Archive for Dairy Industry

Dairy industry cheers rollback of tariff

U.S. dairy officials today congratulated the governments of the United States, Mexico and Canada for reaching an agreement to roll back metal tariffs that have soured U.S.-Mexico cheese trade and slowed passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The United States agreed to end Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from its North American neighbors. In return, U.S. dairy officials expect that Mexico will drop their retaliatory tariffs against U.S. dairy products – including duties as high as 25 percent on U.S. cheese exports to Mexico.

“This is an important development for the U.S. dairy industry, and we applaud the hard work of negotiators from all three countries that made it possible as well as the numerous members of Congress that have insisted upon the need to resolve the Section 232 metal tariffs dispute with our North American partners,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “If Mexico lifts its tariffs on U.S. dairy in response, it would be a welcome return to normalcy with our number one export market. It would also build vital momentum for swiftly advancing USMCA towards passage.”

“America’s struggling dairy farmers are in need of some good news, and today’s announcement certainly helps,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This paves the way for Mexico to drop retaliatory tariffs that have harmed dairy, and for Congress to take its next step to help our producers – to vote on USMCA and quickly ratify it.”

Mexico is, by far, America’s biggest dairy customer, with $1.4 billion in sales last year. U.S. products accounted for 80 percent of Mexican dairy imports by value in 2018, but that dominant market share was being jeopardized by the retaliatory tariffs.

The tariffs were likewise making it politically difficult for Congress to pass USMCA – a pact that modernizes the North American Free Trade Agreement, maintains U.S. dairy sales into Mexico, expands dairy market access in Canada, and reforms many nontariff barriers.

Vilsack and Mulhern also stressed the importance of finding similar common ground with China, which also slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dairy exporters in 2018 and recently upped the ante by hiking them further on some products. As a result of last year’s move by China, U.S. exports to that fast-growing dairy market fell by more than 40 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year. NMPF and USDEC have consistently advocated the urgency of resolving both the 232 and China disputes to allow our exporters to compete effectively in those markets.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council is a non-profit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. Its mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and assist the U.S. industry to increase its global dairy ingredient sales and exports of U.S. dairy products. USDEC accomplishes this through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers and advance industry trade policy goals. USDEC is supported by staff across the United States and overseas in Mexico, South America, Asia, Middle East and Europe. The U.S. Dairy Export Council prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, disability, national origin, race, color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, marital status, military status, and arrest or conviction record.

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

90,000 Less Dairy Cows in the US in the past year

The latest USDA production report for the US shows that milk production con continued its monthly decline in April, but is up slightly on the year while the herd continues to contract. Milk production in the U.S. was up one-tenth of a percent to 18.4 billion pounds with production per cow up 21 pounds—the highest for the month since reports started in 2003. The herd size was down 90,000 milking cows from last April and 1,000 from the prior month. Michigan continues to have the most productive cows in the nation. Virginia and Illinois had the largest decrease in milk production; Texas and Colorado had the largest increase. 


Are our family farmers on road to extinction?

Only a few weeks ago, the New York Times, of all newspapers, did an up close and personal look at Wisconsin’s dairy industry and concluded that the state’s milk farmers are facing extinction.

We were saying that way back in the so-called good old days, when Dwight Eisenhower was president and his agriculture secretary, Ezra Taft Benson, was cutting farm subsidies all the while milk prices were plummeting. Benson, a devout Mormon, believed farm price supports were a blatant example of socialism. To us farm kids at the time, Benson became a nasty name.

Many family farmers in the ’50s calculated that at the end of the day, they had actually lost money. It was costing them more to feed and nurture their milk cows than they received from the cheese factories and other milk processors who bought their milk.

Those days were probably the beginning of the long decline in the number of family farms that has escalated to alarming numbers in just the past couple of years, and has led to stories like the one in the Times last month. Yes, there have been rebounds and better times in the nearly 70 years since Ezra Taft Benson was secretary, but in the long run, family farmers have been left behind.

There has never been a satisfactory answer to dealing with surplus production, as one example. Farms aren’t like factories, after all. If too much of a product is being manufactured, the factory can simply be idled for a few months. If too much milk is being produced, how do you get thousands of independent farmers to act as one? It’s impossible.

The current low milk prices being paid to farmers is a direct result of the glut of milk on the market.

All that, of course, has been bad enough. But now, as if farmers had not already suffered enough economic harm, they’re being asked to do more — like suck it up during Donald Trump’s tariff war with China.

The dairy industry had been holding out hope that the surplus problem could be eased by building stronger international sales. China was seen as an important part of that. Unfortunately, the tariff war has dashed all hopes for that.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council reported last week that the volume of dairy exports to China has fallen by 43 percent since Trump’s tariffs went into effect. Those close to the situation are afraid that once American farmers lose those sales, they will be much harder to win back. When you’re forced to forge new relationships for a product, they usually last.

Nor are dairy groups impressed with Trump’s plan to send one-time cash payments to farmers hurt by the tariffs. Shelly Mayer, executive director of Professional Dairy Producers, has proclaimed that the aid promised by Trump isn’t nearly enough to make up for the revenue farmers are losing.

Last year, Wisconsin led the nation in farm bankruptcies for the third year in a row. Between Jan. 1 and May 1 this year, more than 300 family farmers have called it quits.

They’re being told by Trump and Republican legislators that they should just hold tight and suffer short-term pain for long-term gain.

Sounds good, but it’s not a recipe for survival.


Source: The Cap Times

2019 RWDCA Award Recipients Announced

The Red and White Dairy Cattle Association is pleased to announce the 2019 RWDCA Award Recipients.

The Larry Moore Master Breeder Award for 2019 goes to Milksource Genetics LLC of Kaukauna, WI. This award is presented to a person(s) who is a member of the RWDCA and has done an outstanding job of breeding a herd of Red & White cattle supported RWDCA programs and endeavored to promote and advance the Red & White Cow.

J.P. “Doc” Ostrander Young Breeder Award for 2019 will be presented to Andrew and Jodene Stuewe of Flower-Brook Holsteins, Hamburg, MN. The award is given to a person who is a member of the RWDCA, who has done an outstanding job of breeding a herd of Red & White cattle supported RWDCA programs and endeavored to promote and advance the Red & White Cow.

Don Albrecht Distinguished Service Award for 2019 will be awarded to Verlo Dewall. This award is presented to a person that has contributed greatly to the success and promotion of the Red & White cow — awarded in memory of Don Albrecht who contributed significantly to the betterment of the RWDCA.

The Gary Mayhew Keystone Award this year will be given to Nancy Sell, Watertown, WI. This award is presented to a grassroots member that has given dedicated support to the Red & White Breed and the RWDCA. In memory of Gary Mayhew who actively promoted the Red & Whites and provided service to the RWDCA and it’s members.

These awards will be presented at the 2019 RWDCA National Membership Meeting and Brunch to be held June 23rd at the Darboy Club in Appleton, WI.


Current New Zealand milk season looks good but not record breaking

With just over a fortnight to go, the country’s current milk season looks to have been a good – but not stellar – year for processors as dry weather at the tail end crimped production.

Production was initially very strong on the back of excellent pasture growth.

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s milk production was running about 5 percent higher season-to-date in January compared to last year. However the country’s dominant milk processor now expects total collection will be 0.3 percent higher at 1,510 million kilograms of milk solids due to hot, dry weather. Fonterra collects more than 80 percent of New Zealand’s milk.

“Warm and dry weather from early January brought with it drought-like conditions for much of New Zealand,” said Julia Jones, NZX head of analytics. The New Zealand dairy season runs from June 1 to May 31.

“As dry conditions continued over the following months, farmers were left at a crossroads, deciding whether to reduce milking frequencies earlier than normal or to apply extra feed to extend milk supplies further into the season,” she said.

Industry feedback suggests many opted to dry off and focus more on profit rather than meeting production targets, she said.

It’s not just Fonterra’s farmer looking at a good year.

“Westland’s milk supply from supplying farms in the ’18/19 season to date is up 3.45 percent on the 2017/18 season for the same period. This is up 1 percent on budget, as we had predicted an increase in supply,” said chief executive Toni Brendish.

Westland Milk Products is located on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island and has signed a conditional agreement to sell the cooperative to Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group for $588 million.

Brendish said Westland expects to achieve 65-66 million kgMS this year, slightly below its five-year average of 67 million kgMS. Westland processes between 3 and 4 percent of New Zealand’s milk, depending on fluctuations in the national milk supply.

“The increase in supply is largely because we expected, and experienced, better weather in 2018/19. Both 2017/18, and 2016/17 were cold wet seasons that had a direct negative impact on cows’ production,” she said.

While the weather was better than previous seasons, the recent drought has impacted.

“Overall we have had a steady season and we are 3 percent up on last year, albeit we had a very strong start to the season and have been impacted by dry conditions through late February, March and April,” said Miraka chief executive officer Richard Wyeth. Miraka is owned by several Maori trusts and Vietnam’s Vinamilk, operating near Taupo.

“So at the start of January we were looking at another record year by quite a margin, however, we will end the year slightly ahead of previous seasons but slightly behind budget,” he said. Miraka collects 25-26 million kgMS or around 1 percent of the market share, he said.

Shane Lodge, supply and environment manager for Yili-owned Oceania Dairy, said it would collect 250 million litres, “in line with our budget.” Oceania collects around 1.25 percent of New Zealand’s total milk from near its Glenavy Plant on the South Island.

He said Oceania currently has 73 suppliers and has no plans to increase supply numbers for the upcoming season. The site continues to expand processing capacity, he said.

“We are currently adding an additional canning and blending plant, a third UHT line, both due for completion in 2019, and a new laboratory due for completion in 2020. Current staff members are 315 and the plan is to be close to 400 by Christmas 2019,” he said.


Source: Scoop

Finalists Named for 66th Princess Kay of the Milky Way

Dairy princesses from across Minnesota gathered for the Dairy Promotion and Leadership Event held May 17-19 at the Courtyard by Marriott in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The weekend consisted of a leadership training, a chance to compete for a finalist spot for Princess Kay of the Milky Way and plenty of networking opportunities.

2019 Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalists. Front L to R: Elizabeth Golombiecki, Elizabeth Krienke, Lexie Lange, Brittney Tiede, Rachel Paskewitz. Back L to R: Kayla Biel, Amy Kyllo, Grace Jeurissen, Donna Honer, AnnaMarie Sachs.

The leadership conference offered the princesses a chance to learn about themselves and how to use their skills to promote dairy. They also learned how to be better advocates for the dairy community and networked with industry leaders and peers.

To compete to be a finalist for Princess Kay of the Milky Way, each princess had to submit an application, participate in a personal interview, prepare and deliver a speech, and participate in a mock media interview. From there, 10 finalists were named to go on to compete for the title of Minnesota’s 66th Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

The finalists include:

  • Kayla Biel, Harmony, daughter of Kevin and Kelly Biel, and representing Fillmore County;
  • Elizabeth Golombiecki, Morris, daughter of Julie Golombiecki and the late Ron Golombiecki, and representing Stevens County;
  • Donna Honer, St. Cloud, daughter of Scott and Toni Honer, and representing Stearns County;
  • Grace Jeurissen, Lester Prairie, daughter of Rick and Mindy Jeurissen, and representing McLeod County;
  • Elizabeth Krienke, Lester Prairie, daughter of Kraig and Rachelle Krienke, and representing McLeod County;
  • Amy Kyllo, Byron, daughter of Paul and Susan Kyllo, and representing Olmsted County;
  • Lexie Lange, Sherburn, daughter of Mark and Joanna Lange, and representing Martin County;
  • Rachel Paskewitz, Browerville, daughter of Alan and Vicki Paskewitz, and representing Todd County;
  • AnnaMarie Sachs, Eyota, daughter of Charlie and Carrie Sachs, and representing Olmsted County; and
  • Brittney Tiede, Le Center, daughter of Lloyd and Diane Tiede, and representing Le Sueur County.

These 10 young women will have their likeness carved in blocks of butter during the 2019 Minnesota State Fair. Princess Kay and county dairy princesses make appearances to help explain dairy farm families’ commitment to taking care of their animals and resources while providing nutrient-rich dairy products.


EU dairy could suffer in trade war with US – Irish products hardest hit

A new report from Rabobank says the makings of a trade war between the US and the EU are brewing, and it’s not good news for European dairy.

On April 12, 2019, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced it is considering levying additional tariffs on European products included in 317 tariff codes, valued at approximately $21bn.

The US list of 317 European products includes 44 dairy tariff codes, which cover European butter, yogurt and cheese varieties with a 2018 import value of $1bn.  However, of the more than 400 tariff codes on the EU list, only 11 include dairy products, and US dairy exports to the EU valued only $100m.

The recent announcement publicizes a more-than-a-decade-old dispute between the US and the EU. While butter, cheese, and yogurt imports account for a small percentage of US supply, and EU exports to the US represent a small percentage of European output, additional tariffs on selected European dairy exports to the US will create winners and losers, the authors of the report said.

EU affected more than US

Mary Ledman, global strategist – dairy at Rabobank, said, “In general, specialty European cheeses are high value and not necessarily as price sensitive at the retail level.  However, a 100% surcharge on top of an already pricey product could have customers choosing a less-expensive domestic cheese or non-EU import.

“Many imported European cheeses are marketed and distributed by specialty food companies, which also carry domestic specialty cheeses in their product lines. As a result, an additional 100% tariff on European cheeses is likely to reduce the competitiveness of European cheeses in the US market, decrease the promotional activity of European cheeses, encourage US consumers to explore less-costly domestic specialty cheeses, and provide a competitive advantage to non-EU imported specialty cheeses.”

The report notes that the EU stands to lose more than the US, because US imports of European dairy products far exceed European imports of US dairy.

In this case, the winners would include, but not be limited to, the specialty dairy manufacturers across the US and in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and other non-EU countries.

Biggest losers

Individually, the biggest loser is likely to be Ireland, with nearly 34,500 metric tons of annual dairy exports at risk of higher tariffs.  Rabobank said nearly all US imports of Irish butter and cheese are covered under the 44 codes. More than 96% of cheese imported from France, Spain and the UK are included, as well as 75% from Denmark and Germany, and almost 50% of Italian cheese could be affected.

The US annual allocation of licensed EU butter is 9,616 metric tons and, as a result, Rabobank said the vast majority of Irish butter is subjected to the non-licensed TRQ rate of $1.541/kg. The report says the worst-case scenario is that if an additional 100% tariff was applied, US consumers would be paying double for European butter – and European branded butter is already twice the cost of US branded butter.Collectively, Rabobank said, the EU-28 can ill afford to lose the US as a market for more than 100,000 metric tons of cheese, especially with the uncertainty of a hard Brexit looming, which would place the UK’s 400,000 metric ton cheese market up for grabs.


No shortage of accolades for multi-generational Jersey enterprise

More than 70 years and three generations have got Bushlea Farms in South Gippsland to where it is today.

The dairy farm and Jersey stud at Koonwarra, in South Gippsland, is a team effort run by Wayne and Lisa Kuhne and their 11-year-old daughter Ruby along with Wayne’s parents Keith and Pat.

They are continuing a legacy started by Wayne’s grandparents, Norm and Marge, who began milking agisted Jersey cows in 1945, and it’s those exact bloodlines that are still part of their herd today.

“Four of the cow families bought back then are still in the herd,” Wayne said.

“We’ve always had Jerseys they’ve been good to us. Their feed efficiency is good and they’re a good=sized cow to work with. We find them trouble-free.”

Working on 194ha, the Kuhnes milk 400 cows, having slowly increased milking numbers from 370 in the past few years.

“Once we finish calving later in the year we’ll be at 450 milkers,” Wayne said.

“With the improvements to the farm over the years we’ve picked up more milking area. We’re now milking to what we’re able to milk — it’s been a natural progression.”

On a roll: Employees Will Thorson and Courtney Pulhan with Bushlea Jersey stud’s managers Wayne and Lisa Kuhne and Wayne’s parents Keith and Path Kuhne. The Kuhnes began milking Jerseys in 1945 and some of the original bloodlines are still in the herd.

The Kuhnes bought two new properties at Koonwarra back in 2000. They continued to milk at Keith and Pat’s farm for the following two years while they improved pasture, laneways and water infrastructure on the new farms in addition to building a new dairy.

“We owned the farm for two years before we did any of those things, so we were able to take our time and work things through,” Wayne said.

“When we left Mum and Dad’s place we milked in a six-a-side herringbone. The last year we milked there we milked 170 cows, which was about eight hours of milking a day.”


THEIR 20-a-side rapid-exit dairy, built in 2002, has sped up the milking process.

“We went to 20 or so dairies and took different things we liked from each dairy, put it all together and built this one,” Wayne said.

“We can milk 220-240 cows an hour with the rapid exit.”

The rapid exit is similar to a conventional herringbone according to Wayne, but each stall lifts away from the front of the cow, allowing each cow to walk straight out, speeding up the process.

Wayne’s father Keith is in 70s and still “loves milking cows”.

“Dad and I milk every morning, and the afternoon milking we rotate around. I don’t mind getting up — mornings are the best milking,” Wayne said.

School student Zali Deenen helps with weekend milkings, while full-time employee Courtney Pulhan, takes on afternoon shifts.

The Kuhnes take control of pasture improvements and fodder conservation, with the help of part-time employee, Willis Thorson, who does most of the tractor work.

Wayne said they were now preparing to re-sow pasture and break their annual pasture improvements into blocks of 50-80ha each year.

Fertiliser blends are applied between six to eight times a year on the milking blocks — depending on the autumn break and amount of rain — and four to five times a year on the two outblocks of 61ha and 97ha, which are used as heifer and bull blocks.


THE Kuhnes have supplied milk to ACM for about 12 months; a decision based on price and the fact ACM is Australian owned.

“Their payment system suits our milk flow system. When we met with them we were really happy; it’s been an excellent change,” Wayne said.

Herd production floats between 6000 and 7000 litres and around 550kg of milk solids.

“(Milk solid) has been up around 600kg, but it just depends on the price of commodities — the price of the broader feed we have to bring in — and what we’re getting paid, to the production we end up with. Production will be down a bit this year with the cost of grain and hay,” Wayne said.

“Over the past couple of years milking more cows, we’ve concentrated more on farm production rather than per cow production. Per cow (production) I don’t think reflects profitably.

“Profitability and per cow production are two different things.”

When it comes to farming, Wayne said there were only certain things you could control and they were the things you should try to do well.

“Those you can’t control, you just have to work with,” he said.

“I’m pretty optimistic about the industry. There seems to be so much negativity, but I wish there was more positivity.”

“The cows; it’s my family business, where I’ve grown up and where my daughter is growing up. It’s my life and it’s more than a job. Yes it’s a lifestyle, but it’s a business as well.

“I think I have the perspective that things can be a lot worse. You can go to lots of different places around the world and it’s a lot worse. We need to keep that in mind at times.”

Queen of Jerseys: Keith, Wayne and Ruby Kuhne have enjoyed success in the dairy show ring.


CALVING is split between February and March and a second in July and August.

“Calving was always about 50:50, but now it’s more two thirds in July and August,” Wayne said.

“We haven’t done it on purpose, it’s just worked that way when cows have got in calf. But it’s working out and suiting the farm better now.

“In years gone by we could make good money in the autumn, but I don’t think we quite get paid as much we used to in autumn — commodities to make milk in autumn have got too expensive.

“We used to be able to push autumn calvers, but now we set out with ‘this’ what we can afford to feed and ‘this’ is the production we’ll get.”

All 900 cattle are registered under the Bushlea prefix.

“It is a costly exercise and that’s why I say if you’re doing it you have to be prepared to sell those good animals,” Wayne said.

All females are reared along with about 80 bulls selected on pedigree at birth.

Wayne said “without a doubt” the biggest offshoot to the stud was their private, on-farm bull sales, with 80 bulls sold annually. Trying to a find a bull that ticks all the boxes could be tricky, Wayne said.

“One of biggest things is trying to find an outcross — it can get quite closed with inbreeding,” he said.

“We look at bulls from across Australia, US, Europe and Canada, so it does take time.”


BUSHLEA embryos have sold around Australia and internationally and Wayne said they often traded embryos.

“We’ve had 25 on-farm sales over the years with 21 annual sales. But when we bought the property at Koonwarra we ceased the sales to build numbers,” Wayne said.

In 2017, the Kuhnes sold their cow Bushlea Van Fernleaf 10 EX-93, at a Global Impact Sale at Camden Showgrounds in NSW for an Australian record price of $50,000.

“In January 2017 Van Fernlean 10 was supreme champion at IDW (International Dairy Week at Tatura) as a four-year-old cow,” Wayne said.

“After she won that, we thought it was a great opportunity to sell her; being such a young cow to win that title, she had so many years in front of her.”

Van Fernleaf went on to win supreme champion again at IDW in 2018 for her new owners, a US-Canadian-Australian syndicate.

While the Kuhnes have eased off the number of shows they attend, they still like to “put their cattle out there for promotion” at International Dairy Week and Warragul Show.

“We like to present them as well as we can,” Wayne said.

“We say the judge is judging, but also there are other people watching and other exhibitors, so it’s important that cows are presented as well as they can be.

“When you have a good show you take it. When you don’t, you move on”.

Source: WeeklyTimes

Genomics revolution lifts dairy farm production

A high-tech revolution is occurring on Australian dairy farms but it’s not one that’s readily visible. The technology is not a bright, shiny piece of machinery, nor some fancy computer software.

But it’s embedded in almost every calf born on dairy farms and is having a profound impact despite being around for only a decade.

It’s genomics – the use of genetic information (in the form of DNA markers) to predict the performance of animals. This is being used to select the best performing animals from which to breed -both the bull sires bred by artificial breeding companies worldwide to supply semen to the dairy industry and the heifers and cows used by farmers to breed replacement animals.

Australian Professor Ben Hayes was one of the co-inventors of the genomic prediction technology and led much of the work that saw it adapted into the Australian dairy industry’s breeding values.

He told the Herd ’19 conference at Bendigo, Vic, in March that the technology had delivered on much of its early promise.

Farmers at both that conference and the Australian Dairy Conference in Canberra in February described how they were using genomic information as a routine part of breeding decisions on their farms.

But a word of warning was sounded at the Bendigo conference – with a Dutch herd improvement manager providing insight into unintended consequences of genomic selection.

Prof Hayes told the conference the idea that DNA could be used to identify the best performing animals had been researched since the 1960s.


Source: North Queensland Register

Dairy Industry Cheers Rollback of Tariffs That Bolsters USMCA Chances

U.S. dairy officials today congratulated the governments of the United States, Mexico and Canada for reaching an agreement to roll back metal tariffs that have soured U.S.-Mexico cheese trade and slowed passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The United States agreed to end Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from its North American neighbors. In return, U.S. dairy officials expect that Mexico will drop their retaliatory tariffs against U.S. dairy products – including duties as high as 25 percent on U.S. cheese exports to Mexico.

“This is an important development for the U.S. dairy industry, and we applaud the hard work of negotiators from all three countries that made it possible as well as the numerous members of Congress that have insisted upon the need to resolve the Section 232 metal tariffs dispute with our North American partners,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “If Mexico lifts its tariffs on U.S. dairy in response, it would be a welcome return to normalcy with our number one export market. It would also build vital momentum for swiftly advancing USMCA towards passage.”

“America’s struggling dairy farmers are in need of some good news, and today’s announcement certainly helps,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This paves the way for Mexico to drop retaliatory tariffs that have harmed dairy, and for Congress to take its next step to help our producers – to vote on USMCA and quickly ratify it.”

Mexico is, by far, America’s biggest dairy customer, with $1.4 billion in sales last year. U.S. products accounted for 80 percent of Mexican dairy imports by value in 2018, but that dominant market share was being jeopardized by the retaliatory tariffs.

The tariffs were likewise making it politically difficult for Congress to pass USMCA – a pact that modernizes the North American Free Trade Agreement, maintains U.S. dairy sales into Mexico, expands dairy market access in Canada, and reforms many nontariff barriers.

Vilsack and Mulhern also stressed the importance of finding similar common ground with China, which also slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dairy exporters in 2018 and recently upped the ante by hiking them further on some products. As a result of last year’s move by China, U.S. exports to that fast-growing dairy market fell by more than 40 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year. NMPF and USDEC have consistently advocated the urgency of resolving both the 232 and China disputes to allow our exporters to compete effectively in those markets.


Source: NMPF

Wisconsin Dairy Needs to Expand its Markets Worldwide

Consumers from around the world enjoy agriculture products that come from our state’s farm fields and agriculture processing firms. Wisconsin is consistently one of the top exporters of dairy-related products in the nation. As milk production in the United States continues to increase, it is more and more important to create value-added products and identify new markets for those products, here at home or around the world.

The 31 members of Dairy Task Force 2.0 recognize the importance of trade and international markets to our state’s dairy community. To help our cheesemakers research and develop new products targeted for export markets, the Task Force called for a study on the possible development of a Wisconsin Cheese Brand and Export Board.

Another recommendation emphasizes the importance of value-added and specialty cheese in our state. Today, nearly half the nation’s specialty cheese is made in Wisconsin by a diverse array of cheese businesses. To better understand changing consumer tastes and demands, Task Force members recommended conducting an in-depth consumer study to gain additional market understanding. They also recognized the significant up-front costs of starting a dairy processing business, and sought ways to establish incubator facilities for start-up dairy processors.

Much of Wisconsin’s specialty cheese is made by artisan cheesemakers who may produce smaller amounts of product. To help reach consumers across the country, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommended an analysis on consolidating multiple companies’ products for joint distribution. Other recommendations sought to increase demand for fluid milk consumption and advocated for dairy product vending machines to be placed in Wisconsin public schools.

Dairy Task Force 2.0 members also passed a recommendation asking for an increase in dairy processor grant funding, an item that was included in Governor Evers’ 2019-2021 biennial budget proposal. Increased funding will promote and encourage growth and innovation in Wisconsin dairy plants. To ensure Wisconsin’s innovative dairy products are positioned for success in the marketplace, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 also approved recommendations for truth in food labeling and asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make needed regulatory changes to product standards of identity.

Wisconsin’s dairy products are the best in the world. The best products require the best milk. Our state’s hardworking dairy farmers produce some of the highest quality, most nutritious milk every day. Recognizing this, members of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 passed a recommendation supporting the National Dairy FARM program and equivalent programs that are science-based and cow-centric. Members also recommended changes to the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) to increase our milk quality standards.

The team at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection works to develop our markets locally through Farm to School; Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin; and Something Special from Wisconsin™. The Wisconsin International Dairy Export (WIDE) initiative, in collaboration with industry partners, brings in buyers from across the world to learn more about our state and its dairy products. The work of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 will help guide the state’s marketing efforts for years to come. For more on the Dairy Task Force 2.0, visit


American dairy farms struggle in Chinese market after tariffs

As the battle over tariffs with China continues, the already suffering dairy market is taking another hit.

Stan Ryan, the President and CEO of Seattle-based Darigold, which has a plant in Lynden, tells KOMO the rising duties for U.S. exports gave competitors an edge.

“The countries we compete against to earn customers in China don’t have the same duties, so the market dried up overnight,” he says.

Ryan says Darigold does about $50 million of business with China.

Prices for dairy products are depressed due to chronic oversupply and Ryan says these new tariffs are stressing dairy farms further.

He hopes the U.S. trade representative “will see this through and will come out with a good logical outcome.”


Holstein Association USA’s 2018 Herds Of Excellence

Sixteen Registered Holstein® breeders have earned the distinction of 2018 Herd of Excellence by Holstein Association USA. There are three herd size divisions, Small Herd (10-99 cows), Medium Herd (100-499 cows), and Large Herd (500+ cows). Each division is based on the number of cows included in Mature Equivalent (ME) production averages for each herd.

The Herd of Excellence designation honors Registered Holstein breeders who have developed Holstein herds that excel in both production and type.

To be recognized with this accolade, herds must have classified within the last year and have an age-adjusted average classification score of 83 points or higher; have at least 70 percent of the herd homebred; and be enrolled in the Association’s TriStarSM production records program. Additionally, qualifying herds must meet the following production criteria:

  • Large Herd Division – 15 percent above breed average ME for milk, fat and protein
  • Medium Herd Division – 20 percent above breed average ME for milk, fat and protein
  • Small Herd Division – 25 percent above breed average ME for milk, fat and protein

Of the 16 herds, two are first year recipients – Charles M. Maurer, Maurer Farm, Chilton, Wis. and Darrell & Bonita Richard, Darita Holsteins, Goshen, Ind.

Bruce, Brenda & Bret Long, B-Long Holsteins, New London, Wis. and Hilrose Holsteins, Sherwood, Wis. both received the award eight years. Thomas J. Kestell, Ever-Green-View Farms, Waldo, Wis. is a nine-year recipient.

This year’s honorees are:

Large Herd Division:

– The Siemers Family, Siemers Holstein Farms Inc, Newton, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 35,750M 1,389F 1,070P

– The Migliazzo Family, Dinomi Holsteins, Atwater, Calif.

ME Production Averages – 35,344M 1,331F 1,129P

– Bradley Cates, Co-Vale Holsteins, Preble, N.Y.

ME Production Averages – 31,164M 1,256F 970P

Medium Herd Division:

– The Koepke Family, Koepke Farms Inc., Oconomowoc, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 34,719M 1,430F 1,042P

– The Koester Family, Koester Dairy Inc., Dakota, Ill.

ME Production Averages – 33,856M 1,343F 1,059P

– Daniel J. & Nancy Pagenkopf, Paradise-D Holsteins, Lancaster, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 32,694M 1,359F 1,003P

– Charles M. Maurer, Maurer Farm, Chilton, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 32,734M 1,251F 998P

Small Herd Division:

– S. Scott & April D. Cooper, Appealing Holsteins, Delta, Pa.

ME Production Averages – 37,484M 1,395F 1,127P

– George Malkemus & Anthony Yurgaitis, Arethusa Farm LLC, Litchfield, Conn.

ME Production Averages – 37,110M 1,349F 1,158P

– Bruce, Brenda & Bret Long, B-Long Holsteins, New London, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 35,341M 1,332F 1,092P

– Thomas J. Kestell, Ever-Green-View Holsteins, LLC, Waldo, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 40,015M 1,592F 1,219P

– Grafton County Farm, Grafco Holsteins, North Haverhill, N.H.

ME Production Averages – 33,970M 1,347F 1,051P

– Jeffrey A. & Kate Hendrickson, Jeffrey-Way Holsteins, Belleville, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 33,695M 1,256F 1,061P

– Joseph A. Brantmeier, Hilrose Holsteins, Sherwood, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 33,420M 1,254F 1,001P

– John W. & Evelyn A. Hamilton, Hill-Ton Holsteins, Cuba City, Wis.

ME Production Averages – 35,181M 1,322F 1,082P

– Darrell & Bonita Richard, Darita Holsteins, Goshen, Ind.

ME Production Averages – 34,402M 1,565F 1,067P

Since its beginning in 2008, the Herd of Excellence honor has become one of the most coveted Holstein Association USA awards. These 16 Holstein breeders are acknowledged for having mastered the art of breeding balanced cattle – exceptional conformation paired with high production. Congratulations to the 2018 Herd of Excellence honorees.

The awards will be presented during Holstein Association USA’s 134th Annual Meeting in Appleton, Wisconsin on June 26, 2019.

Read more about these remarkable herds in the Spring 2019 issue of The Pulse. Select pages of The Pulse are available online at under the Latest News tab, then click The Pulse.

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

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


This Sustainable Technology Could Save America’s Dairy Farms

Craigs Station Creamery campus in Linwood, New York

Craigs Station Creamery looks like a typical small dairy, the kind of farm that was once ubiquitous across rural New York state. Chris Noblehurst, whose farm is one of the eight that makes up the creamery joint venture, hopes the business can be different enough to succeedwhere other dairy farms today are struggling. The dairy farm cooperative does things a little bit differently, starting with their power source. The creamery uses a mechanism called an anaerobic digester to break down a mixture of food waste and cow manure to turn it into usable electricity that powers the entire operation.

Dairy farms today face sharp criticism for their contribution to air and water pollution—criticism that’s punctuated by hits to the dairy industry like the rising popularity of plant-based milk alternativesand a decreasing dairy export market. Sustainable technologies like biodigesters offer dairy farmers a way to mitigate environmental impacts and maybe even win back those elusive American millennial consumers.

There are 248 anaerobic digester projectson livestock farms across the United States, 198 of which are located on dairy farms. Dan Blaustein-Rejto, a senior food and agriculture analyst at the Breakthrough Institute, says that according to EPA projections based on farms that could potentially adopt the anaerobic digesters, the technology has the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector by about ten percent.

That’s not an insignificant reduction, Blaustein-Rejtosays, and there are other benefits too. “Anaerobic digesters, at least according to the EPA’s research, can cut methane emissions from the average dairy or hog farm by about 85 percent, so that’s a really huge reduction of one of the main sources of emissions.”

Not everyone is a fan of the technology. “Some people are more pessimistic,” says Blaustein-Rejto, citing complaints about local air pollution and other environmental health issues. Residents of Fort Collins, Colorado in 2017, for example, raised so many complaints about the noxious odors coming from a local biodigester that the facility was eventually closed. On the other hand, biodigesters can help keep nutrient runoff from manure out of local waterways. “If it weren’t being used,” says Noblehurst, “it would be sitting in a lagoon.”

Maintaining these systems can pose a significant financial challenge for the farms who have them, however, says Blaustein-Rejto, as federal funding and state financial incentives are often available for upfront costs (this was the case forthe biodigester at Noblehurst Farms, for example), but not necessarily for the expenses associated with the upkeep of these systems.

That’s why Noblehurst hopes investments in sustainable technologies, like the biodigester and an on-farm water recycling system they installed, will ultimately help the creamery attract new consumers, the kinds of consumers that the American dairy industry is so desperately seeking these days.

Noblehurst has been intently focused on these strategies since his return to the family farm ten years ago. Before that, he worked for a bank in New York city researching the California fruit and vegetable growing market, where he was struck by the impact of farmers finding more direct paths to their customers.

“I learned a ton about that industry that sort of paralleled what’s going on in dairy,” he says, explaining how, over the years, consumers have increasingly come to demand transparency from the people who grow their food. Noblehurst sees the dairy industry struggling, and is convinced part of the problem is farmers failing to make that direct connection. “I saw a lot of businesses in the fruit and vegetable space becoming successful because they were able to have that supply chain story,” which is now something he hopes the creamery can do with its cheese.

The creamery puts the faces of its farmers and their families on the cheese it sells—cheese produced in a facility located right next to the farm. This is all designed to tell consumers that the cheese made here comes from a family farm and not some impersonal corporate farming operation, but the line between family farm and corporate operation has long been a pretty blurry one.

The vast majority of farms today are family farms—98% according to the 2017 USDA Ag Census—but like many businesses, small and large alike, most are structured as a corporation under the law. At the same time, the consolidation of farms is a real phenomenon impacting farmers—a handful of large-scale farms are responsible for most of the food produced in the U.S. today, including dairy foods.

Much like “GMO” or “organic,”corporate farming has come to take on a meaning beyond the literal definition. Consumers suspect a kind of soullessness with corporate farming, which they fear translates to poor treatment of the soil or the crops, the farmworkers or the animals. But in the dairy industry today, farmers have to find ways to scale up in order to survive.

“I’m not sure that us as farmers would be able to get in there without the support of DFA,” says Noblehurst, referring to Dairy Farmers of America, the national dairy cooperative that is a funder the creamery that helped the operation land a number of national grocery chains as regular customers. “DFA brings the corporate relationships, you know, the Stop n Shops, the ShopRite, the Giant Foods,” he explains.

At the same time, the creamery is a cooperative of just eight small dairy farms. The milk is processed in a facility that’s just a short walk from where many of the cows are milked, and the other farms are all located within 30 miles.  Even though Noblehurst and the other farmers had to convince local residents that housing the processing facility right there at the farm was a good idea, the cooperative felt it was important to keep the creamery and the cows close together.

Finding the balance between the tradition of the small farm and those necessary economies of scale is a constant calculation, says Noblehurst. “We have so much technology available to us today that we’re almost unable to keep up with.”

Whether it’s because the technology is impractical for a farm of their size or it costs too much, the newest technology isn’t always the right fit. For example, the cows are milked on a rotary milker, an investment the farm made about ten years ago after moving away from an older parallel parlor system, but robotic milkers aren’t yet a viable option. 

Robotic milkers are still too expensive, even though turning to them would cut labor costs and demand. “It’s becoming much more like, there’s people that just milk cows, people that just do the cropping, so finding [these] highly specialized people…is becoming more challenging, especially in rural areas,” Noblehurst says.

The business often has to be creative about finding workers, whether it’slocal residents (the farm hires workers from an organization that employs developmentally disabled area residents to work the biodigester, for example), students from Cornell University or H-2A visa workers.

“Not a lot of young people are coming back to these jobs,” says Noblehurst, whose family has farmed for generations. Some of the farm’s buildings date back to the 1960s, which is a history Noblehurst is eager to convey even as he shows off the newer technologies like the biodigester. “I think consumers need to know that story [too],” he says. “They want to know that they’re supporting something that’s looking ahead.”


Western Australia’s biggest dairy farm set to end milk production

Milk production is likely to cease on WA’s biggest dairy farm and the land put to other uses, according to owner Ross Woodhouse.

Mr Woodhouse, who put his Scott River farm on the market earlier this year, said the sale wasn’t yet settled, but frontrunners for a purchase included a blue gum tree operator.

There were also several neighbours interested in buying separate properties under his operation, mainly for avocado trees and beef production, with just 20 per cent retained for dairy production.

Mr Woodhouse, who produces 20 million litres a year, or 6 per cent of WA’s production, is selling 4000 hectares over 13 properties, including a $1.3 million milking shed.

A price rise following Woolworths’ axing of $1 a litre milk in February, equivalent to an extra 2.5¢ a litre across his full production, had been a big help. But Mr Woodhouse said he was still struggling to break even because of low farm gate prices and a string of dry seasons meaning big feed bills.

“Although the land itself is in demand, milk production is not considered an attractive option to buyers, demonstrating how tough things are across the industry,” he said. “While it would mean some farmers can increase production, more and more, good farmers will exit the industry, and fresh milk could soon become a niche product.”

From July 2018 to March, WA milk production is down 2.6 per cent from a year earlier, according to Dairy Australia.

Australia wide, production is down 6.7 per cent, with NSW and Queensland hit hardest because of drought conditions.

Mr Woodhouse said several other dairy farmers in his area planned to sell or were in the process of selling. These included one property which was under offer by a blue gum tree operator.

Adding to woes, farmers are bracing themselves for another dry season and hefty feed costs, particularly north of Busselton where there had been no meaningful rain to stimulate pasture growth.

“We are in a better position than most as our area had some rain in early April,” Mr Woodhouse said.

“If we get some more rain soon the pastures will really get going in our area. But some areas further north have not had any good rains and there’s a lot of angst out there.

“Many dairy farmers won’t be able to last through another very dry year that requires big feed costs and the volume of milk could really fall.”


Wisconsin Officially Sets New Milk Production Record in ’18

America’s Dairyland stayed true to its name last year as the state set another record for total milk production. The latest government figures from the USDA confirmed that Wisconsin produced 30.5 billion pounds of milk in 2018, about one percent more than the previous record of 30.3 billion harvested in 2017. Milk per cow also rose to an all-time high of 24,002 pounds, up 277 pounds from the year earlier.

As of January 1, there were 8,110 licensed milk cow operations in the state. That was down 691 from a year ago, and the fourth consecutive year that the herd count was below the 10,000 mark in generations.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s overall livestock inventory decreased slightly last year. As of January 1, about 3.5 million head of cattle were counted in the state.

The total number of milk cows at year’s end was around 1.27 million head, about 5,000 less than the previous year–keeping Wisconsin second behind California for number of milk cows.

Source: USAGnet

Dairy farmers continue to struggle as USMCA stalls

 American Dairy farmers are struggling to survive. Literally.

“We’re seeing suicides at all-time high in the dairy industry,” said Michael McMahon, a dairy farmer from upstate New York.

While help is on the way, it’s not coming fast enough for too many in the business of putting milk on American tables.

According to McMahon, these are dreadful times for him and his fellow farmers.

“Emptying out their retirement funds and going the limit on their credit cards just to stay in business,” he said.

The price of milk has been below the cost of production for five years, forcing many small and medium-sized dairy farms out of business. McMahon says international trade disputes are just making things worse.

“When NAFTA was put on the shelf to be dissolved, all of a sudden these trade wars and tariff barriers went up between U.S. and Mexico and U.S. and Canada,” he explained.

“In the past year, you saw more than seven dairy farms failing every day in the United States,” said Alan Bjerga, senior VP of communications for the National Milk Producers Federation.

Bjerga says there’s optimism that the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, which would replace NAFTA, could provide some relief by expanding market access to Canada and ending some Canadian policies that were problematic for U.S. producers.

But Congress must first approve the USMCA and right now it’s stuck in both the House and the Senate.

Congressman Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, says while he knows dairy farmers need help now, the USMCA still needs work to ensure dairy farmers get a fair shake.

“We want to make sure that trade deals are enforceable and Canada is just not changing the name of the program and still doing the same thing that they’ve done in the past,” Brindisi said.

“Give us back our trade markets,” McMahon declared.

McMahon says a truce in the trade war could ease the dairy crisis and save both businesses and lives.


Tariff battle with China hurting Pacific Northwest dairy industry

The ongoing tariff battle between the United States and China is already having a ripple effect on farmers and business owners right here in the Pacific Northwest.

More than 450 Northwest dairy farms in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana rely on Darigold to process their milk into products that ship all over the United States and the globe.

“Large amounts of the ingredient gets marketed and sold and distributed around the world – 20 countries, of which, China is one of them,” said Stan Ryan, the president and CEO of Darigold.

But the trade war and increasing tariffs have shot Darigold’s duty to 25 percent, and even higher on some products for the $50 million of business they were doing in China.

“Our competing origins, the countries we compete against to earn customers in China don’t have those same duties so the market dried up for us overnight,” said Ryan.

Other Northwest crops are impacted too – apples, cherries, potatoes and much more.

Kara Kostanich | Tariff battle with China hurting local dairy industry

Kara Kostanich | Tariff battle with China hurting local dairy industry

“If they can’t sell their products overseas, it means less money, which means fewer jobs, and that really impacts our livelihood and the livability of our families in the state of Washington,” said former Washington Governor Gary Locke, who is also a former U.S. Ambassador to China and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Ryan says the tariffs are preventing the already troubled dairy industry from seeing improvement.

“The environmental contributes to already depressed farm prices – so it hurt our local farmers,” said Ryan.

The depressed farm prices are due to chronic oversupply.

Just last year Darigold opened an office in Shanghai because of what Ryan calls an unbelievable long-term growth opportunity.

So for now, since business has all but stopped, the office remains busy with potential future customers so they are ready when the tide turns.

“We are investing in it and we have the faith that our U.S. trade representative in the administration will see this through and will come out with a good logical outcome,” said Ryan.


Raw milk regulations need ‘a little bit of flexibility’

Farm Fresh South is a boutique dairy farm at Woodlands, specialising in raw milk sales.

Owned by Logan and Melissa Johnson, they milk about 30 cows, and calve four times a year on their 21ha farm.

While they are not certified organic, they operate organically.

The milk they do not sell goes to their calves or gets made into butter for their own use.

They also took part in the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) recent survey of suppliers and clients’ views on current regulations around the supply and sale of raw milk.

Mr Johnson said for the most part, the regulations and their intent were good and worked well, but some of the requirements inhibited small business growth.

”We want our business to be successful, and there has to be room for small businesses to grow,” he said.

”A little bit of flexibility is needed.”

He would like to see changes to the requirement that a wordy health warning be included in every advertisement.

”I have no issue with the warning display required on advertising on the bottle or point of sale,” Mr Johnson said.

”However, at present, if we wanted to support the local school and put a wee ad in their newsletter, the whole ad would be only the warning.”

They would also like to be able to sell their milk from the farmers’ markets but are unable to do so.

Customers can either have it delivered to their door or buy from the vending machine at the farm.

”We would like to deliver milk to customers’ work for them to take home, but we can’t as only home deliveries are allowed.”

He would like to be able to sell raw milk to cafes for use in coffees and would be keen to set up a ”Milk Lovers Club” type system where cafe customers who want raw milk receive a card and they can only get that milk when showing their card.

”That allows traceability.

”The customers get what they want and the cafe gets what it wants.

”It can be done properly but at the moment the regulations do not allow that”.

He would also like to see the ministry’s information about raw milk to be balanced and in context.

”The information MPI puts out about raw milk on its website talks about cases where raw milk was a risk factor in health breakouts, but doesn’t clarify whether it was direct from a vat intended for pasteurisation, or what other risk factors were.

”At the moment it is not balanced,” he said.


Source: Otago Daily Times

Ettrick family struggles to grow their herd amid the dairy crisis


Wegnerlann Dairy Farm LLC, increased its herd from 500 cows to 800 in 2016, before the market turned.

At the time, farm owners Jeff and Betty Wegner of rural Ettrick decided to add to their herd because they wanted their son, Tom Wegner, to have the opportunity to make a good living as a dairy farmer.

“That’s why many family farms decide to expand, because they want all family members to have a role,” said Annaliese Wegner, a fifth-generation farmer and Tom’s wife. “If you just had 100 cows, it might be hard to provide an income for every family member.”

“At the time [milk] prices were looking really good,” Tom said. The farm took out loans to purchase the new additions to their herd, but when it came time to pay the bank back, milk prices started to plummet, and their business began to feel the impact of the market fluctuation.

“It’s hard to make a profit,” Annaliese said.

Wegnerlann calf
A young calf eats grain while in its pen on the Wegnerlann Dairy farm. 

Wegnerlann Dairy LLC produces conventional milk, which is shipped through Dairy Farmers of America and bottled and sold to Kemps in Rochester and surrounding towns.

Sales of conventional milk dropped 4.5% nationwide in March, compared to 2018, while milk production increased 0.4% in Wisconsin when compared to the previous year, according to USDA reports.

“You have to make cuts where you can, when you can,” Tom said. The farm had to put off repairs and the purchase of new equipment.

“We’re just getting by, really. Trying to do the best we can with what we have and wait for the milk price to go back up,” Annaliese said.

In 2018, Wegner Dairy Farms collected close to $50,000 through USDA subsidy programs.

Of that, $30,000 was from the Margin Protection Program for dairy, which is meant to support producers when the difference between the milk price and the feed cost falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer, according to the USDA. The remaining $20,000 the farm received was from the Market Facilitation Program, implemented to help agriculture and dairy producers who were impacted by the 2018 trade war between the U.S. and China.

Wegner Cow
A cow stands in a free stall barn at Wegnerlann Dairy farm.

Regardless, the subsidy programs have had minimal impact on the industry, Tom said.

“I think the general public sees the [total amount paid out to subsidy recipients] as ‘wow, farmers are getting all these millions of dollars from the government to keep themselves going’ but really we’re not, divided amongst us all it doesn’t add up to much,” he said.

Tom’s parents, Jeff and Betty Wegner, built their business in 1986 in a shallow valley. Tom, a second-generation farmer, and Annaliese, who was raised on a dairy farm in Baldwin, began working Wegnerlann in 2011 after they graduated from UW-River Falls with degrees in dairy science.

Today, Wegnerlann Dairy can milk 16 cows at one time, with the help of new technology, and each of the 800 cows is milked three times a day.

Nine full-time employees work and live on the farm in addition to the four members of the family and one part-time employee. It takes roughly eight hours to milk the entire herd. The Wegners get feed for the cows from a custom harvester as their land is dedicated to maintaining and raising the herd.

Calves are born on the Wegner farm, and once they’re weened at 8 weeks, they’re assigned to a pen where they eat grain and drink water until they reach a certain age. The family works in partnership with a custom heifer raiser who cares for the calves at a separate facility not owned by the dairy, where they mature in a pasture.


“It’s just another way to make things easier on us,” Annaliese said.

“Less labor for us, less land-based need for a herd, less feed you need to have on hand,” Tom said.

Despite market setbacks, Tom is confident the price of milk will go back up. “It has to” he said, and sees evidence of a price increase to take place during the second half of 2019.

Annaliese and Tom attribute that possible market price increase to a decrease in milk supply due to area dairy farmers who were forced to sell off their herd and abandon the dairy business after experiencing income loss year over year.

“Many dairies have sold or quit milking cows in the state of Wisconsin last year, so there’s less milk on the market and that’s helped increase the price a little bit,” Tom said

Source: La Crosse Tribune

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist Trish Rankin from Taranaki is the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

The prestigious dairy award was announced the Allflex Dairy Women’s Network’s conference gala awards dinner in Christchurch this evening (WED 1 MAY).

The other finalists were Kylie Leonard who farms north of Taupo, Julie Pirie from Ngatea in the Waikato and Southlander Emma Hammond.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee who heads up the judging panel Alison Gibb said “What impressed the judges was Rankin’s self-awareness, her preparedness to grow and focus her ‘make it happen’ attitude towards problem solving environmental issues.”

Rankin balances teaching part time at Opunake Primary School and being on farm full time in South Taranaki with her husband Glen and their four boys. A passionate environmentalist, she has undertaken the Kellogg Leadership Programme this year with the main purpose being a research project focused on ‘how can a circular economy model be developed on a NZ dairy farm.’

Rankin says she is both a farm assistant and CEO of their farming business, having learnt over the years to milk, drive tractors, feed stock and do fences as well as sort the Health and Safety and human resources out.

An active Dairy Enviro Leader (DEL) and member of the NZ DEL network Rankin is also Chair of the Taranaki DEL group. In 2018 she was elected onto the National Executive for the NZ Dairy Awards and last year was selected as a NZ Climate Change Ambassador as part of the Dairy Action for Climate Change.

Gibbs said the strong message from this year’s finalists was although each was very passionate about their own farming operation, they all had an inner drive to go beyond and make the dairy industry a better place for all and future generations.

“They all want to make their mark in the dairy industry and feel a real need to get out beyond the gate to make a difference and to do their bit to leave the dairy industry better than it was before.”

All the women are heavily involved in business and community networks while finding time to work on professional development and spend time with family.

The award was presented by Mike Cronin, Fonterra’s Managing Director of Co-operative Affairs.

“It was my absolute pleasure to present Trish with the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award,” Cronin said.

“Her passion for the environment, sustainable farming and community leadership represent the finest qualities of our Co-operative. I would also like to congratulate the other finalists for their dedication and commitment to our Co-op and the wider industry.”

As Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Rankin receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional business development programme, sponsored by Fonterra.


Source: Dairy Women’s Network

Thanh Hoa to have $162.6 million dairy cow farm

TH Group on Wednesday started construction of its high-tech concentrated dairy cow farm cluster project in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Located in Yen My and Cong Binh communes of Nong Cong District, the VND3.8 trillion (US$162.6 million) project is set to house 20,000 cows.

The farm cluster will use modern technology to help TH Group meet the increasing demand for fresh milk in the domestic market.

Its milk products under TH true MILK have met with international standards from dairy cow management of Afimilk (Israel), veterinary management of Totally Vets (New Zealand) and financial management of SAP (Germany).

At the ceremony, the group also introduced sustainable development model of the dairy sector with farmers under high-tech co-operatives.

Accordingly, TH Group will help farmers apply high technologies such as cloud computing and internet of things into its production through co-operative model. Its first model has been implemented in Da Lat through the Dalatmilk brand. Dalatmilk has installed electric chips in cow herds at each farmer household to monitor cows’ health through computers or smartphones. It also provides medicine and food and buys milk from households in the programme.

The model will be implemented in Thanh Hoa, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Cao Bang, Quang Ninh, Cu Chi (HCM City) and Ba Vi (Ha Noi).

Thai Huong, TH Group’s founder, said she hoped to support farmers with some 200,000 cows through the high-tech co-operative model by 2025. Meanwhile, the group also aims to double the number of cows under its close breeding chain to 400,000.

TH Group and Wuxi Jinning International Food City, China’s largest wholesale unit last month signed a deal on consumption of food products, agro-product and dairy products in the Chinese market.

Its milk brand – TH true MILK accounts for 40 per cent of market share in Viet Nam with more than 70 products. Its fresh milk capacity growth rate was over 22 per cent and total revenue of VND7 trillion last year.


Source: Viet Nam News

“I wouldn’t be in the industry if I didn’t love my cows”: The reality of working on a dairy farm.

Where I live, if I take the back road to Byron Bay around 3pm I’ll be stopped by a man and his cows.

They fill the road as they move from their grazing paddocks to the milking sheds. As consumers we don’t often think about who the people are that grow or produce our food, but coming face to face with a bunch of cows really makes you think.

This is how I get milk on my table. This man got up at 4am this morning, and has done for all of his farming life.

It’s a lifestyle a lot of Australians don’t come into contact with directly, so there are naturally some preconceptions people have about the responsibilities and challenges of running a dairy farm.

I spoke to Ebony King, a 21 year old (pictured above) who works on a dairy farm run by Wes and Rita Hurrell in Yankalilla in South Australia.

Ebony helps with the day-to-day running of the farm, which includes implementing strict practices around animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

“Some people think dairy farmers don’t care about or love their cows and that they treat them poorly. We do everything we can to keep our cows happy and healthy,” Ebony tells Mamamia. “They have us looking after them 24/7. And we have a vet who is always on call. They even have a nutritionist.

“Yes, it is a business. But if we didn’t look after and love our cows then they wouldn’t produce quality milk.”

Working on the land: Ebony King and her boss Wes Hurrell. Image: Supplied.

She explains further: “I wouldn’t be in the industry if I didn’t love my cows, because it’s hard work not just on your body, but social life and relationships [too], because of the hours worked.

“I love watching cows do well, see them calve, and then go on to do great production when you have raised and bred those cows. [It’s] rewarding.”

Ebony’s employer, Rita Hurrell, agrees that it’s a job you can only do if you really love it.


Contracts favouring farm owners are the ‘dark side’ of dairy industry

A Waikato dairy farmer, husband and father of four says his family lost everything this season after a contract milking agreement went “completely wrong”.  He shared his views on condition of anonymity. 

OPINION: I am a contract milker.  I have also been lower order sharemilking.

While I think these are great avenues for dairy farmers to progress or build themselves up to farm ownership, there is a dark side to this industry that we don’t like to talk about.

As a contract milker, I am paid a fixed amount for every kilogram of milksolids I send to the factory.

As well as the normal expenses that go with operating a business, I have an agreed set of additional expenses.

The norm would be power, labour, shed detergents, rubberware, fuel and motorbikes.

I rely heavily on the farm owner to provide me with figures as to what those costs may be but in my experience, farm owners often don’t know or are reluctant to provide those figures.

We are lucky in this industry that we can often find others in our position who are willing to share this information with their fellow contract or lower order sharemilkers.

But what happens if we can’t find those figures? We give it our best guess and we take those figures to the bank, where finance is approved based on those numbers.

So the bank has approved our lending, we have signed the contract and started work.  We’ve managed to drag ourselves through calving and mating and can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Now those figures, those numbers, those best guesses are actuals – they have meaning and substance and they are wrong.

The situation only gets worse.  What happens to those that get it all wrong or were given wrong information? Surely if the owners gave them those numbers, they must be entitled to some sort of compensation?

No, they are not, because the contracts and the current legislation are structured in a way which protects the farm owners and not the little guy.

Not the guy who has put his family’s whole livelihood on the line. Not the guy who has workers depending on him to pay them on time. Not the guy out in the rain, working long days to keep the farm running.

What rights does he have? None. He can lose everything. Because he is not an employee, he has no employment rights, so he does not get holiday pay or weekends off.

He does not have the right to subcontract out his job or determine how performs his duties.

When you look at the difference between an independent contractor and an employee, you can see that contract and lower order sharemilking is a grey area that falls into both categories. 

That being the case, we need a complete overhaul. We need rights.

We need to be able to expect to be paid for our work, regardless of whether or not that person has the skills or ability to guess what his power bill will be.

He should not have to have his spouse work every weekend, holiday and public holiday just to earn his expected wage.

This is the dark side of dairy and the industry cannot afford to lose these young, energetic and passionate people. 

We are better than that.  We pride ourselves on being the backbone of this country.

Do we not as a community gather together and support each other, share our knowledge with one another? Help one another when our neighbour is in trouble?

Even if we have no legal obligation right now, surely we have a moral obligation to our new generation of farmers to give them the opportunity to make their mark on our industry.

We are asking – demanding – that the legislation and contracts are changed so these farmers have the chance they deserve to provide for their families and continue to grow our industry.

Let’s leave this dark side of dairy behind us once and for all.


Source: Stuff

Danone CEO Says Plant-Based Could Become as Big as Dairy in U.S.

Danone’s U.S. plant-based business could become as big as its traditional yogurt business there in 10 years, according to Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Faber.

The unit, which includes Silk and So Delicious, currently generates less than $1 billion in sales, compared with the $2 billion in dairy. But the category is growing faster as consumers race to adopt vegan alternatives to everything from yogurt to hamburgers.

“Penetration is very high and it’s very widely adopted already,” Faber said in an interview at a company event in Barcelona.

Danone placed a $10 billion bet on veganism with its 2017 acquisition of WhiteWave Foods and plans to triple its total plant-based revenue to about 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) by 2025. The company has been expanding the Alpro brand in Europe with new products like vegan ice cream. Danone will start selling plant-based yogurts under Activia, its largest brand, in countries like Spain, France and the U.K. within the next 12 months.

Dairy isn’t dead, though, with Faber pointing to fast-growing yogurt segments like high-protein and probiotics that have been making a comeback among consumers.

Coffee High

Faber is also eyeing coffee for further growth as the company takes aim at bigger rivals like Nestle SA and JAB Holding Co. Danone is adding more ready-to-drink options to the Alpro line, such as soy-based Ethiopian coffee with caramel, and expanding it in new markets in Europe.

In the U.S., it’s focusing on Stok, a cold-brew coffee brand that came with the WhiteWave purchase. Stok’s revenue rose to $50 million from $3 million in two years and continues to grow at a double-digit rate. Faber said Stok will focus on the U.S. market in the next couple of years before possibly extending to other markets, such as the U.K.

Faber said he couldn’t rule out creating additional coffee brands in the future.

Source: Bloomberg 

Queensland now home to Australia’s smallest dairy industry

Australian milk production continues to plummet, as drought in Queensland, NSW and northern Victoria takes a toll.

The latest figures from Dairy Australia reveal the changing face of milk production in Australia, with the Queensland industry shrinking to be the smallest in Australia.

The figures for March reveal Australia’s milk production was down 10.6 per cent compared with March 2018.

Year-to-date production is down 6.7pc.

New Zealand production was also down for March.

Fonterra’s Global Dairy Update report released on Friday revealed New Zealand milk production was down 8pc in March compared with the same period last year.

But year-to-date production there is up 3pc.

The Australian figures showed marked differences between states.

Queensland production was down 14.7pc in March and 10.5pc year-to-date.

Its year-to-date production of 278 million litres now makes it the smallest dairy industry in Australia.

Western Australian year-to-date production stands at 287 million litres, down 2.6pc on last year, but putting it ahead of Queensland.

Ten years ago Queensland produced 513 million litres, while WA produced 340 million litres.

Victorian production for March was down 12.9pc, with year-to-date production down 8.2pc.

But the overall state figures mask the bleak picture in northern Victoria.

Production there for March was down 27.5pc and 17.9pc year to date.

Northern Victoria now accounts for just over a quarter of Victorian milk production, down from almost a third a year ago.

NSW production fell 12.6pc in March and 10pc year-to-date.

But the breakdown of its figures also reveals a shift in milk production.

The southern region is down 13.7pc year to date, the North Coast region is down 9.8pc year to date, while the Inland/Central region is down just 2pc year to date.

The national figures reveal a couple of bright spots.

Tasmanian year-to-date production is up 2.9pc while South Australian year-to-date production is up 0.8pc, although both recorded falls for March.

The Fonterra Global Dairy Update revealed that milk production in Europe and the United States is steady.

The milk production picture bodes well for international prices, which have shown a steady increase this year.

The Fonterra report also revealed the company was under pressure in Australia with its milk collection down by more than the overall production decline.

Fonterra’s collection was down 27pc for March and 18pc year to date.

“Fonterra’s share of monthly collections continues to reduce due to adverse on-farm and weather conditions, increased cow cull rates, farm exits in key regions, cost of inputs and milk collection losses in a highly competitive market,” the report said.


Livestock numbers surge as Canterbury (NZ) farms convert to dairy

The number of livestock per hectare in Canterbury surged 42 per cent in the past 15 years as farms were converted from sheep to dairying, Stats NZ says.

The change reflected an increase in  cattle numbers in Canterbury and a significant drop in the amount of land used for livestock in the region since 2003.

“There are more animals on less pastoral or grazing land,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said.

Although the region had traditionally been known for sheep farming, the livestock mix had changed and there were now far fewer sheep and many more dairy cows in Canterbury, he said.

In 2018, the region had about 4.4 million sheep – nearly half the eight million sheep there in 2003, figures released on Tuesday show.

However, the number of dairy cattle had more than doubled over the same period, from 560,000 in 2003 to about 1.3 million. 

Canterbury had the equivalent of 7.8 stock units per hectare in 2018, compared with 5.5 per hectare in 2003. The region had about 15.3 million stock units in total, up 8 per cent from 14.2 million in 2003.

A stock unit is based on the annual feed needed for a 55kg ewe rearing a single lamb. A dairy cow is the equivalent of about seven ewes and is counted as seven stock units.

And while the national dairy herd appeared to have peaked, the number of dairy cows in Canterbury continued to edge up.

The number of dairy cattle nationally fell 2.2 per cent last year to about 6.4 million, the number of dairy cattle in Canterbury rose by 1 per cent.

Only Waikato had more dairy cattle, with 1.8 million last year.  However, that was a 3 per cent drop on the previous year.

While Canterbury and some other regions in the South Island have seen more intensive farming of animals, the stock density in some North Island regions has fallen since 2003.

The biggest fall in stock units per hectare was in the Auckland region, down 25 per cent. While the amount of pastoral land had declined, the number of stock units had fallen even more.

The other notable decline was in the Hawke’s Bay region, with a 20 per cent drop in stock units per hectare between 2003 and 2018. Stock units in the region fell about two million to 5.3 million in the period.

“These falls in stocking density may reflect improved animal performance as farmers are now able to produce more from fewer animals,” Pitts said.

“For example, lambing rates have improved steadily over time, so farmers can get the same number of lambs with fewer ewes. Milk yields for dairy cows have also gone up.”

Waikato and Taranaki were the most intensively farmed regions, both had 13.7 stock units per hectare in 2018.

Nationally, beef cattle numbers were up 3 per cent from 2017 at about 3.7 million.

Manawatu-Wanganui had the most beef cattle (554,000, down 2 per cent), followed by Waikato (517,000, up 6 per cent), and Canterbury (512,000, up 10 per cent).

Nationally, the sheep flock remained relatively steady at about 27.3 million in 2018, down 1 per cent on 2017.

The regions with the most sheep – Manawatu-Wanganui (5.1 million, unchanged from 2017) and Otago (4.9 million, up 8 per cent) – helped offset a slight dip in Canterbury (4.4 million, down 1 per cent).


Source: Stuff

Hey Dairy Industry: Are We Making Progress or Are We Just Circling the Wagons?

In the first quarter of each new year, one of the highlights we enjoy is the opportunity to take part in seminars, conferences and annual meetings that focus on the future of our dairy industry.

Murray and I had the opportunity to attend NDHIA Conference where I knew we would get to meet committed dairy people from all sectors of the industry. Recently, Murray has also enjoyed speaking at several meetings, and The Bullvine and Milk House platforms are filled with lively discussions of what is good, bad and ugly about the future. Canadian Dairy Expo is another source of information and inspiration.

NDHIA Repeats the Mantra – Connect. Collaborate. Be Credible.

At the National Dairy Herd Improvement Association AGM, Jay Mattison caught everyone’s attention with an oft-repeated mantra:   Connect!  Collaborate!  Be Credible!

We circled back to those words several times in meetings, hallways and conversations.

Murray spoke on “Leadership and Vision” in Mission Valley, San Diego and reframed and reiterated points from a Canadian presentation, “Another speaker who works providing services to dairy farmers showed statistics and examples and then said, “It’s not what a service is intended for, it is the on-farm results that matter.” That makes perfect sense.  If our dairy future is to sustainable, it has to achieve improvement.

Are we dawdling or doing?

 The very word “improvement” is a difficult concept for us.  We think we need to achieve perfect results in order to improve the dairy industry.  But perfection is not the problem.  What we really need to change is how to make the move from thinking about the many actions we take, to actually producing those results by taking action.

Achieving a goal is only a momentary change.  For instance, treating all sick calves …doesn’t deal with what is causing the calves to be sick.  Likewise, spending the time needed to document and treat that struggling pen of low producing cows, while it may earn a checkmark on a daily to-do list, more time and money will be spent as that pen fills again. Again focusing on the low end steals time and attention away from multiplying the positive inputs of healthy animals. We all recognize repetitive stress.  It is the repetitive part that needs to be dealt with and, hopefully, removed.  

Can you list a recurring incident of management, environment or genetics that is causing this kind of problem in your herd? Margins are too narrow for dawdling.

From Recording Symptoms to Addressing Causes

Dairy success has to concentrate on moving away from dealing with treating the symptoms to addressing the causes. It makes no sense to restrict success to one scenario when there are many paths to dairy success.  

Three recognized options are

  1. Selling surplus animals or product
  2. Selling zero profit animals
  3. Outsourcing services
  4. Forming new partnerships that are a win-win-win for all sides
  5. Seek out agri-tourism that is based on skills that are already available. (tours; baking; seminars;)

Progress is about progression.  Logical forward growth. We have to move from symptoms to solutions. 

The UP and Down Trajectory.  Which are you following?

Regardless of where you fit in the big picture of North American Dairy farming, there is one thing we can all agree 100% upon.  Dairy Data needs to find a new upward trajectory.

However, this rising line can’t be drawn, if the data points are not recorded.  We can no longer wait for data points with too much time lapsing in between. Is the goal a single report of 100% or a continuous upward trajectory of improved results recorded in real daily working time?

If you want to predict where your dairy will end up, all you have to do is follow the curve of tiny gains and losses.  See how your daily choices compound down the line.

2020 Vision

Twelve months from now we will succeed or fail based on what steps we actually took based on our 2019 visioning. The dairy industry is changing – farm to farm, family to family, organization to organization … It’s not changing month to month but day to day. As meetings, reports, slides and statistics are highlighting reports of farm sales, severe depression, and regrettably rising numbers of mental and physical health issues. There is no single right way that will be effective. It could be that your dairy is trying to change – health, money productivity, relationships or all of them. Not all at once. Not 100%. One step at a time.

It’s Better to be Slow than to be Stopped

Accomplishing one extra task is a small feat on any given day. Repeating and adding to it on a daily basis adds up to a significant change when accumulated over a dairy year. Small changes don’t appear to make any, or enough difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance.

In the early stages of change, you expect to make progress ina linear fashion, and it’s frustrating how ineffective changes seem to be during the first few days, week and even months.  It doesn’t feel like you are going anywhere.  But gradually you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance.  Improvement is achieved!

Unfortunately, the early temptation is to slip back into the crowd. There seems to be temporary security in numbers.  But change doesn’t wait to be put on our agenda.  Change can’t be bullied into moving at a pace that we find acceptable.

We become experts at managing the status quo.

Unfortunately, there are at least three things that go wrong when you stay stuck:

  1. Decisions take longer to make and are no long guided by reality. As your company grows you strive to have staff carry out increasingly specialized tasks, but, if they must run everything by you as they did in the past, it drags out decision-making and leads to missed opportunities that require swift action.
  2. Risk and investment are avoided, stifling growth. Your dairy is probably long past the new business stage. If you maintain the same cash-obsessed, risk-averse, reactive mindset that helped you get started, you probably won’t invest time and resources in dairy endeavours that will yield a return down the road.
  3. Innovation becomes impossible when you approach decision-making with a “this is the way we’ve always done it” attitude. When you don’t allow yourself or your staff to experiment with new ideas, your dairy stagnates, making it harder to keep up with the competition or to adapt to new dairy market challenges.

Change doesn’t wait to be put on our agenda.  Change can’t be bullied or managed into moving at a pace that we find acceptable.

Take Advantage of the Resources Around You

Whenever you’re in meeting rooms, there are tremendous to tap into to make dairy improvement happen in the real world of 2019.  It takes questioning, listening and a willingness to entertain new and different approaches. So much potential to be unlocked. Choose! Don’t snooze or you’ll lose. While science supports genetics, genomics and nutrition, ultimately success can only come through the day to day actions and choices made on each dairy operation. We can pare back.  We can eliminate.  But there inevitably comes a time when that is no longer possible. At some point, we have to increase the profitability.  Not higher numbers of cattle.  But more efficiently productive cattle.


It starts with understanding the changes that are needed, investing in them and, most important of all, taking action. The fields represented have been around for many years. What is needed is a synthesis of the best ideas, successful dairy farmers, scientists and associations figured out a long time ago … combined with the compelling discoveries being made recently. 

When you repeatedly solve problems by targeting maintenance of your current levels, you can only solve the problem caused by your current system. There is no forward progress.

We need to get all of the inputs – nutrition, genetics, feed, environment- pulling together in the same direction so that the outputs provide solutions.

Same Old. Same Old. Yeah BUT.

Many times we keep talking about the same scenarios: “If you lose 300$ on each calf, you raise – you are fighting a war with yourself.  Your decisions are your own worst enemy.  You have seen slide after slide showing the statistics. You have watched and listened as the current reality was spoken. If the current trajectory is maintained the end is approaching.

I wondered to myself, how many others were having my “yeah but” moment.  “Yeah what he or she says is true for some, BUT I am not in the group” because I don’t do genomics. I love the lifestyle. Or I just bought a ticket to win the lottery.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is no end day when everything will return to the way it was once before.

There is no end day when we can stop working hard. 

The target isn’t about achieving a final end game. It is about initiating the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. 

From where I sit, DHIA President George Cudoc sums it up best.  I agree with his thinking that it isn’t the writers, the speakers, the slides, the awards and the statistics that make the difference.  Any one or all of these may give you a reason to be inspired or overwhelmed and decide to keep your own counsel.  It’s just words and information. There isn’t any impact until that information finds it’s way into the action plan of your workday.

Countless moderators, managers, mentors and dairy peers are encouraging everyone to take that information forward.  Use it.  Don’t keep circling the wagons.  Move forward.  Collect!  Collaborate. Be Incredible!




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Chronic Oversupply, Depressed Prices Plague Dairy Industry

 In response to sustained depressed milk prices, chronic oversupply, farm-level consolidation, and a wave of farm closures, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture today held a hearing on the state of the dairy economy. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted written testimony highlighting the considerable financial difficulties American dairy producers have withstood for the past several years.

NFU Vice President Patty Edelburg, who co-owns and operates a dairy farm in Amherst Junction, Wisconsin, has witnessed the devastation first-hand. “For more than four years, dairy farmers nationwide have been paid well below the cost of production,” she said. “It would take years of profitability for many family dairy farmers to rebuild their equity and get their farms back on stable footing. With mounting piles of debt and no significant price rebound in sight, thousands of family farmers have been left with no choice but to close their doors.”

While short-term support is critical to help farmers survive the immediate economic challenges, Edelburg recommended that legislators also pursue long-term solutions to overproduction, which has plagued the industry for some time. “The 2018 Farm Bill provides improvements that will help stem losses for many family farmers, but this support alone won’t be enough to save the dairy industry. We need to have a meaningful conversation about supply management options that will ensure dairy farmers are paid a fair price from the market.”


About NFU
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.

CWT Assists Members with Export Sales of 1.5 Million Pounds of Dairy Products

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) member cooperatives accepted 12 offers of export assistance from CWT that helped them capture sales contracts for 480,608 pounds (218 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese, 357,149 pounds (162 metric tons) of whole milk powder, and 480,608 pounds (218 metric tons) of cream cheese. These products are going to customers in Asia, the Middle East, and South America. The product will be delivered during the period from May through August 2019.

These contracts bring the year-to-date milk equivalent of CWT-assisted member cooperative export sales to 505.7 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.  The dairy product totals are 26.592 million pounds of American-type and Swiss cheeses, 3.962 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat), 1.940 million pounds of cream cheese and 23.437 million pounds of whole milk powder. The products are going to 23 countries in six regions.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers and all dairy cooperatives by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price. It does this by helping member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share for U.S dairy products. As a result, the program has significantly expanded the total demand for U.S. dairy products and the demand for U.S. farm milk that produces those products.

The amounts of dairy products and related milk volumes reflect current contracts for delivery, not completed export volumes. CWT pays export assistance to the bidders only when export and delivery of the product is verified by required documentation.

All dairy farmers and all dairy cooperatives should invest in CWT. Membership information is available on the CWT website,


Source: CWT

Ontario Joint Dairy Breeds Future Leaders Scholarship

The Ontario Joint Dairy Breeds Committee, an alliance of all dairy breed associations in Ontario, is pleased to provide a scholarship to assist youth in the dairy industry. The Ontario Joint Dairy Breeds Future Leaders Scholarship was established to recognize the contribution of young people in the agricultural industry for their involvement, accomplishments and leadership achievements.

Potential applicants are students who have begun to take on positions of leadership within various organizations or clubs and who have also demonstrated commitment and shown potential for future achievement. Two scholarships, each valued at $1,000, will be awarded to applicants enrolled in a post-secondary agricultural or dairy apprenticeship program.

Students must have successfully completed at least the first year of a university and/or college program and be enrolled in the following year.

Application Deadline: May 11th, 2019

 Scholarship Application Form

The Ontario Joint Dairy Breeds is a committee that focuses on dairy youth activities and is funded by the Ontario Stockyards Fund that is administered by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario Board of Directors.


A Perspective on 2018 Dairy Financial Performance

Dairy producers have experienced financial stress the last four years with 2018 being compared to 2009. The Extension Dairy Business Management team has been working intensively with a group of farms for the past three years to summarize their financial information. The farms were divided into groups based on their Net Return over Labor and Management (profit per cow). Table 1 illustrates why many dairy operations are experiencing hardships. The market offered an average $16.79/cwt gross milk price to these dairy operations. On average the farms had a cost of production of $19.12/cwt. with an average loss of $588 per cow including the value of labor and management. Unlike other data summaries for 2018, the most profitable farms in this group practiced stringent cost control even though they didn’t market the highest quantity of milk or have the highest milk income. This is not the typical scenario since revenue is a key driver of profitability on dairy farms. The second observation follows the expected outcome with the most profitable group showing $500 less feed cost per cow per year. Combining this advantage in feed cost with their $168 lower than average hired labor per cow they achieved higher profit (less loss) per cow.

Table 1. Dairy Enterprise Analysis, Farms sorted by Net Return over Labor and Management, 2018.

N = 14 Average Low 33% 33-66% High 34%
1Feed costs reflect total feed costs including the lactating cows, dry cows and heifers.
Milk sold per cow 25,224 23,506 27,057 23,170
Gross margin per cow $4,590 $4,541 $4,759 $4,261
Total direct expenses per cow $3,473 $3,992 $3,425 $2,930
Total overhead expenses per cow $1,509 $1,308 $1,689 $1,347
Total direct & overhead per cow $4,982 $5,300 $5,115 $4,277
Net return over labor & mgt. per cow -$588 -$959 -$536 -$240
Cost of production per cwt. (with labor and mgt.) $19.12 $21.39 $18.41 $18.14
Feed cost per cow per day1 $6.81 $7.04 $7.20 $5.65
Feed cost per cow per year1 $2,487 $2,569 $2,627 $2,061
Feed cost per cwt. $9.86 $10.93 $9.71 $8.89
Hired labor per cow per year $497 $582 $525 $329
Avg. gross milk price per cwt. $16.79 $17.31 $16.43 $17.12
Milk price / feed margin (cwt.) $6.94 $6.38 $6.72 $8.23

Comparing year-to-year performance for the past four years, the trend in dairy finances has been challenging. Table 2 illustrates that for these farms, 2018 was the most difficult year. Gross margin was lowest at $4,590 per cow and profit per cow was lowest at -$588 per cow. However, these dairies have been struggling throughout that time since the average Net Return over Labor and Management for all years was a loss of $350 per cow. Part of the issue in 2018 was higher feed cost per cow per year. At $2,487, feed cost was at least $200 per cow higher than the previous two years. The corn silage production cost was included in the table because 2018 was also a challenging crop year due to excessive rainfall. Yields averaged 16.23 tons/acre for the 2018 farms compared to the 18.13 ton/acre average and cost per unit was at a high of $40.56/ton, the highest for the three-year period. Excessive moisture at planting and harvest meant many producers experienced yield reductions, harvest losses and inventory shortages during 2018. This resulted in all corn acreage going for silage with no corn to shell for grain. This may result in higher feed costs in 2019 to purchase both forages and grains to compensate for limited inventories.

Table 2. Dairy Enterprise Analysis, Farms sorted by year, 2016-2018.

N = 63
N = 14
N = 26
N = 23
1Feed costs reflect total feed costs including the lactating cows, dry cows and heifers.
Milk sold per cow 24,758 25,224 24,669 24,580
Gross margin per cow $4,744 $4,590 $4,912 $4,655
Net return over labor & mgt. per cow -$350 -$588 -$192 -$381
Cost of production per cwt. (with labor and mgt.) $19.11 $19.12 $19.36 $18.84
Feed cost per cow per year1 $2,339 $2,487 $2,297 $2,296
Feed cost per cwt.1 $9.45 $9.86 $9.31 $9.34
Avg. gross milk price per cwt. $17.70 $16.79 $18.58 $17.29
Milk price / feed margin per cwt. $8.25 $6.94 $9.27 $7.95
Corn Silage        
Yield per acre (tons) 18.13 16.23 21.11 16.42
Total direct & overhead per acre $590 $641 $598 $549
Cost of production per ton with labor & mgt. $33.57 $40.56 $29.37 $34.53

The financial standards measures are an objective way to assess the financial health of farms regardless of size or type. Table 3 compares the financial standards for these farms over the three-year window. While the current ratio falls below the 1.7 standard with a 1.19 average, these farms had a least $1.19 available to pay $1 in bills. At 1.19, they are tracking favorably from year-to-year without accumulating additional accounts payable. However, as the national trend shows, these farms increased their total farm debt by 5% over the previous two years. Restructuring debt may have kept the current ratio stable, but total farm debt increased. Large slippage in the market value of breeding livestock and a reduction in feed inventory amount both eroded the asset side on many balance sheets. This also caused the Debt to Asset measure to increase.

For the first time in the three years, the farms experienced a loss of $66,991 on Net farm income compared to the three-year average $80,035 profit. Profit must pay principal payments and owner draw (family living expense) on farms, so the average $80,000 profit would still be inadequate for many farms. The root cause of the poor financial performance is shown in the 95.3% operating expense ratio on these farms. That means 95 cents of every dollar went to pay operating expenses without covering interest and depreciation. The farms had a -4.2% Net farm income ratio for the year. In a low revenue year when milk prices are low, costs remain the same or increase and it takes nearly all the income simply to cover operating costs. The financial standards suggest 60% as a goal for farm operations. Because of the large cost of purchased feed, many dairy operations need to achieve a 70% ratio first, but at 95% our profit measures and all other efficiency and repayment indicators were challenged in 2018.

Table 3. Financial Standards Measures, Farms sorted by year, 2016-2018.

Comfort Benchmark
N = 64
N = 15
N = 26
N = 23
Current ratio > 1.7 1.17 1.19 1.17 1.15
Farm debt to asset ratio < 30% 40% 44% 39% 39%
Rate of return on farm assets > 8% 1.6% -3.0% 4.6% 1.3%
Net farm income   $80,035 -$66,991 $173,776 $69,954
Term debt coverage ratio > 1.5 0.86 -0.02 1.51 0.65
Operating expense ratio < 60% 88.1% 95.3% 84.0% 89.0%
Net farm income ratio > 20% 4.3% -4.2% 8.9% 3.6%

This assessment of 2018 paints a sobering picture of the dairy financial situation. It reinforces the reason for the high rate of farm liquidations. Hopefully the market will show continued strength in 2019 and offer milk prices that are closer to a breakeven level. A major challenge for many farms is to look hard at the breakeven cost the farm requires. The goal is to aim for breakeven costs below $17/cwt as a starting point and getting them below $16/cwt would be even better. The first step is to calculate the operation’s breakeven costs and make a realistic assessment of opportunities for improvement. The areas to work on will be different for each farm, but it’s an ongoing process of continuous improvement that is necessary for the dairy business to succeed.


Why new long-life milk technology could be a godsend for New Zealand farmers

Ground-breaking technology which can keep milk fresh for up to two months could open new markets for New Zealand milk, according to a dairy industry leader.

Queensland-based firm Naturo has patented technology which more than doubles the shelf life of pasteurised milk.

Few details have been released about how the technology works. Naturo chief executive Jeff Hastings told the ABC it didn’t involve heat and killed bacteria without killing vitamins and enzymes.

A long-life fresh milk product means it can be shipped internationally rather than exported via air freight at greater cost.

Chairperson of the New Zealand Dairy Industry, Chris Lewis, told Rural Exchange that the development could open new doors for the dairy industry.

“For the New Zealand consumer, it probably won’t make any difference, we get it fresh all the time,” he said.

However he said it could mean new export markets.

“Potentially we could export fresh milk further afield, the average consumer would like to enjoy the taste of fresh milk.”

In China, some consumers already pay a high price to have fresh milk delivered twice as week – however Lewis said the new technology would mean a wider market there.

“You would be selling to Mum and Dad, who want fresh milk like we do here in New Zealand.

He said he believed the New Zealand dairy industry could easily pick up on the technology.

“We have some great dairy companies who could latch onto this very quickly.”

Naturo has already developed technology to stop processed avocado turning brown, using air pressure treatment.

Watch Chris Lewis’ full interview with Rural Exchange.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay and Richard Loe, 6-8am Saturday and Sunday on Magic Talk


Source: Newshub.

India Remains World’s Largest Milk Producer

India is the largest milk-producing country in the world. Records from the USDA show that the country is trailed by the United States, which is the second largest producer, in milk production by a large margin.

India is unique among the major milk producers because more than half of its production comes from water buffalo, rather than cattle. Its dairy herd, also the largest in the world, has the biggest herds of both dairy cattle and water buffalo.

Since 1980, production has grown consistently at an average of 4.5 percent per year. The rate of growth between water buffalo and cow’s milk has also been quite similar at 4.6 and 4.5 percent, respectively.

In 2016, total production reached 154 billion tons compared with 96 billion produced in the United States.

India surpassed the United States as the largest dairy producer in 1997, when both countries produced roughly 70 billion tons, each.


Oversupply killing the nation’s dairy farms, leading to search for a sustainable model

This April 11, 2019 photo shows dairy Farmer Dwight Raber in Louisville, Ohio. Raber, of Raber Dairy Farms in northeast Ohio’s Stark County says he can no longer make a living by milking cows and has lost money the last two years. State statistics show the number of dairy farms in Ohio dropped to fewer than 2,000. ( Julie Vennitti/The Canton Repository via AP)

It has never been easy to make a living from dairy farming, but with milk prices depressed for the fifth year in a row, many farms across the nation now are struggling merely to survive.

Sadly, they often fail. Vermont has lost more than 400 dairy farms in the past 11 years, while nearly 700 farmers got out of the dairy business in Wisconsin last year alone. “I’ve been in this for over 40 years, and this is as bad as it’s ever been,” Jacques Parent, who runs a large dairy operation in northwestern Vermont, told The Associated Press last month.

Oversupply is the main reason milk prices have declined by nearly 40% over the past five years. Increased production has been driven in part by big corporate operations employing new technology that makes milking more efficient.

At the same time, Americans’ per capita consumption of fluid milk has dropped nearly 10% over five years, extending a trend that stretches back nearly three decades.

And in Wisconsin in 2012, then-Gov. Scott Walker implemented a program encouraging dairy farmers to ramp up production to meet a goal of producing 30 billion pounds of milk a year by 2020, overtaking California as the nation’s leading milk producer. That target was met by 2016, but the resulting glut devastated the industry, according to farm advocacy groups.

More recently, the situation has been made worse by the Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, which have drawn retaliatory tariffs from Mexico, Canada, Europe and China on American dairy products. And the administration’s immigration policies also are making it difficult for dairy farmers to get the labor they need.

The 2018 farm bill includes an expanded insurance program that may provide modest help when it is rolled out next month.

Under this “dairy margin coverage” program, farmers pay premiums and receive payments when the gap between milk prices and feed prices reaches a certain level. “It’s appreciated, but it’s only a little Band-Aid,” says Parent.

No wonder, then, that some American dairy farmers are looking north of the border for a sustainable model. At a two-day dairy summit held in Jay, Vt., last month, a petition was circulated calling for a national milk supply management program, something that Canada created back in the 1960s, at another time of low milk prices.

The idea is to limit the supply of certain commodities — dairy, poultry and eggs — to what Canadians are expected to consume, so that stable, predictable prices result. Farmers basically hold a license to produce up to a specified amount. This quota system prevents a market glut, and farmers receive a guaranteed minimum price, negotiated with processors, for their output.

Canada also puts high tariffs on imports that exceed fixed quotas, something that has infuriated Trump, who promises that a new North American trade agreement will eventually provide greater access to Canadian markets for American dairy products.

That remains to be seen, and time is running short for many farms.

The supply management system is disdained by free-market economists, who maintain that Canadians pay more than they otherwise would for dairy products and that the poorest families are hurt the most. But supporters of the system argue that consumers in New Zealand, which abandoned its supply management system in the 1980s, have not reaped the benefits.

A supply management system would be a departure for the United States, where many farmers, along with much of the public, generally fear government intervention in markets, but the circumstances are sufficiently dire that it just might have some appeal.

Kara O’Connor of the Wisconsin Farmers Union framed the issue this way at the Vermont summit: “We’re inviting people to consider whether consumers might pay a few cents more for a gallon of milk in exchange for saving hundreds of dairy farms per year and paying less in taxes for government dairy programs.”

Indeed, many communities value farms not only for what they produce but also for keeping land open and in use and for preserving a traditional — if challenging — way of life. The trade-off O’Connor lays out is well worth considering.


Milk breakthrough that can keep it fresh in the fridge for 60 days offers lifeline to dairy farmers

A Queensland food technology company has patented a process it claims can keep 100 per cent natural milk fresh in the fridge for at least 60 days without additives or preservatives.

Naturo CEO Jeff Hastings has already developed technology to stop processed avocado turning brown using air pressure treatment.

Now the company has made what Mr Hastings described as the biggest breakthrough in the $413 billion global dairy industry since pasteurisation in 1864.

Naturo is targeting export markets with a process that produces fresh milk which remains safe to drink for two months without ‘cooking it’.


Source: ABC News

Canadian Holstein Enthusiasts Gather in Charlottetown, P.E.I. for National Holstein Convention

Enthusiasts and dairy industry members from across Canada and the world gathered in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for Holstein Canada’s National Holstein Convention, April 24 – 27. Most of the program, including the 136th Annual General Meeting, the Atlantic Spring Showcase, and National Sale, was held in Charlottetown. The whole island set the stage for this year’s Farm Tours, putting P.E.I.’s passion for the Holstein breed at the forefront. Thanks to the “Come From Away” theme and the hard work of the volunteer organizing committee, led by Convention Chair Chris MacBeath, every visitor felt the best of the Island’s hospitality and dairy innovation.

The 136th Annual General Meeting

At the 136th Holstein Canada Annual General Meeting, President Harry Van der Linden discussed the future of Holstein Canada and its role in the changing industry, including the importance of supporting the Dairy Farmers of Canada Blue Cow campaign. President Van der Linden also presented the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan to the membership. In her message to the members, Holstein Canada CEO Ann Louise Carson gave updates on the state of our organization, highlighting records broken in both Classification and Registration in 2018. She also gave an overview of what will be a busy 2019, with the launch of two field software projects that will better service clients. Association members voted to adopt 7 of the 9 proposed resolutions and supported the by-law change presented by the Board of Directors. Also delivered were the financial reports and updates from Show & Judging, Classification, and Breed Advisory Committees.

Dairy Farmers of Canada President Pierre Lampron delivered a positive message to our members. He noted that while 2018 was a tough year for farmers, support across the industry and in the public gave us many reasons to hope for a great future. He thanked Holstein Canada for its role in the proAction® program, specifically in the fields of animal welfare and traceability.

Award presentations at the AGM included 2018 Cow of the Year and the Century of Holsteins Award, which celebrates 100 years of continuous membership with Holstein Canada. The legacies of the Godfrey family (LILAC LODGE) of North Wiltshire, P.E.I. and the Fawcett family (FAWCETTDALE) of Winchester, Ontario were celebrated with the Century of Holsteins Award. Capping off a contest with a record number of submissions, it was Ferme Boulet and Ferme Vilmer of Quebec accepting the 2018 Cow of the Year title for Boulet Goldwyn Chalou. Holstein Canada was also proud to honour the 81-year history of Holstein Journal and the accomplishments of Bonnie Cooper and Peter English in keeping producers across Canada informed and connected.

Following the AGM, the Board of Directors elected Gerald Schipper (SKIPWELL) of Aylmer, Ontario as the 2019-2020 Holstein Canada President. President Schipper will be supported by 1st Vice-President Elyse Gendron (VAL BISSON) of Saint-Polycarpe, Quebec, and 2nd Vice-President Nancy Beerwort (CHERRY CREST) of Martintown, Ontario.

Farm Tours, Sale, Show & Festivities

Sixteen Holstein families welcomed Convention participants and displayed their operations on the Farm Tours. Participants enjoyed seeing some great cows and well-managed facilities of all sizes and types. At the Atlantic Spring Showcase at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, over 130 beautiful Holsteins from Atlantic Canada and Quebec captured everyone’s attention. Judge Esteban Posada from Mexico crowned Idee Windbrook Lynzi as Grand Champion; she is an Island-bred cow now owned by Richard and Shannon Allyn, Frank and Diane Borba, JM Valley Holstein, and Stephane Gendreau. Following the AGM, the members interested in shows attended a panel discussion about possible changes or improvements to keep shows relevant and ensure that they showcase the best of the Canadian Holstein breed. Hosted by Board Member Nancy Beerwort (CHERRY CREST), Holstein Québec General Manager Valérie Tremblay, and Ontario Holstein Branch General Manager Merina Johnston, it represented the beginning of a formal conversation about exploring show changes.

Thirty-six next-generation dairy producers from all nine provincial Branches represented the Young Leader team in Charlottetown. Dr. Jodi Wallace of the Ormstown Veterinary Hospital spoke to the team about calf-care, and Chad Mann, CEO of the P.E.I. processor ADL, spoke about how genetics and continued innovation will keep Canada’s milk the best in the world and build future success. The Young Leaders were also treated to a two-step lesson – in addition to a life lesson – in the presentation of Corey Geiger, Vice President of Holstein USA and Managing Editor of Hoard’s Dairyman. The youth delegates participated in Farm Tours designed with them in mind, with discussions ranging from succession planning to a classification demonstration. The delegates all exercised their right to vote at the Annual General Meeting.

Capping off a fantastic week in P.E.I. was the 2018 Master Breeder Gala. To honour the Master Breeders from all regions of Canada, the celebration featured videos from 20 of the herds, with the families and Holstein Canada members proud to show their support. The Master Breeder videos can be viewed on the Holstein Canada YouTube channel.

2020 Convention

The 2020 National Holstein Convention will be held in Saskatchewan with the theme of “Pulse of the Prairies.” More details will be made available as the final 2020 Convention schedule is set and the website is launched in the fall of 2019.

Holstein Canada members interested in receiving a free copy of the 2018 Annual Report can contact Lucie McCarthy at or 1-855-756-8300 ext. 226. The Annual Report can also be accessed on Holstein Canada’s website by visiting

For a detailed recap of the 2019 National Holstein Convention and Annual General Meeting, watch for the July-August issue of InfoHolstein.


Rabobank predicts strong farmgate milk prices

Rabobank is forecasting a $7.15/kgMS farmgate payout for the 2019/2020 season but an Ettrick dairy farmer is more cautious and is not ”counting his chickens” until Fonterra makes its official announcement within the next few weeks.

The bank’s dairy analyst Emma Higgins, in her report ”Fourth time lucky: Back in the black once more”, suggested a fourth consecutive season of strong milk pricing could lead to a predicted $7.15/kgMS, along with a $6.65/kgMS for the 2018/2019 season.

Higgins said ” stagnant global milk supply and robust global demand for Oceania-origin dairy products was expected to support strong milk prices for New Zealand farmers over the remainder of the current season and into next”.

”From December 2018 through to early April 2019, commodity dairy prices have jumped 24 per cent with butter and skim milk powder, the two products to shift the needle most significantly,” she said.

”We expect these strong global prices to hold in the short term, underpinning a rise in the current season forecast and a strong opening forecast for the 2019/20 season.”

Ettrick dairy farm owner Grant Scott said the situation looked positive.

”All the stuff I have seen would suggest production around the world was lagging behind demand,” he said.

”The challenge is how long does it last?

”Don’t go counting chickens.”

Scott said the days of wholesale conversions were long gone.

”There might be one or two conversions [as a result of the higher payout] where it makes sense to do so.”

However, a lot of people were still dealing with the low payouts and tough times during the past three or four years, he said.

Higgins warned farmers to expect price inflation for on farm purchases and expenditure for fixed costs such as electricity, feed and wages.

Higgins said $7.15/kgMS was Rabobank’s forecast farmgate milk price based on the calculations set out in the milk price manual, which applied to Fonterra.

”This is a forecast and so this will change over the coming season to reflect the supply and demand dynamics that are ever evolving.”


Source: NZ Herald

‘The dairy industry is in a crisis’; Steil hears from farmers, agriculture industry

Raymond dairy farmer John Scott grew up hearing the phrase that farmers “feed the world.”

“That’s not necessarily true,” Scott said. “We feed the world that pays us and that’s why these trade agreements are important.”

Scott, along with several other individuals involved in farming and agriculture financing, spoke to U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wisconsin, and other representatives of state and federal agencies about the current state of farming during a listening session on Thursday in Burlington.

Steil, who represents Racine County in Congress, brought representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Small Business Administration, a federal agency charged with providing support to small businesses, with him to hear testimony.

“I wanted to make sure that they got the benefit of information that we received today,” Steil said. “That they’re able to use that information to make better policy in Washington.”

The panel also talked about the United States, Mexico, Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA), which was recently evaluated by the International Trade Commission and is currently making its way through the halls of Congress.

“Wisconsin dairy products are sought after, not only throughout the nation as the highest quality available, they’re sought after worldwide,” Scott said. “We are invested in exports and we need Congress to invest in us.”

Over and over, different attendees told Steil and the other agency representatives that the USMCA needs to pass as soon as possible.

Cindy Leitner, president of the Wisconsin Dairy Alliance, said the dairy industry is in a recession.

“We cannot add cows and milk our way out of this recession,” Leitner said. “The dairy industry is in a crisis.”

Leitner said giving farmers access to other markets outside of the United States is key to the survival of farms.

“We’re not talking about steel, we’re not talking about plastic … we are talking about food and our food source,” Leitner said. “We need to pass this legislation.”

With President Donald Trump visiting Wisconsin on Saturday, April 27, Leitner said she hopes someone speaks to him about the dire state of farming.

“The retaliatory tariffs have got to be removed,” Leitner said. “If we can do nothing else, we’ve got to remove those retaliatory tariffs. It’s very critical. Every day we are not signing this agreement or pursuing this agreement we are losing.”

Aaron Stauffacher, associate director of government affairs for Brown County-based Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, said one of the good things about the USMCA is it retains access to Mexico and Canada established under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“I don’t think we can talk about the importance of USMCA without talking about the success of NAFTA has been,” Stauffacher said. “In the dairy industry, pre-NAFTA we were exporting about 3% of our product and today based off of last year’s numbers we’re exporting about 15.8% of all dairy products in terms of milk solids.”

If USMCA passes and signed into law, Scott said it will bring some stability to the market.

“It would have an impact over the next 15 years,” Scott said.

Taking the message to Washington

After hearing the testimony of producers and financers, Steil said he got a sense of how real the situation is regarding farming in America.

“The commodity prices are low and that’s making it really hard for farmers to hold on to their farms,” Steil said. “We need to find a way to drive those commodity prices up and making sure that farmers have an ability to sell their product freely, fairly, reciprocally around the globe, is going to be an essential piece to that puzzle.”

Steil said he plans to go back to Washington, armed with new information, to advocate for farmers and workers in agriculture.

“I have to take the information that I learned from dairy farmers and corn growers and soybean growers and share that with members of districts that might not have that experience and have that dialogue on how do we get trade agreements that benefit all American workers and American farmers,” Steil said.

In the meantime, Scott will have to be patient.

“Farmers are always optimistic, especially in the spring,” Scott said. “Having Congressman Steil take the time to listen to what we had to say makes us a little more optimistic.”


Why California dairy farmers are leaving the business

More farmers than ever before are making the difficult choice to leave the dairy business in Stanislaus County, according to a USDA Census of Agriculture report.

“I operated a dairy farm here since 1973,” Ray Souza said.

For Souza, farming is in his blood.

“Sometimes you have to put your head above your heart,” he said.

And leaving back in October of 2016 was never a part of the plan.

“I miss it. I come out here every day. I can still come out here and breathe the ‘dairy air’ as they say, but there’s parts that I miss, there’s other parts I don’t miss, out of a whole. I think we made the right decision for us,” he said.

According to a USDA Census of Agriculture report, Souza is one of about 50 dairy farmers that chose to leave the business in Stanislaus County alone between 2012 and 2017.

“We look at the boom/bust economy we’ve had in dairy over the last few years. Dairymen have decided to go somewhere else where it’s a little less regulated, land costs are cheaper. It’s expensive in California, we have high land costs, water’s becoming an issue, the availability of water, especially here, it’s becoming a very serious issue,” he said.


Stanislaus County Agriculture Commissioner Milton O’Haire says the drop in farmers has caused milk production to decrease by more than nine percent.

“There’s more regulatory pressure on dairies. The cost of milk, or really, the price that they receive has really flatlined or declined, and they don’t get any more for their milk than they did six years ago. So, you can imagine during that time the price of commodities have increased. So their profit margins have either shrunk or completely dissipated,” O’Haire said.

Souza now rents out his dairy to another farmer, Kevin Azevedo, who is hopeful things will get better.

“It’s been tough financially. You kind of take from paying Paul to pay John, and juggle things around, but no matter what you make ends meet towards the end,” Azevedo said.

Each year, he says he’s being weighed down by more regulatory fees.

“High feed costs, low milk prices, dealing with all of these tariffs, and international compliance and all that stuff, it’s been very difficult. Regulations here in California just constantly be getting worse and worse,” he said.

But even through the hard times, Azevedo says he’s here to stay.

“I just want to continue it on and be there to have it for my kids,” he said.

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