Top Dairy Industry News Stories from May 16th to 22nd 2020

Top News Stories:

After six decades in the industry, this Australian dairy farmer is going out on top

The six decades Bernie McManus has spent in the dairy industry might be coming to an end but the 73-year-old is certainly going out on top.

His Bercar Jersey herd is currently ranked number two in DataGene’s recently released Australian Breeding Value top 50 Jersey herds in the country and has consistently placed in the top 10 during the past decade, even hitting equal first at one point.

And while Bernie certainly knows how to breed a good cow, he isn’t too shabby when it comes to bulls either — there have been quite a few Bercar bulls who have found their way onto the Genetics Australia sire list and impregnated cows across the country and overseas.

Bernie has embraced modern breeding technology including genomic testing, and the 11 bulls he just tested averaged a BPI of 150 across the group.

“We have one bull heading into Genetics Australia again this year and I recently sold three bulls into one of the best Jersey herds in Australia which really gives me a deep sense of pride.

“I have spent a lifetime breeding cows and a lifetime getting my herd to where it is today. I know it will be a sad day when it comes time to say goodbye but it is time to scale back and smell the roses and try something different,” Bernie said.

And for someone who has been milking cows since he was 10, life certainly will be different when October comes around and the plan to disperse the milking herd comes into action.

Bernie knows every single cow in the Bercar herd and the extensive pedigrees behind each and every one, some of which can be traced back to 13 generations of AI.

The nucleus of the herd comes from four very strong cow families — Peach, Biddy, Meg and Rita.

“Peach had 10 lactations and average PI of 125,” Bernie said.

“She was a 6500 litre cow with very high components and was an outstanding foundation cow, while Rita was the first 7000 litre cow we had back in the 1970s,” he said.

The high index of the Bercar herd is the result of decades of hard work by Bernie and his wife Carol.

“It takes strong breeding goals and looking after the herd well. I am strict with cows, especially when it comes to high cell counts, and I always breed from high index bulls with good type and workability.”

Initially Bernie combined farm work with a job in the insemination industry; he estimates he has inseminated well over 60 000 cows over the years.

“Dairying has bought me many great friendships during a lifetime of work, and catching up with other retired dairy farmers and talking about the times we had always brings a smile to my face.”

In 1998 the couple took over the running of the Bamawm family farm after the death of Bernie’s father. He says while dairying has never made the family financially rich, it has allowed them to raise four successful children and given them riches on another scale.

“We have always farmed on a smaller scale and it has always been a bit of a struggle but we have managed to get to the point we are now without too much debt and we have ended up with a small but easy to manage and well laid out farm.”

And Bernie has done it all with his wife by his side.

“For someone who didn’t originally come from a farm, Carol has been a great support,” he said.

He laughed as he said he couldn’t have done it without his daily intake of two of the special buns she makes — which he has with his cuppa every morning.

“From October through to February I get the cows up and Carol will watch the cows come into the yard and check what is in season. We usually confer our lists and rarely do we miss a cow between us; morning and night she is there, and she comes back to help me clean up after milking.

“Carol has all the computer knowledge which is helpful when it comes to the books and breeding side of things.

“I think we have had led a good life and we have certainly enjoyed our time dairying but it is now time for some travel and some extra time with the grandkids.”


Small dairies look for ways to survive

As milk prices plummet, small dairy farms look for different ways to survive. The owners of Sasnak Farms in Inman are trying their hand at selling raw milk.

Merle Thiessen grew up on a dairy farm. So did his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather. Thiessen, along with his family, own Sasnak Farms. According to Merle, it’s “the last small dairy farm in Rice County.”

Times were tough in the past, Merle said, but in March, they just got tougher.

Decreased Income

Due to ramifications from coronavirus, milk prices plummeted, and the supply chain readjusted from changing consumer patterns.

“The government is the biggest school milk consumer,” Merle said. “When it all shut down, it was terrible.”

The price of milk was down for months, but by February it had crept up to $19 per one hundred pounds. By spring, it went from $19 to $11.

“It’s basically 99 cents a gallon,” said Merle’s son, Seth.

It costs the Thiessens about $4 a day to feed each of their 40 or so cows.

“Eleven does not even come close to covering these cows,” Merle said. “That’s what I got paid in the ’90s when we started.”

Merle’s wife Karen, son Seth, 26, and daughter Jessica, 22, are a part of the family business. Although Merle, Karen and Jessica also work off the farm, they spend hours helping with the family business.

In mid-April, the Thiessens received a letter from their dairy co-op. They were told to decrease production.

“It was so abrupt. They put us on a base amount. If they take anything over our base, they would deduct from our milk check,” Merle said. “At first, I was mad. But if they go under, we go under. We need them to stay in business.”

Milk production in Kansas during April 2020 totaled 334 million pounds, up 4% from April 2019, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were more than 170,000 head in Kansas.

Raw milk production

As the Thiessens saw their milk prices drop to unsustainable rates, they decided they needed to do something.

“We decided to try selling raw milk,” Merle said. “Our stimulus went to hay; it’s not cheap feeding these girls.”

Instead of $1 a gallon, the Thiessens get $4 a gallon for raw milk. The hitch is, according to Kansas law, buyers must come to their farm. This means customers must go out to the country and down a dirt lane, but they get to see some of the cows up close.

“I would love to deliver,” Seth said. “We would be able to sell so much more.”

The Thiessens quickly found there is a demand for fresh-from-the-farm, raw milk. Consumers have driven from Americus, Salina, St. John and Wichita to purchase milk from Sasnak Farms.

“I knew there was a market out there. We’ve been praying,” Karen said. “It’s kind of fun, but it’s been kind of stressful.”

Merle wants to try his hand at making cheese and butter. He said many people are asking for cream.

But he is concerned the state might discontinue allowing farmers to sell raw milk.


Mark McAfee, founder and chairman of the Raw Milk Institute in California, wants to train both farmers and consumers about the benefits of raw milk and the need to produce raw milk the correct way.

The Raw Milk Institute focuses on gathering research, training and mentoring farmers. Their board is comprised of academics and farmers from across the nation.

McAfee, who owns a large organic dairy farm in California, is passionate about teaching dairy farmers to practice low-risk protocol. His organization trains farmers, free of charge, in proper raw milk standards.

“There are two types of milk,” McAfee said. “There’s raw milk intended for pasteurization and raw milk intended for humans.”

Pasteurization heats the milk to high temperatures to eliminate pathogens. Raw milk intended to go directly to the consumer must come from cows who are hormone and antibiotic free.

McAfee said these farms must have cows that have super-clean udders and graze on grass. The animals must have low coliform numbers and must have their water tested.

“There are standards that are required to produce raw milk,” McAfee said. “When raw milk is done well, it’s very, very low risk. When it’s intended for pasteurization, that is a total gamble.”

According to McAfee, raw milk can be sold on grocery store shelves in about one dozen states, including Maine, Utah and California. The product can only be sold directly from the farm in Kansas and another dozen or so states. In the other half of the states, selling raw milk is illegal. Raw milk cannot be sold across state lines.


“Raw milk is an extremely powerful immune system-building food,” McAfee said. “It has all the elements of protein that are changed by pasteurization.”

According to McAfee, in many ways, raw milk can be likened to breast milk: they both contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients.

But, McAfee warned, if the milk is not produced properly, it could produce serious illnesses.

Strong breed

Both Jessica and Seth are passionate about their cows and want to continue running the farm.

“All I’ve ever wanted to do was milk cows since I was little,” Seth said.

Seth cares for the cows. He feeds them, takes them out to pasture and cleans each udder before milking.

The family treats their cows like family. Jessica shows some of them at fairs. Several of their 40 Brown Swiss and milking shorthorns have a name. The cows graze in the pasture and lie in the sun.

Merle’s great-great-grandfather moved to the U.S. from Germany. According to Merle, he fought as a Union soldier during the Civil War. After the war, the country gave him citizenship and 80 acres of land in Illinois. His son, William (WAB) Knackstedt, thought Illinois was getting too crowded, so he traveled west.

“He said, ’I’m going to go west until I find good land and a Lutheran Church,” Merle said. “There was a Lutheran Church in Inman, so he stopped.”

The Thiessens want to keep their dairy alive and help feed the community.

“I figured if I’m going to go down,” Merle said, “I’m going to go down fighting.”


Hundreds of people ordered dairy products to support local Wisconsin farmers

The Trempealeau Lions Club came up with an idea to support local Wisconsin dairy farmers through ‘dairy-baskets.’

Members of the club purchased an assortment of dairy products from local Wisconsin farmers and then re-sold them to the public. The baskets contained butter, cheese, and eggs.

The dairy-baskets were $20 each, and 500 were sold.

George Bartles, a member of the Trempealeau Lions, said it is great to see so many people care about local farmers.

“We are happy to help out the community,” Bartels said. “The dairy baskets are a great way for people to support farmers and to get out of the house.”

Because of COVID-19, the Trempealeau Lions had to cancel a good majority of their local volunteer and charity work in the community.

Source: WXOW

Dairy Farmers And Pizza Hut Team Up To Celebrate The High School Class Of 2020 With 500,000 Free Pizzas

Prom, birthdays, and graduations. The list of missed moments over the last few months is too long to count. While those memories can’t be replaced, America’s dairy farmers and Pizza Hut joined forces to help bring some much-needed joy to mark a milestone worth celebrating in a big way. Together, they are honoring the High School Class of 2020 by giving away half a million pizzas to graduates and their families – because nothing makes a party better than pizza. And, last night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Mr. Fallon himself joined in on the fun by announcing the pizza giveaway.

“Our brand has a long history of celebrating moments that matter – like graduations – and Pizza Hut takes pride in being a part of our customers’ big days. So, it’s only natural that we’d be there for students and their families to help celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class of 2020,” said George Felix, chief marketing officer, Pizza Hut. “We’re proud to partner with America’s hard-working dairy farmers to bring students who are missing out on their chance to cross the stage with their diploma, an opportunity to celebrate with their favorite Pizza Hut pizza.”

“We are so excited to partner with Pizza Hut to help high school seniors and their families celebrate this special milestone in their lives,” said Marilyn Hershey, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer and chair of Dairy Management Inc., a dairy promotion organization funded by America’s dairy farmers and importers. “America’s dairy farmers have great appreciation and respect for the hard work that graduating students have put in and nothing celebrates that better than cheese and pizza enjoyed with family and friends.”

With half a million free pies up for grabs, graduates can score big for their grad parties. To claim a free pizza, visit, sign into your Hut Rewards account, and a digital coupon for a free one-topping Medium Pizza will be deposited into your account while supplies last. Not a Hut Rewards member? Don’t worry, you can sign up and enter to get your free pizza coupon at the same time. Coupons will be valid for online redemption through June 4, 2020.1

With a focus on keeping team members and customers safe, customers can get their favorite Pizza Hut pizza via three contactless offerings: delivery, carryout, or all new curbside pickup that allows customers to never leave the comfort and safety of their own car. Those ordering can select their preferred method when ordering over the phone, through the official Pizza Hut app or on the Pizza Hut website. 

Pizza Hut will also be celebrating more missed moments—both big and small—through a social content series on Pizza Hut’s Instagram channel. Miss having date nights or a birthday that you couldn’t celebrate with family and friends? No problem, Pizza Hut has you covered with the delicious cheese you love on your favorite pizzas. Keep an eye on @pizzahut for more in the coming weeks.

About Pizza Hut® 
Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), has more restaurant locations in the world than any other pizza company. Founded in 1958 in Wichita, Kan., Pizza Hut operates over 18,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. With easy order options including the Pizza Hut app, mobile site, and Amazon and Google devices, Pizza Hut is committed to providing an easy pizza experience – from order to delivery – and has Hut Rewards, the Pizza Hut loyalty program that offers points for every dollar spent on food any way you order.

Now more than ever, restaurants have an important role in helping to safely feed families. As the largest pizza brand in the U.S. by store count, Pizza Hut is committed to doing its part. To help keep team members and customers safe, customers can get their favorite Pizza Hut pizza via three contactless offerings: curbside pickup, delivery, or carryout. Additionally, restaurant locations are working to implement new health and safety procedures including advising all guest-facing team members to wear single-use personal protective gear, pizza box safety seals, pre-shift temperature checks, and counter shields to increase protection between customers and employees. 

Pizza Hut is also the proprietor of The Literacy Project, an initiative designed to enable access, empower teachers and inspire a lifelong love of reading. The program is rooted in the foundation set by the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program, which is the longest-running corporate supported literacy program, impacting more than 14 million students each year. For more information, visit Pizza Hut is the Official and Only Pizza Sponsor of the NFL and NCAA®

Brett LeVecchio, Pizza Hut
972.338.6730 /

About DMI
Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI) is funded by America’s 35,000 dairy farmers, as well as dairy importers. Created to help increase sales and demand for dairy products, DMI and its related organizations work to increase demand for dairy through research, education and innovation, and to maintain confidence in dairy foods, farms and businesses. DMI manages National Dairy Council and the American Dairy Association, and founded the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

Lisa McComb, DMI
630.484.1158 /

New Zealand dairy farmers snap up fixed milk price options

Dairy farmers are seeking the safety of a fixed milk price as global economic uncertainty continues.

Dairy farmers are increasingly seeking the safety of a fixed milk price (FMP) as global economic uncertainty continues.

Fonterra says its FMP offer last month attracted a record oversubscription from farmer shareholders.

The co-op allocated 7.5 million kgMS to 756 farms at $6.42/kgMS in April: farmers had offered 57.8 million kgMS for contracts.

Fonterra says the significant oversubscription highlighted the benefits of the financial tool for farmers, particularly given the uncertainty around Covid-19, but has meant every farmer will only receive around 13% of what they applied for.
“We can only offer a certain amount based on our ability to offset this with forward contracts with customers. There will be more application windows each month up to December for the 2020-21 season,” it says.

The country’s second largest processor, Open Country Dairy (OCD), says it had an “overwhelming response” to its latest FMP contract offer.i

OCD offered its third FMP for the 2020-21 season at $6.30/kgMS, the offer closing May 8.

While OCD hasn’t released details of its FMP uptake, chief executive Steve Koekemoer told suppliers in an email that the latest offer “has once again had an overwhelming response”. 

“We continue to work very hard to look for these opportunities to provide some price security to you,” he wrote in the company’s May newsletter to suppliers.

OCD is also working on a FMP trading platform to make the process easier for farmers.

“It will be introduced to all of you at the July round of meetings and we plan to have it fully operational later in the year,” Koekemoer says.

Fonterra, which runs a FMP contract every month, offered $5.97 for 12.5 million kgMS to its farmer suppliers this month. The co-op retains 10c/kgMS as a service fee.

In March, it allocated 5 million kgMS at $6.90/kgMS to 238 farms. It received applications for 15 million kgMS.

Fonterra was due to release details of its May uptake as Rural News went to print last week.

Financial tool

Fonterra says its fixed milk price (FMP) lets farmers:

• Fix part of their income at a set market-based milk price.

• Budget and forecast more accurately in a volatile milk price environment.

• Add a simple tool to their financial toolkit to use when it suits.

• Submit further applications to supply additional milk volume at a FMP as production changes and global prices shift during the season.


RABDF submits evidence in last ditch attempt to save foreign dairy workers in Britain

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has submitted evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) after they launched a six-week call for evidence last week (13 May) on skills shortages in the UK.

The MAC will use the responses to support the evidence-based recommendations delivered to the Home Secretary in September 2020, which did not include dairy workers on the MAC Shortage Occupation List.

There are grave fears a failure to include foreign dairy workers on the list following this latest consultation will leave the sector with a labour shortage from next year when a new points-based immigration system is implemented.

The points-based immigration system will give priority to those with the “highest skills and greatest talents”, with dairy workers not falling into these categories.

RABDF Managing Director Matt Knight said: “Dairy workers are not classed as highly skilled and they are currently not listed on the MAC Shortage Occupation List.

“This failure to recognise dairy workers will leave the UK dairy industry with a severe labour shortage with some of the largest dairy producers in the UK relying on skilled foreign labour,” he said.

He added: “There are real concerns that post-2021 some of our largest, most technically advanced dairy farms could be lost due to their reliance on foreign labour. Should this happen the repercussions would be felt right across the industry, with associated businesses such as feed companies and veterinary practices also affected, let alone the impact on milk supply, he added.”

A survey by RABDF in 2016 found over half of the respondents employed staff from outside of the UK in the last five years – a 24 percent increase on 2014. Almost two-thirds said this was due to insufficient UK staff being available.

In the same survey more than 50 percent of migrant workers on dairy farms were classed as highly skilled or mainly highly skilled- something the UK government fails to recognise.


Stand With Wisconsin Dairy Farmers During National Dairy Month

As an industry that contributes so much to the state of Wisconsin’s culture and identity, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is embarking on a new strategy to highlight this integral industry. In honor of National Dairy Month, the organization is encouraging consumers to stand united with the state’s dairy farmers and find simple ways to show their support.

Suzanne Fanning, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin”Wisconsin’s dairy farms, 95 percent of which are family owned, are facing difficult circumstances right now,” said Suzanne Fanning, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “The single most effective way we can support our farmers is to buy and enjoy the nutrient-rich dairy products they produce.”

With Americans spending more time preparing and eating meals at home rather than at restaurants or in school cafeterias, farmers have adapted their businesses quickly to meet changing demands and fulfill consumers’ essential nutrition needs. According to a press release, dairy is one of the most affordable ways of getting three of the four critical nutrients most often lacking in Americans’ diets: calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.

In honor of National Dairy Month, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is encouraging consumers to stand united with the state's dairy farmers and find simple ways to show their support

In honor of National Dairy Month, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is encouraging consumers to stand united with the state’s dairy farmers and find simple ways to show their support

“Many Wisconsin families have been dairy farming for generations,” Fanning said. “These are passionate people who have worked hard to take care of their land and animals. As a state, we must stand together in support of our farmersand all they do for our communities.”

Celebrated since the 1930’s, National Dairy Month began as a program to promote drinking milk but has evolved into an annual celebration recognizing the contributions of dairy producers, farm families, and others involved in the industry. Wisconsin’s dairy farmers are committed to delivering fresh, wholesome nutrition to dairy lovers all over the world using sustainable farming practices. In 2017, they reached a milestone achievement by reducing the environmental impact of producing a gallon of milk by involving 31 percent less water, 21 percent less land, a 20 percent smaller carbon footprint, and 21 percent less manure than in 2007.


Milk Markets Marginal as Cash Dairy Drive Higher in Chicago Thursday

Class III futures were slightly weaker today on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  May milk fell 9 cents to $12.20/cwt.   June was down $.08 at $12.63 per hundredweight and July was $.08 lower at $17.06, while August was down $.16 at $16.53 and September was a dime lower at $16.44.

July corn fell 1.75 cents to $3.1775/bushel.  Spot soybeans tumbled 11.75 cents to $8.35.   July soybean meal lost $3 to $282.50/ton.  September Chicago Wheat gained 3.50 cents to $5.1875/bushel.  June Live cattle finished 40 cents higher to $98.80/cwt.  August Feeder Cattle fell 12 cents to $128.87/cwt.  June crude oil increased 52 cents to $34.01.    

US NFU hails additional aid for farmers and stronger protections for workers

The US House of Representatives has passed a $3 trillion relief and stimulus bill, shoring up state responses and assistance amid COVID-19

Amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the US House of Representatives today passed a $3 trillion relief and stimulus bill, known as the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The legislation would provide funding for health services, state and local governments, housing assistance, infrastructure, the US Postal Service (USPS), stimulus checks for taxpayers, nutrition assistance, and agricultural economic disaster relief.

While National Farmers Union (NFU) was encouraged that the previous stimulus bill – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – offered much-needed immediate relief to family farmers and rural communities coping with the ripple effects of the pandemic, the organisation cautioned that it only scratched the surface of what will ultimately be required to keep family farms in business and ensure national food security.

In a statement, NFU President Rob Larew thanked Congress for continuing its efforts to support the agriculture sector and renewed his earlier calls for a broader reform of the food system:

“These are trying times for family farmers and ranchers. After struggling through many years of low prices, trade disputes, and bad weather, our nation’s food producers are now contending with yet more difficulties. The pandemic has depressed prices even further, upended agricultural markets, backed up processing and distribution, and dramatically altered demand, all of which is putting immense pressure on farmers of every shape and size.

“The HEROES Act would do a great deal to alleviate these pressures. Of particular importance is an additional $16.5 billion in direct support to affected farmers, which should help prevent the closure of thousands of family-owned operations. We are similarly heartened by provisions that would strengthen farmer mental health resources, extend employer-sponsored health care coverage, expand nutrition assistance programmes, and assist biofuel plants. As rural communities cope with widespread unemployment, a growing rate of coronavirus cases, and underfunded medical facilities, all of these changes are urgently important and greatly appreciated.

“There are many other things to like about this bill. For one, it would require long-overdue protections for workers at risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19, including meat plant workers and other food supply chain workers. Far too many of these workers have gotten sick or died in the past several months, which has wreaked havoc on the entire food system. We must do more to keep the people who feed us safe ­– both for their sake and for the sake of our food security.

“Additionally, we are pleased that the HEROES Act designates $25 billion for the US Postal Service, which is currently expected to run out of funding by September. By delivering our mail, bills, paychecks, medication, and ballots at a reasonable rate, USPS provides a vital service to all Americans – but it is particularly important to rural Americans who live in areas that lack reliable broadband access and are too remote to be served by private mail services. The loss of USPS would cut these areas off from the outside world, limiting access to critical resources and potentially preventing participation in the upcoming election.

“Despite its strengths, the HEROES Act is not a cure-all. If anything, this pandemic has revealed significant, underlying flaws in our food system ­– flaws that will continue to rear their ugly heads if we don’t act quickly to address them. While working on this legislation and future legislation, we urge Congress to make meaningful and lasting changes with policies that balance supply with demand, ensure greater competition in the meat industry, and bolster local and regional food systems.”


Dairy farm exploits genomic testing to become more productive

A Pembrokeshire dairy farm is screening the genomics of its heifer calves to select the best replacements for the milking herd.

Rearing replacements is one of the biggest costs on a dairy farm – rearing a calf from birth to calving is estimated to be around £1,800.

The Hannah family believes that testing their heifers for genomic traits is where big gains can be made in their spring calving herd.

They farm at Mountjoy, near Haverfordwest, where they milk a herd of 370 mainly New Zealand Friesian dairy cows and rear 200 replacement heifers.

The farm has embarked on a project to improve the lifetime productivity of cows by selecting efficient genetics for the herd.

Working with the Welsh government’s Farming Connect scheme, the business aims to rear only the most productive heifers, to prevent unnecessary costs.

The less productive animals can be sold, removing the unnecessary cost of rearing and, in turn, improving the genetics and performance of the dairy herd.

“Genomic testing could help us to select the best herd replacements to match the requirements of our system,” said farmer William Hannah.

“We feel there are real gains to be made from this, by eliminating poor genetics so that only the very best animals are retained within the herd.”

Genomic testing could help select the best herd replacements to match the requirements of the farm

Genomic testing could help select the best herd replacements to match the requirements of the farm’s system, said farmer William Hannah

Industry figures show that 14.5% of female youngstock fail to reach their first calving, whilst 33% don’t make it to their second lactation.

Dairy cows don’t start paying back through milk sales until after the second lactation, by which time a vast amount of money and effort have been invested.

Simon Pitt, dairy technical officer with Farming Connect, who is overseeing the project at Mountjoy, said genomic estimated breeding values can be calculated at birth.

As it has a high accuracy, a strategy that utilises these advantages can be used to determine which female calves will be the most cost effective and the most productive.

Compared to traditional herd genetics, which is 18-25% accurate, genomic testing is 50-60% accurate (SCI-Spring Calving Index), he explained.

“Genomic selection offers many advantages with regards to improving the rate of genetic gain in dairy cattle breeding programs.

“One benefit of interest to this project is that genetic testing can predict a greater accuracy of predicted genetic merit for young animals,” said Mr Pitt.

Health benefits are also flagged up through testing; as Mountjoy sits in a high-risk TB area, among the traits of interest are TB Advantage and calf survival index.


New York State warns of contaminated raw milk

The state Department of Agriculture issued a warning on Monday not to consume unpasteurized raw milk from a Weedsport dairy because of possible listeria contamination.

In a press release, the department said the milk was from Serenity Meadows, 2890 Jorolemon Road, Weedsport. As of Monday afternoon, no illnesses from the milk were reported to the department.

According to the press release, a sample of the milk collected by a state inspector was discovered to be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes. On May 11, Serenity Meadows was notified of a preliminary positive test result. Further lab testing, completed on Monday confirmed the presence of listeria monocytogenes in the raw milk sample. Serenity Meadows is now prohibited from selling raw milk until subsequent sampling indicates the product is free of harmful bacteria.

The department recommends that any consumers who purchased raw milk from Serenity Meadows immediately dispose of it and contact them at (315) 730-9738.

Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis, which can be a serious and sometimes fatal infection in young children, cancer patients, elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Otherwise healthy persons may suffer short-term, flu-like symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

The press release said it is important to note that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization. Pasteurization is a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time. Pasteurization kills the bacteria responsible for numerous illnesses and diseases such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. Pasteurization of milk is recognized internationally as an effective means of preventing outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, including listeriosis.


Payments to dairy farmers have dropped even as retail milk prices rise

Gallons of whole milk line the shelves for $4.05 a gallon on Sept. 6, 2019, in St. Petersburg. [CHRIS URSO | Times]

The coronavirus pandemic has been especially unkind to the already staggering dairy industry.

Plunging demand from restaurants and schools and an inability to quickly shift processing to meet new categories of demand has left farmers dumping milk on a massive scale.

But at least milk prices are going up, right?

That’s not exactly a help, one dairy farmer said in a widely-shared Facebook post.

“The price consumers pay at retail for a gallon of milk has gone up 7.5% since this time last year,” Pennsylvania farmer Greg Hemsarth said in a May 2, 2020, post that was shared more than 3,500 times. “The price farmers are paid has dropped 23%. Figure that one out.”

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook).

Are farmers really getting paid less even as retail milk prices go up?

Let’s dive into the data behind this dairy dichotomy.

A complicated pricing system

For starters, connecting any pair of dots to explain milk pricing is tricky.

This post referenced liquid milk prices, but only 30% of the milk produced in the U.S. is actually sold in liquid form, said Michael Nepveux, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“While we may see fluid milk flying off grocery shelves and wonder why farmers are having to dump milk, it must be remembered that many of these other products rely heavily on the foodservice and restaurant sector,” he said.

And farmer’s pricing is part of a system that is complex to say the least.

RELATED: Are bottling limitations on liquid milk to blame for milk dumping?

Nepveux spent nearly 2,000 words and a handful of charts detailing how pricing works in a primer the Farm Bureauposted in June 2019. It started this way: “There’s an old adage in the dairy industry that ‘only five people in the world know how milk is priced in the U.S. – and four of them are dead.’”

Milk payments to farmers are influenced by commodity prices, geography and whether the milk is being used for liquid sales, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.

We started with Hemsarth himself.

Though the numbers in the post are stated generally, he told PolitiFact Wisconsin he was actually referring only to his own observations. Hemsarth was comparing the price of milk at a grocer in Bloomsburg, Penn., to a picture he took of the milk case a year prior. And he was looking at payments he received for milk he sold compared to a year ago.

Given the generic wording and wide sharing of this post, most readers likely assumed it referenced some broader dataset, at either the state or national level.

So let’s check those datapoints.

National data shows the trend Hemsarth highlighted isn’t confined to his corner of the world. Prices paid to farmers have dropped even as retail prices rose.

The retail price for a gallon of milk averaged $3.27 in April, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up 9.6% from the April 2019 mark ($2.98).

Data provided by Dairy Management Inc., a group funded by farmers to help increase sales of dairy products, shows a nearly identical comparison. They reported a national average of $3.11 as of mid-April, compared to $2.83 a year prior. That’s an increase of 9.9 percent.

A state-level breakdown showed a year-over-year increase in all but one state. The largest jump was in Ohio — more than 28 percent. Pennsylvania prices increased 9.5 percent.

So, on that part of the equation, the post was in the ballpark — actually understating the magnitude of the retail increase nationally.

On the farm payment side, Hemsarth reported a milk payment drop of 23 percent.

The Farm Bureau, using U.S. Department of Agriculture data, reported a 21.1 percent drop in the price paid to farmers in May 2020 compared to May 2019. Nepveux said that is based on Class 1 fluid milk, the highest valued class of milk.

A month earlier, in April, farmers were seeing payments 5.6 percent higher than the year prior. May is the first month where 2020 was lower than that month in 2019, though prices have fallen each month since December.

May milk prices dropped because the formula relies heavily on commodity prices, and those dropped sharply in April, Nepveux said.

Our ruling

A viral Facebook post said retail milk prices are up 7.5 percent from last year while the price paid to farmers dropped 23 percent.

The farmer who provided these numbers was just referencing payments for the milk he sold and prices at a local grocer, but the trends are in line with what we see nationally.

Nationwide, retail milk prices in April were up nearly 10 percent from the prior year, while the price paid to farmers dropped sharply in May to about 21 percent below the prior year.

The comparison oversimplifies things a bit, since the majority of milk produced in the United States isn’t sold in liquid form. And the specific numbers aren’t exactly right. But the general point is.

We rate this Mostly True.


2020 World Brown Swiss Conference Rescheduled to September 2021

With the COVID-19 situation continuing to evolve, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020 World Brown Swiss Conference, originally scheduled for September 28 – October 3, Madison, WI. While we are extremely disappointed to make this announcement, we feel that it is our responsibility to follow the guidelines and recommendations of health authorities and governmental entities and do our part to ensure that our associates and partners stay safe and healthy.

We are, however, very excited to announce the rescheduled dates for the World Brown Swiss Conference will be September 26 – 30, 2021, at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center in Madison, Wisconsin, USA! The conference schedule will be similar to this year with a few modifications. It will continue to give attendees the opportunity to exchange ideas and information with other breeders from 25+ different countries. Conference attendees will have the chance to experience the International Brown Swiss Show and World Premier Sale during the World Dairy Expo. This combination of elite Brown Swiss cattle and World Dairy Expo’s innovative, industry-leading trade show, will make for a very special event!

Today, the beautiful Brown Swiss cattle can be found across the globe. The world population of Brown Swiss is reported to be about 5 million, which ranks as one of the highest in world-wide population of dairy cattle. Brown Swiss yield large volumes of milk with high components, boasting an ideal fat-to-protein ratio for cheese-making. For this reason, most Brown Swiss producers receive more money per 100 pounds of milk than owners of other breeds.

Semex’s Storied Val-Bisson Doorman Passes Away

Semex is saddened to announce the passing of one of the most globally popular sires of our time, Val-Bisson Doorman.

A one-of-a-kind bull, Doorman was one of the first bulls to greatly benefit from the advent of genomics. His non-genomic parent average gave him modest PTAT and GTPI figures, at breed average. But, with his genomic information, he was released as a proven sire in December 2015 at +4.59 PTAT with a +2439 GTPI, +4.2 PL and a low 2.51 SCS. This, with a pedigree virtually laced with Holstein royalty including Goldwyn, Prelude, Blackstar, Chief Mark, Shottle, Rudolph and Starbuck, it seemed Doorman was born to be the modern transmitter of elite type and show style.

“From the moment we introduced him as a Genomax® and Immunity+® sire, he was extremely popular – to the point that even though he was a good producer, he simply could not meet the extreme demand,” says Brad Sayles, Semex Chief Operating Officer.

What truly lit the fire in Doorman sales, however, were his daughters. Initially breeders loved their calves and then came back wanting to use him again and again as his milking daughters arrived. With too many Grand Champions and Premier Sire awards to list, breeders everywhere appreciated his dominance regardless of venue or nation – Doorman was the modern Sire of Champions, a legacy to be felt for years upon years to come.

Dairy Drive-Thru goes around the block

Spirits were high Friday at the last Dairy Drive-Thru organized by Cornell Cooperative Extension, Barney and Hoffman’s dairies and members of the 4-H Project Clover Aid during this round of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lynn Bliven, agricultural issues leader for the county’s office of Cornell Cooperative Extension explained why Wellsville’s was the last drive through.

“Changes in the weather, not as much to give away, and there are more places giving out food,” she said. “The governor’s Nourish New York is a statewide program and they are now providing fruit, vegetables and other fresh produce. There are also more food pantries open.”

Should there be a second wave of the coronavirus in the late summer or fall, Bliven said she wasn’t sure if the dairy drive-throughs would return because alternate programs are in place and should be able to quickly reorganize.

While 350 gallons of milk were given away along with bags of cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt Friday, totally the four drive-throughs have given away 1,100 gallons milk, Bliven calculated.

The idea of the Dairy Drive-Throughs came from Kelly Barney of Barney Farms which early in the NY On Pause order was forced to dump milk as markets dried up. Farmers are prohibited from selling raw milk at their farms unless they have official permits.

“My hoof trimmer told me they had organized dairy drive-throughs in Tioga County. It seemed like a win, win for everyone, so we decided to do it here,” she said.

While cars lined both sides of the street at the three previous drive-throughs in Whitesville and Friendship, in Wellsville cars stretched from the central campus of the elementary school down west School Street to Williams Avenue, the north end of Williams Avenue to midway down Rauber Street. Vehicles lined up from the arterial kept trying to jump the line. Some did, some got the message that people had already been waiting in line for over 30 minutes, and they could go to the end of the line.

At this drive through organizers were joined by volunteers from Hoffman Family Farms from Shinglehouse, Pa.

“People have been very appreciative of the dairy products. People have even called the barn, I don’t know how they got the barn number, but they’ve called the barn to say thank you. We’ve been able to give the products left over from the drives to the needy and shut-ins and they’re overfilled with joy to think that someone cares and remembered them,” Barney said.

As the need to provide dairy products to the community lessens, Lisa Reynolds, STEM and Ag. Education leader said the focus of their efforts will now turn to the farmers themselves.

“As the weather changes and the farmers are getting busy plowing and planting it is difficult for them to get out and purchase products, so we’re going to start providing food boxes to them. We’ll be delivering the boxes directly to them. It is like a little love note, letting them know how much we appreciate them and what they do.”

She added that any donations made to the Dairy Drive-Through will be used to help the farmers.

To donate to the farmers, make out a check payable to CCE-Allegany. Write, “Dairy Drive” on memo line and mail it to: CCE Allegany County, 5435A County Road 48, Belmont, N.Y., 14813.

One hundred percent of all monetary donations will go back into the drive to provide products for distribution to local farms.


IDFA Statement on Dairy Recourse Loan Program in HEROES Act

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, released the following statement today on the Recourse Loan Program for Commercial Processors of Dairy Products in the HEROES Act legislation as proposed this week by the House of Representatives:

“IDFA and our members are grateful for the inclusion of a dairy recourse loan program in the HEROES Act coronavirus relief legislation that is being considered by the House of Representatives this week. The dairy recourse loan program included in the bill would provide USDA with $500 million to make working capital loans to dairy processors, packagers, merchants, marketers, wholesalers and distributors who are forced to carry heavier inventories and cope with growing accounts receivable burdens as customers defer deliveries and payments due to the demand destruction caused by the coronavirus. A dairy recourse loan made available to all links in the dairy supply chain would ensure that the industry has access to the working capital it needs to operate until the foodservice sector resumes a more normal pattern of business.”

# # #

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

Mixed Markets in Chicago Wednesday

Dairy prices on Wednesday were stronger throughout the day at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  June Class III milk futures were 43 cents higher at $17.71.  July up 32 at $17.14.  August through October contracts a dime to 22 cents higher.

CME spot products put together another strong showing. Blocks up $0.07 at $1.92.  Barrels $0.07 higher at $1.8525.  Eight trades were made, ranging from $1.85 to $1.8525. Butter up $0.03 at $1.6350.  Thirteen trades, with a range of $1.6325 to $1.64. Nonfat dry milk up $0.01 at $0.9950. Dry whey steady at $0.3525. 

UK dairy podcast helps farmers gain better control of their milk price

Dairy farmers should consider evaluating their businesses and assessing the vulnerability of their supply chains after disruptions caused by Coronavirus highlights the fragility of the sector.

In the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) podcast The Milk Digest which discussed farmers taking back control of their milk price, RABDF Vice Chairman Robert Craig said farmers needed to better understand their milk buyer.

He said: “Understanding your milk buyer and how exposed they are to a particular market is important. Farmers need to look at their business and their own set of skills and ask themselves whether they could cope with a big milk price drop if their primary purchaser was to lose their market.

“Farmers need to evaluate their options and think whether there is anywhere else they can send their milk to that would better suit their skills and their business. It’s about farmers really understanding their own skills and the vulnerability and exposure of their milk buyer,” he added

Mr Craig, who farms across three sites in Cumbria and Northumberland and is a Director of First Milk said the cooperative model had weathered the coronavirus storm better than many largely due to the marketing of milk in different areas.

He said: “The business model at First Milk is working well with a domestic and export focus. Essentially the cooperative is marketing the milk for us.

“Close to 50 percent of milk in the UK is now sold through a dairy cooperative. If you look around the world all major milk-producing countries market their milk from a cooperative base,” he said.

RABDF chairman Peter Alvis said for farmers to take back control of their milk price better communication was needed throughout the supply chain.

He said: “There needs to be more cooperation between the farmer and processor to manage the volume of milk coming forward. There is not a lot of joined up thinking in the marketplace and we need a milk programme in front of us.

“Information travelling through the markets will allow us to know the implication of putting another 1000 -cow dairy up, for example. We cannot just keep adding cows and producing more milk and expecting to maintain value,” he warned.

The Milk Digest podcast covers the latest dairy industry news, business, and market matters as well as delving into some of the sector’s topical affairs. In this first episode guest speakers Peter Alvis, Robert Craig, and Neil Rowe discuss how farmers can take back control of their milk price.


Dairy Organizations Unite in Calling to Aid Other Nations by Filling Food Needs

The National Milk Producers Federation, U.S. Dairy Export Council and the International Dairy Foods Association jointly urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to use all tools at his disposal to “ensure high-quality, nutritious U.S. dairy products are made available to our international neighbors in need.”

“As a nation, we are blessed to have an abundance of dairy available, even during this difficult time. Taking steps to share that abundance with the world will provide a lifeline for regions where food is needed while supplying an additional outlet for American farmers to share their abundance of dairy products,” wrote Jim Mulhern, Tom Vilsack and Michael Dykes – the respective presidents and CEO’s of the three leading U.S. dairy organizations, in the letter dated May 18. “We encourage a focus in particular on countries that have indicated a food or nutrition deficit in their country during these times and that lack the infrastructure or resources to reliably deliver dairy supplies through robust commercial channels.”

Dairy farmers are facing some of the steepest losses of all major U.S. agricultural producers – potentially $8.2 billion, based on a comparison of current USDA projections with pre-crisis estimates. U.S. dairy supplies available for international distribution remain ample, making targeted food-aid shipped worldwide a promising avenue for helping populations struggling with localized hunger and the coronavirus crisis.

Additional resources on how the dairy community is meeting the coronavirus challenge – and how it can be effectively assisted – can be found at

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

French dairy industry wants citizens to eat more cheese as the industry takes a bad hit

France’s dairy industry is now urging French people to eat more cheese to help in reviving it. They have launched a campaign called Fromagissons (let’s act for cheese), which is going to help traditional cheese makers. Since the lockdown due to COVID-19, the dairy industry has been hit, and is now asking French people to increase their consumption of cheese. So a lot more of brie, camembert, and reblochon are going to be on dining tables across France.

With lockdown across the country, all sorts of markets, restaurants, and cafes were shut the entire time, and this certainly caused sales of cheese to fall drastically. In fact, reports suggest that sales of certain cheeses in Frances dropped by 60 percent during this period of time.

French dairy industry wants citizens to eat more cheese as the industry takes a bad hitCredit: iStock

Of course cheese is a popular pleasure food in France, and across various countries in Europe, but people have been deprived of it due to the lockdown. With French cheese producers going through a hard time right now, it is upto the consumer to help out the dairy industry by increasing their cheese consumption. Reports suggest that France produces a staggering 1200 different types of cheeses, and most of these are at a risk right now.

With people staying at home during this global pandemic, it is indeed a great pleasure to sit back at home and enjoy the many cheeses that are available in the market. This way they can help its beloved cheese industry to come back on its feet.


Canadian government steps in to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on dairy sector

Canadian government steps in to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on dairy sector

The Canadian government has amended the Canadian Dairy Commission Act to support dairy producers and processors and ensure Canadians maintain access to affordable food.

The Government of Canada and Prime Minister Trudeau previously announced the government’s intention to amend the Canadian Dairy Commission Act and increase the Canadian Dairy Commission’s (CDC) borrowing limit by $200 million to allow cheese and butter to be temporarily stored and avoid waste. Parliament has adopted these amendments that will increase the CDC’s borrowing limit from $300 million to $500 million.

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Marie-Claude Bibeau said: 

“With $200 million in increased lending capacity, the Canadian Dairy Commission can provide stronger support for the supply management system by buying and storing more butter and cheese. It’s a great way to help manage production and to support our producers and processors, while ensuring a secure supply of local dairy products for Canadians.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant fluctuations in the demand for many dairy products. Unfortunately, dairy farmers have had no choice but to discard some of their milk. Stakeholders throughout the dairy industry supply chain are working closely with provincial marketing boards to ensure that Canadians continue to have access to a wide variety of dairy products, while implementing measures to temporarily reduce production.

The CDC plays an important regulatory role in our supply management system, which allows the dairy sector to match supply with demand. Increasing the CDC’s borrowing capacity will allow it to purchase and store more butter and cheese. These changes will complement existing CDC programs to help the sector manage surplus milk while delivering essential assistance to keep the supply chain strong.


A moo-ving story: Starting a dairy farm was the kids’ idea

The way Cynthia LaPrise tells it, her family owns a dairy farm, and a well-stocked farmstand called Emma Acres, because her kids had a 4H project back in the day.

They had the idea to show cows.

“And my husband said, ‘If they want to do it, they are going to do it right.’ That’s just my husband’s personality.”

And so in 2002, they bought their first two Jersey cows from a nice farmer in New Hampshire, said Maggie LaPrise, 21, the youngest in the family. And they multiplied pretty fast after that. They have more than 60 cows now.

“It was totally driven by the kids,” Cynthia said. “Most 4H projects don’t turn into a full-blown dairy farm.”

Maggie said she was just two weeks old when she attended her first 4H meeting with her older siblings. Today she is a full-time farmer while studying for a bachelor’s degree in agricultural management online at Penn State. She’s also busy applying for grants to support the farm.

She was at the University of Rhode Island studying animal science when she realized, “I need to learn how to run a business.”

The business got that much busier last fall when they opened the Emma Acres Farmstand, which is open Wednesday through Sunday.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many new customers to discover the store.

They not only stock their milk, processed and packaged by Rhody Fresh, but plenty of eggs, meat, and products from local artisans, such as cow milk soap. They also have all Cabot Cheese and yogurts. They have been part of the Cabot Cooperative in New England since 2008.

They also sell on Rhode Island-based WhatsGood app at — basically a farmers’ market online for home delivery.

“That really took right off with the start of the pandemic. It clearly served a need at this time,” Cynthia said. They’ve been filling about 40 orders a week, she added.

The name Emma Acres represents the first initial of each of the LaPrise children — Elizabeth, Matt, Maggie and Alexandra, three of whom have their own young families now. Their parents still have full-time jobs. Cynthia is a registered nurse and her husband, Edwin “Scooter” LaPrise, is in the log-trucking business.

Maggie is the one milking 30 cows twice a day, every day.

“I do love my cows,” she said. “You can’t deal with all the struggles a farmer has and not love the animals.”

They chose Jersey cows because they are the smallest, require less feed, but are most efficient at producing milk — and a quality milk at that, Maggie said.

They also have a sassy personality that she likes. She still is showing them, most recently, pre-pandemic, in Louisville, Kentucky and Madison, Wisconsin.

For her mother, this is deju vu. She grew up the daughter and sister of dairy farmers. Bailey Farm in East Greenwich, which closed down just two years ago after starting in the 19th century, was run by her father and brother.

On their 12-acre Exeter farm, the LaPrises have also started raising veal calves, in a very humane way, said Cynthia. They are awaiting the next group of pigs to come in. Of course there are chickens, too.

When the farmstand opened, they had 500 people the first day. That tells you a lot about the demand for local food.

“If you went up Route 102 on that day, you’d say, ‘What’s going on?’” said Cynthia. “We sold out of everything in the store. It was wiped clean. I had to head up to Vermont to get more cheese and yogurt.”

They had the idea to open an ice cream shop, but that would require much more than the farmstead did to get started, said Cynthia. Instead, they happily sell Warwick Ice Cream.

In February, they made the decision to close on Monday and Tuesday.

“It gives us a chance to breathe,” said Cynthia. “But of course, the cows still need to be milked twice a day.”

Good thing they started Maggie with her farm lessons when she was young, so she has that passion for her cows today.

Details: Emma Acres, 143 Ten Rod Rd., Exeter, (401) 294-7555, on Facebook as EmmaAcres. Hours are Wednesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.


Dairy Markets Move Higher by Leaps and Bounds

The bulls bellowed and bucked this week, and the bears fled. The dairy markets moved higher by leaps and bounds. Although the rally faded on Friday, the magnitude and velocity of this week’s recovery are astounding. Cheese led the charge. CME spot Cheddar blocks jumped 47.5ȼ this week to $1.78 per pound. Barrels soared 45ȼ to $1.72, a new high for 2020. Both blocks and barrels stand above yearago levels, a truly impressive feat given the state of the economy. Butter vaulted 35.5ȼ this week to $1.645. CME spot nonfat dry milk (NDM) rallied 11ȼ to 93.5ȼ. Whey slipped back 0.75ȼ to 39ȼ.

The futures gained considerable ground. June Class III settled at $16.85 per cwt., up $3.17 from last Friday. The June contract has climbed more than $5 in the past three weeks. June through December Class III futures sit comfortably above $16. 2020 Class IV futures added more than $1.50, on average, this week. But at less than $15 per cwt., they are still a long ways from covering dairy producers’ costs.

The dairy markets in general, and the cheese and butter markets in particular, have been buoyed by a perfect storm of purchases. U.S. cheese was a bargain a couple months ago. Now exporters are loading containers to fill orders that were booked earlier this year. Grocers are still moving dairy products in huge volumes. They are competing with restauranteurs who are restocking after spending most of March and April on the sidelines. Meanwhile, some companies that signed up to supply nonprofits with food boxes under USDA’s Farmers to Families program are scrambling to secure the yogurt, dips, cheese, butter, and fresh milk needed to fill them. In the near term, processors may need to ramp up output to meet these simultaneous requests. Meanwhile, ice cream season has arrived, tightening up the cream markets and reducing butter production.

While dairy processors are hurrying to squeeze large orders into a very short timeframe, dairy consumption may be less concentrated. Dairy products are moving rapidly from processors to cargo containers, food banks, commercial kitchens, grocery pallets, and in-home refrigerators. But consumers probably aren’t eating a lot more dairy than they were just a few weeks ago. USDA is donating dairy at such a scale that it’s likely to cannibalize retail sales. Restaurant goers will also need fewer groceries. Importers who stocked up on U.S. cheese when it was on sale won’t need to buy as much later. Orders are not expected to maintain their current heady pace.

Whatever the future brings, improved demand has ushered the milk market into balance at a time of year when that can be difficult to achieve. Lower output has helped too. Preliminary data shows European milk collections up just 0.8% from a year ago in March. USDA’s Dairy Market News reports that high cull rates and variable feed quality have tightened milk supplies in the Northeast. Co-op penalties and self-imposed production cuts are reportedly weighing on milk yields in the Central region. In the Southwest and California, the heat is also dragging production lower. For the week ending May 2, dairy cow slaughter was 58,467 head, up 2.5% from the same week a year ago, and once again the highest total ever for this time of year, excluding 1986. Although the futures promise better days ahead, there is still immense pain on the farm. This week’s vigorous rally suggests the dairy downturn may be over sooner than we had feared.

The corn market went nowhere at all this week. July corn futures finished right where they started, at $3.1925 per bushel. On Tuesday, USDA published its first official supply and demand estimates for the 2020- 21 crop year. With massive acreage and no sign of planting trouble, the agency projects end-of-season corn stocks at over 3.3 billion bushels, the highest total since the 1987-88 season. Soybean futures slipped 12ȼ this week to $8.385. Exports are perking up, but the low corn price suggests that farmers may switch some ground into soybeans, which is not helping prices. The currency is also an impediment. This week the Brazilian real fell to an all-time low against the dollar, making South American soybeans extremely attractive for foreign buyers.

Original Report at:

Raw milk dairy shut down in New York following positive Listeria test

State officials are warning the public against consuming unpasteurized milk from a New York dairy because sample test results show it to be contaminated with Listeria.

Anyone who has any raw milk from Serenity Meadows Dairy in Cayuga County is urged to throw it away. Anyone who has consumed raw milk from the dairy recently should monitor themselves in the coming weeks for symptoms of Listeria infection, which can take up to 70 days to develop.

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets had samples of raw milk from Serenity Meadows tested, according to information released by the department. Two samples, including one taken Monday, returned positive results for Listeria monocytogenes, a potentially deadly foodborne pathogen.

The dairy operator, Doren Martin, was ordered to halt sales until samples show it is free of bacteria and other pathogens. As of Tuesday no illnesses had been confirmed in relation to the implicated milk.

Federal law prohibits the interstate sale of raw milk, but some states have laws allowing sales in limited settings and at retail. In New York, unpasteurized, raw milk can only be sold from the dairy directly to the consumer who will be using it. Dairies selling raw milk are required to meet several testing requirements, including for brucella, Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and others. 

About Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has consumed any of the implicated milk and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.


EU urged not to distort world dairy markets through government intervention schemes

As the European Union (EU) is poised to begin government-financed intervention purchases of skim milk powder (SMP) and butter, dairy farmers and processors in key dairy-producing countries around the world are calling on the EU to avoid the market-distorting practices that have significantly harmed them and the broader global dairy market in the past. 

A coalition of dairy organizations from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay and the United States joined together in urging the EU not to repeat the inventory-building and extended market-price suppression it engaged in just a few short years ago.

Exporting large quantities of government-purchased SMP and butter at below-market rates onto the world market will prolong the deeply challenging environment under which dairy sectors are operating worldwide. The EU intervention program would artificially distort prices for an extended period and displace commercial competition just as the world begins to recover from the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The groups instead urge the EU to adopt measures that further spur consumption within the EU and encourage its producers to implement appropriate production practices to survive during this difficult time.

A coalition representing dairy industries from around the world issued the following joint statement:

“The European Commission must avoid dumping government-purchased SMP and butter on the world market and implementing policies that undermine global dairy markets under the guise of protecting its farmers. The EU’s market-distorting practices are harmful enough during normal operations. If used in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically eroded dairy prices, they would be disastrous to the world dairy market by prolonging the current crushing economic conditions. Global buyers of SMP and butter will have little incentive to bid up prices as long as the EU Government holds significant quantities in Intervention.

“It’s critical that the EU act now to put a long-term plan into place regarding how to handle its government-incentivized stockpiling given that the EU has a demonstrated history of dumping intervention purchases in a way that disrupts the world dairy market. The EU intervened in 2016-17 and held the equivalent of 16 percent of the global SMP market in government storage. It subsequently released the product on the world market over the next two years, unfairly undercutting international prices and harming the global dairy industry.”

“Farmers and dairy processors in our countries and many others around the globe are already in the fight of their lives, working hard every day to help keep the world well-nourished through this crisis. We are all dealing with great enough challenges already in our own markets. If the EU does not commit to avoid distorting global markets by dumping their excess intervention stocks onto the world market just as dairy sectors begin to recover, the more farmers and processors outside the EU could be forced to close their doors. We encourage the EU to implement policies that support greater utilization of dairy products with the goal to increase consumption, particularly with the consumers impacted most by the covid-19 outbreak.”

The groups issuing the statement include: 

United States

International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)

National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF)

U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC)


Sociedad Rural Argentina (SRA)

Centro de la Industria Lechera Argentina (CIL)


Sindicato da Indústria de Laticínios e Produtos Derivados no Estado São Paulo (SINDLEITE)

Central America

Federación Centroamericana de Productores Lácteos (FECALAC)


Federación de Productores de Leche (FEDELECHE)

Costa Rica

Cámara Nacional de Productores de Leche de Costa Rica (CNPL)


Centro de la Industria Láctea del Ecuador (CIL)

Asociación de Ganaderos (AGSO)


Cámara de Productores de Leche (CPL)


Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Leche, A.C. (AMLAC)

Cámara Nacional de Industriales de la Leche de México (CANILEC)

Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas (CNOG)


Cámara Paraguaya de Industriales Lácteos (CAPAINLAC)


Cámara de la Industria Láctea del Uruguay (CILU)

Source: IDFA

GDT index increases in latest auction

The latest Global Dairy Trade (GDT) event 260 event has concluded up 1% from two weeks prior. The big winner at today’s event was lactose (LAC) which shot up by 15.6% in index, easily the most dramatic move among product indices on the day.Skim milk powder (SMP) also performed strongly, rising by 6.7% in index; though, on the flip side, cheddar dropped by 6% at the event. Butter fell 1.9%, and Cheddar fell 6% over the previous auction. Whole milk powder fell slightly lower losing half of a percent, and Rennet Casein fell 1.9% from prior trade.  Lasting for two hours and 19 minutes, today’s event saw 172 bidders participate across 17 rounds, with 107 winning bidders emerging. A total of 16,787MT of product was sold on the day.

Key results:

  • AMF index up 2.7%, average price US$4,079/MT;
  • Butter index down 1.9%, average price US$3,803/MT;
  • BMP not offered;
  • Ched index down 6.0%, average price US$3,864/MT;
  • LAC index up 15.6%, average price US$1,341/MT;
  • RenCas index down 1.9%, average price US$8,719/MT;
  • SMP index up 6.7%, average price US$2,549/MT;
  • SWP index not available, average price not available;
  • WMP index down 0.5%, average price US$2,677/MT.

Today’s increase marks two small index rises, and four index drops across the six auctions that have been held since the start of March.

Consumers want more goat milk products

The dairy landscape in New Zealand is changing, as it is around the world.

People are becoming more aware of the environmental impact dairy farming has on the land. 

And as a result, consumers are looking for dairy products that have been made from farming practices with a lower environmental footprint.

Sheep dairy and goat dairy are emerging as two industries that have real potential to meet those expectations.

Nutritional benefits, an awareness of lactose sensitivity, a change in consumers’ taste for dairy food and the expanding global middle-class are some of the drivers pushing up demand for sheep and goat dairy products.i

Farming sheep and goats is more gentle on the environment, there’s less nitrogen loading required, a lot less water needed and a smaller area needed to farm the animals. 

The sheep and goat industries are starting to gather momentum. This is what we discovered at Fieldays 2019, when we recorded keen interest from farmers looking for more information on small ruminants.

New Zealand is in a good position to explore opportunities to expand in the sheep and goat markets.

We’re seen as a clean, green producer. We have a positive image around environmental care. And as a result, milk products from cows, sheep and goats are becoming much sought after by global consumers.

Behaviour difference

When it comes to best practice, it’s important to understand that the behaviour and physiology of sheep and goats are very different.

Goats are always on the go, they are inquisitive animals that like to investigate things. 

They like being up high, don’t like to lie around much and don’t like getting their feet wet.

Sheep are followers, have to have eye contact with each other and don’t like to be separated.

All of these traits need to be taken into account if you’re planning to convert your milking parlour from cows, to goats or sheep. 

As underlined by Spring Sheep, animal welfare, whether that be for sheep, goats or cows, is paramount to farmers.

The more care we put into looking after our animals, the better the animals will provide for us. The animals are happier, farmers are happier.

Public perception of dairy farming has prompted changes to many things but overall, animal health is right up there at the top for in every farmer’s mind.

That’s clearly a view shared by the Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ), which was formed in 1984 and now distributes to more than 30 countries around the world.

It uses New Zealand’s Code of Welfare for Goats for its farming systems. It specifies what is considered to be optimal animal welfare and how this may be achieved for goats farmed under New Zealand conditions.

Dairy Goat Cooperative animals thrive on New Zealand grown, on-farm forages such as grasses, clover, lucerne, hay, silage or pasture plants.

Milk is collected from the collective’s farms and delivered directly to its production facility in Hamilton.

• Andy Geissmann and Gary Feeney are the small ruminant specialists at Waikato Milking Systems.


Time is right for building milk producer confidence

Dairy group president says a fair milk price for dairy farmers is now more important than ever.

Mark your calendars for early June, 2020.

FAIR GO: Paul Mumford, president ofUnited Dairyfarmers of Victoria, says there is no better time to try to rebuild confidence in Australia's dairy sector.

FAIR GO: Paul Mumford, president ofUnited Dairyfarmers of Victoria, says there is no better time to try to rebuild confidence in Australia’s dairy sector.

For many, this signals the official start of winter in what has been a relatively favourable start to the year rainfall-wise. It also heralds the all-important opening milk prices from processers.

This year, COVID-19 has highlighted the critical role our primary industries have in maintaining our supply chain – and the dairy industry has played a major part in this.

There is no doubt there is a level of uncertainty, given the pandemic circumstances, but milk processers must ensure they are maximising returns to the dairy farmgate with a strong opening milk price.

This will create a level of confidence for the dairy industry which is operating in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and allow dairy farmers to build and maintain some sort of financial buffer at the farmgate.

On the other hand, any opening prices with a ‘five’ in front will signal a drastic re-think by farmers and some forced out.

If we did see an opening milk price around the $6 mark, we will most likely see a reduction in the national milk pool and many dairy farmers would sit idle contemplating their future growth.

For dairy farmers across Victoria, while we await the June 1 deadline, it is important we all evaluate our own farming systems and determine what will work best for our own farms moving forward.

If we do see low prices, it is very important that we understand our business systems and how profit is generated.

This will help us achieve a better outcome on-farm and generate greater confidence and profitability in our industry.

We are living in extraordinary times, but there’s no better time than the present to sure-up and rebuild confidence in one of our most important primary industries – with a fair opening milk price.

– Paul Mumford, United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president


Milk Futures Rebound in Chicago Tuesday in Chicago

Whiplash continues in our milk markets, as cheese marched higher on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Class III milk rebounded nicely Tuesday after and out of character sell-off Monday. Class III milk saw May gain 3 to $12.27.  June Class III milk futures were up 62 cents at $17.28.  July 57 higher at $16.82.  August through October contracts 15 to 21 higher. Class IV was unchanged in May to $10.61, June gained 64 to $13.50 and July was limit higher, up 75 cents to $14.38 per cwt. Second half class IV now averages at $14.81 per cwt.

The CME spot trade saw Cheddar blocks and barrels show strength as blocks where up $0.0350 at $1.85.  Barrels $0.0450 higher at $1.7825.  Five trades made, ranging $1.7750 to $1.7825. Butter steady at $1.6050.  Nonfat dry milk up $0.0450 at $0.9850.  Five trades, with a range of $0.96 to $0.9850. Dry whey down $0.01 at $0.3625.  Five trades were made, with a range of $0.3625 to $0.37.



Holstein Association USA office remains closed

Under direction from Vermont Governor Phil Scott, the Holstein Association USA office remains closed until further notice.

Even so, we’re happy to continue processing the work you submit. A subset of the Holstein Team is working remotely from home to continue as many Association services as we can to the extent of which we are able.

This situation is creating some challenges and circumstances none of us have ever experienced before. Even so, with patience, empathy, and determination, the dairy community will get through this cumbersome time.

Following is information that you will find helpful.

*For now, the best way to reach the Holstein Association is to send an email to

*Online services such as ear tag ordering, animal search, online pedigrees, online transfer applications and software such as Enlight® and Red Book™ Plus Online will remain available 24/7.

*Registration applications can be submitted via EASY. We will handle the registration applications and any accompanying custom ear tag and genomic test orders, as we can. This includes updated certificates when a transfer is processed. Paper registration and transfer applications that are mailed in will be delayed.

We’re extremely sorry for any inconvenience this situation may create and ask for your patience and understanding as we all work through this challenging time.

If any of you would like to visit with me, feel free to reach out to me directly.

Please take care of yourselves and do everything you can to stay well,

John M. Meyer
Chief Executive Officer

Family farmers selling direct see surge in dairy sales

A Shropshire organic dairy farm has seen a surge in sales as it sells milk and other products direct to the public through its vending machines.

In the face of Covid-19, the Chatham family, of Brockton Grange, near Shifnal, are seeing their self-service hut prove a massive hit with regular customers and those keen to avoid large retail crowds.

Back in 2018 James and his family transformed part of their old dairy, they invested in the new technology as a way to offer people quality, affordable, high welfare produce straight from the farm gate.

The pandemic has hit all farming sectors and some dairy farmers have seen large drops in their income as processors have called for less production and dropped farm gate prices – some have had to make the heart-breaking decision to pour their produce down the drain.

Much of the milk from the family’s herd goes to the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative, OMSCo and James said while the price had dipped, direct sales were really helping.

The family have two vending machines, one which allows people to buy milk and another that sells their reusable one litre glass bottles, organic cheese, butter and free range eggs.

James is an East Shropshire NFU member and the family’s business was established in 1944.

He said: “Having the vending machines and selling to the public direct has really helped and we have seen demand shoot up.

“I’d say it’s gone up 30 or 40 per cent and nearly 50 per cent on some days, compared to what it was before the lockdown and panic buying.

“We have seen a slight milk price drop, not as much as others, but we are finding that selling direct as well is a useful income stream for the business at the moment.

“Cheese, butter and egg sales are also up, which is great.”

The Chatham family have cared for the cows on their award winning family farm for three generations and the 270-strong dairy herd are milked twice a day.

The business was certified organic nearly 20 years ago.

James said: “Our ladies have the freedom to graze on pastures grown on healthy Shropshire soil, full of natural goodness, producing milk – we’re proud to sell fresh from the farm.

“We wanted to look at ways of improving our business and after speaking to other farmers who sell milk directly from their farms we were inspired to create our own and raise the profile of the Chatham’s brand.

“We’re really pleased that we made that business decision in 2018 and we’d like to thank our customers for their continued support and would urge everyone to stay well during this pandemic.”

Shoppers who head to the self-service hut can use Chatham reusable bottles or their own suitable containers to get fresh, gently pasteurised, unprocessed, organic milk.

The milk is non-homogenised (unprocessed) so they get an old fashioned cream line at the top, which can be mixed in or scooped off if needed.

A litre costs £1.30 and the dairy hut is open from 6.30am to 8pm.

James said: “The self-service hut is a great way of serving the community and I hope it’s made a real difference and helped people during these difficult times.

“There are also zero food miles, it helps to reduce plastic waste and we get a fair price.”

The freshly pumped liquid, once pasteurised, is transferred into the tank of the vending machine and the machine steam cleans itself after every use.

For further details on the business people can go to on-line or follow chathamsorganic on Instagram, @Chathamsorganicdairy on Facebook or @ChathamsDairy on Twitter.

Jonathan Evans, NFU regional dairy lead, said: “We wish James and family all the best during these trying times and it’s good to see people using their self-service hut.

“The Covid-19 outbreak is having a massive impact everywhere and farm businesses are not immune – all sectors are affected and for dairy some markets for milk have disappeared overnight.

“The NFU continues to do all it can for our members and we have just helped to secure a support package from Government for those dairy farmers facing immediate financial hardship due to the effects of market volatility.

“British dairy products are nutritious, affordable and traceable with farmers operating to rigorous standards and the sector remains vital to our economy and communities.

“I would encourage all Shropshire shoppers to back British farmers and I thank them for their continued support.”


New Fall show announced by the California Holstein Association

With the cancellation of so many shows this spring and summer, there is a lot of anticipation out there for people wanting to get back into the show ring. So the announcement of a new fall show by the California Holstein Association has brought out a lot of excitement. Holsteins, Jerseys and Colored breeds will be taking to the ring at the Agri-Center in Tulare, CA from October 21st-26th. The show will feature both a Junior show and Open show. 

Genomic selection in dairy cows creates opportunities not possible with traditional selection

Genomic selection has become a critical tool for the dairy industry around the world since genomic evaluations were first implemented in the United States and Canada in 2009. The 2019 ADSA Annual Meeting featured the Joint ADSA/Interbull Breeding and Genetics Symposia titled “Ten Years of Genomic Selection” and “Data Pipelines for Implementation of Genomic Evaluation of Novel Traits.” Because of genomic selection’s importance to dairy science, the Journal of Dairy Science invited the speakers to submit articles and share information from these symposia with a wider audience.

“The rapid uptake of genomic selection has had a dramatic effect on the dairy industry,” guest editor Filippo Miglior, PhD, of the Centre for Genetic Improvement of Livestock at the University of Guelph, said. “These two symposia were developed to provide a comprehensive overview of the last 10 years of genomic selection and how genomics has provided the opportunity to develop new data pipelines for novel traits now under selection worldwide.”

The symposium “Ten Years of Genomic Selection” started by reviewing progress from the development of the cattle reference genome to modern 50k SNP chips for implementation of genomic evaluation and selection. Once applied only to males for prediction of progeny performance, genomic selection is now widely used to predict future performance of cows and embryos.

Although genomic selection has allowed for rapid acceleration of genetic progress, it has also resulted in a rapid accumulation of homozygosity in the dairy cattle population. Better understanding is needed to ensure that genetic progress is achieved while maintaining genetic variance. The final presenter discussed the development of single-step genomic evaluations and possible reasons for biases in single-step evaluations.

The symposium “Data Pipelines for Implementation of Genomic Evaluation of Novel Traits” highlighted initiatives to pool data across countries or organizations to exploit the potential of accurate genomic evaluation for novel and expensive traits. It started by examining relationships between feed efficiency traits and how those traits should be incorporated into selection indices, followed by discussion of genomic selection in three countries.

A data pipeline was developed for the collection of hoof health data across Canada, which led to the creation and implementation of a single-step genomic evaluation for multiple hoof health traits. In the United States, health evaluations are now included in net merit selection indices so producers can predict which animals will be most resistant to common diseases. Genomic selection has allowed Australia to focus on traits that reduce the environmental impact of the dairy industry and improve the adaptability of dairy cows to climate change.

“Over the last 10 years, dairy scientists have waded through the brave new world of genomics, and resulting discoveries have brought about tremendous gains in the genetic selection and improvement of dairy cattle,” editor in chief Paul Kononoff, PhD, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said. “The genetic progress is chronicled in this collection of papers, which describe the never-before-seen application and pairing of traditional bench-top science and quantitative data analysis. The Journal of Dairy Science is honored to publish these papers and excited to see how they spur continued scientific discovery.”

This article has been republished from the following materials.

New rules to eradicate BVD come into force in UK

New rules in the battle to eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) from the UK cattle herd come into effect on 18 May.

According to reporting in Scotland’s Press and Journal, from Monday 18 May, farmers will be required to house all animals identified as being persistently infected with BVD separately from the core herd.

Policymakers expect that the new requirement to isolate the persistently infected (PIs) will protect the national herd from re-infection and serve as a deterrent against holding infected stock.

Official inspections in the UK are suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but farmers have been warned that those herds retaining PI animals will have unannounced visits from inspectors to ensure suitable isolation facilities and protocols are being adhered to.

While PI animals need to be isolated, the rules allow for a low-risk non-PI animal to be housed alongside a PI for welfare reasons.

Farmers must also practice good biosecurity between PIs and the rest of the herd, with cleaning and disinfection regimes and changes in outerwear and equipment between the different groups.

NFU Scotland’s animal health and welfare manager Penny Middleton said great strides have already been made by Scottish cattle keepers in eradicating the costly disease from herds. She added:

“However, persistently infected animals are the biggest cause of spreading BVD and best practice involves removing them from a herd as soon as they are identified.

“Where herds choose to retain these high-risk animals then housing and isolation can prevent further spread of infection within the herd, but more importantly can help protect neighbouring herds from infection.

“Many of those neighbours will have invested significant time and money in BVD-eradication plans that risk being undone through any contact with PI animals”.

Read more about this story here.

Australian government urges supermarkets to pay farmers more for their milk

Government urges supermarkets to pay farmers more for their milk

The federal government’s call for supermarkets to lift milk prices is supported by the Tasmanian dairy industry, which stressed that any future levies or support schemes must be fairly distributed across all states.

Federal agricultural minister David Littleproud urged supermarkets to pay dairy farmers more for their milk, stating that they needed to do their bit to support farmers suffering through drought, bushfire and now the COVID-19 crisis.

“I have asked them to each individually consider extending and increasing the amount of the support they provide dairy farmers who faithfully supply products across the full dairy cabinet. This would allow the benefits of any supermarkets’ levy or support schemes to be distributed evenly to Australian dairy farmers,” he said.

“It will be up to each retailer to determine how much support they are willing to provide to our farmers.”

Advocacy body Australian Dairy Farmers suggested the price of discount milk rise to $1.50 per litre, with farmers getting the full increase.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association dairy council chair Geoff Cox supported this price, stressing that Tasmanian dairy farmers should also benefit from any price rises.

“If we get market intervention and a voluntary levy is passed back to dairy farmers then it is important that Tasmanian dairy farmers are not left out of that,” he said.

“Just because we have had a good year and other states have not we should not miss out on this advantage. Tasmanian dairy farmers have still had their bad years.

“We have invested in infrastructure and been proactive in preparing for downturns and should not be penalised because of this.”

The state’s season to March has seen a 4.2 per cent increase on last year to 759 million litres.

The story Tasmanian farmers want milk price rise first appeared on The Examiner.

An open letter to the dairy industry

Dear Dairy Industry,

On a recent Dairy Industry Conference Call, Dr. David Kohl, part-owner of Homestead Creamery in Wirtz, VA, and Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech, said something that really struck a chord for our organizations: “DON’T EQUATE YOUR SELF-WORTH TO YOUR NET-WORTH”.  That simple reminder precisely articulates what we want dairy business owners and farm families to keep in perspective, even in these unprecedented times. As a dairy owner, you define your business, not the other way around. Especially now, we must focus on what we can control and not dwell on what we cannot control.

We are not alone in the challenges we face. This COVID-19 pandemic has tested every citizen of the world’s resolve to control what they can, from healthcare workers giving endless hours of their time, to seniors cut off from their grandchildren to parents caring for those children 24/7, to high school seniors who have seen their memories ripped away, to restaurant owners who don’t know how they will make their next mortgage payment. We are all in this together, and the world is depending on us as farmers to find solutions to move forward.

One thing that is amazing about our farm community is our ability to come together. When there is a disaster on one farm, others in the community rally around them to help. If a barn is lost to a fire or a winter roof collapses, neighboring dairies are on the scene immediately to help move cows and shelter them for as long as it takes until a new barn is built. If someone is hurt in a farming accident or is struggling with an illness, neighbors and friends step up to get the farm work done. As most of the world comes together to lift their heads, push forward, and take care of each other in response to this pandemic, the dairy community is leading the way and modeling that very behavior for everyone.

We in dairy are so interconnected and the success of one point in the chain ultimately ripples throughout the chain, for good or bad. And, like all other industries, dairy has experienced unprecedented ripple effects resulting from the ‘shut down.’ Pennsylvania’s family-owned independent dairy processors, as well as large and small farmer-owned cooperatives, are seeing milk pushed back into the system from all sides, with school milk sales down dramatically, restaurants closed, and food service business way down due to many institutions across the state closing. Pennsylvania is not alone in this battle, with the National Milk Producers Federation anticipating a 10 to 15 percent decrease in dairy demand nationwide over the next three months.

But as always, the dairy industry is doing whatever it can to adjust and overcome.  Every milk handler is working exceedingly hard to manage very complex dynamics related to their own milk market.  It is a challenging balancing act given that some dairies with higher portions of milk going into retail fluid milk markets are managing well enough, while those shipping a lot of product into food service and restaurants, or who relied heavily on school milk sales, are struggling to find outlets. Manufacturing plants are also doing the best they can to maintain normal operations with employees off sick, modified runs to allow for social distancing, and downtime to ensure proper sanitizing between shifts.

Many in the industry are searching for solutions to this situation and seeking light at the end of the tunnel. We have witnessed people stepping up and stepping in like never before to get our milk to the marketplace. Cooperatives and independent dairies are working together to find homes for the milk, with dairy donations and sales to food banks at unprecedented levels. Folks from the service and supply side of our industry have also stepped up when they have seen a need to get milk on the grocery store shelves and into food banks. Individuals and rural community charities are also donating their time and money to get milk to the families who need it most.

Policy makers at the State and Federal levels are working around the clock to find answers, with USDA contemplating how to allocate the limited support in the CARES Act to dairy and other segments of agriculture hit hard by this pandemic. Both the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board are exploring every possible avenue to streamline processes, ease the regulatory burden and keep milk flowing to market.

USDA announced in April the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), a $19 billion USDA program that’s part of COVID-19 emergency relief. The program directs $2.9 billion of that to direct dairy payments, along with $100 million per month for dairy product purchases. Although we recognize it is not enough to stave the losses that our farms and our industry are incurring, we are encouraged by this action and the relief it will provide to farms. We are hopeful that this will be the first of several actions the USDA takes to provide relief to dairy farms, and  dairy organizations across the nation are working with ours to persuade USDA and Congress to keep it coming.

Those in dairy are resilient, smart, and strong. We need to tackle this situation like any other problem on the farm. It is up to all of us continue to look for solutions and to support each other as we work through this pandemic. Ingenuity is nothing new to any of us in the dairy industry – whether it is make-shifting a part out of scrap metal or renovating an old barn to expand the herd. We will use the tools and leverage the resources we can find, maintain a positive “I Can” attitude, and find a way forward.

The sun always rises, and we as dairy farm families rise with it. There are not many jobs that are filled with more pride than a dairy farmer helping to feed a hungry world. We must rise above our challenges and the negativity to look for solutions and positivity. The next few months will not be easy for any of us, but this pandemic will pass. With our heads up and looking forward, we will continue to do everything within our control to find a way forward.  And we will work together, support each other, and ultimately come out of this much stronger for it.

We are grateful for the efforts of so many who are working as best they can to find the solutions to this new dilemma the pandemic has created. It is important that we continue to support all segments of the industry, even as we recognize the extreme challenges we are all facing right now.

Jayne Sebright
Executive Director
Center for Dairy Excellence

Alan Novak
Executive Director
Professional Dairy Managers of PA

Dave Smith
Executive Director
PA Dairymen’s Association

Brett Reinford
Professional Dairy Managers of PA

Mark Mosemann
Center for Dairy Excellence

Glenn Gorrell
PA Dairymen’s Association

–Center for Dairy Excellence

AI technology reduces antibiotic treatment to a minimum in dairy cattle

New artificial intelligence software from Connecterra alerts producers to ailing cows and can improve welfare and decrease antibiotic use.

Timely detection and quick recovery of sick cows is key for animal health, animal welfare and reduction of antibiotics. When using Ida, the intelligent dairy assistant, the recovery time of cows can be reduced by more than half. This was shown in a scientific field study. It is all about detecting the early signs of sickness.

Ida, developed by agtech company Connecterra, uses a sensor, cloud computing, integration of data sources and artificial intelligence for early detection of cow diseases such as ketosis, mastitis or digestive problems. Preventing that cows become clinically ill will reduce the number of days the cows need to be treated with veterinary medicine, such as antibiotics. Ida is a second pair of eyes on the farm, spotting early signs of anomalies in cow behaviour, which are often the first signs of sickness.

The field trial was done within the context of the Horizon2020 Internet for Food and Farm project and supported by Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands

“It is the first time that such a field trial has been done to test the use of sensor technology in relation to treatment days. The latest results over 2019 are impressive and confirm what we have seen in the first year (2018) of the trial”, explains Niels Rutten, researcher at Connecterra and coordinator of the trial.

2 years of valuable health data

To test the value of Ida as a true digital assistant and detector of sick cows on farms, Connecterra has been running a scientific field trial since January 2018 on two commercial dairy farms (Belgium and the Netherlands), each having a herd size of 100 milking cows.

Click here to read more about the trial.

Why does the Australian dairy industry invest in herd improvement?

Dairy Australia has an important role in innovation in the dairy industry on behalf of the 5500 dairy farmers across Australia.

Collaborating with industry partners such as the Gardiner Foundation, Agriculture Victoria and others, Dairy Australia ensures the maximum value is extracted for any levy-funded research.

We asked DairyBio animal program leader Professor Jennie Pryce and DataGene group leader: genetics and delivery Michelle Axford to give an update on these two key herd-improvement investments and how genetic research from DairyBio’s animal program is making significant productivity gains for Australian dairy farmers.

Jennie Pryce

Who is DairyBio is and why are they important to the Australian dairy industry?

DairyBio has two main programs. One is responsible for delivering improved forages and the other is focused on genomic prediction or improvement of dairy cows and it’s known as the animal program.

The work is funded by Dairy Australia, Agriculture Victoria and the Gardiner Foundation, so it’s funded by taxpayers and farmers and is real value for money for farmers in terms of future prosperity to the dairy industry through innovation.

Can you tell us about some of the active research that’s happening?

We’ve got six main projects. All of them are focused on genetic improvement or helping with herd-testing organisations and there’s one that’s focused on how to use genome sequence data.

So that’s understanding every variant there is in an animal’s genome.

We also work in terms of developing new methods to do genomic predictions for breeds other than Holsteins and Jerseys and crossbreds as well.

We also have a research project that’s helping DataGene, where we are working on improving existing breeding values.

And we’ve got another project, which is very much focused on new breeding values and that’s focused very much on the health and environmental impact space.

Why should we care about genomic sequencing? Why is that better than traditional genetic improvement genetic selection methods?

The way that genomic selection works is that we use 50,000 genetic markers that are equally spaced across the genome.

And we pretty much work out the relationship between those genetic markers and whatever trait we are interested in improving

Now, where the sequence data comes in is that we recognise that there are really important parts of the genome.

That if we put a bit more emphasis, or be able to kind of track exactly what’s going on in those parts, it can actually give us a lift in terms of the accuracy within the genomic predictions.

So it’s some way of enhancing what we currently do with current genetic or genomic evaluations.

The interesting thing is that the enhancement works best for traits other than production, these are the lower heritability traits that we don’t have so much data on.

One thing that we’re working on at the moment is improved fertility breeding values and we’re looking at lots of different sources of data.

One researcher is having a look to see if we can use herd test information in a novel way and this is the midinfrared spectral data that we get from herd testing and whether we can use that to improve our genetic predictions.

We’re also looking to see if we can bring in data that’s been collected by other collaborators.

So we have a collaboration with Dairy NZ on this cool study where they’ve got high and low fertility breeding value cows – around 500 of them.

We’re interested to see if there are genetic variants that crop up in either the high or the low fertility group that we can then use to help with our genetic predictions in Australia.

How does your research reach farmers?

So this is the beautiful thing.

It’s very simple for us to do the research and then we have the very capable hands of DataGene to translate that into tools that farmers can use.

We’re really fortunate to have this model and it’s a very seamless transition for us to be able to convert the research into applications that farmers can use.

Are there any specific success stories in terms of the translation of this research on to farm?

There’s lots of examples, I think that’s one of the really gratifying parts of my job to talk to farmers about their experiences.

A fertility example that comes to mind is the relationship that you see between six-week in-calf rate and the daughter fertility breeding value.

This is a beautiful piece of work that John Morten did as part of the InCalf program, and he showed that the relationship was really tight that you get exactly what you would expect in terms of the increase of daughter fertility breeding value and the increment also in six-week in-calf rate.

DataGene group leader: genetics and delivery Michelle Axford says the organisation is involved in components of research, development and extension.

Michelle Axford

Who is DataGene and what do they do?

DataGene might be best known for providing the genetic evaluation, which is delivering the breeding values for bulls and cows to Australian dairy farmers with releases in April, August and December.

These days, our activities are geared around how we can use genetics and herd improvement to improve herd performance on farm.

We’re involved in components of research, development and extension as well.

What are Australian Breeding Values and why are they important for Australian dairy farmers?

Australian Breeding Values let us compare animals by looking at the genetic differences between bulls and that helps farmers choose the bulls they might use in the upcoming mating season.

Breeding values also help farmers choose the best replacements that are going to go into their herds.

Farmers want to make sure the herd is doing the best job it possibly can and we can use breeding values to select the right heifers that are going to enter that milking herd.

What I find always fascinating is if we see a herd of cows, they’ve been given the same access to feed and the same care and attention, but we see some cows do a better job than others.

One of the reasons they can do a better job, whether that’s being more fertile or more productive or last longer comes down to genetics and the ABV is our way of measuring those genetic differences.

Does genetics work as well in herds that have low inputs to very high levels of inputs?

It’s something that we hear from farmers quite a lot – that the BPI (Balanced Performance Index) doesn’t work for me.

We had the opportunity to look at five different feeding systems and look at the performance of high versus low genetic merits cows in those herds.

All the way from feeding system one, which was feeding less than a tonne of grain per cow per year, to the fully intensive total mixed ration feedings systems.

In all feeding systems, the high genetic merit cows produced more than the lower genetic merit cows.

They lasted as long, if not longer, if they were a high genetic merit cow

In the lower feeding systems, with not as much extra grain being fed, sometimes people say the genetics we use doesn’t matter because they are not feeding huge amounts and so the cows are doing the same.

What we found was really interesting.

These cows were still producing more and lasting longer than the low genetic merit cows.

And at the other end in the total mixed ration groups, sometimes people would say we don’t want to use the high BPI animals because maybe they don’t last as long.

Maybe they produce so much that they don’t last.

But when we looked at the data we found that there’s actually no difference in survival between the high and the low genetic merit animals in these herds.

So those high genetic merit animals have produced heaps more and they’re not leaving the herds early.

I think that’s really valuable to think about and helps us when we’re planning our next joining periods to make sure that we’re choosing the right bulls for our herd.

How do we choose the right bull for our herd?

At DataGene we’ve grouped the bulls together that are high genetic merit, so they’ve reached a certain standard for BPI, and they’ve also reached a certain standard for reliability.

The companies have told us that those bulls are active and can be purchased during this next season.

We put those bulls together on a good bulls list, which we present in the Good Bulls Guide in paper format and online but the easiest way to access this list is using the Good Bulls App, which is freely available.


Class Three Continues to Show Weakness in Chicago to Start the Week

In the CME cash dairy product trade, blocks and barrels continued its impressive run higher.   Blocks up $0.0350 at $1.8150.  Barrels up $0.0175 at $1.7375.  Eleven trades made, ranging $1.7375 to $1.75. Dry whey down $0.0175 at $0.3725.  Eight trades were made, with a range of $0.3725 to $0.3850. Butter $0.04 lower at $1.6050. Nonfat dry milk up $0.0050 at $0.94.  Six trades were made, with a range of $0.9325 to $0.94.

July corn gained 1.50 cents to $3.2075/bushel. Nearby soybeans jumped 6.50 cents to $8.45/bushel. September Chicago Wheat declined 3 cents to $5.00/bushel. Fats and feeders showed strength today. June Live Cattle rallied $1.72 to $98.72/cwt. August feeders finished $1.47 higher to $132.55. June crude oil soared $2.90 to $32.33.

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