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.”
Judge Tadashi Takahashi selected the 7th lactation Roy daughter, Broadway Matador Doubjuror, as his Grand Champion from the 206-head forward at the 9th All-Japan Black & White Show. Reserve Grand went to Junior 3-year-old Statemirror Jerry (McCutchen-Goldwyn). Junior Champion was Jagrobridge Doorman Sara.
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.
Muddy weather and cold rain did not stop the action at the 10th edition of the Taste of Ontario Sale. Hosted by James and Doug Cranston and co-managed by Jeff Stephens this years edition saw the sale move indoors from the traditional tent into a new facility built by Cranston farms. The attendees where warm and the action hot as the sale averaged $4,150 on 85 lots.
Topping the sale at #11,000 was Duckett Drack Gabby $11,000. Due in June this Sr 2 for ’18 is bred sexed Butz-Butler Atwood Brody. Gabby was consigned by Jeff Stephens and purchased by Embrdale Holsteins. The second highest seller of the day at #10,100 was a choice of 6 sisters from Fraeland Goldwyn Bonnie. Her Doorman daughter, Fraeland Doorman Bonnie, the HM ALl-Canadian Jr Calf in ’16, is one of the most talked about Junior Two-Year-old prospects for ’18. Rounding out the top sellers was Cobequid BD Doberman Avery at $10,000. This DG Doberman daughter is a big ring contender for 2018 in the Junior Yearling Class.
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.
Nervous about the dramatic drop in milk prices, Ohio’s dairy farmers are leaving the business at a higher than usual rate.
Every year, some farmers retire and give up their dairy licenses, but there’s been an uptick recently. In March 2018, there were 2,253 licensed dairy farms in Ohio – a drop of 59 farms in five months.
“Farmers are deciding they can no longer dig any deeper into their equity to pay for what I call ‘the privilege of milking cows,’ ” said Dianne Shoemaker, Ohio State University Extension field specialist in dairy production economics. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
Profits for milk are low because the price that dairy farmers get paid for their milk has dipped in recent years. In 2014, dairy farmers nationwide basked in high prices. Worldwide demand was high, and the number of cows producing milk was comparatively low. Since then, milk prices have been steadily sliding, as have dairy farmers’ profits.
Milk prices in 2014 averaged $23.16 per 100 pounds. So far this year the average is $14.43, a 38 percent drop. The supply of milk is outstripping the demand, by far, which is driving down the price.
“There’s just so much excess milk right now, and it looks like that’s going to continue to be the case for a while,” Shoemaker said.
In Wayne County, the state’s top dairy county, Rory Lewandowski, the county’s OSU Extension educator, is increasingly hearing about farmers selling their farms or their cows. And others are seeking out bank loans to continue operating.
“Nobody is doing really well in this situation,” Lewandowski said. “Definitely people are depressed.”
Some of the dairies in Mercer County that recently closed did so because making more of a profit would have required them to expand, purchase new buildings and modernize their milking equipment. The investment was too great a risk given the low prices, said Dennis Riethman, an OSU Extension educator in Mercer County. About a half dozen farms in that county recently closed.
“And I anticipate there will be more within the next year,” Riethman said.
Some Ohio dairy farmers are having to seek out new markets because Dean Foods, the second largest dairy company in the United States, has announced that beginning May 31, it will cut its contracts with 100 independent conventional dairy farmers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Also, milk cooperatives as well as independent milk processors have sent out letters in the past two years dropping some dairy farmers due to low demand and an oversupply of milk on the market, Shoemaker said. Previously, farmers typically were only dropped from cooperatives when they produced poor quality milk.
Dairy farmers no longer receive a bump up in pay for producing more milk in the fall, when the demand is typically highest and production lowest, Shoemaker said.
Once a farmer leaves the dairy business, it’s not necessarily easy to get back in when the price of milk improves, Shoemaker said. That’s because the farmer has spent years, even decades, developing a productive herd of cows and replacement heifers, so if they are sold off, it can take just as long to get started again, she said.
Or if a farmer sells off the milking herd and keeps the replacement heifers, there’s no income.
“And you’ve got all these mouths to feed. That’s not usually an attractive option,” Shoemaker said.
Dairy farmers can consider other ventures to make money on the farm, but the switch typically is not easy. A farmer raising field crops for a living needs to plant 1,000 to 2,000 acres to earn enough to rely solely on that income, and with low prices for corn and soybeans, that’s especially tough.
While organic milk and other products have gained in popularity in recent years and typically offer higher profits than traditional milk, the organic milk cooperatives that take on the independent milk suppliers have no openings right now, Shoemaker pointed out.
Like the price of anything, what goes down must come back up – at some point. Demand for milk will increase. Or supply will decrease. Or a combination of the two.
“But,” Shoemaker said, “we’ve been waiting three years for that to happen.”
Dairy prices rose by 2.7 per cent at the latest Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction to reach an average of US$3587 ($4888) per tonne.
In the first price lift in four auctions since early February, all product categories increased with New Zealand’s key product whole milk powder up 0.9 per cent.
Skim milk powder was up 3.6 per cent, butter 2.9 per cent, anhydrous milk fat 5.3 per cent, rennet casein 3.1 per cent and lactose jumped 14.8 per cent.
Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said the GDT result was positive and welcome, but questioned whether any monetary gains were cancelled out by recent lifts in the dollar.
“In the last few weeks I have seen the New Zealand dollar rise as well, so the gains back into New Zealand dollars won’t be as much as we are hoping.”
He said prices over the past few months had been very consistent, which farmers liked.
“Long may it continue.”
Dairy products were all up in the overnight GDT auction.
Farmers would also be starting to think about what the opening pay out forecast for the new season would be, he said.
At this late stage in the season, most dairy companies would have sold close to 100 per cent of their product and may start forward selling for the new season.
“The Northern Hemisphere is also in the busiest time of the year with calving and full production and for prices to be holding up, it’s a great indicator as normally you expect it to dip off a little bit at the moment.”
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.
At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Dairy prices were up Tuesday. Class Three April milk was up $.06 at $14.48 a hundredweight. May was up $.15 to $14.95. June was up $.21 to 15.37. July was up $.16 to $15.90. The milk futures from August through next March closed between eight and seventeen cents higher.
Grade AA Butter was up $.0075 at $2.2925 per pound. Seven carloads sold between $2.2850 and $2.2925. Barrels were up $.02 to $1.48 per pound. Thirteen carloads sold with prices from $1.46 to $1.48. 40-pound blocks were up $.0250 at $1.63 per pound. One carload sold at $1.6075. Nonfat dry milk was up $.0375 at $.77 per pound. Five carloads sold with prices ranging from $.76 to $.77. Dry whey was up $.0025 to $.3075 cents per pound. One carload sold at $.31 cents per pound.
The April sire summaries reveal that Select Sires’ Super Sampler™lineup once again dominates the industry with availability of elite GTPI® and high Net Merit Dollar (NM$) genomic young sires.
There are 30 Select Sires Super Samplers and GenerVations young sires that rank among the Top 100 GTPI Active Holstein Genomic Young Sires. If it is Net Merit you seek, Select Sires has you covered there too; with 97 Active Holstein Genomic Young Sires greater than +$800 NM$. Twenty-eight rank among the top 100 for NM$ with an average Net Merit value greater than +$888!
Topping the list of high GTPI Super Samplers at Select Sires is 507HO13740 ROLAN at +2824. A 7HO12600 MODESTY son, he is the No. 3 GTPI sire on Holstein Association USA’s young sire ranking list with semen available. To call ROLAN balanced would be an understatement. At +$957 NM$, he ranks among Select Sires’ top three genomic young sires. Add to that a Dairy Wellness Profit Index™ (DWP$™) of +$1,071, Wellness Trait Index™ (WT$™) of +$111 and fantastic type indexes (+2.29 PTAT, +2.57 UDC, +1.85 FLC) and you have the complete package!
ROLAN’s full brother, 507HO13715 RAPTOR, is another well-balanced bull with high NM$ (+$934) and GTPI (+2766) values. In addition, he excels for DWP$ (+$1,025) and WT$ (+$106), indicating that he can produce healthier cattle that are long-lived (+7.6 PL). If it’s your desire to boost milk yield and components within your herd, 7HO12788 FRAZZLED offers +2,549 Milk, +77 Protein, and +103 Fat and is the breed’s best for DWP$ (+$1,180) and WT$ (+$107). He ranks No. 2 in the prestigious Select Sires genomic young sire lineup for NM$ at +$959. Additionally, both RAPTOR and FRAZZLED earn Select Sires’ WellnessPRO™and FeedPRO® designations and are available in gender SELECTed™ semen.
Wellness and Fitness Specialists
Lessen the risk of costly health incidents by selecting sires that carry Select Sires’ WellnessPRO™designation. With the introduction of the Calf Wellness Index™ (CW$™) by Zoetis in March, Select Sires modified the criteria for a sire to earn the WellnessPRO designation to include a combination of WT$ and CW$.
7HO12556 PAGEONE firmly holds the breed’s No. 1 spot for WT$ at +$231 and is an impressive +$59 for CW$. This Jacey son from a 7HO11314 MOGUL dam offers commercial appeal at +1,326 Milk and 2.58 Somatic Cell Score (SCS) from petite-stature offspring (-.23 Stature). PAGEONE is available in gender SELECTed semen and is perfect not only for the heifer pens (4.6% CE), but for use in any mating where managers are anxious to return their fresh cows back into production quickly with as little trouble as possible after calving.
Exciting fitness trait sires include: 7HO13731 FLYER, 7HO13398 SUPERFLY and 507HO13737 EINSTEIN. Ranking No. 3 in Select’s genomic lineup for Daughter Pregnancy Rate (+3.6 DPR), FLYER will also lower Somatic Cell Score (SCS) (2.49) and notch up the Productive Life (+7.7 PL) of his offspring. SUPERFLY is a Supershot son from a Galaxy dam, offering a bit of a different pedigree for Select Sires’ bloodlines. He is positive for DPR (+3.0), Heifer Conception Rate (+1.7 HCR) and Cow Conception Rate (+4.8 CCR). A check can also be made beside his name for heifer matings. At +5.9% CE, he is a Select Sires CalvingPRO™ and he is available in gender SELECTed semen.
Ranked among Holstein Association’s top 20 for GTPI, and No. 2 at Select Sires, 507HO13737 EINSTEIN descends from a very different sire stack on the maternal side of his pedigree (MODESTY x LUCID x LEXOR). Another Select Sires WellnessPRO sire, EINSTEIN is +$1,082 DWP$, among the top 10 in the breed, and +$188 WT$. EINSTEIN can boost milk solids (+131 CFP) and components percentages (+.06% P, +.10% F) and is Select Sires’ best for the CDCB’s new Mastitis STA at +2.9. Look for EINSTEIN to improve udder traits (+2.59 UDC), especially fore udder attachment (+3.21) and rear udder height (+3.44) and width (+3.16).
Focusing on Fertility
7HO12954 ATLAS-RED, a 7HO12388 DESIRED son jumps to the top of the young sire lineup for Sire Conception Rate (SCR) at +4.3. In addition, there are 16 sires in Select’s genomic young sire lineup at +3.0 or greater for SCR and 12 of these sires are also greater than +2500 GTPI. If you want high-fertility, high-performing sires, check out 7HO12998 THONMAKER (+2781 GTPI, +3.1 SCR), 7HO12978 HOUSE (+2781 GTPI, +3.2 SCR) and 7HO13504 JAGUAR (+2749 GTPI, +3.0 SCR). If your preference is for high-fertility sires that excel for Net Merit, Select Sires offers 10 Super Samplers and one GenerVations young sire at or over +850 NM$ and +2.0 SCR.
Select Sires continues to innovate the use of data to benefit customer-owners and is the first and only A.I. organization to identify their highest performing sires for sex-sorted semen in both 2M and 4M products. In March, Select Sires introduced a new designation for sires achieving high fertility in sex-sorted semen to provide a useful tool to help breeders maximize success with sex-sorted semen and enhance the return on their semen investment. The Elite Sexed Fertility™ designation is based on Select’s Combined Fertility Index™ (CFI™), which combines information from several large-scale sire fertility analysis systems. New data will be reviewed monthly to track performance and new sires may earn the designation between sire summaries. In April, six young sires qualified for this designation, including 507HO12837 ZAMBONI, 507HO12897 SAMURI, 507HO13276 BOWEN, 507HO13328 YALE, 507HO13373 FLAGSHIP and 509HO12742 FOXHOLE. For the most up-to-date listing of designees, visit the Select Sires website.
7HO12922 DELIGHT tops Select Sires’ Type rankings at +4.25, followed closely by 7HO13730 UNDENIED at +4.24. DELIGHT is a 7HO11596 DEFIANT son from the famous Barbie cow family. He is an udder improvement specialist, ranking extremely well for fore udder attachment (+4.59), udder cleft (+3.28), udder depth (+3.82), all contributing to a superior Udder Composite (+3.13). Both DELIGHT and UNDENIED rank in the top five young sires within the Holstein breed.
Select Sires’ Showcase Selections™ lineup is packed with ultra-strong genomic young sires, including 7HO13839 TATOO (+3.97 PTAT, +3.63 UDC, +$178 WT$), 7HO12773 KENOSHA (+3.55 PTAT, +3.00 UDC, +2.00 FLC) and GenerVations sires 250HO12961 DOC (+3.97 PTAT, +2.83 UDC, +2.07 FLC) and 250HO12589 JACOBY (+3.87 PTAT, +3.12 UDC).
To view Select Sires’ complete young sire lineup, please visit www.selectsires.com or contact your local Select Sires sales representative.
Based in Plain City, Ohio, Select Sires Inc., is North America’s largest A.I. organization and is comprised of nine farmer-owned and -controlled cooperatives. As the industry leader, it provides highly fertile semen as well as excellence in service and programs to achieve its basic objective of supplying dairy and beef producers with North America’s best genetics at a reasonable price.
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.
It’s been a month since David Sammons got the letter, and he’s still not quite sure what to do. He’s no stranger to a bad year; he’s been farming in Horse Cave since 1982 and has seen good times and troubled ones. “We lost $90,000 in 2009,” he says. “It makes you stop and wonder, ‘what the heck am I even doing this for?’”
But the current dilemma feels different.
TWO GENERATIONS of the Waldridge family ended their family’s 40-year old dairy operation on March 25. While the family enjoyed success for decades, industry changes andskyrocketing costs will deny the younger generation the opportunity to continue the business. Photo courtesy of Erin Waldridge.
Dean Foods, the primary buyer of the milk Sammons and his wife Bonnie produce at Forever Farms, home to 250 dairy cattle, has announced that they’ll no longer be taking any after June 1. Some 30 Kentucky farmers got the same news, and it’s just the latest blow to a sector that was already struggling.
Unlike producers of shelf-stable commodities, dairy folk obviously can’t just hold on to their product till the price goes up. And the price, at the moment, shows no signs of doing that. Demand is low, supply is high, and super-sized producers such as Borden, with their economies of scale, have been squeezing out smaller ones for decades.
“Milk is cheaper than water at Wal-Mart right now,” says Sammons. After hovering around $16 per hundredweight in 2017, milk prices have slumped another couple of dollars this year; meanwhile, the farmer’s cost to produce that amount is about $22. Wal-Mart’s plan to open a major milk processing plant in Indiana is considered by many to be a likely factor in the Dean’s decision.
“Kentucky dairy farmers are facing one of the most difficult times in recent memory,” acknowledges Kentucky Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “From the moment I learned of this problem, my office began discussions with key stakeholders and industry leaders. My office is currently working with the Kentucky Dairy Development Council to search for new markets where our dairy farmers can sell their product.”
Monroe County farmer and Dairy Development Council representative Mark Williams isn’t at all sure that those new markets will come fast enough to make a difference for smaller milk producers. “It’s not going real well,” he says. “I was at a sale barn at Smith’s Grove and they were selling a couple of herds…Everybody’s in the same shape as we are. One herd sold out a month ago. And what kills people is that even to sell out and quit, cattle prices have dropped.”
That’s the dilemma facing Sammons and others like him. “Our special little niche has been taking really good care of our cows and having a sale every three or four years, and we were able to get $2400, $2600 apiece,” he says. “Now a dairy cow sells for $800. If I have to sell right now, I’ll be taking a $250,000 loss; like all farmers, that’s our retirement we’re talking about. I really don’t want to liquidate my assets for a third of what they’re worth.”
Kentucky is the 27th largest milk producer in the US, and in our region, only Barren and Metcalfe make it into the state’s top seven milk-producing counties. But even in Monroe County, where five family dairies showed up for last year’s county fair, and in Hart, which had 200 dairy farms within Sammons’ memory and now has eight, it’s always been more about the lifestyle and the excellence.
“Consumers are better served if they want low prices, which does seem to be what people want, but our society is losing part of its fabric,” says Sammons. “We started with 40 cows. I don’t think that would be possible for young people now. There will be jobs in dairy going forward, but most of them will involve working for the big places.”
The very nature of that work is changing; Barren County dairy Malvern Hills installed the first robotic milking system in the state in June 2017. The trend toward bigger and bigger producers is one that won’t be easily countered.
“We dairymen are our own worst enemy,” writes second generation dairyman H.H. Barlow III of Barlu Farms near Cave City. “In 1997, the U.S. had 112,000 dairy farms with 9.4 million cows annually producing 155 billion pounds of fluid milk. In 2017, we only had 40,000 dairy farms with the same 9.4 million cows producing 215 billion pounds of fluid milk. That’s a 39% increase in production with the same number of cows. We do a much better job of caring for and managing our cows today, plus gaining major advantages in cow nutrition and genetics. Our improved production has not improved our financial situation.”
Congress and the USDA adjusted the Margin Protection Program payments for dairy earlier this year, but price supports are not overwhelmingly popular in the current political climate.
“The dairy industry has been hit particularly hard as milk prices fell and left farmers with incredibly slim margins to try to continue operating,” said Congressman James Comer (R-1st Congressional District) in an emailed comment. “Earlier this year Congress took steps to try to strengthen existing federal dairy programs. I look forward to continuing that work to provide security for not just dairy farmers, but all farmers, ranchers and rural Americans as we move toward a new Farm Bill.” Past Farm Bills have been widely criticized for helping to create the current situation by funneling subsidies to big producers.
Barlow favors creating “a national board of individual dairymen where each dairyman stands independently and does not bow to the rule of high powered corporate leaders and co-ops. This board could meet quarterly to evaluate the previous quarter’s production and sales and establish production limits to meet sales. This board should be elected regionally with each dairy having one vote with absolutely no block voting.”
Any solution had better come quickly to help Sammons and others in his situation.
“We’ve had a good career and been very successful until right now at the end,” he says.
“We’ll be alright, although if you talked to me the day I got the letter or the day I have to sell these cows…that would be real hard. But there are young people who got those letters whose whole career is being taken away by a decision made in Dallas, and that’s just not the right way to solve the problem, not when others who do a much worse job are still selling. Capitalism…it’s great when it works. But sometimes it can be ugly when it comes to your door.”
THE UNITED STATES had 112,000 dairy farms in 1997; only 40,000 of them remained in 2017. While southern Kentucky has been heralded as dairy farm center, most counties have only a few small family dairy farms still in operation. Photo courtesy of Erin Waldridge.
Keith Brunner of Cedar Red Dairy near Denmark, Wis. was milking cows when he heard cracking noises, followed by the roof collapsing. All workers made it out safely, but as of the news report some cows still remained trapped. WFRV in Green Bay, Wis. reported on the collapse.
Due to the recent heavy snowfall there is reason to have concern over heavy snow loads on farm buildings. There have been reports of farm buildings going down in Wisconsin. In addition, many have concerns for buildings that still have significant amounts of snow on them especially if more snow falls before the current snow melts or slides off.
“Snow and ice accumulations on roofs cause a loading which can cause roof collapse when the roof is not strong enough to resist the load,” said Brian Holmes, University of Wisconsin-Extension emeritus agricultural engineer.
He added, “The more dense the snow and ice, the greater the load for a given depth. Wind blown-off and snow slide-off can reduce snow load on a roof. However snow drifting into leeward or lower roofs and valleys and snow slide onto lower roofs can add significant loads from accumulated snow.”
In addition to estimating the roof loading, it’s important to know the loading the roof can resist.
Wisconsin’s Uniform Dwelling Code requires most homes to have a minimum snow load rating of 30-40 pounds per square foot (lbs/ft2 ), with the greater requirement for Northern Wisconsin. Agricultural structures are exempt from this requirement. Furthermore, structural failures can occur at snow loads less than the building was designed for if:
Structure was not designed, just built.
Trusses/rafters/purlins/ with reduced quality materials or smaller dimensions than specified in design were used.
Trusses/rafters/purlins installed at a wider spacing than specified.
Critical bracing not installed or improperly installed
Moisture condensed on or leaked onto structural members can cause decay/corrosion weakening the structure. Top chords of trusses, rafters, purlins and truss plates are particularly susceptible.
Loads added to the roof which were not considered in the original design. Examples include: ceiling, roof surface overlay, equipment installed on roof or hung from trusses.
At snow loads greater than recommended or if the structure is showing stress from the snow (sagging, trusses out of alignment or bowed, creaking sounds etc.), you may need to remove some snow.
If you are unsure of the snow load on your roof, a ballpark estimate can be made using the formula:
Calculated Roof Loading (lb/ft2) = Depth (ft) x Density (lb/ft2 /ft depth).
The approximate density (lb/ft2 /ft depth) for light snow is 5-20, packed snow 20-40, packed snow with ice 40-58, and ice 58. So for example, a roof with three feet of light snow has a estimated roof loading of 60 lb/ft2 (3 ft depth X 20 lb/ft2/ft depth density = 60 lb/ft2).
Removing Snow – Use Caution
If you need to remove snow from a roof, use caution. Falls from roofs or from ladders going to the roof can easily occur. Removing snow can allow the snow up slope to suddenly slide down, burying people or animals below. Using a roof rake from a safe distance away can reduce some of this risk to the person removing the snow.
Some precautions to take when removing snow from a roof:
In uninsulated sheds, use a portable heater to warm the interior enough to encourage snow to slide off the roof so you don’t have to manually remove it. Unvented heaters can cause oxygen depletion and carbon monoxide accumulation in an unventilated space. Plan to ventilate the warmed shed before reentering.
Use a snow roof rake if at all possible. This allows you to stand on the ground in a safe place. Check the local hardware store or building supply store. Removing snow from the edge of the roof could allow snow above the edge to avalanche. Make sure you are out of the fall zone when scraping snow from a smooth roof surface.
Use fall protection equipment when workers are on the roof. Tie workers off so they don’t fall from the roof.
If ladders are used, locate and secure them so they do not fall while workers are standing on them. Also, locate ladders so they do not fall if snow slides off the roof knocking workers off the ladder or leaving them stranded on the roof.
Generally remove snow from the most heavily loaded areas first.
Remove snow in narrow strips instead of large areas to help keep loading somewhat uniform.
Don’t pile removed snow onto snow-covered roof areas increasing the load in those areas.
Use plastic shovels or wooden roof rakes to avoid damaging roofing material.
Don’t feel as if all snow must be removed. A layer of snow next to the roof surface can protect the surface from damage during the snow removal process.
Do not pick or chip at ice near the roof surface to avoid damaging roofing material.
Do not use snow blowers as they can damage the roof.
Semifinalists in the 96th Annual Holstein Association USA Distinguished Junior Member contest, a competition recognizing excellence in the Junior Holstein Association, are announced.
Established in 1922, this contest is the longest running Holstein youth program. The Distinguished Junior Member award is the highest honor given to members of the National Junior Holstein Association, ages 17 to 21, in recognition of a commitment to the Holstein breed and involvement in a variety of agriculture related activities.
The 2018 Distinguished Junior Members Semifinalists are:
Alexandra Gambonini, Petaluma, Ca., daughter of Frank and Stacey Gambonini
Daniel Kitchen, Danville, Pa., son of Randall and Patricia Kitchen
Haely Leiding, Fountain, Minn., daughter of Todd and Stacy Leiding
Kayla Leiding, Fountain, Minn., daughter of Todd and Stacy Leiding
Samuel Minch, Green Bay, Wis., son of Glenn and Shelby Minch
Austin Nauman, Norwalk, Wis., son of Danielle Nauman and Scott Stanford
Erin Norris, Westhampton, Mass., daughter of Karl and Lisa Norris
Joseph Opsal, Blue Mounds, Wis., son of Troy Opsal and Jane Sarbacker
Taylor Pool, Robesonia, Pa., daughter of David and Martha Pool
Nicholas Logan Potts, Purcellville, Va., son of Mike and Nancy Potts
Mary Scott, Westgate, Iowa, daughter of Mike and Kathleen Scott
Danielle Warmka, Fox Lake, Wis., daughter of Russ and Laura Warmka
Each of the semifinalists completed an entry book, detailing their Junior Holstein project work, involvement with their cattle, program participation, and school and community activities.
The twelve semifinalists will interview at the National Holstein Convention, June 29-July 3, 2018 in Acme, Mich. Six finalists are announced at the Junior Awards Luncheon on July 3 at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.
Finalists receive annual renewed memberships to Holstein Association USA. All Junior Holstein members, ages 17 to 21 are eligible to apply for the Distinguished Junior Member recognition.
For more information about the DJM contest or other Holstein youth programs, visit www.holsteinusa.com/juniors, or contact Kelli Dunklee at 800.952.5200, ext. 4124 or by email.
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?”
At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Dairy prices were up Tuesday. Class Three April milk was up $.06 at $14.48 a hundredweight. May was up $.15 to $14.95. June was up $.21 to 15.37. July was up $.16 to $15.90. The milk futures from August through next March closed between eight and seventeen cents higher.
Grade AA Butter was up $.0075 at $2.2925 per pound. Seven carloads sold between $2.2850 and $2.2925. Barrels were up $.02 to $1.48 per pound. Thirteen carloads sold with prices from $1.46 to $1.48. 40-pound blocks were up $.0250 at $1.63 per pound. One carload sold at $1.6075. Nonfat dry milk was up $.0375 at $.77 per pound. Five carloads sold with prices ranging from $.76 to $.77. Dry whey was up $.0025 to $.3075 cents per pound. One carload sold at $.31 cents per pound.
The A2 Milk Company is expanding into South Korea after signing a distribution deal with pharmaceutical giant Yuhan Corporation. expansion
A2 says South Korea is an attractive market because it has high per capita dairy consumption, world-class retailers and fast-growing online sales.
A2 MIlk says Yuhan Corporation has capabilities in pharmaceuticals and consumer goods.
“Yuhan Corporation is a long-established, highly credentialed and principled Korean business,” A2 Milk chief executive Geoffrey Babidge said in a statement on Monday.
” We share similar values and ambitions, and with our complimentary capabilities believe that together we can build a meaningful business in Korea.”
Yuhan and A2 will launch a range of dairy nutritional products sourced from Australia and New Zealand, with sales expected to start between July and December this year.
Shares in A2 Milk were 8.5 cents, or 0.7 per cent, higher at $11.68 at 1225 AEST on Monday.
“Yuhan Corporation is a long established, highly credentialed and principled Korean business,” a2 managing director Geoff Babidge said. “We share similar values and ambitions, and with our complimentary capabilities believe that together we can build a meaningful business in Korea.”
The milk marketing firm first tried to enter South Korea with an exclusive distribution deal with Purmil, formerly Lotte Dairy, to sell fresh A2 milk in the Asian nation in 2007. Purmil chose to pull A2 milk from the Korean market in late 2008 year, prompting a2 Milk to sue in 2010. A settlement was eventually reached in 2011.
Separately, a2 said it was about to introduce a new powder product blended with New Zealand sourced Manuka honey.
That comes the same day Manuka honey health products maker Comvita said it may face a takeover with an unnamed third party undertaking due diligence, while also downgrading annual earnings guidance as wet weather weighed on honey production.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
A senior American lawmaker is demanding changes that would open Canada’s dairy market as part of any new NAFTA, a sign of the lingering irritants holding up a deal.
Senior Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer has sent a letter on the issue to U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer.
His request illustrates the ongoing differences between the countries despite predictions about a deal being close, including from U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence who over the weekend said an agreement could be achieved within weeks.
Schumer is urging the U.S. team to seize a rare opportunity to lower what he calls Canada’s “dairy wall,” and says opening up the market must be a top priority.
“Securing meaningful and enforceable commitments that will allow U.S. dairy producers to compete with Canada’s on a level playing field should be a top priority in NAFTA renegotiations,” Schumer wrote in the letter, which he released publicly Monday.
“As I have expressed to you many times, I strongly believe that we should not miss this opportunity to protect our dairy producers from Canada’s recent predatory trade practices.”
Schumer isn’t the only leading legislator for whom it is a priority; the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, is from the dairy-producing state of Wisconsin and also considers it a key issue.
The view of American lawmakers matters in a trade negotiation.
U.S. law requires that they must eventually vote to ratify any agreement, and that they be consulted throughout the bargaining process by American trade negotiators.
Lighthizer told lawmakers at a recent hearing that dairy will likely be one of the final issues to be resolved. He expressed some understanding that the topic is politically sensitive in Canada, where the dairy industry is concentrated in the two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec.
The countries do not have free trade in dairy — and the U.S. is calling for two changes.
Over the longer term, it wants the elimination of Canada’s supply-management system. The system limits competition, but guarantees stability on Canadian farms by capping imports, imposing tariffs, and setting prices at the grocery store.
The shorter-term U.S. objective is to get Canada to eliminate its special rule allowing byproducts for cheese-making, skimmed off of milk, to be sold at non-supply managed, market prices.
The Canadian government’s view is that the U.S. also protects its dairy market in other ways, such as price-stabilization programs and counselling services when prices crash and farms face collapse.
Some Canadian industry defenders point to analysis that U.S. farmers consistently sell dairy at below-market prices, because they benefit from a patchwork of policies to keep them profitable.
Despite February all milk prices showing a continued decline, March Class III and Class IV show early indications of a slow down in that price drop. March Class III was $0.82 higher and Class IV was $0.17 higher than the previous m-onth. Predicted mailbox prices for Pennsylvania based on Class III and Class IV prices will continue to fluctuate between $15.50 and $16.75 for the next several months (Gould, 2018).
The Penn State Extension Dairy Team recently completed the collection of 2017 actual costs during our 2018 cash flow planning season. To reflect the changes in dairy operations, the 3 year average breakeven Pennsylvania IOFC breakeven and milk margin breakeven have been adjusted to $9.00/milk cow/day and $12.33/cwt, respectfully. this encompasses year end actual data from 2015 thru 2017. Since December, Pennsylvania average IOFC has been below this three year average. Each farms breakeven, received milk price, production, and feed costs will be unique. Tracking indvidual IOFC and/or milk margin monthly will help guide management decisions to weather the current downturn.
Table 1: 12 month Pennsylvania and U.S. All Milk Income, Feed Cost, Income over Feed Cost ($/milk cow/day)
¹Based on corn, alfalfa hay, and soybean meal equivalents to produce 75 lbs. of milk (Bailey & Ishler, 2007)
²The 3 year average actual IOFC breakeven in Pennsylvania from 2015-2017 was $9.00 ± $1.67 ($/milk cow/day) (Beck, Ishler, Goodling, 2018).
Table 2: 12 month Pennsylvania and U.S. All Milk Price, Feed Cost, Milk Margin ($/cwt for lactating cows)
¹Based on corn, alfalfa hay, and soybean meal equivalents to produce 75 lbs. of milk (Bailey & Ishler, 2007)
²The 3 year average actual Milk Margin breakeven in Pennsylvania from 2015-2017 was $12.33 ± $2.29 ($/cwt) (Beck, Ishler, Goodling, 2018).
Figure 1: 12 month PA Milk Income and Income over Feed Cost
²The 3 year average actual IOFC breakeven in Pennsylvania from 2014-2016 was $8.97 ± $1.76 ($/milk cow/day) (Beck, Ishler, Goodling, 2017).
Figure 2: 24 month Actual and Predicted* Class III, Class IV, and Pennsylvania Average Mailbox Price ($/cwt)
*Predicted values based on Class III and Class IV futures regression (Gould, 2018).
Table 3: 24 month Actual and Predicted* Class III, Class IV, and Pennsylvania Average Mailbox Price ($/cwt)
Class III Price
Class IV Price
Average PA Mailbox Price
*Italicized predicted values based on Class III and Class IV futures regression (Gould, 2018).
To look at feed costs and estimated income over feed costs at varying production levels by zip code, check out the Penn State Extension Dairy Teams DairyCents or DairyCents Proapps today.
Data sources for price data
All Milk Price: Pennsylvania and U.S. All Milk Price (USDA, 2018)
Predicted Class III, Class IV, and Pennsylvania Mailbox Price (average of the Eastern and Western PA mailbox Price) (Gould, 2018)
Alfalfa Hay: Pennsylvania and U.S. monthly Alfalfa Hay Price (USDA, 2018)
Corn Grain: Pennsylvania and U.S. monthly Corn Grain Price (USDA, 2018)
Soybean Meal: Feed Price List (Ishler, 2018) and average of Decatur, Illinois Rail and Truck Soybean Meal, High Protein prices, National Feedstuffs (Gould, 2018).
As Americans meet their April 17 tax return deadline, it’s a good time to note how food and agriculture fund government.
After graduating from law school and marrying my wife, Christie, I moved to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, then a town of about 8,000. I rolled up my sleeves and went to work at my father-in-law’s firm.
Many of our clients were farmers. I remember them coming to our office in March and April with boxes of receipts under their arms.
My job: Sort through those scraps of paper to help these hard-working farm families fill out their income tax returns and get them in the mail on time to Des Moines and Washington, D.C.
Dairy truly delivers
I thought of those farmers as I dug into data from “Dairy Delivers,”a publicly available economic impact tool created by the International Dairy Foods Association.
As Americans meet their April 17 deadline for filing taxes this year they can thank the U.S. dairy industry for creating $64 billionin tax revenues, according to Dairy Delivers.
“Dairy Delivers” examines dairy’s economic ripple effect on other sectors of the national economy and concludes dairy is responsible for $24.9 billion in state and local business tax revenues and another $39.5 billion in federal business tax revenues.
Below is one of the many one-page reports the tool can generate.
Click image above to download a PDF of IDFA’s one-page U.S. economic impact report (it may take a few seconds). Go to the “Dairy Delivers” online tool to get the economic impact of dairy on each of the 48 mainland states and all 435 congressional districts.
IDFA engaged John Dunham and Associates, an economic research firm, to quantify and break down the economic impact of dairy on the 48 mainland states and all 435 congressional districts.
This is a tool that provides a wealth of information to everyone in the U.S. dairy industry and anyone who cares about jobs, taxes and our state and national economies.
California dairy alone generates nearly $12 billion in tax revenues
California dairy generates the most tax revenues ($11.9 billion) among the states, followed by Wisconsin ($5.9 billion). I was curious about Iowa, where I served two terms as governor.
Iowa dairy contributes $327.8 million in local and state taxes and sends another $569.3 million to the Internal Revenue Service in Washington.
How important are those tax revenues to Iowa and other cash-strapped state governments?
Dairy helps states balance their budgets
Unlike the federal government, many states must balance their budget. It’s the law.
Iowa’s state government made headlines last year when the governor had to borrow $13 million from the state’s economic emergency fund. Iowans hate having to do that.
It’s almost inconceivable what Iowa would have to do without the $327.8 billion created by the dairy industry.
But dairy is just one part of a larger food and agriculture sector that fuels Iowa and the U.S. economy.
1 out of 5 jobs connected to food and agriculture
An economic impact study also done by John Dunham and Associates found that more than one-fifth (20.4 percent) of the nation’s economy is linked, either directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors and that more than one-fourth of all American jobs (28 percent) are similarly connected. The findings are available at FeedingTheEconomy.com.
This fresh economic impact data shows how dependent America is on food and agriculture industries. We deserve more attention than we are getting from policymakers.
Future growth relies on exports
One timely focus of policymakers should be protecting and pursuing free-trade agreements that create a level playing field for agriculture exports, including dairy.
About 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States, and much of it needs to import U.S. agriculture products. The U.S. dairy industry saw this coming decades ago and began investing in export strategies.
Consequently, U.S. dairy exports have increased 604 percent since 1995, to $5.5 billion last year. Global demand is projected to continue to rise.
Nearly 1 out of 7 gallons of U.S. milk is turned into dairy products and ingredients shipped overseas. Through a U.S. Dairy Export Council initiative called The Next 5%, we aim to increase exports’ share to one out of 5 gallons of U.S. milk produced.
More exports will increase dairy’s economic footprint, creating more jobs and more tax revenue here in the United States.
Sources for chart above: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Dairy Export Council.
Bottom line at tax time: Dairy is needed to pay the bills
Dairy is a tax-generating jobs machine, and it’s just one sector among many in agriculture. Tax time is a good time for policymakers to remember just how much they need us to pay the bills. Protecting and enhancing exports will ensure our state and federal governments get a big tax return from dairy for years to come.
Demand for organic food is on the increase and some farmers in Eastern Ontario have jumped on the dairy train, getting into the market of producing hormone, antibiotic and pesticide free milk. Some farmers have turned their traditional operations to organic and some are even going so far as adding robots to take over milking duties, including Josef Heinzle of St-Eugene and Albert Bot of Glen Robertson.
“It used to be unheard of that organic farmers had robots,” says Donald McCrimmon of Boreraig Farms south of Vankleek Hill. McCrimmon milks about 50 cows and has supplied the non-organic sector for over 50 years.
“Organic farmers have to let their cows out to pasture so many hours a day and that usually doesn’t happen when you have a barn with robots. That’s why it’s so unusual that these guys are going robotic.”
Heinzle explains that he’ll be installing two new Lely milking robots this summer to improve production, to decrease time in the barn and increase cow comfort. He’ll continue to ship organic milk from their 80 mixed herd of dairy cows as well as selling 300,000 liters of their Pinehedge yogurt made on the premises and sold at the farm gate. “I’m building a barn with many doors so cows have access to pasture most of the day,” the Austrian-born Heinzle explains. “ Though there’s less work milking, we’ll now have more to do maintaining pastures and trying to keep production stable. It’s more manageable when cows are in the barn all the time and their production is easier to monitor.”
Heinzle and wife Laila are convinced that organic is the way to go and that the addition of robots will be beneficial for both them and their customers. Though organic dairy farmers don’t receive much more money for their produce that is regulated under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), they receive many more incentive days than traditional dairy farmers.
Incentive credits are available to all dairy producers when they ship outside their quota. The allowances vary per month, but according to McCrimmon many more are given to organic farmers, making the industry more enticing. “There’s less investment needed because we need less quota. It’s easier to start in organic,” explains Heinzle. “But again, there’s more work. We cultivate seven to eight times more often than the average farmer because we can’t use pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.”
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.
The Wendorf family of Crescentmead Holsteins hosted The RedFest With a Touch of Black 2018 on April 14 in Ixonia, WI. 58 lots sold for an average of $2225.
Lot 1, Apple-Pts Rb Areva-Red, is a Redburst Summer yearling x EX-96 Apple. She sold for $8300 to Sweet Peas Holsteins,
Topping the sale was Lot 1, Apple-Pts RB Ateva-Red-ET, selling for $8300 to Sweet Peas Holsteins, PA. The Redburst Summer Yearling is a daughter of EX-96 Apple and a full sister to All-American Miss Snapple Apple-Red (EX-94) She was consigned by Apple Partners, IL.
The 2nd highest seller at $5,400 was Crave Diamond Autumn 10587, sold to Cody Waller, IA. The Diamondback Spring yearling is out of a VG-85-2Y Atwood x EX-91 Zenith x EX-91 x EX-92. A full sister to the dam, Crave Atwood Anna 9121, was All-WI & HM Junior All-American Spring Yearling in 2016, and her grandam was HM All-American Spring Yearling in 2007. She was consigned by Crave Brothers Farm LLC, WI.
Rounding out the top sellers at $5000 was Lot 19, DJLPurePride Arlft Aleve-ET, consigned by Pure Pride Show Cattle, WI. The Airlift Summer Yearling is from a VG-88 Golden x EX-90 Braxton x EX-94 Durham with 7 more VG/EX dams behind her. She was purchased by Eric Wachtendonk & Zach Evenson, WI.
At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Milk was up but the butter prices were down Monday. Class Three April milk was up $.01 at $14.42 a hundredweight. May was up $.10 to $14.80. June was up $.06 to 15.16. July was up $.04 to $15.74. The milk futures from August through next March closed between one and five cents higher.
Grade AA Butter was down $.0025 at $2.2850 per pound. Two carloads sold at that price. Barrels were unchanged at $1.46 per pound. Seven carloads sold at that price. 40-pound blocks were unchanged at $1.6050 per pound. No sales were recorded. Nonfat dry milk was unchanged at $.7325 per pound. Three carloads sold at that price. Dry whey was unchanged at $.3050 cents per pound. No sales were recorded.
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.
WHAT ARE THE TPP AND CPTPP?
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.
“I would do TPP if we made a much better deal than we had. We had a horrible deal.”
HOW WOULD THE U.S. REJOIN THE TRADE PACT?
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.
A BETTER DEAL?
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 “
Dutch company Connecterra has brought its IDA system, or “Intelligent Dairy Farmer’s Assistant,” to the U.S. after having piloted it in Europe for several years.
The IDA uses a motion-sensing device attached to a cow’s neck to transmit its movements to a program driven by AI and the sensor data eventually allows IDA to tell a cow’s behavior from data alone.
The system could help farmers greatly increase their productivity.
Is the world ready for cows armed with artificial intelligence?
No time to ruminate on that because the moment has arrived, thanks to a Dutch company that has married two technologies — motion sensors and AI — with the aim of bringing the barnyard into the 21st century.
The company, Connecterra, has brought its IDA system, or “The Intelligent Dairy Farmer’s Assistant,” to the United States after having piloted it in Europe for several years.
IDA uses a motion-sensing device attached to a cow’s neck to transmit its movements to a program driven by AI. The sensor data, when aligned repeatedly with real-world behavior, eventually allows IDA to tell from data alone when a cow is chewing cud, lying down, walking, drinking or eating.
Those indicators can predict whether a particular cow is ill, has become less productive, or is ready to breed — alerting the farmer to changes in behavior that might otherwise be easily missed.
“It would just be impossible for us to keep up with every animal on an individual basis,” says Richard Watson, one of the first four U.S. farmers to use IDA since it launched commercially in December.
Watson, who owns the Seven Oaks Dairy in Waynesboro, Georgia, says having a computer identify which cows in his 2,000-head herd need attention could help improve farm productivity as much as 10 percent, which would mean hundreds of thousands of dollars to his family.
“If we can prove out that these advantages exist from using this technology … I think adoption of IDA across a broad range of farming systems, particularly large farming systems, would be a no-brainer,” Watson says.
Dairy farming is just one industry benefiting from AI, which is being applied in fields as diverse as journalism, manufacturing and self-driving cars. In agriculture, AI is being developed to estimate crop health using drone footage and parse out weed killer between rows of cotton.
Yasir Khokhar, the former Microsoft employee who is the founder and CEO of Connecterra, said the inspiration for the idea came after living on a dairy farm south of Amsterdam.
“It turns out the technology farmers use is really outdated in many respects,” he says. “What does exist is very cumbersome to use, yet agriculture is one of those areas that desperately needs technology.”
Underlying IDA is Google’s open-source TensorFlow programming framework, which has helped spread AI to many disciplines. It’s a language built on top of the commonly used Python code that helps connect data from text, images, audio or sensors to neural networks — the algorithms that help computers learn. The language has been downloaded millions of times and has about 1,400 people contributing code, only 400 of whom work at Google, according to product manager Sandeep Gupta.
He says TensorFlow can be used by people with only high-school level math and some programming skills.
“We’re continuing this journey making it easier and easier to use,” Gupta says.
TensorFlow has been used to do everything from helping NASA scientists find planets using the Kepler telescope, to assisting a tribe in the Amazon detect the sounds of illegal deforestation, according to Google spokesman Justin Burr.
Google hopes users adapt the open-source code to discover new applications that the company could someday use in its own business.
Even without AI, sensors are helping farmers keep tabs on their herds.
Mary Mackinson Faber, a fifth-generation farmer at the Mackinson Dairy Farm near Pontiac, Illinois, says a device attached to a cow’s tail developed by Irish company Moocall sends her a text when a cow is ready to give birth, so she can be there to make sure nothing goes wrong. Moocall doesn’t use AI — it simply sends a text when a certain threshold of spinal contractions in the tail are exceeded.
While she calls it a “great tool,” she says it takes human intuition to do what’s right for their animals.
“There are certain tasks that it can help with, and it can assist us, but I don’t think it will ever replace the human.”
Kyle Kurt fought to keep his emotions just below the surface as he talked about selling off his herd of Holstein dairy cows, which he’s milked twice a day, 365 days a year, through good times and bad.
Dairy farming has been Kurt’s livelihood, and his passion, since he graduated from Lodi High School 18 years ago. But come Monday, he’s having an auction to sell his cows, his milking equipment, his tractors and other farm machinery that he’s spent years acquiring.
“It’s probably the toughest decision I have ever had to make,” Kurt said, “but I have been told it’s going to be a big weight lifted off my back.”
Scores of Wisconsin farmers are in a similar predicament. And with them, a way of life that has defined much of the state for more than a century and a half is disintegrating.
With collapsed prices of milk, grain and other commodities, farmers are losing money no matter how many 16-hour days they put in milking cows, caring for livestock, and planting and harvesting crops.
“It’s pretty tough waking up every morning, going to the barn, and not being able to pay your bills, especially when you’re putting in that many hours,” Kurt said. “Something’s got to change or the small farms are going to be gone.”
Entire communities are falling apart as small farms go under, said John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders, a Madison based advocacy group.
Grain mills, car dealerships and hardware stores suffer. The local tax base erodes. Churches and schools struggle or close.
“The multiplier effect on the rural economy is huge. It’s why you are seeing all these boarded-up small towns,” Peck said.
Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year, putting the total number of milk-cow herds at around 7,600 — down 20% from five years ago. Wochit
“Drive around Wisconsin and you will see empty barns all over,” said Elizabeth Schlintz, a dairy farmer from Bangor and a lender with a community bank.
Unless something is done to save small family farms, she said, they will “be a thing of the past within the next few years.”
Small dairy farms have been disappearing from the rural landscape for decades, but the problem has been compounded by a sharp decline in farm-milk prices that’s now in its third year and has spread across the country.
Farm cooperatives have urged members to think twice about adding more cows to their operations when the marketplace is awash in milk. Some have even offered incentives for members to quit farming altogether.
Federal court data shows the Western District of Wisconsin had the highest number of Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies in the nation in 2017, and that’s only a glimpse into the problem since Chapter 12 is a relatively rare tool used in bankruptcies.
Farmers say the downturn is worse than one they experienced in 2009 because it’s lasted longer and their costs are higher now. Many dairy operations are drowning in debt; and in some cases, they have a half-million dollars in unpaid bills.
“You need a good year to make up for what you lost,” Kurt said, figuring that he’s used up about $150,000 in his farm equity to weather this downturn.
“It’s at the point where it would be reckless for me to keep going and burn through everything I have worked for the last 18 years,” he added.
Schlintz and others said the stress level for farmers and their families is punishing.
“Farmer suicide numbers are going up now too,” Peck said. “Every time the phone rings I am worried about another farm going bankrupt or someone feeling suicidal.”
Some farmers cover up taking their own life by making it look like a farm accident, said Joel Greeno, president of Family Farm Defenders and a farmer near Kendall in southwest Wisconsin.
“These guys start thinking they’re worth more dead than alive, so their families can collect the insurance,” he said.
Bruce Drinkman of Glenwood City has been down the road that Kurt wants to avoid, a troubled path that involved bankruptcy and a lot of personal pain.
Drinkman’s farm, named Desperation Acres, was foreclosed on a few days before Christmas in 2010.
He and his wife, Mari, used her retirement fund to pay off some loans and keep their organic dairy operation of 55 milk cows afloat for a while — but it wasn’t enough.
After nearly three years of legal wrangling in bankruptcy court, clinging to the hope of getting a fresh start, they gave up.
“If you don’t have a good attorney, you are asking for a boatload of trouble,” Drinkman said about fighting to save a farm through the court system.
“You can really get screwed over.”
He had purchased Desperation Acres from his father, who purchased it from his father. Bruce and Mari raised five children on the farm, which had 140 acres of fresh, verdant pasture for the cows.
At times, their milk price was sufficient to carve out a decent living in the hill country west of Eau Claire. But there were hard times, Drinkman said, including an especially bad downturn in the 1980s.
“And what’s going on now is making that time look good,” he said.
As they struggled to keep their farm going, Mari battled leukemia and Bruce got a serious shoulder injury that sidelined him from some of the heavy, physical work.
The couple eventually sold their cows, and Mari died last Christmas Eve at age 59.
Last fall, Bruce worked on another dairy farm for a while. But he quit after the farm owner complained about him taking three weeks off to care for his critically ill wife.
“I just walked away,” he said.
A lot of small farms in his area are gone now, Drinkman said, wiped out by round after round of low commodity prices, rising costs and the children of farmers not wanting to follow in their parents’ footsteps.
“I mean, it’s scary,” he said.
More debt than ever
Schlintz and her husband, Alex, have a 60-cow dairy operation that they spent a lot of money on in 2015 — adding a barn and upgrading equipment — before the milk price crashed.
If not for their off-the-farm income, she said, they would be in trouble like so many other dairy-farm families.
“The dream of a mom-and-pop dairy, where the mom stays home with the kids, doesn’t exist anymore,” Schlintz said.
At least one spouse, she said, has to work off the farm to get health insurance.
Often, farmers are land-rich but cash-poor, meaning their property may be worth millions, but their income isn’t sufficient to cover all of their expenses and loan payments.
Chapter 12 bankruptcy was created by Congress following the farm crisis of the 1980s, specifically for farms and commercial fishermen. It allows farmers to “cram down” secured debt, such as land mortgages, to a more affordable level.
The debt limit for a Chapter 12 filing is $4,135,150.
“At one time, that was a lot of money for a farmer. But today, in just one generation, there are many farms with more debt than that,” said David Krekeler, a Madison attorney who handles farm bankruptcies.
“The other qualifications for Chapter 12 aren’t that difficult to meet,” Krekeler said, and it can pave the way to a fresh start.
“If you weren’t an optimist, you wouldn’t be a farmer,” he said.
Most farmers use other means to sort out their finances, such as selling their livestock but hanging on to their crops.
“I am getting five or 10 calls a day from guys looking to sell,” said Cory Bidlingmaier with B&M Auctions in Browntown.
“One farmer, who sold out a week ago, told me that he was making more money from a part-time job milking somebody else’s cows than he could milking his own 80 cows,” Bidlingmaier said.
Many farmers will fight “tooth and nail” to keep from quitting, said Mike Lochner, an economic specialist with the Wisconsin Farm Center that’s part of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
“But we strongly advise them to preserve what equity they have left,” he said. “At least then they can get a fresh start.”
That’s what Kurt plans to do after Monday’s auction.
He’s already had multiple job offers, including one on a larger farm, and he plans to keep his hand in agriculture by raising some beef cattle and crops.
“One door closes and, hopefully, another one opens,” he said.
Kurt says he will miss milking the cows, and even the long days when he harvested crops in the middle of the night and then milked the cows a couple of hours later at five in the morning.
He wouldn’t be quitting if he could make ends meet.
“We are going on three years of this. That’s the problem,” he said.
He was only 20 years old when, in 2001, he bought a small herd of cows from a farm he had worked on. It was a natural step after he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course aimed at helping young farmers.
“It’s all I know, really, all I have done my whole life,” he said.
“Most farmers just love doing the work … but no one should have this much stress. I have been through the wringer the last few years.”
The 134th Annual General meeting of Holstein Canada was held in Quebec City in the province of Quebec today. Here are some highlights from the business session:
Jacobs Goldwyn Britany (Ex-96-2E-7*) was named Holstein Canada “Cow of the Year” for 2018. Britany is bred and owned by Ferme Jacobs Inc., Cap-Sante, Que.
Anne Louise Carson gave her CEO report and highlighted that 2017 was a very successful year with an increase in classification from 241,469 to 245,940 animals in 2017 showing a 2% increase. Members remained steady with a slight decrease however registrations had an increase of over 8000 registrations with Ontario and Quebec showing the biggest increase overall to contribute to the final 3% increase from 2016. Holstein Canada set a new record for registrations of 294,249 in 2017. In the classification program, 263,057 animals (Holstein and other breeds) were classified in 14,713 herd visits. The number of genomic tests performed by Holstein Canada was down to 18,233.
Gerald Schipper gave the financial report and noted the revenue from 2017 was up from 2016 by 772,088 with Expenses only up slightly from 2016 at 274,986. These revenues exceeded budget by 6% and expenses came right in on budget for 2017. The association reported a deficit of 406,045 for 2017. Development fund was well under budget at 13% under. The reserve fund is strong at a total balance of $5,133,887 with a respectable annual return of 3%. The outlook for 2018 is calling for a 4% increase in revenues and stable expenses. These initiatives focus on core services and have the potential for cost reduction, increase revenues and value-added benefits for our members for years to come.
Ann Louise noted the importance of moving on and noted that Holstein Canada’s role more than ever is to offer services and tools which bring added value to Canadian dairy producers. She mentioned the evolving partnerships with DFO, Canwest CDN and Valacta as well as the AI companies who continue to help improve our breed.
Both Holstein Canada President Orville Schmidt and CEO Ann Louise Carson stressed that “standing still” is not an option for the Association and that it needs to continue to evolve and ensure its services bring added value to members. “Technology is the cornerstone of dairying today and Holstein Canada needs to go down this path with its members. This is not the Association of the past,” said Carson. The challenge, she said, will be how to involve technology, but never lose the “people” part of the Association.
Ann Louise outlined 2018 priorities:
Proaction cattle assessments working on transitioning success of current contract as DFC service provider into further collaboration.
Continued technological enhancements and tweaking of core services to add value to customers
Continued collaboration with industry partners and other breeds
Continued enhancements to our programs
Jacobs Goldwyn Britany (Ex-96-2E-7*) was named Holstein Canada “Cow of the Year” for 2018. Britany is bred and owned by Ferme Jacobs Inc., Cap-Sante, Que.
The century of Holstein Awards were given out to Donovan, Island Blend and Maple Grove. The certificate of recognition was handed out to Jean Touchette of Quebec the breeder of Duregal Astre Starbuck and Doug Blair received the Certificate of Accomplishment. Tonight 20 MasterBreeders will be recognized during the gala. They include: Alley, Camphols, Cavanalack, Darwell, Doanlea, Florbil, Hyljon, Krul, Lesperee, Loyalyn, Mabel, Mactalla, Oostview, Outaouais, Pennview, Petitclerc, Rickeen, Seric, Spendcroft and Zimmer.
Harry Van der Linden of Lindenright Holsteins, Brierly Brook, Nova Scotia, has been elected President of the Holstein Association of Canada for 2018. His election came at a Board of Directors meeting held following the Association’s Annual Meeting on April 14th in Quebec City, Quebec. Elected as Vice-President and Board Chairman for the coming year was Gerald Schipper of Skipwell Holsteins, Aylmer, Ontario. Élyse Gendron of Val-Bisson Holstein, Saint-Polycarpe, Que., was elected Second Vice-President.
Four By-law amendments were approved. The most significant was an amendment that now allows Young Leader delegates the right to vote at the Annual Meeting in the year in which they are Young Leader Convention delegates.
In the Classification Advisory Committee update to members, Chairman Ben Cuthbert reported that: 1) Changes will be coming in the classification program in the ideals for Bone Quality and in the weighting for Height at Front-End; 2) Research will be conducted in the Feet and Legs area on the traits of Foot Composite and Front Leg View; 3) Under Dairy Strength, the trait of Angularity on the score card will be changed to Dairy Capacity, and the ideal codes for Stature and Chest Width will be modified; 4) Holstein Canada is looking at the viability of offering heifer evaluations; and 5) The Association will be asking to have Rump Angle included as part of the LPI formula. More information on these changes will be included in the next Info Holstein.
In the Show Committee update, Chairman Nancy Beerwort reported on several items. In regard to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in 2018, there will be a Red & White Show, the size of the Ring of Excellence is being examined, and there will be no exhibitors meeting. Ari Ekstein has been appointed to the Royal Board of Directors. Named to the Royal Judges ballot for the 2019 Red & White Show are Scott Brethet, Joel Lepage and Chad Ryan, while on the Holstein Show ballot for 2019 are Thierry Jaton, Carl Phoenix and Jeff Stephens. A new procedure will be used for Royal judge voting with ballots now being sent electronically. In the area of show ethics, enforcement rules for spot painting of animals and the use of electricity stimulating machines will now be in effect. The Show Committee is also looking at updating show ethics documents. The committee is continuing to look at class structure at shows; over-uddering; the use of Associate Judges for larger shows; how to communicate better with provincial branches; and the possibility of forming an Adhoc National Judges Committee.
Twelve resolutions were considered at the meeting, with half of these dealing with “shows”. Eleven of the 12 resolutions were passed by a majority vote and one ended in a tie (number 5). All will now go to the Board of Directors for further consideration and action:
That genotyping be offered as part of an animal’s registration process.
That Holstein Canada improve the look of its award certificates.
That Holstein Canada look into establishing a new award that would recognize cows who have classified a minimum of 83 points and have completed six lactations.
That all unclassified females, over 30 days in milk, and with registered sons, be classified and not marked as “out of condition”.
In an effort to widen the genetic pool and identify high genetic families, Holstein Canada was asked to investigate whether it would be possible to identify: a) the families of sires that produce great female lines, but not males; and b) families whose offspring are only average producers early in life, but have exceptional later lactations and lifetime production. (Tie vote)
That haplotype information on animals be added to extended pedigrees and published on Holstein Canada’s website.
That Holstein Canada explore the possibility of adjusting the structure of shows, with any changes reviewed by members.
That Holstein Canada support, with continued discussion, the efforts of Atlantic Canada as they make changes to the class structure of their Atlantic shows in an effort to grow, strengthen and make shows more relevant to the industry.
That Holstein Canada investigate the possibility of having show classes based on the age of the animal at the time of the show, instead of using their birthdate.
That Holstein Canada conduct a study of show ages to find the best ages for heifers that would support junior programs and marketing in the future, and that Holstein Canada involve provincial branches in this study and also approach Holstein Association USA with the goal of making this study a North American initiative.
Because of large class sizes and insufficient space in the Ring of Excellence at the Royal Winter Fair, Holstein Canada and the Royal Show Committee were asked to investigate alternative options to the current show schedule for junior and intermediate calves at the Royal.
That Breeder’s Cup competition results (champion and first place in each class) be published on extended pedigrees on Holstein Canada’s website
Norm McNaughton the President of CDN addressed the assembly with high regards and mention of the people involved with the partnerships formed. Norm McNaughton said, “I think it is a great tribute to our industry that these boards were able to come together and had the foresight to say WE instead of ME.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Canadian milk and dairy products are world-renowned for their excellence, variety and high-quality, thanks to farmers and processors who follow the highest standards for safety, quality, and animal welfare. A strong and competitive dairy industry is vital to Canada’s prosperity, creating good jobs, growing the middle class, and bringing high-quality dairy products to the tables of consumers here in Canada and around the world.
Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, speaking at the Dairy Farmers of Quebec Annual General Meeting, today announced an investment of over $2.2 million under the Growing Forward 2, AgriMarketing Program, to assist the Dairy Farmers of Canada roll out an on-farm customer assurance program and a national traceability system for the dairy sector.
“Canada’s dairy farmers are a pillar for growth, job creation, and innovation across the country. The Government of Canada is proud to invest in the dairy sector to help increase consumer confidence in Canadian dairy products, while ensuring our farmers continue to deliver safe, high quality milk and dairy products.
– Jean-Claude Poissant, Member of Parliament for La Prairie
“Dairy farmers are proud of the care that goes into the nutritious and quality milk they produce for Canadians, which is why we are so pleased by today’s announcement. The government has shown their commitment to working with dairy farmers to provide consumers with the knowledge that we have very high standards in Canada for dairy cattle traceability, so they can better understand where their food comes from.”
– Pierre Lampron, President of Dairy Farmers of Canada
The Dairy Farmers of Canada represents more than 12,000 dairy producers across the country who account for more than $6 billion in cash receipts. It is fully industry supported and provides national policy and promotions representing all dairy sectors.
Both projects were funded under the Growing Forward 2, AgriMarketing program, which provides support to national associations for the development of assurance systems or standards, such as food safety, traceability and plant and animal health surveillance systems, and market attributes/quality standards.
Under the first project, DFC received $1,094,789 to implement the ProAction Initiative, developed to help the dairy industry increase compliance, and responds to key issues for consumers today.
Under the second project, DFC received $1,033,010 to develop and implement a national traceability program for the dairy sector, enabling dairy farms to meet national traceability regulatory requirements.
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal-provincial and territorial governments, which will strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. The Partnership replaced Growing Forward 2 which ended in April 2018.
Republican Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas, chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the House of Representatives, released the first version of the legislation Thursday.
The proposed bill would reduce premiums paid by dairy producers for coverage under the Margin Protection Program (MPP).
Congress already reduced MPP premiums and made the program more responsive to actual milk prices in the Bipartisan Budget Act in February. Farmers have disliked the program almost since its conception because it has not provided aid to producers over the last several years of lower milk prices.
John Holevoet, director of government relations for Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, said it’s clear lawmakers want to continue to rebrand the unpopular program, going so far as to change its name to the Dairy Risk Management Program (DRMP).
“It’s a cosmetic change, so to speak, but I think it does matter,” Holevoet said. “It’d be hard to see a lot of people wanting to get back in on the Margin Protection Program. I’m not convinced that there will be that broad of enrollment in this program either.”
But Holevoet and other dairy analysts think lawmakers are proposing some key changes to the safety net program in the new legislation.
Large farms would have more say about how much of their milk production they want to cover under the program, therefore accessing lower costing premiums. Farmers would also be allowed to enroll milk production not covered by DRMP in the Livestock Gross Margin protection program, giving them more diverse protections against low milk prices.
“All of the things that would be changes here are likely to make this better for dairy farmers but also more expensive in terms of what it may cost Congress to fund a bill like this,” said Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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.
‘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.
“The Creamery” Will Offer Visitors a Unique Dairy Destination
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national cooperative owned by family farmers, broke ground for the construction of a new retail store, The Creamery, in Beaver, Utah, which will replace the existing cheese store currently on the site of DFA’s Beaver City processing plant.
Slated for opening in late 2018, the new, 11,250-square-foot store, located near the intersection of Interstate 15 and Interstate 70, will be more than four times the size of the original cheese store and will feature expanded retail space, greater product selection and an interactive, educational experience about dairy for visitors. The new location also will have greater visibility from Interstate 15, which should increase consumer traffic and sales.
“Our farmers are proud of the dairy products they produce each and every day, and The Creamery will reflect this by bringing the freshness of the farm and the Utah region to life, as all the milk comes from local farms and is processed into cheese just steps away from the store right here in Beaver City,” says Dennis Rodenbaugh, senior vice president and chief operating officer of DFA’s Western Fluid Group. “This will not be your typical convenience stop along the highway. With the use of natural woods and metals, which harken back to the farm, The Creamery will be a dairy destination and perfectly on trend with what consumers today are looking for, which is knowing where their food comes from.”
The Creamery will offer a variety of dairy products, including cheese curds, artisanal cheeses, ice cream, convenience items and more. The new location also will feature a full-service café serving breakfast and lunch. Menu items will include fresh-made sandwiches and other dairy-based selections showcasing the cheeses made at the DFA Beaver City plant, which has been a fixture in the area for more than 60 years.
“We could not be more excited about continuing our long-standing relationship with DFA through the construction of The Creamery,” says Matt Robinson, mayor of Beaver City. “Both the plant and cheese store have been incredibly positive for our community, and we look forward to creating even more local business with The Creamery.”
In fact, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development also has offered support and approved a $50,000 fast- track grant to help fund The Creamery. The new location is anticipated to create jobs for approximately 10 new employees, in addition to the 12 employees who will move to the new space from the existing store.
The Creamery’s groundbreaking ceremony kicked off with a welcome from local dairy farmer and DFA Mountain Area Council Chairman Brian Hardy of Brigham City, Utah. Mayor Matt Robinson and Dennis Rodenbaugh of DFA also thanked key project contributors and expressed their overall excitement about The Creamery’s future opening.
The Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC) supports the dairy industry in recruiting and training a highly skilled, diverse workforce to meet the current and future needs of our dairy producing and processing sectors.
Today, the CDC launched the Workforce Development Initiative (WDI) – a three-year, $5 million investment to support the attraction and education of a qualified workforce in the Canadian dairy industry. The WDI is composed of four key funding programs:
Scholarship Program: scholarships for graduate students in fields related to the dairy industry
Career Promotion Program: promotion of careers in the dairy industry
Education Program: creation of government-certified, full-time educational programs in order to train qualified staff to work in dairy plants
Continuing Education Program: opportunities for continuing education for current dairy plant and farm staff
Organizations eligible for funding include industry associations and learning institutions. The CDC will evaluate applications during the summer and funding will start in the fall.
“The CDC’s Workforce Development Initiative will help attract new and qualified workers to the dairy sector, which is of vital importance to remain competitive and foster continuous innovation. Canada’s dairy sector creates good jobs, helping to grow the middle class, strengthening the economy, and ensuring that Canadian families enjoy our country’s high-quality dairy products.”
– Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“When we consulted representatives of the dairy industry, they were quite clear that one of their major challenges now and in the years to come, is to attract and retain qualified workers, especially in the cheese plants. We hope that this initiative will help attract young people into this exciting industry.”
– Mr. Alistair Johnston, Chairman, Canadian Dairy Commission
The milk processing industry ships $15.2 million in products and employs about 22,900 people in 471 plants.
The Canadian dairy sector includes 10,951 farms where 945,000 cows produce close to 8.5 billion litres of milk per year.
The Canadian Dairy Commission, a Crown corporation created in 1966, is a key facilitator within the Canadian dairy sector. The CDC helps design, implement, and administer policies and programs to support milk producers and processors. It is mandated to provide efficient milk producers with the opportunity to get a fair return on their labour and investment, and to ensure that Canadian consumers are provided with adequate supplies of quality dairy products.
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.”