News

Straussdale Holsteins Barn is a total loss after Friday fire

The barn owned by Straussdale Holsteins was still smoking Sunday morning after snowy conditions made for a difficult night fighting a barn fire Friday, just north of Lake Mills.

The heifer barn on the Straussdale Holstein Farm, N7744 Hwy 89, caught fire during the storm that caused slippery conditions all over the area. At about the same time there was a vehicle accident involving a tanker truck on Highway 18 and Hope Lake Road.

Neighbors and family nearby helped clear the barn of animals after the fire started, taking them down the road to the home farm. The farm is owned by Donald and Phyllis Strauss, according to Jefferson County Land Records.

The Lake Mills Fire Department was dispatched to the scene at about 7 p.m., according to the Jefferson County Scanner.

The barn was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived on the scene.

Family members said in a social media post the barn is a total loss but is not their main barn. The barn that was destroyed is estimated to have been built in the 1800s.

Sunday morning family members could be seen tending to the barn, which still appeared to have some hot spots.

Tammy Strauss said in a Facebook post Friday night, the farm and family have a long way to go in the recovery process.
“(We are) so incredibly thankful for all the help and support last night. Please keep prayers coming,” Strauss wrote.

“It will be a long road ahead for Straussdale in the aftermath of this”

She said over the next couple of days the family will focus on clean up, checking on cattle and treating them for any injuries.

“Thank you to the many, many people that came out and braved the weather to help. We were able to save the other buildings.”

Responding were engines from Waterloo and Johnson Creek; tenders from Marshall, Waterloo, Jefferson, Cambridge and Johnson Creek; a squad from Jefferson, fire chiefs from Jefferson and Waterloo; an engine from Fort Atkinson; an ambulance from Waterloo.

Source: The Lake Mills Leader

Minnesota lost more than 300 dairy farms in 2019 for second year in a row

Minnesota’s milk production industry continued to struggle in 2019 as the state lost more than 300 net dairy farms for the second year in a row, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Agriculture.

The number of overall dairy farms dropped from 2,763 in 2019 to 2,448 in 2020, representing an 11% decrease as the shuttering of farms outpaced the addition of new ones.

Lucas Sjostrom, the executive director of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, called the numbers “sobering” but said they did not come as a surprise.

“One of the things we’re really missing right now is beginning farmers,” Sjostrom said. “Reaching that 11%, that’s farmers net lost. We’re losing that three, four, five percent of farmers that would be starting up and coming in.”

The rest of the country has felt the same pain. Wisconsin suffered through a particularly brutal 2019 year with a 10% loss of dairy farms, and the U.S. as a whole has seen a roughly 30% decline overall in the past decade.

The plight of dairy farming is a complex topic, but the struggles accelerated in the middle of the decade. After record-high milk prices in 2014 drove profits for dairy farms, supply began to heavily outweigh demand and led to a drastic free fall. The tumbling milk prices — coupled with corporate consolidation and a loss of exports to China during a costly trade war — have all contributed to the problem.

Federal and state governments have infused some cash to farmers through subsidies, and a Minnesota rebate program will put more cash in the hands of dairy farmers next month. They are not magic fixes, however.

To rebuild and sustain the industry, Sjostrom suggests farmers need to save on labor costs by becoming more innovative with their approach – including the use of new technology. Robots that milk cows are already prominently featured on some Minnesota farms, part of a growing trend that could help small family farms survive.

One bit of encouraging news: Milk prices have inched up lately and reached their highest levels in five years at the end of 2019.

“There’s a lot of optimism out there, a lot of cautious optimism after what we’ve been through the past four years,” Sjostrom said. “Daily farmers are resilient.”

Source: kare11.com

4-H is more than showing farm animals

Calum MacLaughlin was helping move forage back into reach for the Holsteins at MacLaughlin Farm in Tamworth area during 4-H Farm Fest on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019 in Lennox and Addington County. (Postmedia Network files)

A new year can mean resolutions and resolutions can mean trying something new. If you or someone you know are between the ages of eight to 21 and are looking for some new experiences, why not consider 4-H?

A new year can mean resolutions, and resolutions can mean trying something new. If you or someone you know is between the ages of eight to 21 and is looking for some new experiences, why not consider 4-H?

The club is not just about showing farm animals, although that is something you can do, but not the only thing.

A non-profit, positive youth development organization, 4-H spans 70 countries and all 10 Canadian provinces.

For over a century, 4-H Ontario has been working to build youth as leaders within their communities and assets to the world. With roots in rural Ontario, today 4-H Ontario is open to all youth across the province of all backgrounds. In 4-H, youth and screened and engaged volunteer leaders come together to learn about selected topics through fun, hands-on activities and mentorship.

There are also provincial camps, conferences, competitions, and national and international travel opportunities available to further develop skills in leadership, business, self-confidence and more.

4-H provides youth with a place where they can be involved, accepted, valued and heard while developing valuable leadership and life skills.

Each chapter comprises a minimum of six 4-H members and two trained, screened volunteers who act as club leaders. The club decides on a topic and, through leader instruction, enjoys hands-on learning. Members and volunteers can belong to as many clubs as they wish.

In 2019, Chatham-Kent 4-H had the following clubs: Barn Quilt, Archery, Horse, Field Crop, Plowing, Sheep, Dairy, Beef, Rabbit, Sugarbeet, Bike, Lego, Sporting Chance, Woodworking, Baking, Walk on the Wildside, Veterinary, Poultry, Farm Toy, Canning, Trash to Treasure, Lifeskills, and Maple Syrup.

Regular 4-H is open to everyone ages 10 to 21. If you are between eight and 10, you can join Cloverbuds, an introduction to 4 H.

Chatham Kent 4-H is having its annual rally night on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Rudy Brown Gymnasium at the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph. Rally night is signup night for 4-H, where you can learn about all the clubs that will be offered for the coming year.

More information can be found by emailing chathamkent4H@gmail.com or by checking out their website at 4-hontario.ca/4h-in-my-area/chatham-kent.aspx.

Source: The Chatham Daily News

Finding balance: The staggering plight of dairy farmers

Finding balance: The staggering plight of dairy farmers

When 4th-generation dairy farmers Dave and Kelly Myszkowski described what they called their mid-farm crisis they said, “Things have changed. Things are changing.”

The Myszkowski’s crisis is similar to what many dairy farmers in the United States have been experiencing for decades – tightening profit margins and need for Federal support.

An alarming number of dairy farmers have lost money nearly every year for decades and many are dependent on taxpayer subsidies to survive – the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2018 paid out more than $15 billion to agriculture and dairy applicants.

According to a USDA Economic Research Service report titled Milk Cost Return, since 2000 there were only two years in which the net value of milk production was not in the negative. For example: Despite an average gross value of $18.53 per hundredweight of milk in 2018, the return for a producer less the costs associated with operating a dairy farm was negative $3.21.

One option in place to support dairy producers is for them to pay for a type of insurance – currently called Dairy Margin Coverage – which serves as a voluntary risk management program [ www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/dairy-margin-coverage-program/index ]. The DMC in 2018 replaced the Margin Protection Program, but both have offered protection to dairy producers when the difference between milk price and average feed price falls below a certain dollar amount.

The need for such protections arises from unstable prices for dairy as a product. The Federal government has since the 1930s been attempting to bring stability to the dairy market, but the shift of production to large farms is an indicator that it hasn’t worked. Between 1970 and 2006, the number of farms with dairy cows fell steadily and sharply, from 648,000 operations in 1970 to 75,000 in 2006, or 88 percent, according to the USDA.

As a result of dwindling prospects for milk producers in New York state, since early 2018, the state government has awarded more than $30.7 million to dairy farms, protecting 15,102 acres from becoming underutilized or developed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September announced funding – $18.6 million – in support of conservation easement projects on 25 New York dairy farms. The release states: “Dairy farmers continue to face challenges from prolonged low milk prices, increasing the threat of conversion of viable agricultural land to nonfarm development. Through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program, dairy farms can diversify their operations or transition their farms to the next generation at more affordable costs, while ensuring the land forever remains used for agricultural purposes.”

Being that approximately 20 percent of the state’s land area – nearly 7 million acres – is farmland, it’s clear why Cuomo calls agriculture a “critical component” of the economy and states that farms “improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.” Since Cuomo took office in 2011, the state has invested more than $83 million in 117 farmland protection projects statewide.

“They provide fresh and nutritious food and beverages to our communities and are home to some of New York’s most scenic landscapes,” Cuomo stated in the release. “This program will help ensure our farms continue their successful operations for future generations.”

In 2019, two operations in the Mohawk Valley received a combined total of $1,378,661 of funding. Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust received $417,690 to protect 236 acres of Groeslon Farm and the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy received $960,971 to protect 823 acres of Creek Acres Farm. For more information, visit https://agriculture.ny.gov/land-and-water/farmland-protection.

“Dairy is the largest sector of New York State’s agricultural economy and our dairy farmers have faced some daunting challenges in recent years with low milk prices and trade uncertainty,” State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball stated in the release. “These funds help farmers adapt to changes in the marketplace and remain in business, while preserving the land and our farmers’ way of life.”

Following the “success” of Round 1 of the program, New York state is launching a second round of the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program specifically for dairy. The state will accept applications on a rolling basis for farmland protection grants of up to $2 million from eligible entities, such as land trusts, municipalities, counties, and soil and water conservation districts. There is no application deadline.

Conservation easement projects will be awarded to eligible dairy farms that are:

  • Transitioning to the next ownership of a continuing dairy, but whose operation has been modified to ensure greater financial sustainability;
  • Continuing dairy, but diversifying the overall farm operation; or
  • Converting to a non-dairy farm operation.

All farmland protection project proposals must be submitted electronically through the New York State Grants Gateway. For more information regarding the Grants Gateway, please visit https://grantsgateway.ny.gov. Additional information and the Request for Applications (RFA) can be found on the Department’s website at https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html.

Farmers, often isolated from the world at large but also particularly from politics, tend to not have their voices heard on issues that matter the most to them. So, having allies in office as well as an organization that advocates on their behalf is a cornerstone to their success.

One such ally farmers can depend on is the New York Farm Bureau, which states its mission is to, “Serve and strengthen agriculture.”  As a non-governmental, volunteer organization financed and controlled by member families, its purpose is “solving economic and public policy issues challenging the agricultural industry.”

Established in 1911 in response to income issues experienced by farmers, a Binghamton chamber of commerce and the Lackawanna Railroad worked with the United States Department of Agriculture and the New York State College of Agriculture to establish the NYFB. Its founders understood that by increasing and stabilizing the income of farmers, the same would occur for the economy.

One of the NYFB’s goals is to identify politicians who will advocate on behalf of their constituent farmers. Through its Circle of Friends program, lawmakers are named based on their voting record and other legislative support on agricultural issues.

Assemblyman Robert Smullen, R-Meco, was among five regional lawmakers recently named to the NYFB’s Circle of Friends. The Farm Bureau made the announcement in early January based on Smullen’s support of the industry during the 2019 Legislative Session. In a release, he stated the following in regard to the announcement:

“Agriculture has long been a proud tradition for New Yorkers and a cornerstone of our state’s economy,” Smullen stated. “Agriculture is the largest industry in upstate New York, so I will continue to advocate for policies beneficial to our farmers, particularly the many small farms in the 118th Assembly District. These farms are a staple in our community, and in a state that cannot afford to lose another farm or job, Albany should be doing everything possible to support our farmers instead of continuing to pile on costly regulations and mandates.”

In a recent interview, Smullen provided further detail about his selection as a friend of farmers by stating, “I take my role as a State Legislator very seriously, and am working hard for my constituents. Although I am not a member of the Agriculture Committee yet, I strive to understand those I represent by being involved in the important issues and thank the New York State Farm Bureau for noticing my efforts.”

Smullen also addressed the issues facing dairy producers as well as the integral role agriculture plays in the Mohawk Valley.

“The dairy industry has always been a pillar of the Mohawk Valley economy, and along with other agricultural products has helped make agriculture the number one economic driver across Upstate New York as a whole,” Smullen said. “We not only feed ourselves but help feed the millions of people in the city who can’t produce their own food in dense urban areas. That is a point of pride in a very sophisticated global economy, of which we are an important and fundamental part.”

Smullen noted that it is important that dairy farms stay in operation or transition to a new product instead of going out of business.

“Our dairy farmers provide part of a safe and secure food supply that makes our state and our nation strong,” Smullen said. “It is fundamental to our future, and despite the inevitable technological changes which have always happened, this business remains a renewable source of healthy food that all of our people need. With the number of farmers falling to below one percent of the total population, we have to be very careful about how we regulate the sector at the Federal and State level.”

Smullen concluded that having less than one percent of Americans as actual farmers – down from historical norms – is “contrary to our founding roots.”

“Farming is one of the best ways to live off the land, and every American needs to know of the small business opportunities,” Smullen said. “Programs in schools and colleges that highlight the careers are thus important to the future health of what is a very sophisticated business model these days.”

As a 4th-generation dairy farmer, Dave Myszkowski and his family have experienced the ups and downs of the industry and right now, things are down. According to the Myszkowski’s, when Dave started milking in the 1980s, the price was about the same as when his grandfather milked 20 years prior, and it has hit that point again in recent years. Kelly described the situation regarding the price of milk price as complicated, difficult to explain or understand with “no rhyme or reason.”

After becoming established and experienced, Dave had a herd that was healthy and producing very well for several years. He even had to install a bigger bulk tank to store the milk prior to shipping. The herd size total hovered around 100, of which about 60 were milking. During that time, the farm was shipping more than 5,000 pounds of milk every other day. But, then the situation began to decline and even as a 4th generation dairy farmer with a wealth of experience and knowledge, Dave was at a loss.

As time went on, Dave began noticing increasing health and reproductive problems, decreasing production, and an increase in loss of cows – both through death and loss of productive value. The farm’s production numbers began to drop below industry averages.

“Though the problems were notable, the reasons weren’t evident,” the Myszkowski’s said. “Everyone was puzzled. Frustrated. At wit’s end.”

Despite consulting with nutritionists and veterinarians and making changes based on their recommendations, the situation continued to decline. “This all was taking its toll financially, mentally, and emotionally,” the Myszkowski’s said.

Fortunately, their veterinarian suggested consulting with NY FarmNet, which was established by Cornell Cooperative Extension in the 1980s as a result of the high incidence of suicide among farmers, and the overall socio-economic crisis in the industry. The organization provides a variety of free supportive services, including business assistance, as well as assigning a social worker and business management consultant.

The Myszkowski’s business consultant quickly identified that they were in need of expertise from the Cornell Cooperative Extension itself, which eventually included individuals in their meetings.

“In the meantime, on a whim, he [the business consultant] also asked if Dave had ever checked for stray voltage,” Kelly explained. “Dave sat upright in his chair instantly and said, ‘No. That’s a very good idea,’ as if he instinctively knew that was the problem.”

Kelly said the day testing confirmed the stray voltage, a repair crew responded and corrected the problem.

“Cows are sensitive to as little as .25 volt – we had 3 volts in our barn, and 30 volts in other areas at times,” Kelly said. “Stray voltage essentially is electricity flowing someplace it shouldn’t be outside of the intended electrical circuits. Electricity naturally flows to the best ground. When you’re at the end of the power line, like on a dead-end road, it has nowhere else to go. It can’t pass you and go to the next place.”

For the Myszkowski’s, the stray electricity was following the milk line, and when milk flowed from the cow into the pipeline it was completing the circuit.

“Yet, it wasn’t obvious that they were uncomfortable. So, the vet and the nutritionist never considered stray voltage as an issue,” Kelly said. “Unfortunately, it can take at least a year, possibly two, to recover from something like this – if you even can. The rippling effects are far-reaching. At the all-time low, Dave was milking only 30 cows, and shipping about 1300 pounds of milk. But, expenses don’t just drop proportionately.”

Source: MyLittleFalls

Milking job paid for first house by 19th birthday

Buying your first home has never been tougher. In this On The Ladder series, Stuff talks to Kiwis who’ve made it onto the property ladder and others who, by choice or not, are still renting

Paul Rimu Whakatutu started saving for a house deposit when he was 12, after getting his first job moving lawns “for a little old lady down the road”, in Hawera. 

“I got $40 a week and all $40 went into a high-interest savings account,” said the now 21-year-old welder.

First home owner Paul Whakatutu bought this three-bedroom in Hawera for $200K in 2018.

SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF

First home owner Paul Whakatutu bought this three-bedroom in Hawera for $200K in 2018.

A year later, Whakatutu’s uncle offered him a milking job. “I was doing mornings and nights there, before and after school. I biked down to his house at 4am and would be done by 6.30pm for dinner.” 

By time he turned 19, Whakatutu had put away just shy of $40K.

The house Whakatutu grew up in was always full of his older brothers and sister, visiting friends and extended family. 

His mum asked what he wanted to do when he left school, and he told her he wanted to have his own house before his 21st birthday. “One night at the dinner table Mum and Dad talked about how hard it was getting to buy.

“I thought if I start saving now, it might not be so hard and they helped me make a budget.”

Whakatutu was paid $70 per milking and saved 80 per cent of his income. He had no expenses because he was still in school and living at home.

Putting in the hours didn’t bother him. “I still had time to play rugby. My uncle gave me training and game days off, and I always had my weekends to myself,” he said. 

Nor did he feel like he missed out on anything in his teen years. “I knew what I wanted and I knew that you’ve got to do a bit of work to get there.”

In Year 12, he did a week’s work experience with DTS, New Zealand’s largest stainless steel provider of dairy equipment.

“It was awesome,” he said. “The crew were so easy to get on with. The boss said if I finished NCEA Level 2, I’d have an apprenticeship.”

When Whakatutu left school he started on about $13 an hour. “I was getting about $450 a week and put half away,” after paying $70 to rent a room in his cousin’s flat.

It wasn’t always possible to save. Surprise expenses like a broken car made for some “rough spots”, but eventually he had enough saved to go house hunting. 

He told agents he was looking for a small first home with a garage and couple of bedrooms. A three-bedroom home with a single garage came onto the market for $200K two months later. 

“It’s a nice little house with a deck, hidden away down a long driveway. It was quiet. I was like ‘ah, this is the one’.”

With his savings and a first home grant from Kiwi Saver, Whakatutu was able to put down double the minimum 20 per cent deposit. 

During the summer, he spends as much time as he can on the sun-drenched deck.

“I like to get the boys around for a BBQ and I’ve got lots of family on the east coast. When they visit, they used to stay at the homestead. I thought if I get a house they can come stay with me and we can have our cuzzy time while the oldies are catching up. 

“We have our own private place away from the adults.”

Whakatutu doesn’t do an awful lot of gardening, preferring to call in for back up: “Every now and then I ring Mum up saying the hedges need doing. The big family team will come in and we’ll all attack it together.”

He also has plans to put in some concrete, and build a second shed to use as a workshop.

The weekly mortgage repayment of $190 is manageable and Whakatutu said it’s thanks to his parents helping him work out the maximum he could afford to pay on his own.

“I didn’t want to have to rely on getting any help,” he said.

Paul's cousins and friends always have a place to stay for the weekend.

SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF

Paul’s cousins and friends always have a place to stay for the weekend.

Moving to a larger city might be on the cards once more of the mortgage is paid but over the past year, he’s started taking more weekend trips away and going to gigs.

“Now that I’ve achieved what I wanted, I have a little bit extra when I get paid to go and have some fun. I’m just enjoying it now.”

Paul's bedroom.

SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF

Paul’s bedroom.

Source: Stuff

Dairy industry has concern about constant talk of its impact on climate change

Joaquin Phoenix, backstage at the 77th Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 5. The climate change discussion is not going away and dairy farmers are looking to get out their story out regarding the industry\’s impact on the environment.

The holiday season might be known as the most wonderful time of the year, but shortly after the calendar turns to January, Hollywood enters its awards season.

The Golden Globes, The Screen Actors Guild Awards and finally the Oscars make the early months of the new year the most glamorous time of the year, at least in the eyes of Hollywood. Undoubtedly, some actors use the national attention and the limelight to speak about causes or events they feel are important. This year, the devastating wildfires of Australia have been a popular choice.

In that same vein, so has climate change.

While the actors in question feel they are trying to do good to bring this awareness to the masses, they also are pointing the finger. In particular, some of the finger-pointing is being directed at the dairy and beef industries.

While the claims of actors such as Joaquin Phoenix regarding the role both those agricultural industries have had on climate change are not causing too much concern with local farmers, Missaukee County Farm Bureau President Jodi DeHate said there is always potential these claims could impact policy.

“I think most of my farmers are in the category of they don’t have a reaction if they even paid attention to it,‘ DeHate said. “People, whether it is Ellen (DeGeneres), Joaquin Phoenix or (awards shows like) the Golden Globes, let’s point out the hypocrisy,‘ she said. “They are flying on jets, eating foods from across the globe and wearing dresses or suits only once. But let’s not eat meat or dairy. That seems to be the problem.‘

DeHate said there are always policies that Farm Bureau is working on to help get their message out there. In reality, both the meat and dairy industries are very conscious of their impacts on the environment and have been leading the way in not wasting anything.

Whether it is the beef industry raising cattle on pasture or dairy producers recycling everything for feed such as sugar beet pulp, dry distiller’s grain, cottonseed meal, and canola meal to name a few. Although both industries have been doing these types of things before it was considered hip, DeHate said it is all about the reach of the message and actors have a much longer one when compared to that of either meat or dairy industries.

Regardless if farmers react to what they believe to be nonsense, DeHate said overall it has people in the agricultural industry nervous.

Recently, Starbucks did an environmental assessment and it showed dairy products are the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions across the coffee giant’s operations and supply chain. As a result of this recent report, the Seattle-based company announced ambitious goals for reducing its carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

By 2030, the cafe chain is targeting 50% reductions in carbon emissions, water withdrawal and waste sent to landfills. Considering in 2018 Starbucks was responsible for emitting 16 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, using 1 billion cubic meters of water and dumping 868 metric kilotons of coffee cups and other waste, that task will be huge.

Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson has said that will include pushing consumers to choose milk made from almond, coconuts, soy or oats, whose production is environmentally friendlier than dairy. Starbucks also is testing new drinks made with plant-based ingredients and seeking ways to make whipped cream without emitting nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. Starbucks also aims to lower the cost of dairy alternatives by helping suppliers boost output.

Michigan State University Extension Dairy and Beef Cattle Health and Production Senior Educator Phil Durst will be the first to say he is not an expert when it comes to beef and in particular dairy’s impact on climate change but he believes agriculture does a good job of being good stewards of the environment.

“I think there is a story we haven’t told. We have been more efficient in dairy. It is not a waste of resources,‘ he said.

Whether it is using the waste of other industries like DeHate said or harvesting natural gas from or using manure as fertilizer, the resources farmers use are used wisely.

Durst mentioned comments made by Dairy Management Inc. CEO Tom Gallagher regarding not only the Starbucks announcement last week but also Brightmark Energy in partnership with four Florida dairy farms.

While the focus of Starbucks’ announcement was discussed already, the announcement by Brightmark Energy has a different tone.

In Gallagher’s comments, he said the energy company and the dairy farms announced a project to convert 230,000 tons of manure per year into renewable gas, reducing methane emissions from Central Florida dairy farms. He also questioned why those in the dairy industry have concerns and/or anger regarding the Starbucks’ announcement.

“While this specific company announcement was a surprise, the fact that more and more companies, organizations and governments will make similar announcements in the very near future should come as a surprise to no one,‘ Gallagher wrote. “Some of these companies are well-intentioned even if they are often misguided.‘

He said all of the companies are doing what they believe is in their financial best interest. If a segment of consumers believes that plant-based foods are better for the planet or healthier for them, companies will play to that perception whether the perception is accurate or not, he said.

Like the beef and dairy industries, they are running a business and they will make decisions based on what they think is best for business. In turn, defense and denial are not strategies for success, according to Gallagher.

He said a better option is to help set the direction of environmental policies and regulations.

“We can engage with companies and thought leaders to understand and value what we do. We can work to assure sustainability and profitability go hand-in-hand for farmers,‘ he said.

Source: cadillacnews.com

‘The proposal was definitely one-of-a-kind’

Jamie spray-painted the big question on two Jerseys that he bought Claire for her 18th birthday.

Claire Dunn had just completed her morning milking duties on January 1st, 2020, when her other half, Jamie Huey, surprised her with an ‘udderly’ romantic gesture, writes Catherina Cunnane.

The couple, who have been together for seven years, had planned to head away for the day. “Jamie told me to go on and get changed. He then phoned me and told me to come back outside again.” Claire told this publication.

“I was wearing a hat, so Jamie pulled it over my eyes, took my hand and led me over the yard – I had a small inkling! He told me to wait a few moments and then turn around.”

“And there they were, our two Jerseys that Jamie had bought me for my 18th birthday, that have a lot of sentimental value to us, and him down on one knee, which is something I will never forget!”

The proposal was definitely one-of-a-kind. I had my ring picked, but I didn’t know how or when he was going to pop the question.”

“I was really shocked at how he did it, but at the same time, I am so proud of him!”

Mutal interest

The Donegal natives first met at a young farmer’s disco at Portrush and both have a very strong passion for farming.

Claire assists with the operation of her parent’s suckler and sheep farm, and also works along with Jamie on his home farm.

“Jamie does some contracting, so I do the milking for him – I guess you could say we were just made for each other,” she added.

Wedding

The couple have intentions to incorporate their interest in farming into their wedding. “We have a few agricultural-related ideas up our sleeve, but we have to work around the farming calendar, so we are planning for December this year!” Claire concluded.

Source: That’s Farming

Study Finds Cows Talk, Share Feelings, and are Deserving of Our Compassion

A new study at the University of Sydney has found that cows tell their feelings through moos. Cows have individual vocal identifiers and change pitch to match their emotions. Cows respond to both positive and negative emotions with their own “voice.”

Cows use their voice to keep contact with their herd and express emotions including arousal, excitement and distress. Each animal keeps their moo throughout their life and will moo when waiting for food or when moved from the group.

Alexandra Green, lead author of the study, said she hopes the study improves animal welfare. Commenting on the study, she shared, “Cows are gregarious, social animals. In one sense it isn’t surprising they assert their individual identity throughout their life. This is the first time we have been able to analyse voice to have conclusive evidence of this trait. They have all got very distinct voices. Even without looking at them in the herd, I can tell which one is making a noise just based on her voice. It all relates back to their emotions and what they are feeling at the time.”

Green would record and analyze each cow’s moo to gather data and develop her findings. A professor at the university and Green’s supervisor compared Green’s work to “building a Google translate for cows.”

See more about Alexandra Green’s work in this video:

Farm couple getaway gives dairy families time to refocus

In response to high levels of both personal and financial farm stress, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach is giving farmers some time away.

Extension is hosting a Northwest Iowa “Farm Couple Getaway” where farmers can participate in activities to improve farm family communication, farm and family goal-setting, farm transition, or just take weekend away to discuss farm and farm family priorities.

This “getaway” will be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22 at the Lakeshore Center at Okoboji near Milford. It is one of four getaways scheduled across the state.

The “getaways” run from 12:30 p.m. on the first day to 3:15 p.m. on the second day. There is no cost to attend the program as food, lodging and other expenses are being paid for by sponsors. There is a $50 per couple deposit to hold each reservation, refundable on the second day of the getaway.

Past farm couple getaways have proven to be beneficial to couples, organizers said.

“They are a very productive and delightful time to discuss items of importance to help farms and families be successful,” said Larry Tranel, ISU Extension and Outreach Dairy Field Specialist.

Each getaway will consist of 10 farm couples and ISU Extension facilitators. Registration is on a first come, first serve basis with registrations due two weeks prior to each session.

A registration brochure for the Feb. 21-22 Milford getaway can be found at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/sioux/farm-couple-getaway.

Find more information about the other sites from Jenn Bentley (jbentley@iastate.edu) at the ISU Extension and Outreach Winneshiek County Office at 563-382-2949; Fred Hall (fredhall@iastate.edu) at the ISU Extension and Outreach Sioux County Office at 712-737-4230; and/or Larry Tranel (tranel@iastate.edu) at the ISU Extension and Outreach Dubuque County Office at 563-583-6496.

Source: AGupdate

Cattle futures hit multi-month low amid coronavirus fears

On Friday, US live and feeder cattle futures hit their lowest prices in months amid fears of the coronavirus spreading.

According to reporting from Reuters, the sell-off hit also hit hog futures and crude oil as investors moved into safe-haven assets. 

Developments in the spread of the coronavirus will likely continue to direct cattle futures on Monday, said Rich Nelson, chief strategist for Illinois-based commodities broker Allendale.

Concerns increased as US health officials confirmed a second US case of the coronavirus and France confirmed its first three cases, while Chinese authorities sought to contain an outbreak that has killed at least 41 people in the country and infected about 1,000.

“I don’t know how much pressure we should have seen due to the coronavirus but based on psychology, it fits,” Nelson said.

April live cattle futures reached their lowest price since October 31 before ending up 0.125 cent at 124.300 cents per pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME March feeder cattle futures dropped 0.850 cent to 139.675 cents per pound and touched their lowest level since November 22.

The USDA, in a monthly report issued after the close of trading, said the nation had 12 million head of cattle on feed for slaughter as of January 1, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier. A Reuters poll of 10 analysts had projected an increase of 2.2 percent.

The USDA said 1.83 million head were placed in feedlots during December, up 3.5 percent from the previous year. Analysts were expecting an increase of 3.4 percent.

The data was “neutral across the board,” Nelson said.

Uncertainty about Chinese demand for US meat continues to hang over the livestock markets.

Beijing pledged to increase imports of US agricultural products in a trade deal signed last week that is meant to reduce tensions after nearly two years of a tit-for-tat tariff war. Traders are unsure about the timing and scale of future Chinese purchases, though.

China needs to further boost meat imports after an outbreak of a fatal pig disease, African swine fever, decimated its herd.

Reuters

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Neighbors Disturbed After Body Discovered In Manure Pile At Dairy Farm

Deputies are investigating after a man’s body was found in a pile of manure at a dairy farm outside Galt.

Deputies describe the discovery as suspicious. A spokesperson for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said a worker at the farm discovered the body when they were moving manure around. The investigation is still very broad at this point.

“We’re not able to tell at this point if it was accidental or if this is a homicide investigation,” said Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Tess Deterding.

Deterding said the body has been identified is a missing person from another county. There was no visible trauma found on the body.

But the mystery is far from over. People want to know what happened to this man and how did he got there

“There’s certainly that worry or fear, or jump to the conclusion, that this body was possibly dumped there and killed somewhere else,” Deterding said.

Owners of the dairy farm said he was not one of their employees.

Jerry Friend is one of the closest neighbors to this farm. He calls the situation scary.

“I was just thinking ‘Wow, that’s really strange.’ This doesn’t happen,” he said.

Friend said the area has been a popular dumping grounds in the past, but never for a body

“People dump trash on the side of the road. We had a problem with people dumping stuff at the cemetery. You know, full cars and RV’s,” Friend said.

The name of the man found is not being released until the coroner notifies his family.

Source:CBS

Dairy farmers criticise ‘attack’ by ‘arrogant’ environmentalists

Dairy farmers have said the “constant attack” on their livelihoods by “arrogant elements” of the environmental movement will be a key issue in the general election.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), which has 14,000 members, published its Guide to General Election 2020 on Wednesday. ICMSA president Pat McCormack said a copy would be sent to all candidates in rural constituencies.

The main issue facing farmers, he said, was the “relentless pressure on farmer income and farmer margin”, which was central to the protests and blockades that farmers have been involved in around the country since the summer.

However, Mr McCormack was also heavily critical of elements of the “environment movement” and said any election candidates who utter “glib” messages will be challenged.

“The second issue that is going to dominate this election for farmers is the constant attack on their livelihoods and the economic viability of rural Ireland by the most aggressive and arrogant elements of the environmental movement,” he said.

“Farmers accept the reality of climate change and accept the need for change, but we reject absolutely the idea that farmers alone will have to change their way of life.

“Every part of society will have to contribute to the increased costs of changing the way we produce food. Any candidate that comes out with ill-informed, glib anti-farmer messages will be challenged on their grasp of the facts.”

Mr McCormack said the ICMSA is a “categorically non-political organisation and does not endorse specific candidates or a specific political party”.

But he added that the group “will not tolerate a campaign where farmers are made the whipping boys for anyone’s pet projects or concerns”.

On the beef crisis, Mr McCormack said farmers across all sectors are “receiving the same prices as their parents received 30 years ago”.

“Everyone sympathises, but we don’t want sympathy anymore,” he said. “We want fair prices. We want action. Politicians who go to farmers’ yards and doors are going to be told that forcefully and straight out.”

Source: The Irish Times

Milk prices are so low Wisconsin is losing two dairy farms a day

Cows stand ready to be milked May 31, 2016, at the Lake Breeze Dairy farm in Malone, Wisconsin. The state is in the midst of a dairy crisis that’s caused a loss of one-third of its dairy farms since 2011. (Daniel Acker / Bloomberg)

Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday called the Republican-controlled Legislature into a special session beginning next week to consider an $8.5 million package of bills designed to help rural Wisconsin in the face of a crisis that’s caused a loss of one-third of the state’s dairy farms since 2011.

The Democratic governor told reporters that he was confident the Legislature would move quickly on the plan he unveiled in his State of the State address Wednesday night. He also dismissed criticism from Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos that the proposals show he has ignored rural Wisconsin before now.

“That’s just baloney,” Evers said, noting that many of the ideas had been included in his budget last year but rejected by Republicans. “We need to move forward. Our farmers need us.”

Wisconsin loses an average of two dairy farms a day as farmers suffer under low milk prices.

 

Vos said late Wednesday that the plan shows Evers has “finally turned his attention to rural Wisconsin.”

“He has ignored that part of the state for most of last year since he’s been elected governor,” Vos said. “If he’s a newfound convert that rural Wisconsin has problems, of course we’re going to listen.”

While Vos was wary of the plan, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Wednesday night that he was “all ears.”

“We’re all looking for ways to do better when it comes to ag,” Fitzgerald said. “There have been a number of proposals by the Legislature but I’m all ears on what the governor has to offer. It sounds like he’s been working on something comprehensive so absolutely I think the Legislature should take time to see what the special session includes and work on those bills.”

Evers said he expects the Legislature to meet starting Tuesday to take up the bills. Republican leaders have not said if they will do that. Vos and Fitzgerald did not immediately return messages Thursday seeking comment.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Starbucks plans to hold the milk

Yesterday, Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company, published a letter to partners, customers, and stakeholders outlining plans to make the company more sustainable in the coming decade. 

“Our aspiration is to become resource positive, storing more carbon than we emit, eliminating waste, and providing more clean freshwater than we use,” he wrote.

The first action item on Johnson’s list reads, “We will expand plant-based options, migrating toward a more environmentally friendly menu.”

In an interview with Bloomberg News discussing the company’s efforts, Johnson said, “Alternative milks will be a big part of the solution. The consumer-demand curve is already shifting.” Starbucks currently offers dairy alternatives including soy, coconut, and almond milk. Oat milk is also available in some areas. According to Business Insider, Starbucks uses more than 93 million gallons of milk per year.

The company’s environmental impact report lists animal protein as its highest contributor to carbon and water usage. Starbucks says dairy made up 21% of its carbon footprint in 2018.

In a response to the Starbucks announcement, Krysta Harden, the executive vice president of global environmental strategy for Dairy Management, Inc., writes, “We share Starbucks’ commitment to environmental sustainability. In fact, in 2008, the U.S. dairy community was the first agricultural sector to commission a full lifecycle assessment to understand our environmental footprint, which showed that fluid milk accounts for only 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Since then, due to innovative farm practices and new technologies, the environmental impact of producing a gallon of milk in 2017 shrunk significantly since 2008, involving 31% less water, 21% less land, and a 20% smaller carbon footprint.”

Johnson listed other ways the company plans to improve its environmental practices, including shifting to reusable packaging, focusing on regenerative agriucltural practices, better managing waste, and developing more eco-friendly stores and operations, but Harden argues dairy can be part of a sustainable way forward.

“Dairy can and will play an important role in achieving sustainability in supply chains and global food production,” she says. “From an environmental and nutrition standpoint, it is not an either-or; both plants and animals play a critical role in the health of the people and the planet. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to making environmental progress and frankly, it will take public-private partnerships and value-chain collaborations to achieve greater collective and positive impact. U.S. dairy is committed to doing its part and will soon be sharing a framework for achieving meaningful progress in carbon neutrality, soil and water health.”

Dairy Managment, Inc., is funded by dairy farmers in the U.S. and dairy importers. It manages the National Dairy Council and American Dairy Association.

Source: Agriculture

Milk Futures Push Higher Thursday in Chicago

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures were mostly higher Thursday ahead of a mostly neutral milk production report but reduced class and component prices for February. The Class III dairy markets found another bid on Thursday as February jumped 21 cents, March was up 25, and April gained 15. May also traded 7 cents stronger and June was up a penny. Second half 2020 ranged from even to 5 cents lower. Class IV markets watched March through may fall 9-15 cents per cwt. 

 

Dry whey up $0.0025 at $0.36.  Twenty-two sales were made at $0.3575 and $0.36. Blocks unchanged at $2.0025.  Two trades were made at that price. Barrels up $0.0050 at $1.63.  Six trades were made at $1.63 and $1.6325.  Butter up $0.0025 at $1.8675.  Three trades were made ranging from $1.86 to $1.8675. Nonfat dry milk down $0.0075 at $1.29.  Ten trades were made ranging from $1.2850 to $1.2950. 

The USDA released its December milk production report on Thursday. Milk production was reported beneath most expectations as production rose just 7/10 of a percent. Many Midwest states were down once again year over year, 3 states that continue to put out milk included Texas, Colorado, and Kansas. The milking herd totaled 9.339 billion in December which was unchanged from November after accounting for a revision in November.  

Welcomed by Dairy Farmers, revised WOTUS rule expected

Today, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James will announce the new “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule. The rule revises an already repealed Obama-era version, reducing federal jurisdiction over wetlands and streams. The revised definitions protects the nation’s navigable waters from pollution and is expected to result in favorable economic growth for the country.

EPA Administrator Wheeler was quoted saying, “After decades of landowners relying on expensive attorneys to determine what water on their land may or may not fall under federal regulations, our new Navigable Waters Protection Rule strikes the proper balance between Washington and the states in managing land and water resources while protecting our nation’s navigable waters, and it does so within the authority Congress provided” (Source: US EPA, Office of Public Engagement).

The previous rule was commonly associated with confusion in regards to the implementation of the Clean Water Act and was known to a lack common sense approach. The revision is expected to alleviate the widespread uncertainty of where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. Sources say the new rule will recognize the difference between federally protected and state protected wetlands, adhering to the statutory limits of the agencies authority, and ensuring protections of U.S. water.

American Dairy Coalition CEO Laurie Fischer, expressed support of the change by stating, “Ultimately, the revision of this rule empowers the states to manage their waters in ways that best safeguard natural resources and local economies. We’re eager to see this step moving forward, increasing common sense factors and alleviating the continuous confusion and legal ramifications the previous version has inflicted.”

About The American Dairy Coalition:

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) is a farmer-led national lobbying organization of progressive, modern dairy farmers. We focus on federal dairy policy. For more information, contact CEO Laurie Fischer at 920-965-6070.

Female genomic testing now available in the UK from VikingGenetics

VikingGenetics is expanding its range of services with the launch of female genomic testing and corrective mating packages.

The services promise to offer the United Kingdom (UK) dairy producers the benefits which have helped earn Nordic dairy cattle their reputation as both the healthiest and highest producers of fat plus protein in the world.

The genomic testing service will not only provide UK producers with an overall economic index with which to rank the youngstock in their herds. It will also provide genomic figures for over 40 different traits, including unique VikingGenetics indexes, such as hoof health and general health.

The genomic testing service will also help producers make better decisions about which females to rear, to inseminate to sexed semen or breed to beef. It will allow them to see how their cattle rank on the economic index, Nordic Total Merit (NTM).

Alongside genomic testing comes the launch of VikingGenetics’ corrective mating service. Called VikMate, the service will enable producers to quickly and easily identify bulls which complement each animal in their herd. The service will help minimise inbreeding and avoid undesirable recessive genes.

A particular innovation of the mating service is its flexibility. This allows farmers to use a pre-defined genetic index or to customise their own to meet their specific breeding goals. These could be to maximise milk price under their particular payment structure or to focus on issues in need of correction within their herd.

“VikingGenetics has been selling cattle semen in the UK for over 10 years and we are delighted our bulls now feature highly on the UK’s national rankings for all of the major dairy breeds,” says Kenneth Byskov, Senior Project Manager at VikingGenetics. “To us, it is a logical extension that we introduce services which will help our customers make the best use of these genetics within their herds. It is also notable that the breeding programmes in our respective countries have never been more similar.”

Matthew Stott, Director at VikingGenetics UK Ltd, adds: “We are all striving to produce an efficient, sustainable cow with innate good health and resistance to disease which produces high quality milk.”

VikingGenetics is a farmer co-operative spanning Denmark, Sweden and Finland which has had a long-term focus on breeding for health. Driven by a highly regulated veterinary framework and a requirement to minimise the use of medicines, the co-operative leads the way on improving many health and related traits through genetic improvement.

In the Holstein breed, VikingGenetics boasts three of the top 10 daughter fertility improvers in the highly competitive UK and international proven bull ranking. For the Ayrshire/Red and Jersey breeds, the co-operative completely dominates with eight and nine out of 10 respectively in the breed rankings for the UK’s Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI).

“The UK’s £PLI and NTM have extremely similar formulae,” adds Mr Stott. “Both indexes reward milk quality, fertility, health and efficiency and help raise a herd’s profits through breeding.”

Australian dairy farmer’s father and brother were killed in the bushfire, but his daily chores could not be ignored

Australian Army officer Lieutenant Aiden Frost with dairy farmer Tim Salway and his wife Leanne. Photo: Sergeant Max Bree

Tim Salway’s father, Robert, and brother, Patrick, died trying to defend their properties in a New South Wales bushfire, but Tim’s daily chores at the dairy farm could not be ignored.

A raging inferno killed Tim Salway’s brother and father when bushfires tore through the family dairy farm near Cobargo, NSW, on New Year’s Eve.

As Mr Salway returned to their ravaged 600-acre property, milking came first.

“I knew my old man and brother were lying there just over the hill, but we had to get the cows in,” Mr Salway said.

“You can’t afford to miss because they start getting udder issues.

“That was the hardest milking I’ve ever had to do, but you couldn’t just stop and say ‘that was a bad fire’.”

About 170 of the Salways’ 350 cows were lost in the blaze.

Help arrived in the fires’ wake, including an Army strike team to clear and pile up fallen trees from the paddocks, saving the family an estimated month’s work.

“They ripped in with chainsaws, they smashed through, their bosses kept asking me ‘what next?’,” Mr Salway said.

“We’re able to get back in these paddocks, we’re able to work the land again. In time we’ll be able to burn these heaps [of wood].

“They cleared our driveway and just driving in makes you feel better. Things like this keep you going, as tough as it is for our family.”

Lieutenant Aiden Frost, of the 2nd/17th Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment, commanded the strike team that arrived for two days of work on January 14.

They also brought water and an Army chaplain to counsel the Salways.

“The intensity of the fire basically ripped all of the trees out of the ground and created huge amounts of debris which rendered the paddocks sort of unusable,” Lieutenant Frost said.

“The farmers have been overwhelmed. We can’t solve the whole problem, but in a couple of days our guys have been able to clear significant amounts of the property, which will eventually allow their cattle numbers to recover.”

Strike teams, such as those commanded by Lieutenant Frost, are working to assist communities in south-east NSW in the wake of the bushfires.

His team has 26 soldiers from Army’s 5th Brigade, mostly infantrymen and combat engineers supported by a medic and signaller.

Four of the infantrymen completed an Army chainsaw course while the team was staging at Holsworthy.

“One minute we’re helping fix fences to stop cattle getting on the road and the next minute we’re out doing engineer tasks like inspecting culverts and bridges, or felling and cutting up trees” Lieutenant Frost said.

“Even if it is just basic, manual labour, the team is really glad to be able to help.”

The Salways’ farm provides milk to Bega Cheese, the same company that makes canned cheese for Australian Army ration packs.

The company couldn’t process the Salways’ milk for 10 days after the fires, meaning it had to be dumped, but Bega Cheese still paid for it. The company also provided the family with generators, to keep things running until power was restored.

“We take for granted where everything comes from,” Lieutenant Frost said.

“Guys like these farmers provide milk to make cheese for ration packs or the supermarket; everyone knows the struggles they’ve had.

“Then to have a fire devastate your farm and lose family members is the last thing any of these people needed. At least we can show that the people of Australia and the Army cares about them.”

When the team finished at the Salways’ property, Tim’s family had worked for 15 days straight to recover, with no end in sight.

“It wasn’t a fire, it was a monster, like a tornado; it’s something I don’t want to see again,” he said.

“The family down the road lost five houses. Up the road, out of about seven houses, there’s only one left.

“I’ve been trying to say it’s not that bad, but when the Army turns up to help you it must be pretty bad.”

Source: Wild Fire Today

150 dairy cows killed in Ontario barn fire

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is investigating after 150 cows were killed in a barn fire in Haldimand County.

Emergency crews were called to a fire on Smithville Rd. around 2:25 p.m. Tuesday.

Firefighters arrived on scene and found a barn fully engulfed in flames.

OPP says all of the dairy cattle that were in the barn died in the blaze.

Smithville Rd. in Canborough was closed between Canborough Rd. and South Chippewa Rd. for roughly eight hours while emergency crews were on scene.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire but it is not considered suspicious.

The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal has been notified.

and @HaldEmerg crews on scene for barn fire Smithville Rd. in . Approximately 148 dairy cattle perished. Cause of fire is under investigation. Smithville Rd. is closed between Canborough Rd. and South Chippewa Rd. Please use alternate route.^rl

View image on Twitter
Source: CHCH

Starbucks Taking Aim at Milk Is Latest Blow to Beaten-up Dairy

The latest blow to the downtrodden dairy industry was delivered by none other than Starbucks Corp., with the coffee giant looking to condition customers to use milk alternatives in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint.

While Starbucks accounts for just 0.3% of U.S. milk production, the decision to formally declare an emphasis on non-dairy options may encourage other food-service outlets to follow suit. That could add momentum to the shift toward oat, nut, soy and other alternative beverages for health and environmental reasons. American cow-milk consumption has fallen about 2% each year since the 1970’s, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It’s a trend that has helped put plenty of American dairy farmers out of business and led to two big U.S. processors — Dean Foods Co. and Borden Dairy Co. — into bankruptcy. Dean is one of Starbucks’ key suppliers, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Marketing group Dairy Management Inc. said that while it shares Starbucks’ commitment to sustainability, the industry’s environmental footprint is small and shrinking due to innovative farm practices and new technologies. “Both plants and animals play a critical role in the health of the people and the planet,” the group said.

Source: Bloomberg

Minnesota Loses Over 800 Dairy Farms in Three Years

The number of licensed dairy farms in Minnesota continues to drop at a steady pace. New data out from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture says 315 dairy farms left the business between January first of 2019 and New Year’s Day of 2020. That’s the second year in a row the state has lost more than 300 dairies. Further back on January first of 2017, Minnesota had 3,258 licensed dairy farms. As of January first of 2020, that number is down to 2,448 licensed dairy farms. That’s a three-year total of 810 dairy operations that are out of business. Margaret Hart, communications director for the MDA, says, “The number of farms going out of business over the last five years has been higher than normal, due in large part to a drop in prices.” It’s worth mentioning that at least some of those businesses have ceased their operations temporarily, which is referred to as “dried off.” For example, 47 dairies that stopped operation between December first, 2019, and January of 2020, are dried off. That means they intend to resume milking within 60 days.

Source: American Ag Network

Canada Working to Ratify USMCA Trade Deal

Canada could be the last of the three North American countries to ratify a new trade deal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday, indicating that his plan to match the U.S. timetable was set to fail.

Trudeau’s Liberal government said from the start it wanted TO work in tandem with Washington to formally approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was signed last year.

The United States, Mexico and Canada agreed last week to revised terms for the USMCA to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mexico has already ratified the deal and the U.S. House of Representatives will consider legislation on Thursday to implement the pact, a senior Democrat said.

Canadian legislators, however, are not due back from a winter break until Jan 27. The Liberals lost their majority in an October election and must work more closely with opposition parties to push through legislation.

“We might – because of our parliamentary calendar – be the last parties to ratify, so we’re going to have to try to get to it as quickly as we can,” Trudeau told Toronto’s Citytv channel.

Trudeau said he was reasonably confident his government would find enough votes to approve the treaty.

Eleanore Catenaro, a spokeswoman for Trudeau, said Ottawa still wanted to work with the United States as much as possible on ratification. She declined to say whether Trudeau might call lawmakers back to work ahead of schedule in January.

Canada’s two main opposition parties suggested last week they could move to delay ratification, accusing the Liberal government of botching revisions to the treaty.

Source: Reuters

Barn fires: how to address a deadly threat to cattle

It is estimated that between 2013 and 2019, over 4,900 cattle died in barn fires in the US. We speak to the Animal Welfare Institute about what’s needed to protect cattle in the future.

In 2018, the Animal Welfare Institute (US) released its official barn fire report which presented a detailed analysis of data compiled from barn fires that occurred between 2013 and 2017 in the US. In those five years, there were 326 deadly barn fires where at least 2,763,924 farm animals died and these numbers are not on the decline.

Catastrophic fires can occur in farms of any size, housing any species of animal, yet in the US there are no federal or state laws designed to protect those animals from barn fires. There is no obligation to install fire prevention, detection or suppression systems in animal housing which Dena Jones, AWI farm animal programme director, believes is the main reason these fires get out of hand and, in the process, kill millions of animals each year.

“We have to put this into perspective here,” says Dena Jones, AWI farm animal programme director.

“Usually these fires start out very small and if a small fire was to start in any other type of building – whether that be an office, a hospital or school – then it wouldn’t usually spread so quickly and would be controlled before it could spread further. It wouldn’t kill all of the occupants.

“So why are ban fires so catastrophic?

“When these fires start, they’re either not detected or detected too late, so they spread very quickly. Add to this the lack of suppression and by the time the fire department get there – usually in the middle of the night – the barn is engulfed and the animals inside will have been lost.

“It can start as just a small event but because of the lack of detection and suppression, the fires are catastrophic.”

Causes of barn fires

In AWI’s 2018 report, research showed that out of 326 fatal barn fires, the cause or likely cause was only reported in 106 cases. The damage generated by fires makes determining the exact cause very difficult. This said, in cases where the cause was known, the majority were electrical faults: heaters, automatic ventilation systems and machinery.

“Heating devices in particular have a higher fire risk and have been responsible for a large proportion of the electrical fires we’ve had reported,” says Dena.

Dena explains that a pattern can be observed in the frequency of fires and their location, and that farms in Northern Europe and Canada are experiencing similar issues.

“Our research indicates that cold weather and confinement are the main links between the frequency and severity of fires in the US.

“Whether these farms are housing cattle, poultry, pigs or other species, most reported barn fires occur in colder states (and during the winter months) and the greatest number of animal deaths occur in the larger, intensive farms, primarily in the Upper Midwest, West and Northeast.”

Health and safety for farm staff

Raising awareness of this issue is a primary focus for the Animal Welfare Institute but farm workers should also be proactive in ensuring on-farm safety measures are established

“These fires are a risk for workers as well so if they have any concerns about the practices used on farm, they should feel confident to speak up,” says Dena.

“If they suspect any on-farm practice might be contributing to the risk of fires starting, or that there isn’t enough detection and suppression on farm – even just from a workers rights perspective – they should speak up.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest to deal with this problem. Even neighbouring houses and communities.”

Regulation and protection for farm animals

Barn fires are a primary focus for the Animal Welfare Institute in 2020 as it is predicted that the frequency and severity of these fires will not drop unless action is taken by authorities to establish on-farm standards that protect the animals inside the barns.

Dena says that the lack of regulation at a local and state level is a contributor to the high death toll when these barn fires occur.

“There are no laws that cover farm animals in barn fires whereas there are protective codes for people and property,” she explains.

“In addition to that, none of our agricultural trade associations have standards (or have very little in terms of standards) that address prevention, detection and suppression.”

To minimise the risk of fatal fires AWI recommend the following fire protection methods:

  • Install sprinkler systems.
  • Install smoke or heat detection systems.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Request annual inspections from the fire department.
  • Place fire extinguishers in barns.
  • Institute frequent fire prevention training for employees and routine fire drills.
  • Frequently check, repair, and replace heating and other electrical equipment.

They are also urging the trade associations to, as a minimum, adopt the standards of the National Fire Protection Association. The AWI says that it would be a positive step to establish a special code that solely addresses animal welfare.

“If we then go on to draft legislation, we would ask for provisions that cover the three areas previously mentioned.

“Prevention: which should include regular annual inspection from a local fire authority, training of workers and an emergency plan that includes evacuation of animals

“Detection: accurate smoke detection technology connected to an alarm system that notifies the local fire authority and the farm manager immediately.

“And suppression: sprinklers are costly but are the most effective method of controlling death rates.

“In some rural areas with limited water supply, we’re also advocating the option of on-site water storage. Inadequate water costs lives as barns burn faster. This water storage could supply both sprinkler systems and the attending fire authorities.”

Barn fires represent a significant animal welfare issue, says Dena, and we believe it currently gets inadequate attention both from state officials and the public, and with the industry itself. We’re trying to draw attention to the issue. Our priorities are poultry, pig and cattle due to the scale of deaths and the number of fires.

Source: The Dairy Site

Class III Milk Continues Higher in Chicago Wednesday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures continued higher for the week while cash markets were mixed as butter stocks provide some pressure.  Class III milk liked what it saw and rallied across the board. January gained 2 to $17.05, February gained 26 to $17.80, and March gained 19 to $17.95. Second half of 2020 gained 4-16 cents and is averaging at $18.00 even for July – December.  Class IV didn’t fare as well, Jan fell 2 to $16.71, Feb fell 17 to $16.95 and March fell 7 to $17.42.

Dry whey down $0.0050 at $0.3575.  Three sales were made at that price. Blocks up $0.0375 at $2.0025.  Two trades were made at $2.0075 and $2.0150. Barrels up $0.0275 at $1.6250.  Six trades were made ranging from $1.62 to $1.6250.  Butter down $0.0150 at $1.8650.  One trade was made at that price.  Nonfat dry milk up $0.0025 at $1.2975.  Nine trades were made ranging from $1.2959 to $1.30.  The USDA says cheese stocks are declining slightly while butter inventories are building over year-ago levels. Cheese stocks totaled more 1.3 billion pounds, down half of percent on the month and two percent on the year.  Natural cheeses are down more than seven percent while American and other types of cheese are up five percent from last year. Butter inventories were up five percent from November and up almost six percent from last year at more than 190 million pounds.

Devin Nunes’ family files $25 million lawsuit against reporter over Iowa dairy farm article

Family members of U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes have filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against former Esquire correspondent Ryan Lizza, following his 2018 investigation into their Sibley, Iowa, dairy farm.

Anthony Nunes Jr., and Anthony Nunes III — father and brother, respectively, to the California Republican and Trump ally — along with their NuStar Farms LLC, sued Lizza and Esquire publisher Hearst Magazines last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.

In his article, published Sept. 30, 2018, Lizza reported on his visit to Sibley, in Osceola County, including periods during which people he identified as Nunes family members tailed his car around town in between interviews.

Lizza’s story places NuStar in the context of the Midwestern dairy industry’s reliance on undocumented labor, and cites two anonymous sources with firsthand knowledge in reporting that NuStar had employed undocumented migrants.

The Nunes’ lawsuit dismisses Lizza’s story as a “scandalous hit piece” and a “legion of lies,” written to “retaliate” against Devin Nunes for “exposing corruption” during his tenure as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“The defendants’ misconduct is egregious,” Nunes attorneys Joseph Feller and Steven Biss wrote in the complaint. “They should never be permitted to attack the reputations and standing of anyone, especially hard-working private individuals.

“They should be punished for their unlawful actions and a very strong message needs to be sent to prevent other so-called ‘journalists’ from acting in a similar way.”

The lawsuit contests Lizza’s description of the Nunes dairy farm’s little-reported move to Iowa, from Tulare, Calif., in 2006, as a “secret,” citing from conservative news sites Breitbart and the Federalist.

 

Nunes’ attorneys also note several times that Lizza in December 2017 was fired from the New Yorker magazine over sexual misconduct allegations, and suggest that he wrote about NuStar to distract from his “negative image and history as a sexual predator.”

Lizza publicly denied the allegation and multiple media outlets that investigated his conduct, including CNN and Politico, concluded there was no reason to bar him from employment, the Fresno Bee reported.

The Nunes’ attorneys and Lizza, now Politico’s chief Washington, D.C., correspondent, did not return emails Tuesday requesting comment.

The $25 million lawsuit from Anthony Nunes Jr. and Anthony Nunes III partially duplicates an earlier lawsuit against Lizza and Hearst Magazines, filed in September 2019 by Devin Nunes himself.

In that case, which remains active in the Northern District of Iowa, the U.S. representative is seeking $75 million on counts of defamation and common law conspiracy.

Devin Nunes has filed multiple lawsuits within the past year against perceived critics, including a $150 million case against McClatchy, owner of his hometown newspaper, the Fresno Bee, and a $250 million case against Twitter parody accounts “Devin Nunes’ cow” and “Devin Nunes’ Mom.”

Source: The Gazzette

UPenn studies climate change through dairy cows

“Dou’s team sees their circular, agro-food system model as a key to providing consumers with a healthy diet.” Pic: Getty/branex

UPenn’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) has been working on a dairy-focused project called ‘The Amazing Cow.’ It documents the types, amounts and variations of dairy cow feed, characterizing important nutritional attributes.

Led by Dr. Zhengxia Dou​, Professor of Agricultural Systems, the project is meant to give dairy producers insights on how food that falls under indigestible, unpalatable, or unsellable biomass (IUUB) can be better implemented on dairy farms.

According to PennVet, dairy farmers, along with beef, poultry and pork farmers, have been evolving techniques to produce milk, meat and eggs as efficiently and sustainably as possible, minimizing agriculture’s climate-contributing footprint.

“Animals are natural bio-processors. By maximizing the use of IUUB, the livestock sector of agriculture actually contributes to this societal issue in a very positive way,”​ Dr. Dou said.

A chunk of these processing byproducts are generated from the production of plant-based dairy alternatives, as well as everyday products like soybean and canola oils, orange juice and ethanol. Feeding these IUUBs to cows keeps them from going to landfills.

It’s estimated that every year, about 80 million tons of byproduct in the US that is generated from food and drink production is consumed by animals.

“Besides empowering farmers to make sustainable, but sensible, animal husbandry decisions, Dou’s team sees their circular, agro-food system model as a key to providing consumers with a healthy diet while reducing the issues some associate solely with livestock production,”​ Penn Vet said.

Dou told DairyReporter that her team has studied several dairy farms in Pennsylvania employing creative feed solutions. One farm receives daily deliveries of apple waste from a nearby processing facility that supplies apple slices for school lunches.

Another gets three truckloads of produce discards and expired bread products delivered every week from area distribution centers. Producers have even started using waste from brewers, which is usually sour mash that results from beer production.

In November, several dairy farmers spoke publicly about using their cows to dispose of excess and rotted pumpkins​ leftover from Halloween.

“Working with area farmers as well as a large fruit and vegetable wholesale centers, we have recognized some practical issues that need to be addressed in order to grow the adoption of this model further – primarily the logistics of transport and costs, and the safe use of the materials on the farm, given their perishable natures,”​ Dr. Dou said.

These issues are the reason Penn Vet is looking for more sustainable solutions. Dou’s team is developing technology to unlock the resources in highly perishable IUUB materials, an initiative that’s consisting of creating a database, conducting research trials and assessing relevant nutritional, environmental and climate impacts.

“Dou’s circular agro-food system model doesn’t just focus on utilizing what goes into an animal, but also what comes out. Improving the practices of recycling manure back to cropland remains a key consideration,” ​Penn Vet said.

“The management impact is twofold: the value of manure nutrients for growing crops, and mitigation of water quality issues from spreading manure.”

Dou said that the US should support these practices, and showing the research to the public and to policymakers is critical to furthering the industry and combating challenges from climate change.

Source: DairyReporter

Global dairy prices rise again in second auction of the year

Global dairy prices surged again in the second auction of 2020 on Wednesday, as prices increased across almost all products, with dry weather in the coming months seen as putting further upward pressure.

The GDT Price Index climbed 1.7%, with an average selling price of $3,434 per tonne, following on from a 2.8% surge in the previous auction earlier this month.

Prices gains were broad-based across products, jumping 2.4% for whole milk powder and 0.7% for skim milk powder, while butter prices rose strongly by 5.5%.

The result was likely due to a lift in demand from North Asia and the Middle East, said Robert Gibson, analyst at NZX.

A total of 33,165 tonnes was sold at the latest auction, the auction platform said on its website https://www.globaldairytrade.info.

Analysts said the dairy prices have now largely recovered ground lost at the end of 2019, and said drought risks could lend further support.

 

“Looking over February and March, emerging dry weather could put further upward pressure on prices,” ASB Bank Senior Rural Economist Nathan Penny said in a note.

“However, it’s still early days in the NZ summer and we maintain our 2019/20 production growth forecast at 0%. In other words, we are noting the drought risks at this stage,” he added.

The auction results can affect the New Zealand dollar as the dairy sector generates more than 7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The positive dairy prices, however, took a back seat as concerns over the spread of a pneumonia-like virus in China weighed on Asian currencies, with the kiwi currency staying largely flat at $0.6596 on Wednesday morning.

 

Source: Reuters

Milk producers challenge “big dairy”

OPINION  The phrase “big dairy” is often used to depersonalize dairy farmers and imply some large, faceless force foisting an agenda. Consolidation has occurred in agriculture for generations and family farms are expanding. But about three-quarters of U.S. dairy farms have fewer than 100 cows on them, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

The largest farms produce the most milk, but even the biggest ones – 189 dairies with more than 5,000 cows – are too numerous and geographically dispersed to create a monolithic giant, the federation stated. More than 95 percent of all dairy farms, regardless of size, are operated by families.

“Big dairy” also appears to be a misnomer when one takes into account corporations. Land O’Lakes is ranked 212 on the Fortune 500. Dairy Farmers of America would make the list if it were publicly traded. Both are farmer-owned cooperatives. The cooperatives are tiny compared to health care, with four entries among Fortune’s top-10 companies, or oil with four in Fortune’s top-25.

Maybe big dairy is a myth invented by those who want to make farmers seem “big” to advance some contrasting image. Some competitors might want to be viewed as small-company, plant-based upstarts.

Perfect Day is selling tubs of imitation ice cream at $20 per pint. The company received funding from Temasek – a venture-capital arm of the government of Singapore – and Archer-Daniels-Midland, with $64 billion in annual sales. Other plant- and cell-based alternatives are financed by Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is about $115 billion, and Bill Gates, whose net worth is more $100 billion.

The gross receipts of all 40,000 dairy farmers in the United States – an estimated $39.9 billion – represent just two-fifths of Jeff Bezos’ net worth.

Dairy is a significant U.S. industry. The sector as a whole is responsible for about 3 million U.S. jobs and has an overall economic impact of more than $620 billion, including indirect effects, according to research commissioned by the National Milk Producers Federation and other dairy groups. 

The dairy industry is comprised of family farmers, cooperatives and companies of all sizes and types. They believe in the health and nutrition of their products and support them against opponents. Those opponents usually aren’t anywhere near the underdogs they pretend to be.

Source: kamaland

Using Ag to Predict the Super Bowl Winner

The matchup is set for Super Bowl LIV. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will take on his counterpart Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers for the National Football League’s ultimate prize on Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla. On the field, the game is chalk full of storylines.

For the Chiefs, for example, this Super Bowl appearance marks the team’s first since defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV (4) in January 1970.

And the 49ers will look to capture its first Super Bowl victory since Super Bowl XLVII (47) in February 2013 when the team bested the Baltimore Ravens.

While football analysts will spend the next few weeks dissecting play calls and other in-depth stats, Farms.com does its own game analysis using stats from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Based on this analysis, Farms.com predicts the San Francisco 49ers will be this year’s Super Bowl champions.

Source: USagnet

Global Dairy Trade Drives Markets Higher in Chicago Tuesday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange  milk futures continued higher supported by global optimism. Class III futures jumped double digits February through December 2020 and three months even touched $18 per cwt on Tuesday. February through June closed with an average price of $17.66 per cwt while second half prices are offering $17.92 per cwt. Class IV markets fell 6 cents in March but added 1-5 cents in the second half of the year. Class IV February to June is offering $17.72 per cwt and the second half is pricing out at $18.37 per cwt respectively. 

Dry whey down $0.0050 at $0.3625.  Nine sales were made at $0.3625 and $0.3650.  Blocks up $0.0025 at $1.9650.  Three trades were made at $1.9475 and $1.9550.  Barrels up $0.0350 at $1.5975.  Four trades were made at $1.5975 and $1.6025.  Butter unchanged at $1.88. Nonfat dry milk up $0.0050 at $1.2950. 

 

California Farms Launch Nation’s Largest Dairy Biogas Project

A group of California Central Valley dairies have announced their participation in the nation’s largest effort to convert methane from cow manure into biogas. The potential for methane to warm the atmosphere is 30 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, and California cattle account for half of the state’s methane emissions, according to its Air Resources Board.

The biogas project, a joint effort between Calgren Dairy Fuels and Southern California Gas, is expected to yield 3 million to 4 million gallons of renewable natural gas (RNG) a year. The RNG processed by Calgren is injected into the utility’s system.

“This facility alone will eventually capture methane produced from the manure of more than 75,000 cows, preventing about 130,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of taking more than 25,000 passenger cars off the road annually,” said Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren Renewable Fuels.

The expansion is the latest response to a 2016 law passed in California, the nation’s largest dairy producer, calling for a 30 percent reduction in methane emissions from dairies by 2030. The mandate was supported by funding to support the creation of methane digesters on dairy farms.

A “digester” is a manure pond covered by a flexible membrane. The membrane keeps oxygen out, with the result that bacteria in the manure “think they’re still in a cow’s stomach,” says Daryl Maas of Maas Energy, a digester developer and operations company that is working with farmers in in the region.

“They eat the remaining calories and they emit methane gas,” he adds. The gas is captured and then processed into RNG, a transformation that is colloquially referred to as “poo to power.”

This transition can also involve “poo to profit,” as farmers receive income for the gas they provide for processing. These payments can be in the range of six figures, according to Maas.

“Over the last five years, renewable natural gas use in the transportation sector has grown by almost 600 percent,” said Sharon Tomkins, SoCalGas vice president and chief environmental officer. “We’re looking to build on that success by delivering more renewable energy options to our customers, including renewable natural gas produced at farms, hydrogen made from surplus solar energy, and advanced fuel cell systems that can provide energy in extreme weather events.”

Source: Governing

Evers named 2020 Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador

Jaime Evers, a current Oregon Tech student, was crowned the 2020 Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador on Saturday.

Jaime Evers, a student at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls, was crowned as the 2020 Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador during a ceremony on Saturday in Salem, according to a news release.

Held at the Salem Convention Center, the 61st annual coronation event was hosted by the Oregon Dairy Women (ODW) on Saturday evening, Jan. 18. Evers, representing Klamath County, was among three candidates representing an entire county in Oregon – Taysha Veeman, representing Marion County, was named an alternate as Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador.

Evers, 20, is a 2017 graduate of Banks High School, where she was raised in the Tualatin Valley on a dairy farm. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biology-Health Sciences at Oregon, with aspirations to attend chiropractic schools after graduation.

Since 1959, the Oregon Dairy Women’s Dairy Princess Ambassador Program has served as the premier advocate for the Oregon Dairy Industry in collaboration with the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and the Oregon Dairy Nutrition Council. The ODW award scholarships and provide financial support to 4-H and FFA programs, Agriculture in the Classroom, Ag Fest, Summer Ag Institute, Adopt-a-Farmer, and judging teams.

Her speech during the contest, titled “Telling Our Story: How Farmers Can Help Educate Consumers,” discussed ways that farmers can connect with consumers to promote dairy farming and dairy foods. Evers spent two days in interviews, answering impromptu questions and interacting with three judges before she was selected for the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador honor. The title comes with a $3,000 scholarship.

Evers will spend the year informing and educating the public about the dairy industry as a representative of Oregon dairy farmers, particularly in Oregon schools delivering educational presentations about life on dairy farms and the nutritional benefits of consuming dairy products.

Source: Herald and News

Holstein Association USA Updates Junior Transfer Deadline

Starting with the 2020 show season, Holstein Association USA has changed the Junior transfer “received by” deadline to July 15 for both heifers and cows. In order to be eligible to participate in Junior Holstein Shows, the animal must be registered in a youth’s name by July 15.

Changing the transfer deadline to July 15 puts the date more in line with all of the other dairy breed associations. Allowing Juniors an extra month and a half to purchase their show calves provides additional marketing opportunities.

“We are excited with the Junior transfer date change which allows youth more opportunities to purchase show animals later in the summer and the rule is now unified with the Red & White Dairy Cattle Association,” states Kelli Dunklee, youth programs specialist. “It is important to remember that this change only impacts Junior Holstein Shows – 4-H and other youth shows may have different deadlines.”

This is a “received by” deadline – any ownership transfer not received by the Holstein Association USA office on or before July 15 will not be eligible for Junior Holstein Shows. Adding or dropping any owner after the deadline will disqualify an animal for Junior recognition. If there is a question as to whether a Junior ownership transfer has been completed, be sure to contact the Holstein Association USA customer service or visit Holstein USA to check the ownership status and ensure the transfer was received before the deadline.

Holstein Association USA, Inc., provides products and services to dairy producers to enhance genetics and improve profitability–ranging from registry processing to identification programs to consulting services.

The Association, headquartered in Brattleboro, Vt., maintains the records for Registered Holsteins® and represents approximately 30,000 members throughout the United States.

USDA Halts Animal ID Plan

On October 25, 2019, USDA abruptly halted its animal ID plan, and suspended the timeline it presented earlier in the year for the transition from metal ear tags to radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for cattle and bison.  That plan set January 1, 2023 as the date all animals moving interstate, and falling within certain categories, would require individual, official RFID tags. 

Although the Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) implementation plan has been withdrawn, USDA acknowledges the continuing need for a national animal ID plan and encourages the use of electronic identification for animals moving interstate under the current ADT regulations. 

Holstein Association USA urges RFID tags for members that have cattle moving interstate, are merchandising or showing cattle, or have on-farm management systems that utilize RFID technology.

‘You have this burden that you carry’: For dairy farmers struggling to hold on, depression can take hold

When Randy Roecker learned that his neighbor, Leon Statz, had died from suicide, all the feelings from his own struggle with depression roared back.

It was Oct. 8, 2018.

In the parking lot at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, three of Roecker’s friends were discussing what had happened that day to Statz, whose dairy farm was a few miles from town. 

Roecker broke down and cried.

“You guys just don’t know what it’s like dealing with this,” he told them.

Roecker, who is also a dairy farmer, understood the severe depression that Statz experienced when his farm was in trouble. He’d been through it himself. 

“You have this burden that you carry,” he said. “I kept feeling all the time that I was a failure, that I had let everybody down.” 

Dairy farmer Randy Roecker has battled chronic depression brought on by the stresses of farming.

Some parishioners at St. Peter’s, where Statz was a member, knew he was battling depression. But since he was receiving out-patient treatment, they assumed he wasn’t at risk of dying from suicide.  

Statz had suffered from depression for years. He felt deeply responsible for keeping his third-generation farm afloat through hard times – including the dairy crisis triggered after milk prices collapsed in late 2014. 

In his mind, difficulties on the farm would quickly slip from “bad to catastrophic,” said Brenda Statz, his widow and wife of 34 years. 

She and Leon hadn’t lost their farm, but they had struggled some as they transitioned from dairy to beef and grain farming. For Leon, the change represented a huge failure. 

“He would say, ‘I’m a dairyman, not a grain farmer,'” Brenda recalled.

This year alone, about 800 dairy farmers in Wisconsin quit or were forced out of the business, a rate of more than two per day.  Some left in despair, having lost not only their livelihood but the home they grew up in, which their parents or grandparents had built. 

“You feel like you are letting down all the previous generations of your family if you don’t farm anymore,” Roecker said. 

Success can be costly, stressful 

At Roecker’s Rolling Acres, you’d never know anything was amiss. It’s a showcase operation that has hosted many foreign visitors touring Wisconsin dairy farms. 

The 300-cow operation has been in Randy Roecker’s family since the 1930s. He’s an experienced farmer and board member of Dairy Management Inc., the national organization that promotes dairy products through ad campaigns such as “Undeniably Dairy.”

Thirteen years ago the farm underwent a major expansion costing about $3 million. 

It was aimed at keeping the farm up to date, and to bring Randy’s two children, now adults, into the operation as his parents, now in their 80s, ease out. 

“It’s not all gloom and doom in the dairy industry,” Roecker said. “But in order to survive, in any business, you have to grow. If you don’t, you’re falling behind.”

Still, the debt, and the recession that followed the expansion, triggered financial stress that became unbearable. The farm was losing up to $30,000 a month, undermining years of hard work and careful planning for the future.

That’s when Roecker’s depression kicked in. 

“I just felt so alone. There was nobody to help me get through all this stuff,” he said. “It got to the point where I wanted to die every day.”

He couldn’t turn it off at night, either. 

“All of this starts playing with your mind,” Roecker said. “You try to sleep, and it gets worse because it’s all going through your head. You feel like everything’s spiraling out of control.” 

And, that’s exactly what happened.  

One time he found himself in the barn, looking up at some ropes in the hayloft. More than once he had contemplated ending his life by suicide, and it scared him. 

“I never had problems with depression before, but when this hit me, it was bad,” he said. 

Farmers push back against depression

Roecker was hospitalized three times for depression. Over a period of about seven years he battled it with therapy and antidepressant medications which, as a side-effect, can increase suicidal thoughts. 

Some people knew he was struggling but didn’t step up to help. His wife of 32 years, overwhelmed with the stress from the farm, filed for divorce. 

“I felt like all of my friends just dropped me, that no one wanted anything to do with me,” Roecker said. “I felt like I was suffering alone in silence. The awareness of depression is out there, but we still have to shed this stigma of not talking about it.”

With help from a therapist, he gradually started getting his life back in order. Then the 54-year-old farmer heard about Statz’s death.

“It just put me back where I was,” Roecker said. “I told my therapist, that since I have gone through this myself, and there is just nobody out there helping farmers deal with this, I feel like it’s my calling to do something.”

Roecker, Brenda Statz and fellow church member Dale Meyer, a retired police detective, organized “Farm Neighbors Care” events at St. Peter’s church.

At one of those meetings in early December, farmers talked openly about their struggles with stress, depression and financial hardships.

About 40 people, including some who were not St. Peter’s parishioners, met in the church basement for a lunch of turkey sandwiches, soup and cookies served in exchange for a free-will offering.

They chatted about the wet fall harvest and how challenging it had been for farmers to get crops out of the fields. There was a lighthearted, humorous presentation from Ben Bromley, a former Baraboo News Republic columnist.

Then the discussion turned serious, with presentations from farmers, parishioners and public health officials who offered resources for anyone experiencing mental health issues. 

“Leon was a member of this church. He was stressed out, but we felt that we didn’t do what we should have for him,” Meyer said. “And in Randy’s situation, people knew about it, but nobody got around him and said ‘Randy, how can we help?'” 

One of the takeaway messages was that farmers could also help each other because they understood the unique challenges in agriculture, where the weather and global markets, out of a farmer’s control, can turn their world upside down.

“We’ve had low milk prices for five years … you burn through the equity in your farm because you’re borrowing money to keep going,” Roecker said. “I tell my friends in town, ‘You don’t know what it’s like. We have no savings, no benefits.'” 

The handful of meetings this year have drawn farmers from hours away and have been replicated at other churches in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota.

“I want other farmers to be able to reach out to me,” Roecker said. “I have gotten calls from people in four or five states. The biggest thing is to just listen.”

Help is available for farmers

For some, the notion of friends, neighbors and relatives knowing about their mental health issues is simply too much, even if they would understand. But there are confidential services anyone can turn to for help, and that includes places that understand farmers. 

The Wisconsin Farm Center, part of the state agriculture department, has a staff very familiar with farming. The Madison-based agency offers a wide range of free services including help sorting out farm finances. They offer vouchers that farmers and their families can use to get counseling at clinics across the state. 

“We want farmers to feel like they’re being understood. You’d be surprised at how much just spending an hour with someone can help,” said Angie Sullivan, the Farm Center’s agriculture program manager. 

The agency has a mediation service that can give farmers some relief from creditors. Also, there’s help available for settling family disputes, like when different generations disagree on their farm’s path forward. 

“Let’s talk about some ways you can manage this really difficult time in your life,” Sullivan said. “We can sit at your kitchen table as many times as you need us, to go over your financial picture or your transition plan.”

Some of the agency’s staff are ex-farmers or are still farming. Some have 30 years’ experience in agricultural banking and other areas of agribusiness. 

“What we’re seeing, unfortunately, is many farmers have not been able to pay back their operating loans for the last couple of years. Many are stressed to the limit credit-wise,” Sullivan said. 

The group Farm Aid offers similar assistance. Its (800) FARM-AID crisis line provides services to farm families, and its Farmer Resource Network connects farmers to organizations across the country. 

“In the last two years we have seen a pretty drastic increase in the number of calls, as well as the number of calls that have a crisis component,” said Madeline Lutkewitte, manager of the Farm Aid crisis line based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

“We have had a lot of calls from people in dairy farming who just haven’t been able to keep up with their bills and can’t get loans for the remainder of the year and next spring,” she said.

This winter, Wisconsin farm couples can attend workshops in Mineral Point, Wausau, Appleton, Waupun, Eau Claire and Rice Lake, aimed at helping them manage stress associated with financial problems. 

The workshops, sponsored by the state agriculture department and University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, will include a segment on how to talk with children about problems on the farm, and decision-making when the farm may have to shut down. 

“Our mission is to keep people farming … but sometimes there are no options except to leave, so we want to do whatever we can to help people be prepared for that, and to make it through that time as a couple and a family,” Sullivan said. 

Dairy farmers are especially vulnerable

Leon Statz’s identity was in being a dairy farmer, and it showed in everything he did. 

Year after year, he won awards from his cooperative, Foremost Farms, for producing high-quality milk. His wife, Brenda, displayed those awards at his funeral, thinking Leon would have liked that. 

“His pride was in producing a quality product,” she said.

And he lived for the challenge. 

So when Leon’s depression became so bad that he hadn’t worked in months, he sank in despair.

“His philosophy was, if you weren’t working, you weren’t worth anything,” Brenda said. 

He would try to help out a neighbor on their farm but would be overcome with anxiety that he might do something wrong, that some machinery might break while he was operating it.  

“He would leave me notes and say, ‘I am trying to do the best I can,’” Brenda said.

Since Leon’s death, she has become an advocate for farmer mental health and suicide prevention. 

There aren’t many reliable statistics on farmer suicide rates, but experts say that dairy farmers are especially vulnerable because their lives are inseparable from their work – cows must be milked two or three times a day, 365 days a year. 

“We only went on one vacation, ever, with our kids when they were little,” Brenda said. 

Often, farmers experiencing depression will isolate themselves. They don’t visit with neighbors as much as they used to, or they may spend more time in the barn alone. Some will make their death look like an accident.

Farmers are private people, and if they reach out for help, you had better take it seriously, Brenda said. 

At the Farm Neighbors Care meeting at St. Peter’s church in Loganville, ex-dairy farmer Steven Rynkowski opened up about his story and delivered a heartfelt rendition of the song “Take Heart My Friend.”

For much of his adult life he had experienced episodes of depression. Then, his farm ran into trouble following an expansion that pushed him into financial difficulties.

He overdosed on alcohol and pills, maybe not a suicide attempt, but it sent him to the hospital.

Three years after his overdose, and 30 years after he started dairy farming right out of high school, Rynkowski quit the business. 

“It was very hard on me because farming was my way of life,” he said. 

He’s since helped other farmers face the end of their career

“I don’t wish what I went through on anybody. But because I went through it, I am a different person, a better person. … It’s not going to be an easy road out of it, but there is life after dairy farming,” Rynkowski said. 

He added: “My faith has a lot to do with it. You are a child of God, and you have worth well beyond farming or whatever it is you do for a living.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, at (800) 273-8255, for immediate help.

Source: USA Today

What US farmers make of Trump’s trade deal

President Trump has touted his new US-China trade agreement as a boon for America’s farmers, who have suffered under a nearly-two-year tariff standoff with Beijing. But what do they think?

A summary of the new agreement says that Beijing will now “strive” to purchase an additional $5bn (£3.8bn) of US agricultural products over the next two years.

“That will result in greater prosperity for farmers all across the land,” Mr Trump said as he signed the agreement.

But farmers in Wisconsin – the swing state proudly billed as America’s Dairyland – remain uncertain. And as the president seeks re-election, that could matter.

In 2016, Mr Trump clinched the state by a 0.8% margin, becoming the first Republican to do so since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

In Wisconsin, such a razor’s-edge victory is typical.

In three of the five past presidential elections, victory in Wisconsin has been decided by less than one percentage point. In 2000, this margin was made up of 6,000 votes, in 2004 about 13,000.

Farmers make up about 11% of the electorate in Wisconsin, says Charles Franklin, director of the state’s leading poll at Marquette Law School.

The plight of a dairy farm

“They’re a modest bloc,” Mr Franklin says. But even a modest bloc “could be responsible for tipping a one-point election”.

So how are farmers feeling about the future?

Short presentational grey line

‘It’s a slow death’

“Every year you lose a few farms, every year you lose a few farmers who don’t want to keep doing this,” says Will Hsu, president of Hsu Ginseng, a ginseng farm in central Wisconsin’s Marathon County.

Ginseng famers Will and Paul Hsu
Will Hsu’s father, Paul, began ginseng farming in Wisconsin in 1974

The region is reliably Republican – Marathon County went for Trump over Clinton by an 18 point margin in 2016 – and is home to more than 95% of the United States’ ginseng, almost all of which is shipped to China.

In the 1990s there were 1,000 ginseng farmers in Wisconsin, Mr Hsu says, growing more than 2m lbs of ginseng.

“There are only about 180 farmers left,” he says. “It’s death by a thousand cuts.”

It’s hard work. Ginseng takes three to five years to reach maturity and cannot be farmed on the same land twice.

And it’s been made harder by the trade war, Mr Hsu says, which has pushed tariffs up from 8% to 38%, a punishing reality for farmers who rely on Chinese consumers for their survival.

Many farmers are bearing costs themselves – lowering prices to offset the added tax.

It’s not quite devastation, he says, but the pressure on farmers is building.

“It’s a slow death,” he says.

Farm in Omro, Wisconsin

Hsu’s criticism of the president’s trade war has raised eyebrows from some in his community, he says.

“I hear from a lot of farmers who say I’m a little too vocal against Trump’s policies, that I should be supportive of him.”

But even though Hsu might support Trump ideologically, “there’s also the realistic part of me,” he says. And “realistically, it’s hurting everyone and our pocketbooks.”

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‘Farmers are always the pawns’

Joel Greeno, 52, grew up on a dairy farm in Monroe County in west Wisconsin. It was “pretty much assumed” he would continue the family tradition, he says.

Wisconsin farmer Joel Greeno
For Joel Greeno, it was “assumed” that he would follow his family into farming

In 1990, he did, buying a 160 acre dairy farm and 48 cows of his own.

But after twenty years of business, staring down economic ruin, he was forced to sell.

“It was just excruciating,” he says.

To Mr Greeno, who now farms vegetables in addition to nightshifts at Wisconsin’s Ocean Spray cranberry factory, Mr Trump’s trade war has added needless stress to an already fragile industry.

For years, Wisconsin has led the US in farm bankruptcies. In 2019, the state lost one in 10 of its dairy farms, marking the biggest decline on record.

Exports of US dairy products to China declined by over 50% in 2019, and the US Dairy Export Council estimated last year that retaliatory tariffs from China could cost US dairy farmers $12.2bn by 2023 if they remain in place.

Cow at tri-fecta farmHolly Honderich

“Tariffs only hurt us,” he says. “There was no thought process whatsoever.”

He continues: “Our labour is stolen, our lives are stolen, our families are broken and it’s all because we have politicians who are absolutely clueless to the reality of farming.”

“Farmers are always the pawns.”

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‘Ray of hope’

“We’ve dealt with declining prices before, but it hasn’t lasted this long before,” Katy Schultz says as she walks through the barn at Tri-Fecta farms, the 400-cow dairy farm she owns with her two siblings just outside of Fox Lake.

Katy Schultz

The US-China trade war added “insult to injury” during a difficult period for farmers, she says. “It was already not great times and not great prices.”

“I won’t sugar coat that… We struggled. We struggled with everyone.”

In the weeks before the agreement was signed, people in her community had been talking about the possibilities of a new deal. For some, Mr Trump’s promises gave them a “ray of hope” to hang on through difficult conditions.

Just one door over from 2,000 acres, a neighbour boasts a towering flag pole on the front lawn, adorned with a massive Trump 2020 flag. It’s not unexpected in Dodge County – which went for Trump in 2016 by a 30-point margin.

Ms Schultz doesn’t say who she voted for, disclosing only that her siblings were “divided” at the ballot box.

“I don’t care if they’re Democrat or Republican. I just want to know that they’re rowing in the same boat that I am,” Ms Schultz says. But there are some things the president has done that “you can’t really deny”, like the record-low unemployment rate.

Trump flag
A Trump flag flies outside the president’s rally in Milwaukee

“Is [the deal] the answer to everything? Probably not,” she says. But, “I think there’s some optimism now.”

Source: BBC

Washington dairies struggle after trade wars and low prices

For fifth-generation dairyman Jeremy Visser, 2014 was a record-breaker. Amid soaring global demand for U.S. milk products, Visser made about $500 on each of the 4,000 cows he was running in Stanwood and four other Western Washington dairy operations.

But a year later, as those sweet trade conditions began to sour, Visser’s fortunes also turned. In both 2016 and 2017, milk prices fell so low that Visser lost $100 on each cow. By 2018, the per-cow losses topped $300.

Visser pulled through, in part by mortgaging “everything I owned.” But at least 50 dairy farmers he knows have left the business. The last few years “have been tremendously difficult on us,” says the 42-year-old father of three.

Visser could be speaking for most of the roughly 350 dairy farmers still in business in Washington, which as recently as 2007 boasted more than 800 dairy farms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fourth-generation dairy farmer Jeremy Visser, seen here in 2017, says he mortgaged “everything he owned” to stay in business. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Fourth-generation dairy farmer Jeremy Visser, seen here in 2017, says he mortgaged “everything he owned” to stay in business. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

With a steady stream of new technologies — including ones that focus on milking, breeding, nutrition and genetics — dairy farmers have seen impressive gains in output. From 1993 to 2018, milk yields from the average Washington dairy cow climbed 25 percent, to more than 12 tons, according to the USDA. And unlike many other businesses, where output often can be adjusted for changing demand, a dairy farm cannot simply idle a herd if prices fall.

“It’s very hard to turn a cow off,” Visser jokes.

But all that new milk has put downward pressure on milk prices — and on dairy farm incomes.

For years, many dairy farmers — especially those at smaller operations — have taken off-farm jobs to help their businesses survive and “keep doing what they love doing,” says Dan Wood, executive director of the Washington State Dairy Federation.

Some dairy farmers have adopted new business models that rely less on maximizing volume.

At the Twin Brook Creamery in Lynden, just south of the Canadian border, Larry Stap, a former Darigold member — and Visser’s distant cousin — has refashioned his dairy business around smaller batches of high-end “craft” milk.

While most commercial dairies use the high-output Holstein breed, Stap’s 200 Jerseys produce less milk, but it contains more butterfat and other solids — and, Stap says, more flavor. That’s a key selling point for his products, which include whole and other milks, fresh cream, and sweetened milks.

Yet even with Stap’s niche, he hasn’t ignored big industry changes.

To control costs in the Northwest’s tight labor market, Stap began switching to robotic milkers in 2015. The machines, which let cows give milk as often as they like, have reduced his labor costs and personnel headaches.

“They’re never late to work and they’re never hung over,” Stap jokes.

But they’re not cheap: each milker costs $200,000, and Stap’s herd needs four.

Much of the innovation in the dairy industry has focused on scaling up, not down. Visser’s dairy enterprise, for example, has roughly doubled since 2014 as many of his friends, neighbors, and others have sold their operations to him on their way out of the business.

That greater size has advantages. A larger operation lets farmers spread costs over more cattle. And a bigger revenue stream makes it easier to pay for those robotic milkers and other technologies — including systems to manage the dairy industry’s other big “output”: each Holstein cow generates 115 pounds of manure every 24 hours.

But going large has downsides, too. Greater output and falling milk prices — they dropped 32 percent between 2014 and 2018 — puts more pressure on dairy farmers to find new ways and places to sell their milk. In some cases, that has meant developing new consumer products. Darigold, for example, has introduced a higher protein, lower-sugar milk, called Fit, which CEO Stan Ryan says is “moving people from things like almond milk back into dairy milk.”

Increasingly, however, Northwest dairies have looked abroad to offload their extra output. From 2000 to 2014, Washington’s dairy exports jumped from $32 million to $232 million. In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, Washington exported more than a seventh of its total dairy output by dollar value, according to the USDA. The share is even higher at Darigold, which exports 40 percent of its output and hopes to top 50 percent in the near future.

Washington state’s proximity to Asian trading partners gives state dairy producers a key advantage over Midwestern competitors. “We can get products to China or Singapore cheaper than we can get them to Chicago,” Ryan says.

Darigold has invested heavily in boosting its exports — for example, by producing more powdered milk, which is in high demand overseas — and is counting on exports for three quarters of future sales growth.

But relying more on foreign buyers can be risky. From 2014 to 2018, the dollar value of Washington dairy exports plummeted 24 percent as trade disputes cut overseas sales, according to the USDA. Federal relief payments to farmers hurt by the disputes — projected to be around $9.7 million for 2019 — will cover only a fraction of the losses.

The trade disputes also appear to have extended the milk price slump. Though milk prices rose through much of 2019, they’re still 8 percent below the 2014 peak.

The recent rapprochement on trade between the U.S. and China, and the U.S. Senate’s ratification of the American trade pact with Canada and Mexico, have raised industry hopes for a boost in U.S. dairy exports. But trade tensions could easily resurface.

And some of America’s dairy trade partners aim to rely less on U.S. imports. “Russia and China are building their own internal dairy supply,” Neibergs says.

Visser expects more turmoil for the industry. By 2021, he thinks the milk market will likely shift back to its typical 3-year price cycle, where dairy farmers “make money for a year, break even for a year, then lose a lot of money.”

Although 2020 will be a good year, Visser says, “I’m positive that’s about all we’ll get.”

Source: HerlandNet

Trump thanks farmers for support through China trade war

President Donald Trump thanked farmers Sunday for supporting him through a trade war with China as he promoted a new North American trade agreement and a separate one with China that he said will massively benefit farmers.

“We did it,” Trump said, recalling his campaign promises to improve America’s trading relationships with other countries.

At one point during his address to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention, Trump said he has strong support among farmers following his signing last week of a preliminary trade deal with China.

When Trump spoke to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s last year, he urged farmers to continue supporting him even as they suffered financially in the fallout from his trade war with China and a partial shutdown of the federal government.

His follow-up speech Sunday at this year’s convention in Austin, Texas, gave him a chance to make the case to farmers that he kept promises he made as a candidate to improve trade with China and separately with Canada and Mexico.

He thanked farmers for staying “in the fight.”

“You were always with me,” Trump said. “You never even thought of giving up and we got it done.”

The Republican president wants another term in office and is seeking to shore up support among his base, including farmers.

Trump announced he is taking steps to protect the water rights of farmers and ranchers by directing the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately withdraw a new water supply rule and allow states to manage water resources based on their own needs and what the agricultural community wants.

“Water is the lifeblood of agriculture and we will always protect your water supply,” Trump said.

Trump signed a preliminary trade deal with China at the White House last Wednesday that commits Beijing to boosting its imports of U.S. manufacturing, energy and farm goods by $200 billion this year and next. That includes larger purchases of soybeans and other farm goods expected to reach $40 billion a year, the U.S. has said, though critics wonder if China can meet the targets.

In Austin, Trump described the trade agreement with China as “groundbreaking” and said, “We’re going to sell the greatest product you’ve ever seen.”

Also last week, the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a successor to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The administration designed the new agreement to return some factory production to the United States, mostly automobiles.

Trump said in Austin that U.S. farmers will also benefit under USMCA, which he said will “massively boost exports” for farmers, ranchers, growers from “North to South” and “from sea to shining sea.”

NAFTA had triggered a surge in trade among the three countries, but Trump and other critics blamed it for U.S. job losses brought about when American factories moved production south of the border to take advantage of low-wage labor in Mexico.

The House passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada deal in December. Trump said he would sign it after he returns from a trip to Europe this week.

In his remarks to farmers, Trump claimed his administration is doing things no other administration has ever done.

“And what do I get out of it? I get impeached,” he said. “That’s what I get. By these radical-left lunatics, I get impeached. But that’s OK. The farmers are sticking with Trump.”

The president’s trial in the Senate gets underway in earnest on Tuesday.

Source: WFMZ

Meet the hot milkman driving NYC ladies to drink — milk

Frank Acosta is milking it.

The personal trainer turned professional milkman is not shy about his special advantage in this city of moo-vers and shakers. “I capitalize on my looks to get clients,” Acosta, 40, who is single, tells The Post.

And customers can’t wait for the shaggy-haired delivery guy to get their lattes steaming.

“He’s such a hunk,” longtime customer Lia Shire, of the Upper West Side, tells The Post.

“I have not bought milk or eggs from a grocery since I started with him,” adds the married mom, who says she’s referred smitten friends.

Frank Acosta is the co-founder of Manhattan Milk delivery service.

Annie Wermiel/NY Post

Acosta, a FiDi resident, co-founded Manhattan Milk in 2006, along with business partner Matt Marone. The pair bottle and deliver country-fresh cow juice to eager clients across four boroughs and New Jersey. A single gallon costs $8, though some families spill up to $100 per week on the single-herd, grass-fed, low-temperature pasteurized milk from an upstate New York farm. (Delivery is included with a $25 order minimum, with items such as heavy cream, eggs and New York state maple syrup also available.) 

Even though Manhattan Milk has a few competitors, Acosta says he’s proof that milk “does a body good.”

I had to drink it with every meal since growing up,” says Acosta, who was raised in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan, where he studied pre-law. Now, he downs a glass of whole milk before his daily workouts and chugs chocolate milk chasers after pumping iron at the gym.

Enlarge ImageAcosta in the gym.
Acosta in the gym.Instagram

That’s not the only way Acosta stays buff. He helps hand-deliver up to 600 cases of milk a day. Prep at the Westchester warehouse often starts at 11 p.m. before he’s on the road to get into Manhattan by 1 a.m. to make corporate deliveries. He shows up at private residences after dawn.

The udder-ly demanding all-nighters can take a toll, especially when his clients expect him to stick around and chat in the morning: Being the face of the company has its repercussions. They want to talk to you all the time,” he says.

And although Manhattan Milk employs other delivery guys, he knows who his clients want to see him at their doors bright and early.

Do people want it from me? 110%,” he says. “I don’t take vacations.”

While he does get hit on by eager customers, Acosta says he keeps things professional, even when his Instagram DMs are getting flooded. “I keep my head down and make my deliveries,” he says.

He even thinks crushes have cost him some of his regulars. There were a few instances when we had cancellations, and I think [jealous husbands] are the reason why. I had that happen with training, too. You have wives who train with you and the minute the husband sees you — no more sessions.”

Acosta, who had a brief but memorable role on the “Real Housewives of Orange County” when he was linked to cast member Kelly Dodd, insists that there’s no real dating stigma to being a modern-day milkman.

Being a milkman is a badge of honor,” he says.

But he confesses he has a dating dealbreaker of his own — namely women who don’t drink milk. I wouldn’t trust them,” he says.

Source: NYpost

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