in the American capital earlier this month.

Canada, Mexico and the United States have been renegotiating the decades-old trade agreement since August 2017. Lighthizer has said he hopes to have the deal finalized before the upcoming Mexican presidential election in July and U.S. mid-term elections in November.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw the United States from the trade pact. He has also vowed to secure a trade deal that supports American farmers.

The senators’ letter follows a similar request sent to Lighthizer from leading Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer on Monday, which also called for changes to Canada’s dairy system.


Source: iPolitics

25 Cows Die in Wisconsin Barn Fire

A dairy barn is a total loss after a fire that began near Stratford Wednesday afternoon.

Stratford Fire Chief Bill Griesbach said the barn was fully engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived. Seven area fire departments were requested to respond to the barn fire on the 1700 block of Eau Pleine Road in the Township of Cleveland near Stratford.

The fire was reported around 2:30 pm.

No official cause of the fire has been determined yet, but
Chief Griesbach said early indications suggest it was electrical.

“On the west side of the barn, they have a milk house there. They have a heater in the milk house but nothing is definite for sure,” Griesbach said.

An excavator was brought in to tear down a couple of silos that were also severely damaged in the blaze.

The family of the barn milks about 125 cows, and estimate about 25 dairy cows did not make it out.

Crews from Edgar, McMillian, Hewitt, Spencer, Mosinee and Auburndale all were requested to assist Straford.

Source: WSAW

Armenia dairy has roof collapse from snow and ice

A look inside Central Sands Dairy during an open house in 2012

An ice and snow build up from the weekend destroyed parts of the roof of a barn at the Central Sands Dairy Monday. 

Teams and the dairy and Wysocki Produce Farm demonstrated great compassion and urgency in assisting cows while cleaning up holding pen and free stall areas that sustained damage, said Tim Huffcutt, spokesman for the Wysocki Family of Farms, in a news release. 

More than 100 people contributed to a coordinated response effort, enabling milking operations to resume Monday afternoon, the release said. 

“Our first priority following the roof collapse was the safety of all involved, including animals housed at the dairy,” Huffcut said. “Sadly, because of the roof collapse there was a loss of cattle. 

A veterinarian specializing in large animal care euthanized several cows who sustained critical injuries, Huffcut said. 

Some cows are at an on-site hospital barn and are receiving treatment and ongoing care coordinated by a veterinary team. Other cows have been moved to stall space away from the area where heavy snow accumulated on the roof, according to the release.

There were multiple reports of roofs collapsing across the state, according to a USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin story. Four people and livestock were trapped in a barn in Denmark when the roof collapsed. One farm, near Bear Creek, lost 125 cows, according to the report. 

Huffcut did not say how many cows were lost in the collapse at Central Sands Dairy. 

The Wysocki Family of Companies plans to build another concentrated animal feeding operation, known as a CAFO, in the Wood County town of Saratoga. The dairy is expected to maintain 5,300 animals on 7,000 acres. Wysocki took the town to court and won when Saratoga officials refused to issue building permits for the proposed dairy’s buildings.

A civil case that could decide the proposed 3,500-cow dairy’s future is in the hands of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. At issue is whether the family-run company can use about 6,000 acres connected to the dairy for cropland.


Roof collapse kills several cattle in Wisconsin

As people in Marathon County continue to dig themselves out from last week’s massive snowstorm, Seehafer’s Acres in Marshfield is forced to rebuild a barn that collapsed killing several of its cattle.

Owner, Ken Seehafer says no humans were hurt during the incident, but people were inside when it happened including his son, Jesse, and grandchild. The barn was not even 15-years-old. “It could have been so much worse,” Ken said.

Jesse Seehafer took over his father’s farm after his father retired. He was in the barn milking cows when he saw the roof cave in. “We heard a bunch of noise, we thought the snow was sliding off the roof; then we looked up and saw the roof fell in,” said Jesse.

Luckily Seehafer’s Acres did have insurance which will cover the damage to the roof.

In the meantime, nearly 270 cows have been relocated to the Roger Ross farm in Marathon County.


Suicide Rates Among Farmers are Alarmingly High. Can Federal Legislation Help?

The STRESS Act would provide support, but some farmers say it’s little more than a band-aid and real policy changes are needed.

In a video posted to YouTube in 2014, Justin McClane gives the camera two thumbs up. He skips in a circle, holding the hands of fellow members of the Washington Young Farmers Coalition (WYFC). In a letter posted to Facebook in 2017, those peers, now heartbroken, informed their community of McClane’s death by suicide, expressing shock and sadness to have lost a colleague and friend at age 30.

Lucia Wyss, WYFC’s coordinator and a grain and pig farmer, said that before McClane died, it was common for farmers in the area to talk about hopelessness, isolation, and burnout among their peers. But, she added, “It just became horribly clear that the most extreme kind of burnout is suicide. It never occurred to us to talk about suicide and mental health explicitly.”

That’s changing now across the country. Over the past year, media reports in Newsweek, the New York Times, and an in-depth piece in The Guardian have called attention to alarming rates of suicide among farmers and farmworkers, from grain growers in the Midwest to dairy farmers in the Northeast.

As a result, lawmakers are responding with bills aimed at increasing access to behavioral health services like counseling and suicide hotlines. Washington state passed one bill last month, and advocates say other states are working on developing their own laws.

On the national front, Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN) also introduced the Stemming the Tide of Rural Economic Stress and Suicide (STRESS) Act (H.R. 5259) last month, which would allocate federal funding to build and strengthen a national network of farmer support services. The bill already has significant bipartisan support in Congress and is being endorsed by a diverse group of 36 organizations involved in agriculture and rural life.

Experts and advocates say the legislation is desperately needed and could provide real help. But some affected farmers say it’s little more than a band-aid on a much deeper wound caused by years of policies that have favored consolidation and led to volatile markets, devastating price drops, and the hollowing-out of rural communities.

The Scope of the Problem

When reporting on the scope of the problem, most rely on data from a 2012 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that breaks down U.S. suicide rates by occupation. People working in “farming, fishing, and forestry” had the highest rates compared to all other industries, at 84.5 per 100,000. That number is more than five times the national rate and is comparable to high suicide rates among military veterans.

While more recent data doesn’t exist, farmers and advocates point to anecdotal evidence that suggests suicide rates among farmers have been rising. Last spring, the National Farmers Union (NFU) launched an online resource called the Farm Crisis Center because “we really started hearing from a lot of our members that there are real, growing problems and there are a lot of farmers in crisis,” said Matt Perdue, NFU’s government relations representative.

Andrew Bahrenburg, national policy director at the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC),agreed. “Hotlines, farmer advocates—they’re all saying this getting worse, that there’s an increased demand for these services and we need more resources.”

While risk factors for farmers include isolation in rural areas, lack of control, and lack of access to behavioral health services, most farmers and advocates point to extreme financial stressors as the main cause of the problem. Corn and soy production is high, meaning prices are low. And overall net farm income has decreased 50 percent for U.S. farmers since 2013, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicts it will drop further, to negative $1,316 in 2018.

A looming trade war is already affecting farmers in Middle America. The price of milk, which is set by the federal government, has dropped so low that dairy farmers are being paid significantly less for their milk than it costs to produce it.

Brenda Cochran and her husband have been milking cows since 1975 in Maryland and Pennsylvania and now operate a dairy farm in Northwestern Pennsylvania. On their last delivery, they were paid $14.39 per hundredweight, which means they lost about $7 per hundredweight, she said—fully one-third of their production costs.

Cochran, who runs Farm Women United with fellow farmer Tina Carlin, lists three deaths by suicide she’s heard about in her community since February: an Amish farmer, a farmer who was in a leadership position in a dairy association, and an agribusinessman who was carrying debilitating debt.

“We can’t solve this problem on our own because everyone is depressed, everyone is broken,” she said. “I understand why farmers are committing suicide. It’s been going on for so long. You are talking to a depressed farmer right now.”

What the STRESS Act Would Do

The proposed federal act wouldn’t improve the markets for farmers, or help them stay in business. But it would help provide behavioral health services that may help some people weather the hard times.

Many organizations and individuals have long been working to get such services in place. Michael Rosmann, a former organic farmer and rancher in Iowa and a clinical psychologist, has been at the forefront of a movement to recognize and prioritize “agricultural behavioral health” for decades.

In 2001, he became director of Agriwellness, a nonprofit formed as a network of counseling and hotlines in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. The program helped many farmers, but struggled with funding. Rosmann then got involved in an effort to use the model to develop a national plan called the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). FRSAN was included when the 2008 Farm Bill passed, but legislators never allocated the discretionary funding to launch it, so the program expired before it could take off.

The STRESS Act, proposed as a marker bill attached to the larger 2018 Farm Bill, would essentially just reauthorize the establishment of FRSAN. The bill’s broad organizational support and bipartisan co-sponsors—four other Republicans and five Democrats—suggest it has a good chance of inclusion in the final bill. Another promising sign is the fact that Washington state’s law aimed at preventing farmer suicide was passed unanimously in both the state house and senate and signed quickly by the governor.

However, the STRESS Act still would rely on discretionary funding for FRSAN. “We think we need to get it included [in the farm bill] any way we can and discretionary funding is best way to get bipartisan support,” NFU’s Perdue said. “Then we’ll have to keep the drumbeat up with the appropriations committees.”

Rosmann believes a fully funded FRSAN could really help farmers across the country, since many effective programs already exist but are struggling to stay afloat. And the network would rely on solutions that have already been shown to help.

“We know hotlines are used by farm people when they’re free, confidential, and available at all hours of the day and night and staffed by counselors who understand agriculture,” he explained. “Farm and ranch people often feel like they want somebody who understands their circumstances.”

Rosmann said he could see FRSAN having an impact comparable to the national AgrAbility program, which was established to help farmers with physical disabilities continue farming and reduce injuries. “Just like we help people with physical injuries, we need something that addresses the emotional toll,” he said.

Some farmers, however, resent that the focus is being shifted to counseling when what they really need is cash to pay their debts. Hotlines and counseling may help, but they won’t fix the deeper problems that are causing small farms and rural communities to collapse, leading to intense psychological distress. For example, when dairy cooperative Agri-Mark sent out a letter to its producers informing them that prices for milk would drop again for the third year in a row and included a list of suicide hotlines, many saw it as a slap in the face.

“Why do we need a STRESS Act? What is going on? Farmers don’t want to be taken through this. They need it to be fixed,” Cochran said. Instead, she proposed setting a limit so that the price of milk can’t drop below $20 per hundredweight. “The federal government is forcing traditional farms out of business, and there’s no safety net. Why would you even need a safety net if the government wasn’t throwing you off a cliff?”


Source: Civil Eats

Holstein Young Breeders Secures the Support of Semex

Michael Dennison, Semex UK National Sales Manager

Semex, the innovative genetic solutions company, is investing in the future of young dairy farmers by renewing its principal sponsorship with Holstein Young Breeders (HYB). With a belief that people are the cornerstone of success, Semex is fuelled by a passion for those working within the industry and, by supporting aspiring young breeders through HYB, the business is helping to create growth and opportunity for British dairying. 

As Principal Sponsor, Semex will be supporting all the major HYB events, including National Competitions Day, the Weekend Rally and the All Breeds All Britain Calf Show, as well as a plethora of prestigious HYB Awards such as the Littlestar and President’s Medal Awards. The support of Semex will also be instrumental in funding international trips for young breeders including, in particular, a visit to the Royal Winter Fair each year in Toronto. 

As part of the sponsorship package Semex will have the opportunity to sit on the judging panels for national awards and competitions, host workshops and seminars and be at the forefront of the organisation’s ethos to engage, innovate, educate and equip the next generation of dairy farmers – many of who have the potential to progress onto international cattle breeding platforms – for a prosperous future. 

Michael Dennison, UK National Sales Manager for Semex said, “We are delighted to support HYB. The members are the future of our ever-changing industry and at Semex we recognise the talent and dedication of HYB members and will as always support them to push forward in their lives and ultimately help shape the industry over time.”

Holstein Young Breeders, the next generation of Holstein UK, is widely considered to be one of the most forward-thinking youth organisations in British agriculture. HYB boasts approximately 1,400 members up to 26 years of age, forming 24 regional Clubs throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. HYB provides members with fantastic opportunities and experiences. Through its practical learning of essential skills such as stock judging and linear assessment, HYB prepares young breeders for a positive livestock husbandry and showmanship future. 

Miriam Bagley, Events & National HYB Coordinator for Holstein UK, concluded, “Holstein Young Breeders is extremely fortunate to have the support of Semex. With a shared commitment to innovating and investing in growth and opportunity for the dairy industry, this is an ideal partnership. Semex has an unwavering determination for success and we’re looking forward to promoting their services to our members.”


Source: Holstein-UK

Canadian dairy processor expanding its Michigan facility

Agropur, Inc, a Canadian dairy processor is expanding its West Michigan facility. The processor has announced a three-year, $21.3 million expansion project at their Wyoming plant to add new equipment and make updates. The Michigan Economic Development Cooperation has awarded a $434,000 grant for the project. The Canadian-based company has 39 dairy plants in North America and processes more than 13 billion pounds of milk. This year they also announced expansion plans for their Lake Norden, South Dakota cheese plant.


US absence from TPP ‘benefits Australia’s farmers’

Australian farmers would “hate” to see the new Trans-Pacific Partnership renegotiated to allow the US to enter, and say America’s absence benefits local agriculture.

The comments come after Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said there would be “pros and cons” for Australia if the US joined the TPP, indicating beef farmers could be worse off if Donald Trump struck a deal to enter the trade pact.

Mr Ciobo also said Australia would not agree to any US requests to strengthen pharmaceutical patent protections — part of initial negotiations when the US was involved — which would increase medicine costs in Australia. “Australia will not ­accept a situation where we would see an impact on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or the pricing of drugs in Australia — we have been firm on that,” he said.

National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson said while her organisation was an advocate of free trade and wanted the US engaged in global trade, it did not want to see the TPP-11, signed this year without America, altered. “The fact the US is not at the moment in the TPP gives our farmers a distinct advantage … particularly, for example, Japan and particularly when we’re talking about beef and grain and dairy,” she told The Australian.

“The US (is) one of our biggest competitors … and under the terms negotiated in the TPP-11 we have favourable access to markets like Japan. We would hate to see anything renegotiated or in fact any delay in renegotiation due to the US now deciding that they wanted to come into this agreement.”

Mr Ciobo said on Sunday farmers could lose their advantage in gaining access to the lucrative Japanese market if the US joined the TPP. “We’ve got great access under a lot of the bilateral (free-trade agreements) that we have — this will be a further enhancement of that market access, particularly, for example, beef to Japan,” Mr Ciobo said.

“Now if the US isn’t part of it, well that is good for Australia relative to the US, because it means our beef farmers are getting better access than US beef farmers. But it is also important, equally, to look at this in aggregate terms to (see) what it actually means taking everything into account, including services exports (and) goods exports, as well as investment opportunities.

“It is not as cut and dry as just saying, that is what we know about agriculture — we have to look at it more broadly.”

Mr Ciobo said the US was interested in joining the TPP but only if the deal was substantially renegotiated, something the signatories would be reluctant to agree to. “That isn’t saying we don’t want the Americans back in — we do. But what I am saying is I can’t see us picking all the stitching that brought this deal together to accommodate the US at this point,” he told Sky News.


Source: The Australian

Blizzard Evelyn Buries Upper Midwest Dairy Farms

The calendar says April, but Old Man Winter is still making his presence known nearly four weeks after the official start of spring. A literal perfect storm hit Wisconsin and Minnesota this past weekend, coming at a time when some farmers were usually starting to get into the fields. Blizzard Evelyn dumped as much as two feet of snow throughout the upper Midwest. 

Over the weekend, blizzard warnings stretched from southwestern Nebraska to Michigan, blanketing fields with inches of snow. The heavy snow and strong winds made roads nearly impossible to navigate. Drifting was significant as well. Normally snow drifts are relatively easy to manage, but with the wet, heavy nature of this snow made any drift dangerous if it sat on any building structure.  Strong wind and heavy snow closed major highways in parts of South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. Several dairies in Wisconsin will be repairing barn roofs as a result. 

The roof of a barn collapsed at Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, near Kewaunee, Wis. east of Green Bay. According to the dairy’s Facebook post, no people or animals were injured in the collapse and they are thankful for the help of friends, neighbours and county officials who helped.

A five-foot drift built up on the roof of the milking parlor at Kinnard Farms, near Casco in northeast Wisconsin. With more snow in the forecast, a team of 12 men worked two hours in 30 mph winds to clear the roof.


A rooftop collapsed at Cedar Red Dairy Barn in Denmark. Four people had been working at the time of the collapse but safely escaped. Cows were also trapped inside, but were found uninjured after being rescued.

Reports show better weather for the middle of the week, with freezing rain and snow forecast for the weekend.

Number of Mycoplasma bovis infected farms jumps to 30

The cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been confirmed on two new properties, lifting the total number of infected farms to 30.

Both new properties are dairy farms in the Ashburton area and connected to already known infected properties, the Ministry for Primary Industries said.

The regional breakdown of infected properties now stands at one each at Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury, six in Ashburton, 10 in South Canterbury/North Otago, two in Otago (Middlemarch) and 10 in Southland.

MPI said all are linked to the original infected properties via animal movements, and have been caused by close animal contact.

M bovis is a bacterial disease which causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal.

Once infected, animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness.

In late March, MPI said about 22,300 cattle will be culled in an effort to contain the disease.

At an average cost of $1650 per milking cow, the value of the cattle would be approximately $36.5 million.

However, many are lesser value calves, and when the cows are sent to meat processors, they will be worth between $800 and $1000.

At the beginning of the month, officials said $2.6m had so far been paid out to affected farmers, and they projected a further $60m of liabilities. Operating costs to that date were $35m.


Source: Stuff

Trump Says US Could Rejoin TPP if Deal Improved. How Hard Would it Be?

U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he would reconsider joining the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, if it were a “substantially better” deal than the one offered to President Barack Obama.

U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement about Syria at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Here is a look at the state of play in the negotiations and the conditions needed to be in place for the United States to join an agreement Trump scrapped as soon as he took office.    


The original 12-member agreement was known as the TPP. It was a signature trade policy of Obama, but he was unable to secure Congressional support for the deal. It was thrown into limbo when Trump withdrew from the deal three days after his inauguration in January 2017, a move he said was aimed at protecting U.S. jobs.

Following the U.S. withdrawal, the remaining 11 countries renegotiated parts of the TPP, removing some of Washington’s demands. In March, they signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), also known as TPP-11.

The trade deal becomes effective when ratified by six of the signatories. It will reduce tariffs in countries that together amount to more than 13 percent of the global economy – a total of $10 trillion in gross domestic product. With the United States, it would have represented 40 percent.

The members of CPTTP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and  Vietnam.



** Republican senators met Trump on April 12 and he told them that he has asked United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow to re-open negotiations.

** Trump on Twitter, April 12   

** Trump in CNBC interview, January 25

“I would do TPP if we made a much better deal than we had. We had a horrible deal.”


It would not simply be a case of reopening the original TPP deal, given the remaining 11 changed it and Trump has said he would seek a better deal.

“It’s very, very unlikely that you’re just going to have negotiation on the existing text and have the U.S. say ‘oh, we want those suspended articles re-instated and we’ll just sign,” said Charles Finny, a Wellington-based trade consultant and a former New Zealand government trade negotiator.

“It’s probably going to be quite a long negotiation and it’s probably going to be called something else and it’s probably going to look quite different from TPP.”

The CPTPP is expected to be ratified early next year, which is the earliest the United States could formally start negotiations to join. All 11 nations must agree to admit a new member, giving each of them a veto.


The 11 countries suspended about 20 provisions in the original deal. Many of them were pushed by Washington, including terms that strengthened intellectual property (IP) protection for certain pharmaceutical products, extended the length of copyrights and reduced barriers for express shipments companies.

The TPP-11 legal text is 584 pages, versus the 622 pages original which included the United States. Eighteen of the pages dropped were in the IP chapter, which Washington saw as very important and was one of the hardest to negotiate.

A possible U.S. return to the deal would also require reopening negotiations on some sore points for existing members including Japan, such as tariffs for pick-up trucks and quotas for how much of auto manufacturing has to be done within the signing countries. Japan wants to keep sourcing auto parts from economies not in the pact, such as Thailand.

Aside from this, Washington might want to push for further concessions on agricultural products, which are mainly produced in states that Trump won in the 2016 election. Rice, which Japan sees as a national security staple, might be one of the toughest items on the negotiation list.

Technically, reinstating the suspended provisions would not be difficult. “Improving” on them is another matter.

“They are suspended on purpose. They (TPP-11 countries) could have canceled them but they chose not to do so,” said Deborah Elms, Founder and Executive Director of Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre and a senior fellow in the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Trade Academy.

“The tricky part is that the United States, especially under this administration, anything that the Obama administration touched, they want re-done…I do not think that there is appetite among the eleven, at least at this point, for complicated renegotiations “

Source: Reuters

America’s Newest Milk Craze – Oat Milk

There’s a new plant milk in town, and it’s started such a craze that coffee shops across the country are struggling to keep up with demand.

It’s called oat milk, and baristas love its light, hearty flavor that lets the java beans take center stage. As more consumers choose plant alternatives to dairy, it’s gotten so popular that just in the last month, some coffee shops were left without oat milk for days, even weeks. To meet demand, producer Oatly Inc. is working with its manufacturing partners to increase output by 50 percent by this summer, said Mike Messersmith, general manager for U.S. operations, which are based in New York.

Oat milk “tastes the best of all the milk alternatives,” said 22-year Micah Lindsey, who works as a barista at an Intelligentsia coffee shop in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. It has a “really creamy texture” that mimics real dairy and works well for latte art, she said.

Plant-based beverages have been stealing market share from dairy for years, and the trend isn’t showing signs of slowing. In 2018, U.S. retail sales of traditional milk are projected to drop 1.2 percent, while alternatives like oat and almond are expected to climb 3 percent, according to researcher Euromonitor. The switch has taken a toll on companies like Dean Foods Co., the largest U.S. dairy producer, which in February unveiled a $150-million plan for cost cutting amid sluggish sales.

Supply Shortage

Dollop Coffee Co., a Chicago chain, began carrying Oatly oat milk in October 2017. Demand is especially growing among customers who are switching from soy milk, said spokesman Nate Furstenau. In March, the shops ran out of oat milk for about two weeks, and the company’s heard from its distributor that shortages could continue over the next month.

Oatly arrived to the American market in September 2016 through Chicago-based company Intelligentsia, which has 11 U.S. coffee houses. It’s now offered at more than 1,000 coffee shops nationwide and is moving onto retail shelves, Messersmith said.

About 13 percent of Intelligentsia drinks are now made with oat milk, for which customers pay a 50-cent premium over dairy milk, according to James McLaughlin, the company’s chief executive officer.

Swedish Milk

Malmo, Sweden-based Oatly started making its product two decades ago based on research from the nation’s Lund University. To make the beverage, the company mixes oats with water then adds a proprietary enzyme to break down starch and sweeten the pot. After that, loose shells from the oats are removed from the liquid base. There are no sugars or thickeners added.

Cartons of Oatly oat milk. Source: Oatly

The dairy industry is lobbying regulators to enforce labeling laws that would stop plant-based beverages from using the word “milk” in branding. The National Milk Producers Federation point out that in Sweden, it’s called an oat “drink.”

“The very same packages sold in the U.S. with terms such as a oat milk or almond milk are not able to use dairy terms when sold overseas,” said Chris Galen, spokesman for the group.

In the meantime, business is booming for plant-based beverage makers like Pacific Foods of Oregon, which is also looking to expand its production of oat milk, according to brand manager Kimberly Nieves. While the company has offered an oat product for 20 years, demand has really taken off recently amid the coffee-shop craze.

“We have seen a surge in demand for our oat products beyond what we were able to supply,” Nieves said.

Takeover Speculation

As consumers drive big changes in the world of agriculture and food, traditional companies have been buying up natural food startups. Campbell Soup Co. last year bought Pacific Foods for $700 million.

Oatly could become a takeover target, said Kenneth Shea, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, citing possible buyers such as PepsiCo Inc., which makes Quaker oats products. PepsiCo didn’t respond to requests for comment on a possible deal.

When asked about the possibility of a takeover, Messersmith said the company still needs to ramp up its production.

“We are at a very early stage,” he said.


Judge orders Oregon dairy to cooperate with auction

A judge has ordered a controversial Oregon dairy not to interfere with the liquidation sale of its cattle herd to satisfy the demands of a creditor.

Morrow County Circuit Judge Jon Lieuallen has entered a preliminary injunction requiring Greg Te Velde, owner of Lost Valley Farm in Boardman, to cooperate with the preparation of an auction scheduled for April 27.

The injunction was requested by Rabobank, a major farm lender that filed a lawsuit seeking to foreclose on the dairy’s assets, which serve as collateral for $60 million in defaulted loans.

However, it’s possible the preliminary injunction won’t be the last word on the proposed auction of 10,500 cows and 4,000 replacement heifers, which is to be conducted by the Toppenish Livestock Commission.

Lieuallen said the order doesn’t prohibit the dairy from filing a petition for bankruptcy protection from its creditors.

The dairy’s obligations to cooperate with the auction would be suspended if the company files for bankruptcy protection, unless Rabobank obtains relief from the automatic stay on debt collection, the judge said.

Lost Valley Farm was controversial even before it began operating a year ago, with environmental groups and others arguing the facility will cause air and water pollution.

Citing unauthorized manure discharge and other violations, the Oregon Department of Agriculture fined the dairy more than $10,000 earlier this year and then filed a lawsuit to stop the facility from generating waste — which would effectively shut down its operations.

That lawsuit was settled when the dairy agreed to generate less than 65,000 gallons of waste a day and maintain open capacity in its manure lagoons.

Lost Valley Farm’s troubles convinced the Tillamook County Creamery Association to terminate a milk-buying contract with the facility.

Even so, Tillamook has continued to buy milk from the dairy to avoid the “environmental and animal health risk” of suddenly halting its operations, though the creamery is requiring additional safety testing.


Cutting out dairy can leave you being lactose-intolerant

Cut out any food group and your body will have a harder time digesting it if you start eating it again.

Go off bread for a while, for example, and you might end up feeling seven months pregnant when you next smash a baguette.

But if you give up dairy, the potential consequences could be more severe, with one professor claiming that you could make yourself lactose intolerant.

Many people are naturally ‘lactose maldigesters’, meaning that they struggle to digest lactose – particularly those in parts of the world where dairy plays a minimal part in the local diet.

Their bodies don’t produce much lactase – the enzyme that breaks down lactose.

As we age, our levels of the enzyme decrease, but the more dairy you eat, the more lactase your gut bacteria produce.

‘The bacteria in our colon need to be fed in order to survive,’ explains Dennis Savaiano, PhD, Meredith Professor of Nutrition Policy at Purdue University.

He tells Well + Good that whatever you feed your gut, those bacteria are going to prosper.

Cutting out dairy can leave you being lactose-intolerant

‘Individuals who are used to eating lactose in their diet have more lactase enzyme [than people don’t eat lactose-containing foods]—we think six to eight times more—and are more efficient at digesting it so they don’t get symptoms.’

So if you are vegan or just don’t want to consume dairy, you might want to continue supping from the plant-based cup.

If, however, you decide that you do want to start consuming animal milk, you can retrain your body to break down lactose again.


Inmate Workers Earn Dairy Worker Training Certificate

Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Jon Litscher joined Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, leaders from Moraine Park Technical College, and guests to celebrate the second completion ceremony for inmate workers completing the Dairy Worker Training Certificate.

The Bureau of Correctional Enterprises, which is part of DOC, has four dairy farms near Waupun, Fox Lake, Oregon, and Green Bay, as well as a dairy and creamery in Waupun. In total, there are 62 inmate workers managing a herd of more than 552 milk cows, 73 dry cows, and 659 heifers. There are 26 inmate workers at DOC’s dairy and creamery.

The milk, ice cream, and sherbet produced are sold to correctional facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota for consumption and cream is sold to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to make ice cream. The farms also produce crops for livestock feed.

Moraine Park Technical College and DOC worked to develop a training program for inmate workers at DOC’s Waupun State Farm. The Dairy Worker Training Certificate is a two-credit transferable credential which includes instruction in milking, feeding, cow reproduction and calf care, as well as farm maintenance and other critical skills.

The Bureau of Correctional Enterprises also operates a transition program for inmate workers to find employment in related fields upon their release.

Lt. Governor Kleefisch said: “At a time when Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at its lowest in history, it’s smart to prepare today’s inmates to be tomorrow’s workers, especially at dairy farms and creameries where farmers say we face critical worker shortages.”

DOC Secretary Litscher said: “Making vocational training available for inmates is one way we can prepare inmates for release. Under Governor Walker’s leadership, we worked with the Department of Workforce Development and local technical colleges to greatly expand skills training for in-demand careers in fields like construction, industrial maintenance, welding, CNC machining, construction, and agriculture. With tens of thousands of available jobs and a historically low unemployment rate, we want inmates to release with the necessary skills to find a job and become productive citizens.”

Moraine Park Technical College Vice President of Academic Affairs Jim Eden said: “Moraine Park Technical College is proud to be in a continued partnership with the DOC Dairy Training program and we celebrate this innovative approach to helping employers fill open positions. Our College aims to benefit our communities by providing skilled workers for our market. The skills gained through this program will benefit this important industry, as well as our local and state economy. We look forward to continuing this partnership of enrichment and growth for the inmate population.”

Horrific videos of cows being beaten and burned lead to jail for 2 dairy workers

Two dairy farm workers received 20-day jail sentences Wednesday in the first cases prosecuted after undercover videos showed cows being beaten, burned and kept in horrific conditions at dairy farms in Okeechobee County.

Fernando Lopez Cruz and Naul Dorantes-Garcia worked at McArthur Dairy, where they were among the workers videotaped abusing cows, in an undercover operation conducted by Animal Recovery Mission, a Miami Beach animal rights group that specializes in infiltrating suspected animal abusers.

Videos taken at the Burnham, Davie, Larson and McArthur dairy farms showed cows being punched, kicked, stabbed with pipes and burned alive. They showed calves kept in miserable conditions in tiny cages, exposed to sun and rain. The videos led to a national outcry and prompted Publix Super Markets to suspend deliveries of milk from the farms.

The two men pleaded no contest to one count each of misdemeanor cruelty to animals. The jail time could be served on what’s called a weekend work program, where they work off the time by showing up Saturday and Sunday.

Richard Couto, founder and lead investigator for Animal Rescue Mission, called the sentences light but said they set an important precedent.

“This being the first conviction in the history of the State of Florida, at a working dairy farm, I am pleased with the outcome, despite the light sentencing,” he said. “This country has a long way to go in sentencing its animals abusers.”

County Judge Jerald D. Bryant also sentenced them to 72 hours of community service to be performed at an animal rescue organization, one year’s probation and the payment of $370 in court and prosecution costs.

Ashley Albright, attorney-in-charge of the Okeechobee County Office for the 19th Judicial Circuit Office of the State Attorney, said he was satisfied with the sentences.

“I think these were fair sentences,” he said. “Neither of them had a criminal record. Certainly what they did was inappropriate, and they deserved to be punished for it, and they acknowledged it.”

He said two more dairy workers are being prosecuted, and warrants are out for two or three more.

Couto had previously expressed concern that the response to the investigation would be limited to the prosecution of low-level workers, rather than a halt to the abuse that he says is systemic in the industry. The group advises consumers to switch to non-dairy alternatives, such as almond or soy milk.


The countdown has started for the 2019 European championship Holstein

After Colmar in 2016, Belgium is preparing to host the next edition of the European Championship Holstein and Red Holstein on 12 and 13 April 2019 in Libramont. The European championship is the most prestigious Holstein competition in Europe.

It is organized every three years by one of the members of the European Holstein confederation (EHTC). In 2019, it will be organized by the Walloon Farming Association, the Herd-book Holstein and the Fair of Libramont – LEC.

It’s a culmination of a dream of more than 10 years which never could have been realized without the infrastructure of Libramont. These new infrastructures as well as the Belgian dynamism have convinced the representatives of the European federation. The fairground of Libramont, which is easily accessible, welcomes every year the Holstein Night in March and the agricultural and forestry Fair of Libramont in July.

250 elite animals of around twenty nations will compete against each other in front of 30.000 professional visitors. In parallel with this competition, the international presentation competition for young farmers will also take place as well as an elite auction and visits of Walloon farmers.

The European Holstein confrontation plays a major role in the promotion of Holstein farms in Europe and around the world. It is the opportunity for the participating countries to present the achievements of their work and their know-how under excellent working conditions.

At the end of April 2018 : formalization of the participating countries and the number of cows registered by each, one year before the Holstein Libramont 2019 meeting.

For more information visit the Holstein Libramont 2019 website.

Oregon mega-dairy owner ‘teetered on bribery’ during arrest

The owner of a controversial new Oregon mega-dairy told police last summer he uses meth every day and has patronized a dozen prostitutes in two countries.

And he offered to make a donation to charity to prevent his arrest, a move that “teetered on bribery,” according to police records recently obtained by the Statesman Journal related to the Aug. 19 prostitution sting he was ensnared in.

California dairyman Greg te Velde, 59, opened Lost Valley Farm a year ago to supply the Tillamook County Creamery Association, which makes Tillamook Cheese. The Boardman operation, which is permitted to have up to 30,000 animals, has had a string of problems since.

Reached on his mobile phone Wednesday, te Velde declined to comment.

Law enforcement officials in Tri-Cities, Washington, about 30 miles from the dairy, coordinated the undercover prostitution sting and arrested te Velde on charges of patronizing a prostitute and possessing methamphetamine. 

On Dec. 6, 2017, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 87 days suspended. He paid $260 in court costs and a $250 crime victim assessment.

According to the Richland Police Department incident/investigation report, te Velde answered ads placed on Craigslist and by an undercover police officer, stating he wanted to pay $100 for a half hour of “full service.”

“Based on our training and experience, the street crimes unit officers know the term “full service” is the term used for sexual intercourse,” the report reads.

Te Velde arranged to meet the undercover officer at 12:30 a.m. in a room at the Richland Holiday Inn and Suites, where police were live-streaming from a hidden camera.

As te Velde was arrested, he tried to hide a glass, meth-style pipe in the chair he was lying next to, according to the report. He also had a large amount of $100 bills and a white crystal substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine.

“Te Velde claims he purchases a half-ounce of methamphetamine while in California and transports it to Oregon/Washington via his carry-on luggage,” the interviewing officer wrote. “Te Velde further admitted that he uses methamphetamine every day and that he did earlier this day.”

Te Velde also had a package of generic Viagra pills, called Vidalista 60, and said he had taken one an hour before arriving at the hotel, according to the report.

“Te Velde told me that he has patronized about a dozen prostitutes in his lifetime to include in China, but that this was the first within the Tri-Cities,” the officer wrote. “Te Velde is a regular at the Riverside (strip club in Umatilla) and knows adult women in that area that prostitute themselves. Te Velde described himself as a lonely man with money that likes to go to strip clubs and gamble.”

Te Velde, who lives in Tipton, California, told the officer he traveled to Oregon about once a month to check on the dairy, and said his companies make about $100 million per year.

“Te Velde expressed multiple times that this arrest would cause him substantial issues within his business and teetered on bribery offering to make a donation to charity if he were not arrested.”

Lost Valley Farm has been controversial since 2015, when te Velde bought about 7,000 acres of the former Boardman Tree Farm and announced he would move his existing, leased dairy 14 miles, expanding it form 8,000 to 30,000 cows.

More than 4,100 people and a dozen state and national health and environment organizations raised concerns about possible air and water pollution, excessive water use, and health impacts on nearby communities.

Between April 2017, when it opened, and February 2018, the dairy failed numerous environmental inspections, was cited four times, and was fined $10,640.

In February, Oregon regulators sued to effectively shut down the dairy, saying it was endangering nearby municipal and private wells by mismanaging manure and wastewater.

Last month, the state reached a settlement with the dairy that will allow it to operate in a limited capacity until it can prove that its wastewater treatment system is fully functional.

The dairy also refused to comply with Oregon water law, failing to register groundwater wells for months, then using a loophole in Oregon law to pull water out of an underground aquifer that’s been off limits to new wells for four decades.

Meanwhile, te Velde is facing multiple lawsuits from creditors.

Among those is a suit filed by Rabobank, a multinational agricultural lender, seeking to foreclose the dairy in connection with the foreclosure of two dairies te Velde owns in California.

The Tillamook County Creamery Association will stop purchasing milk from the dairy at the end of April, spokeswoman Tori Harms said. 


Canadian dairy processor will create 62 jobs, invest $21.3M in West Michigan

Agropur Inc. announced it will invest $21.3 million and create 62 news jobs over the next three years at its processing plant in suburban Grand Rapids.

Most of the $21.3 million expansion project at Agropur’s at 5252 Clay Avenue SW will be for new equipment with a portion going toward building modifications, according to news releases by The Right Plac Inc and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).

“This investment is driven by the need to meet growing customer demand, and will result in a modernized production line, increased production capacity, and the creation of 62 new jobs,” according to a Right Place news release issued Wednesday, April 11.

Agropur is the Wisconsin-based subsidiary of Agropur Cooperative, a Canadian firm has grown to become the largest dairy cooperatives in North America. Agropur processes more than 13 billion pounds of milk per year at its 39 plants across North America.

The plant currently employs 161 people and primarily produces non-dairy products such as soy milks, protein drinks, and broths. The expansion will include modernizing certain steps of the production line and increasing production capacity.

“Agropur’s investment here rather than in another state means good jobs for Michigan residents and underscores the strength of the state’s food and dairy processing industry,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC.

“It is thanks to many public and private partners that this project is taking place, and we are pleased to support that collaboration,” Mason said.

The former Farmland Dairies plant, which was purchased by Agropur in 2010, produces a variety of shelf-stable dairy products that are distributed across the country.

Originally built in 1991 as a fruit juice processing plant, the plant was converted to milk processing in March 1994 after it was purchased by Parmalat, an Italian food processing company.

The MEDC is supporting the expansion effort with a $434,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The expansion will also be supported locally by a tax abatement from the City of Wyoming.

“The City of Wyoming is a phenomenal place for manufacturing and we are so proud to have companies like Agropur in our community,” said mayor Jack Poll, City of Wyoming. “We are excited to be a part of their growth story and we look forward to watching their continued success.”

“We’re excited to be expanding our facility in Grand Rapids, which will allow us to better serve our customers,” said Doug Simon, president of US Operations for Agropur. “This investment is a key to continuing Agropur’s impressive growth and will also create jobs in the state of Michigan.”

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board rebrands as Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

The rebranding is part of a new strategic mission, vision and identity to align the efforts of Wisconsin’s dairy farmers to expand growth opportunities domestically and around the world.

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin CEO Chad Vincent said the new identity puts dairy at the center of the organization, and provides a stronger platform to share the Wisconsin dairy story.

“Our organization exists to be tireless advocates for our dairy farmers, to help these family businesses thrive because they, and the fruits of their labor, are the heartbeat of the industry and our state,” Vincent said.  

Facing challenges

Jeff Strassburg, chair of the board of directors, said the dairy industry is facing several challenges, including globalization of markets, increased regulation and ongoing low prices for milk.

“This change will put Wisconsin dairy farmers in a better position to help us grow and stay focused on the future,” Strassburg said.       

DFW builds awareness of Wisconsin-produced dairy products by creating national publicity, managing digital advertising, and driving sales, distribution and trial through retail and foodservice promotions. It also supports in-school education about dairy, and funding for the UW Center for Dairy Research.

Specialty cheese growth

The dairy industry contributes $43.4bn annually to Wisconsin’s economy, generates tens of thousands of jobs and supports a variety of allied industries – as well as communities – throughout the state.

While 90% of the milk in Wisconsin goes into making cheese, only 10% of that cheese is sold inside the state. Through the partnership between farmers and dairy processors, the state has seen Wisconsin specialty cheese sales outpace the cheese category overall and per capita consumption of cheese more than double since 1983.    

The Lely Astronaut A5 marks a new milestone in robotic milking

At the Lely Future Farm Days, held at their head office in The Netherlands, Lely introduced a new milestone in milking: the Lely Astronaut A5. Observation of cow-machine interaction and feedback from many farmers has led to the creation of a system that combines proven automatic milking principles with unmatched reliability, ease of use and cost efficiency. The new A5 milking robot means stress-free milking for both the farmer and their cows.

A new milestone in cow comfort and ease of use

At Lely, we feel that healthy and stress-free cows mean more milk in the tank. It has been proven that cows feel comfortable and perform well in Lely’s barn environment with free cow traffic, the I-flow concept and spacious milking boxes.

With the A5, cow comfort has been further improved with a new hybrid arm: silent, faster, energy efficient and more accurate, it results in consistent milking. Instantly following the cow’s every movement during milking, and remaining close to the udder, it quickly corrects itself in the case of any unexpected movement. This ensures a fast and thorough milking process, even with heifers.

With the new Teat Detection System (TDS), post-milking teat spraying has been improved by pre-scanning the udder before spraying, ensuring optimal udder hygiene and limiting the risk of contamination.

The redesigned, intuitive user interface makes automatic milking easy to understand for everybody. From a cow’s first milking to everyday maintenance, all relevant information is available on one single page. Instant actions, such as feed allocation, cow-specific routing and daily maintenance tasks are just one click away. The Astronaut A5 is designed to deliver top-level usability, accessibility and serviceability.

Solid return on investment and proven reliability

To achieve a significantly lower total cost per kg of milk produced, Lely has redesigned the complete system. An extensive worldwide test program, with over 30 customers and more than 2 million milkings, across a wide temperature range was set up to ensure flawless operation under any circumstances. In all tests, detergent and water consumption were lowered and energy use was reduced by up to 20%. Investments in quick and easy maintenance and the use of high-quality components also result in a significant reduction of maintenance costs. Along with improved efficiency, this highly reliable, maintenance-friendly design has achieved an unrivalled return on investment.

Based on the farmers needs

The new Astronaut A5 milking robot, which is compatible with the A4, fits Lely’s vision like a glove. Indeed, Alexander van der Lely is proud to introduce this new, revolutionary product: “Milking a cow has never been so easy and comfortable for the farmer and the cow. The Astronaut A5 contributes to our aim of making the lives of farmers easier, their business more successful, and opening up a bright future for them and their families. That is why we listened to farmers throughout product development, and thoroughly tested Lely’s Astronaut A5 with farmers all over the world. As with all our products, it is they who ultimately determine how successful this new Astronaut will be. “

Market availability

The Lely Astronaut A5 will be available as of today at all our Lely Centers worldwide. Farmers can contact their local Lely Center for more information.

CowManager creates interface with Cattle Information Service (CIS)

CowManager, the leading cow monitoring company, announces the interface of their system with Cattle Information Service – CIS herd management in the United Kingdom. This new interface is one of many CowManager has with management systems all over the world. The CowManager system uses the data from CIS to ensure more detailed alerts about a cow’s health, fertility and nutrition status.

The interface gives dairy farmers the opportunity to see their cow data simultaneously in both systems, which provide very accurate information about cows 24/7. All information received from CIS (e.g. birth date, insemination date, pregnancy test) and CowManager (e.g. rumination, activity, temperature) is considered when calculating alerts about a cow’s performance. More information means more detailed alerts and an overall better-informed decision process.

CowManager customer George Booth explains: “The CowManager system is a great tool, it is a big support for us helping catching cows on heat. Conception rates are up and calving index is coming down. When we started using CowManager, we had to double enter information into both CowManager and CIS herd management, but now they are interfacing with each other our work is a lot simpler. We put all our information on the CIS phone app which is synced with CowManager twice a day, so we receive really accurate information. It saves us a lot of time having all information in one overview.”

Gerard Griffioen, founder of CowManager, adds: “We are very happy to add CIS to our extensive list of interfaces with management systems. As the United Kingdom is an important and growing market for CowManager, we saw the need to communicate with CIS. This interface gives our customers more detailed information about their herd, which supports them in making well considered decisions. Besides supporting our customers in the UK better, it also opens new doors and we are looking forward to expanding in this country.”

About CowManager 

CowManager develops and produces innovative cow-monitoring solutions to improve productivity and profitability of the modern dairy farm. Thousands of dairymen in over 30 countries rely on CowManager’s easy-to-install, user-friendly ear sensor system for an accurate understanding of their cows’ fertility, health and nutrition status. CowManager has revolutionized the world of cow management systems with groundbreaking innovations and has invented the active ear tag technology, based on generations of knowledge, science and the drive to improve every day. CowManager is available all over the world, distributed and supported by a growing number of dealers. 

The neverending war for Canada’s Food Guide

It’s been 10 years since the last revision, and it took two years and 20,000 submissions to overhaul it. And almost nobody will agree with the result.

Ben Lobb does not still have the clothes he wore when he was a university student two decades ago. But if he did, they would fit, he says.

The Conservative member of Parliament for Huron–Bruce has stayed in shape and size by following some basic tenets of a healthy lifestyle, like “a balanced diet” and “everything in moderation.” A lot of the people of his generation and those he represents, Lobb says, “grew up basically with the Canada Food Guide in mind.”

You know the one. Four food groups, down from five since 1977, when fruits and veg became one, done up in little illustrations and bands of colour. Blue for dairy, with its milk glass and its cheese chunk. Green for vegetables and fruit, and so what if lettuce is mostly water? Yellow for grain, breads both flat and risen. Red for meat and alternatives, chicken and fish and eggs and nuts, too.

But Canada’s Food Guide is changing, and soon. The revised version, the first big overhaul in a decade, is the product of a process the federal government launched two years ago, and is likely to be released in the next few months, according to Health Canada. The department has insisted the revision process is making use of the “best available evidence,” and touts the nearly 20,000 responses it received during its consultation process.

Industry groups are worried. The guiding principles for the food guide, which were released in June 2017, emphasize “plant-based sources of protein,” and target “processed and prepared foods” heavy on sodium, sugar and saturated fat for reduction. And while there’s been no confirmation, dairy representatives have expressed concern that they could lose their true-blue spot on the poster, with milk and curds and whey thrown in with meat and its alternatives in a single protein category.

The two groups should be kept apart, says Lobb, because dairy is an important part of a healthy diet and a key contributor to bone health and strength. His riding contains some of the most productive agricultural areas in the country, he says, including lots of dairy and livestock farms.

Gerard Steenbeek can’t talk right now, because he’s in the barn when he takes the call. “Looking after cows is a little bit like looking after toddlers,” he says, reached a few hours later. “They can’t talk [or] tell you what you want, but you have to be there.” His family has run Stonecreek Farms in Huron County for two decades, and grandparents on both sides were dairy farmers. “There’s a lot of people that eat food, and there’s not many people that grow food anymore,” Steenbeek says.

Health Canada’s proposal to stick a label on the front of foods high in the three S’s concerns him. “If you go in your dairy aisle, already now there’s all these non-dairy products there,” he says. If milk has a “lots of fat” label on it and the almond and soy variants do not, that will affect which one shoppers take to the counter, and that in turn will hurt dairy farmers. He’s also concerned that dairy might lose its blue food guide category.

Dietitians disagree on what exactly is healthiest, Steenbeek contends, and as much as he’d like to see the new food guide rewritten based on science, “it’s going to be whoever lobbies the hardest.”

In fact, who gets a say in what the guide looks like has been a point of contention in Ottawa. Conservative MPs, including Lobb, have complained that industry groups have so far not been called to testify before the Liberal-dominated House of Commons health committee’s parallel hearings on the revision; the dairy and meat lobbies submitted briefs. At the beginning of the review, Health Canada said it would not meet with agriculture lobbies directly, though they were free to participate in the open consultation.

One county over, Mike Donnelly-Vanderloo also thinks the process of coming up with the new food guide is “loaded with politics.” Near Thamesford, Ont., in Middlesex County, he and his brother run an average-size farm where they grow corn, wheat, soybeans and edible beans: white, romano, black and kidney. The objective of the food guide is supposed to be promoting healthy eating, not good business, says Donnelly-Vanderloo, who is the research chair of the Ontario Bean Growers and married to a dietitian. Nutritional science is an ongoing process, but in terms of what people eat, “it looks like maybe the pendulum has swung a little too far in terms of refined foods, meat consumption [and] saturated fats,” he says.

Donnelly-Vanderloo is not calling for “radical changes or fad diets,” but says there should be a little more room on the plate for vegetable-based proteins. (He had “beans on toast with eggs and tomatoes for breakfast,” and not just because a reporter was calling that day.)

Donnelly-Vanderloo, who emphasizes that he personally enjoys meat and dairy products, says the coverage that suggests the food guide revision will be bad for farmers is not quite fair. “Nobody mentions there could be some positive outcomes for bean or soybean farmers, or even the fruit and vegetable growers,” he says.

Lobb says the food guide needs to continue to be simple and easy to understand. “That’s pretty much what our suppers [and] breakfasts [and] lunches looked like when we were kids,” he says. As a parent, he thinks that should continue. “I don’t have the guide posted on my fridge or anything, but basically that’s how I’ve lived my life as well.”


Source: Macleans


Holstein UK Announce Winners of 2018 Master Breeder Awards

Today, Holstein UK officially crowned the winners of its Master Breeder Awards 2018. Ten high-performing herds have surpassed qualification and claim this prestigious breeder recognition.

Master Breeder rewards Holstein members whose herds achieve a high standard in both classification and production and therefore breed productive, trouble-free long living cows that display desirable traits and conformation. Cows and heifers in each herd are allocated points according to set criteria and only animals carrying the member prefix, and which are recorded as having produced a lactation within the last two years, are eligible for inclusion in the calculation. A herd achieving an average score of 4 points or more and a total point score of 150 or more, will qualify the member as a Master Breeder.

The Master Breeder Winners 2018

  • Aireburn, G B Moorhouse, North Yorkshire
  • Bassingthorpe, G H Harrison & Sons, Lincolnshire
  • Bellemont, N & N McCollum, County Londenderry
  • Ernevale, J J Gunn, County Fermanagh
  • Evening, Evening Hill Farm Limited, Cumbria
  • Gatrog, E & C Thomas, Carmarthenshire
  • Onston, T H & R M Rowland, Cheshire
  • Sterndale, W J Nadin & Co, Derbyshire
  • Townlaw, B Sloan, Ayrshire
  • Wilderley, W H Higgins, Shropshire

Over 120,000 Holstein classifications have taken place over each of the past 5 years, highlighting the continued popularity of this service as a tool for identifying cows that thrive in modern production systems.  Most classifications are carried out for private farmers but many are also undertaken on behalf of the AI industry to progeny test UK Holstein sires.

Sue Cope, Chief Executive Officer for Holstein UK, commented; “Holstein UK would like to congratulate the ten winners on their cattle breeding achievements. Holstein UK Master Breeder is an important status that really does carry credibility and desirability. It demonstrates the breeders’ strengths in rearing and progressing cattle to an outstanding standard and offers the herd a level of superior ranking.” 


About the Master Breeders 2018

G B Moorhouse at Aireburn Holsteins was Premier Pedigree Herd Northern Regional Winner 2017.

The milk from this tremendously uniform, high production herd is used to make the Icelandic style yoghurt SKYR, which is made on farm and marketed by the family themselves.

Bassingthorpe Holsteins, is owned by G H Harrison & Sons and encompasses a top class 180 head pedigree Holstein herd and followers. It is based on over 600 acres near Grantham, Lincolnshire.

The Coleraine-based Bellemont Herd owned by Norman and Nancy McCollum and family, was established in 1987. The herd has steadily increased in size in recent years, and successful cow families include Idaho, Phyl, Zadia, Avery and Froukje. In 2012 Bellemont won the award for the best large herd, and Bellemont Baxter Phyl was adjudged best junior cow, in the junior section of Holstein NI’s annual herds’ inspection competition.

Ernevale Holsteins has been established since 1985 with a proven record of accomplishment and awards at local and national level. 

Evening Hill is a family run dairy farm in Cumbria, breeding pedigree Holstein cattle owned by James, Louise, Charlotte and Emma Wilson.

Gatrog Holsteins, owned by Elwyn and Cheryl Thomas of Gelli Gatrog Farm in Carmarthenshire earned the placings of Champion and Reserve Champion at three shows in 2017 – South West Dairy Show, Welsh Dairy Show and the Champion of Champions, South Wales.

Onston Holsteins, owned by T H & R M Rowland in Cheshire, have previously been recognised for Lifetime Production Awards presented to those animals that have proved exceptional levels of productivity.  They have been awarded LP120 and LP110 awards.

Fernydale Farm is home to both the Sterndale & Peak herds of Pedigree Holsteins – the Premier Pedigree Herd 2013. Set in the heart of the Peak District National Park the farm comprises of approximately 300 acres of grassland, milking 130 Holsteins with approximately 150 dairy young stock. The Sterndale Herd includes some of the world’s most popular and renowned cow families including Ashlyn, Apple, Elegance, Ghost, Jodie, Licorice, Lila Z, Rae and Redrose. 


Team of 11 bulls deployed for sexed semen trial

A team of 11 bulls will be used in a new sexed semen trial to assess its fertility compared with conventional straws during the new breeding season.

Sexed semen has already been flagged as having a potential role in reducing unwanted bull calves off crossbred dairy herds.

Teagasc researcher Dr Stephen Butler explained that it is aiming for around 200 farmers who will be identified as suitable through ICBF and invited to take part in the trial starting next month.

The farmers taking part will be using 60 straws, including 30 of conventional semen and 30 sexed semen.

Dr Butler said that the sexed semen product has evolved since its last trial over four years ago.

He pointed out it would be “more attractive” for crossbreeding herds but it also has “values” such as using the best dams to deliver herd replacements and reducing calving difficulties.

“Sexed semen, if it is a high fertility product, is a win for the dairy industry,” he said, adding that if the fertility was good then farmers should be using it.

He pointed out it was a product best suited to high fertility herds.

A team of 11 bulls from Dovea and NCBC were sent to sorting labs with the semen sorted and returned frozen. Now, Dr Butler said it has to get the farmers to agree to use it and take part. Sexed semen is more expensive than conventional so there would be an incentive for the farmer to take part as they will pay only the cost of conventional semen straws and for AI.

Ger Ryan from Dovea Genetics said it was important to assess the new SexedUltra technology that offers an increased four million sperm per straw in a spring calving grass-based system.

“We sent two Jersey bulls, two genomic Holstein Friesians and one daughter proven Holstein Frieisian. The results, if positive, should lead to an uptake,” he said.


Source: Farm Ireland

Dairy relief? Center for Dairy Excellence announces potential market for dairy farmers

Relief for dairy farmers in the region could be coming.

State Rep. Michele Brooks announced Monday that the Center for Dairy Excellence has a potential lead on a milk buyer who may be interested in taking additional milk from dairy farmers in western Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, Dean Foods announced it would not be renewing raw milk contracts with 16 dairy farmers in the western portion of the state due to cost-cutting practices.

Dairy farmers in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee were affected by the decision, which came on the heels of Wal-Mart’s construction of a 25,000-square foot milk processing plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Ginger Fenton, who works with local dairy farmers through Penn State Extension, told The News in March that “fluid milk consumption is down” and is one of the factors that went into Deans Foods’ decision.

State Rep. Chris Sainato said dairy farmers work hard and are in a difficult situation.

“That would be great if they have a potential buyer for milk,” Sainato said. “With the market conditions and everything else going on, dairy farmers are in a difficult position. I know the secretary of agriculture has asked Dean’s Foods to keep contracts with dairy farmers to the end of the year to give them a chance to find a buyer.

“Any potential buyer would be great. Dairy farmers are in a very difficult situation. They work hard and the demand for milk is down, and they lost their contracts.”

Brooks announced the buyer is asking dairy farmers to work through the Center for Dairy Excellence, who will then contact the processing facility.

“We will continue to explore every possible solution but wanted to at least get this information to our dairy farmers impacted by the Dean’s Dairy announcement,” Brooks said in a press release.

“I understand the terrible impact that Walmart’s decision to build a processing plant in the state of Indiana has had on local dairy farmers,” Brooks said. “It’s my hope that the following information assists our farmers and leads to some solution to help offset the concern generated by the recent announcement from Dean’s Dairy.”

Source: New Castle News

A2 Milk shares rebound as firm says it’s ‘uniquely positioned’ despite Nestle threat

The a2 Milk Co says it is still “uniquely positioned” to benefit from its A1 protein-free products and that the company continues to perform strongly.

The company has previously said it expected broader interest in the A1 protein-free category generally, “given positive developments in the science and the strong growth being achieved by the company”.

A2 Milk’s share price fell sharply last week after international food group Nestle confirmed that it had introduced an A2 beta casein infant formula product in China last month.

A2 Milk shares rebounded today after falling as low as $11.60, eventually closing up 7c at $12.47.

Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said the stock was still sitting on substantial gains made over the last year.

He put the weakness earlier in the day down to volatility on world markets after Wall Street’s 1.9 per cent decline over night.

“Stocks like a2 Milk are going to go up much more strongly than the market on the good days,” Lister said.

“And when you have had rough days like we saw in the US last night, it’s going to get hit harder, because it is high-risk, high-return,” he said.

In a statement today, A2 Milk said it was uniquely positioned to benefit from expansion with New Zealand and Australia-sourced milk supply for products for end sale in China and with a “comprehensive suite” of intellectual property including patents, trade marks, proprietary processes and know-how.

“The a2 Milk Co is the only company engaged in the sourcing, processing and marketing of solely A1 protein free dairy and nutritional products in global markets,” it said.

“This core principle contrasts significantly with likely new entrants who will need to consider how to communicate internally and externally the benefits of a new A1 protein free variant whilst their traditional range of products continues to include A1.”

The infant formula market in China is vast with an estimated retail value in the order of US$20 billion ($27.8b) and volume exceeding one million metric tonnes.

“The company is confident that the past investment in its brand has established a strong consumer franchise which will continue to strengthen as its level of investment and distribution continues to grow,” it said.

The Company continues to perform strongly in each of its key markets and in particular has not seen any change in the growth of its China business.

Most cows produce the A1 and A2 versions of beta-casein protein, but about 30 per cent of the world’s herd produces just the A2 variety.

A2 Milk believes that the A2 beta-casein protein milk is better for people, particularly those who have trouble digesting milk.

Last year, a2 Milk reached an out of court settlement with Australia’s Lion Dairy & Drinks over a labelling dispute.


Source: The Country

One-on-one help for Victorian farmers victims devastating bush fires

Bushfire recovery advice for south-west Victorian farmers will be passed on through one-on-one visits, rather than public meetings.

WestVic Dairy is co-ordinating the recovery effort, and regional extension officer Peter Gaffy said larger public meetings might be held in a few weeks’ time.

“The consensus was that farmers would be under a lot of pressure to rebuild fences, take care of stock and the welfare of the people working on their farms,” Mr Gaffy said.

The St Patrick’s Day fires destroyed 18 houses, and are believed to have burned out at least 14,000 hectares of land.

Mr Gaffy said WestVic Dairy staff felt field days or public meetings would not be as effective as providing one-on-one information.

“There is a huge service industry within the dairy sector and by arming people who are already going to see them, we might be able to give them some advice and hand over technical information about things like pasture recovery,” Mr Gaffy said.

The industry had a large support base, including private consultants and milk company or stock feed representatives.

“They are all keen to get out and help farmers affected by the fires, so we will use those networks,” he said.

The reaction to the fires had evolved “organically”, and particularly through social media sites, like Facebook.

“The general community has been overwhelming in its response, dropping off clothing, or gift vouchers for the local supermarket, so affected farmers can keep food on the table,” Mr Gaffy said.

United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) Wannon branch secretary Chris O’Keefe said there had been many offers of support for fodder and short-term agistment.

Mr O’Keefe said the UDV branch was linking farmers affected with those who could help with fodder and cow parking.

Mr Gaffy said WestVic Dairy was also matching donations with those who needed them.

“We’ve taken a lot of calls from people wanting to help, and it’s a case of marrying up needs with farmers,” he said.

Some farmers who had been badly affected “needed some convincing” that they needed help.

“We are coordinating the relief effort, acting as a call centre, with members of our extension team going to farms,” he said.

“We are stepping into a welfare role, to a certain extent, checking in on people and making sure they are okay.”

The Lions Club of Pakenham has carried out hay runs, as well as collecting non-perishable household goods and pet food, under its Need for Feed program.

The charity Aussie Helpers has made $200,000 available to assist farmers affected by the bushfires.

Founder Brian Egan said that the charity had volunteers on the ground, soon after the devastating fires.

Mr Egan said that Aussie Helpers would start its assistance operation after Easter when farming families knew exactly what they needed to recover. 

About 100 volunteers from Queensland, NSW, Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia would personally visit affected farms.

“We will let things settle down, otherwise it’s like a gold rush syndrome, where everyone rushes to an area after something happens,” Mr Egan said.

“We want to get those dairy farms back into production.

“We’ve been helping out in Victoria, during the last couple of years of the dairy crisis. They all know us; we have a fair following down there.”


Source: Stock & Land

Tests show New Zealand’s $3 billion beef sector so far free of serious disease affecting dairy animals

New Zealand’s $3 billion beef export sector seems to be free so far of the serious new cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, which is attempting to contain an outbreak of the disease in dairy cattle by a mass slaughter of more than 22,000 dairy cattle before the beginning of June, said there had been no positive results from its testing of beef animals.

The beef and dairy sectors work closely in New Zealand through dairy calf rearing and dairy grazing with about 80 per cent of premium beef cattle production originating from the dairy herd.

In response to a Herald inquiry, an MPI spokeswoman said the risk profile for M. bovis in beef farming was very different to that of dairying because of how beef is raised in New Zealand.

“Generally beef cattle are farmed extensively in pasture and are not fed risky discarded calf milk.

“We looked into this carefully and determined the beef stock at greatest risk were those that were raised in feed lots – not that common in New Zealand.”

With the support of industry good organisation Beef+Lamb, MPI had carried out some surveillance of cattle in feed lots, mostly in the South Island, the epicentre of the M. bovis outbreak.

“The animals were tested at slaughter in order to take samples … there were no positive results,” the spokeswoman said.

“We also consider that many dairy beef animals were tested in the response as part of our tests on neighbouring farms to infected properties. Again, no positives were found.”

Meanwhile, newly released MPI reports on M. bovis investigations since the first outbreak last July said “confluence of multiple rare events” could have allowed the bacterial disease into New Zealand, possibly as long ago as 2015.

One of the three released reports identifies seven potential pathways for the disease but finds all “improbable – yet one of them resulted in entry”.

“This is a common feature of past disease incursions which have occurred despite strong border protection, in that the confluence of multiple rare events precipitates establishment of infection,” said one report.

The risk pathways investigated were imported embyros, imported frozen bull semen, imported live cattle, imported feed, imported used farm equipment, and other imported live animals. A seventh pathway was redacted from the reports along with all discussion about it, but the Herald can confirm it was imported veterinary medicines and biological products.

MPI has opted to try to contain the disease with a mass cull of cattle on 28 quarantined properties, all but one in the South Island, because it believes it is not yet well established in New Zealand. The first outbreak of the disease was on a large-scale dairying business in the South Island. However, the MPI reports suggest it may have been introduced in mid-2016 or even earlier.

M. bovis is established in the herds of New Zealand’s trading partners and other countries where authorities have chosen to try to manage it.

Given the economic importance of dairying and the beef industries, MPI wants to first try to get rid of M. bovis, with the cull to be completed before June 1, the start of the new dairy season when thousands of dairy herds are moved around the country to new milking jobs.

Mbovis is described by experts as a major, but often overlooked, pathogen causing respiratory disease, mastitis and arthritis in cattle. In recent years it has spread into new countries including Ireland and parts of South America. It is the smallest of all bacterias, and has no cell wall, which makes it challenging to treat with antibiotics. Experts say evidence is accumulating that strains of M.bovis are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Mbovis is spread by contact between animals. It does not pose a food safety risk, according to MPI.

It said its investigations revealed major deficiencies in the practical operation of NAIT, the National Animal Identification and Tracing System.

The reports said there was also a need to resolve major shortcomings in information systems available to MPI for managing disease incursions and control activities.


Source: NZ Herald

Dairy Women’s Network announce new chief executive

Jules Benton will be the new chief executive of Dairy Women’s Network.

Benton will take over from May 16, replacing Zelda de Villiers, who announced her resignation in December.

Benton was recently general manager for Wolters Kluwer CCH New Zealand, a research and workflow solutions company. Prior to that she spent more than a decade consulting to businesses to develop leadership capability, streamline processes and promote ongoing professional development and education.

Dairy Women’s Network chair Cathy Brown said Benton brought a wealth of experience in leadership, education and strategy development.

“Jules’ knowledge, skills and experience are perfectly matched with Dairy Women’s Network and the role we play in continuing to provide unlimited opportunities for women in dairy.

“She has decades of experience in managing multiple stakeholder interests and competing deadlines, as well as streamlining operations to ensure businesses and projects run effectively and efficiently.

“We’re very pleased to announce her appointment and know she will be a great fit with the wider team and our members.”

She also acknowledged de Villiers’ contribution to the network. “On behalf of the board I thank Zelda for her leadership over the past four years. She leaves the network in a very strong place and we wish her well in the future.”

De Villiers leaves to focus on a new business venture in Northland.

Benton said she was looking forward to working with the network and helping members make the most of the opportunities available to them.

“When I saw the opportunity come up I knew I could really bring something to this organisation. I have a lot of experience in leadership development and helping people gain the skills and tools they need to do well at all stages of their careers.”

As chief executive of the 10,000-strong membership organisation, Benton will be responsible for representing and championing Dairy Women’s Network at an industry level and focusing on its next strategic step.

“Dairy women are a driving force and make extraordinary contributions across all levels of the industry. I very much see this role as a partnership with our staff and members to ensure dairy women’s contributions are recognised and celebrated, and we’re driving some important conversations.

“I think the New Zealand public hasn’t yet fully grasped the breadth of knowledge and skills women bring to the dairy industry, so I’m looking forward to continuing to build on the great work the Network has been doing in this area and continuing to highlight those achievements.”

With charitable trust status, Dairy Women’s Network receives project funding from DairyNZ and has a stable of influential agribusinesses and industry sponsors.


America’s Kids Badly Need a ‘Chore Culture’

The other day, NPR wrote a feature article about a unique program at John Bowne High School in New York City. Despite being in the heart of one of the biggest metropolises in the United States, John Bowne runs an agricultural program for upwards of 500 students.

Known as “Aggies,” these students “grow crops, care for livestock and learn the rudiments of floriculture, viticulture, aquaculture, biotechnology and entrepreneurship.”

According to NPR, such a program is an excellent addition to the high school curriculum because agriculture is a booming industry. The students who participate in the program will accumulate a wide variety of hands-on experience with which they can land a job in the agriculture sector, a job which may even pull their families out of poverty. 

But while this is a great reason to encourage such a program, I think there’s a deeper reason why more schools – both urban and rural – should consider a similar one. In a nutshell, such a program promotes what one might call a “chore culture,” a culture which instills hard work, responsibility, and the knowledge of basic skills which today’s society has lost. The article gives a glimpse of what this “chore culture” might look like:

“It’s Monday, 8 a.m., and these teens have already mucked stalls in the barn and fed the goats, alpacas and miniature cows. They’ve rounded up eggs in the henhouse, harvested cabbages and a few green-tinged tomatoes, and arranged them in tidy tiers to sell in the Agriculture Store. Now they’re ready to put in a full day of classes.”

It’s this type of chore culture that gives students an understanding of the world around them so they won’t simply think that milk comes from a grocery store.

It’s this type of chore culture that teaches students to carry through with their responsibilities, instead of simply ditching their new Christmas pets because they didn’t count the cost of time, energy, and money it would take to raise them.

And it’s this type of chore culture which trains students in basic skills – such as knot tying or map reading – skills which various surveys have found are fast disappearing amongst today’s young people.

Would we see a change of direction in society if more kids were raised in a “chore culture” of hard work and responsibility both at home and school?


The Case Against Low-fat Milk Is Stronger Than Ever

For years you’ve been told to go for skim over full-fat dairy. Even the latest dietary guidelines for Americans urge people to avoid the full fat, and following this lead, school lunch programs provide only low-fat milk and no whole milk at all, even though they do allow chocolate skim milk with its added sugars. But large population studies that look at possible links between full-fat dairy consumption, weight and disease risk are starting to call that advice into question. And some research suggests people who consume full-fat dairy weigh less and are less likely to develop diabetes, too.

In a new study published in the journal Circulation, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian and his colleagues analyzed the blood of 3,333 adults enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study of Health Professionals Follow-up Study taken over about 15 years. They found that people who had higher levels of three different byproducts of full-fat dairy had, on average, a 46% lower risk of getting diabetes during the study period than those with lower levels. “I think these findings together with those from other studies do call for a change in the policy of recommending only low-fat dairy products,” says Mozaffarian. “There is no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy.”

Since full-fat dairy products contain more calories, many experts assumed avoiding it would lower diabetes risk. But studies have found that when people reduce how much fat they eat, they tend to replace it with sugar or carbohydrates, both of which can have worse effects on insulin and diabetes risk. In the current study, Mozaffarian adjusted for the role that weight plays, and found the connection between full-fat dairy intake and lower diabetes risk remained strong independent of weight gain.

Source: Time

William Watson: Quebec’s compensating taxi owners? Gross! Now do it for dairy farmers

It provides $250 million in compensation for the loss in the value of taxi permits and raises the basic personal tax credit amount.

An occupational hazard in column-writing is to be negative about everything, especially everything governments do. In fact, the world is a pretty good place and arguably getting better. Even governments occasionally get things right. When they do it’s best to say so and in that small way maybe encourage good behaviour.

Last week’s Quebec budget, which had several faults that I recently wroteabout in FP Comment, also had good points I haven’t written about yet. One good thing it did was provide $250 million in compensation for the loss in the value of taxi permits.

Because of severe legal restrictions in permit numbers, taxi companies have for decades been ripping off customers with prices much higher (and service rather lower) than they needed to be, as the spectacular success of lower-priced Uber and other ride-sharing apps has proven. It’s only because of monopoly-like pricing that taxi permits have had such crazy values — as high as $300,000 at times in Montreal. And the monopoly was only made possible in this naturally easy-entry business by the government making unapproved entry a crime.

So I grant only a complex morality sees it as fair to take 250-million tax dollars from long-ripped-off ordinary citizens and give them to the former rip-off artists, who aren’t even reformed rip-off artists but are still lobbying hard to keep competitors out. First we pay when they foist their monopoly on us and then we pay when a new technology comes along to finally free us from it.

The idea of paying people off when you take away their legislated privileges is one that should have greater currency

But in spite of its complex morality, the idea of paying people off when you take away their legislated privileges is one that should have greater currency. The privileged themselves won’t appreciate it. They’ll prefer to keep their privileges, as the taxi industry wants to. But it will help persuade the big-hearted, well-meaning majority of the ripped-off public that everyone is being treated fairly. Some Canadians are so nice they worry that if taxi drivers aren’t allowed to charge extortive prices any more, that would be a bad thing socially, given that most of the taxi drivers they meet — who aren’t even necessarily the permit owners — can’t possibly be earning much money. Next stop: Poultry and dairy farmers.

Speaking of low incomes, another good thing the Quebec budget does is raise the “basic personal amount” exempted from personal income tax by $346 and then index it from 2018 on. The idea behind the basic personal amount is that there’s some income nobody should be taxed on. We all have basic needs. Everybody has to buy toothpaste, warm themselves in winter and get their recommended calories per day, whatever that number is this week. On that basic amount of income nobody should be taxed. It’s a principle just about everybody should be able to agree to.

Even the Quebec government understands it, saying in its budget: “The purpose of the basic personal amount is to leave untaxed the income needed for essential needs and obligatory contributions.” A footnote explains, “obligatory contributions” are “essentially, contributions to the Quebec Pension Plan, Quebec Parental Insurance Plan and Employment Assistance.” I really am trying not to be negative but I doubt all Quebecers would agree that in addition to food, clothing and shelter the most important items that should enter into people’s first $14,890 of spending — which is what the basic personal amount is moving to — should be their “contributions,” i.e., taxes, to these other government programs. (Politicians also give donations to their political parties a 75-per-cent tax break. If you put that to a vote, I doubt most people would agree “charity begins at politics.”)

A third thing I like about the Quebec budget is that the term “middle class” appears only once. This is in contrast to the federal government’s veritable monomania about the middle class. The single reference is to how the increase in the basic personal amount will allow “many taxpayers with lower income and in the middle class” to benefit from the $55 tax credit (too little of a good thing) that results from raising the personal amount. Of course, people with high income will also benefit, too. The document doesn’t actually say that outright, but a budget chart shows that $21.5 million, seven per cent of the revenue reduction involved, will go to the 296,584 Quebec taxpayers who are in the top bracket.

For its part, the word “poverty” appears in the budget 35 times. That’s appropriate. The social problem in Canada is not inequality or the middle class. It’s poverty. That’s what governments should be working to reduce.

Unfortunately (sorry, I can’t eliminate the negativity completely) the budget points to the imminent publication of a report on universal basic income. This will raise a host of new problems but, despite that, it looks as if it’s coming anyway.


Source: Financial Post


Barn fire at Karona Holsteins kills all but 9 animals

A devasting fire at Karona Holsteins has results in great losses for the Caron family.  According to preliminary information, there was no electricity at lunchtime. A generator would have been used. The fire would first have originated in a tractor and then spread quickly to buildings. The animals were apparently in burning buildings, but the information has not been officially confirmed. According to what we have been able to learn, only nine heifers could be released. The Karona Holstein Farm has had a good reputation having won honours in the past, including the title of Master breeder in 2014.

Dairy farmer sues FDA over skim milk labeling regulations

A dairy farmer files a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration. He wants to be able to label pure skim milk as that, but right now he says he can’t do that.

Dairy Farmer Randy Sowers and his wife Karen, represented by the Institute for Justice are suing the FDA over how they can label their milk.

“It’s not just us,” said Sowers. “It’s everybody’s right to know what they’re buying or drinking or eating.”

For 15 years, the Sowers have complied with the FDA regulations over milk labeling. It wasn’t until recently they decided they needed to take legal action. Wanting to possibly expand into Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has no problem with how they want to label their milk but the FDA does.

“The FDA should get out of the way,” said Anya Bidwell, IJ attorney.

Sowers wants the right to call all-natural skim milk, skim milk. The problem comes with how the FDA defines the drink. They say, skim milk can only be labeled as such if synthetic vitamins A and D are added. Sowers says if they want to sell what they believe to be all-natural skim milk without any added vitamins, they have to label the products as ‘imitation skim milk’ or ‘imitation milk product.’

“If they don’t comply they could go to jail or face thousands of dollars in fines,” said Bidwell. “All because they want to tell the truth.”

The lawsuit is alleging a first amendment violation, claiming the government is changing the definition of ordinary words. In this case, what skim milk is.

Sowers says these types of regulations are hurting small business farmers and they’re part of the reason the number of dairy farms are declining.

“If you go to a psychiatrist and he puts me on the couch and talks to me,” said Sowers. “He’s going to say you’re stupid you’re crazy you gotta be crazy and that’s what the kids are seeing. Why do we need to go through all this?”

A similar lawsuit was filed by a Florida dairy farmer over skim milk labelling a few years ago. They ended up winning. However, they sued their department of agriculture and not the FDA.


Murray Goulburn farmers vote in favour of selling to Canadian dairy giant Saputo

The once-mighty farmer-owned pillar of the Australian dairy industry, Murray Goulburn, has completed its demise after shareholders voted to sell it to Canadian dairy superpower, Saputo.

An overwhelming majority of 98.16 per cent of proxy votes elected for the sale of Murray Goulburn’s assets, the main pillar of the four resolutions to be voted on in Melbourne today.

The vote was for the sale of Murray Goulburn assets to Saputo, which will take over all the factories, staff and equipment owned by Murray Goulburn.

Murray Goulburn will keep $200 million to pay for legal costs and to pay out current legal action being taken against it and its management for its behaviour during the dairy crisis.

Defeated farmers who were against the sale now see it as the only opportunity to leave the former Australian dairy giant with dignity.

“I think as farmers we know what’s best,” Karinjeet Singh-Mahil, who farms at Crossley near Warrnambool, said.


Source: ABC News

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