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The dairy supply chain has a role to play in sustainability.

As customers grow more conscious of a product’s carbon impact, dairy producers are shifting their attention to more sustainable techniques. This shift in emphasis is motivated by changes in consumer expectations and the need for dairy supply chain partners to collaborate more closely along the path from farm to fridge. Dairy processors, such as Agropur, are attempting to make dairy farms more sustainable by acting as intermediaries between farmers and manufacturers.

Customers are asking processors for more information about a farm’s carbon impact and how to reduce it. Major food producers are worried about the quantity of carbon emitted into the environment, which is a question that their customers are asking. Farmers are engaged in sustainability, and when consumers inquire about programs to promote sustainability, the discourse has been positive.

Large food producers aim to profit from farmers’ carbon credits, turning to processors such as Agropur and Valley Queen for assistance. Companies have roadmaps for where they want to go with their carbon footprint and ask Agropur to assist farmers in meeting various emissions reduction objectives via customized programs. Valley Queen, in conjunction with Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, undertook a pilot study on two dairy farms to assess a crop’s carbon impact from seed planting to milk delivery at the processing facility. Many dairy farms are already in the carbon business, utilizing a biodigester to transfer biogas to a pipeline and then selling the credits.

Results of the USDA’s 2022 Agriculture Census Revealed

The USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture revealed a drop in farm numbers, rising costs, and an aging average American farmer. However, the report highlighted the dairy industry’s consolidation, with 24,082 farms reporting off-farm milk sales in 2022, a 38.7% decrease from 39,303 in 2017. According to the census, approximately 65% of U.S. dairy cows are now found on operations with more than 1,000 head, a 10% increase from 2017. Furthermore, 6.5% of cows were found on operations with fewer than 100 head in 2022, a decrease from 12.7% in 2017.

Milk production is stable to slightly higher in most parts of the country, with mild winter weather promoting seasonal growth in milk volumes. However, numerous market stakeholders report that output is lower than last year due to producer exits and reductions over the last 12 months. In the Central region, spot milk availability is much lower than it was in 2023, with prices ranging from $10 to $2 under Class. Cheesemakers have expressed a desire to increase processing to build inventories ahead of the spring holidays, but labor disputes at some plants have resulted in slower production schedules. Retail demand varies across the country, with some regions performing better than others.

The spot Cheddar block market did not acknowledge it as prices eroded during the second half of the week. Blocks finished the week at $1.48/lb., down 9¢ from last Friday as 16 loads traded hands. Meanwhile, barrel prices rose steadily, reaching a new high for the year at $1.6075/lb. This week’s cheese market dynamics have pushed the inverted block barrel spread to 12.75¢, the highest gap since June 2023.

The whey market has been subdued in recent days, with the CME spot dry whey market ending Friday’s trade unchanged at 53¢ per pound. Slower-than-expected cheese production has reduced the whey stream, tightening the whey market at the edges. Class IV markets moved in opposite directions this week, with butter gaining ground and nonfat dry milk (NDM) losing ground. The spot butter market gained traction this week, with prices reaching $2.75/lb. on Friday, up 6¢ from the previous week.

Feed and grain markets continued to fall this week, as agricultural economists and stakeholders gathered for the USDA’s annual Outlook Forum. Plentiful supply expectations and healthy inventory levels pushed grain markets lower, which will be good news for dairy producers looking for additional feed cost savings. On Friday, MAR23 corn settled at $4.165/bu., down 14¢ from Monday, and MAR23 soybean meal took a more modest dip to $345.60/ton.

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U.S. Dairy Exports Fall Back from Record Highs in 2023, Underscoring Need for New Market Access

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), released the following statement today on the U.S. agricultural export data for calendar year 2023 released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The 2023 agricultural export data released today by USDA is a mixed bag for U.S. dairy. While U.S. agriculture is experiencing a trade imbalance, U.S. dairy is pleased to be an outlier enjoying a sizeable trade surplus. However, total U.S. dairy export value fell by $1.5 billion while volume declined by 7% in 2023, underscoring a clear need for U.S. trade officials to focus on creating new, preferential market opportunities for American producers and food exporters while holding trade partners accountable to rules and agreements. For example, exports to Canada are nowhere close to the projections promised U.S. dairy in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement due to consistent barriers erected by the Government of Canada that prevent American exporters from filling their tariff quotas. Further, demand remains soft in key markets such as China and Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia, illustrating the need for a strategic approach to trade with markets in the Asia Pacific region. Overall, U.S. dairy exports performed better than most other commodities, but we are not meeting our capabilities. U.S. dairy boasts the lowest carbon intensity footprint globally, remains competitively priced and sets quality standards worldwide. However, the lack of export opportunities hampers our ability to leverage these strengths.

“U.S. dairy relies on export growth to capture the growing productivity of U.S. dairy farmers. Without exports, we risk stagnation, jeopardizing investments, jobs, and future competitiveness in the global marketplace. IDFA urges members of Congress and the Administration to come together on a realistic trade agenda that prioritizes preferential access for U.S. dairy exports.”  

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3.2 million jobs that generate $49 billion in direct wages and $794 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent most of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.


Students Across the Country to Celebrate Agriculture

National FFA Week is a time for FFA members to raise awareness about the National FFA Organization’s role in developing future leaders in agriculture and the importance of agricultural education.

FFA provides the next generation of leaders who will change the world. As the nation’s top school-based youth leadership development organization, FFA helps young people meet new agricultural challenges by encouraging members to develop their unique talents and explore their interests in various career pathways. FFA members are our future leaders, food suppliers, innovators and more!

National FFA Week runs from Saturday to Saturday, encompassing Feb. 22, George Washington’s birthday. This year, the week kicks off on Feb. 17 and culminates on Saturday, Feb. 24.

The National FFA Board of Directors designated the weeklong tradition, which began in 1948, to recognize Washington’s legacy as an agriculturist and farmer. A group of young farmers founded FFA in 1928, and the organization has been influencing generations to believe that agriculture is planting and harvesting — and involves science, business, and more.

“National FFA Week is a meaningful week for members across our country as we celebrate an organization that is welcoming to all and crucial to developing the next generation of leaders and those who will fill the ever-growing need in the talent pipeline,” said National FFA Advisor Dr. Travis Park. “Not only is it an opportunity to share our message with a broader audience, but it’s also an opportunity for our FFA chapters and members to celebrate agriculture and agricultural education while thanking their supporters — their local alumni and supporters chapters, agriculture teachers, or local businesses.”

National FFA Week is a time for FFA members to share agriculture with their fellow students and communities. During the week, chapters also give back to their communities through various service projects.

The six National FFA Officers will connect with chapters nationwide throughout the week — delivering keynotes, greetings, workshops and more.

President Amara Jackson will visit with FFA members in Texas and Arkansas. Western Region Vice President Emily Gossett will see FFA members in Florida and Georgia. Eastern Region Vice President Morgan Anderson will visit with FFA members in Iowa and Colorado. Central Region Vice President Kanyon Huntington will visit with FFA members in Kentucky and Virginia. Southern Region Vice President Carter Howell will visit with FFA members in Connecticut and Maryland. Secretary Grant Norfleet will visit with FFA members in Idaho and Alaska.

The National FFA Organization is a school-based youth leadership development organization of more than 945,000 student members as part of 9,163 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

**Video PSAs for each day can be found here.

**Radio PSAs for FFA Week can be found here.

New Census Shows Alarming Loss of Family Farms

New agriculture census data released by USDA today is cause for concern as the number of farms operating in the United States and the number of farm acres have both fallen significantly. The 2022 Census of Agriculture reports 141,733 fewer farms in 2022 than in 2017. The number of farm acres fell to 880,100,848, a loss of more than 20 million acres from just five years earlier.

“The latest census numbers put in black and white the warnings our members have been expressing for years,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Increased regulations, rising supply costs, lack of available labor and weather disasters have all squeezed farmers to the point that many of them find it impossible to remain economically sustainable.

“Family farms not only help drive the economy, they allow the rest of the nation the freedom to pursue their dreams without worrying about whether there will be enough food in their pantries. We urge Congress to heed the warning signs of these latest numbers. Passing a new farm bill that addresses these challenges is the best way to help create an environment that attracts new farmers and enables families to pass their farms to the next generation.”

While it’s encouraging that the number of beginning farmers increased, the latest census numbers show the number of farmers over the age of 65 is outpacing younger farmers. Almost 1.3 million farmers are now at or beyond retirement age, while just 300,000 farmers are under the age of 35. AFBF has long-established policies supporting beginning farmers, including through farm bill programs focused on new and beginning farmers.

Read the full 2022 Census of Agriculture here.

UK parliament will consider legislation to end abuses of power in dairy supply chain

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced new dairy and poultry regulations during a speech at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) conference. The regulations seek to establish transparency and accountability throughout the dairy supply chain by prohibiting contract changes without agreement and addressing issues of exclusivity and notice periods. They plan to introduce clearer pricing terms and a system for farmers to verify variable price calculations.

The legislation will include an enforcement mechanism, with the secretary of state empowered to impose significant financial penalties on those who violate the rules. The news follows more than a decade of campaigning by the NFU and other UK farming unions to expose unfair practices and abuses of power in the dairy supply chain.

Proposals for the new legislation were submitted last summer, while details about the enforcement mechanism were still being worked out. NFU diary chair Michael Oakes explained that farmers should understand what influences their prices, and that there were no non-exclusive contracts in the UK dairy supply chain at the time. Similar contract regulations for the pig sector will be introduced later in 2024.

Sunak announced grants totaling approximately £427 million for farmers, including £220 million for technology and productivity programs that provide access to new equipment such as automation gear to reduce reliance on foreign workers. Increases in management payments for the Sustainable Farming Incentive were also announced.

Finally, at the next Farm to Fork Summit in the spring, the UK government plans to release an annual food security index that will capture and highlight key data required to monitor current levels of food security.

Dairy boss faces jail time following deadly Listeria outbreak

The owner of a dairy company that caused a Listeria outbreak in Austria faces more than a year in prison. The head of Käserei Gloggnitz was sentenced to 13 months in prison this week. According to media reports, the 39-year-old was charged with several counts but denied the allegations, and the verdict was not final.

A Listeria outbreak from 2020 to 2022 resulted in ten cases and at least three deaths.

Käserei Gloggnitz experienced financial difficulties in 2022, prompting the opening of insolvency proceedings, and the plant was ordered to be closed in 2023.

Additional allegations will be heard in mid-March at the Regional Court of Wiener Neustadt, where several other witnesses will be questioned.

In a January 2023 audit, DG Sante reviewed a file from the dairy plant linked to the outbreak. Käserei Gloggnitz had a poor compliance record, and an inspection in 2020 revealed several significant flaws. An inspection one year later yielded equally serious results.

However, those findings did not result in increased inspection frequency or enforcement until an epidemiological link between infections and the company was established in the autumn of 2022, when authorities ordered that production be halted.

There were six women and three men aged 29 to 82, as well as a newborn baby. The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) confirmed that illnesses occurred in Vienna.

Käserei Gloggnitz recalled all kajmak, drinking yogurt, and cream cheese products in September 2022 due to a possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Cajmak is a type of cheese.

Officials discovered Listeria that matched the outbreak strain in three environmental samples collected from the company in Lower Austria. The outbreak strain was also found in the food it produced.

Is Beef-on-Dairy causing America’s Heifer Shortage?

The American dairy sector is facing a scarcity of replacement heifers, which is the technique of crossbreeding dairy cows with beef cattle to produce progeny for both milk and meat. This approach has gained favor among dairy producers looking to diversify their income sources, but it may have unexpected effects, such as the depletion of replacement heifers in the dairy herd.

A 1,000-cow dairy that produces crossbred bull calves can expect to earn about $100,000 more in 2024 than it would sell Holstein bull calves. High beef calf prices are sending a clear signal to the dairy industry to make more beef calves and fewer dairy heifers.

For six consecutive years, dairy heifer inventories have declined. The USDA cut its previous estimate for the number of dairy heifers available on January 1, 2023, to 8.3% fewer than it had at the start of 2022. On January 1, 2023, there were 4.059 million dairy heifers, the smallest heifer inventory in 20 years. The USDA also slashed its estimate of heifers expected to calve and enter the milk-cow herd in 2023, with 7% fewer heifers ready to enter the milk herd at the start of last year. Mature heifer inventories are also expected to decline 1% this year.

Dairy herd expansion is unlikely to accelerate owing to high demand for young animals and a dairy heifer shortage. For at least 18 months, the cattle industry will be without young animals. High beef calf prices are driving the dairy industry to produce more beef calves and fewer dairy heifers.

Addressing the heifer deficit in the American dairy sector requires a diversified strategy. While beef-on-dairy may increase variety and profitability, dairy producers must carefully evaluate the long-term effects on herd genetics and sustainability. Collaboration among dairy farmers, breed organizations, and industry stakeholders is critical in developing policies that balance the need for milk and meat production while guaranteeing the dairy sector’s sustainability for future generations.

FMMO Hearings: Dairy Leaders Discuss Next Steps

Dairy leaders are pushing for dairy farmers in the United States as the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) hearings continue. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) takes a broader strategy, covering all aspects of the sector while revising Class I differentials and making concessions. Mike Brown, chief economist for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), feels that the dairy business has fundamentally altered since 2008, and that present FMMO pricing formulae need to be updated to reflect new market dynamics.

The USDA is reviewing almost 12,000 pages of testimony as it develops its proposal for FMMO modernization. Peter Vitaliano, NMPF’s vice president for economic strategy and market research, claimed that neither party will receive all they want, but the end outcome will be a market improvement over what we now have. Greg Doud, president and CEO of NMPF, said that the current formula has cost dairy farmers around 1.2 billion dollars and should be restored back to the original ‘higher-of’ system, which suited farmers best.

Stakeholders submitted fourteen suggestions to USDA for review, 21 of which were selected for inclusion in the hearing process. Two IDFA proposals have been included in the hearing process: one requesting that USDA update make allowances, which are woefully out of date after nearly 20 years of rising manufacturing costs, and a second proposal on Class I milk pricing, which puts more dollars in dairy farmers’ pockets than they would receive under the ‘higher of’ mover while allowing dairy processors to effectively manage price risk.

The following stages involve interested parties submitting a correction by 4:30 ET on April 1. The USDA is anticipated to release a proposed judgment by June 30.

A new regulatory rule in Canada has made milk without cows legal.

Remilk, an Israeli business, has been given authorization to sell its animal-free milk protein to dairy enterprises and other food companies in Canada. This allows them to market their version of the BLG (β-Lactoglobulin) protein, which is the major whey protein in cow’s milk. Health Canada assessed that the BLG protein generated by Remilk poses no more danger to human health than the whey protein from cow’s milk presently available on the Canadian market and has the same nutritional value.

The decision opens the door for a more resilient and environmentally conscious future, establishing a precedent for innovation in Canada’s approach to feeding its rising population. The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) sent identical ‘no questions’ letters to Remilk and Perfect Day in 2020 and 2023, respectively. The market for animal-free milk manufacturing has grown in recent years, with Nestle teaming with Perfect Day in late 2022 to test product acceptance in experimental regions. Perfect Day reported in January 2024 that it had secured US$90 million in expansion investment, while France-based Bon Vivant disclosed an additional US$15.9 million in fundraising in October 2023.

In Canada’s conventional dairy sector, monthly milk sales by Canadian farmers have increased from the low 600,000 liter level in 2015 to the high 700,000 range by 2023. The Canadian government has announced an investment of up to $89 million in 49 projects around the country to minimize the effects of international trade agreements. Milk pasteurisers, ultrafiltration systems, and packaging robots are some project examples.

France raises payments to cattle producers

Following recent demonstrations, the French government announced steps to make farmers’ life easier, including increased compensation for cattle producers stricken by Epizootic Haemorrhagic Disease (EHD). On February 5, the Ministry of Agriculture issued directives enabling farmers to obtain compensation equal to 90% of the value of their livestock. They may also apply for comparable compensation for veterinarian fees, pre-transportation, and other examinations. The Department of Agriculture has set aside €50 million for losses incurred by farmers and livestock merchants as a result of temporary prohibitions on live cattle export to Spain and Italy.

Despite the sluggish spread of EHD in France, the number of affected farms is approaching 4,000. Since the discovery of the first infected animals in September of last year, 3,812 fresh instances have been reported, with 20 locations afflicted. The bulk of these instances are in the south-west of the nation, along the border with Spain, which has also seen an EHP outbreak. The preventive zones surrounding affected farms now stretch as far north as Normandy, along the Channel, and east to the Indre area. The Department of Agriculture in Paris is continuing doing research on afflicted farms to determine the death rate and other aspects of the EHD pandemic.

Cooperatives’ absence of Milk Loss compensation is being questioned by a congressman.

A congressman from New York is inquiring about the status of the promised aid for storm-affected dairy producers and cooperatives.

During a hearing before the House Ag Committee on Wednesday, Republican Nick Langworthy informed Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack that winter storm Elliot devastated the northeast in December 2022, leading to the shutdown of dairy facilities and the massive disposal of milk. To make matters worse, farmers in my region had to deal with the unpleasant truth that their milk couldn’t be collected or delivered.

Although Langworthy expressed gratitude for the USDA’s Milk Loss Program, he expressed curiosity about the timing of payment for cooperative losses and asked the Secretary to clarify this matter. Our farmers have been waiting for payment for about fifteen months, and it’s outrageous. I find it very distressing that there has been absolutely no contact with farmers and that we have not received any compensation for the losses incurred by the cooperative.

Vilsack said that he is unaware of the current situation with the Milk Loss Program cooperative payments.

The promise of hybrid dairy: How can pioneers get into this untapped market?

Hybrid dairy is a new sector in the dairy business that mixes plant-based components with dairy to provide customers with new options, outstanding flavor, and good nutrition. According to market research company Mintel, there is significant interest in this area, with surveys done by Mintel in collaboration with Kantar or Dynata during 2022-23 revealing items that look interesting to a large number of customers. In France, 42% of respondents agreed that products that combine a dairy alternative as a main ingredient with dairy would be appealing, while in the Republic of Ireland, 56% of cheese users said they would be interested in trying hybrid cheese, and 26% in Thailand said they would be interested in trying hybrid yogurt.

The potential arises because consumers are increasingly identifying as flexitarians, which means they want to eat more plant-based meals while limiting their consumption of animal products. This is referred to as ‘flexi-dairy-anism’ by Mintel, which means drinking both dairy and plant-based milk. In the United States, 47% of survey participants had not yet tasted non-dairy milk, but in the United Kingdom, 80% of respondents reported drinking both plant-based and dairy milk in the three months before April 2023.

However, consumers are hesitant to entirely eliminate dairy for a variety of reasons, including intolerance, a desire to eat and drink healthier goods, a conviction that non-dairy is better for the environment, and a desire to consume more plant-based meals. To appeal to flexitarian dairy customers, businesses could make current hybrid goods more ‘actively relevant’ to them by stressing both dairy and plant-based components.

Hybrid dairy may also be positioned as an economical alternative to plant-based milk for a group of customers known as “reluctant dairy lovers.” Adding plant-based components to dairy products may help retain fiber-conscious customers, since 65% of Polish consumers believe yoghurts and yoghurt drinks with extra fiber would be desirable. Finally, businesses should emphasize the flavor and enjoyment that plant-based products can provide, as many customers express a desire to move to more non-dairy choices.

US farm exports hit three-year low in 2023 as China slows buying

U.S. exports of agricultural and related products reached a value of $191 billion in 2023, down 10% from 2022’s record as both commodity prices and shipment volumes declined.

That marks a three-year low though is similar to the 2021 levels, and it reflects competition from key suppliers, particularly when it comes to satisfying Chinese demand.

Data published by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday shows exports of bulk commodities, which include top-grossing items like soybeans, corn, wheat and cotton, hit a 10-year low by volume in 2023. That volume was down 17% from 2022, the largest year-on-year tumble since 1985.

Last year’s U.S. bulk commodity exports were still a 10-year low even when subtracting China’s portion, though the annual decline shrinks to 10%, the same as in 2022, China excluded. These declines were driven by high prices and a supply increase in rival exporting countries.

Top exporter Brazil is a prime example as its combined corn and soy shipments in 2023 totaled nearly 158 million metric tons, some 29% higher than 2022’s record. U.S. corn-plus-soy exports last year totaled 94 million tons, down 18% on the year to a four-year low.

This uncomfortable predicament for U.S. exporters was emphasized in December as China was the destination for 38% of the cargoes, down from the month’s three-year average of 59%. Outside of the 2018 trade war, that was China’s lowest share of December U.S. soybean shipments since 2002.

Despite the decline in the farm sector, all U.S. exports, including goods and services, rose 1% in 2023 to a new record of $3.05 trillion. However, that annual growth rate is slim compared with 18% and 19% observed in 2022 and 2021, respectively.

Agriculture and related products accounted for 6.2% of all U.S. exports last year, a four-year low and down from shares above 7% in the previous three years.

U.S. agricultural and related exports as a % of total U.S. exports
U.S. agricultural and related exports as a % of total U.S. exports


By value, last year’s U.S. bulk commodity exports declined 22% from 2022’s high. The average export cost of U.S. soybeans in 2023 fell 5% on the year and the corn cost eased 10%, though both were still higher than in 2021.

U.S. wheat export prices were down 16% last year and cotton prices fell 19%, and those combined with large annual volume declines. U.S. cotton shipments fell 18% on the year to a seven-year low, and wheat shipments were the lightest since 1971, down 13% on the year.

U.S. soybean oil exports in 2023 plunged 76% on the year as the focus increasingly shifts toward domestic use, and the volume was by far the smallest in records back to 1967. Beef and beef product exports slipped 12% from 2022’s high, hitting a three-year low due to a pullback from Asian buyers.

Not everything was grim for U.S. ag exports last year as soybean meal shipments reached a record 14.1 million tons, some 10% above the prior high set in 2018. Both years featured big crop losses in top meal exporter Argentina, and better 2024 harvest prospects mean the U.S. meal boost may have been temporary.

Pork and pork product exports rose 8% by volume in 2023 though stayed below the strong Chinese demand years of 2020 and 2021. A bump in domestic corn processing allowed U.S. ethanol exports last year to rise 9% to a four-year high.


By value, Canada, China and Mexico accounted for about half of all U.S. agricultural and related exports in 2023, with Canada slightly edging China for the first time in four years.

Mexico claimed a record 15.6% share of last year’s U.S. ag exports, up from the prior high of 13.9% in 2022. Canada accounted for 17.3% of the total U.S. value, its highest since 2006.

China’s portion dropped to a four-year low of 16.6% from a record 19.2% in 2022, and China’s 2023 share was similar to those observed in 2014 and 2016, for example.


Net Farm Income in 2024 Forecast to Be Down 25% from Last Year

On Feb. 7, USDA released the first insights into net farm income expectations for 2024. The latest report anticipates a decrease from 2023’s forecast of $155 billion to $116 billion – a drop of nearly $40 billion, or 25.5%, and the largest recorded year-to-year dollar decrease in net farm income. The decline marks the second consecutive drop since record-high farm income levels in 2022 ($185.5 billion). When adjusted for inflation, net farm income, a broad measure of farm profitability, is expected to decrease 27%, or $43 billion, from 2023. If realized, 2024 net farm income would be below the 20-year average (2003-2022) in inflation-adjusted dollars. A $21 billion expected drop in cash receipts for agricultural goods and a $17 billion expected increase in production expenses explain 95% of the forecast decline.

The forecast for 2023 net farm income in this report was also updated from December’s report, increasing marginally from $151 billion to $156 billion. Net farm income reflects income after expenses from production in the current year and is calculated by subtracting farm expenses from gross farm income. A year-to-year drop of this magnitude parallels a recent decline in general farmer sentimentas lower expectations set in for commodity prices in 2024. Importantly, this is still a very early measure of farm financial health. Countless factors will shape supply and demand conditions over the course of the next 11 months.

Direct government payments are estimated to decrease by $1.9 billion, or 16%, between 2023 and 2024 to slightly over $10 billion and about 9% of net farm income. This marks the fourth consecutive annual decrease in government payments for producers since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and would represent the lowest value since 2014, even without adjusting for inflation. Ad hoc and supplemental program payments, which include payments from the Emergency Relief Program (ERP), Quality Loss Adjustment Program and other farm bill designated-disaster programs, are expected to decrease from $6.54 billion to $5.84 billion, an 11% decline and $5.49 billion less than paid out during 2024. The previous announcement of limited additional funds to extend ERP to cover 2022 disaster losseshave reduced expected payments in this category, which is reflected in the lower values. Pandemic era programs that contributed to as much as 48% of net farm income in 2020 no longer contribute to farmers’ cash flow.

Commodity insurance indemnities, included for comparison to ad hoc disaster programs, are forecast down slightly in 2024, moving from $21.77 billion to $20.78 billion but remaining well above the prior 10-year average of $12.72 billion. The number of crop insurance programs has increased and along with it the total value of liabilities across sold crop insurance policies. Increased participation and difficult weather have resulted in higher-than-average indemnity payments the past several years. Additionally, ERP still requires those who receive payments to enroll in crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program coverage (when crop insurance is not available) for the next two available crop years. This pushes up crop insurance participation further, contributing to additional indemnities as more farmers are encouraged to manage their risks.


Cash receipts for crop and livestock sales are expected to move from $507 billion in 2023 to $486 billion in 2024 for a loss of $21 billion (4%). The forecast decline in crop receipts explains nearly 80% of this difference, signaling a weaker incoming year for row crop prices. Receipts for all crops are forecast to drop to $16.7 billion (6%). Corn receipts are forecast down $11.3 billion (14%) and are responsible for much of the expected crop receipts decline. Corn futures prices have recently dropped to a three-year low on expectations of high global supplies. Soybean receipts are expected down $6 billion (10%), hay receipts down $800 million (8.3%) and wheat and vegetable and melon receipts .5% or less. Cash receipts for fruits and tree nuts and cotton buck the trend of crop-related income declines. Fruit and tree nut receipts are expected to increase $800 million (2.8%) and cotton receipts are forecast to increase by $100 million (1.6%). Heavily traded grain commodities face strong supply dynamics that have weakened price outlooks for the year, substantially contributing to the $16.7 billion expected difference between 2023 and 2024.


Cash receipts for livestock are also forecast down between 2023 and 2024, though not to the same magnitude as crops. Total animal product receipts are expected to decrease $4.6 billion (1.9%) from $244 billion to $239 billion. After several years of gains, receipts for cattle and calves are expected down $1.6 billion (1.6%) – the largest drop among the livestock categories. With the smallest cattle inventories in the U.S. in 73 years, prices for beef will likely be strong but largely offset by limited production. Turkey producers are expected to face a rough year, according to these numbers. Cash receipts for turkeys are expected down $1.4 billion (21%). Growing flocks less impacted by avian influenza and weaker-than-expected consumer demand may explain this grim outlook. Similarly, cash receipts for chicken eggs are expected down $1.7 billion (12%) for likely similar reasons. Receipts for dairy products and milk are expected down $900 million (2%) primarily linked to lower expected prices. Growing inventories of cold stored cheeses and larger supplies globally create downward pressures against strengthening Class prices. Broilers and hogs are the only categories expected to see increases, up $700 million and $300 million respectively. Though any positive number is welcome, hog producers faced record losses in 2023 that will not be substantially offset by a $300 million across industry gain. Strong demand from consumers for chicken meat continues to boost prices in the broiler arena. For most livestock categories, the forecast difference in cash receipts between 2023 and 2024 is quite small especially as compared to the difference from 2022. This suggests that many livestock producers can expect similar pricing dynamics to 2023 for 2024 (aside from turkey and egg producers).

Production Expenses

Behind a drop in cash receipts, the most significant contributor to an expected farm income drop is attributable to higher production expenses, estimated to increase 4%, or $16.7 billion, over 2023 for a total of $455 billion across the farm economy. This marks the sixth consecutive year of production expense increases and fourth consecutive year production expenses hit a new record high. Production expenses are expected up across almost all categories.

These rising production expenses have left many farmers exposed in 2023 and beyond to the limitations of farm programs that are focused on fixed reference prices, or slowly adjusting price and revenue histories, which are among the issues up for discussion in the current farm bill debate.

The largest percent increases between 2023 and 2024 are expected between marketing, storage and transportation (up 12%), the cost of labor (up 7.5%) and the cost of pesticides (up 7.2%). After a year of declines for fertilizer, USDA expects a 4.3% increase between 2023 and 2024 (from $30.4 billion to $31.7 billion) though still quite a bit lower from the $36.8 billion spent in 2022. Even with improving inflationary conditions, interest expenses are expected up $230 million (about 1%), meaning relief around the cost of capital and servicing that capital is not expected for much of 2024. The Federal Reserve has held the federal funds effective rate at 5.33% since August 2023 with indications that lower rates could be many months away. This dynamic is reflected in USDA’s estimations that interest expenses will increase for farmers and ranchers. The only main expense category forecast to decrease is fuels and oils, expected to drop over 7% ($1.21 billion) across the farm economy as fuel prices continue to recede from record levels in 2022. Farmers and ranchers will see no relief on the expense side of their balance sheet, according to these early numbers.

Other farm income, which includes things like income from custom work, machine hire, commodity insurance indemnities and rent received by operator landlords, is estimated to decrease by $100 million, from $54.1 billion in 2023 to $54 billion in 2024. When all factors influencing income are accounted for, the resulting expectations for a sharp net farm income decline become apparent, as illustrated in Figure 6.


USDA’s most recent estimates for 2024 net farm income provide a very early forecast of the farm financial picture. For 2024, USDA anticipates a decrease in net farm income, moving from $155 billion in 2023 to $116 billion in 2024, a decrease of 25.5%. Much of the forecasted decline in 2024 net farm income is tied to lower crop and livestock cash receipts and continued increases in production costs. It is important to highlight the early nature of this forecast. For example, net farm income numbers for 2023 will not be finalized until August 2024 and have already been adjusted by over $18 billion since the first estimates were released in February 2022. USDA digests new information and data as it becomes available, shifting calculations from estimates to actual values. This means there is still much uncertainty in final 2024 net farm income. Numerous supply and demand conditions must unfold before economists can have confident expectations for the year’s farm income.

With an early expectation of significant revenue declines, though, it becomes all the more important for producers to have clarity on rules that impact their businesses’ ability to operate and for producers to have access to comprehensive risk management options. Farmers and ranchers will have a resounding voice, as they should, in the formulation of vital legislation such as the farm bill, which can either complicate or streamline their ability to contribute to a reliable and resilient U.S. food supply.


Number of U.S. Farms Falls and Size Increases

Farms continued to get larger and the number of U.S. farms fell between 2017 and 2022, new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed on Tuesday.

The Census of Agriculture, taken every five years, counts and details U.S. farms and is used to shape the nation’s farm policies.

There were 1.9 million U.S. farms in 2022, down about seven per cent from 2.04 million in 2017, the census showed. The number of acres of farmland also fell by about 20 million from 2017.

The average farm size rose from 441 acres (178 hectares) in 2017 to 463 acres (187 hectares) in 2022.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the survey “a wake-up call” at an event at the USDA headquarters on Tuesday. “This survey (asks) the critical question of whether as a country, are we OK with losing that many farms,” he said.

Farm consolidation has been an ongoing concern of USDA. Vilsack speaks often about the need to support smaller farming operations and better distribute farm income, which is concentrated among the largest farms.

The number of U.S. farms has been in steady decline for several decades. Between 1997 and 2017, for instance, the number fell about eight per cent, or by about 200,000 farms, according to previous census data. That span also saw a decrease in farm acres of 54.5 million, the data shows.

The vast majority of farms – about 1.8 million – are owned or rented by white producers, the census shows. The average age of farmers continues to rise and reached 58.1, up 0.6 year from 2017.

The census showed an uptick in farms adopting renewable energy projects like solar panels, up nearly 30 per cent to 116,700 farms, and wind turbines, up two per cent to 14,500 farms.

The USDA defines a farm as any operation that sells more than $1,000 in product annually.

Source: Reuters

National Junior Holstein Association Launches Extemporaneous Speaking Contest

The National Junior Holstein Association is excited to offer an Extemporaneous Speaking Contest for the first time in 2024. The new contest will be open to members in the senior division of the National Junior Holstein Association and held during the 2024 National Junior Holstein Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“The ability to think on your feet, express your knowledge clearly, and engage an audience are undoubtedly skills that make a difference,” says Kelli Dunklee, Event and Program Lead. “We’re thrilled to be helping youth build these core skills through this new contest and look forward to seeing our first round of competitors in 2024.”

Participants will get to choose from three randomly selected topics relating to the Holstein or dairy industries. After a 30-minute preparation time, Junior members will give a four-to-six-minute speech on their selected topic, followed by a round of questions from the panel of judges.

The judges will evaluate the speech based on content, composition, delivery, response to questions, and time. The top three winners will be awarded cash prizes of $200 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place.

Extemporaneous Speaking Contest participants must be a Junior Holstein member between the ages of 18 to 20 years old to compete. To apply for the contest, visit and submit the application form by May 1, 2024.

The contest will be held on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, as part of the National Junior Holstein Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. To learn more about the 2024 National Holstein Convention visit Hotel rooms are currently available for booking and registration for the event will be open soon.

Fans were offended with Jessica Simpson’s milk commercial


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Jessica Simpson has received fire for uploading an Instagram commercial in favor of the “Got Milk?” campaign, in which she holds a glass of milk and stares into the camera. Some followers heavily criticized Simpson,  claiming that milk is the worst beverage people can consume, many also came to her aid and proclaimed the many benefits of drinking milk. This response followed Hailey Bieber’s criticism in May for donning a “Got Milk?” T-shirt on Instagram. Milk products have recently received a lot of criticism, whether conventional dairy products or plant-based alternatives. Dunkin Donuts is facing a $5 million class-action lawsuit for charging more for non-dairy milks, while oat milk is also under criticism for allegedly causing blood sugar surges.

Dairy milk is becoming less popular in the United States, with Generation Z purchasing 20% less milk than the national average by 2022. 

There are several reasons for the decline in milk consumption in recent years:

  1. Lifestyle Changes: Shifts in lifestyle patterns, such as increased urbanization and busier schedules, have led to changes in dietary habits. Convenience foods and beverages are often favored over traditional options like milk.
  2. Health Concerns: Some individuals are opting for alternative beverages due to health concerns related to lactose intolerance, milk allergies, or perceived negative health effects associated with dairy consumption, such as concerns about saturated fat content.
  3. Dietary Preferences: With the rise of veganism and vegetarianism, many people are choosing plant-based milk alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, or coconut milk for ethical, environmental, or health reasons.
  4. Marketing and Perception: The dairy industry has faced challenges in marketing milk as a healthy and desirable beverage. Criticism of certain dairy farming practices, concerns about hormones and antibiotics in milk, and competing marketing efforts by plant-based milk producers have all contributed to changing perceptions of milk.
  5. Environmental Concerns: Some consumers are choosing plant-based milk alternatives due to environmental concerns associated with dairy farming, such as greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and land degradation.
  6. Availability and Diversity: The increased availability and diversity of plant-based milk alternatives in supermarkets and coffee shops have made it easier for consumers to explore non-dairy options.
  7. Cultural Shifts: In some cultures, traditional milk consumption patterns are evolving as younger generations adopt different dietary preferences influenced by global trends and cultural exchanges.

Drinking milk has several potential health benefits:

  1. Nutrient-rich: Milk is a good source of essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins D and B12, and riboflavin.
  2. Bone health: Calcium and vitamin D found in milk are crucial for maintaining strong bones and teeth, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, especially as you age.
  3. Muscle growth and repair: The protein in milk contains all essential amino acids, making it a high-quality source of protein that supports muscle growth and repair.
  4. Hydration: Milk is a liquid, so it helps to keep you hydrated, especially when consumed along with water.
  5. Weight management: Some research suggests that consuming dairy products, including milk, as part of a balanced diet may aid in weight management and reduce the risk of obesity.
  6. Heart health: While there’s some debate, certain components in milk, such as potassium and magnesium, may contribute to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.

While dairy milk offers various nutritional benefits and culinary advantages, it’s important to recognize that dietary preferences and choices can vary widely among individuals.

UK government expands PCR testing for bovine tuberculosis

Hopes of quickly detecting bovine tuberculosis in British cow herds have been raised by the revelation that the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test would now be used to a broader variety of post-mortem test samples.

The statement follows a year of testing by the UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to help in the quick identification of Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

Beginning this week (February 14), the APHA will extend the use of PCR testing in England, Scotland, and Wales to cover acceptable post-mortem tissue samples gathered from three areas:

Cattle positive for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) include direct contacts (DCs), private or obligatory slaughter, and inconclusive reactors (IRs).

The existing technique of evaluating tissue samples, microbiological culture, will now be limited to particular PCR test-positive samples, either to enhance illness studies by getting Whole Genome Sequencing information or if a valid PCR result is not obtained.
“…a significant step”

Farmers have applauded the news. According to Tom Bradshaw, NFU deputy president, the extension of PCR testing is a crucial move that the union has long advocated. “Swift disclosure of test results will help to alleviate the intense pressure on farmers during a TB breakdown and may offer additional certainty to how that breakdown will be managed,” he went on to say.

Although microbiological culture is considered the gold standard of testing, it normally takes 6-22 weeks to receive a response, and utilizing PCR might aid in the quick resolution of a suspected tuberculosis breakdown. M. bovis should be detected more rapidly in post-mortem samples.

The strategy and methods for dealing with a TB breakdown will remain unchanged.

Exactly why the USDA projects a significant decline in revenue in 2024

The United States Department of Agriculture anticipates a $43.1 billion loss in net agricultural revenue in 2024 compared to 2023, the greatest year-over-year drop in history. smaller commodity prices, smaller direct government payments, and greater manufacturing costs all contribute to the reduction. Commodity prices are predicted to fall by $21.2 billion between 2023 and 2024, with lower agricultural and animal product sales for maize, soybeans, eggs, turkeys, cattle, and milk.

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s president, Zippy Duvall, is urging Congress to prioritize lowering farmer expenses and adopting a new farm bill. High inflation raises the cost of producing food, reducing the revenue that farm families depend on to pay bills, educate their children, and reinvest in the community. The previous farm bill approved in 2018 expired at the end of the year, but due to upheaval in the United States House of Representatives, it was prolonged another year, which proponents argue does not account for significant developments in the sector over the last five years.

There are differing views on whether Congress will be able to pass the farm bill this year, and the fact that it is an election year doesn’t help. AJ Wormuth, proprietor of Half Full Dairy in Central New York, said that everything is up except milk costs. Inflation has increased the cost of almost everything, including all of our inputs. Feed is down little, but everything else is taking up the tiny amount of savings. Almost every week, we get a letter from one of our suppliers stating that they must increase pricing.”

According to the USDA research, overall production expenditures are expected to rise by 3.8% in 2024, with labor accounting for the majority of the increase (7.5%). Additional increases include 12% for marketing, storage, and transportation, as well as 7.2% for pesticide costs. High freight prices and global trade route interruptions are driving up shipping costs, while interest payments are putting a pressure on profits for highly leveraged farmers with floating-rate loans.

In New York, the labor problem is of special importance since the state changed the overtime threshold, requiring employers to pay workers extra rates over 56 hours rather than 60 hours and then submit for a state tax credit. Farmers should carefully assess their risk of exposure and seek guidance in selecting risk management techniques that are appropriate for their business.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Hosts Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge® Event

The 2024 Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge, hosted by University of Wisconsin-Madisonconcluded February 9th in Green Bay, WI. The event saw significant participation with 120 students from 17 schools, along with coaches and volunteers, gathering in downtown Green Bay. The students arrived and were able to attend educational sessions focusing on financials, automatic milking systems, and technology on farms.The students met their mentor and teammates over dinner and brief team building activities. Shortly after dinner they received farm information and began to analyze in preparation for their farm visit and future presentation.

On the second day, students visited one of three farms—Tauchen Harmony Valley Inc. of Bonduel, Diederich Farm LLC of Hobart, or Libertyland Farms of Valders. Accompanied by industry mentors, students assessed different aspects of each dairy farm, including calf care, parlor management, transition pens, and feed management. They also conducted interviews with the producers to gain insights into farm management practices and goals. In the afternoon, students used the data collected during the farm visits and interviews to develop their presentations. Following the submission of their presentation, they, along with sponsors and volunteers, enjoyed tours, tailgate games, and dinner at Lambeau Field.

The final day of the contest saw judge panels evaluating each team’s 20-minute presentations, which highlighted the strengths and areas of improvement for their respective farm. Additionally, there were educational sessions, including a Dairy Challenge alumni panel. Students networked with alumni and sponsors throughout the day. The event concluded with the presentation of student awards, marking the end of the successful 2024 Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge.

The judges awarded the following teams with the first and second place ranking on each farm among the 24 total teams participating.

Farmers’ demonstrations throughout Europe are working.

The European Union (EU) is under fire for its climate policy after farmer demonstrations throughout the continent. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, intends to abandon a proposal to halve pesticide usage and exclude the agriculture sector from a stringent deadline for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2040. Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said that, although the EU should cut pesticide usage, farmers should not be forced to do so. He urged increasing financial incentives to encourage greener activities.

The EU aspires to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. However, Wojciechowski warned that these modifications might jeopardize such lofty goals, since agricultural realities must be addressed. The farmers’ question is expected to dominate the electoral competition ahead of the European Parliament 2024 elections, with the next political cycle (2024-29) likely to be less green, potentially jeopardizing the implementation of the green new deal and slowing down its subsequent chapters, such as the extension of sustainability requirements to agriculture.

Farmers are at the center of one of the EU’s most significant and historical pieces of legislation: the Common Agricultural Policy, which gives 55 billion euros ($59.3 billion) in annual subsidies to the industry. The farmer demonstrations have even spread over the English Channel to the United Kingdom, where British farmers are denouncing international food imports in Dover.

Finally, the EU’s climate policies are being reconsidered as farmer protests spread throughout Europe. The EU’s emphasis on environmental objectives, as well as the need for further financial assistance, are contributing to rising tensions among farmers.

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair’s New Chief Executive Officer

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Association of Canada’s Board of Directors has announced Cyrus Cooper’s appointment as CEO of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, starting immediately.

Cyrus has more than 20 years of expertise in the hotel and higher education industries in Canada. He formerly served as Director of Operations at Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality, The Granite Club, and Pusateri’s Fine Foods. He is presently a lecturer at Centennial College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism, and Culinary Arts, where he directs the Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Management post-graduate program. He graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University’s Ted Rogers School of Management with a B.Com. and an MBA.

Cooper is described as ‘a seasoned leader, whose characteristic drive, ambition, and emphasis on service, team development, and leadership has been his distinguishing feature of his.’ Cooper is also an active community member, serving on committees for organizations such as Toronto Metropolitan University and Trillium Health Partners. He lives in Mississauga with his wife and two boys.

Cooper succeeds Charlie Johnstone, who left in July 2023 after heading The Royal since 2015.

The 102nd Royal Agricultural Winter Fair will take place at Exhibition Place in Toronto from November 1–10, 2024.

Westvale-View Dairy Named MSU Dairy Farm of the Year

Doug and Louisa Westendorp
Doug Westendorp of Westvale-View Dairy in Nashville was named 2024 Dairy Farm of the Year by the MSU Department of Animal Science.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Animal Science recently named Doug Westendorp of Westvale-View Dairy in Nashville as the recipient of the 2024 Dairy Farm of the Year.

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The Westendorp family

Since 1958, this recognition has been awarded to dairy farmers who exhibit outstanding management of their dairy operation and leadership within the Michigan dairy industry and their surrounding communities. The Dairy Farm of the Year Award is the highest honor given by the Department of Animal Science to individuals within the dairy industry.

“Doug Westendorp’s dedication to quality and efficiency and his innovative approach have made Westvale-View Dairy and MOO-ville Creamery the success they are today,” said Cathy Ernst, chair of the Animal Science department. “We especially appreciate Doug’s support of our undergraduate and 4-H dairy programs, and his willingness to host students at their farm. We are excited to recognize Doug Westendorp of Westvale-View Dairy as the 2024 Dairy Farm of the Year.”

Established in 1992, Westvale-View Dairy is a family-run operation based in Nashville, Mich. The operation, spanning 1000 acres and overseen by Doug and Louisa Westendorp, began with a foundation of only 50 milk cows. Westvale-View has grown significantly over the years and now milks approximately 240 Holsteins, with a herd average production of over 100 lbs. of milk per cow per day. They also manage an additional 250 youngstock and implant 150 embryos yearly.  


In 2005, the Westendorps expanded their business by opening MOO-ville Creamery, located adjacent to Westvale-View and offering homemade ice cream and dairy products, a gift shop and farm tours. The creamery business has now expanded to include four retail locations, with additional products located in over 140 retail stores and 50 ice cream shops. The dairy’s operations evolved again in 2012 with a new milk barn and the incorporation of four Lely milking robots, increasing automation and allowing for more flexibility to expand the business. In 2020, Westvale-View upgraded to Lely Astronaut A5 robots, capitalizing on the latest robotic milking technology and showcasing the dairy’s passion for innovation. 

According to his colleagues, MOO-ville was Doug’s ultimate dream, and the combined success of the dairy and creamery is a testament to his hard work and passion for furthering the dairy industry. Doug helms both Westvale-View and MOO-ville Creamery and is known for continually improving processes and increasing efficiency, demonstrating what can be accomplished through dedication and a forward-thinking mindset.  

Doug works closely with Louisa and his children, many of whom play active roles in the growth and success of the family business. Their oldest son Carlyle works in day-to-day management of the crops and together with Eric in herd management. Troy and Levi split their time between the farm and the creamery, with Troy managing the ice cream production and calves and Levi focusing on other milk products. Tina manages employees and product sales for several of MOO-ville’s retail locations. Brittany’s contributions to the family and community are presently in her role as an adoptive and foster parent. She still enjoys selecting and organizing the show string with Levi at the MSU dairy shows.

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Doug gives back to the dairy community by sharing his knowledge and contributing his time, including his service as a member of the Advisory Committee for Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA). His work has earned numerous accolades, such as Westvale-View’s first place win in the BMR Corn Silage Division in 2020’s World Forage Analysis Superbowl. Doug also received the Michigan Holstein Association’s (MHA) Master Breeder Award in 2018, the highest honor given to Holstein breeders in the state. In 2009, Westvale-View received a gold award in the National Dairy Quality Awards (NDQA), a program highlighting dairy producers who prioritize producing milk of the highest quality. Over 200 operations were nominated for the NDQA in 2009. Doug’s early career achievements were also honored in 1996 when he received the Outstanding Young Famer award from MMPA. 

“As an educator, I value Doug’s support of educational programs, from opening the farm’s doors to program participants to serving as a guide to other farmers who want to learn more about their model,” said Martin J. Mangual, an Extension Dairy Educator. “The disposition to educate is one of the many attributes that make this farm deserving of this award.”


Implications for US and EU politics of farmer demonstrations

The European Council on Foreign Relations believes that the next European Parliament will be more right-wing than ever, with anti-European populist parties likely to win nine member states and finish second or third in another nine. By June 2024, lawmakers from outside the three main centrist groupings will occupy over half of the EU parliamentary seats, with a populist right combination having the potential to form a majority. This might result in considerable changes to EU policy, notably on environmental matters.

Recent national elections in Europe have shown signs of a long-term shift from centrist-left to right-wing politics, with voters in Slovakia and the Netherlands electing right-wing candidates last autumn. In the United States, Democratic Party President Joe Biden is more likely to compete against Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s most probable nominee for the 2024 presidential election. Farmer demonstrations have energized conservative politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dr. Joseph Glauber, a senior research scholar at the International Food Policy Research Institute, noted that, although there were some country-specific variations, some elements were consistent across the board. He said that grain and oilseed prices have dropped significantly over the previous 18 months, causing farmers’ cash revenues to fall, raising worries in the United States and Europe. Furthermore, since the conflict with Russia began, nations bordering Ukraine have seen a surge in goods entering their markets, forcing them to compete with Ukrainian grain and other agricultural items for storage.

The war also caused an increase in energy prices and input expenses, which were felt across Europe, but less so in the United States. These increases in input costs reduced margins, and when profit margins fall, farmers search for a variety of reasons to blame, causing widespread dissatisfaction. Furthermore, pressure to address environmental sustainability has resulted in a number of farmer demonstrations, mainly in Northern Europe, particularly the Netherlands, where there is concern that greenhouse rules would have a detrimental effect.

European farmers have been more vociferous in voicing their unhappiness than their American counterparts, albeit this might be due to regional differences. The US Department of Agriculture predicts that farmer income would decline by more than a quarter in 2024 compared to 2023, more than 40% below the record high in 2022 but just under 2% below the 20-year average. The predicted drop-off is mostly due to decreased cash revenues, but it also includes greater production expenditures and lower direct government payments, notably lower supplementary and ad hoc disaster relief.

US farmer earnings remain quite solid, with predictions indicating that agricultural revenue in the United States would fall dramatically from the previous year. However, farmers face other challenges, including input costs, environmental laws, and protectionist inclinations when people look at decreased prices and blame imports from other countries.

Farmers have tremendous power over politicians as a result of the worldwide emphasis on food security and increased recognition of agriculture’s involvement in climate change. The issue is whether politicians will reconsider the regulatory side of things, modify present policy courses, or pay farmers. The US government has taken a different approach in terms of giving farmer subsidies to incentivise beneficial environmental behaviors, which has been criticized for being ineffectual, costly, and delivering significantly less effects than a regulated framework.

The current discussion in international organizations is about repurposing domestic assistance and redirecting it away from trade-distorting policies and toward more environmentally friendly ways. In the United States, there is more debate about increasing assistance rather than repurposing it. Many of the farmers who get these subsidies are Republicans, and opinions on this vary by area. Southern US farmers, for the most part, have desired greater support prices, and if it means losing the climate-smart programs, they are OK with it. Other regions of the nation, notably cattle farmers, have profited significantly from climate-smart support.

Dairy producers also confront regional variances of opinion. They go through cost cycles, with high feed expenditures in 2022 because to very high maize and soybean prices. For them, it all comes down to their feed expenses and dairy prices. Many dairy producers consider climate-smart projects as potentially beneficial.

Glauber is concerned about the future of protectionist global politics. What would happen to several markets if protectionist measures were implemented suddenly? European manufacturers would suffer if international leaders suddenly decided to become more protectionist. Donald Trump has pursued a strongly protectionist agenda throughout his first term, even proposing across-the-board taxes on imports and 60% tariffs on China.

Rizo-López Foods recalls cheese and dairy following fatal listeria outbreak

Rizo-López Foods, a California cheese and dairy firm, is recalling more than 60 items owing to a listeria epidemic that has killed two individuals and affected dozens more. The epidemic was discovered over a decade ago, in June 2014, and at least 26 individuals in 11 states have been infected. The CDC and FDA renewed their inquiry last month when Hawaii authorities discovered listeria in a sample of Rizo Brothers Aged Cotija, resulting in a restricted recall on January 11. The recalled items include cheese, yogurt, and sour cream marketed under different brand names.

The goods were available at approximately 600 Walmart shops in 12 states, 28 Sam’s Club locations in six states, and deli counters at El Super, Cardenas Market, Northgate Gonzalez, Superior Groceries, El Rancho, Vallarta, Food City, La Michoacana, and Numero Uno Markets. Consumers are warned to destroy the recalled items and clean any surfaces or containers that come into contact with them. Listeria is more likely to infect pregnant women, infants, persons over the age of 65, and those with compromised immune systems. Symptoms of infection usually appear within two weeks after ingesting infected food and might include fever, muscular pains, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck, disorientation, loss of balance, and convulsions.

Increasing farmer protests fracture European Commission

Farmers’ demonstrations in the European Union have escalated, with hundreds of farmers blocking major routes in France and Belgium with more than 1,300 tractors outside the European Parliament in Brussels. The French government had earlier warned farmers that any disturbance at Rungis would be a red line, and hundreds of riot police were stationed there. Farmers in Brussels tossed eggs at Parliament buildings and started many fires around the area. Slurry and farmyard manure were also applied to several of the European Parliament buildings in France and Belgium.

Farmers are outraged that the European Commission continues to reduce financial assistance for agriculture under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is intended to shield farmers against declining prices and cheap imports. They are also witnessing an increase in environmental restrictions, which they claim will be hard to comply while producing food for a rapidly rising global population. The European Green Deal, which seeks to make Europe carbon-neutral by 2050, and the nature restoration legislation, meant to “improve biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems” are important points of dispute for farmers.

Under pressure, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said that a proposal to reduce administrative costs will be submitted at an upcoming EU ministerial meeting. According to Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, this temporary exception achieves a compromise between the need to help farmers in the near term and the need to maintain the climate, soil health, and biodiversity over time.

The situation is now heated in several member states, with farmers flocking to the streets as the viability of European family farming as we know it is under threat. Focus will now be on the politicians as the European Parliament elections are scheduled for June of this year. MEPs are afraid that far-right groups, which are drawing more farmers, may acquire electoral support.

Awaiting the FMMO update for the formula modifications.

After six months of evidence and cross-examination, the public hearing for the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) ended on January 30. It will be a while before the FMMO is updated, since the hearing addressed 21 suggestions filed by business organizations. Online access to the hearing record is required so that groups and people may study it and provide feedback on how to improve it. After the hearing, interested parties may submit briefs in response to the USDA’s recommendation. The agency will next hold a comment and exception period. The changes will be put into action after they are approved.

To protect dairy farmers from additional losses during the remaining FMMO rulemaking process, the American Farm Bureau Federation filed an emergency petition with USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the end of the hearing, asking for a final decision to speed up the implementation of the “higher of” Class I mover formula. Since the new formula was put into place after the 2018 Farm Bill, farmers have lost $1.2 billion, and they are poised to lose much more money in the next months. In their recommendation that was sent to USDA before the hearing, NMPF prioritized making changes to the Class I mover.

Farmers and groups representing the dairy sector will now have to wait for the USDA to respond to their request. Unfortunately, dairy farmers’ payments have been cut with no signs of relief in sight due to the current Class I tariff, which was an unintentional legislative error.

Ron Sersland Passes

Ron Sersland, President and CEO of International Protein Sires (IPS), died in a sad vehicle accident on Monday, February 5. Please remember his family, particularly his loving wife Nelly and his beautiful daughter Bailey, in your thoughts and prayers.
The IPS office, like so many others, is devastated by this tragic loss. The Bullvine expresses its sympathies to the Sersland family. When appropriate, we will provide further information on funeral arrangements and services.

Food safety controversy halts UK-Canada FTA discussions

Disagreements about food safety standards and tariffs on meat and cheese have stalled free trade discussions between Canada and the United Kingdom. Following two years of discussions on a post-Brexit trade agreement, the talks collapsed at the end of January due to disagreements over hormone-treated cattle and a 245% import duty on British cheese. Canada has been pressuring the UK to change its position on hormone-treated beef, which resulted in farmers being barred from the British market. This has resulted in harsher trading conditions with Canada than before it was part of the EU’s trade agreement with the nation. The failure in negotiations implies that British carmakers may face higher levies.

The UK agricultural sector has applauded the decision to withdraw from the discussions, which came after highly criticized agreements with Australia and New Zealand. Minette Batters, head of the National Farmers Union (NFU), argued that Canada was asking too much and delivering too little in terms of goods like cattle and cheese, hindering both nations from progressing. The UK government has made it plain that decreasing the country’s strong food safety standards is not an option in any conversations.

Last year, the UK exported £198.1 million worth of food to Canada, with cheese ranking among the top two goods. Canada authorized tariff-free British cheese imports under a temporary roll-over agreement reached when post-Brexit trade regulations went into effect, but it ended at the end of December. As of this year, UK cheese was shifted from the EU quota to a lower quota, subject to exorbitant import tariffs.

Canadian authorities accept Remilk’s animal-free BLG.

Remilk, a Canadian startup, has acquired clearance from the Food and Drug Administration of the United States and the Singapore Food Agency for its animal-free BLG protein. The protein, according to the business, is equal to that taken from cows but is manufactured using precise fermentation rather than animals. Remilk makes protein on a commercial scale in numerous places across the globe. Remilk’s co-founder and CEO, Aviv Wolff, said that the regulatory approval verifies the ingredient’s safety and purity, since Canadian authorities are the fourth health administration to analyze the protein. The firm is now ready to collaborate with the country’s major food brands and provide customers with a guilt-free enjoyment experience. Remilk’s animal-free protein marks a significant step forward in developing a new generation of food that is tasty, healthy, sustainable, and kind on the environment and animals.

Checkoff Partnership Introduces Hot Chocolate Milk Program In Schools

A dairy checkoff partnership is putting hot chocolate milk into the hands of students during a pilot with a leading school foodservice company.

National Dairy Council (NDC) and Chartwells K12, which serves more than 2 million meals daily at 700 U.S. school districts, have launched the Hot Chocolate Milk program in 58 schools. The pilot, which will run through the end of the school year, features chocolate milk – with toppings such as cinnamon and peppermint – served hot during breakfast and lunch.

NDC began working with Chartwells K12 last year on a dairy-based smoothie program, which is available to all Chartwells schools following a successful pilot.

Lisa Hatch, vice president of business development for NDC’s school channel, said the smoothie program’s success led to a “what’s the next big thing?” discussion between the partners. They focused on hot chocolate, which had a global market size valued at $3.8 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to $5.77 billion by 2030. Additionally, chocolate is the second most popular beverage flavor on TikTok with more than 10.1 million views related to #ChocolateDrink.

Hatch said some state and regional checkoff teams already have successful hot chocolate strategies in place. She said those programs on average experienced 14-percent increases of milk sales and an 11-percent jump in breakfast participation.

“We’re always investigating opportunities to enhance the school milk experience, which is where the smoothie pilot came from,” Hatch said. “That led us to looking at trends and hot chocolate surfaced the same way smoothies did. And looking at the state and regional hot chocolate programs, the results were very impressive.”

Chartwells K12 is optimistic hot chocolate milk will be popular among students and can help increase overall meal participation in schools.

“The popularity of specialty beverages is on the rise, and we’re bringing a healthy option to meet that demand in school cafeterias,” said Lindsey Palmer, a registered dietitian who serves as vice president of nutrition and industry relations for Chartwells K12. “With our new Hot Chocolate Milk concept, students can enjoy a fun, warm beverage that is packed with essential nutrients, making it a delicious and healthy treat to help kids power through their day.”

Katie Bambacht, vice president of nutrition affairs for NDC, said research shows chocolate milk is the most popular milk choice in schools and leads to higher total milk consumption and better overall diet quality. Flavored milk offers the same 13 essential nutrients as white milk and she feels this partnership will provide a much-needed boost to schools, which struggle to get students to eat breakfast.

“School feeding programs are faced with numerous priorities, and dairy innovation isn’t always top of mind,” Bambacht said. “If we’re not doing it, I don’t think anyone would. We play a critical role in bringing these best practices and case studies to help assure that milk appeals to students as part of school menus.

“Schools are only reaching half of the kids at breakfast that they’re reaching at lunch, so there is a big gap in participation and these programs have been shown to drive participation. Anything we can do to provide simple options such as heating up chocolate milk may help increase participation and milk consumption.”

Schools participating in the pilot program received a Hot Chocolate Milk kit provided by NDC through Hubert, a foodservice equipment manufacturer. The kit includes a transport cart with branded panels, an insulated beverage dispenser, a digital thermometer and more.

To learn more about the dairy checkoff, visit

Why are European farmers protesting?

Farmers throughout Europe have recently protested against the European Union as a result of bad weather, conflict, and supply chain interruptions. On February 1, farmers blocked the streets with tractors and battled with police outside the European Parliament building, causing outrage. Later that day, France, the continent’s largest agricultural producer, granted concessions, prompting farmers unions to call the demonstrators home. This gave Europeans some hope for peace, but the debate over how to handle the farmers’ problems is likely to continue as political groups compete for power in the European legislative elections in June.

The problem is a complicated network of European agricultural subsidies, land-use rules, transportation licenses, export quotas, and tariffs that differ from those faced by North Americans. Protests in Belgium, France, and Germany have all been significant events.

Anger over Ukraine’s border has played a crucial role in the demonstrations. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started two years ago, the EU’s attempts to assist the war-torn country have irritated its Eastern European neighbors, who argue that it is unfair for countries bound by EU standards to compete with cheaper products and services from non-EU nations. In November and December, Polish truckers, enraged that Ukrainian carriers were undercutting their pricing, blocked routes to border crossings; Romanian, Slovak, and Bulgarian truckers followed suit.

Farmers in Europe’s two largest agricultural nations started blocking roads in mid-January after their governments revealed plans to phase out diesel tax benefits, which the EU is reducing in order to reach climate objectives. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz proposed to modify the adjustments amid concerns that far-right groups are actively inciting fury. France, too, made concessions and invited farmers to negotiations, but tractor roadblocks in Paris and other cities spread throughout January, putting pressure on newly appointed Prime Minister Gabriel Attal.

Farmers from Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, and other nations met in Brussels for the European Parliament’s meeting on February 1. Protesters set off fireworks near the parliament building, attacked it with eggs and rocks, and attempted to knock down fences surrounding it until police repulsed them with tear gas and water hoses. The situation improved during the afternoon, when tractors started to leave the city. Back in Paris, two of the country’s two largest farmer organizations urged demonstrators to leave after Mr. Attal promised farmers stronger import safeguards and assistance.

Farmers in France claim that the government and retailers’ efforts to reduce food inflation have left many farmers unable to meet high transportation, energy, and fertilizer expenses. Between September 2021 and September 2022, the price of nitrogen, a key component in fertilizer, jumped 149% in the EU. Efforts to assist Ukraine by eliminating restrictions and levies on its exports have sparked worries about unfair competition among farmers in neighboring nations. Negotiations to finalize a trade agreement between the EU and the South American body Mercosur have also sparked concern about unfair competition in sugar, grain, and meat, with Spanish farmers demanding for the talks to end.

The EU implemented new measures aimed at promoting biodiversity and combating climate change, such as mandating farmers to keep 4% of their land fallow. On Wednesday, the commission replied by exempting EU farmers from the need until 2024 while still allowing them to receive EU agricultural assistance subsidies, although they would have to produce crops without using pesticides. The major farmers’ organizations in Spain warn that environmental laws are harming agricultural viability and raising food costs, while demonstrators in France argue that certain climate-focused measures are inconsistent.

Farmers in France are criticizing what they believe is an overly difficult system for adopting new EU standards, citing paperwork and obligations such as restoring hedges and arable land as natural habitat. In March 2023, the EU reacted to farmer concerns over the surge of grain from Ukraine flooding their markets and driving down prices with €56.3 million ($81.9 million) in compensation to impacted farmers.

Tragic tragedy at dairy farm near Corvallis claims the life of Dallas Man

A 56-year-old Dallas man died Thursday following a corn meal feed incident on a dairy farm south of Corvallis.

Deputies from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office responded to the incident about 2:45 p.m.

They discovered David Breyman III, 56, unconscious, not breathing, and with no pulse.

According to the sheriff’s office, the incident involved a truck transporting 27 tons of corn meal feed. Breyman was alone, emptying the feed using the trailer’s unloading gear.

Deputies believe the feed caused the gate to swing open, forcing and trapping Breyman against the barn wall.

A neighboring farmworker heard Breyman shout, called for aid, and turned off the trailer’s unloading mechanism to prevent additional grain from building up.

Deputies and witnesses on the scene tried lifesaving measures but were unsuccessful.

Corvallis Fire Department officials came shortly thereafter and were able to aid in getting Breyman unpinned by removing a portion of the wall.

According to the sheriff’s office, Breyman was employed for a Polk County-based transportation and feed firm at the time of the incident, but the company was not identified.

Sheriff’s authorities described his death as a “tragic accident.”

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family,” Benton County Sheriff Jef Van Arsdall stated in a statement. “Your dedication to put food on our tables does not go unnoticed and we’re terribly sorry for your loss.”

Washington State Farm Workers Protest Overtime

On January 25, 300 farm laborers demonstrated against Washington’s agricultural overtime legislation, which went into force on the first of the year. The rule mandated producers, particularly dairy farmers, to start paying overtime for workers who worked more than 40 hours per week in 2021. The event attempted to argue for seasonal exceptions to overtime regulations, and it drew support from the tree fruit and other agricultural businesses.

Hundreds of agricultural workers, mostly from central and eastern Washington, gathered at the state house on Thursday. While they are not opposed to being paid overtime, the reality of this new regulation is that their workers’ hours are capped at 40 hours per week, resulting in lower total income. Jason Sheehan, a fourth-generation dairy farmer who owns J & K Dairy, has been providing some type of overtime compensation to his dairy workers for years as he saw other states gradually implement overtime standards.

The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee will conduct a hearing on Jan. 30 on a measure that would allow farms to increase the overtime threshold to 50 hours for 12 weeks per year, a “seasonality clause” requested by agricultural laborers during peak harvest seasons.

Land labor expenditures account for around 14% of a dairy’s overall expenses, and labor expenses increased 7.3% over 2020, reaching a 20-year high. California was the first state to impose overtime laws for agricultural enterprises (phased in).

How interested are consumers in vegan dairy? Not much, study shows.

Researchers from Aarhus University’s MAPP Centre performed a survey of customers in four European nations to learn about their attitudes about animal-free dairy, especially precision fermentation products. The study sought to determine the perceived hurdles to implementing precision fermentation-derived dairy in Europe. The study discovered that, while dairy alternatives containing precision fermentation-derived milk proteins are sold in several markets, including the United States, such food products are not available in Europe due to EU regulation, which requires manufacturers to submit a Novel Food dossier to the European Food Safety Authority for approval.

Consumers responded differently to the study’s question about their main connection with precision fermentation technology. Danish consumers had negative connections, but the most commonly used terms in the UK, France, Denmark, and Germany were ‘artificial,”smart,’ and ‘future’. In the United Kingdom, the top associations were ‘interesting’, ‘friendly’, and ‘artificial’; in France,’microbes’, ‘fermentation’, and ‘health’; and in Germany, ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘animal’, and’microbes’.

Precision fermentation was highly connected with sustainability and eco-friendliness among consumers, placing the technique second only to plant-based alternatives in most nations. However, when it comes to what is considered ‘healthy’, precision fermentation came in last, with traditional and plant-based products being viewed as the healthiest, followed by hybrid dairy. Precision fermentation performed badly in terms of perceived taste and sensory appeal, prompting Banovic to recommend that producers and merchants use sensory marketing that promotes enticing tastes to counteract unfavorable taste judgments.

In terms of manufacturing technique, precision fermentation emerged as the most probable competitor to the plant-based category, while hybrid dairy – specifically products that blend conventional dairy with precision fermentation-derived components – were the second most popular among customers. Traditional dairy was the most popular option across all countries, reflecting the category’s market dominance and origins. Hybrid dairy, which included precision fermentation and traditional dairy components, finished in second place, whereas goods created solely from precision fermentation scored similarly to plant-based products.

The results indicate that there may be a need for a new dairy alternatives category that enhances the sensory and nutritional qualities of plant-based alternatives. Plant-based sales in Europe slowed in 2022, although the category grew in both value and sales terms. Banovic agreed that hybrid dairy might assist ease the transition to precision fermentation dairy in Europe.

The research found that Danish customers prefer hybrid goods over precision fermentation-derived dairy, but German and French consumers chose PF-derived milk alternatives. Plant-based dairy alternatives are trusted by UK consumers, but dairy milk is the most popular option, with the French having the biggest preference for conventional dairy. Danish buyers prefer a combination of traditional and precision-fermentation-derived protein products, whereas Germans narrowly favor a plant-based and precision fermentation hybrid. In protein bars, alternative production techniques are getting closer to catching up with traditional dairy, notably in Germany, where 24% of buyers choose plant-based alternatives to 28.7% who prefer conventional dairy.

When it came to buyers’ readiness to pay more for animal-free dairy, none of the four consumer groups were prepared to pay either the reference price or a projected price for precision fermentation products. The researchers discovered a very low purchase propensity and a high price sensitivity, indicating value-driven pricing models or a promotional discourse.

Younger customers, especially Millennials, proved to be more willing to test innovative dairy alternatives, with those under the age of 35 being more inclined to accept and purchase goods based on precision fermentation technology. While European consumers did not rate precision fermentation-derived dairy highly in terms of sensory experience or price, marketers may benefit from the technology’s perceived environmental credentials, as they are aware of positive associations such as a lower carbon footprint, environmental and animal welfare benefits, and so on.

The FMMO hearing has come to a close; now what?

The Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) hearing, which ran from August 23, 2023 to January 30, 2024, has finished. Trade associations like as the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association have indicated support for revisions to the Class I mover formula. The present formula has cost farmers $1.2 billion in damages since its adoption after the 2018 farm bill, with more losses likely in the coming months. The higher-of method, which suited farmers well, adapts rapidly to market changes, improves farmer cash flow, is easy to grasp, and has no actual effect on processors who utilize the formula to raise their immediate balance sheets.

IDFA’s chief economist, Mike Brown, said that pricing regulations were “out of step with the modern marketplace,” which is characterized by a dynamic, creative supply chain that focuses on items such as cheese, yogurt, dairy-based health drinks and powders, frozen delights, and value-added fluid milk. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) requested legislators to apply the previous higher-of Class I mover criteria on an emergency basis to protect dairy producers from future losses throughout this thorough and protracted regulatory change process.

The deadline for interested parties to make corrections to the transcript of testimony, proposed findings and conclusions, and written arguments or briefs is April 1, 2024. No later than 90 days after that, on June 30, the USDA is scheduled to publish a recommended conclusion or “tentative final decision” in the Federal Register. Additional comments and exceptions to the proposed conclusions may be submitted with the USDA hearing clerk 60 days after the decision is published in the Federal Register.

The regulator will make its final judgment, followed by a vote in which producers will be able to accept or reject the proposed modifications. If producers agree the amendment(s) to the order(s), they are published in the Federal Register as a final rule, announcing when the amendment(s) will become effective and bringing the rulemaking process to a close.

Lawrence “Larry” Jerome Obituary

Everyone at The Bullvine sends our condolences to Larry’s family and friends.

Lawrence “Larry” Frederick Jerome, “Mr. Lali,” 74 of Barron, passed away on January 30, 2024, surrounded by his loving family after a courageous battle with cancer. He was an exemplary man who made a difference in the lives of many.

Larry was born in Minneapolis, MN on May 3, 1949, to Wallace and Marion (Estenson) Jerome.  Larry was the second oldest son of 5 children.  He graduated from Barron Area Senior High School in 1967.  On July 18,1970, Larry married Shelley Miller, “the most beautiful girl in Barron County.”  Larry proclaimed there was indeed, “love at first sight.”  The first day he saw Shelley walking down the street, he knew he would marry her.  Marry her he did, and they built a wonderful life raising seven children: Daria, Moriah, Jeremy, Alicia, Lyndon, Sacia, and Indira.

At the young age of 8, Larry owned his first horse.  At age 9, he bought his first calf, and he started milking cows by age 13.  He was a naturally gifted agriculturalist.

Larry loved school and had a passion for learning and teaching.  He was involved in any and all extracurricular activities.  If there was a play, program, or event, he was in it!  He was active in choir, FFA and 4-H.  Larry served on the National 4-H Board in 8th grade.  He later served as a club leader and was on the Adult Leader’s Council.

At 19, Larry purchased the family’s current farm located in the center of Barron County that he lived on until his death.  His mother said, “Jerland Farm started as a result of some 4-H projects that got out of hand for Larry!”

As a young farmer, he was an artificial inseminator for Midwest Breeders.  He raised crops and milked dairy cows, developing a world leading 10th Generation Excellent Holstein Herd.  Larry loved his well-kept yard and orderly farm, including the peacocks, beautiful flowers, and apple trees.

Larry’s “eye for genetics” made him a successful visionary, passionate breeder and exhibitor of German Shepherd dogs, Arabian horses, and Holstein cattle.  He was honored to win multiple awards and leaves a worldwide network of connections and friendships.  His legacy of animals all carry a “J” or Jerland in their name.

Along with his farming adventures, Larry also embarked on a professional music career at age 19 inspired by his dear friend, Lenore Berg.  The “lounge lizard” found himself playing in local supper clubs where no requested song was off limits.  He later created the band Intrigue.  The band took him to summer band festivals throughout the Midwest.  He spoke the universal language of music.

Larry was no stranger to the microphone. An “Ultimate Showman” whether it was a fundraiser, wedding, church picnic or the Arabian Breeders World Cup, he could organize, coordinate, and motivate like few others, touching hearts, and bringing tears.

Larry was a respected and hardworking member of the Barron community.  He would often say “It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind” and his gestures reflected this.  Larry showered love on his community with thoughtful gifts, flowers, fruit, beautifully penned notes, a phone call, or quick visit.

Always following the 4-H motto to “Make the Best Better”, Larry loved the Barron County Fair, the Barron County Junior Livestock Program, 4-H, and FFA.  He was proud to be part of bringing the state-of-art weighing system to the Fair.

Larry was a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church.  He taught Sunday School, directed youth choir, served on the pastor parish committee, and sang in the choir.  In recent years, Larry was a weekly musician at Arland Lutheran Church, playing piano and directing the kids’ choir.  He was devoted to his Christian faith.  His favorite Bible verse was John 3:16-17.

Larry was a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, godfather, and instant friend.  People would say that the first time they met, they felt like we had been life-long friends.  As a loving and strict father with a firm discipline, he instilled the value of family, tradition, and hard work.  He loved to claim with pride, “My kids know how to work!”

Larry believed in making time for fun.  He would find time to go to the lake or travel to Hawaii in the winter months.  He shared his love of traveling with his children and grandchildren.  Whether it be on vacation or out to dinner, Larry was so proud of his family and loved them more than life.

Larry was forever grateful for the loving care he received from Shelley, “the best nurse” in Barron County, his children, in-laws, grandchildren, siblings, hospice staff, and countless caring community members and friends.

Larry is survived by his wife of 53 years, Shelley (Miller); daughter Daria (Reid) Stransky of Owatonna, MN, [children Joseph, Zacharia, Jerome, and Darian]; daughter Moriah (Matt) Fischer of Baldwin, [children Alec, Marion, Collin, and Samuel]; son Jeremy (Sara) of Lovell, WY, [children Arrya (Robert) Gaspar of Barron, Jeremy of Cameron, Callista, Xantha, and Petra]; daughter Alicia (Barry) Wirth of Ridgeland [children Julia, Braden, Adam, and Daniel]; son Lyndon (Sarah) of Elk Mound [children Logan, Lola, and Luke]; daughter Sacia Jerome (Theodore Koth) of Shorewood; and daughter Indira (Mike) Van Handel of River Falls, [children Alexis, Tristan, Easton, and Natalie]; brother Jerry (Billie Jean) of Cumberland; sisters Mary Ella of Barron, Candace (David) Arp of Decorah, IA, Julie (Bill) Brown of Cumberland; and many loving nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Larry was preceded in death by his father and mother, Wallace and Marion; father and mother-in-law, Eugene and June Miller.

A celebration of Larry Jerome’s Life will be held on Sunday, February 11, 2024 at 1:00 pm at the First United Methodist Church in Barron, Wisconsin.  Visitation will be held at the First United Methodist Church on Saturday, February 10, 2024, from 3:00 pm until 7:00 pm.  Service Live Stream:  Burial will be at the Wayside Cemetery in Barron.

Larry carries the title as Samoan Chief and will be buried in his lava-lava.

Arrangements are being handled by Rausch and Steel Funeral Home in Barron.  Online condolences can be made at


Can cow knowledge promote animal welfare? Researchers will analyze moos and burps using machine learning.

Researchers at Virginia Tech in the United States are utilizing sound and machine learning to comprehend cow behavior and emotions, which may help farmers reduce their suffering. They want to capture audio from cows, calves, and beef cattle on the pasture by attaching tiny recording devices to their halters or collars. Then they’ll employ machine learning to detect indicators of stress or disease.

The researchers want to learn how cows transmit discomfort by matching the data with saliva cortisol samples collected from the cows. They can determine if the cows are stressed by matching the data with saliva cortisol tests. This technique is non-invasive, like utilizing a microphone during a speech.

Chen intends to create a computational pipeline that combines audio data with pre-trained machine learning models and interactive visualization. This will be open-source and freely accessible to the public, providing a tool that will allow a broad range of individuals to have a better understanding of the levels of animal welfare in any given situation.

The data might also assist determine which cows burp less, since cow burps contain a lot of methane, a greenhouse gas. They will compare the DNA of cows who burp more and those that burp less in order to determine if such burping levels are inherited. They will also examine the impact of rumen modifiers (food additives that reduce methane production).

Wisconsin DNR rejects agricultural organizations’ complaint

A circuit court dismissed a case challenging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ power to require big farms to purchase licenses. Wisconsin Dairy Alliance and Venture Dairy Cooperative filed the action, claiming that the DNR lacks the jurisdiction to enforce water quality permits under state law. Calumet County Judge Carey Reed dismissed this claim, citing Wisconsin Statute §283.001 (1). Clean Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Farmers Union opposed the case, arguing that big livestock farms should be held accountable and allowed to follow environmental regulations. The Wisconsin Farmers Union has always advocated for agricultural operation regulation in its policy. The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Association could not be contacted for comment.

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