Robotic Milking in Canada, Struggling Farmers in Mexico: How Wisconsin’s Trading Partners Are Weathering the Dairy Crisis

Mexico’s borders are open to free trade, which has meant a flood of imports, primarily from the United States. Mexican farmers say the imports drive down the prices they receive for their milk. Image by Mark Hoffman. Mexico, 2019.

Alfredo Gutiérrez wakes up some nights, so worried about how to keep his family’s small dairy farm going that he can’t get back to sleep.  

A decade ago, he had high hopes for growing the business, located in Polotitlán, two hours north of Mexico City. He and his father designed and built a milking parlor for 250 cows. His brother, Ricardo, started a small artisan cheese plant on family land that would produce gourmet products with hints of nutmeg, rosemary or perhaps a taste of red wine.

The plan was for Alfredo to run the farm and Ricardo to use the milk for his cheese. 

Today, the outdoor cattle pens are half-empty; some cows had to be sold to buy feed for those that remain. Gutiérrez says the $1.17 he receives for a gallon of milk doesn’t meet his costs. His 75-year-old father regularly dips into savings to cover the losses.  

His brother’s business lasted seven years. Undone by a 13% interest rate on his loan, competition from cheap products imitating cheese and several clients who didn’t pay him, the cheese plant now sits idle, its floor strewn with discarded furniture and equipment.

Gutiérrez is discouraged about the future of small dairy farms across Mexico. Many have been handed down for generations, part of a cherished way of life. Now, their owners lose money or barely break even.   

“One sees this more as romanticism, because as a business, no,” he says. 

Some 2,700 miles north, in Canada, Norman McNaughton’s 54-cow operation is thriving. The fifth-generation dairy farm sits on the edge of London, Ontario, surrounded by freshly built homes, condos and golf courses. It sports a new barn and a robotic milking system. 

His cows milk themselves when they feel like it. One at a time they stroll up to the milking station, nudge open the gate and step inside. A robotic arm swings down, sanitizes each teat and then attaches laser-guided suction cups to extract the milk. The cow munches on a snack dispensed by the machine as an incentive to cooperate.

If something goes wrong, McNaughton gets an alert on his smartphone. Sometimes he can solve the problem by sending commands. He can also tap into a live video stream and see whether it’s serious enough to drop what he’s doing and head to the barn. The robot’s manufacturer in Germany also can look in to see what’s happening.  

McNaughton runs the farm with his 28-year-old son, Mike. Its success, he says, is a tribute to Canada’s milk supply management system. Under it, the amount of milk that farmers produce is limited to keep the supply in line with consumer demand. Milk prices are set to cover production costs and provide farmers with a nice profit.  

“Our system isn’t perfect. But it does have stability,” McNaughton says.

Countries’ Fortunes Intertwined

Wisconsin and its battered dairy farmers sit in the middle, eyeing the stability of Canada, wary of a future that looks more like Mexico.  

At a time when transformative change is upending the United States dairy industry and family dairy farms in Wisconsin are dropping at a rate of more than two a day, Mexico and Canada are virtual opposites. 

Yet the fortunes of U.S. dairy are intertwined with those of its closest neighbors and two largest export markets.

Twenty-five years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement rewrote the rules of trade between the three countries. The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, intended to replace it, has been signed by all three countries’ leaders and has been ratified by Mexico’s legislature, but it hasn’t yet been ratified by the legislatures of the United States and Canada. Even if that happens, improvements for the U.S. dairy industry would be modest.

Mexico’s borders are open to free trade, which has meant a flood of imports, primarily from the United States. Mexican farmers say the imports drive down the prices they receive for their milk. They are also hurt by products that imitate real milk and cheese — often made with imported dairy components, like powdered milk or whey. Lack of access to credit, high interest rates, scarce training programs and technical support, and poor infrastructure compound the problems.

Workers carry tubs of milk that will be processed into cream at a small dairy plant owned by Alvaro Gonzalez and his brother in Tizayuca, Mexico. The business employs 15 people who make cream and yogurt. Image by Mark Hoffman. Mexico, 2019.

Workers carry tubs of milk that will be processed into cream at a small dairy plant owned by Alvaro Gonzalez and his brother in Tizayuca, Mexico. The business employs 15 people who make cream and yogurt. Image by Mark Hoffman. Mexico, 2019.

From the state of Veracruz on the east coast to Jalisco on the west, owners of many small and medium-sized farms are exiting the business. Like their neighbors in the U.S., they are often unable to expand their herds or modernize equipment at a time when success increasingly depends on the efficiencies that come with larger size and technologies. 

Alberto Ruíz sold his dairy herd in Tizayuca, Hidalgo, to a couple of larger operations about two years ago. His father had started it with 180 cows brought in from Wisconsin and Canada. The business, which had once reached about 650 cows, was losing the equivalent of about 10 cents per gallon of milk.

Ruíz now owns a real estate and construction business, but the loss of the dairy operation hurt deeply. 

“You feel powerless, you feel the failure, you feel hatred, that because of a situation beyond you, you are bankrupting the family business that was in your hands,” he says.

In contrast, Canada allows only a small amount of imported products into the country duty-free or at low tariffs. Higher amounts are subject to steep tariffs — 245% on cheese or 298% on butter — essentially shielding Canadian farmers from foreign competition. 

Without supply management, “many Canadian family farmers would simply go out of business,” the trade group Dairy Farmers of Canada says.  

But many farmers carry high debt, and the system that protects them also constrains their growth and makes it very costly to get started.

“We have a huge debt load, no question about it. But we will chip away at it. We see a future,” McNaughton says.  

Wisconsin farmers, many desperate and barely hanging on, may look north of the border with envy. But they need to look south as well.  

“In the midst of our own struggles in the U.S., we usually don’t think about the farmers in other countries who we pushed underwater in an attempt to save ourselves,” says Kara O’Connor, government relations director for Wisconsin Farmers Union.

“If we do think about our Mexican counterparts who have lost their farms, we steel ourselves with the idea that ‘it’s just the cost of doing business’ or ‘they needed to get more efficient like us.’ ”

A cow rests in an empty breeding center in Tizayuca, Mexico. The center is part of a dairy farm complex north of Mexico City. Image by Mark Hoffman. Mexico, 2019.

A cow rests in an empty breeding center in Tizayuca, Mexico. The center is part of a dairy farm complex north of Mexico City. Image by Mark Hoffman. Mexico, 2019.

Mexico Largest Buyer of U.S. Dairy

Mexico has imported dairy products for at least a half-century. But even with production growing at an annual average rate of 1.3% over the past decade, the country isn’t close to producing enough milk to meet its demand for dairy. There aren’t enough cows, given that the production per animal is less than it is in the U.S.

But imports have grown significantly in the last decade, pouring into the market after tariffs disappeared as part of NAFTA. 

Álvaro González, president of the National Front of Producers and Consumers of Milk, a farmers association, says the Mexican government has traded the interests of its dairy farmers for the interests of its manufacturing industry, which benefits from open borders.  

“For us, it’s the worst thing that could have happened,” he says.  

Mexico is the largest buyer of U.S. dairy, last year accounting for nearly half of all U.S. exports of powdered milk and 28% of exported cheese. The value of U.S. dairy exports to Mexico in 2018 was $1.4 billion — eight times higher than when NAFTA went into effect in 1994.   

The Mexican government estimates that dairy imports equate to a third of the national dairy consumption. Powdered skim milk is by far the biggest import. It is made by evaporating liquid milk until it’s dry and is used as an ingredient in food products.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Powdered milk has a much longer shelf life than liquid milk, and unless it’s mixed with water to make regular milk, it doesn’t need to be kept cold. Consumers can find it useful if they don’t have refrigerators — not uncommon in Mexico. 

Mexico buys eight times more powdered skim milk than it produces, according to United Nations and Mexican government data. And Mexican farmers get paid about 20 cents less per gallon of milk than U.S. farmers. 

A 2016 study by researchers at Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila found that since the late 1990s, prices paid to Mexican farmers for milk adjusted for inflation decreased in correlation to the increase in imports. Companies that used powdered milk as a raw material for their products benefited, as did distributors and retailers.

Farmers were the big losers. 

“If the imports of large amounts of powdered milk and dairy byproducts continue, the price of fresh cow milk … will continue to be affected, causing the bankruptcy of more producers,” the study warned. 

The solution, many farmers say, involves the government limiting imports or, at least, making sure that products destined for social programs come only from Mexican farms.

Supply Management Levels Out Prices

Canadian dairy farmers have little of the risk that Mexican farmers — or American ones, for that matter — accept as a part of daily life. 

Supporters of Canada’s supply management system say it levels out the highs and lows of milk prices that have hammered farmers in other countries for years, allowing them to make long-term investments in their operations.  

“You can go to the bank and say here’s what my income will be for the next 12 months,” says David Wiens, a dairy farmer from Manitoba and vice president of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

McNaughton’s new robotic milking machine is a luxury born of that confidence in the future. Dairy farmers say about half of the new farms built in Canada now have robots, reducing the need for hired help and lessening the workload on farm families. 

“We like being in the barn,” McNaughton says. “We just don’t like milking cows.”  

In 2018, the average net income of dairy farms in Canada was about $130,000 in U.S. dollars, according to the data firm Statista. That’s probably on the high side, according to farmers, but Statista said “there is a long-term upward trend in dairy farm net income,” with an increase of more than $26,000 (U.S.) on average since 2013.

“Supply management allows the farmer to receive a fair share of the consumer dollar, which often doesn’t happen in an unregulated environment,” Wiens said. “I look at it as a very civilized way to run an industry, getting back to the disciplines of production controls.”

Critics say the system results in Canadian consumers paying higher prices for dairy products. A gallon of milk that on average sells for $2.90 in the U.S. would cost approximately 50% more in Canada. Cheese, butter and yogurt are also more expensive.

If Canadians could buy dairy and poultry products from the United States without high tariffs, the average household would save $438 per year, says Vincent Geloso, a researcher with the Montreal Economic Institute.  

The system especially hurts low-income families, according to Geloso. 

“A one-dollar increase in the price of milk or chicken means much more to a household earning $25,000 a year than it does to someone earning $100,000,” he says. “Supply management actually has the effect of pushing many Canadians close to or below the poverty line.”

A machine moves feed within reach of cows at a highly automated farm in Ontario. Image by Mark Hoffman. Canada, 2019.

A machine moves feed within reach of cows at a highly automated farm in Ontario. Image by Mark Hoffman. Canada, 2019.

Low-Cost Alternatives Pervasive

Many U.S. agriculture officials simultaneously want the Canadian market more open, while brushing aside blame for the problems in Mexico. 

“The beneficiaries of this system are the consumers in Mexico because they have access to products that are reasonably priced,” says Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council and U.S. agriculture secretary under President Barack Obama. 

“That’s the whole point of trade. It provides choice, and competition leads to reasonably priced food.”  

But in Mexico, where the median after-tax household income is less than one-third of what it is in the U.S., fresh milk and other dairy products can be too expensive for many consumers. And low-cost products imitating milk and cheese are pervasive — be it in remote village markets or at big urban retailers.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

On the shelf of a typical Bodega Aurrera discount store — owned by American retail giant Walmart — 50-ounce cartons of Nutri are decorated with a cartoon of a friendly dairy cow and smiling children. 

Until recently, the product was known as Nutri Leche, a word combination that implies “nutritious milk.” Next to Nutri stands a similar product, branded as “Forti Leche,” which suggests “strong milk.” 

Both products are in the store’s dairy section, but neither is real milk. They contain cheaper vegetable oil, milk components and other ingredients. They have less protein and calcium than real milk — ingredients that are especially valuable for children and women. 

At the bottom of the carton, the packages state they are dairy products with vegetable oil and added vitamins. But many farmers think the marketing of these and other products suggest the contents are fresh milk or the products they imitate, such as cheese. 

Grupo LALA is the largest player in the Mexican dairy market, according to market research company Euromonitor International. The processor was founded by farmers in 1949 and sells all kinds of dairy products. 

It also manufactures Nutri and other products that imitate dairy under the brand Nutri Leche, which it refers to in its most recent annual report as “a highly successful national brand that is designed to attend to segments of the population of medium and low socioeconomic level.”

Ramiro Pérez, executive director with the Association of Dairy Development in neighboring Guatemala, says that since LALA landed in his country about a decade ago, products imitating dairy are pouring into the market, just as they did in Mexico. “Those products do supply some nutrients, but they are displacing dairy products, which have a higher nutritional quality,” Pérez says.

Grupo LALA representatives declined to say whether powdered milk from the U.S. is in its Nutri Leche products. Research done at the Technologic University of Central Veracruz indicates that powdered milk from Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes and Darigold has been used in the company’s products. All are American businesses owned by co-ops or farmers.  

Stan Ryan, Darigold’s CEO, wouldn’t confirm whether it supplies LALA, but says his company delivers quality products that meet high standards.  

He says cheaper products that mix milk components with vegetable oil can have a beneficial impact in many underdeveloped economies. In a world where hundreds of millions are undernourished, those products can deliver low-cost energy and nutrition.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“Delivering nutrition at lower cost around the world is a good thing,” he says. 

When compared based on the amount of protein and calcium, though, the Nutri products that imitate milk can be more expensive than the real thing. For instance, a glass of milk can cost about 25% more than a glass of Nutri, but carries 50% more calcium.

René Fonseca, general director of the National Chamber of Milk Industrial Companies, an association of Mexican dairy processors, doubts that consumers would drink more fresh milk if products imitating milk and other dairy disappear.  

“You are going to take away the possibility of many sectors that are consuming dairy at an affordable price,” he said.

Production Limits Help in Canada

In Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, a corner of the Upper Peninsula that borders Canada on two sides, dairy farmer David Bell says he’d be living in a better world if his farm were just 10 miles to the north.

“I’ve seen Canadian farms firsthand. … The cows have the best of the best. On my farm, I’ve had to delay maintenance, put off purchases and cut back on minerals, bedding and protein in the feed because of low and unpredictable milk prices,” Bell says. 

“Low dairy prices don’t just affect me. … What happens to the neighbors and the young people I hire, the local feed mill, the implement dealer, the veterinarian? And then there are the parts that are harder to see, like the stress farmers face.” 

Under supply management, every dairy farm in Canada has a certain amount of market share — called quota — that determines how much milk it can produce. Farmers can buy and sell quota, though it’s very expensive, sometimes the equivalent of $40,000 or more per cow, and the amount available is limited.

Farmers can only produce up to a certain amount of milk based on how much quota they’ve acquired. They can be penalized for exceeding the limit, and they might have to sell cows to remain in compliance.  

Some farmers take out millions of dollars in loans to buy quota because it’s the only way they can expand their herds. 

Regional milk marketing boards, which represent farmers, negotiate with dairy processors to set farm milk prices — aiming to cover production costs and ensure a profit.  

It’s a give-and-take process, according to supporters.   

“They don’t just pull a number out of a hat and say ‘That sounds good. We’re all going to make a million dollars,’ ” says Bruce Muirhead, a University of Waterloo history professor who has done extensive research on supply management.  

Quota can be transferred between family members when the farm is passed from one generation to the next, and there’s a program for new farmers that provides a certain amount for free. 

Canadian dairy farmers say if it weren’t for the protectionist philosophy, their country would see a deluge of cheaper milk from the United States, which has a chronic overproduction problem. The dairy industry in the U.S. is more than four times bigger than in Canada.  

“The U.S., with just the amount of milk it spills every day, could supply the Canadian market,” says Wiens, with Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

Quota Systems Vulnerable

Canadian dairy farmers say for years they’ve lived with the threat that supply management could be abolished, though there hasn’t been the political will to do it, especially in Ontario and Quebec where dairy farming is a revered way of life. There’s also a similar system for poultry farming in Canada.  

Still, the systems are vulnerable, according to Geloso of the Montreal Economic Institute. 

“There will be a point where farmers are so few in numbers, and the costs to consumers have become so high, that a politician will come along who’s willing to throw these farmers under the bus,” he says. 

For Mexican farmers, the transition into an open market system was rough.

González, the head of the farmers’ association, says that when the Mexican government used to set milk prices, farmers received more than half the final price of fluid milk. Now, absent any government regulation on prices, they get about one-third. He blames milk processors and retail chains. 

Fonseca, the official with the dairy processors, says blaming processors is misplaced. Processors, he says, don’t have a high profit margin. Packaging is a substantial cost, he says, and supermarket chains can push hard to reduce their prices. 

Whatever is to blame — and it likely is a combination of factors — Fonseca thinks the solution wouldn’t come from restricting imports. If imports of dairy products were limited or taxed, in theory, that would drive up prices for dairy products in Mexico. But those prices, in turn, would drive down consumption.  

He sees no scenario in which Mexico would shift to a more protectionist policy. 

“Here, as a country, we took a route of openness and liberalization. That was the bet. And when you make a bet of such nature, it’s total,” he says.

Canadian System Called Protectionist

Canada’s supply management system arose from the 1960s as a solution to overproduction and low prices. Even critics say dismantling it now could be devastating for farmers.  

“If you didn’t compensate them, it would be like stealing their house,” Geloso says. “Most dairy and poultry farmers paid a significant sum for their quotas and even took out mortgages to acquire them. They hoped to capitalize on the higher prices consumers must pay, and then perhaps to sell their quota to the next player.”

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

But Canada’s system has come under fire in trade negotiations with the U.S. and other countries for being protectionist. 

In April 2017, President Donald Trump weighed in on the issue after U.S. dairy farmers, including about 60 from Wisconsin, were shut out of a segment of Canada’s dairy market. Three of the top milk-producing states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — helped elect the president in 2016.  

“We will not stand for this. Watch!” Trump tweeted.   

Under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that followed, Canada would keep supply management but give the U.S. a bit more access to its dairy market.  

Some U.S. farm groups say adopting something similar to Canada’s approach would prevent the glut of milk production that has suppressed prices and undermined farmers’ income. 

“There needs to be a balance somewhere along the line,” says Patty Edelburg, a dairy farmer from Amherst Junction, Wisconsin, and vice president of the trade group National Farmers Union.  

“We can’t cookie-cutter what Canada has done with its system … but I definitely think there’s something we could do to balance supply with demand,” Edelburg says. 

Her 350-acre farm milks 120 cows. She and her husband, Gary, acquired it in 2008 after working on other farms. They both have animal science degrees from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  

Although milk prices have improved some in recent months, Edelburg says it could take a long time for farms to recover from the yearslong downturn — and that’s provided prices don’t sink again.  

“Holy cow, there are a lot of bills that have accumulated,” she says.  

Canada’s system is not without flaws, cautions Gordon Speirs, a former Canadian dairy farmer who now milks about 2,100 cows in Brillion, Wisconsin. 

He and his wife, Cathy, had a 150-cow dairy farm in Red Deer, Alberta. Buying quota to expand their herd would have been difficult and expensive, so they decided to head south even with the challenges of starting over in a country where farmers’ milk prices aren’t guaranteed. 

“If we had stayed in Canada, I figured we needed a couple of million dollars to fill our barn that we’d already built. Or, we could take the equity we had gained and move to a place that had more of a free-market economy. It was a philosophical as well as financial matter of free market versus socialism, basically,” Speirs says.

There were other downsides to Canada’s system, according to Speirs. 

“I can tell you that it doesn’t run as smoothly as they would like you to believe. Seemingly every year they are trying to change the rules … to deal with overproduction or underproduction,” he says.  

Even with the protections afforded by supply management, Canada has lost small dairy farms. But it’s been at a slower rate than in the U.S., according to the system’s supporters. 

Without supply management, the Canadian government would have to provide “a substantial level of subsidization” to help farmers endure the ensuing price fluctuations, Dairy Farmers of Canada says.

Mexico Experiment Failed

There was a time when Mexico was more protective of its dairy farmers.  

In a heavily touted experiment in the late 1970s, it lured urban farmers who raised cows in a residential area of Mexico City to new farms in an agricultural business complex in Tizayuca, Hidalgo. Funded by the Interamerican Development Bank, the experiment worked for years under governmental control and subsidies. It even included a fluid milk plant, breeding center and other necessities.  

But about three decades ago, the government pulled out and sold the processing plant, which was later repurposed. Some farmers started their own milk processing plant and brand, but they failed. Lacking land to grow their own corn, with milk prices losing ground to inflation, many farmers quit.

Javier Muñoz Pérez milks two of his 160 cows in Tizayuca, Mexico. Image by Mark Hoffman. Mexico, 2019.

Javier Muñoz Pérez milks two of his 160 cows in Tizayuca, Mexico. Image by Mark Hoffman. Mexico, 2019.

Mauricio Ramos was part of the community of farmers. He and his brother used to own a farm that employed 25 workers and had more than 700 cattle. 

For Ramos, the roughest times came in 2007. He was selling his milk to a cheesemaker, he says. But the prices were low and sometimes he couldn’t sell it, so he had to throw away thousands of gallons. He decided to close the farm and sell his cattle to pay off loans he had taken to expand.  

Today, the farm buildings in Tizayuca are in disrepair and the roads have broken down into little more than dirt paths. The old tight sanitary controls are nonexistent and the former center where the calves were raised is almost empty.  

Ramos’ brother is in the state of Veracruz, tending to about three dozen cattle they own. His wife, he says, lives in the U.S., cleaning homes to help pay for their children’s college education. He may follow her. He has tried to contact dairy farmers he knew in the U.S. to ask if they would offer him a job. 

But they are no longer in business.

Showcase Operation in Canada

In Mount Elgin, about 35 miles west of London, Ben and Elly DeBeer did leave their homeland — in this case Holland — in 1999 to start farming careers. Today, they milk 480 cows on their farm, and they built a new barn and milking parlor less than two years ago.   

The DeBeers’ farm is a showcase operation. The outside of the barn, trimmed in forest green and white, has tall windows akin to a modern office building. Inside the lower-level lobby, the floors are polished to a mirror shine. The name “Compass Dairy Farms” is etched into a floor grate.  

At the top of the stairs, there’s a spacious conference room suitable for a company board meeting. Next to it is the farm office. A large set of windows, spanning the length of the conference room, provides a bird’s eye view of the milking parlor below. 

That parlor is a testament to innovation and cow comfort. At milking time, each cow steps aboard what looks like a giant playground carousel. A farm worker cleans the cow’s udder and slips on milking cups.

Cows exit the milking carousel on the DeBeer family farm in Mount Elgin, Ontario. It takes about 12 minutes to milk each cow. The family milks about 480 Holsteins. Image by Mark Hoffman. Canada, 2019.

Cows exit the milking carousel on the DeBeer family farm in Mount Elgin, Ontario. It takes about 12 minutes to milk each cow. The family milks about 480 Holsteins. Image by Mark Hoffman. Canada, 2019.

As the carousel turns, ever so slowly, more cows climb aboard. When the cows reach a certain point and they’ve finished milking, a worker removes the udder cups. The cows step off the carousel and return to the barn where they can take a nap on a bed of deep, soft sand.

The entire process takes about 12 minutes. As the carousel turns, the cows munch on food, give each other gentle nudges and offer moos of recognition. “I think they really like it,” Ben DeBeer says.  

The DeBeers operate their rotary milking parlor about four hours a day, in the morning and the evening a couple of hours each. On an American farm with similar equipment, it would probably run eight hours or more, accommodating many more cows. But the DeBeers’ herd size is limited by the supply management system. 

“Not everything’s a win with quota, but in general we’re very happy to have it,” DeBeer says. 

Canada is more than capable of meeting its own dairy product needs and opening the door to more imports is an unneeded threat, according to Canadian dairy farmers. 

“Nothing against U.S. farmers, but I wish all their milk wouldn’t come here,” DeBeer says.

Difficult Choices in Mexico

Over in London, McNaughton, 55, says the robotic milking system that he and his son invested in was meant to keep Mike engaged with dairy farming for years to come. Otherwise, Norman says, he’d be thinking about selling his quota and retiring. 

“It’s a multimillion-dollar investment, but my son has bought himself a way of life,” McNaughton says. 

It’s also the kind of investment that small and medium-size Mexican dairy farms can barely imagine. 

Rubén Ibarra knows the only way to keep his 190-head farm in Los Altos de Jalisco is to grow. 

He built a new section in his barn for 120 cattle, but now the low price of milk isn’t leaving him enough profit to invest in more animals. Soon he will have to make a decision about whether to keep the farm open or sell.  

“If I don’t grow, I disappear, so it’d be better to sell,” he says.

Alfredo Gutiérrez tears up when talking about his younger brother, Ricardo, on his family's farm in Polotitlán, Mexico. The brother moved to Wisconsin after his artisan cheese plant failed. Image by Mark Hoffman. Mexico, 2019.

Alfredo Gutiérrez tears up when talking about his younger brother, Ricardo, on his family’s farm in Polotitlán, Mexico. The brother moved to Wisconsin after his artisan cheese plant failed. Image by Mark Hoffman. Mexico, 2019.

Alfredo Gutiérrez, the Polotitlán farmer, plans to keep just 15 to 20 cows and feed them better to increase their daily milk production — now short of 5 gallons per animal, about 60% of an average Wisconsin cow.

He is also switching to other livestock. He has purchased some lambs and plans to raise more, along with some beef cattle. Reducing his dairy herd is the only way he sees to save the family farm. 

His brother isn’t even in the country anymore. Seeing no future in Mexico, he headed to Wisconsin and now works as head cheesemaker at Door Artisan Cheese in Egg Harbor.  

Gutiérrez is happy for him and, frankly, relieved there is one less mouth for the farm to feed. 

But it hurts too. Gutiérrez and his mother explain they are a close-knit family, that having Ricardo so far away was never part of the plan. In a broken voice, his eyes watering, he says, “We were very close.” 

When he can’t sleep, Gutiérrez leaves his house in the night and heads to the woods on his land.

There he tries to walk away the worries.


Fonterra gives new milk price range for the season of $6.55-$7.55 per kilogram of milk solids

Giant dairy co-operative Fonterra has lifted its forecast range for the milk price for farmers this season and says the price now could be as high as $7.55 per kilogram of milk solids.

The Advance Rate Fonterra pays its farmer owners will be set off the mid-point, $7.05 per kgMS, of the revised range.

The announcement from Fonterra on Tuesday comes amid growing expectations that the milk price this season will hit its highest level since 2014, when there was a bumper return of $8.40.

Fonterra has recently started forecasting its milk price with a broad range – as opposed to stating one figure as was the previous custom.

And it has retained in its latest forecast a broad $1-wide range.

The range now is $6.55 to $7.55, up from the season-opening forecast of $6.25 to $7.25.

This will be a very welcome boost for farmers who have had some lean years since that 2014 jackpot and have watched their co-operative plunge into all sorts of struggles, most recently announcing a loss of $605 million for the year to July.

Fonterra Chairman John Monaghan says the co-op has been achieving good prices for its milk so far this season.

“Demand for whole milk powder (WMP) has been firm, and for the full season we’re expecting it to be above last year. Global WMP production is down year to date and expected to continue to decrease for the remainder of 2019.

“We are also continuing to sell our skim milk powder at higher prices than EU and US dairy companies in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) Events.”

Chief executive Miles Hurrell says there are positive signals for milk price.

“It is still very early in the season and a lot can change. There are a number of factors we are keeping a close eye on, which is why we’ve retained a wide forecast milk price range.

“These factors include global trade tensions and political instability in some of our key sales regions. And, as is always the case, we cannot predict the weather and clearly weather conditions play a big role in global supply.”

Hurrell says the strong demand for the co-op’s milk and the prices that are being achieved, relative to other milk producing regions, demonstrated the rationale of Fonterra’s new strategy to prioritise New Zealand milk.

“One of our four priorities is to support regional New Zealand. If you take the $7.05 mid-point of today’s revision to our forecast Farmgate Milk Price, it’s another $450 million into regional New Zealand.

“Our earnings outlook for FY20 is based on a forecast Farmgate Milk Price, which still falls within our new forecast range of $6.55 – $7.55 per kgMS. The mid-point of the revised range does mean our teams will need to continue to push hard to achieve our margins, but so far we’re comfortable with how this season is shaping up in terms of underlying business performance.”

The announcement on Tuesday by Fonterra has given more weight to growing expectations that the milk price could break above $7 for this season.

Economists with three of the four largest banks (ASB, BNZ, ANZ) have raised their picks to at or above the $7 mark, while Westpac, which raised its forecast last week, is sitting just below $7. 

Global prices, after falling in the earlier months of the year, have stabilised – even though the volumes Fonterra is offering for sale have risen as the production season gets into full swing.

A strong milk price for the season will give the embattled Fonterra some much-needed breathing space. 

While Fonterra has signalled it would look to return to paying a dividend this financial year, there’s still question marks over a number of its asset valuations, particularly in places like Australia and China. And there appears every likelihood that further write-downs, on top of the very chunky write-downs made in the past financial year, may yet be required.

Another recent positive development for Fonterra has been its hiring, in the newly created chief operating officer role, of current Mercury Energy chief executive Fraser Whineray. He starts with Fonterra early next year.

See here for the full dairy industry payout history.


168 RZG Siemers Merryguy Daughter Tops the 2019 German Masters Sale at € 47.000

The German Masters Sale 2019 goes in the books as a very successful edition with an average price of EUR 5.525 on the live lots, selling to buyers from 14 different countries and a topseller of € 47.000!

The sale was held in the beautiful facilities of the RUW, the Auktionshalle in Fließem. Almost 1000 people attended the sale which created a great atmosphere throughout the complete sale. There were as well many viewers online who were also active bidders. The online bidders together with the bidders attending the sale created a never seen interaction.

The sale facts are speaking for themselves with a clearance of >95% and an average price of € 5.525, the embryo combinations  averaged € 582 / embryo! Lots sold to no less than 14 different countries!

Topselling female this year was Lot 11. PrismaGen Hailey – one of the highest RZG heifers ever sold on a public auction World Wide, RZG 168, A2A2, BB, sired by the Charley son Siemers Merryguy. PrismaGen Hailey sold for € 46.000 to Mr. Phillipe Arnold from Luxembourg.

One of the best young R&W cows in Europe right now, NH DG Arvis Silky Red noted the 2nd highest price of this auction. With a contending bidders from Spain, Switzerland & United Kingdom, this reigning German Reserve 2yr. Old Champion R&W sold for € 42.000 to Azzopardi from Malta & partners. Silky is a grand daughter of none other then Des-Y-Gen Planet Silk EX-90-CAN.

The GERMAN MASTERS SALE is organized by Nosbisch Holsteins, Eurogenes & RUW.

Source: Eurogenes

Dairy shown to outperform water for hydration.

The National Milk Producers Federation points consumers to several studies showing the benefits of dairy.

A University Of Saint Andrews study shows milk outperforms water for hydration because lactose helps hold fluid in the stomach for longer. Another study from the American Academy Of Pediatrics recommends that children under 5 drink only milk and water that study specifically warns parents away from plant-based beverages.

National Milk says research from the United Nations also shows U.S. dairies are improving their sustainability and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Dairy farmers and community members are hoping a grassroots push can get whole milk back into schools. A petition on the issue has received more than 55 hundred signatures in two months and the petition organizer plans to deliver it to the USDA during the third meeting of the dietary guidelines advisory committee.

The group hopes the petition will lend support to a bill introduced by Pennsylvania Representative G.T. Thompson that would allow whole milk in schools again. Another campaign called 97-milk is working to educate consumers that whole milk is still only 3 percent fat making it 97 percent fat-free.

Source: RFDTV

China dairy output surges 50 pct over past decade

China’s dairy output surged almost 50 percent over the past decade, according to the country’s market watchdog.

Dairy production stood at 26.87 million tonnes in 2018, and per capita consumption reached 34.3 kg, according to the State Administration for Market Regulation.

The quality of dairy products has improved over the past few years, with the rate of products failing to meet standards falling to 0.3 percent in 2018, down from 1.6 percent in 2014.

Chinese authorities have taken a string of measures to ensure milk product quality, including improving regulations and industry standards and tightening supervision.

Spot checks are conducted every month, and results are also announced monthly.

China has a total of 762 dairy manufacturers, according to official data.

Source: XinhuaNet

Ethical dairy farmer sells milk produced without separating calves from their mothers

You know you’re doing something innovative when it’s drawing envious chatter from people on all sides. This has been the case for U.K. dairy farmer Fiona Provan, whose ethical approach to raising and milking cows has put her on the leading edge of the “cruelty-free dairy” revolution. “I’ve fallen out with the conventional [dairy farmers], I’ve fallen out with the vegans,” she told iNews. “I’m in the middle. So I get attacked.”

What has made Provan’s approach to producing what still remains one of the world’s most popular beverages so radical starts at birth. “Commercial milk is a result of taking calves away from their mothers,” Provan explained to Ham & High.

Waiting until the natural weaning age to begin milking the mothers, this dairy farmer explains on her dairy’s website, “When you drink milk from our cows at our dairy, you are not drinking milk from a depressed grieving animal who has had her baby taken away!”

For Provan, the journey to becoming a dairy farmer who is deeply concerned with the well-being of her herd started with her father’s passion for his job as a large animal veterinary surgeon. “I just loved being around those cows,” she told iNews. “There’s something about them, their breathing. Their heart rate is slower and they’re warmer.”

“It was a family business, we all had to help out, so I had an in built love for nature from an early age,” she said in a profile for Miles Willis Photography. Provan’s father, however, did not believe that there was enough economic opportunity in farming and tried to steer his daughter into other careers. “I wasn’t allowed to go into farming, I was sent to catering college where became a chef, which I hated.”

Despite her father’s prediction that there was no money to be found in farming, she persisted. “At 22 I got married and was given a house cow by my father, a Jersey,” she told Ham & High. “I was campaigning for animal rights but when I became a mother, I decided I must start an ethical dairy. I couldn’t drink milk until I did.”

As Provan was tracing her own career, she knew that she wanted it to involve cows. Her innovative operation Calf at Foot Dairy started in 2012 and now operates on a farm near the village of Somerleyton in Suffolk, England. It’s a totally female-run farm, quite a rarity in the dairy industry, and goes further than many others to put the welfare of its cows above everything else.

This involves many different practices, including feeding the cows an exclusively grass-based diet. Whereas conventional commercial dairies will supplement their food with grains and vitamins to try to increase production, Calf at Foot Dairy cows “are fed a natural diet and that means: no grain, no cereal, no soya, no GMOs—just purely pasture fed meaning 100% grass,” according to their website.

The biggest difference and the real inspiration for the operation is the way that mothers and calves are allowed to bond. In conventional dairies, calves are almost immediately separated from mothers after being born and might never see them again. They are fed synthetic milk substitutes and artificially inseminated at 18 months of age, well before the 24 months when most cows get pregnant. Their life expectancy is only five years, compared to the 12 years that Provan’s cows will live to.

She waits until nine months, when the calves are starting to eat grass, to begin milking their mothers. Provan’s hope is for consumers to understand that farming better does come at a cost. “We have to pay what it’s worth, we have to give the farmers what it costs to produce that milk. We sell ours at 3 pounds a litre and that barely covers it.”

While the milk made from Provan’s cows may be more expensive, there is good reason to believe that it’s not only superior ethically but also nutritionally to what is produced at many “mega” dairies. Advocates claim that the unpasteurized and unhomogenized milk Provan sells has higher nutrient levels and antimicrobials, helping protect against asthma and allergies.

She also thinks that her unusual micro-dairy and others that sprang up all over the country will make a difference in the treatment of animals. “I just hope factory farming is stopped for good and people realize there is another way to farm,” said Provan.

Though she struggles to be profitable, and given her excellent treatment of her animals, she has no regrets about doing it the hard way. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I had children but this keeps me alive,” she told iNews. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this.”


Is the a2 Milk Company share price in the buy zone?

The A2 Milk Company Ltd (ASX: A2M) share price came under pressure on Monday and started the week with a decline.

The fresh milk and infant formula company’s shares ended the day 1.5% at $12.06.

Why did a2 Milk Company’s shares tumble lower?

As well as general market weakness, a2 Milk Company’s shares were weighed down by a note out of Citi.

According to the note, the broker has retained its sell rating and $12.20 price target on the company’s shares after competition increased for its infant formula.

Citi notes that rival Mead Johnson has announced plans to launch an infant formula product that contains only the a2 protein.

The broker believes this could be a challenge for a2 Milk Company as it will no longer be able to rely on its uniqueness to drive growth. Instead the company will have to leverage its brand and marketing to support its future growth.

In light of this launch, it suspects that analysts across the region may soon downgrade their margin expectations for the medium term.

Should you be concerned?

Whilst I think that Citi makes some valid points in this broker note, I feel that lower margins have already been built into its share price.

After all, this latest decline means that a2 Milk Company’s shares are now down by a massive 30% from their all-time high. This pull back has left them changing hands at approximately 26x estimated full year earnings.

Whilst its growth over the next few years may not be as explosive as it has been in recent years, I still feel this is an attractive level to pick up shares with a long-term view.

I would class its shares as a buy and choose them ahead of infant formul rivals Bellamy’s Australia Ltd (ASX: BAL) and Bubs Australia Ltd (ASX: BUB).
Source: Yahoo


Dairy farmers unite to ride out the Brexit wave

Uk farming unions milk meeting at Ingliston (l-r) Gareth Williams, NFU Cymru; Dafydd Jarrett, NFU Cymru; Victor Chestnutt, UFU (front); Chris Osborne ,UFU (behind); Gary Mitchell (NFUS); Verity Richards (NFU); Stuart Martin (NFUS); Mervyn Gordon (UFU); Ja

Safeguarding the milk sector in the face of Brexit was at the centre of talks between the four UK farming unions who recently met at Ingliston to discuss the main issues affecting the dairy sector.

In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, last week’s tariff schedule announced by the UK Government could see dairy products enter the EU with a 30-40% tariff rate slapped on – which could see the dairy industry hit by a bill of around £500m.

Although the UK is a nett importer of dairy produce, it also exports milk, cheese, cream, butter and milk powder equivalent to around 4bn litres – with 3.2bn litres of that going to the EU.

Representatives from the four milk committees agreed that the uncertainty of Brexit has caused serious disruptions to the UK dairy sector by stifling trade, contributing to price fluctuations and putting the milk contract debate on hold.

The delay in the planned consultation on milk contracts has been attributed to Brexit which is causing huge frustration throughout the UK dairy industry – who had been expecting the consultation to begin early summer.

The agenda for the meeting included discussions on the change in Red Tractor standards, current milk volumes, processing concerns, milk contracts and an update on Brexit from the UK unions’ staff in Brussels.

Speaking after the meeting, NFU Scotland milk committee vice-chair, Gary Mitchell, said: “There was a very useful and robust discussion around the key topics facing the UK’s milk industry as a whole, with each union’s issue seeming to have a direct relation or comparison in the others.

“It is important that we work together on UK issues in order to best lobby on behalf of our dairy members, who are currently facing one of the toughest times we have seen since the market crashed.

“I would also like to thank Jim Moseley for attending the meeting and shedding some light on Red Tractor’s changes in standards. We need to work with organisations like Red Tractor to not only create standards which are best for the welfare of the animals, but also practical and farmer focused.”

The consensus on Brexit was there needs to be a suitable solution soon for markets to settle and for business to gain stability. UK dairy farmers need to know what they are working with in order to continue to produce the high-quality products they invest so much time and financial effort into, he added.

Dairy farmer and chair of NFUS Next Gen group, Colin Ferguson, agreed that clarity would help the sector: “The outcome of Brexit isn’t the biggest concern, but the uncertainty surrounding it. Farmers invest in the long-term and short-term politics isn’t favourable to that.

On the milk contract delay, he said: “The delay has been so frustrating, especially when we see what is happening with Tomlinson’s Dairies, with around 20 farmers having to look for a new processor to take their milk.

“Adding fuel to the fire with the recent tariff schedule, it would appear politicians are living in a bubble and not listening to the real world, despite being informed of the challenges which we now face. However, when these changes come in, we will all be on the same boat and we will have to ride out on the same wave.”

Source: The Scottish Farmer

Dairy Markets Start Week Sharply Higher in Chicago

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures started the week sharply higher supported by strong movement in the cash cheese market.   Class III milk futures markets ended sharply higher. November ended 50 cents higher while December was up 34 cents. January traded 20 cents higher while the remaining months in 2020 were slightly higher. 

Dry whey unchanged at $0.2850.  Fourteen trades were made at $0.2825 and $0.2850.  Blocks up $0.1025 at $2.07.  Four trades were made ranging from $2.05 to $2.08. Barrels up $0.0525 at $2.0525. Butter up $0.0050 at $2.12.  Three trades were made at $2.1125 and $2.12.  Nonfat dry milk down $0.0050 at $1.1650.  One trade was made at that price.

New online tool to manage biosecurity risks for Australian dairy farmers

Dairy farmers now have access to a new online tool to build their skills and adapt their management approach to biosecurity risks.

Developed as part of an industry collaboration between Dairy Australia and Agriculture Victoria, the biosecurity tool enables dairy farmers to create a biosecurity plan tailored to their farm, based on Dairy Australia’s Healthy Farms Biosecurity Framework.

Dairy Australia technical and innovation manager Dr John Penry said it was important for all farms to have a biosecurity plan to manage disease risk.

“It’s crucial for dairy farmers to maintain a biosecurity plan tailored to their herd and farming system,” Dr Penry said.

“An outbreak of the diseases identified by the biosecurity tool could create significant and measurable losses in farm performance or the wider dairy industry.

“The biosecurity tool allows dairy farmers to manage their risks around 14 separate diseases such as salmonella and BVD.”

For each disease, dairy farmers can identify control measures under the seven categories of stock movements, herd health, farm inputs, visitors, effluent and waste, neighbours and dead animals.

Agriculture Victoria development specialist Dr Sarah Chaplin said the new online tool will help farmers understand how to manage their own biosecurity risks.

“The control measures offered by the tool for each disease are evidence-based, based on the level of risk that you have chosen,” Dr Chaplin said.

“Users decide what level of control they want to apply to different diseases with the tool’s risk matrix. It’s still subjective – it’s up to the farmer to decide whether they consider the consequences minor, moderate or severe.

“Once the farm’s specific animal health risks are identified, scientifically valid control measures are suggested.”
Focused control measures have a better cost benefit ratio than blanket application of all possible control measures.

Dairy farmers can access the biosecurity tool at – and farmers already using DairyBase can use their existing login details.

Victorian dairy farmers will be the first to have access to regionally based workshops where a delivery approach will be piloted before national roll out of the biosecurity tool.


Weeksdale Bradnick Delauney Wins Grand at 2019 Atlantic Dairy Championship Show

Grand Champion
Weeksdale Bradnick Delauney (Bradnick), 1st senior 3-year-old, Elmer Weeks, Breadalbane, PE

Judge Kevin McGriskin of Melancthon, ON selected his winning senior 3-year-old, Weeksdale Bradnick Delauney exhibited by Elmer Weeks of Breadalbane, PE, as his Grand Champion at the  2019 Atlantic Dairy Championship Show was held on Saturday, October 19th in Truro, Nova Scotia. Kevin McGriskin of Melancthon, ON served as official judge. 



























Thank you to Angela Masters of the Atlantic Holstein News for providing photos and placings.


U.S., Mexico, Canada are worlds apart for dairy farmers; here are the major differences and how the dairy industry works in each country

Wisconsin farmers are not alone in facing the dairy crisis.

But farmers in Canada and Mexico — the nation’s two largest dairy trading partners — are experiencing global trade forces differently.

Operating in a protected system, dairy farmers in Canada benefit from stable milk prices. Those in Mexico, though, have struggled amid a wave of imports from the U.S. Here’s a look at the diary industry in the three countries.

How are farmers’ milk prices determined?

Mexico dismantled its milk price-setting system in 1998, four years after the North American Free Trade Agreement was enacted. Since then, there have been no regulations on the prices processors and others must pay farmers for their milk. Mexican farmers have been getting on average about 20 cents less per gallon than U.S. farmers.

Canada is under a nationwide milk supply management system, which means regional marketing boards such as Dairy Farmers of Ontario negotiate with dairy processors to set prices that aim to cover farmers’ production costs and help ensure them a profit. In other words, farmers act collectively in the process and adjust milk production to meet consumer demand but not exceed it. 

In the United States, minimum farm milk prices are set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture using complicated formulas based on the wholesale market value of various dairy products such as butter and cheese. It’s a complex system, and most farmers don’t know what they’ll be paid for their milk until 30 days after it’s hauled off the farm.

What is the country’s trade policy?

Mexico has imported dairy products for at least a half-century. But the country gradually pried open its market to U.S. and Canadian dairy imports after NAFTA was enacted 25 years ago. In the past decade, dairy imports, mostly from the U.S., have increased dramatically. The Mexican government estimates a third of the dairy consumed in the country has been imported. Farmers and economic researchers say that has driven down prices paid to farmers for their milk. Those in favor of open borders say consumers in Mexico benefit from lower prices and more competition.

Canada is much more protective of its dairy industry — allowing only a limited amount of imported products duty-free or at low tariffs. Anything above that is are subject to steep tariffs, for example, 245% on cheese or 298% on butter. Canada’s system has been criticized in trade negotiations with the United States and other countries for being protectionist, but some U.S. farm groups have eyed it with envy for the stability it provides.

U.S. dairy exports have more than quadrupled in the last 15 years. Now, about 16% of dairy products are sold abroad, and at times, that’s enough to tip the whole industry. In 2018, the World Trade Organization said Canadian dairy tariffs averaged nearly 249%, compared with the United States’ 17%. Despite Canada’s trade barriers, the United States runs a significant trade surplus with its northern neighbor and its much smaller dairy industry.

How are small farms faring?

Milk prices received by Mexican farmers have been dropping (when adjusted for inflation) in the last decade, and many small and medium farms have felt the pain. From Mexico’s traditional dairyland of Altos de Jalisco to the state of Veracruz, many Mexican producers have quit farming, are struggling to get by or are thinking about reducing their herds. Many say that, with the current prices, they are unable to invest in new equipment, better feed or improved animal genetics to become more efficient and productive. In addition to dairy imports that drive down the price of their milk, small Mexican farms face high interest rates, lack of access to credit, scarce training programs and technical support, poor infrastructure and competition from less-expensive products that imitate dairy.

Overall, Canadian dairy farmers are doing pretty well. Their supply management system levels out the highs and lows of milk pricing that have hammered farmers in other countries for years, allowing them to make long-term investments in their operations. In 2018, the average net income of dairy farms in Canada was approximately $130,000 (U.S. currency) and although Canada has lost many small farms over the years, supporters of its system say the rate of loss has been less than in the United States.

Small dairy farms in the United States, especially, have struggled in an industry increasingly driven by large operations with greater efficiencies. Wisconsin has been losing dairy farms at the rate of more than two a day, most of them small, family-run businesses. Some farmers have been hemorrhaging money — or barely breaking even — for five years. The loss of farms, and the impact on businesses and communities that rely on an agricultural economy, isn’t likely to be reversed.  

What about consumers?

Mexico’s median after-tax household income is about one-third of the U.S., but a gallon of regular milk is more expensive in a Mexican supermarket than in the U.S. Cheaper products that imitate milk and cheese by mixing milk components — often imported — with vegetable oil and other ingredients are common in Mexico’s stores. Products imitating milk can have a poorer nutritional quality, including less calcium and protein. Some say these products can supply good nutrients at an affordable price. But farmers say such marketing misleads consumers into thinking the products are the real thing. Farmers are concerned that those products are displacing more nutritious dairy products.

Canadian consumers pay more for dairy products. A gallon of milk that on average sells for $2.90 in the U.S. would cost approximately 50% more in Canada. Cheese, butter and yogurt are also more expensive. If Canadians could buy dairy and poultry products from the United States without high tariffs, the average household would save $438 per year, according to the Montreal Economic Institute. Canada’s dairy supply management system especially hurts low-income families, the institute says.

U.S. consumers benefit from a wide range of dairy product prices, including fresh milk that is about 50% cheaper than in Canada. But diets have changed, and milk faces a tidal wave of new competitors. Beverage companies, seeking to please a multitude of palates, have flooded the market with sports drinks, energy drinks, plant-based sodas, fruit juices and designer coffees. Just in the last half-dozen years, the average grocery store has added nearly 600 new beverage options to its coolers and shelves, according to Dairy Management Inc., a nonprofit funded by government-mandated payments from dairy farmers to promote milk products. 


Agri-Mark Dairy Co-Op To Impose Penalty On Farms That Make Too Much Milk

The Agri-Mark dairy co-op says that, starting in January, its 875 members will make less money if they produce too much milk. The Massachusetts-based Agri-Mark has about 170 farms in Vermont.

This new supply management system will establish a base production level for farmers calculated on their highest level of milk sold over the last three years.

Co-op spokesman Doug DiMento said if producers exceed that base, they’ll pay a penalty.

“If you go over the base there’s a $5 per hundredweight penalty — which is a, you know, stiff penalty,” DiMento said. “It’s designed to just slow down milk production, not totally stop it, but just slow down the growth so it can be at a manageable level.”

Agri-Mark told its members about the plan in a letter sent earlier this month. The co-op said its farmers are continuing to increase milk production while demand for their product regionally has slowed. This overproduction, the co-op said, is causing financial strain.

According to the letter from Agri-Mark:

“The co-op profit is barely above the breakeven point through August as we have experienced significant losses on excess milk and the downturn in world trade, especially on whey products, continues to create losses in this area.”

The letter went on to add:

“We are at the point now where we can’t allow our members to grow without some type of supply management program.”

Farmers who produce 2 million pounds of milk or less a year are exempt from the program. That equates roughly to a farm with 100 milking cows, considered small by modern standards.

DiMento said the board and co-op management discussed how best to curb production for months.

“We’ve been struggling the last several years trying to handle all this excess milk,” DiMento said. “So looking for the long-term health of the co-op, the board decided to kind of put a brake on member production. It was the best idea.”

The dairy industry has long debated supply management systems that are aimed at matching milk supply with customer demand. Now momentum seems to building, at least in the region. Earlier this year, the Vermont Milk Commission endorsed supply management as a way to improve prices.

Meanwhile, DiMento said prices paid to farmers are expected to improve next year, but not enough to lift many farms out of the financial trouble that has forced dozens of Vermont farms to go out of business in recent years.

He said prices should rebound to about $19 for 100 pounds of milk sold at wholesale.

“That is going to be some relief, but it is still below the cost of production for most farmers in the region,” DiMento said. “So we’re still looking for ways to try to increase prices and develop better markets, and hopefully something can happen over the next several months.”


Living on dairy farm helped ‘Walking Dead’ creator get gory

Kentucky is known for lots of cool stuff. Bourbon, Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, bluegrass, the Kentucky Derby, Muhammad Ali and zombies.

That’s right, zombies.

And not to incite an apocalypse, but even if you don’t care a lick about comic books or the “undead,” we’ll bet a dumpster full of rotting flesh that you’ve heard of “The Walking Dead.”

Told in comic books and on a long-running television series (Season 10 premiered on AMC earlier this month), “The Walking Dead” follows a cop named Rick who wakes up out of a coma in the middle of a zombie battleground. He goes on to lead an unlikely group of survivors as they search for a safe place to hold out until the apocalypse blows over.

Fans of this pop culture phenomenon range from geeky teenage boys to successful middle-aged women. And in case you’ve been living under a tombstone, the co-creators of this post-apocalyptic tale are a couple of school friends from Cynthiana, Kentucky, about 90-miles outside of Louisville.

On Oct. 23, Kentucky native Tony Moore, the original illustrator of “The Walking Dead” comics, will be the featured guest at the next Kentucky To The World event held at the Kentucky Center for Performing Arts, 501 W. Main St. The annual speaker series highlights the excellence of outstanding men and women with strong Kentucky ties.

“There is nothing like the spirit of support you get from Kentuckians, we love goin’ out for Kentucky,” Moore told The Courier Journal ahead of the October event. “It’s a support that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world. It’s awesome.”

We assure you, this Kentucky success story has a lot more to it than just a world overrun by zombies, including how growing up on a dairy and tobacco farm in the Bluegrass State shaped his world view. He says the long stretches of solitude made the perfect environment for cultivating a creative young mind to explore the dark and disturbing depths of the gory and grim as well as superheroes and other warriors of the world.

After graduating from Harrison County High School in 1997, Moore wasn’t sure he could follow his artistic passion staying put in the Commonwealth.

“I thought I would have to move to New York City or Los Angeles until I realized that a guy named David Mack who was doing a book called ‘Kabuki, Circle of Blood’ lived in Florence, Kentucky,” he said. “When I realized that he could do that from there, I knew I could do what I wanted to do from wherever.”

Moore went on to nearly complete his BFA in drawing from the University of Louisville’s Hite Art Institute before abandoning his studies to pursue his career illustrating comics.

Without question, this comic book artist is best known for his work on “The Walking Dead,” which he co-created with fellow Kentuckian Robert Kirkman. There’s a holiday in Cynthiana, where they grew up, called “The Walking Dead Day” and a large green sign on the side of the highway celebrating the comic book artist and writer.

But there is a lot more to Moore’s career than the stumbling and lurching world of zombies.

Although he ended his regular interior artist duties on “The Walking Dead” with issue six, he continued to contribute to the title as the cover artist through issue 24 and also illustrated the covers for the first four collected volumes of the series.

Moore was twice nominated for the comics industry’s prestigious Eisner Award, and Steve Beshear made Moore a Kentucky Colonel, following in the footsteps of his grandfather.

“The honor is important to me because I feel I have achieved something within my state’s cultural identity,” Moore said, “I like being able to say that’s who I am. It’s where I am from.”

Since “The Walking Dead,” Moore has moved on to his own co-created properties illustrating “The Exterminators” and “Fear Agent.” He’s also lent his hand to bombastic runs on Marvel’s “Ghost Rider,” ”Punisher,” ”Venom,” and “Deadpool,” and has drawn covers for countless others.

His artistic success has made him a sought after celebrity in Kentucky, but the world wants Moore, too.

Along with his wife, Kara, and their 9-year-old daughter, it’s not uncommon for the Kentucky artist to travel to 15 comic book conventions a year. Many are located in alluring locations like France, The Netherlands, Chile, Sweden and Australia.

“Not too bad for drawing guys who punch each other with their underwear on the outside of their pants,” said the illustrious illustrator.

Having never left the country himself until he was in his 30s, Moore hopes the family’s travels will allow his daughter, who the couple homeschools, to develop a sense of empathy for people and cultures different from her own.

“I don’t expect that she’ll become an artist, but I want her to see that her dad was able to make a living drawing comic books and whatever her passion may be, I want her to know that she can chase her dreams too, wherever she happens to live.”


Dairy Industry Leader, Bob Lang Passes

Ontario ag hall of famer, Bob Lang, passed peacefully at the Ottawa General Hospital after a short illness on October 17, 2019, at the age of 74 years.
Bob made many contributions to the dairy industry, as a leader in education and innovation, as a manager at Eastern Breeders,Inc. and as founder and manager of the International Livestock Management School at Kemptville, which brought large numbers of international professionals and taught them the Canadian way of feeding and caring for cattle in particular dairy herds. He has also spoken to hundreds of groups around the globe on improved livestock performance and management. These efforts have resulted in sustainable dairy and beef production in parts of the developing world as well as the establishment of global appreciation for Ontario dairy and beef genetics.” 
He made friends internationally, and was a strong supporter of education, research and industrial development here in Canada. He made a significant contribution to securing of three Semex financed NSRERC Research Chairs at which we proposed and secured at the University of Guelph.
Dr. Edward Burnside shares that Bob was “a tireless worker, and devoted family man, he won the respect of all who knew him. I have lost a dear friend and colleague.”
Beloved husband of Elaine (née Seguin). Dear father of Chris (Julie), Jennifer, Rebecca (Lincoln Tym) and Ben (Crystal). Much loved grandpa to his 9 grandchildren, Rianna, Nathan, Jamie, Ashley, Bridgette, Alex, Nolan, Owen and Olivia. Survived by sisters, Gayle Hart (late Guy), Leslie (Jamie Fisher), Sharon (Shane Turner) and Stephanie (Jack Kolsters). Predeceased by parents Lloyd and Peggy Lang and brother, Glenn.
Bob will be missed by the extended Lang and Seguin Families, many friends in the Kemptville and Buckshot Lake communities. Family and friends are invited to a “Tribute to Bob” at the W.B. George Centre, Shearer Street (Kemptville Campus), Kemptville on Sunday, October 27, 2019 from 1 pm to 4 pm. In lieu of flowers donations made to Robert Lang Bursary at Trent University - or Kemptville College Alumni –c/o 12261 Link Road, Winchester, Ontario, K0C 2K0.

Italian cheese producers brace for higher prices as the country falls victim to EU tariffs

Food producers across Europe are bracing for a financial hit from U.S. tariffs that take effect Friday after the Trump administration pounced on a WTO ruling over subsidies to Airbus as a casus belli for a new front in its aggressive global trade strategy.

In the north-central region of Italy, where the country’s flavorful Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has been produced for close to a millennia, tens of thousands of workers at thousands of farms and hundreds of dairies have found themselves in the tariff firing line, with exports to the United States now facing a 25% levy.

At the Bertinelli family farm just southwest of the city of Parma, for which the ancient cheese is named, massive wheels that weigh the same as a small child mature for up to three years in row after row of towering racks.

Before dawn each day, workers at this caseificio — or dairy producer — combine a skimmed milk that has separated in long trays overnight with fresh milk delivered from nearby farms. They heat it in vast copper cauldrons then curdle it with an enzyme found in cow stomachs.

The curdled milk sinks to the bottom of the enormous vats, and after it has clumped together into a firm mass it is hoisted out with cheesecloths, and shaped into the drum-like form that makes Parmigiano-Reggiano so recognizable.

Each cheese wheel is later dipped in a salt solution to harden its external crust and is imprinted with the letters D.O.P.

The letters are an acronym for the Italian phrase “denominazioni d’origine protette,” which translates as “protected designation of origin.” This is an EU labeling device intended to guarantee the authenticity of a product’s geographical origins and to protect local producers to guard against cheaper replicas.

Of all the registered protected designation products in the EU, Italy holds a quarter of them, a move that continues to anger dairy competitors in the U.S.

The U.S. National Milk Producers Federation earlier this month called it a “particularly egregious example of EU trade practices” and said the bloc was “abusing the use of geographical indications to limit competition from cheese exporters in the U.S. that use common food names.”

Case in point: parmesan, or as the Italians insist their product should be referred to, Parmigiano-Reggiano.

“We want to tell American citizens that when they eat ‘parmesan’ they are eating a fake,” the Italian Minister for Agriculture Theresa Bellanova told CNBC. “That is identity theft of our original products, and we cannot accept it.”

Italy has more than doubled its global cheese exports in the past decade, and now ships around $3.3 billion worth of cheese overseas each year, with Parmigiano-Reggiano the fastest-growing source of export revenue.

Around half a billion dollars worth of Italian exports each year, much of it cheese, will now face American tariffs. The Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium, which has overseen quality control for the cheese’s production since 1934, estimates U.S. importers will have to pay around $200 more for each Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel, and producers say they expect sales volumes across the Atlantic will consequently crumble.

“The U.S. is the second-most important market for us overseas,” says Fabrizio Raimondi, the consortium’s external relations director. He and the consortium’s president, Nicola Bertinelli, are convinced that harder cheeses like theirs have been targeted to allow American imitation “parmesan” cheese to seize market share.

And Italian producers may have good reason to be slighted, since their government did not participate in the multinational consortium behind Airbus, unlike Germany, Spain, France and the U.K, which all now face tariffs on their own products, ranging from wine to whiskey, aircraft to olives.

“Of course we are not happy,” Italy’s new finance chief, Roberto Gualtieri, told CNBC when asked whether he felt it reasonable that other nations’ previous subsidies to Airbus might lead to American punishment of Italian producers. “It would be totally unfair to target Italian exports for an issue, by the way, about which Italy is not responsible at all.”

Bellanova said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi di Maio will now work to counteract the new tariffs by aggressively promoting Italian food products around the world, especially in the United States, while producers damaged by the tariffs could receive government aid to make up for lost revenues.

But for the farmers that provide the cheesemakers, the second order effects may be harder to counter.

Saverio Delsante is a sixth-generation dairy farmer close to Parma, with 150 cows that produce more than 1,100 gallons of milk each day, which is about enough to make just 14 wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

“We are small dairy, we aren’t like industries,” he told CNBC beside a stall containing a cluster of young calves. “We don’t produce thousands and thousands of cheese.”

For his milk to be used at a local Parmigiano-Reggiano caseificio, his farm must fall within a circumscribed region of roughly 4,000 square miles across four Italian provinces and must comply with a very strict and expensive set of regulations when it comes to feeding and housing his cattle.

His milk does command a premium, selling at double the price of ordinary industrially produced milk, but he is aware that the price of the cheese itself has to be as competitive as possible, despite it being what he calls “the best cheese in the world.”

And Delsante says that because the market for that end product is already beholden to a very small group of large, international buyers, the U.S. trade actions could present a “serious problem” for his own farm’s future.

“I’m worried about these tariffs,” he said, “not only for the agriculture but for every sector.”


NMPF calls on Trump to prioritize US dairy farmers in EU tariff battle

NMPF says in the letter that many European cheesemakers leverage EU government regulations to outlaw competition in their markets and ban US exports. The EU ships $1bn worth of cheese to the US each year while the US ships them only $6m worth.

This is largely due to various EU tariff and nontariff barriers, according to NMPF, hindering the trade of ‘accurately labeled American-made cheeses.’ NMPF called it ‘unfair treatment’ that Trump has ‘so rightfully shone a spotlight on.’

Many US dairy farmers have supported Trump for including a range of European cheeses on the World Trade Organization-authorized list of tariff retaliation. NMPF said this was prepared as part of the US WTO case against EU Airbus subsidies levied by the EU.

“We request that you put the needs of US dairy farmers above those of Italian and European farmers by maintaining the Airbus case retaliatory tariff list’s inclusion of various cheeses (including major EU priority products such as Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy), as you proposed earlier this month,”​ NMPF said in the letter.

Dairy farmers are reaching out to remind Trump to keep his word and be strong against the EU’s trade policies. NMPF acknowledges in the letter that any retaliatory tariffs will be upsetting to the EU dairy industry, but “the blame for that rests not with the US. It falls squarely on the EU for failing to comply with its WTO commitments regarding Airbus subsidies.”

“If EU countries do not want to pay those WTO-authorized retaliatory tariffs, they should spend less time complaining in Washington and more time in Brussels – urging changes to reform the EU’s trade-violating policies that unfairly penalize US companies while giving European ones an unfair leg-up over American-made products,”​ NMPF said.

At the base line, NMPF wants Trump to maintain the full range of dairy lines included on the list his Administration published this month, saying it’s the right call both then and now.

Other industries have not been as supportive, and argue that though the tariffs appear to punish the EU, it will be US importers footing the bill and trickling down to US consumers.


Winter is just around the corner

Before long the leaves will begin to change and as much as I would love to press the pause but-ton on our beautiful fall surroundings, winter will be here before we know it. Although we are not the northern-most state on the map, Virgin-ia dairy producers are still faced with cold and windy conditions for several months of the year, usually starting in December. During these months, it is especially important to keep in mind a few key management factors related to milk quality.

First of all, it is imperative to monitor water heaters and ensure they are maintaining water temperatures. A quick way of determining whether the water in the parlor is hot enough and whether there is enough hot water is to test the temperature of the dump water. The dump water during the wash cycle should read a minimum of 120°F. Water that is not hot enough and/or insufficient water volume will result in improperly cleaned milking equipment, which may result in abnormally high bacterial counts in milk, including PI counts.

With winter also comes the age-old question “should I continue post-dipping teats during the cold months”. Assuming that the udder is dry, teats of healthy animals lacking edema are not typically affected by the cold in the wind-protected conditions found in Virginia free-stalls. However, when the temperature, ac-counting for the wind chill, is below -25°F, pre-cautions should be taken to avoid frostbite on teats. It is imperative to provide ample dry bed-ding for the cows to lie on during these harsh conditions. Furthermore, a windbreak would significantly reduce the risk for frostbite. In terms of teat dipping, a few considerations may be made. The cessation of post-dipping all to-gether will still not provide a dry teat because of the thin layer of milk present on the skin. There-fore, the risk for frostbite is still present. One possible solution would be to apply the post-dip in the parlor, allow the dip to remain on the teats for 30 seconds, and then blot the teats dry. This would allow an appropriate kill time to reduce the load of contagious pathogens on the teats, but also when releasing the cows back to the free stall, would provide them with dry teats, thus reducing the risk for frostbite. There are also a variety of winter teat disinfectants on the market -everything from a dry, powdered dip to those with high emollients. These are also viable options to the traditional dips, but the same pre-cautions should take place if the environmental conditions are harsh enough for frostbite. Fur-thermore, any liquid teat disinfectant could freeze, which may cause the active ingredient to precipitate out. Once a dip has frozen, check with the manufacturer as to the appropriate steps to take.

In summary, although the winter months are often thought of as the best time for milk quality, producers in VA still experience elevated bulk tank SCC. In fact, based on the recent SQMI pro-ject, the lowest bulk tank SCC values are seen in March and April. Therefore, considerations and precautions are warranted in the winter. It is important to provide animals shelter from the wind, consider blotting teats on the very cold and windy days, and monitor the function of the wa-ter heaters to ensure the equipment is appropri-ately cleaned after each milking.

Source: Dairy Pipeline

Accelerated milk replacer benefits dairy calves

Dairy calves that are fed higher-protein milk replacement produced more milk and had earlier weaning dates, improved health and better fertility rates, according to a new paper by University of Missouri Extension specialists.

Before weaning calves, producers feed them a milk replacement, a concentrated powdered milk diluted with water. In a two-year study on a pasture-based dairy, calves fed higher-protein milk replacers showed fewer health problems, says dairy veterinarian Scott Poock. As calves matured, they had higher conception rates at first breeding, and they bred at a younger age. They also gave 1,000 pounds more milk at first lactation. All of this translates into more money for the producer, says extension dairy specialist Stacey Hamilton.

In the study, researchers fed 28.5:15 protein-fat accelerated milk replacer to one group of heifer calves and traditional replacer to others. They used a mob feeding system of multiple calves per feeder at MU’s Southwest Research Center near Mount Vernon.

Poock says conventional milk replacer feeding programs limit dry matter intake of milk to 1-1.5% of body weight at birth. Higher-protein milk replacer allows dry matter intake of 2-3%.

“The higher level of milk feeding is counterintuitive to the goal of increased grain feeding and subsequent rumen development,” says Poock. However, the study shows that calves eat more grain after weaning when the milk ration is reduced one to two weeks before weaning.

A 2005 University of Minnesota analysis of feeding of high-protein milk replacers to dairy calves reported an 18% decrease in calf mortality. A Cornell University study found that calves inoculated with cryptosporidium and fed accelerated milk replacer had fewer days of diarrhea, less dehydration and improved feed efficiency than traditionally fed calves.

Hamilton recommends the accelerated milk replacer to push calves to weaning sooner and improve overall herd health. “We’ve seen the extra growth and health benefits,” he says.

He says it is important to mix the replacer thoroughly with the right ratio of powder to water. Clumps of undissolved powder can cause gut issues in the calves.

Poock, Hamilton and MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources interim associate dean Rob Kallenbach are authors of the paper.

For more than 100 years, University of Missouri Extension has extended university-based knowledge beyond the campus into all counties of the state. In doing so, extension has strengthened families, businesses and communities.

Gloves: Are You Protecting Your Herd?

Weekly we receive calls from producers that are experiencing milk quality issues on their farm. Often, we find common denominators on each farm that is the source of the high somatic cell count (SCC). Wearing gloves is a very simple management practice that could help to reduce contagious and environmental bacteria spread between quarters and cows.

Do you wear gloves while milking cows? You should! Gloves are a very inexpensive prevention tool for a large cost problem. This preventative tool can help to prevent bacteria and dirt from staying in the cracks, crevices and fingernail beds on your hands. Gloves can easily be disinfected between cows because of their smooth surface. Studies have shown that there are 75% fewer bacteria on used gloves than on bare hands. Wearing gloves also reduces the spread of both contagious and environmental bacteria by 50%.

Bacteria causing contagious mastitis on a farm is hard to cure, causing farms loss of milk production and money. Cows infected with contagious mastitis often cause a high bulk tank Somatic Cell Count (SCC). Due to this, producers should take every step necessary to prevent the spread of bacteria to other herd mates or within the udder. This bacteria travels from quarter to quarter via milk on your hands or within the milking unit. To limit the spread of contagious mastitis, milking practices such as milking infected animals last, post milking teat disinfectant, universal dry cow treatment and wearing gloves should be implemented on your farm.

In today’s milk market, gloves are necessary to reach the highest premium available to your farm. It should be written into your standard operating procedures and required that they are worn by all employees. When choosing a glove be sure that it fits the employee’s hands smoothly like skin. Gloves come in many sizes and colors. It may be necessary to buy a variety to find what works on your farm. Gloves that are too large often tear easily and get stuck in the inflations due to vacuum. Gloves should be disinfected regularly during milking with teat dip or disinfecting solution. Used gloves should be disposed of; reusing gloves makes them brittle, causing frequent tears and increased risk of udder contamination.


Top Dairy Industry News Stories from October 11th to 18th 2019

Feature Articles:

Top News Stories:

From Two Bulls, Nine Million Dairy Cows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“These cows are real athletes,” says Hansen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Something needs to change,” Hansen says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Undark.

Australia’s Northern Victorian dairy industry could collapse without support

New Victorian rural assistance commissioner Peter Tuohey says the dairy industry in Northern Victoria is almost on the brink of collapse without current and future support for farmers.

Mr Tuohey highlighted the high cost of water as the reason a number of farmers have put their farms on the market or even walked off their properties as farming became too expensive or difficult in the current climate.

«Looking at the dairy industry, it’s pretty much on the brink of collapse in Northern Victoria,» he said.

«There’s quite a number. I know in our area there’s over 50 dairy farms have gone on market in the Cohuna area, that’s a huge number.

«So you look at production levels and it certainly could become an unviable area and we would hate to see that because it has a big impact on all the areas around the town – Cohuna, Gunbower, Leitchville and even Echuca, if haven’t got a dairy industry there.

«North of Cohuna and through to Echuca is doing it the toughest. Through to Shepparton is also doing it tough as they have the same problem which is lack of water and high cost of water.»

A former Victorian Farmers Federation president, Mr Tuohey was appointed to his new role on Wednesday. He is planning to consult with farmers and work with government to improve how things are done and ensuring information on the state government’s recently announced $31 million drought support packages is readily available.

As well as Northern Victoria and the Goulburn Murray irrigation district, Mr Tuohey was concern about drought-stricken farmers in Gippsland and the Millewa.

«I’ve got to get out and about and talk to farmers pretty much straight away,» he said. «So I’ll be travelling to Gippsland, Millewa and to the (Northern Victorian) dairy farmers to catch up to see how they’re faring and what think of current (relief) packages.

«That feedback will go to the minister and the department and see where any shortcomings are.

«Locally in the Bendigo area, the government are trying to deliver packages to support farmers. The crux of it is, somewhere along the line there will be severe droughts and severe weather events.

«Most farmers seen droughts, they’re not uncommon. Most farmers are used to that (but) each individual farmer has to manage it to their own situation.»

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


World Brown Swiss Breeders to Gather at WDE 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Milk Futures Drop in Chicago while Cash Dairy Mixed

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Thursday milk futures were mostly down and cash dairy prices were mixed. Class III milk prices watched November mild decline 12 cents to a $18.50 settlement while December through July settled 4 lower, to 2 cents higher. First half 2020 is offering producers $17 per cwt at the close. Class IV markets fared better, ending even to 8 cents higher out through June 2020. The first half 2020 average is offering producer $17.32 per cwt for Class IV. 

Dry whey was down $.0125 at $.2925 cents per pound. Eight sales were recorded from $.2925 to $.3000. Forty-pound blocks were down $.0375 at $2.0025 per pound. Two sales were recorded at $2.0025 and $2.01. Barrels were down $.0200 at $2.00 per pound. No sales were recorded. Grade AA Butter was up $.0025 at $2.1450 per pound. Two sales were recorded at $2.14 and $2.1450. Nonfat dry milk was up $.0025 at $1.17 per pound. Eight sales were recorded at that price.

The grain market reacted in a favorable manner all day to the latest version of the United States and China trade saga as corn closed 3 cents higher at $3.94 3/4, soybeans added 3 ½, and wheat was up 12 cents in Chicago.

A Look at Feeding Strategies During Challenging Times

Difficult economics in the dairy industry now and in recent years have herd owners and their advisors working to find opportunities to increase margins and/or cut costs, writes Tom Overton and Larry Chase, Department of Animal Science and PRO-DAIRY at Cornell University.

Using averages from 36 New York farms that completed both the 2016 and 2017 Cornell Dairy Farm Business Summary (Karszes et al., February 2018 PRO-DAIRY e-Leader), purchased grain and concentrate cost averaged $5.81 per cwt of milk (31% of total operating costs) and total feed and crop expenses averaged $7.34 per cwt of milk (39% of total operating costs). Given the large contribution of feed and crop expenses to total operating costs, it is logical to carefully evaluate these aspects of management. The following outlines five key focus areas to ensure that your feeding program is all that it can be:

1) Know and track Income Over Feed Cost (IOFC) and Income Over Purchased Feed Cost (IOPurFC)

Income over feed cost (milk revenue minus feed cost) is more correlated with overall farm profitability than any other single metric and can be refined further to look specifically at Income Over Purchased Feed Cost. In analyses of feeding programs conducted as part of PRO-DAIRY discussion groups, income over total feed cost varied as much as $3.00 per cow per day, even across well-managed herds.

In our last analysis, herds with higher IOFC had:

  • Higher fat and protein yield per cow (generally over 6.0 lbs/day of fat and protein shipped)
  • Higher feed efficiency (over 1.65 lbs of ECM2 per lb of DMI) across the lactating cows
  • Higher feed cost per cow per day (cows were making more milk and so had higher DMI)
  • Slightly higher cost per lb of TMR dry matter — $0.137 vs $0.132 per lb
  • Optimized use of forages (0.9 to 1.0% of cow body weight as forage NDF intake)

Income over total and purchased feed cost as well as feed efficiency can be calculated and tracked using spreadsheets or calculated using the Dairy Profit Monitor online program developed by PRO-DAIRY.

The Dairy Profit Monitor online program allows for a farm to track these and other metrics related to production and efficiency and compare itself with other farms in the program.

2) Make sure you are optimizing use of homegrown forages and feeds

Herds that focus on and achieve high forage quality can be rewarded by increasing use of high quality forage in the ration. One time-tested metric is to calculate forage NDF intake as a percentage of body weight for lactating cows. Herds optimizing forage use often are able to feed 0.9 to 1.0% of body weight as NDF from forage sources. Newer forage analytical techniques have enabled us to have estimates of undigested NDF at 240 hours of in vitro digestion (uNDF240), which represents maximum digestibility and correlates with intake potential. Research conducted at Miner Institute suggests that cows will consume 0.30 to 0.35% of their body weight as uNDF240. Data from the 2017 Cornell and Vermont Corn Silage Hybrid Trials Lawrence et al. suggest that 2017 corn silage fiber digestibilities are generally lower than 2016 corn silage – many herds that have transitioned onto 2017 corn silage lost anywhere from 3 to 7 lbs of milk per cow per day. In this case, watch the marketplace for nonforage fiber sources (e.g., soyhulls, corn gluten feed, citrus pulp) that generally have high fiber digestibility and can help to compensate for the lower NDF digestibility in 2017 corn silage. 

In addition to optimizing use of forages based upon their analyzed nutrient composition, farms that have the ability to feed more than one silo of the same type of forage (i.e., multiple haylages or multiple corn silages) should make sure that they are feeding the right forage to the right animals. The highest quality, highest digestibility forages should go to the transition and early lactation cows. Typically, nutrient requirements of heifers and far off dry cows are relatively low, so lower energy, lower digestibility forages can be targeted to those groups. 

3) Fine-tune your feeding management

Losses due to poor bunk and feeding management can be subtle but meaningful. Are you taking at least 6 inches (preferably 12 inches) of silage off of the face of bunk silos every day and ensuring that bunk faces are tight and leftover feed kept to a minimum? Have mixer wagons and other equipment used in feeding (e.g., tub grinders) been maintained so that they deliver consistent performance? Is feeding accuracy being monitored and shrink of ingredients being tracked? Is fresh feed available for cows upon return from the parlor and is it being pushed up regularly (i.e., every 2 to 3 hours). We recommend targeting 5% refusal rates for close-up cows (close-up refusal can be re-fed to far-off cows) and fresh cows, and targeting 2 to 3% refusal rates for high cow groups (refusal from fresh and high groups can be re-fed to late lactation cows).

4) Strategically review rations with your nutritionist

Now is a good time to review rations and ration strategy with your nutritionist and make strategic decisions about where to try to save cost without compromising herd performance. In addition to making sure that you are optimizing use of homegrown forages and feeds (see above), there may be opportunities to decrease amounts of rumen-degradable protein sources (e.g., canola meal, soybean meal) in the diet. Furthermore, laboratory assays are now commercially available that allow for feed suppliers to evaluate protein digestibility and undigestibility of protein ingredients. Overall, proteins based upon soy or canola look to have good overall digestibility and little variation among sources; however, distillers grains and animal proteins (e.g., blood meal) can vary greatly in their digestibility – some are excellent and some are poor.

We are hearing that some financial consultants are advising farms to remove all additives and higher value/higher cost nutrients from rations in order to save cost. Although we recognize the need to make sure that there is return on the feed investment, we think that these across the-board types of sweeping recommendations are poor and likely stand more chance of hurting cash flow rather than helping cash flow.

Our recommended approach is to review rations and prioritize maintaining ration ingredients and feed additives that directly affect daily cash flow/income over feed cost by contributing to component yield/feed efficiency or are fed during very focused periods of the lactation cycle (i.e., close-up and fresh cows) with research based evidence that they contribute to improved productivity and health. The long-term implications on production, health, and reproduction for not meeting the needs of the transition cow are large. For more discussion on these decisions and other management decisions, see the Making Decisions about New Technologies on the Dairy paper that was presented at the 2017 Cornell Nutrition Conference.

Finally, we suggest that calf nutrition should not be a place where farms seek to cut feeding rates or quality of milk replacer. Such apparent savings can be easily erased (and then some) by increased drug costs for treatment and calf morbidity/mortality with long-term impacts. 

5) Carefully review cow and heifer inventories and needs

Are the right cows being milked? How many heifers do you need? This topic is covered in part in another recent PRO-DAIRY paper Ten Key Herd Management Opportunities on Dairy Farms During Low Margin Times. Overstocking of cows generally contributes to lower feed efficiency through negative effects on milk components and poorer rumen efficiency as a result of more aggressive feeding behavior and altered time budgets. Are you compromising performance of the whole by continuing to milk cows that are not covering their feed and variable costs?

Many farms have improved their reproductive performance significantly over the past few years, such that we have seen overall heifer numbers grow as a proportion of the lactating herd. Feed costs are a major portion of the cost of rearing heifers – are the goals of the farm such that every heifer needs to be raised? Should you give up more quickly on heifers (or cows) that are not getting pregnant and save that feed cost?

There are a number of excellent business management resources focused on the cost of replacement heifer programs and spreadsheets that allow evaluation of various aspects of the heifer enterprise that were developed by Jason Karzes and available at the PRO-DAIRY website.

Source: Cornell

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These actions constituted real remorse, the judge said.

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

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

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


Dairy Outlook: October 2019

Cooling Feed Costs, Warming Milk Price

The cool breezes of fall are not just impacting the forests of Pennsylvania, but the current feed costs as well. August feed costs for Pennsylvania were 15% lower than the twelve month average (Table 1) thanks to reduced costs for alfalfa hay and corn. Pennsylvania All Milk Price was up 5.9% over the twelve month average (Table 2). This resulted in estimated income over feed cost (IOFC) and milk margin to be above the 3 year average breakeven for the first time since December 2017. Projected All Milk Price for Pennsylvania based on Class III and Class IV futures suggests a continued slow strengthening in price for the next several months.

Increased Milk Production and Milk Price Projections

USDA in their October World Agriculture Supply and Demand estimates report forecast milk production to increase in 2020 based on strengthening cow numbers and production per cow (USDA, 2019). The same report also forecasts slighter higher Class III and Class IV prices from the previous month due to stronger cheese and nonfat dry milk prices which offset the lower butter price. The all milk price of $18.85 remained the same for the last two projections on this report. It is also worth noting the report expects a reduction in dairy imports due to EU and reductions on exports because of weaker cheese, skim, and nonfat dry milk exports. According to Scott Brown from the University of Missouri, looking forward into 2020, milk prices will move more into a sideways pattern unless the demand for dairy products will increase within the U.S. or in our export markets and if the U.S. milk supply will grow well under one percent during the year.

The U.S. dairy herd has decreased to its smallest size since early 2016 (9.318 million cows). However, because of continuing productivity increases, the amount of milk produced was up 2% from last year’s August 2018 numbers according to the Livestock Monitor (Livestock Monitor Information Center, 2019). While the states with the largest herd numbers (Wisconsin, California and Texas) did not have a change in cow numbers, Pennsylvania stood out as the state accounting for half of the milk cow decline in August (LMIC). From August 2018 to August 2019, Pennsylvania’s milk cow herd decreased from 519k to 485k and milk production decreased from 882 to 829 million pounds (NASS).

Related, cull cow prices, which have been depressed for the past two years, are slowly increasing. Recent cutter value (90% Lean), on a national live basis, was $55.77 per cwt compared to 2018’s $50.01 per cwt. The downward pressure was caused by depressed milk prices, limited cow slaughter capacity and the drought in Australia (LMIC).

Income Over Feed Cost, Margin, and All Milk Price Trends

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 2015-2017 was $9.00 ± $1.67 ($/milk cow/day) (Beck, Ishler, Goodling, 2018).

Figure 3: 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 (CME, 2019).

Table 3: Twenty-four month Actual and Predicted* Class III, Class IV, and Pennsylvania All Milk Price ($/cwt)

Month Class III Price Class IV Price PA All Milk Price
Sep-18 $16.09 $14.81 $17.10
Oct-18 $15.53 $15.01 $18.10
Nov-18 $14.44 $15.06 $18.00
Dec-18 $13.78 $15.09 $17.60
Jan-19 $13.96 $15.48 $17.70
Feb-19 $13.89 $15.86 $17.90
Mar-19 $15.04 $15.71 $18.50
Apr-19 $15.96 $15.72 $18.30
May-19 $16.38 $16.29 $18.60
Jun-19 $16.27 $16.83 $18.80
Jul-19 $17.55 $16.90 $19.10
Aug-19 $17.60 $16.74 $19.40
Sep-19 $18.31 $16.35 $20.18
Oct-19 $18.55 $16.42 $20.88
Nov-19 $18.42 $16.58 $20.91
Dec-19 $17.67 $16.65 $20.78
Jan-20 $16.98 $16.78 $20.40
Feb-20 $16.64 $16.95 $20.27
Mar-20 $16.63 $17.12 $20.31
Apr-20 $16.80 $17.31 $19.76
May-20 $16.91 $17.43 $19.88
Jun-20 $17.03 $17.53 $19.99
Jul-20 $17.21 $17.66 $20.18
Aug-20 $17.35 $17.71 $20.29
Sep-20 $17.44 $17.77 $20.37

*Italicized predicted values based on Class III and Class IV futures regression (Beck, Ishler, and Goodling 2018; CME, 2019).

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 Team’s DairyCents  or DairyCents Pro  apps today.

Brazilian Study Identifies Genes Potentially Associated with Heat- and Drought-resistant Cattle

Cattle productivity in Brazil is significantly affected by the decline in pasture quality during the dry period of the year, writes André Julião with Agência FAPES (FUNDAÇÃO DE AMPARO À PESQUISA DO ESTADO DE SÃO PAULO).

In conjunction with the effects of global warming occurring in this century, this problem makes the selection of livestock resistant to climate change increasingly necessary.

In an article published in the journal Genetics Selection Evolution, researchers in Brazil and Australia point to a solution.

The scientists identified 16 genes potentially associated with resistance to climate variations that affect weight gain in Nellore cattle, Brazil’s main beef production breed. The candidate genes are linked to cellular regeneration and differentiation and to inflammatory and immune responses, among other biological processes.

The study was part of the Thematic Project Genetic aspects of meat production quality, efficiency and sustainability in Nellore cattle; the principal investigator was Lucia Galvão de Albuquerque, Full Professor at the São Paulo State University’s School of Agrarian and Veterinary Sciences (FCAV-UNESP) in Jaboticabal, Brazil.

The study was conducted in partnership with researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia.

“We studied the interaction between genotype and environment in Nellore cattle, with the specific aim of identifying animals that are less sensitive to environmental changes. Breeders and scientists are always concerned with improving average productivity, but now it’s necessary to identify animals that are more resistant to climate change,” said Roberto Carvalheiro, a researcher at FCAV-UNESP and first author of the study. Carvalheiro performed part of the study in Queensland thanks to support from FAPESP via a Research Fellowship Abroad.

“This should be of particular concern in Brazil, where cattle are raised on different types of pasture and under diverse environmental conditions, especially when considering global climate change,” he added.


To identify the 16 genes that may indicate tolerance to environmental variations, the researchers used the sire directory Aliança Nelore. Maintained by GenSys Consultores, based in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the directory comprises genetic and phenotypic data on productive traits that have been evaluated in more than a million calves belonging to approximately 500 Brazilian, Paraguayan and Bolivian herds.

To standardize the analysis, the researchers considered only calves that had known sires and dams; belonged to contemporary groups of at least 20 animals of the same sex; were born in the same herd, year and season; and were raised in the same management group. Their overall postweaning weight gain ranged from 30 kg to 250 kg (between weaning, at approximately seven months, and long-yearling age, approximately 17 months). Overall, the study analyzed 421,585 animals from 9,934 contemporary groups.

This dataset was considered suitable for an assessment of the sensitivity of beef cattle performance to environmental variation given the quantity of data and the diversity of herd management and environmental conditions. For example, the average annual precipitation on the cattle farms ranged from approximately 700 mm to 3,000 mm depending on the location; the dry season in some regions can last up to seven months.

Studies of this kind that focus on the interactions between genotypes and environmental conditions typically use an index that combines temperature and humidity to summarize the environmental conditions in which the animal was raised, but for researchers, this fails to capture the quality of the pasture, which is a key factor in beef cattle productivity in the Brazilian pasture-based system.

“Calves are born nine and a half months after insemination and produce only when they’re two or three years old,” Carvalheiro said. “We can forecast rainfall two weeks ahead, but we haven’t the faintest idea what the pasture on this or that farm will be like two years from now. Hence the interest in identifying animals whose performance won’t be affected by unexpected conditions.”

Weight gain ten months after weaning was chosen as a key trait affected by environmental variation and accurately recorded in the database. Calves are normally weaned as soon as the time of abundance for pastures begins to cease. Thus, the 10 month period corresponds to the advent of the dry season, causing a drop in pasture quality.

After testing several statistical models, the researchers found nonlinear reaction norm models (RNM) most suitable to analyze sensitivity to environmental variation, as genomic regions and environmental conditions are not linearly correlated. They classified such conditions as harsh (poor pasture), average (better but still poor) or good (well-managed pasture, a rarity in Brazil).

“Genes that indicate good resistance to harsh or average conditions aren’t the same as those that count most in the average-to-good gradient,” Carvalheiro said.


The statistical analysis showed that under harsh environmental conditions, genes associated with acute inflammatory responses, cell differentiation and the proliferation of keratinocytes – cells that produce keratin, the key structural material in hair, horns and hooves – seemed to play an important role in beef cattle sensitivity.

In humans and mice, for example, the gene REG3A is associated with skin injury repair and skin homeostasis, thus contributing to immune defense. Another gene in the same family, REG3G, is associated with antimicrobial defense in the mammalian intestine and with intestinal mechanisms for maintaining symbiotic host-microbe relationships, potentially protecting the intestine during severe feed restriction.

On the other hand, the genes that play a key role in resistance in less harsh environments (average to good) are associated with inflammatory and immune responses. Among these, IL4 and IL13 were found to be the most plausible candidates in this type of environment. Both genes share a range of activities involving monocytes, epithelial cells and B cells, thus contributing significantly to the defense of the organism. In other studies, they have been found to be involved in regulating protein metabolism and muscle function, among other metabolic functions. Overall, the 16 candidate genes were found to be involved in 104 different biological processes.

The results of the research can be applied immediately in herds covered by the database. Bulls that perform best under harsh environmental conditions, for example, can be selected as sires and will probably have offspring that are more resistant to climate change.

However, the results must now be validated in other cattle herds. New studies will verify whether the 16 candidate genes also affect resistance to climate change in independent populations of animals not included in this study and in other breeds besides Nellore.

The article “Unraveling genetic sensitivity of beef cattle to environmental variation under tropical conditions” by Roberto Carvalheiro, Roy Costilla, Haroldo H. R. Neves, Lucia G. Albuquerque, Stephen Moore and Ben J. Hayes can be read at:

Headline image courtesy of Léo Ramos Chaves / Pesquisa FAPESP.

This text was originally published by FAPESP Agency. Read the original here.

Vilsack: Japan Trade Deal Lags Behind TPP For Dairy

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

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

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

Minnesota Court of Appeals orders state to reconsider dairy expansion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Milk Futures Down Butter Up in Chicago Wednesday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Wednesday milk futures were mostly up and cash dairy prices down except for butter.  21 loads moved and helped butter move 2 ¼ cents higher to $2.14 ¼. Cheddar fell slightly but holds its average at $2.03 per lb. with blocks moving 1 load, a penny and half lower at $2.04 and barrels moving 4 loads half a penny lower at $2.02. Narrowing the block/barrel spread to 2 cents.  Dry whey was down $.0025 at $.3050 cents per pound. Twenty-one sales were recorded from $.3050 to $.3125. Nonfat dry milk was unchanged at $1.1675 per pound. Five sales were recorded from $1.16 to $1.1675.

Class III milk continued its move higher. October gained 2 cents to $18.62, November was unchanged at $18.68, and December gained 2 to 18.06/cwt. Jan – March of 2020 saw 3-4 gains to average at $17.00 per cwt. Class IV milk saw October gain 8 cents to $16.45, November was unchanged at $16.82, and December fell 4 cents to $16.76 per cwt.

Grain and feed markets were quiet again and took a small step lower. December corn fell 1 ½ cents to $3.91 ¾, November soybeans fell 6 cents to $9.28, and December soybean meal fell $3.00 to $304.80 per ton.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Australian dairy farmers are grateful for lifeline of hay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Gazette

Milk Production Estimate Raised for 2019

The Agriculture Department again raised its 2019 milk production estimate in the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, based on higher cow numbers and stronger growth in milk per cow. The 2020 forecast was upped from last month based on expected continued gains in milk per cow.

2019 production and marketings were estimated at 218.2 and 217.1 billion pounds respectively, up 200 million pounds from last month’s estimate on production and 100 million higher on marketings. If realized, 2019 production would be up 600 million pounds or 0.3% from 2018.

2020 production and marketings were estimated at 221.6 and 220.5 billion pounds respectively, up 400 million and 300 million pounds respectively from last month’s estimates. If realized, 2020 production would be up 3.4 billion pounds or 1.6% from 2019.

Annual forecasts of imports on both a fat and skims-solids basis were unchanged for 2019 reflecting current trade data, but forecasts for 2020 were lowered as the recently announced additional tariffs on a number of EU dairy products are expected to result in reduced imports.

Fat basis export forecasts for 2019 and 2020 were reduced on continued competitive pressure on U.S. cheese exports. The 2019 skim-solids basis export forecast was lowered on weaker expected exports of cheese and skim and nonfat dry milk. However, increased strength in SMP/NDM sales in 2020 due to strong global demand is expected to more than offset continued weakness in cheese exports.

Cheese and NDM prices for 2019 were raised but forecasts for butter and whey were reduced. The Class III milk price was raised from last month as the higher cheese price more than offsets the lower whey price. Look for the 2019 Class III to average 16.55 per hundredweight, up a dime from last month’s estimate and compares to $14.61 in 2018 and $16.17 in 2017. The 2020 average is now pegged at $17.20, up 15 cents from last month’s projection.

The Class IV price was raised as the higher NDM price more than offsets the lower butter price. It is estimated to average $16.20, up a nickel from a month ago and compares to $14.23 in 2018 and $15.16 in 2017. It’s projected to average $16.10 in 2020, down a nickel from last month’s estimate.

Cheese and NDM prices for 2020 were raised from the previous month, but the price forecast for butter was reduced. Whey was unchanged. As a result, the Class III price forecast is higher, but the Class IV price was lowered, as the higher NDM price is more than offset by the lower butter price.

Cash cheese prices shot higher the second week of October though traders are skeptical. FC Stone stated in its Oct. 10 Early Morning Update: “Logic and reason do not drive these markets. Greed and fear do.”

Midwestern cheese producers continue to report positive sales for the most part, says Dairy Market News. Spot milk is ranging around $1 over Class. A majority are primarily using internally sourced milk so production is steady to active.

Western cheese makers describe demand as adequate but not stellar. End users are generally not interested in taking extra loads with market prices at $2 and prefer to work through inventories, buy only as needed, and delay larger purchases until after the holidays, when they hope prices ease back. Export sales are challenging as international buyers can find cheese at lower prices in other markets. Domestic retail accounts, food service, and pizza sales are engaged enough to keep U.S. cheese moving and market prices supported. Western manufacturers report cheese production is running full and, while they would like sales to be livelier, the deals are able to keep inventories in check.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council reports that U.S. dairy export value was nearly $3.92 billion in the first eight months of 2019, up 3% from last year and the highest figure in five years. Gains were led by increased volumes of cheese as well as higher selling prices for dairy ingredients.

Credit domestic demand and short milk supplies for the strong U.S. cheese prices. Cheese exports were at a nine-month low in August, according to the Dairy and Food Market Analyst which cited shipments to Mexico being at an 11-month low and to Japan at a 35-month low. The DFMA stated: “Japanese buyers tend to purchase six months in advance or more. This is the beginning of a trend.” Hopefully, the new U.S.-Japan trade agreement will change that.

The DFMA also pointed out that, in total, the U.S. exported 14.0% of its milk solids in August, only slightly above the 13.7% shipped in June and July.

HighGround Dairy says cheese exports were down 4.0% from July and 5.9% below August 2018. Nonfat dry milk and skim milk powder exports were up 3.0% from July but 18.3% below a year ago.

Cheese imports were the highest in nine months and the largest August volume since 2015, says HGD.

August EU imports, at 28.9 million pounds, were the strongest on record, up 17% versus 2018. HGD says “The industry has been anticipating the EU cheese tariffs and started to stockpile imports before they were expected to be implemented into October, which means September imports will be strong as well.”

HGD adds that “The U.S. is the EU’s biggest market for both cheese and butter exports outside of their domestic market and tariffs will have a negative impact internally, albeit slight.”

Lastly, this past January at its 100th annual meeting, the American Farm Bureau recommended to the Board of Directors that the organization convene a Farm Bureau and producer led coalition to review methods to restructure and modernize the current Federal Milk Market Order System.

Bob Gray reported details in his Oct. 4 Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperative newsletter stating that the AFBF is proposing that milk price discovery methods be expanded and modernized, the elimination of bloc voting provisions, an update in the method of calculating make allowances and specific changes to Federal Order provisions in the southeastern states.

In its 16-page summary, AFBF notes that it has been 20 years since Federal Orders have undergone major revisions. In that time, dairy farm numbers have dropped nearly in half, fluid milk utilization has dropped by nearly 30% but consumption of other dairy products has risen nearly 10%. By 2030, U.S. milk production is expected to climb to 250 billion pounds annually.

Source: Leader Telegram

Global Dairy Markets Up 1/2%

Event 246 of the Global Dairy Trade took place on Tuesday with the overall index climbing a half percent.  This is the third consecutive twice monthly GDT trading session that markets have strengthened.  One-hundred-99 bidders were involved in the sale of more than 38-thousand metric tons of products.

The increase in prices came mostly on the strength of the rising skim milk powder market, which was up 2.4% today to $1.24/lb. Whole milk powder was unchanged at $1.42/lb.  Other products that gained included anhydrous milk fat and Rennet casein. More than three-quarters of Tuesday’s sales were whole milk powder and skim milk powder. Products that fell in GDT were butter, down four tenths of a percent at $1.815 and cheddar which lost 2.2% and ended at $1.65 per lb. Whole milk powder was unchanged at $1.42 per lb.

Both cheddar cheese and butter prices in the U.S. domestic market are out-pricing world prices by substantial margins. Blocks of cheddar here are trading at $2.11/lb; butter is at $2.07/lb.

U.S. skim milk prices are trading competitively vis-a-vis world prices, at $1.17/lb. Whole milk prices, though, are well above world prices at $1.75 to $1.80/lb.

For the complete GDT results, click here.

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

Middle Tennessee State University is working to keep milk local.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But MTSU has a plan to help those farmers out.

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

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

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

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

Source: Fox17

Markets Higher in Chicago Tuesday after GDT Report

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Tuesday milk futures were up and cash dairy prices were mixed. November and December added 6 and 9 cents. First quarter 2020 prices traded 6-10 cents higher while the balance of 2020 was slightly higher. Class IV markets were up 9 and 13 in November and December also. 

Dry whey was up $.01 at $.3075 cents per pound. Nine sales were recorded from $.30 to $.3075. Forty-pound blocks were down $.0175 at $2.0550 per pound. Four sales were recorded from $2.0450 to $2.0550. Barrels were unchanged at $2.0250 per pound. Six sales were recorded at that price. Grade AA Butter was up $.01 at $2.12 per pound. Seventeen sales were recorded from $2.11 to $2.12. Nonfat dry milk was unchanged at $1.1675 per pound. No sales were recorded.

Grain prices stepped back on Tuesday after reservations of whether China will follow through and sign Phase 1 of a potential trade deal. Corn lost 4 cents, soybeans were down 6.5 cents, and the wheat complex softened 4-5 cents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few links of interest for additional examination:

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

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

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