Archive for News

Burke County is home to largest 100% grass-fed dairy farm in country

We know here in the CSRA, we get a lot of rain and our winters usually aren’t too cold. This makes our area perfect for raising 100% grass-fed and free-range cattle. Hart Dairy in Burke County is the largest 100% grass-fed and free-range dairy farm in the country.

This method is not the norm in the United States for raising dairy cattle, but it is one of the fastest-growing segments of the dairy industry. Richard Watson, co-founder of Hart Dairy, says, “as consumers become more aware of what’s in their food, where it comes from, and how it is produced, are the animals treated well. There is a definite shift. A consumer shift toward things like grass fed.” Maggie Reindl, operations manager at Hart Dairy, added that, “when we look at the longevity of them, the production that we get from them, our herd health system, I can tell we have happy cows.”

Different types of grass are grown during different times of year for the cattle to graze. They are currently growing bermuda, but will switch to ryes and oats during cooler months. This allows for grazing 365 days a year. A recent study performed by the University of Georgia and University of Florida found that the farm also extracts tons of carbon from the atmosphere. Watson said, “it’s about 3 and a half tons of carbon per year per acre that we pull out of the atmosphere, so we are proud of that. Not only do we think this is better for the animals, it’s better for the environment in the long term”.

The natural diet of the cows translates to antioxidants, beta-carotene, and other beneficial nutrients in the milk. Hart Dairy will be selling 2%, skim, whole milk, and everyone’s favorite… chocolate. Their products will be available soon around the Augusta area in most major grocery stores. Hart Dairy is in the process of opening a processing facility in Waynesboro to help them ship their product across the Southeast. They hope to bring many jobs to Burke County once it opens.


Crews work to put out fire at Calumet County (WI) dairy farm

Firefighters work at the scene of a fire at Holsum Dairy in the Calumet County Town of Rantoul Sept. 24, 2020. (WLUK/Chris Schattl)

Ten fire departments responded to a fire at Holsum Dairy Thursday.

The call came in about 5 a.m., according to the Calumet County Sheriff’s Dept.

Firefighters battle a fire at Holsum Dairy in the Calumet County Town of Rantoul Sept. 24, 2020. (WLUK/Chris Schattl)

The fire was at the farm near Irish Road and Dreier Road. The Brillion News reports the fire was in a hay barn.

Hans Eggink To Be Holstein Canada’s First Holstein Solutions Partner For Western Canada

Holstein Canada is excited to announce the hiring of Hans Eggink as our new Holstein Solutions Partner. Hans comes to the Association with a deep history in the dairy industry and experience in a wide range of areas.

Hans begins his role with us October 5. We are thrilled to put his first-hand dairy knowledge to good use for producers in Western Canada, where he will be based full-time. As part of this position, Hans will be doing Classification, Field Service, and proAction® Assessments.

A native of Alberta and a mainstay of his community, Hans comes to us from Nutrisource Inc., where he acted as Ruminant Management Consultant for producers in northern Alberta.

Prior to that, Hans was employed by Alta Genetics as a Tech Team Leader in central Alberta for five years. Hans was also the owner and operator of Hanmon Dairy for 17 years; his herd of 200 cows was in the top 5% for Production and Management in Canada for many consecutive years. He sold the operation in 2007.

The position of Holstein Solutions Partner is new to Holstein Canada, as it is the first time our Association has integrated three services into one role. This is an added Field Service role for the West, and Hans will collaborate closely with our current Field Service Business Partner for the region, Morgan Sangster.

Colostrum Research Shows Scours-Vaccinated Cows Produced Insufficient Antibody Levels

Independent researchers* recently measured colostrum from scours-vaccinated cows for general antibody levels needed to achieve successful passive transfer, plus for specific antibody levels needed to maximize immunity against scour-causing pathogens. In samples meeting the industry standard for general mass of antibody (50g/l antibody, also referred to as immunoglobulins), results showed only 1% of cows had high concentrations of specific coronavirus antibodies, 3% were high in rotavirus antibodies and 7% provided colostrum that was high in E. coli antibodies.

“To achieve successful passive transfer, newborn calves need a high level of general antibodies. But that’s often not enough to prevent scours,” says Bobbi Brockmann, Vice President of Sales and Marketing with ImmuCell. “Calves also need elevated levels of specific antibodies to maximize immunity against scour-causing pathogens. Traditionally, farmers have relied on pre-calving scour vaccines to increase antibody levels in colostrum to protect against common scour-causing pathogens. These vaccines require the already immunosuppressed pregnant cow to mount an immune response and then transfer those specific antibodies into colostrum. Unfortunately, a vaccine response rate is inherently variable and protocol drift increases that variability, creating an even bigger gap between what farmers pay for and the calf protection they actually get.”

The study analyzed 97 single-cow colostrum samples taken from 10 well-vaccinated herds (8 to 10 samples per herd), comprised of farms in California, Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. Each herd had been using a dam-level vaccination program according to label recommendations for more than three years. Researchers collected first-milk colostrum post-calving from only multiparous cows, and then used Bethyl Laboratories assays to measure general antibody mass, virus neutralization assays to quantify specific antibody titers against coronavirus and rotavirus, and a USDA-approved titer assay to determine specific E. coli antibody levels.

Figure 1 shows each cow’s colostrum relative to mass of antibody and titer level against coronavirus, rotavirus and E. coli. The red lines distinguish the quandrants. According to the results, almost half of the cows sampled provided colostrum which fell in all three “low : low” quandrants, indicating that the colostrum was low in general mass of antibody and specificity against coronavirus, rotavirus and E. coli pathogens.

The results also showed that an extremely low number of cows provided colostrum in the “high : high” quandrant, with only 1% for coronavirus, 3% for rotavirus and 7% for E. coli antibody.

“Vaccination is simply the act of administering a vaccine. These numbers confirm that immunization is not a guaranteed outcome with vaccination, and calves are left unprotected against scour-causing pathogens,” states Brockman. “Despite increased adoption of pre-calving scour vaccines since the 1970s, scour incidence has not improved, likely because of extreme variability. Farmers and veterinarians are seeking alternative treatments that deliver guaranteed levels of specific antibodies – without a vaccine.”

During a recent immunology symposium, Dr. Chris Chase, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at South Dakota State University, highlighted the use of preformed antibodies to immunize newborn calves against scour pathogens. According to the SDSU professor, these antibodies protect against both bacterial and viral scours. “With vaccines, there are too many outside factors, making a 100% immunization response rate biologically impossible,” says Dr. Chase. “But with a USDA-approved antibody product, farmers know exactly what they’re getting – a level of immunity proven in third-party studies to protect against scours.”

* Research, Technology, Innovation, LLC. Colostrum, as an effective mechanism, needs both a shotgun and a sniper in its artillery: How colostrum quality and specific antibody levels against scour-causing pathogens fall short even within well vaccinated herds [White paper].

Ontario woman fined $25K for illegally importing hundreds of doses of bovine semen

A Fergus woman has been fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to importing bovine semen into Canada.

The woman was handed the fine in Guelph on Aug. 26.

A release issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said the woman imported the bovine semen without a permit between Feb. 25, 2017 and Feb. 24, 2018.

The CFIA said it executed warrants in Ontario and Alberta on May 10 “that resulted in a large seizure of unlawfully imported bovine semen.”

The rest of the seized semen, a total of 1,553 straws, were forfeited to the Ministry of Agricultural for disposal.

All other charges against the woman were withdrawn.

Source: CTV News

2021 Best U.S. Colleges for Agricultural Sciences

There are 140 agricultural colleges in the United States and released its newest rankings. To be included in the list, the college must at least give bachelor’s degrees in agriculture or represents at least 20% of all bachelor’s degrees conferred by the university. The ranking compares the top agricultural science degree programs including animal sciences, horticulture, aquaculture, agronomy, crop science, and turf management. uses data from the United States Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and millions of reviews from college students and alumni across the nation to calculate its annual ranking.  A rigorous analysis of the Department of Education data on academics, admissions, and financial and student life is combined with research expenditures gathered by the National Science Foundation. 

In addition to the ranking schools are also given a letter grade, which is based on faculty accomplishments, salary, student views, and other factors.  

Rank University Name City
1 Cornell University Ithaca, NY
2 University of Georgia Athens, GA
3 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
4 Texas A&M University College Station, TX
5 University of California – Davis Davis, CA
6 University of Wisconsin Madison, WI
7 University of Minnesota Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
8 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
9 Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA
10 Clemson University Clemson, SC
11 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
12 The Ohio State University Columbus, OH
13 Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK
14 California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, CA
15 Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS
16 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
17 University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign Champaign, IL
18 Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO
19 Auburn University Auburn, AL
20 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
21 Iowa State University Ames, IA
22 Penn State University Park, PA
23 University of Vermont Burlington, VT
24 University of Missouri Columbia, MO
25 Rutgers University – New Brunswick Piscataway, NJ

Check out the full list here.  For more information on the methodology click here

Source: Seeworld

Dairy Girl Network Launches Forward TogetHER National Conference Virtually

The Dairy Girl Network’s mission has always been to reach dairywomen where they are. This means making more resources available to more members and reaching those that cannot be there in person. DGN’s national conference, Forward TogetHER, is no exception to this, and the organization is excited to shift resources and attention to creating an exceptional virtual conference this fall.

The national conference will be held November 3

rd to 5th, 2020 and connects both producers and industry members to learn, grow and recharge their batteries, together. As the Forward TogetHER experience pivots for 2020, these values will not change. In fact, DGN is finding even more ways to reach members and provide a top notch, interactive and educational experience for everyone, no matter their location.

The conference will provide over 25 dynamic speakers (both live streamed and recorded), recorded breakouts with live Q&A interactive sessions and provoking panel discussions. The topics for the sessions range from sustainability, dairy financials, people management, technology, milk markets, technical herd topics, mental health and more. There will also be interactive online networking features, a virtual Showcase trade show and other sessions attendees can enjoy from the comfort of their home, barn, desk or tractor, on their time.

The event will kick off with an optional pre-conference session on Tuesday, November 3rd and a virtual welcome event that evening. On Wednesday, November 4th, the conference will open with the inspiring and knowledgeable Mary Keough Ledman of Rabobank, followed by an exceptional technology panel and financial session. The day also features the powerhouse of “Why Net Zero Matters” panel discussion with Krysta Harden and Jim Wallace, both from Dairy Management Inc., and Tara Vander Dussen, Environmental Scientist, dairy farmer and the New Mexico Milkmaid. The afternoon of November 4th will feature the breakout interactivity sessions and networking opportunities. The final day of November 5th will start with two early-bird sessions and a workout with Dairy Girl Fitness, Emily Shaw. Thursday will continue with two exceptional panels on “Transitioning Into Your Next Purpose” and “Quiet the Noise, Set Your Intentions” showcasing many motivating and dedicated dairywomen. The final day will also include sessions on animal welfare by Jennifer Van Os, University of Wisconsin-Madison and a closing session by DGN founder and president, Laura Daniels. All these sessions will be recorded as well.

To preview the entire lineup of speakers and activities, please visit If you have specific questions, please reach out to Renee Norman-Kenny ( or Forward TogetHER Chairwoman Kristy Pagel (

The Dairy Girl Network is supported by sustaining sponsor: Dairy Management Inc.; and catalyst sponsors: Cargill, Compeer, DeLaval, Diamond V, Farm Credit, Land O’ Lakes, Merck Animal Health, Michael Best and The National Dairy FARM Program, in addition to contributions by event and conference sponsors. The conference sponsors currently include, Alltech, Dairy Farmers of America, Dairy Management Inc., The National Dairy FARM Program, Nedap Livestock Management, Cargill, Compeer, DeLaval, Farm Credit, Land O’ Lakes, Merck Animal Health, Michael Best, Boehringer Ingelheim, milc group, UdderTech, GPS Dairy Consulting, Diamond V, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Vita Plus, CRMG / Rice Dairy Group, Rabobank, Zoetis, ImmuCell, StateLine Vet Clinic, Denkavit, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Festival Foods, Genex, Holstein International and TechMix.

The Dairy Girl Network connects all women of the dairy industry, encouraging ideas and camaraderie in an effort to achieve personal and professional development. Designed as a welcoming network of passionate women involved in dairy, relationships will grow through shared experience, support and inspiration.

Yili Group Becomes World’s Most Valuable Dairy Brand-PR Newswire APAC

Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation consultancy, has released its Food & Drink 2020 report, in which Asian dairy giant Yili Group (“Yili”, SHA: 600887) is named the most valuable dairy brand and the second-most valuable food brand in the world for its impressive achievements in the past year.

Yili crowns most valuable dairy brand by Brand Finance in its Food & Drink 2020 report
Yili crowns most valuable dairy brand by Brand Finance in its Food & Drink 2020 report

Brand Finance is one of the world’s top five brand valuation institutes and is widely recognized for its professionalism and independence. Its brand valuation reports are an important indicator for financial companies and professionals.

“As a brand committed to unceasing product continuous innovation in the industry, it is unsurprising that Yili has managed to continually achieve its expansion goal this year, even despite the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Savio D’Souza, Valuation Director of Brand Finance.

According to Brand Finance, Yili has now overtaken its competitors to become the world’s largest dairy company, with brand value up 13% in the past year thanks to its innovation and internalization strategy as well as Chairman Pan Gang’s consumer-centric philosophy. Yili is also named the dairy brand with the most potential in the world, reflecting Yili’s continued leadership in the global dairy industry.

Yili expands brand and targets two billion consumers worldwide

As Asia’s most valuable dairy brand for the last five years, Yili continues to power forward in its international expansion, most notably in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Oceania. It aims to build a global network and supply chain that serves two billion consumers around the world by the end of 2020.

With a strong emphasis on innovation, Yili focuses on producing new products and spearheading new product categories that cater to consumer needs, expanding choice and enhancing health in markets around the world. Consumers recognize and embrace its notable product quality and rich product offering, which has enabled Yili to achieve high brand penetration in wide-ranging markets.

Yili set up a big data radar platform to collect pubic accessible information from over 420 data sources, providing over 90 percent of valid data for customer insight analysis. It places a significant emphasis on understanding and responding to consumer needs, developing innovative new products that expand choice and enhance health for consumers across the world.

Yili was also recognized by the Dutch financial services company Rabobank in its Global Dairy Top 20 2020 Report, in which it was named the number five dairy producer in the world. This is the highest ranking ever achieved by an Asian dairy producer.

New Dates Announced for the 2021 Holstein Convention in Ottawa

Holstein Canada has announced their new dates for the 2021 Holstein Convention in Ottawa, ON. The convention will now be held from July 7-10th, 2021. Visit the Holstein Canada website or Facebook page to stay up to date on details as they become available! 


US Price Supports for Dairy: The Beginnings

Today’s article begins a short series on the history of milk pricing in the United States, as I firmly believe in the old adage, “To ignore history is to repeat it.”

Today’s article begins with the dairy industry in the early part of the 20th century and ends just prior to World War I.

It was all about the dealers/processors in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As the 19th century was coming to an end, producers had some success in forcing dealers to consider a pricing plan for milk, but it certainly was not easy. There were issues with seasonal production, yearly production differences and the seasonal changes in consumer demands. Those demands did not always match production levels and, of course, storage of a perishable commodity was not a possibility.

Prices received by each farmer could be drastically different, and competition between newly formed dairy cooperatives and independent processors was already affecting the market. Once manufacturing plants were in place, they also affected prices paid to farmers. Fluid processors paid higher prices for milk than the manufacturers, and large processors usually dealt with the cooperatives because of the one-stop availability of a higher volume of milk.

The differences in what type of entity purchased fluid milk led to the development of three types of pricing systems — flat pricing, base excess pricing, and class pricing.

Flat pricing — a specific price paid to a producer for total milk purchased — is the simplest of the three. There were problems with a flat price, though, as producers were often dropped by processors during times of low demand and added when the demand was high. Since they did not negotiate with cooperatives for milk, this is the system most used by small processors at the time. For those processors, difficulties arose when they were often forced to market products at lower prices than they paid for producer milk.

Farmers paid through the base excess pricing system received fluid milk prices for all milk sold up to the established production base. This system was intended to deal with production during the short supply months and was updated as often as every year. Any milk sold above the established base level was paid for using the manufacturing price, which was lower. While the base excess pricing was better than flat pricing, the issues with seasonal production were still there, and it also sparked concerns among groups advocating some form of equitable payments to producers, as base pricing usually generated more for participating producers than the flat pricing system.

Surplus milk during the flush months that also had low consumer demand led cooperatives to develop a class system of pricing, which would be based on what we now call end use or utilization. This system was seen as beneficial to producers and was especially favorable to advocates of equitable pricing because cooperatives pooled money received from sales of all milk classes and divided it equally among their respective cooperative producer members.

Classified pricing started in the Boston area in the late 1800s, around 1885-86, and by the 1920s and 1930s was put in place in other major milk markets.

Once these plans were in place, a hybrid soon emerged — the base rating plan — which was a combination of classified pricing and the base excess pricing system. The base rate was a price resulting from adding the average price for all fluid milk sold to the price for any lower class milk (up to the total volume sold). The base rating system was seen as a system that effectively dealt with two major issues — seasonal fluctuations in production and demand, and equitable distribution of milk sales revenues.

World War I, however, brought unique stressors to the market, and flaws with the existing pricing structures were magnified.

Next week’s article addresses milk pricing during World War I and the Great Depression. I am grateful to Dr. Andrew Novakovic for giving me permission to use his and Eric Erba’s 2005 article, “The Evolution of Milk Pricing and Government Intervention in Dairy Markets,” in developing the early history of pricing for this series of articles.

As a side note, four of our current Pennsylvania dairy processors were founded before 1920. Two of those existed by 1880.

The Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board is always available to address concerns and questions. I can be reached at 717-210-8244 or by email at


68th All-American Jersey Show to take place November 7-9th in Louisville, KY

In a release September 17, 2020, the staff of North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) released the following statement on social media: “GOOD NEWS #NAILE20! We will have a show. It will be modified from a normal NAILE, including being a participant-only event, but the show will go on.

Our entry deadline is shifting to October 1 with late entries due October 10 for most livestock shows with the Quarter Horse deadline moving to October 19. The premium book and online entries will be posted on our website tomorrow (September 18). Additional information about what #NAILE20 looks like will be available in the coming days.”

The Governor of Kentucky issued the positive ruling yesterday afternoon with the news dairy exhibitors across North America had been waiting to hear. There will be restrictions related to COVID-19 in place, along with a compressed show schedule with all breeds showing within the three-day weekend. The show will culminate with the selection of Supreme Champion on Monday evening.  The USJersey organization staff are now moving forward with plans for the All American Jersey Shows & Sales on November 6, 7, and 8, in Louisville, Ky.

In addition to the extension of the North American’s entry deadline to October 1, the National Jersey Jug Futurity deadline for final payments has been extended to October 1.

Premiums totaling $40,900 will be awarded in three shows. Last year’s All American assembled 601 Registered Jerseys™ representing more than 200 dairy operations, making it the largest single-site exhibition of Jerseys in the United States and the world for 2019.

These events will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center, located adjacent to the Louisville International Airport. The confirmed schedule for the shows and sales is as follows:

Saturday, November 7

7:30am … The 68th All American Junior Jersey Show, Freedom Hall
4:00pm … 63rd Pot O’Gold Sale, presented by Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Solutions Co., West Hall
Supreme Champion of the NAILE Junior Shows will be selected at the conclusion of the last show on Saturday evening.

Sunday, November 8

1:30pm … 67th National Jersey Jug Futurity, Freedom Hall
4:30pm … All American Jersey Sale, West Hall B

Monday, November 9

7:30am … The 68th All American Jersey Show, Freedom Hall, (cows enter ring at 11:30 a.m.)
Supreme Champion selected at the conclusion of the breed shows on Monday evening.

Details for the Junior Banquet and the National Jersey Queen Contest will be determined in the near future as more information is released on the guidelines that will be in place during the North American.

The Shows and the Judges

The All American Junior Jersey Show is scheduled for Saturday, November 7. Debuting in the Jersey ring is Kentucky born and raised Joe Sparrow, Worthville.  His consultant will be Jared Major of Lebanon, Tenn. This is one of the richest youth-only shows in the world with premiums totaling $9,225, plus an additional $5,000 in direct financial support for exhibitors provided by the American Jersey Cattle Association.

The 67th National Jersey Jug Futurity will award estimated premiums of $9,000 on Sunday, November 8. A total of 752 heifers were nominated for the show in 2017, and 265 are still eligible to make the final entry fee due September 20. They will be judged by Terri Packard, Boonsboro, Md. Her consultant will be Richard Caverly, Benton, Maine.

The open division of The All American Jersey Show is scheduled for Monday, November 9 and will be judged by Justin Burdette, Mercersburg, Pa. His consultant will be Pat Lundy, Granville, N.Y.

The first and second place entries in each class of all shows will be named the All American and Reserve All American winners for 2020 by the American Jersey Cattle Association. The shows will be streamed live from Freedom Hall via webcast at

The Premier Jersey Sales

Two sales, both managed by Jersey Marketing Service of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, are scheduled to be held in the West Hall on Expo grounds.

The 68th All American Jersey Sale is the premier showcase for Registered Jersey™ genetics in the United States. Selection is underway to offer 60 outstanding females along with several high-ranking genomic young sires on Sunday, November 8 in the Kentucky Exposition Center’s West Hall.

The 63rd Pot O’Gold Sale on Saturday, November 7 in the West Hall of the Expo Center will offer 30 genomic-evaluated heifers that can only be purchased by youth between seven and 20 years of age. Presenting Sponsor of the sale is Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Solutions Co.

Both sales will be broadcast live with online bidding at Jersey Auction Live.

Visit the NAILE website or call 502/595-3166 for complete premium list with show rules and entry forms. October 1 is the deadline for open and junior show entries, as well as final nominations for the National Jersey Jug Futurity.


Provided by American Jersey Cattle Association

Discovery of rare Roman cattle bones sheds new light on ancient farming

The “incredibly rare” discovery of Roman cattle bones by archaeologists has shed new light on how ancient farmers butchered and sold meat.

The bones were found by experts and students from the University of Exeter, along with members of the local community, who are excavating a Roman settlement near Ipplepen, in South Devon.

The remains are mostly just the heads and feet of cattle, which would have been thrown in a ditch by people living and working in the area 1,700 years ago. This may have been the waste from a Roman abattoir. Early analysis of the bones suggests that cattle grazing in nearby fields were brought to the site and then butchered when they were at the prime age for producing beef (rather than being kept alive until they reached old age). The best cuts of meat were probably sold to be eaten elsewhere.

Archaeologists have also found a piece of sawn deer antler, possibly used for making objects such as awls, needles, combs and hairpins. This is the first time that evidence for Romano-British bone or antler working has been discovered in Devon outside of Exeter.

Waste from the smithing of iron found during the excavation indicates that there was a blacksmith’s forge nearby, while the discovery of a stone weight may have been used in the weaving of textiles.

Pottery and coins from the Roman settlement suggest the site was occupied from the mid-1st through to the late 4th centuries AD.

Professor Stephen Rippon, from the University of Exeter, who is leading the archaeological work, said: “This site has revealed an incredible amount about life in Devon during the Roman period.

“It is really rare to get animal bones preserved on rural archaeological sites in the South West as its acidic soils normally dissolve the calcareous bones. The finds from Ipplepen are therefore an exciting discovery as they shed new light on farming practices in the Roman period”.

National Lottery funding has allowed the University of Exeter to expand its work with local communities. In 2019 the excavation is playing play host to 40 local volunteers, pupils from Ipplepen Primary School, and by members of the Somerset and Torbay Young Archaeologists Clubs.


Events Taking Place for World Dairy Expo 2020

The leaves are starting to change here in Wisconsin which serves as another reminder that it’s almost that Expo time of year. Typically, this week is filled with last minute preparations as we all get ready to spend quality time together in Madison for World Dairy Expo. Unfortunately, we all know that isn’t the case this year, but Expo still has some exciting things taking place. Here is a run-down on what’s happening at World Dairy Expo in 2020.

World Dairy Expo Events

Tuesday, September 29th
54 years of World Dairy Expo
We are kicking Expo week off with a stroll down memory lane as we remember the moments that make Expo great. From videos of current Expo volunteers to stories of the past, there will be something to resonate with everyone.

Wednesday, September 30th
World Forage Analysis Superbowl
Wednesday is all about forages as the 2020 WFAS winners are announced and six new Dairy Forage Seminars are launched. Watch the live announcement of contest winners at 11 a.m. (CST) by registering for the free program HERE.

Thursday, October 1st
Global Dairy Tech Start-up Spotlight
Hosted by AgriTech Capital, Expo is proud to endorse this virtual event that will spotlight 10 start-ups in the dairy technology sector, at 1 p.m. (CST) on October 1. More information about this event and registration is available here.

Friday, October 2nd
Survey Says! 
Join us during primetime for the pilot episode of Survey Says! as Expo’s Dairy Cattle Show judges go face-to-face with an exhibiting family in this feud-style program to see who knows more about WDE fan opinions.

Saturday, October 3rd
Supreme Champions
Continuing an Expo tradition that began in 1970, we are ending the week honoring the Supreme Champions of World Dairy Expo!

The Expo apparel and dairy-themed paraphernalia WDE attendees would normally find at the Purple Cow Gift Shop has moved online for the first time! As a way to support farm families across the country, World Dairy Expo is pledging 10% of profits from the online store in 2020 to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, located in Marshfield, Wis. The Purple Cow Gift Shop’s online store will remain open through the end of the year at the WDE website with additional items added periodically, including during Expo week, so watch the Purple Cow Gift Shop Facebook page for updates.

World Dairy Expo is pleased to introduce Pavilion Promotions, a new online space where Dairy Cattle Show exhibitors can feature all of the world-class items WDE attendees have grown accustomed to finding in the New Holland Pavilions and Cattle Tent. As the 2020 show season continues to be impacted by COVID-19, Expo developed this new service to provide breeders a free marketing tool to showcase their animal genetics, farm, and dairy show cattle services now and into the future. Pavilion Promotions is found at HERE.  

World Dairy Expo is joining the podcast world with its new program, The Dairy Show. Each episode features a new guest who discusses a topic related to the dairy industry or World Dairy Expo. Find The Dairy Show wherever you listen to podcasts and on the WDE website starting on Tuesday, September 29!

COVID-19 disrupted our way of life but isn’t stopping companies from launching new products and services that serve the dairy industry. Explore new offerings from our intended 2020 Trade Show exhibitors with Innovation Unveiled on the WDE website.

The World Dairy Expo is also encouraging everyone to join the conversation on social media during Expo week by tagging World Dairy Expo, using #WDE2020! You can find WDE’s social channels here: FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.


Provided by World Dairy Expo

DOJ Defends Clearance Of Co-Op’s $433M Dean Foods Buy

The U.S. Department of Justice has told an Illinois federal judge to disregard the lone commenter weighing in on a deal to allow cooperative Dairy Farmers of America to move ahead with its $433 million purchase of assets from bankrupt milk producer Dean Foods, saying his remarks don’t change the analysis of the transaction. 

The DOJ’s filing Monday is part of the Tunney Act process by which it must submit merger clearance deals for public scrutiny and court approval regarding a settlement’s public interest implications.

In this case, Judge Gary S Feinerman is weighing the implications of allowing DFA to purchase 44 Dean Food fluid and frozen milk facilities across the U.S. on the condition that DFA sell plants in Illinois, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

The DOJ imposed the terms to prevent DFA from picking up 70% of the fluid milk market in northeastern Illinois and Wisconsin and approximately 51% in New England.

The only response to the request for public comment, the DOJ said, came from Pennsylvania farmer Martin T. Petroski.

In a hand-written note, Petroski argued the Dean Foods deal shouldn’t be allowed because «DFA is coming into control of the milk market.» Farmers have gotten nothing in return but more costs, said Petroski, who called for DFA — whom he deemed the «milk mob» — to be broken up, arguing that in some places the company has become «the only market.»

Petroski may have been the only party to file a Tunney Act comment, but he isn’t the only one critical of the deal.

Food Lion and regional co-op Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association Inc. are currently challenging a piece of the transaction in North Carolina federal court — specifically, DFA’s pickup of three processing facilitates in North Carolina and South Carolina, which they say reduces competition both for the supply of raw milk and the processing of milk.

DFA contends MDVA is suing simply because it’s «been unable to compete in the marketplace,» while Food Lion just wants to «extract the lowest possible prices to enhance its profit margins.»

According to the suit, DFA’s campaign to dominate the milk industry actually began in 2001 with the merger of Dean and Suiza Foods, when the co-op cut a «corrupt bargain» that helped get the deal past scrutiny from the DOJ.

The bargain allegedly made DFA the exclusive supplier of raw milk to the merged company in exchange for agreeing not to compete with processing plants that it was purchasing as part of a DOJ settlement clearing the merger.

The exclusive agreement was set to expire in 2021, but Dean’s filing for bankruptcy in November threatened to accelerate the timing, according to the complaint. DFA «could not let that happen» and instead engineered a way of making the arrangement permanent by purchasing 44 processing plants from the bankruptcy estate, according to the complaint.

The suit also contends that in 2021, when DFA’s supply contract was set to expire, MDVA would have been able to compete for new contracts with the plants, competition that won’t happen because of the deal.

In the instant court review of the merger clearance settlement however, the DOJ argued Monday that it’s not enough for Petroski to generally criticize DFA as too big and engaging in anticompetitive conduct.

«The comment, however, does not appear to be in any way critical of the merger. The comment, for example, does not refer to any of the allegations in the complaint, nor to the impact of the proposed final judgment,» the DOJ said.

According to the department, which will soon seek final approval, the settlement sufficiently addresses the competitive harms of «substantially lessened competition for the processing and sale of fluid milk in two geographic markets — northeastern Illinois and Wisconsin and New England.»

The department also read Petroski’s «only market» comment to refer to DFA’s role buying raw milk from farmers and coordinating sales.

«To the extent this comment advances a claim about DFA’s purchase of raw milk from farmers, the comment is discussing the sale of raw milk from farmers or cooperatives to processors, not the sale of processed fluid milk from dairy processors to retailers and schools that the complaint addresses,» the DOJ said.

«Because the United States did not make any claims relating to any raw milk markets in its complaint, this part of the comment is outside the scope of what this court is asked to review under the Tunney Act,» continued the department, which argues courts can review only the competitive harms raised by the DOJ and cannot look at a transaction more broadly.

DFA did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment.

The government is represented by Karl D. Knutsen, Justin Heipp, Nathaniel J. Harris and Christopher A. Wetzel of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The case is United States of America et al v. Dairy Farmers of America Inc. et al., case number 1:20-cv-02658, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Source Law360

USDA Updates Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis Import Regulations

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is updating its import regulations to establish a system for classifying the brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis (TB) status levels for foreign regions. APHIS is also outlining the requirements for animals from each status level to enter the United States.

These changes will help protect the U.S. herd against introduction of bovine TB and brucellosis via imported animals, while facilitating safe trade of unaffected animals.

The United States has made great strides in eradicating these two diseases, and cases are becoming increasingly rare. However, in recent years, most new TB cases identified in the United States have been in imported animals. The updated regulations will enhance efforts to keep disease from entering the country by giving us a format to review and classify the status of foreign regions for TB and brucellosis, and allowing us to ensure only healthy animals enter our country.

The new regulations include numerous updates to address issues raised during the public comment period, including clarifying definitions and requirements. In addition, they remove age limits for testing imported animals and expand the bovine TB testing requirements for sexually-intact animals imported for breeding or feeding.

The new regulations are effective 30 days after Federal Register publication. However, APHIS recognizes that there are many regions that enjoy particular status under the current regulations. These regions will continue to be able to trade with the United States under the terms of the status they currently hold until APHIS is able to review and adjust their status using the new approach spelled out in this final rule.

Lameness in Ruminants Conference Moves to 2022

The 21st International Symposium and 13th International Conference on Lameness in Ruminants, the leading biennial global event focused on improving hoof health, originally scheduled for August 2021, has been rescheduled. The event will now take place Aug. 1 – 5, 2022 in Bloomington, Minn. USA.

The Lameness in Ruminants conference draws an audience of researchers, veterinarians, dairy producers, hoof trimmers, students and industry representatives from around the world. In 2022, the group will gather under the theme Embracing Excellence in Mobility and Wellbeing. The five-day conference will provide attendees with the opportunity to learn the most current research and practices that help to enhance large and small ruminant hoof health. Additionally, attendees can gain supplemental education and knowledge through pre- and post-conference workshops.

“Although planning for the conference is well underway, the planning committee felt that it was best to postpone the Lameness in Ruminants Conference until 2022,” says Gerard Cramer, conference committee member from the University of Minnesota. “Due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic, many presenters from around the globe have experienced disruptions in their work and research. By postponing the conference, we can still provide our attendees with the highest quality of information and an event experience that they have come to expect. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2022.”

To learn more about the 2022 Lameness in Ruminants Conference, including important dates, registration information, pre- and post-conference workshop applications, abstract submission information and to subscribe to future updates, visit

Top Dairy Industry News Stories from September 12th to 18th 2020

Feature Article:

Top News Stories:

Ferme Blondin Leads the Way with Outstanding Sale

The team at ferme Blondin lead by Kim and Simon Lalande hosted an outstanding sale yesterday.  In these uncertain times, the team at Blondin continues to show their leadership and passion to drive our industry forward.  

Topping the sale was Lot #3 BUD015 Chelsea, a March 2020 Sidekick daughter from Unique Dempsey Cheers the Reserve Intermediate Champion from World Dairy Expo in 2018.  She was consigned by Cherry Ridge Farms and was purchased by Velthuis Farms for $14,000.


The 2nd highest seller of the day was lot 109 Clemar Army Red Velvet, a fancy red Junior Calf Sired by Siemers Apples Army from a VG-2YR DiamondBack X EX X EX-91 X Irwindale Leduc Molly-EX-94.  Velvet was recently the Junior Champion at a show in Quebec.  She was purchased by Borba, Select Farm,  J. Gonzalez and Claire Swale for $13,500.

Rounding out the top sellers was lot #50 Blondin Capture Careful-VG-87-2YR for $12,200. Purchased by Ferme Pierre Boulet, Careful is fresh since June 8th and bred to Cheif.  Her dam is an 88point 2yr-year-old Unix from Silvermample Damion Camille EX-95 $* who was the Reserve Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo and Intermediate Champion at the Royal in 2011.

The sale averaged $5402 on 116 outstanding lots.

For complete sale results click here

$2 million in aid to go to NC dairy farmers

COVID-19 has affected many businesses and industries.

But after months of suffering huge losses and dumping thousands of gallons of milk, North Carolina dairy farmers will finally get some relief. 

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced Thursday that $2 million in aid has been set aside for the farmers who need it most.  

“It’s really made us get creative with ways to generate revenue,” said dairy farmer Randy Lewis. 

Lewis owns Ran-Lew Dairy in Alamance County. When restaurants were forced to close for three months last spring, his options were limited. 

He was losing between $8,000 and $10,000 a month. Instead of dumping milk, he decided to use the extra to make and sell ice cream.  

“Had it not been for having to get a little more innovative and to get the ice cream running, the support of the community, I don’t think we could have survived,” Lewis said. 

Now six months into the pandemic, he’s recovered some of his profit, but COVID-19 still lingers. 

When Lewis heard about the $2 million available to help dairy farmers reclaim their livelihood, he immediately called to find out more and if he was able to apply. 

“I was very thankful the Department of Ag included the dairy industry,” Lewis stated. 

He says there’s a good chance he’ll apply for aid and looking back, he’s grateful for the support he’s received since he began making ice cream and started a drive-thru dairy store at the farm.  

“I’m in great debt to our supporters,” Lewis said. 

He plans to keep the drive thru and ice cream sales going once the pandemic is over. 

“When this is over, we’ll be a lot better off,” Lewis said. 

The application period for the COVID-19 Dairy Aid Program runs from Sept. 28th to Oct. 12.  


‘Miracle’ calf survives California wildfire

California is going through a horrible fire season. Homeowners, farmers, and ranchers are suffering terrible losses, but even in the middle of a disaster like this, glimmers of hope can be found.

The Marsh Fire began on August 16 when thousands of lightning strikes started fires near Milpitas, California, including on the ranch run by Dave and Samantha Cascarini. Dave manages 12,000 acres of steep, rough terrain, and 500 head of cattle. Samantha Cascarini works full-time as a registered veterinary technician in addition to working on the ranch and being mom to Jack, 3, and Jena, 7 months.

With that many cattle over such a large area, the couple decided to split up to move those in danger to safer areas. “We had 45 pairs trapped with flames coming toward them,” Cascarini says. “Cal Fire called and said if we wanted to save the cows there might be time, so that’s what we did.”

She asked neighbor Kathy Torres, a horse trainer, to bring shovels and rope and come help her with some cattle. Fortunately, Torres and her husband, Dan, spent more than 20 years managing the ranch the Cascarinis manage now, so she was very familiar with the land.

A shocking discovery 

Cascarini drove her four-wheeler to the cattle and found a tiny newborn calf lying on a patch of wet grass in the middle of a burned pasture. “I was shocked,” she says. “When I picked her up, she was still covered in afterbirth and the ground was wet from calving. Her eyelashes were burned. I just stared at her in disbelief. I didn’t know what to do, so I just loaded her up on the four wheeler and moved her to safety. It was incredible. I was so worried because her first breath of air was smoke. She was minutes old and a fire burned right over the top of her.”

By the time Torres arrived, Cascarini had moved this calf and several others to a safe spot. While some of the fires in California have high, roaring flames that would surely have killed the calf, Torres says, “It’s more open range and canyons here, so the fire was lower to the ground and not quite as intense.”

If the fire had occurred a few days earlier, many of the cattle would not yet have calved, and if it had happened a few days later, the calves would’ve been strong enough to move with the herd. “There’s never a good time for a fire, but calving time is the worst time,” Cascarini says.

Escaping the flames

The two women shoveled dirt across a line of the low-burning fire, rode their four-wheelers across, and herded the cattle toward a reservoir. As the fire approached, the women sought refuge there with the cattle. “We just stood in the water and waited for it to burn,” Torres says. “We’re lucky we had the water.”

“In retrospect, it wasn’t probably the safest idea, but it all worked out,” Cascarini says.

After the fire burned out in the area, they moved the cattle back to where the calves were, hoping to match the pairs back up, but no cow claimed the calf that had been surrounded by flames. Torres says it was sniffed by one cow that had a small calf with it, so their best guess is that the calf, which only weighed 40 to 50 pounds, was one of a set of twins.

After the fire

The fire ended up burning 80% of the ranch, but thankfully the home and most important outbuildings were spared. The landowner has other ground, so Cascarini says the cattle will be parceled out and brought back in the spring. Other area ranchers aren’t so lucky, and are being forced to sell their cattle since their grazing ground burned and it would be too expensive to feed hay.

Cascarini says they did lose some cattle in the fire, but the calf, named Charlene (since she was charred), is healthy and enjoying the life of a bottle calf. “She has a few other bottle calf buddies, and since she’s so small, Jack likes to feed her,” Cascarini says. “When she came in, we treated her for burns, gave her antibiotics, and gave her a super fluffy bed because she was sore and tender. She took right to the bottle and has no issues. She drank colostrum and electrolytes and started chowing down on alfalfa. She’s a rock star.”

After the fire, Cascarini sent photos of the calf to the ranch owner, Jack Sparrowk. “The owner gifted her to us, so she is going to stay with us and live a very long life,” she says.

A needed miracle

“The stress and exhaustion of those few days was overwhelming,” Cascarini says. “Finding this calf gave us the feeling that it was worth it. We were truly moved to tears. I was so happy to find her alive because there were others that we didn’t find alive.”

“It was truly amazing,” Torres says. “With everything going on in the world right now, we all needed a miracle like this.”

This view of the ranch shows the reservoir in the background as the fire approached the water.

The cow-calf pairs were moved into the water to avoid the flames.

This is Samantha and Kathy’s view from the water as the flames drew nearer to them.

The nighttime view shows how the fire moved in a line.

After the fire burned out, there wasn’t much left for the cattle to graze.

After the fire burned out, the cattle were moved to undamaged pasture.

Charlene is enjoying the life of a bottle calf and getting plenty of love from Jack.


Woman drives her 85 goats away from dairy farm threatened by wildfire

A cheese maker is sharing how she rescued her 85 goats from the Riverside Fire. The goats are safe in Forest Grove now, but the trek to get them there wasn’t easy.

Carine Goldin told FOX 12 when Molalla went into a Level 3 “GO NOW” evacuation order, she knew she had to move fast to get her goats out of the fire’s path and on the road to safety, which required an unconventional method… “but it worked,” she said.

The sky was scary over Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese a week ago, a red glow over what quickly became a red, Level 3 “GO NOW” zone.

Goldin’s creamery has been in Molalla for 12 years, and she’s never experienced anything like the wildfires.

She knew right away she needed to get her 85 goats to safety.

So, with little time to spare, Goldin packed her goats into a trailer and into a Subaru, making multiple trips to Canby to drop them off at a farm there.

“We put all the little ones and there were seven in the Subaru. They actually lined up nicely on one end,” Goldin said.

But, the moment of rest was short lived, as Canby’s evacuation order was raised – so she had to get the goats to safety once again.

This time, Goldin said Clackamas County helped. In the next trip, the goats were in a couple trailers on their trip to Forest Grove.

Goldin is staying in Canby currently. She said her home is still standing — but she’s waiting to go back.

“It’s all very scary and the goats are under tremendous stress right now. And we just kind of want to give them rest before we move them back.”

The cheese back in Molalla at the farm is also fine, Goldin said.

The cheese is sealed in the aging room, ready to ship out once it’s safe to go home.

When there’s no chance of the fire getting close to the dairy farm, Goldin said she’ll take the goats on one more trip: back home.

Molalla is currently under a Level 2 “BE SET” evacuation order.


Struggling Kraft Heinz sells dairy brands to Lactalis

Kraft Heinz said Tuesday that it is selling its natural cheese business — including its Cracker Barrel and Breakstone’s brands — to French dairy company Lactalis Group as part of a larger restructuring.

The $3.2 billion sale includes Kraft Heinz production facilities in Tulare, California; Walton, New York; and Wausau, Wisconsin. About 750 employees at those plants will transfer to Lactalis Group.

Kraft Heinz, however, will keep its Philadelphia cream cheese brand, Kraft singles and the Velveeta and Cheez Whiz brands. It’s also retaining its macaroni and cheese business.

Included in the sale are Kraft Heinz’s natural, grated, cultured and specialty cheese businesses in the U.S., its grated cheese business in Canada and its entire international cheese business. Kraft Heinz already sold its natural cheese business in Canada last year for $1.2 billion.

The sale is expected to close in the first half of next year, the companies said.

Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard praised the sale. In a note to investors, Howard said Kraft Heinz’s natural cheese business was the company’s Achilles’ heel because the brands had trouble differentiating themselves from store brands.

Kraft Heinz — formed in a 2015 merger — has been struggling as consumers increasingly seek fresh, minimally processed foods. Last year, the company slashed the value of its Oscar Meyer and Kraft brands and took a $474 million impairment charge because of the falling value of brands like Maxwell House, Lunchables, Velveeta and Cool Whip.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh-based Kraft Heinz said it plans $2 billion in cost reductions through 2024. The company said it plans to increase marketing spending and nimbly manage its portfolio of brands.

Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio said the sale of the natural cheese brands is an example of that portfolio management.

“The transaction will enable us to build sustainable competitive advantage in businesses where we have stronger brand equity, greater growth prospects and can use our manufacturing scale and consumer-based platforms approach,” Patricio said in a statement.

Kraft Heinz shares closed up 10 cents at $31.97 Tuesday.

Lactalis Group — whose brands include President specialty cheese and Stonyfield Organic yogurt — said the Kraft Heinz brands are a good strategic fit. The Laval, France-based company, which has U.S. headquarters in Buffalo, New York, has eight U.S. plants with 2,600 employees.

Source: The Associated Press

World Forage Analysis Superbowl Goes Virtual with Brevant seeds Forage Superbowl Luncheon

The World Forage Analysis Superbowl will announce winners virtually at noon on September 30 via webcast of the Brevant seeds Forage Superbowl Luncheon. Interested contestants, sponsors, media and forage enthusiasts can register to attend the online event here:

The contest will award $1,500 to the top individuals in each division, with additional cash prizes to second through fifth place. The contest divisions and corresponding sponsors include: Standard Corn Silage sponsored by Scherer Inc.; Brown Midrib Corn Silage, sponsored by Brevant seeds; Baleage, sponsored by Agri-King, Inc.; Commercial Hay, sponsored by NEXGROW Alfalfa; Dairy Hay, sponsored by W-L Research; Alfalfa Haylage, sponsored by Ag-Bag by RCI; Grass Hay, sponsored by Barenbrug USA; and Mixed/Grass Haylage, sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

Awards will also be presented to four additional outstanding forage samples. Kemin Animal Nutrition & Health is providing a $2,500 cash award to the Grand Champion Forage Producer, while the Grand Champion First-Time Entrant will receive $2,000 from sponsor Kuhn North America, Inc. CROPLAN By WinField supports a prize for the Quality Counts Awards for Hay/Haylage and additional prize money will be awarded for Quality Counts Corn Silage. The World Forage Analysis Superbowl is also made possible by its General Sponsors: National Hay Association, New Holland, Passion Ag, Inc., and Provimi and its Platinum Sponsor, Brevant seeds.

The World Forage Analysis Superbowl is organized in partnership with Dairyland Laboratories, Inc., Hay & Forage Grower, US Dairy Forage Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison and World Dairy Expo. To learn more, visit

World Forage Analysis Superbowl Launches YouTube Channel to Offer Virtual Educational Seminars

The World Forage Analysis Superbowl will once again provide educational opportunities with its Dairy Forage Seminars, held virtually in 2020 on the new World Forage Analysis Superbowl YouTube channel. This year’s seminars, led by professors, researchers, producers and industry experts, will address various topics related to forage production, harvest, storage and feeding. Six Dairy Forage Seminars will launch following the Brevant seeds Forage Superbowl Luncheon on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 30 and will be available for viewing at your convenience.

The slate of Dairy Forage Seminars includes:

How We Produce High-Quality Dairy Forage

Harry Adams, Jr., Forage Producer, Byron, Ill.

Conserving Round Bale Value – Dry Hay and Baleage

Kevin Shinners, Professor, Biosystems Engineering Dept., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.

Why Inoculate Silage?

Kevin Panke-Buisse, Research Microbiologist, USDA-ARS, US Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison, Wis.

Tread Lightly: Impact of Wheel Traffic on Alfalfa Yield and Soil Compaction

Brian Luck, Asst. Professor, Biosystems Engineering Dept., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.

Maximizing Nutrient Digestibility of Corn Silage

Luiz Ferraretto, Asst. Professor, Extension Ruminant Nutritionist, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.

Celebrating 40 Years of Research and Impact at USDFRC

Dennis Hancock, Center Director, USDA-ARS, US Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison, Wis.

The Dairy Forage Seminars will be broadcast on the World Forage Analysis Superbowl YouTube Channel ( ).

The World Forage Analysis Superbowl is organized in partnership with Dairyland Laboratories, Inc., Hay & Forage Grower, US Dairy Forage Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison and World Dairy Expo. To learn more, visit

Farmers Ask Polk County Board to Obey the Law or Face Costly & Criminal Consequences

Venture Dairy Cooperative (VDC), Wisconsin Dairy Alliance (WDA), and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), and the thousands of farmers and businesses tied to Wisconsin agriculture they collectively represent, are speaking out against the proposed ordinances currently being considered in Polk County Wisconsin: Resolution No. 37-20 and Resolution No. 36-20. These resolutions unlawfully target specific livestock farmers based on the size of their businesses.

A recent letter sent to Polk County from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) clearly states that the proposed Resolution No. 37-20 is “not consistent with Wisconsin state law and may present the grounds for a legal challenge.”[1]. Furthermore, DATCP offered to work with Polk County to draft an ordinance that was compliant with state law, but it appears that offer was ignored as certain supervisors chose to work with a group of radical environmentalists from Madison instead. In addition, the County Board is also considering extending its Moratorium on Swine CAFOs, even though the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that local units of government may only regulate the siting or expansion of a large livestock facility consistent with the siting statute and rules.

These proposed local regulations for Polk County farms unlawfully exceed what state law requires. CAFOs in Wisconsin meet some of the highest standards in the U.S. while adhering to strict regulations to protect the environment. Agriculture is a vital economic generator for our state, including Polk County. Like any business, farms choosing to expand should not be punished or barred from doing so if they follow the mandatory permitting requirements and the law. Moving forward with these proposals will also irresponsibly take up county staff time and resources at the expense of the taxpayers.

We are asking that the Polk County Board follow the law and work with farmers, the agricultural community and DATCP in the spirit of cooperation. If county supervisors enact the proposed ordinances, knowing they are unlawful, unenforceable, and in excess of the county board’s authority, it is a felony in Wisconsin (Wis. Stat. 946.12(2). Supervisors are sworn to serve the citizens of their county, taking an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Wisconsin. Farmers are part of the communities in which they serve. Rather than pandering to a vocal minority of activists, rooted in intolerance and absolute opposition to CAFOs, it is time we work together to find reasonable common ground for a successful future for all.

CWT Assists with 1.8 Million Pounds of Dairy Product Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) member cooperatives accepted thirteen offers of export assistance from CWT that helped them capture sales contracts for 1.166 million pounds (529 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda, and Monterey Jack cheese, 262,350 pounds (119 metric tons) of butter, and 330,693 pounds (150 metric tons) of whole milk powder. The product is going to customers in Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and South America. It will be delivered from September 2020 through February 2021.

CWT-assisted member cooperative export sales contracts for 2020 total 25.565 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 7.249 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat), 1.982 million pounds of anhydrous milkfat, 5.023 million pounds of cream cheese and 36.680 million pounds of whole milk powder. The product is going to 29 countries in seven regions. These sales are the equivalent of 760 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members in moving dairy products overseas through the Export Assistance program is critical during the challenging times U.S. dairy farmers and cooperatives are facing. The Export Assistance program helps to strengthen and maintain the value of dairy products that directly impact producers’ milk price. The program is helping member cooperatives grow and maintain world market share for U.S dairy products and is a significant factor in maintaining the total demand for U.S. dairy products and the demand for U.S. farm milk.

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

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

Lactalis Group Announces Agreement to Acquire Kraft Heinz’s Natural Cheese Division

Lactalis Group (“Lactalis”), the world’s leading dairy group, today has entered into a definitive agreement for the acquisition by its U.S. affiliate of Kraft Heinz’s Natural, Grated, Cultured and Specialty cheese businesses in the U.S., Grated cheese business in Canada and entire International Cheese business outside North America.

With this acquisition, Lactalis will acquire a portfolio of iconic, strongly-positioned brands that include Cracker Barrel, Breakstone’s, Knudsen, Polly-O, Athenos, Hoffman’s and, outside the U.S. and Canada only, Cheez Whiz. In addition, Kraft Heinz will partner with Lactalis on a perpetual license for Kraft in Natural, Grated and International cheeses and Velveeta in Natural and International cheeses.

Under the terms of the transaction, Lactalis will acquire three world-class Kraft Heinz production facilities located in Tulare, CA, Walton, NY and Wausau, WI, and a distribution center in Weyauwega, WI. Approximately 750 Kraft Heinz employees will be joining Lactalis, and the company expects to add additional American jobs to support this business following the closing of the transaction which is expected in the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals.

“The people of Kraft Heinz have built an extraordinary portfolio of high-quality cheese products and brands that consumers love and trust – and we are honored to have been chosen by Kraft Heinz to help carry this legacy forward,” said Thierry Clément, CEO of Lactalis North America. “This combination of complementary offerings is a clear strategic and cultural fit that will create important new opportunities for domestic and international expansion, product innovation, and positive community and employee impact. We look forward to working with and learning from our new colleagues, building on our proud histories together and continuing our collaborative strategy for expansion: to invest, to include, to support, and to grow.”

With a portfolio of brands that includes Président®, Galbani®, Parmalat®, Stonyfield Organic®, siggi’s®, Karoun®, rondele®, and Black Diamond®, Lactalis has a strong presence in the U.S. with 8 plants in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Idaho, Arizona and California, and 2,600 employees across the country. The company has been an important part of the U.S. food supply for 40 years, a leader in responsible manufacturing and sourcing practices across America, and a key driver of expanded international demand for U.S.-made cheese and dairy products. Lactalis in the U.S. purchases nearly 3.2 billion pounds of milk annually from U.S. dairy farmers, and the company’s U.S.-made products are available nationwide and exported around the world.

Perella Weinberg Partners served as lead financial advisor to Lactalis Group for this transaction, while Dentons served as their legal advisors.

About Lactalis Group

Lactalis Group, the world’s leading dairy group, is a French-family business founded in 1933 in Laval, France. Present in 51 countries, with 266 dairies and cheese dairies throughout the world, its 85,000 employees promote milk in all its forms: cheese, drinking milk, yogurts, butters and creams, dairy ingredients and nutrition. At the heart of the daily lives of millions of households, Lactalis Group offers products from emblematic brands such as Président, Galbani and Parmalat and is committed to perpetuating its dairy know-how as the world’s leading player in Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses.

Learn more about Lactalis at

Experts discuss risk factors and treatment options for pre-weaning pneumonia

When talking to ranchers about cattle health concerns in the summer, fly control and pinkeye will often come to mind, but one condition that can lead to calf death is pre-weaning pneumonia.

“Research has shown that pre-weaning calf pneumonia appears in about 20% of the herds in the country annually,” said Brad White, K-State veterinarian and director of the Beef Cattle Institute. “Of that 20%, there is a group that experience significant problems.”

White and veterinary colleague Bob Larson discussed their role in the study and the results during a recent Cattle Chat podcast.

“This pneumonia peaks when the calf is about four and a half months old, so for spring born calves we typically see the condition appearing in July and August,” White said.

Larson said that often pre-weaning pneumonia appears first in some of the bigger, stronger calves in the pasture.

White explained that the larger calves tend to be the older calves, and the natural immunity that they got from their dam’s colostrum at birth is starting to fade.

Larson added that some cattle ranchers aren’t watching for this condition because cattle out on pasture don’t display the typical risk for factors for respiratory disease, such as comingling with new animals in confinement.

“This respiratory disease is surprising because it seems to show up sporadically. Some herds go years between outbreaks and other herds have it happen in consecutive years,” Larson said.

White noted that the study alerted the scientists to some factors for increased risk.

“Along with the time of year, calves grouped together tended to spread the sickness,” White said. As an example, White cited, management practices that involve creep feeding or intensive grazing often lead to calves gathering in tighter spaces.

“Also, calves don’t naturally socially distance, but rather group themselves together in the pasture,” White said.

A pneumonia prevention plan may include avoiding management that forces calves to group closely together and a vaccination prevention protocol, they said.

“Work with your veterinarian and extension specialist to see what the right vaccine prevention protocol is for your area,” White said. “It may mean vaccinating the calves when you work them at 60-70 days of age to give them an extra boost of protection.”

2021 World Ag Expo® Cancelled

For more than 52 years, World Ag Expo® has served agriculture by bringing buyers and sellers together to innovate, collaborate, and advance agriculture. In 2021, the show will not be held live for the first time in World Ag Expo® history.

“After working with the Tulare County Health Department and other officials, it has become evident that given health and safety restrictions from the State of California, holding a live, international event is not responsible in February,” said Jerry Sinift, International Agri-Center® CEO.

The International Agri-Center® Board of Director’s decision to cancel the 2021 World Ag Expo® was not taken lightly, and comes after months of research and evaluation of future trends and known constraints. The decision was finalized earlier than the initial November deadline to provide exhibitors, attendees, volunteers, concessionaires, contractors, and local businesses time to adjust their Tulare farm show plans.

The cancellation of World Ag Expo® comes as another negative effect of COVID-19 for the International Agri-Center®, exhibitors, non-profit food vendors, attendees, area hotels, restaurants, and other associated businesses.

Attendees are encouraged to follow World Ag Expo® social media channels and watch their email inboxes for more information on World Ag Expo® projects throughout 2020 and 2021. They can join the World Ag Expo® email list to stay up-to-date at

World Ag Expo® staff will reach out to exhibitors concerning fees and more options for 2021 starting Wednesday, September 16.

The 2022 World Ag Expo® is scheduled for February 8-10 at the International Agri-Center® in Tulare, CA.

GIVE MILK Act expands access to whole milk

New legislation introduced in the House aims to increase milk consumption in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC) by giving participants over the age of two the option of having 2% reduced-fat milk and whole milk as part of their diet. The bill reverses an Obama Administration rule limiting WIC participants to low-fat (1%) or nonfat milk.

Rep. Fred Keller (R., Pa.) introduced the Giving Increased Variety to Ensure Milk into the Lives of Kids Act — the GIVE MILK Act — with original co-sponsor Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R., Pa.).

“Whole milk and 2% reduced-fat milk remain some of the most nutritious options to support a healthy upbringing, and it is essential that we expand these critical sources of nutrients in our federal nutrition assistance programs,” Keller said. “That is why I am proud to introduce the GIVE MILK Act to ensure whole milk and 2% reduced-fat milk are readily available for our families and children relying on the WIC program while simultaneously supporting our nation’s dairy farmers.”

Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation, explained that milk’s unique nutritional profile includes nine essential nutrients, three of which Americans get so little of that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services “deemed their under-consumption a public health concern. The GIVE MILK Act would make it easier for expectant mothers and mothers of young children to access milk for their families, providing infants, children and mothers the nutrients they need during key developmental stages.”

Dr. Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Assn., said, “The GIVE MILK Act will encourage WIC families to consume more milk which is central to a healthy diet beginning at a very young age. The American Academy of Pediatrics says milk is the leading food source for calcium, vitamin D and potassium in the diet of American children 2-18 years as well the number-one source of protein. No other type of food or beverage provides the unique combination of nutrients that cow’s milk contributes to the diets of adults and children alike. Milk processors are grateful to Congressmen Keller and Thompson for supporting mothers and children with this important bill.”

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) applauded the bill’s introduction, saying, “The American Dairy Coalition and the dairy producers we represent across the nation are thankful Congressman Keller is dedicated to ensuring nutritionally at-risk Americans have the ability to choose what dairy products fit the taste preferences of their families.”

The WIC program provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, nutritional education and other support for low-income pregnant or postpartum women as well as caregivers of children under age five. This program helps put good nutrition in the hands of children, and it is vital for it to include the best-tasting dairy products: full-fat dairy, according to ADC. Whole milk provides a nutritionally dense, affordable and accessible complete source of protein that children love. Science shows that consumption of these products promotes a healthy weight in both children and adults and fends of chronic diseases, ADC said.

In a statement, ADC added, “More initiatives such as the GIVE MILK Act are necessary to change the antiquated and unscientifically based notion that saturated fats are dangerous to public health. We encourage all members of the dairy industry to not only support the GIVE MILK Act but also encourage their legislators to urge the Dietary Guidelines for Americans also be updated to remove caps on saturated fats, allowing once more the choice of whole milk in public schools. Children deserve the best; let’s give them whole milk.”

Source: Feedstuffs

NIFA grants universities $14m to find COVID-19 scientific solutions

Grants to help universities find rapid response scientific solutions amid pandemic.

To keep science discovery, innovation and education moving forward, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) developed a series of COVID-19 Rapid Response funding opportunities targeted to the most critical issues facing university researchers, small businesses and consumers across America during the coronavirus pandemic. NIFA announced that the agency has awarded nearly $14 million in this nationwide effort so far, with more projects to be funded in the next few months.

“It was quickly evident at the onset of the pandemic that the food supply, agricultural systems, families and education – key focus areas for USDA and our partners – would be greatly impacted by all the changes facing our society,” NIFA acting director Parag Chitnis said. “USDA-NIFA is uniquely positioned to help fund rapid response research, outreach and education efforts while continuing to support our base research, extension and 4-H youth development programs that are in place at all times to respond to producer and consumer needs, large and small, across the nation.”

Over the past few weeks, NIFA has awarded close to $13 million across 17 grant projects through the Agricultural & Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and another 14 grants for $1.3 million through the Small Business Innovation Research Program to support research and development across all areas of agricultural research, education and small business innovation addressing the pandemic. NIFA expects to announce another round of AFRI-funded projects in October.

This new support adds to NIFA’s capacity funds already in place in every state and communities to make it possible for land-grant universities, tribal colleges and their agricultural experiment stations and cooperative extension services. These funds support the people and facilities that make up the network of grassroots support providing local farmer and rancher education and advice, community development and resilience tools, health and nutrition expertise and 4-H and youth development opportunities.

“In emergencies like this, trusted resources and expertise are available to Americans — particularly in the rural areas — through local extension offices,” Chitnis said. “Extension agents have personal connections with people and communities.”

In mid-March, university-based researchers and educators stepped up to rapidly respond to the urgent need for new links in the U.S. food and agriculture supply chain and updated economic models for trade and food production while moving an array of education classes — from university instruction to 4-H programs — to a virtual teaching space.

By expanding the AFRI program to include an additional focus area — COVID-19 Rapid Response to Novel Coronavirus Impacts Across Food & Agricultural Systems, the agency offered funding opportunities for projects of up to $1 million in the areas of: the health and security of livestock; the well-being of farm, foodservice providers and rural Americans; economic security, and food safety. Funded rapid response programs address critical and urgent solutions to the pandemic’s impact on the nation’s food and agricultural system are being rapidly implemented and directly address urgent needs in the stakeholder community.

Scientists received grants to develop antiviral coatings to inactivate SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen responsible for causing COVID-19, in food manufacturing and livestock production and to develop bio-based, antiviral disinfectant fogging technology and a handheld diagnostic device for COVID-19 in meat and poultry processing facilities. Other grants help economists study the impact of the pandemic on price transmission and farm-retail price spread in the U.S. livestock market, while others are developing a Rapid Response Toolkit for tribal extension agents working with Native Nations, who are among the hardest-hit populations. A complete list of all funded research projects is available on the NIFA website.

NIFA also provides critical support to 4-H, one of America’s largest youth development organizations. Traditional 4-H camps and project or livestock competitions moved to virtual formats, which was an easier transition for many young people who are digital natives but also was complicated by the lack of adequate broadband access in many rural areas where many 4-H participants live. Hundreds of them used leadership, citizenship and entrepreneurial skills learned in the youth development program to make, market and distribute face masks and to offer technology support to help senior citizens use available technology to stay in touch with friends and family during social distancing.

Coast to coast, farmers found themselves with a surplus of fresh food when the foodservice and hospitality industries — which account for a large share of their customers — closed their doors. Unable to make the rapid shifts needed to repackage, redirect and deliver those supplies for the retail market, many growers turned to local extension experts, who helped organize websites, food box giveaways and community food bank deliveries to connect farmers’ food supplies with local markets.

During the pandemic, annual agricultural field days, which agricultural producers rely on for leading-edge, continuing education, were quickly moved to online delivery. Others opted for in-person, at-a-distance methods such as drive-up sessions where they stayed in their vehicles and observed demonstrations while listening to instruction either through their vehicle radio or over a loudspeaker.

Extension programs nationwide also reported dramatic increases in online program demand for classes on food safety and health protection during a pandemic, how to facilitate online schooling at home and home gardening and food preservation. When health experts recommended staying at home, many extension experts stepped in to offer free online tax preparation support and webinars to help small businesses understand the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act and to develop applications to monitor and track up-to-date capacity in local health care systems.

NIFA’s competitive and capacity funds totaling more than $1.7 billion annually are invested and at work in local communities across America every day. To find out more about how these critical funds are helping in your community, visit NIFA’s website or each state’s cooperative extension service website.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges.

Source: Feedstuffs

Farmers’ naked photo shoot helps to close gate on the black dog of depression

Inglewood Young Farmers Club posed naked to raise awareness for rural mental health. From left: Patrick Titter, Steven McIver, Liam Honnor, Amy Carroll, Tim Bonner, Kenzie Bellringer, Troy Carroll, Carlin Honnor, and Josh Evershed.

It was when a close relative said “I love you” as he headed off to work one morning that Taranaki diesel mechanic Josh Evershed​ realised something might not be quite right.

“It was out of the ordinary because he’d never said that sort of thing before to us,” Evershed said.

“It was a realisation to everyone close to him that he may have serious mental health [issues], and we needed to chase it up before it got worse.”

Steps were put in place to ease the relative’s workload, get his mind away from the farm, and go back to what he enjoyed doing, Evershed said.

Meanwhile, in July, Evershed and eight friends from the Inglewood Young Farmers’ Club posed naked for a national photo competition organised by Will To Live and Australian-based mental health awareness group, The Naked Farmer.

They recently learned they had won the $1500 first prize, which they plan to give to mental health charities.

Will To Live was started in 2018 by South Island farmer Elle Perriam who organised a national “Speak Up” tour to rural areas to raise rural mental health awareness in New Zealand after her partner took his own life.

Inglewood club members range in occupations, from mechanics to dairy farmers to car painters, and all have been connected with colleagues facing serious mental health issues in rural areas.

Evershed said his relative had struggled after buying his first farm.

“He had finally got his dream and it was crashing down around him after six months.

“The s… was hitting the fan around the farm. It was a very wet winter, the payout was down and he was struggling to cope.

“There were mornings when he would take a two-hour shower because he couldn’t face going out to farm.”

Club treasurer Kenzie​ Bellringer said: “As a club we support raising awareness around rural mental health because we’ve all been connected to it in some way through friends and colleagues.

“It was a very cold night, sitting on a very cold tractor seat in a very cold shed,” she said of the naked photo shoot.

“We’re lucky we don’t hear more about it because it won’t go away but more and more the awareness about it is becoming wider known.

“There are all sorts of pressures which come from working in isolation, and being a tough Kiwi bloke who doesn’t readily share feelings with anyone.

“There was an era when you were told to harden up and take a concrete pill if things weren’t working out on the farm.

“Now people are more aware of depression and will talk about it more openly.”


Why Phillippe Aumont gave up pro baseball to become a farmer

COVID-19 brought regular life to a halt in North America back in March. Unlike most ballplayers, for Canadian pitcher Phillippe Aumont it never resumed.

A blood-orange Kubota carrying about two dozen wooden beams pulls up next to a 120-by-30 foot rectangular patch of gravel. The rumble of the engine falls somewhere between distracting and deafening. However, to the man operating the tractor, this noise is now just a part of his daily melody.

Phillippe Aumont is dropping off materials to build the base of a greenhouse, which will be the hub of his new farm in Gatineau, Que. If all goes well, once the structure is done, it will produce four different types of tomatoes, two varieties of cucumbers, green and yellow beans and all kinds of peppers. Seeding needs to begin on Dec. 1, so there’s plenty to be done on this early August morning and in the weeks ahead.

Aumont’s mentor, a 58-year-old veteran farmer named Denis Dube, begins unloading the beams. He uses both hands and generously exerts himself. Aumont steps out of the cab to help and, thanks to his towering six-foot-seven frame, expends considerably less energy. He hauls the beams one-handed, hugging them to his side as if he’s carrying a yoga mat.

The 31-year-old Gatineau native is wearing a camo bucket hat, black shades and a grey Under Armour shirt with the word “baseball” in thick, black lettering across his chest. Aumont’s three-quarter sleeves reveal tattoos on both arms, and the back of his neck is almost as red as the ink, likely from the 12-hour days he’s been putting in, mostly in blistering heat. His fiancée, Frederique Dery, says he is “melting” and Aumont estimates that he’s lost a solid 20 to 25 pounds since the spring, down from his 265-pound playing weight.

Just a few months ago, the right-hander was in Dunedin, Fla., trying to make the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff out of spring training. Of course, regular daily life stopped for everybody in North America back in March, thanks to COVID-19. But unlike many players, for Aumont it never resumed. The 11th-overall pick of the 2007 MLB draft changed during the early stages of the global pandemic. Sure, we all did in some way, but the shift in mindset that occurred in Aumont was somewhat more extreme than most. It caused him to quit baseball entirely and devote himself to a whole new profession — despite the fact that he’d never spent one day of his life farming.

“We can do something good,” Aumont says. “We can grow vegetables and make a living out of it and provide some sort of security for families around here.”


Dery estimates Aumont has lost 20-25 pounds since he began farming in the spring

One of a baseball scout’s main tasks is to profile young players and try to determine apt comparisons to known big-leaguers. When Andrew Tinnish first saw Aumont in March of 2007 in Cocoa Beach, Fla., he asked himself, ‘Who does this guy remind me of?’ and the answer was impressive. “Honestly, at the time, he reminded me a lot of [Roy] Halladay,” says Tinnish, who was then amateur scouting coordinator for the Blue Jays. Halladay was well established by that point, of course; on his way to a Hall-of-Fame career. The comparison was a generous one, yet the similarities existed.

“Just a big, physical kid,” says Tinnish. “Extremely wide shoulders. He had that arm slot that was probably a little lower than Halladay; 92-to-97 miles per hour with heavy, heavy, heavy sink. And the very similar, wide breaking ball. And it was just power. Wasn’t obviously the same feel or command [as Halladay], but you’re talking about a teenager.”

Aumont grew up in a low-income housing complex about 20 minutes from the Gatineau farm. He’s the third of four children to Johanne, who worked at a hotel, and Jean-Pierre, who worked for a moving company. Tinnish hails from nearby Ottawa and is familiar with the area in which Aumont was raised and where he first learned baseball. It’s a rare place for any future major-leaguer to come from, he says, let alone a high-profile prospect like the one Aumont became.

He was drafted by Seattle in 2007 and traded to Philadelphia as part of the three-team deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners and Halladay to the Phillies. Aumont made his MLB debut in 2012 and pitched in a total of 46 games over four seasons with Philadelphia, posting a 6.80 ERA and -0.7 WAR.

While he enjoyed the competitive aspect of The Show, other areas grated on him. “They feed you on a silver spoon,” Aumont says. “It’s the rich life — I don’t like it. I never liked that. Never felt comfortable. I never felt that I should be above anybody … Sometimes I think athletes do deserve their money, but in some other ways, we don’t deserve that money. It’s too much money for just playing a game.”

Dery says Aumont has never really talked about money during their three-year relationship and when they first met, he was humble about his line of work. “He told me he played baseball,” Dery says, “And I was like, ‘Yeah. What’s your real job?’ I didn’t know anything about him, about his career or whatever. So, it took me a while to understand that he went to the big leagues and he made a lot of money. But it never showed. It’s in his personality to just not be flashy.”

After his time with the Phillies, Aumont bounced around the minor-league systems of the Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox, before spending 2017 with the Ottawa Champions of the Can-Am League. He pitched the next season in the Detroit Tigers system, then rejoined the Champions as a player-coach in 2019. “Other players looked up to him a lot,” says Evan Rutckyj, a New York Yankees draft pick who was a teammate on the Champions. “With all the stuff he’s been through, I feel like he related really well. A lot of times, coaches are set in their ways and they’re really pushy about their stuff and what they want you to do. But Phil has been through so many different coaches that he figured out for himself that [as a pitcher] you need to [discover] what you want to do for yourself and what works for you. He just gave pointers and didn’t try to totally change somebody. Guys on the team really liked that.”

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

Listen and Subscribe for free


Ben on Twitter


Arden on Twitter

The Blue Jays regularly keep an eye on the independent league, and Tinnish, who’s now vice president of international scouting for the club, received reports of Aumont’s dominance on the mound — his fastball reached 94 mph, his breaking ball had power and his command was excellent. The Blue Jays reached out to Aumont’s agent in the summer of 2019 and heard back that he wasn’t interested in signing with the organization. He was comfortable and in a great frame of mind playing close to home. Dery had also just given birth to their first child, Gabrielle.

That fall, Aumont represented Team Canada at an Olympic qualifying tournament in South Korea and manhandled the higher-seeded Cuban squad, allowing two hits over eight shutout innings. “It was pretty damn impressive,” says Tinnish. “This wasn’t the same Cuban National Team that it was like seven or eight years ago, but it’s still a Cuban National Team. And he just absolutely dominated them.”

Tinnish and Co. picked up their pursuit again and were successful this time, inking Aumont in December to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. “He wasn’t throwing 97 anymore,” says Tinnish. “Obviously, he’s 31 years old. But you could tell there was still something there.”


“We can do something good,” Aumont says. “We can grow vegetables and make a living out of it and provide some sort of security for families around here.”

Aumont is relaxing on a wooden bench in the shade of a tree in the front yard of his farmhouse. He removes his bucket hat and sunglasses to wipe the sweat off his brow. The Blue Jays are down in Atlanta today for the finale of a three-game set. Just this past weekend, Toronto saw its series against Philadelphia postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, and on the Friday, 20 per cent of MLB teams had their games called off.

Aumont was with the Blue Jays during spring training and felt he was close to making the team as a bullpen arm. (Tinnish wouldn’t go that far, saying that while Aumont pitched well in March, he would likely have put himself in the mix in a group of pitchers who could earn early season consideration as call-ups from the minors.) When the pandemic hit and baseball shut down, though, Aumont came back home to be with his family.

He and Dery began looking at real estate listings with the intention of moving away from the city. They visited this farmhouse and immediately fell in love with it, gravitating to the idea of owning land and potentially growing produce. They moved in and a few months later, Aumont began to hear rumblings about the resumption of the baseball season.

Since Gabrielle’s birth, Aumont had not been separated from his family. Dery, on maternity leave from her HR job with the federal government, had brought the baby along as she travelled with Aumont to all his stops with Team Canada in the fall, including trips to Arizona, Japan and South Korea. They’d also gone to Florida for spring training. Gabrielle began to walk during the early days of the pandemic and Aumont feels that being in lockdown with her afforded him a powerful sense of gratitude. “It was just a period where I knew I wasn’t supposed to get that quality time with her and to see her grow,” he says. “If there wasn’t a pandemic, I wouldn’t have been here, I would have been with the Jays. I would have been playing.

“I would have seen [her first steps] on my phone, in a text message or video. I wouldn’t have been here to actually witness it with my own eyes and actually see her start walking. I knew all that and I just appreciated every moment.”

Aumont wrestled for several weeks with the thought of leaving to join the Blue Jays for their second iteration of spring training. That “summer camp” did not have its location secured until the last minute, when the organization received special permission from government and health authorities to use Rogers Centre in Toronto. At that point, the club was still hoping to play its regular-season home games in Toronto and then travel to the pandemic-ravaged U.S. for road contests. The uncertainty and risk proved too much for Aumont. If something happened at home and he couldn’t get back, it would destroy him. He also worried that if something happened to him, his family would be left alone.

“I felt that I was leaving my family behind with not a whole lot of security,” says Aumont. “I’m in charge of bringing them security in some way. And I just didn’t think it was worth going to the States to play baseball for the satisfaction of people sitting at home. I didn’t feel that was right.

“It’s no question for me,” he adds. “Family is going to come first before everything. It doesn’t matter. I’ll sleep on the street if I have to, to provide for my family. That’s how I think. Baseball was work. It was a source of income, right? But I’ll find a way somewhere else … I don’t really see it as a sacrifice, as much as I did the right thing for my family.”

Aumont consulted with friends and family and asked them, ‘Am I doing something stupid, here? Am I on the wrong track?’ Some responded that he was still young and could compete at a high level, while others told him that if baseball was going to keep him from sleeping through the night because he’s away from his family and thinking about them, then it’s probably best to stay home. And he certainly wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines — several veteran players, including Buster Posey, David Price and Ryan Zimmerman, ultimately opted out of the season for similar reasons.

“I called it before the season started,” says Aumont. “People were asking me, ‘Do you think anything’s gonna happen?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I guarantee you [the pandemic will affect everything] and guys are going to be tested positive.’ And what happened?”

Asked what he would have done if he were MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, Aumont says he would have cancelled the entire 2020 season from the beginning. But, though he’ll weigh in, baseball’s troubles aren’t a concern of his now. He turned down a shot at a six-figure contract for a life spent in fields, greenhouses and the cab of a Kubota.

“It’s the biggest risk I have ever taken in my life,” he says. “Stressful? It is. I’m not gonna deny that. It’s a big, big risk because, am I going to succeed? I don’t know. It’s not something I’ve been practising since I’m young.”


Gabrielle began to walk in the early days of the pandemic, a milestone Aumont might’ve missed had he still been playing

Aumont’s farm is only a seven-minute drive from the nearest grocery store, but it certainly doesn’t feel that close to civilization. It’s surrounded on all sides by swaths of neighbouring farmland, lush with soybean plants and corn stalks. The only way to access it is via a one-way gravel driveway and even Google Maps has trouble finding the place.

The 221-acres are still a work in progress, with many buildings unfinished and a fair scattering of wood and other odds and ends. By the second week of April 2021, though, Aumont expects it to be fully operational, and selling directly to locals. He even has plans to add a chicken coop, a pig, goats and sheep, simply so visitors can encounter and admire the animals.

Along with his mentor, Dube, and Dube’s stepson, Guillaume, Aumont is at the greenhouse site unloading stacks of hydrofoam insulation from the back of a pickup truck. In terms of its construction, this greenhouse is currently in the third frame of a nine-inning game. “Once this is over, things are gonna be easy,” Dube tells Aumont, cradling a rake. “Excellente.”

Dube is a fast-talking, quick-moving man with a warm disposition. He’s got a face covered in grey stubble and is wearing a grey Stihl hat with orange lettering and a grey shirt that’s neatly tucked into his navy cargo shorts. He looks like a grizzled farmer, and that’s exactly what he is. Out here he occupies the role once filled by a pitching coach, spending plenty of time explaining to Aumont what’s happening step-by-step and all the reasons behind their work.

Aumont has rented this farm from Dube and plans to officially purchase it in about six months. Dube has owned it for 20 years, but decided to give it up because he just couldn’t handle the 80-100 hours of work the farm requires each week. He wants to buy a Winnebago and eventually travel with his wife, but right now, the plan is to stick around and shepherd Aumont.

Dube had the farm up for sale for seven years before he met Aumont, and he’s come across all kinds of prospective buyers in that time. But he didn’t have a connection with any of them like the one he’s found with the former big-leaguer. “He woke up a part of me that I would say was dead,” Dube says. “Seeing that he wanted to do the same thing I wanted to do. When I stopped, it wasn’t because I didn’t like it. It’s because of the hours. But they are a young couple. They can do so many things with this place and they got the time. So, for me, I come and help him and when my day is over, I go home.”

Aumont received approval from the Quebec government for financial aid that should help cover some of his expenses. The government has a desire to double the province’s total greenhouse production area for fruits and vegetables, according to Yohan Dallaire Boily, a public relations officer with Quebec’s ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food. “Since the start of the pandemic, the government of Quebec has repeatedly encouraged Quebeckers to turn to foods from their region,” he says.

Livestream Toronto Blue Jays games all season with Sportsnet NOW. Plus, watch marquee MLB matchups, the post-season and World Series.


The opportunity to help provide for the community is something that appeals to Aumont. The memory of empty grocery stores in the beginning of the pandemic is one that sticks with him. “I want to put myself and my family in that position of where I will be the supplier,” he says. “I’m not in it for the money. If I would have been in it for money, I would’ve been playing baseball. That’s where the money is. So, now, I just want to be in touch with nature. Having that kind of lifestyle. I don’t mind working. I don’t mind getting up early or going to bed late at night.”

Dube has noticed Aumont’s work ethic and believes his student will be in fine shape. He’s seen the former ballplayer’s passion from Day 1 — Aumont is always asking questions and takes the initiative to do his own research.

Dery agrees. Baseball is all Aumont has ever known, and she feels farming is something of an escape for him. “I’ve never seen Phil having this spark in his eyes,” she says. “Like, he didn’t have this spark when he was talking about baseball … He sees a future here. He sees a legacy for our family. And we always shared this goal to have a legacy for our family. And I think it makes a lot of sense now that we own a farm and operate a farm. That’s what we’re going to leave our family. And that’ll be our legacy.”


Dube had his farm up for sale for seven years before finding just the right buyers in Aumont and Dery

Tucked away against a corner of the farmhouse is a heavy piece of wood that’s shaped like a large wedge, with a slab of rubber on the top. It’s a makeshift mound that Aumont built himself; the only remnant of his sport visible on the property. He uses it every now and then when throwing to a couple of high-school catchers from the area.

While Aumont’s pro career is done, he’s still eyeing one more goal in baseball: The Olympics. Should Canada eventually call on him, the pitcher says he’ll be ready. The farm work is accounting for his physical fitness and he claims his arm usually needs just four or five weeks of preparation to become game ready.

Tinnish says he could see Aumont pulling that off. The Blue Jays exec also notes that even though Aumont’s path in baseball was rocky at times, he still accomplished a lot in the game.

“He’s a first-round pick; he got to the big leagues,” says Tinnish. “Doing those things is incredibly, incredibly difficult. Like, 99.99999 per cent of the world doesn’t sniff those accomplishments.

“I’m just hopeful that he looks back and is proud of everything that he’s accomplished through his minor-league career to the fact that he had four different stints in the big leagues, through the various [appearances with the] national team,” Tinnish continues. “He’s worn the flag and represented his country. That’s what I hope for him: When he’s sitting there farming and working with his family, he can look back and take a lot of pride in what he did.”

Tinnish need not worry. Aumont says he’s happy, completely at peace, and carries no regrets.

“I can definitely leave and be at peace knowing that I worked hard,” says Aumont. “I gave it all. I put in a lot of hours and a lot of effort. It worked out some years. It didn’t work out some other years. But that’s just the way life is. You can’t have it all. You just can’t have it all.”


Dairy farmer no stranger to change

Running the Telford dairy farm is a family affair for manager John Thornley (centre), who is sharing his passion for the industry on the SIT-Telford GoDairy courses at the South Otago campus. Also pictured (clockwise from left) are assistant manager Tineka Scott, Mr Thornley’s sons Jordan Hickey (23) and Caleb Hickey-Thornley (16) partner Delwynne Hickey and daughters Pippa (8) and Peyton Hickey-Thornley (11). PHOTO: MARY-JO TOHILL

After going from cook to cow cocky, Telford dairy farm manager John Thornley can relate to change.

He played a key role in getting the first GoDairy course under way at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) Telford campus near Balclutha last month, and said he got a real kick out of seeing the 13 people taking part make big changes to their lives.

“They’re like a breath of fresh air and they’re wanting to learn all they can about dairying.” The three-week courses are designed to help people go from their pre-Covid-19 careers into the dairy industry. The first launched on August 24 and the next is due to begin on September 21.

Mr Thornley (46) shared a passion for an industry he himself moved to 17 years ago from hospitality.

Born in Roxburgh in Central Otago, he grew up in rural Southland at Heddon Bush and Nightcaps.

When his parents split up, he elected to stay with his father Ron Thornley while his twin brother and other brother went with to live with their mother in Gore. He eventually chose to attend Gore High School.

It was in those years that he learned how to cook, and by the age of 12 he was working in and running fish and chip shops.

He was taught boxing by the late Dayanand (Dan) Sewpersad, who was principal of Nightcaps District High School.

After high school, he moved to Dunedin, trained as a chef at Otago Polytechnic and worked in the Dunedin Hospital kitchens as well as bars and restaurants.

His ability on the rugby field was spotted by a scout when he was playing for Dunedin clubs, including the Alhambra-Union Rugby Football Club.

As a result, he was invited to play for the Perth-based Kalamunda Districts Rugby Union Club, and also played on the West Australia Under-21 side, in 1993.

After a year, he returned to Dunedin and became bar manager at the former Cock and Bull, and later worked for the same owner at the Strathern Inn Restaurant, in Invercargill.

When his first marriage broke up, he moved to Pukerau in eastern Southland to work for his father, who had an excavation business. There he was introduced to dairying at the Pullars’ farm, and met his partner Delwynne Hickey.

“There was a 900-cow dairy farm there, and I started helping out at the weekends if staff were away or sick, so I stepped in and he offered me a job. And the next year I became manager.”

He continued in the industry at various farms until about 2016, when he decided to start The Grind Cafe in the Waikiwi Shopping Centre, near Invercargill.

However, that year, Lincoln University began to make moves to pull out as tertiary provider at Telford. The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre took over the following year.

“I only came up to help out because of the strife with the takeover, but I fell in love with the dairy farm and with South Otago and I’ve been here ever since.”

The father of four runs the dairy farm with the help of Ms Hickey and farm assistant Tineka Scott, and sons, Jordan and Caleb.

He also has two daughters, Peyton and Pippa.

He witnessed Taratahi’s takeover in 2017, which ended in a painful liquidation at the end of 2018.

“Despite everything that’s happened, I’m still here and still in love with the place. There’s still so much potential, and we’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve increased from 500 cows to 600, we’ve increased production from 195,000 [kg] milk solids to 250,000 [kg] milk solids. And we hope to do slightly better.

“We’re still in the shadow [of the receivership], with both farms still in liquidation, but hopefully the Telford farm board will get them handed back and we will once again be a unified campus.”


Stand out from the herd: how cows commooonicate through their lives

PhD student Alexandra Green has published her research that shows dairy cows respond to positive and negative emotional prompts with individual ‘voice’. She says the results have implications for farmers and animal welfare.

Farmers might finally be able to answer the question: How now brown cow?

Research at the University of Sydney has shown that cows maintain individual voices in a variety of emotional situations.

Cows ‘talk’ to one another and retain individual identity through their lowing.

Studying a herd of 18 Holstein-Friesian heifers over five months, PhD student Alexandra Green from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences determined that the cows gave individual voice cues in a variety of positive and negative situations. This helps them to maintain contact with the herd and express excitement, arousal, engagement or distress.

The study recorded 333 samples of cow vocalisations and analysed them using acoustic analyses programs with assistance from colleagues in France and Italy. The paper was published this month in Scientific Reports.

The conclusion of the research is that farmers should integrate knowledge of individual cow voices into their daily farming practices.

“We found that cattle vocal individuality is relatively stable across different emotionally loaded farming contexts,” Ms Green said.

Positive contexts were during oestrus and anticipation of feeding. Negative contexts were when cows were denied feed access and during physical and visual isolation from the rest of the herd.

“We hope that through gaining knowledge of these vocalisations, farmers will be able to tune into the emotional state of their cattle, improving animal welfare,” Ms Green said.

She said that by understanding these vocal characteristics, farmers will be able to recognise individual animals in the herd that might require individual attention.

“Ali’s research is truly inspired. It is like she is building a Google translate for cows,” said Associate Professor Cameron Clark, Ms Green’s academic supervisor.

It was previously known that cattle mothers and offspring could communicate by maintaining individuality in their lowing. Ms Green’s research confirms that cows maintain this individual voicing through their lives and across a herd.

“Cows are gregarious, social animals. In one sense it isn’t surprising they assert their individual identity throughout their life and not just during mother-calf imprinting,” Ms Green said. “But this is the first time we have been able to analyse voice to have conclusive evidence of this trait.”

Ms Green travelled to Saint-Etienne, France, to work with some of the best bioacousticians in the world, including co-authors Professor David Reby and Dr Livio Favaro, to analyse the vocal traits of the cattle.

The study will be incorporated into her doctorate, which investigates cattle vocal communication and use in welfare assessment on dairy farms.


Fonterra Australia to acquire Dairy Country, strengthening its cheese business

The acquisition will support Fonterra’s core strengths in the AU$2.6 billion Australian retail cheese category, where it holds a 23 per cent market share with key brands including Perfect Italiano™, Mainland™ and Bega™.

Fonterra Australia Managing Director René Dedoncker said Fonterra has a long successful history with Dairy Country.

“This acquisition is a logical choice and further supports our strategy to be customer and consumer led, while ensuring we keep pace with the fast-growing cheese category in Australia. 

“Dairy Country has two well-equipped secondary processing sites with capability across grating, shredding and block, as well as an experienced workforce.

“For some time we have been looking to bring more of our secondary cheese processing in-house to gain greater end-to-end control over a range of different cheese products and further strengthen our integrated supply chain.

“Having this kind of capability in-house will enable efficiencies and allow us to make the most of opportunities for value creation and product innovation,” said Mr Dedoncker. 

The acquisition, from food and beverage company Retail Food Group, includes Dairy Country’s processing and packing facilities at Campbellfield and Tullamarine in Victoria, along with related services, intellectual property and the trademark for the Dairy Country brand. 

The majority of Dairy Country’s permanent employees will transfer over to Fonterra and will continue to work at the Campbellfield and Tullamarine facilities.

The acquisition price is A$19.23m and is subject to regulatory approvals and standard closing conditions. 


Top Dairy Industry News Stories from September 5th to 11th 2020

Top News Stories:

Dairy farmers behind Trump despite trade war, pandemic

Finding a dairy farmer to talk to turned out to be a challenge, it’s harvest time and plenty were more focussed on their grain than the Australian reporter on the other end of the phone line. When we tracked Mark Reuth down though, he was happy to show us around. His small herd of about 70 was enough to keep and his wife busy, but they’re more focussed on breeding and show cows. The reason for our fascination with dairy farmers is this single bloc of voters could turn one of the most important states in the US. Last year in Wisconsin around 800 dairies closed, leaving just 7,000 open. To put that in context, in the 1950’s there were 100,000 and that fell to 44,000 by 1980. Wisconsin is the cheese state and proud of it! Around 60% of rural voters turned out for Donald Trump, and they’re reliable at actually showing up at the polling booth if they say they will. In Wisconsin last election it essentially took 20,000 voters changing their mind to deliver Donald Trump the state. And it turns out trade wars are among many concerns, including how the pandemic is managed and an increase in civil unrest. There’s every indication Wisconsin could still be a tight race.


New Zealand mulls changes to livestock exports by sea after ship capsizes

New Zealand has launched a review of its livestock exports by sea one week after a ship carrying nearly 6,000 cows and 43 crew members capsized off Japan.

Reuters reports that Gulf Livestock 1, which left New Zealand’s Napier Port for China sank during storms associated with Typhoon Maysak.

Japan’s coastguards have suspended search operations, after two crewmen were rescued while another died after being found unconscious. Thirty-six Filipino crew members, as well as two New Zealanders and two Australians are still missing.

New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said livestock exporters must obtain an Animal Welfare Export Certificate (AWEC) and meet certain conditions for export before animals leave New Zealand.

The independent review will look at assurances it receives when it considers an application for export of livestock by sea, it said.

The MPI said the current suspension of cattle livestock exports that was put in place after the incident will remain until the review was completed, which is expected to take about a month.

“At the heart of our decision to temporarily suspend cattle livestock exports is a commitment to helping ensure people and animals on livestock export boats are safe,” MPI said in a statement.

“We are working closely with exporters, who have provided assurances that animals currently on pre-export isolation farms are in good condition and well looked after.”

UAE-based Gulf Navigation, which owned the vessel, said in a statement on Thursday 10 September that it was carrying cattle destined to join the Chinese dairy farming and breeding programme.

Read more about this story here.

Source: Reuters

New research project at Iowa State University builds “genome to phenome” knowledge for crops and livestock

A new federal grant will support an Iowa State University-led effort to spur development of a “genome to phenome” infrastructure for scientific collaboration across crops and livestock.

The three-year, $960,000 project will provide guidance and lay the groundwork for a larger federal Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative (AG2PI) sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

Researchers working from “genomics to phenomics” explore how genomes (organisms’ complete set of DNA) influence the expression of observable, phenotypic traits. With sufficient understanding of these relationships, it becomes possible to predict phenotypic traits based on an organism’s genome/DNA sequence. The USDA’s goal is to foster a broad community of researchers to use genome to phenome approaches as a foundation for improving the efficiency and resilience of US agriculture.

“This is a unique cross-kingdom coordination and communications effort to spur development of pioneering types of collaboration and scholarship,” said Patrick S Schnable, project director for the transdisciplinary, multi-institutional grant. Schnable, Iowa Corn Promotion Board Endowed Chair in Genetics and Baker Professorship in the ISU Department of Agronomy, also directs the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State.

Other leaders on the grant at Iowa State are Professor Carolyn Lawrence-Dill in the departments of agronomy and genetics, development and cell biology; and faculty members in animal science, Professor Christopher K Tuggle and Distinguished Professor Jack CM Dekkers. The team also includes Eric Lyons, associate professor from the School of Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona; Jennifer L Clarke, director of the Quantitative Life Science Initiative at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Brenda M Murdoch, associate professor of animal, veterinary and food sciences at the University of Idaho.

The group will convene a series of activities, including field days, training sessions, conferences and workshops that will involve crop and livestock researchers and representatives of other integrative disciplines, such as engineering, economics and sociology, from around the country. Most sessions will be held virtually and recorded for broad dissemination.

The researchers also will develop educational materials and a set of white papers to share information about research, opportunities, gaps and challenges. A significant portion of the grant will provide small seed grants to spur research and scholarship.

“The variety of training and educational mechanisms we have planned is designed to engage as broad a segment of the community as possible,” said Lawrence-Dill. “We want to figure out what training is most needed and to deliver that training in short order. The white papers will help us to track progress and report to USDA and others.”

Some of the project’s training and events will focus on specific species like maize or cattle. Most will be focused on research and logistics across species boundaries, including cyberinfrastructure, bioinformatics and data storage and sharing.

“At the DNA level, there are many, many similarities between plants and animals. This is also true of the ways animal and plant scientists use and structure statistics and bioinformatics to capture, store and use data,” Tuggle said. “We speak different languages now, but there’s a lot we can learn from each other.”

“Iowa State has enormous strengths in both the animal and plant sciences, and many of us are willing and interested in learning from each other and finding opportunities for synergy,” Dekkers said. “I believe that is the reason USDA chose ISU to take the lead on this. We will also have the benefit of other institutional partners who bring important, relevant expertise to the project.”

“What’s really special about this is bringing crop and livestock scientists together to bridge cultural gaps in knowledge and tools,” he said. “We applaud USDA for supporting this exciting, big-tent effort to envision opportunities and identify needs for the future.”

Send this to a friend