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Dairy industry warns of impact of Covid-19 on sector

Covid-19 could have a “catastrophic” impact on the dairy sector, according to a leading industry group.

Dairy Industry Ireland has warned that the peak period for milk production is set to coincide with the predicted peak of coronavirus cases here, which it says could be devastating for dairy farmers and the cooperative system which collects and processes milk.

The group is part of Ibec and represents primary and secondary dairy manufacturers.

It has issued a statement in which its director says, “if one processor goes down – the knock-on consequences would be unimaginable for the entire industry.”

Conor Mulvihill has said that peak supply this year could be as high as 250 million litres per week, which is unprecedented and reflects the huge growth in the diary sector.

The group has warned processing capacity is extremely tight and if Covid-19 was to curtail any part of the production process dairy companies may not be able to collect milk from the farm gate.

If that were to happen, farmers could be forced to dispose of milk on farm, which has huge implications, both environmentally and financially.

Diary Industry Ireland said that it is working with regulatory authorities to seek guidance on what to do in the event processors cannot collect milk.

The major milk processing companies are working together and co-ordinating in order to maximise capacity.

Meanwhile, the country’s largest farming organisation has issued guidelines to its members on how to prepare for, and deal with, a case of Covid-19 on their farms.

The Irish Farmers’ Association has urged farmers to have a ‘Plan B’ in place in case they or any farm workers contract the virus. A special guide to how to prepare for a possible case on farms has been made available to members.

It includes advice on having a system in place to allow someone come in from outside and run the farm without the need to interact with the owner, who may have the virus.

IFA President Tim Cullinan launched the guidelines and said: “The biggest asset on any farm is the farmer. If they fall ill, family helpers or those working closely with them may also have to self-isolate and may not be available to step in.” 

“This is very challenging, but farmers need to think of themselves and their business too. Without farmers, we have no sector,” he added.


Holstein Association USA closure announcement

Vermont Governor Phil Scott has ordered the vast majority of all Vermont businesses and non-profits to close effective 5:00 p.m. March 25 and remain closed through April 15, 2020. On April 15th, the Governor will assess the COVID-19 emergency and determine whether to amend or extend his Executive Order.

As a result of this mandate, the Holstein Association USA office is now closed.

We do want you to know that prior to closing the office as directed by the Governor, we submitted a Request for Continuation of Business Operations for Vermont to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in Vermont. Our request is currently under review, and we are awaiting results as of this writing.

Consequently, a small subset of the Holstein Team is working remotely from home to continue as many Association services as we can to the extent of which we are able.

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

Our classification schedule for April has been cancelled, and our Holstein Association Regional Sales Representatives Team will not be working during this time.

Obviously, for the time being, it won’t be business as usual for us or most businesses in the State of Vermont and many other states across the country.

Following is some more information that you will find helpful.

  • For now, the best way to reach the Holstein Association is to send an email to
  • Online services such as ear tag ordering, animal search, online pedigrees, online transfer applications and software such as Enlight® and Red Book Plus™ Online will remain available 24/7.
  • Registration applications may still be submitted via EASY. We will handle the registration applications and any accompanying custom ear tag and genomic test orders, as we can, though we will temporarily stop mailing registration certificates. This includes updated certificates when a transfer is processed.
  • Paper registration and transfer applications that are mailed in will not be processed until the office is reopened.

Rest assured, all systems are go for the April genetic evaluation. Our team is prepared to carry on with their responsibilities as expected.

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

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

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


John M. Meyer
Chief Executive Officer


Coronavirus: How two dairy farmers are staying positive

As the coronavirus pandemic affects lives across the nation, the Farmers Weekly team has been searching for some good news amid the doom and gloom to lift farmers’ spirits.

Here are the stories of two dairy farmers who are adapting to find some small positives at a time of massive pain and uncertainty.

Chance Hall Farm, Cheshire

Run by Tom and Karen Halton, the farm consists of 530 year-round-calving cross-breed cows, achieving 11,300 litres a cow a year, milking three times per day. For Karen this is very much an opportunity grasped.

Tom and Karen Halton © AHDB Dairy

Tom and Karen Halton © AHDB Dairy

“It’s very interesting times,” she says. “I know it’s worrying for many people on a personal level but for us, business has been booming and our team is really motivated by recent changes.”

In September 2016 the farm installed a vending machine to sell fresh raw milk to the public, helping to supplement existing contracts.

“It’s provided a steady return and a great opportunity to engage with the public,” Karen says. “It’s amazing how many people are shocked when you tell them whole milk is 96% fat free.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, since the coronavirus outbreak the farm’s vending machine has been extremely busy, with demand more than doubling from 60 litres a day to more than 170.

The health and safety of customers is paramount, explains Karen. “We provide alcohol wipes, hand sanitiser, flash wipes and strong notices by the vending machine to maintain biosecurity.”

There is no crossover between the night staff and the day team and employees maintain a two-metre distance from all visitors.

As the coronavirus crisis escalated, they partnered with the Little Doorstep Dairy to provide pasteurised milk direct from the farm to homes across Cheshire, with an allocation of free milk to people aged over 70 who are living in self-isolation.

“On our first day we cleared 1,400 litres and it’s rising every day. The demand has been phenomenal and it’s great to do our part,” says Karen.

“We are keeping our team upbeat, ensuring they have space to work at distance, regularly handwash and always wear blue gloves.”

She says they have also seen an increase in experienced people returning to the industry looking for jobs.

“We’re a resilient sector, used to dealing with the ups and downs, so I know we’ll all rise to the challenge. For us these times are providing positive opportunity with a clear benefit for the local community.”

Bridge Farm, Somerset

David Cotton owns and operates Bridge Farm in Somerset. His herd is made up of 280 pedigree Holstein Friesians, autumn calving and achieving almost 8,000 litres a cow a year.

Like many farmers, he’s taking a pragmatic approach to maintaining his business as best he can in trying times.

David Cotton

David Cotton © AHDB Dairy

“Right now, it seems like business as usual for us. We are just aware that none of us want to catch anything,” David says.

He is well aware that life may well get trickier in the weeks and months to come.

“Thankfully we are autumn block, so we don’t have much need to see a vet and if we need anything, they have strict rules in place.”

All vets are working from home, while tanker drivers keep a safe distance on farm and are instructed to wash their hands at each site.

David says: “I am being positive and can see some opportunities for us. Lower interest rates and fuel prices will have a significant benefit on our business even if we do see a reduced milk price.

“Rightly or wrongly I have fixed feed prices for the next 12 months and keep them informed about these business decisions.”

Aside from the business finances, David sees these unprecedented times as an opportunity to catch up on some of those unfinished jobs about the farm.

“One suggestion was to walk the local country roads and pick up litter,” he says. “We also have a lot of finger signposts that could do with being repainted, having been neglected for years.”

AHDB coronavirus support

David Cotton and Tom and Karen Halton run AHDB Strategic Dairy Farms. Find out more about the AHDB’s strategic farms and their personal stories on the AHDB website. 

The AHDB has also created a dedicated coronavirus web page to provide farmers with the latest market information, frequently asked questions and a wealth of tools and business information.


Holstein Canada Is Open For Business!

Holstein Canada has closed its Brantford head office and suspended Field Services to minimize the transmission of the coronavirus and to stay within Ontario’s requirements for closing non-essential businesses. We’re not letting this stand in our way of providing top-notch services, though!

While they’re off the road, the Field Staff will be doing some extra training to keep their skills sharp and learn more about the features of our Herdbook and Compass software. When the Classifier, Assessor, or Field Service Business Partner restarts their schedule and comes by your farm, they’ll be well-equipped to give you the best possible support on our many services.

The Customer Service team is working from home, letting them continue their work helping you. Call 1-855-756-8300 ext. 410 or email as you normally would, and a member of our team will get back to you within one business day! If you’d like, leave details for when you’d prefer a callback and we’ll do our best to meet your needs.

Web Accounts: Features That Serve You At Home
In the meantime, this is a great opportunity for you to check out your Web Accounts. Explore many features to help you pay your accounts, register animals, and read statements, all from the comfort of your farm office!

  • Set up online banking and Account payments.
  • Order tags.
  • Submit registration applications.
  • Check out your View/Edit Profile Details. You can authorize other individuals to conduct business on your behalf (Authorized Users), granting full authorization or limiting their access to specific areas of business. Knowing who is authorized is a good security measure!
  • View your profile details and make sure that contacts and contact information (email, phone, and address) are up to-date. This makes it easier for us to get in touch when we need to.

Change is a constant right now. The Holstein Canada website’s homepage is the best resource for updates, should anything change related to Field Services, Customer Service, and more. While we are adjusting to the new realities, please know that we are still here for you!

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Approves of Latest CARES Legislation to Combat the Impacts of Coronavirus

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative applauds the House of Representatives, the Senate and the President in their quick response to approve and pass legislation as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds across the nation.

“These are unprecedented times for everyone, calling for unprecedented support from our nation’s leaders,” says John Rettler, dairy farmer from Neosho, Wis. and president of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. “We extend our appreciation to our Congressional leaders and the President for quickly passing this massive bill to begin overcoming the negative economic impact of this coronavirus pandemic.”

“The road ahead is uncertain, but this relief package proves that the nation’s leaders are have listened to our concerns to support those providing food to households across America. The 9.5 billion agricultural disaster fund includes funding specifically for livestock and dairy producers, as well as critical assistance to small businesses that are key to the entire dairy supply chain,” says Jeff Lyon, general manager for FarmFirst.

“FarmFirst looks forward to working with the USDA in ensuring this financial support gets to dairy farmers facing severe market disruptions and in need of having their confidence restored,” says Rettler. “We encourage all Congressional leaders to continue to be receptive to new ideas that provide other means of support and relief to dairy farmers.”

“Most importantly, thank you to those working directly in the food supply chain – milk haulers, processors, cheesemakers, and of course, dairy farmers – to continue to make these nutritious food products available to consumers as this pandemic unfolds,” says Rettler.

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, established in 2013 and based in Madison, Wis., represents farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana by providing legislative and regulatory advocacy, dairy marketing services, disaster protection, laboratory testing opportunities and industry promotion. FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative is a merger of three long-time prominent Wisconsin-based cooperatives. Learn more about FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative by visiting:

MMPA conducts cooperative business, continues to supply grocery stores and food banks with milk and cheese

As the coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread, the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) remains steadfast in its mission to market members’ milk to the greatest advantage possible while taking actions to protect the health and safety of our communities. Deemed a critical infrastructure business, MMPA continues to support the local and national dairy supply chain to ensure consumers have a safe, reliable supply of milk and dairy products.

In addition to continued business with customers, MMPA is responding to increased need at food banks in the Great Lakes region with dairy product donations. In Indiana, MMPA is donating cheese from Heritage Ridge Creamery to Second Helpings, an organization focused on providing meals to individuals and families in need, with particular emphasis now amidst the COVID-19 issue. Additional cheese is also being donated to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, an organization that provides food assistance in a six-county area in Northern Indiana.

Further, MMPA, along with Kroger’s Michigan Dairy plant, will donate over 2,020 pounds of milk per day to the Food Bank Council of Michigan throughout 2020. The first load of milk was delivered this week and the total donation of around 85,000 gallons of milk will ultimately reach all 83 counties of Michigan. MMPA has donated over 333,000 gallons of milk since 2015 including this year’s donation announced at MMPA’s 104th Annual State Delegate Meeting on March 12.

MMPA’s modified members- and employees-only annual meeting was held at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan. Considering the continued spread of the coronavirus disease, MMPA limited the meeting to a reduced number of attendees. The meeting took place with a shortened agenda to conduct official business in accordance with MMPA bylaws. As the COVID-19 situation has processed, MMPA has been evaluating scheduled meetings, with many being canceled or postponed.

Unified by the theme, “Cultivating Connections. Driving Innovation.,” MMPA leaders at the modified meeting asserted the significance of building partnerships for the betterment of MMPA dairy farmer members and the dairy community.

In the MMPA board chairman report, Kris Wardin reflected on the prior year while asserting how the MMPA board of directors is guiding the cooperative in line with the meeting’s theme. “By cultivating connections – with our elected officials, other co-ops, customers and ultimately our end-user consumers – we can continue to build an even stronger co-op that will last another 100+ years,” he said. “But we have to be proactive! We must drive innovation with new products and look for partnerships that fit our core values.”

Joe Diglio, MMPA president and CEO, described how establishing relationships and building a strong team builds momentum for the future. “The more you learn and adapt to the challenges ahead, the more success you will have,” he said. “And to learn and adapt means you must trust each other on how to navigate the challenges.”

MMPA Treasurer Eric Frahm presented the financial status of the cooperative and reported annual revenue of $850 million.

Business conducted by the delegates included the adoption of the 2020 MMPA resolutions and election of MMPA members Kris Wardin and Bruce Lewis to the board of directors in three-year, at-large positions.

In the board reorganizational meeting held at the conclusion of the delegate meeting, the following officers were elected: Doug Chapin as board chairman, Tony Jandernoa as board vice chairman and Eric Frahm as treasurer.

The annual meeting proceedings also involved recognition of several MMPA members:

  • James Weber, of Vassar, Michigan as the 2019 Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperator
  • Leroy Zimmerman, of Carson City, Michigan, as the Top Quality Award Winner
  • Members who achieved membership milestones of 35 or 50 years with MMPA:
    • 50-Year Member: Dale E. Weidmayer
    • 35-Year Members: Robert W. Coulombe, Daniel & Dorothy Ritter, Randy G. Dragt, Brent & Nancy Wilson, David Adkinson, Raymond Bucholz, Jane M. Wood, Mark S. Rau, Robert A. Rau, James R. Richmond and Keith M. Richmond

The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) is a dairy farmer owned cooperative founded in 1916. MMPA serves approximately 1,300 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, handling approximately 5 billion pounds of milk annually. MMPA operates two SQF Level 3 certified manufacturing plants in Michigan and a cheese plant in Indiana.

Top Dairy Industry News Stories from March 21st to 27th 2020

Feature Article:

Top News Stories:

During coronavirus, invest in farmers for the future

Jen Levin, owner of the seafood distributor Gulf of Maine Sashimi, delivers hake, redfish and sole to a woman who placed an order days before at the company’s website. Levin made the shift to sell directly to customers after more than 90 percent of her wholesale business to restaurants vanished during the spread of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

By Anthony Pahnke, Tribune News Service. The BDN publishes opinions from partner news services to bring a wider variety of perspectives to readers. •

The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered many restaurants, factories and stores, causing the U.S. economy to grind to a halt. As Congress delivers a massive stimulus package, let’s not forget rural America and the American farmer.

This is our opportunity to bring about a rural renaissance, characterized by fair incomes, competitive markets and a new generation of farmers.

In fact, the reinvigoration of small-scale American farming is one of the primary ways that we can guard against future pandemics.

The new coronavirus is emphatically not a “Chinese virus,” as President Donald Trump has claimed. But its origins can be traced to China, and its roots appear to be in the international food market.

Recently, industrial farm operations in China have expanded to meet the country’s dietary needs for its growing urban population, causing farmers to include animals of questionable origin into the food chain. The Chinese poultry industry, which domesticates wild birds for slaughter and consumption, has been particularly singled out for enabling viruses to make the leap from animals to humans.

In the United States, our markets are increasingly international. From 1999 to 2017, U.S. spending on imported foods and beverages shot up more than 300 percent. We now import around half of our fruits and a third of our fresh vegetables. And about 90 percent of the fish consumed in this country is of foreign origin.

Let’s use the government stimulus to make agriculture local and sustainable, which would improve the dwindling fortunes of rural America and also reduce the dangers posed by international commodity chains.


Well, to start, the federal government is pondering the possibility of purchasing equity in companies that are on hard times. In agriculture, a government purchase of Dean Foods would make sense. This corporation was the nation’s largest milk processor and distributor — that is, before it filed for bankruptcy last December.

One potential buyer just backed away from the deal, paving the way for the government to buy Dean Foods and break it up into smaller processors. For struggling dairy farmers, more processors would mean more potential markets for their milk, which in turn will lead to competition and higher prices.

Also, farm incomes have been stagnant for the last five years. Part of the stimulus could be dedicated to the Commodity Credit Corporation to purchase products off the market to stabilize incomes for, say, beef, corn or soy farmers. The CCC could also make direct payments to small and medium-size producers who are experiencing economic difficulties.

This will also build up emergency reserves of key commodities, which may come in handy in times of acute need — like the one we are now facing.

Debt forgiveness should also be considered. Student loans could be forgiven for people willing to engage in agriculture, while the government could also forgive all federal loan debt and suspend debt payments for all producers.

Call or write your representatives. Tell them that you care about your food system. Tell them that you want farmers to stay on the land and want more small-scale producers, so that we can localize our food supply and make farming a sustainable profession.

The COVID-19 outbreak is going to prompt trillions of dollars of federal spending. Let’s spend a chunk of that to help revitalize our rural economies. Let’s invest in the people who feed us.


Fonterra reports profit recovery in 2020 interim results

Fonterra Co-operative Group has released its 2020 Interim Results, revealing that the co-operative’s financial performance has improved with increased underlying earnings and reduced debt. The company built on the work done in 2019, and has introduced a new strategy, and reorganised and resized its teams to enable greater focus on its customers.

“We are now a very different co-op to this time last year — we’re prioritising New Zealand milk and staying focused on what we know we’re good at and what makes a difference to our farmer owners, unit holders, employees and communities,” said Miles Hurrell, Fonterra CEO.

Fonterra’s key financial targets for 2020 include meeting its earnings guidance of 15–25 cents per share, achieving a gross margin in excess of $3 billion, reducing debt so it is no more than 3.75 times its earnings and ensuring capital expenditure is no more than $500 million.

“While there’s no doubt the world is experiencing an almost unprecedented situation and response to COVID-19, I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made so far against our four priorities for 2020. These are to hit our financial targets, reduce our environmental footprint, build a great team and support regional New Zealand. By achieving these, we will take strides towards our long-term goals of Healthy People, Healthy Environment and Healthy Business,” Hurrell said.

Fonterra’s total group normalised earnings for the first six months of the 2020 financial year have increased by $272 million to $584 million; Hurrell attributes this to stable underlying earnings from the company’s ingredients business, improving gross margins in Foodservice and reductions in operating expenses.

“Our Foodservice business has definitely been our stand-out performer in the first half as we’ve grown our sales to bakeries and coffee and tea houses across Greater China and Asia. We continue to reduce our debt. We completed the sale of DFE Pharma and foodspring in the first half of the year with cash proceeds of $624 million and this has helped reduce net debt by 22% or $1.6 billion, compared to this time last year,” Hurrell said.

The interim results reveal that Fonterra has contributed approximately $11.1 billion to the New Zealand economy through the milk price, with farmers spending nearly half of this in their local communities. The company also plans to work with a further 1000 farms in 2020 through The Co-operative Difference to put in place Farm Environment Plans and provide individualised greenhouse gas emissions reports to all supplying farms at the end of the year. Fonterra has also made a decision to stop using coal at its Te Awamutu site next season, thereby reducing its total coal usage by 10%. The company also plans to support farms and communities impacted by floods in the South Island and deliver water to towns in drought-affected North Island.

“Our strategy and the importance we place on financial discipline means we are continuously reviewing our asset portfolio. We have also reduced the value of our China Farming joint venture by $65 million and we continue to look for opportunities to improve the ongoing performance of the business,” Hurrell said.

Fonterra has completed strategic reviews on China Farms and DPA Brazil, with sales processes for both underway. Through this, the company has gained additional information and further insights, and as a result, has revised down the valuation of China Farms and DPA Brazil by a total of $134 billion.

“Our teams continue to carefully manage costs and we’ve reduced our operating expenditure by $140 million on the same period last year. At the same time, we are not cutting costs in areas that are aligned to our strategy and will deliver additional long-term value from our farmer owners’ milk. While lifting our financial performance, we’ve also kept sustainability and communities at our heart,” Hurrell said.

For the second half of the financial year, the report reaffirms the forecast farmgate milk price range of $7.00–$7.60 per kgMS, and forecast normalised earnings guidance of 15–25 cents per share.

“Our underlying earnings are tracking well at the half year, but there is no doubt that we have a number of risks that are outside our control in the second half — in particular, the potential impact of COVID-19 on global demand, geo-political risks in key markets such as Hong Kong and Chile, and ongoing dry weather conditions here in New Zealand which could impact collections and potentially input costs. As a result, we have held our forecast earnings range at 15–25 cents per share. It gives me great pride to lead a team who genuinely care and recognise the importance of out farmers and local communities,” Hurrell said.


Coronavirus Response Plan Provides Welcome Aid for Dairy; NMPF Thanks Congress

The National Milk Producers Federation commended members of Congress for successfully crafting a bipartisan package to provide support and relief during the coronavirus pandemic to all Americans, including dairy and other agricultural producers who are working night and day to provide a steady, safe supply of food to consumers nationwide.

“Dairy farmers have worked 24/7 to produce safe, affordable, and nutritious products for families throughout the coronavirus crisis, even as their own economic outlook grows darker,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF, the largest organization of U.S. dairy farmers. “Forecasts for milk prices have dropped significantly in the past month, with greater declines possible as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. We are very grateful that Congress understands the significant economic challenges our farmers face and is rising to that challenge on a bipartisan basis.”

Congress is expected to pass quickly the Senate’s coronavirus relief package, released today. The measure creates a $9.5 billion coronavirus agricultural disaster fund that specifically includes livestock and dairy producers, as well as critical assistance to small businesses that are a key link in the entire dairy supply chain. This essential funding will boost finances – and morale – at a crucial time, given the likelihood of widespread economic damage that may affect consumer demand and international trade. The bill also provides $14 billion in additional funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation that USDA can use to assist producers.

“We commend the bipartisan Senate negotiations that produced this outcome. We especially wish to thank Senators Chuck Schumer and Debbie Stabenow for ensuring that dairy farmers will receive significant support,” Mulhern said. “Their work greatly improved this bill. We look forward to its passage.”

NMPF is also grateful to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson for putting forward multiple dairy provisions in the House of Representatives that will be helpful as the coronavirus-driven economic situation evolves, and to Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson for his ongoing advocacy and work during this challenging process.

NMPF also commended Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for his Department’s proactive, ongoing work to help agriculture manage the impacts of COVID-19. “Secretary Perdue and his team have worked tirelessly to assist dairy and all of agriculture as we deal with the challenges of this pandemic by taking actions across the scope of the agency to provide flexibility and assistance. We are very thankful for their collaboration,” Mulhern said.

NMPF looks forward to working with Congress and the Trump Administration on the additional legislative and administrative responses that are anticipated in upcoming weeks.

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

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Urges Congress to Explore Every Option for Dairy Farmer Assistance

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative urges Congress to explore every option available to provide financial and legislative support to dairy farmers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Dairy farmers were looking to 2020 to be the year of improved milk prices and to slowly begin recovering from the past few years of low milk prices,” says John Rettler, dairy farmer from Neosho, Wis. and president of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. “Since the coronavirus pandemic began, all of that optimism has disappeared, and now farmers are simply looking for ways to ensure their milk continues to get picked up in the coming weeks as the situation continues to play out.”

Working in stride with the Midwest Dairy Coalition and the National Milk Producers Federation, FarmFirst has been discussing what types of assistance would serve dairy farmers the best to ensure product keeps moving to consumers, processors can continue to run their plants with minimal disruption, and most importantly, that dairy farmers can continue to keep their farms operating.

“Since the first moment this began, FarmFirst has been monitoring the markets and communicating with processing plants. Our milk marketing and lab testing divisions have been working to ensure new protocols and resources are being shared to ensure everything is done to keep businesses running, so milk can continue to get picked up and processed,” says Jeff Lyon, general manager of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative.

Additionally, FarmFirst has advocated for re-opening the signup and updating production history in the Dairy Margin Coverage program, allowing for additional dairy product purchases for food banks, and providing compensation for milk disposal.

“At the time of the 2020 Dairy Margin Coverage sign-up, everyone had a much different perspective on how dairy markets would fare throughout the next year. In a matter of a few weeks, the prices have plummeted, completely changing the perspective for dairy farmers who now need to utilize these same margin protection tools to keep their businesses afloat through this challenging time,” says Lyon.

“We are also requesting updated production histories to allow these programs to be most effective for the farms that are operating today. Many farms may not have added more cows but have improved production thanks to improved nutrition, cow comfort and other technologies,” says Rettler. “In addition to dairy policy, we encourage policy changes to allow institutions to freeze or delay farm loan payments and allow farmers to refinance to take advantage of the lower interest rates. Every avenue of financial saving should be explored to help keep our farmers in business as they manage through this pandemic.”

“While sanitation will be of utmost importance, we appreciate all the processing plants doing what they can to slow the spread of the virus and to keep operating. We are grateful for milk haulers, intake personnel and plant employees for doing what they can to limit contact with others while continuing to work. Perhaps most importantly, we are incredibly grateful for our dairy farmers continuing to manage with closed businesses and limited services through this pandemic,” says Lyon.

“FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative extends appreciation to the USDA for their quick response on developing actionable items to support the dairy industry, including approved food purchases and flexibility in transportation rules,” says Lyon. “We look forward to working with the USDA and Congressional leaders to develop tools and resources to ensure that U.S. farmers have what they need to continue to provide wholesome nutritious food during this very challenging time.”

“Time is of the essence. Dairy farmers need support as they continue to serve as an essential part of the foodchain,” says Rettler.

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, established in 2013 and based in Madison, Wis., represents farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana by providing legislative and regulatory advocacy, dairy marketing services, disaster protection, laboratory testing opportunities and industry promotion. FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative is a merger of three long-time prominent Wisconsin-based cooperatives. Learn more about FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative by visiting:

Coronavirus – We Must Strike a Balance.

There is no doubt that the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic has a real and devastating impact on lives, on families. The human toll of this crisis is truly heartbreaking. As our leaders grapple with complexity and uncertainty, I cannot adequately express my sincere empathy for the difficulty they face.

However, it is time to have a difficult conversation. At first glance, the prescribed solution of sheltering in place seems logical. It creates separation and disables this virus’ ability to transfer. Other than a relatively few oblivious spring breakers, compliance is high. Streets are empty. Schools are closed and businesses are shuttered. It’s as if we are all off on an anxiety-filled, extended ‘snow day.’ But the silence of those empty streets has a deafening sound. It is the sound of our economy coming to a hard stop in an unprecedented way.

We all understand the concept that ‘flattening the curve’ will lead to a more-manageable health care scenario. There is also a developing wisdom that this disease will not fade away any time soon. Herein lies the problem: We cannot pause the economy any longer. In fact, there is really no such thing as an economic pause. The economy is either functioning or it’s not. At this moment, it is not.

We must balance our policies, considering both human health and our economy. Why? Because if we do not, the ability of our nation’s families to provide for even the most basic need of food and shelter will fail. Single moms, economically at-risk people and small businesses are failing fast. Many are just days or hours away from collapse. Next, mid-sized and large companies will close. Mass layoffs will ensue and working families will no longer have an income. There is no bail out or government check that can change that grim reality.

We need to strike a balance.

In life there is risk and tragedy — and there will be gut-wrenching tragedy in the coming months. But those of us in lower-risk groups need to go back to work. No, I am not suggesting life as usual. For now, there can be no large public events or gatherings. Elderly and at-risk people need to continue to shelter in place. Every person needs to take reasonable precautions, but those of us that are lower at risk need to go back to work — for our families, for our nation and to help provide for those who cannot.

We need not “destroy the village to save it.” Our nation has the wherewithal, technology and capability to successfully confront COVID-19 without leveling our economic foundations in the process.

Our government has never before shut down our economy in this manner. I am not suggesting we are in for a post ‘9/11’ or a ‘Great Recession of 2009’ type of economy — if we continue with ‘shelter in place’ policies, it will be much, much worse. Our economy and our society will resemble that of an impoverished, war-torn country.

Be assured, if that happens, more human lives will be lost — not from COVID-19, but from abject poverty.

The author, Jim Ostrom, is partner and chief executive officer of Milk Source, LLC.

About Milk Source:

Milk Source, headquartered in Kaukauna, Wis., operates quality dairies in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri, producing milk that is used to make cheese, butter and other dairy products. For more information, contact Director of Public Affairs Avi Stern at 920-759-4673.

Farmers keeping us afloat during the coronavirus

With Michigan’s stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, people might be eating homemade meals more than usual.

Carla and Chris Wardin at their farm Evergreen Dairy in St. Johns, MI.

Grocery stores have promised they won’t run out of food. That’s all thanks to local farmers.

Evergreen Dairy Farm in St. Johns is a small family farm that’s been around for more than 100 years. Owners Carla and Kris Wardin milk about 450 cows with the help of approximately 10 workers, and their three young boys.

“I’m happy that we’re able to produce comfort for people,” Carla Wardin said. “People want staples when times are hard. They all go to the grocery store for the same things, so I’m glad that we are considered an essential business so that we can give this to people in a tough time like this.”

Right now, as the food industry is leans on farmers like the Wardins to help feed the country, the family said that right now they’re just trying to adapt to the changes.

“The restaurants are obviously taking a huge hit right now with not being able to be open, limited amount with carryout, so a lot of cheese and butter that the restaurants use is going down but a lot more is being sold to retail through the grocery store,” Chris Wardin said.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Carla Wardin said milk has become a hot commodity at grocery stores.

“It was so interesting to go into the store and see that one time there were only four gallons of whole milk left on the shelves,” she said.

That visual makes them feel proud of what they’re working for.

“I think this is where we as farmers step up and, we take our responsibility really seriously all the time, but you think a little more about it at times like these,” Kris Wardin said.

Ernie Birchmeier, livestock and dairy specialist with the Michigan Farm Bureau said while the demand is strong now, the big question will be the financial impact of the virus for farmers down the line.

“We are concerned long term about what the impact of this is going to have you know on all industries and all commodities,” Birchmeier said. “There are long term forecasts that had dairy down and some meat prices at the farm gate level down 20% to 30%. That’s a real drastic hit to farm operations if that does in fact come true. So we need some stability back in the marketplace to provide our farmers with some stability and safety net as well so they can continue to operate.”

Source: WILX

How Dairy Farms are Adapting to Coronavirus

Emily Yeiser Stepp, a National Milk Producers Federation vice president and head of the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, is seeing rapid evolution in the initiative as the dairy industry continues to ensure quality animal care, a commitment to sustainability and best practices in the workplace even as coronavirus disrupts supply chains.

“In agriculture, in our industries, we figure things out. And that is the beauty of being part of this community, is that we will figure out how to do this in the most effective manner that provides those assurances long-term,” Yeiser Stepp said. “We’re all in this together.”

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How a lab in Sask. that focuses on animals became Canada’s $23M hope for a COVID-19 vaccine

In the global race to find a COVID-19 vaccine, the federal government announced Monday it is pumping $23 million into an academic research lab in Saskatchewan. 

The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) at the University of Saskatchewan started as a modest veterinary lab in 1975. But it has evolved into a world class facility that the Trudeau government is betting can develop a vaccine to stop the pandemic.

The Saskatoon lab already has a head start. It has been working on coronavirus vaccines, primarily for animals, for four decades, including successful vaccines for cattle and pigs.

Today, the vaccine centre is one of only a few high-level containment facilities in the world able to conduct research on a vaccine for COVID-19.

In a wide-ranging interview Friday, VIDO-InterVac research scientist Darryl Falzarano and associate director Paul Hodgson told CBC News that in the past, generating interest in funding research into a pan-coronavirus vaccine for humans has been a challenge.

While the focus is now on stopping COVID-19, Hodgson said finding a pan-coronavirus vaccine is their “vision statement,” much like a universal flu vaccine has been a goal of scientists for decades.

 “That’s something we’ve never been able to get funding for,” said Falzarano.

Falzarano, left, says the lab’s goal has long been to develop a pan-coronavirus vaccine. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

But that has all changed, at least for the foreseeable future. Today, there are 160 people working at the lab — and up to 30 per cent of them are working on a coronavirus vaccine.

The Public Health Agency of Canada gave VIDO-InterVac the green light to start researching a vaccine for humans in late January. Researchers isolated the virus from a sample and have since grown the virus in a cell culture and are now testing a vaccine candidate in animals.

One of the questions Hodgson says he gets asked frequently these days is, “Why can’t you do a vaccine faster?”

The answer is complicated.

WATCH | Why we’re likely in this fight against COVID-19 for the long haul.

What mathematical simulations tell us about how the COVID-19 pandemic will play in the real world. 5:04

The federal government’s multimillion-dollar funding announcement, part of a global push to develop a vaccine, comes in the middle of an international health crisis that has already killed more than 18,000 people worldwide. As of Tuesday, Canada had more than 2,700 COVID-19 cases, resulting in 27 deaths.

Over the past two decades there have been global outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), both caused by coronaviruses. But when the outbreaks subsided, so did the research into a vaccine.

In 2003, VIDO-InterVac was part of the rush to develop a SARS vaccine in Canada, dubbed the SARS Accelerated Vaccine Initiative. Although promising candidates were developed in a relatively short period of time, ultimately a vaccine for SARS was never put through trials and no vaccine exists today.   

“Until MERS came along [in 2012], there probably wasn’t that strong of evidence that a coronavirus would be something that we should worry about, and that’s going to happen again,” Falzarano said.

VIDO-InterVac associate director Paul Hodgson says finding funding for the lab’s coronavirus research has been difficult in the past. (VIDO-InterVac)

Hodgson said scientists are using knowledge gained from SARS and MERS. But for years prior to the current outbreak, finding a pan-coronavirus vaccine for humans wasn’t a priority for governments or the big pharmaceutical companies. And when it comes to finding vaccines, the research follows the money.

Two years ago, VIDO-InterVac earned a four-year grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the federal government’s funding agency. The government of Saudi Arabia also kicked in grant money. The research project? A vaccine that stops the transmission of MERS from camels to humans.

“We’ve been working more immediately on MERS vaccines and always moving, very slowly, looking at different ways you could start to try to sell the concept better of a pan-coronavirus vaccine,” Falzarano said. “It’s disappointing to me. It’s something that I planned to do when I worked here and then it seemed clear that nobody was too interested in [funding] that concept.”

Now, funding vaccine research has become imperative. The Trudeau government has committed $11 million to VIDO-InterVac’s vaccine research and an additional $12 million to increase manufacturing capabilities for clinical trials.

According to Hodgson, Canada’s capacity to manufacture a vaccine domestically is concerning.

Researchers at VIDO InterVac use alpacas as part of their MERS vaccine research on transmission from camels to humans. (VIDO-InterVac)

“From a national security or emergency preparedness perspective, the manufacturing capacity we have has really started to go down,” Hodgson said.

VIDO-InterVac had been pushing the Canadian government to increase manufacturing capacity.

‘Our ultimate goal’

Three times a week, scientists from the Saskatoon lab start their long day on an early morning conference call with the World Health Organization as they spearhead Canada’s contribution to the global effort to find a vaccine.

So far, Canada is one of 10 countries participating in a research network the WHO calls Solidarity, which is sharing COVID-19 vaccine research.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, told a news conference Friday that international co-operation will provide the level of data necessary to determine the most effective treatments.

As of Friday, neither the U.S. nor China were listed by the WHO as participating in the Solidarity trials.

Back at VIDO-InterVac, the team is focused squarely on developing a vaccine to protect the world. 

“That’s our ultimate goal,” Hodgson said. “It would be fantastic if we developed a cure and made $100 million and were self-sufficient from this point forward, but our vision is protecting Canada and the world from infectious diseases.”

Source: CBC.CA

China dairy imports to fall by 19% due to Covid-19 – Rabobank

A new report from Rabobank has estimated that total dairy import volume in China will fall by 19% in 2020 due to the onset of coronavirus. 

Estimates were released in Rabobank’s latest Global Dairy Quarterly Q1 2020 report, which highlights how the current coronavirus situation across the globe has resulted in buyers and sellers ‘scrambling to assess the market impact’. 

The report has based its Chinese estimates on lower demand in retail and foodservice channels and build up in milk powder stocks, on top of larger carryover stocks, as well as further expansion in local milk production through 2020.

In China, dairy demand in liquid milk equivalent (LME) is predicted to fall by 8% in 1H 2020 prior to Rabobank’s previous forecast of a 2.4% increase. 

However, the bank anticipates that the forecast reduction will not be as severe as 2014-2015 stocking which resulted in a decline in LME imports of more than 35% over 12 months. 

According to Rabobank, China’s consumer buying patterns should normalise by the end of 2H 2020 with evidence of improvements in some supply chains already visible. 

The global milk production from the Big 7 global dairy exporters producers (the EU, US, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay) meanwhile,  is predicted to rise.

For Q4 2019, year-on-year growth of dairy exports was recorded as 0.8%, marking its strongest quarterly gain since Q3 2018.  Each region is expected to report a consistent pace in Q2 2020 with a growth rate of 1%.

According to Rabobank, US milk production growth remains range bound although they refer to a ‘slightly gloomier outlook for dairy demand in the coming months’. 

In the EU, milk production is reportedly gaining momentum with mild winter conditions laying the foundations for a good spring flush.

December 2019 saw Australia return to growth in the southern export pool, while Rabobank expects milk collections in New Zealand to decline by 1% due poor weather and disrupted trade volumes to China. 

The combination of reduced Chinese imports, significant supply chain disruptions, including extreme competition for shipping containers across the globe, and rising dairy surpluses in export regions will keep downward pressure on global markets through much of 2020.

Due to growing measures taken to limit the spread of coronavirus, Rabobank said there could be a greater-than-expected negative impact on dairy demand and supply chains in the upcoming months due to falling tourist numbers already impacting foodservice sectors in several markets.


DCHA Annual Conference goes virtual

The in-person Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA) Annual Conference, previously scheduled for April 7-9, in Madison, Wis., is rescheduled for April 8-9, in a virtual format. DCHA’s in-person event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DCHA Annual Conference registrants received a full refund for the in-person event. To register for the virtual conference, go to: Bovine veterinarians may still earn up to nine Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE) credits if they attend the virtual conference.

With the exception of the keynote address and panel discussions, the presentation lineup remains the same. Presentation titles and presenters and are:

  • New passive transfer standards for dairy calves and how to achieve them – Jason Lombard, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Why heifer maturity matters. The Peter Pan problem – Gavin Staley, Diamond V
  • Disbudding practices: Present and future – Sarah Adcock, University of California, Davis
  • Understanding the good, the bad and ugly of the innate immune response – Chris Chase, South Dakota State University
  • Managing and marketing dairy x beef crossbred cattle – Grant Crawford, Merck Animal Health
  • Why aren’t we all dead? Building on Mother Nature’s plan for inducing adaptive immunity through vaccinations – John Ellis, Professor, University of Saskatchewan
  • Dairy industry collaboration on animal care – Emily Yeiser Stepp, National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program
  • Calf nutritional management in 2030: Challenging the dogma – Michael Steele, University of Guelph
  • How do dairy animals respond to different handling techniques? It’s all about human, calf, heifer, cow and bull learning – Don Höglund, Dairy Stockmanship

“While the virtual format isn’t our first choice for DCHA’s Annual Conference, it provides the next-best option that will still foster valuable learning and interaction between speakers and participants,” said Sue Schatz, DCHA member services director. “These unprecedented times call for creative learning and experience sharing venues.”

The Dairy Calf and Heifer Association ( was founded in 1996 based on the mission to help dairy producers, calf managers and those professionally focused on the growth and management of dairy calves and heifers. With a national membership of producers, allied industries and research leaders, DCHA seeks to provide the industry’s standards for profitability, performance and leadership, serving as a catalyst to help members improve the vitality and viability of their individual efforts and that of their business.

NMPF coronavirus for dairy production website expands

The National Milk Producers Federation’s coronavirus webpage is expanding further, adding a farmer handbook to address dairy production needs and launching a podcast series featuring experts discussing crucial issues faced by dairy farmers and the broader industry as they work to feed the U.S. and the world.

“Dairy farmers are working hard to provide consumers a safe and abundant supply of milk, and they critically need resources to help them manage in a fast-changing environment. To assist them, we’re working our hardest to keep up with those needs,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This COVID-19 resource,, is a valuable tool both for farmers to manage their operations and for the broader industry and consumer community to understand what’s happening in dairy and respond appropriately.”

The handbook, drafted by members of the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) program, addresses topics from preventing coronavirus transmission in the workplace to proper workforce management in a pandemic. It’s part of a wide range of resources on the site, which first launched March 6 and since then has continually added content that aids aid the dairy community from farm to consumer as the coronavirus crisis has deepened, including links to key government documents and information for processors.

The podcast series started last week with NMPF staff scientist Jamie Jonker discussing how dairy farms are adding coronavirus-related safety measures. Another interview featured Clay Detlefsen, senior vice president for environmental and regulatory affairs, explaining a private-sector/government collaboration effort he’s leading that’s helping fix supply-chain issues as they arise.

Future podcasts will address animal care, the dairy economy, and dairy’s evolving response to coronavirus, among other topics. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud and Google Play.


Covid-19 Could Not Stop The Madness – The 2020 March Madness Sale

Even Covid-19 could not stop the madenss.  The 2020 March Madness sale hosted by Jennifer and Chris Hill with the support of friends, staff, complete strangers and those who love the industry the sale took place.  In a new format, about 25 people were present adhering to “crowd rules,” another 398 people were registered online and countless folks tuned in just to watch. The cattle were appreciated and the sale concluded with an average of $5,300 on 90 of the 102 lots offered. Topping the sale was lot 32 September Andreas x EX95 Comet $17,400.  This outstanding Jersey calf was purchased by Misty Meadows, Tillamook, OR.  The 2nd highest seller was a Red & White  Warrior x EX96 Apple $14,000 purchased by Jamie Judd and Mike Deaver.  Rounding out the top sellers was Lot 2 a Milking Yearling, Avalanche x Saltalamacchia $11,700 purchased by BorderView Genetics & Stylin Genetics.

Bankrupt Dean Foods drops Dairy Farmers of America as lead bidder

After objections from farmers and concerns about competition surrounding the deal, DFA will no longer be the stalking horse for the sale of Dean Foods. A stalking horse bidder gives a party the first bid on the assets and sets the minimum amount for which the company could sell.

Although this decision comes about a month after DFA secured the spot as lead bidder, the two organizations have been in talks about a sale for months. When Dean Foods announced it was filing for bankruptcy about four months ago, the company said it was already planning to sell itself to DFA.

Dean Foods is the largest milk processor in the U.S. with 57 manufacturing facilities and a portfolio of brands including TruMoo and DairyPure. ​It made sense that DFA wanted to move quickly to buy the company because it is the dairy cooperative’s biggest customer.

But there were objections to DFA as the lead bidder. An amicus curiae brief filed in the Houston court March 11 on behalf of farmer advocacy organizations, dairy farmers, members of the DFA and shareholders of Dean Foods said these groups vehemently opposed the deal. 

“The Court may not be aware; DFA murdered Dean. Granted Dean should not have been hanging around with mobsters,” the brief said. “This is in no way hyperbolic. The danger to America’s Dairy Industry, individual dairy farmers and ultimately the consumers cannot be overstated. DFA is the Godfather of America’s National Milk Producers Federation’s milk cartel.”

Federal antitrust regulators also were probing a deal between DFA and Dean Foods before it was even announced since farm groups had raised concerns about the impact it could have on prices and competition, The Wall Street Journal reported.

This isn’t the first time Dean and DFA have faced antitrust concerns. Farmers filed a class action lawsuit against Dean Foods, National Dairy Holdings, Dairy Farmers of America and others in 2007 for violating antitrust laws. The complaint said Dean agreed to make DFA farmers its only suppliers in exchange for low milk prices. Dean Foods settled for $140 million in 2011, while DFA settled with the others in the suit for $168 million in 2013. Despite the settlements, neither company admitted wrongdoing in the case.

Although dropping DFA as the stalking horse will remove bid protections that favored the dairy cooperative, that does not mean DFA won’t still bid on the assets. 

Dean Foods said in an emailed statement to Food Dive that it had extensive discussions with all interested parties about this move and has received “broad support.” The company said the “mutual decision” to withdraw the request for DFA to be approved as a stalking horse bidder doesn’t mean that DFA has removed itself from the bidding process. 

Dean Foods said it still anticipates DFA to submit a bid by the court-imposed March 30 deadline. 

“Dean Foods simply believes that, by avoiding unnecessary litigation regarding procedure and bid protections for DFA, all parties involved, including DFA, will focus on developing competitive and value-maximizing bids,” the company said. 

Overall, it is a difficult time for the dairy industry. Dean isn’t the only milk producer facing severe financial struggles. Borden Dairy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. Even though demand could see a slight increase as consumers stock up on dairy because of the coronavirus pandemic, analysts say it ultimately will just cause more challenges in the long term. 

For decades, milk consumption has been declining as other drink alternatives and plant-based options pull away consumers who once turned to the beverage. As the struggles continue, Dean Foods likely wants to complete its bankruptcy sale as soon as possible before things worsen even more.


Decision not to file abuse charges against Northumberland County dairy farmer upsets PETA

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is upset with the decision not to file criminal charges against the owner of a Northumberland County dairy farm accused of animal abuse.

It was its complaint that led to a state police investigation of Reitz Farms in Shamokin Twp. last June.

After reviewing the results of a state police investigation, the district attorney’s office concluded criminal prosecution was not warranted, it was announced Monday.

The decision was based on the findings of an independent veterinarian who found conditions met acceptable standards under state law, District Attorney Tony Matulewicz said.

Dr. David R. Wolfgang, who is retired, issued a report in which he found places for improvement but no evidence of maltreatment or beatings, he said.

Animals had cover, food and water and received treatment for their injuries, the report stated, according to the DA who added if charges were filed they likely could not be sustained.

State police say a trooper trained in animal cruelty participated in the investigation that included visits to the farm and interviews with the owner and his veterinarian.

Responding to the decision not to pursue charges, Daphna Nacminovitch, PETA’s senior vice president of cruelty investigations, issued the following statement:

“Any reasonable person recognizes that it’s cruel to strike a cow nearly 60 times with a cane, deny cows care for massively swollen joints seeping blood and pus and confine calves to barns saturated with urine and manure.

“If cruelty and filth are acceptable to authorities in Pennsylvania, personal responsibility is all that’s left, so PETA asks everyone to remember these animals’ suffering—and choose vegan milk and cheese.”

PETA conducted its own undercover investigation that included videos of what it alleged were deplorable conditions at the farm that it says kept 300 cows and scores of calves.

It alleged cows were denied care for grapefruit-sized masses that oozed blood and pus and they were kicked and beaten with a cane on their udders.

Another allegation was calves that were separated from their mothers shortly after birth were forced to lie in their own manure and urine day after day in filthy barns and denied the opportunity to go outdoors.

PETA claimed its investigation revealed 60 percent of the cows being milked had leg joints that were swollen.

The video shows a male using a stick on a cow. That individual has not been seen since and is believed to have been from Kenya, Matulewicz said.

Since the investigation began the dairy farm has proactively and independently revised and improved its animal care procedures, state police say.

PETA points out the same dairy farm was investigated in 2009 over allegations cows were in so much pain they could not stand up.


Shane’s industry passion is unwavering

Queensland dairy farmer Shane Bourke is hoping there is a future for his state’s dairy industry.

He is only one of 10 dairy farmers left in the Warwick area.

He has watched farmer after farmer leave the industry as drought and high costs have forced many out — recent rainfall of 50 mm has given him some much needed hope.

“We have had some really good rains that have got the creeks flowing and recharged underground water, and milk price is looking a bit better,” Shane said.

Shane is a generational farmer who milks 600 cows on 566 ha along with his father John and brothers Paul and Shane.

The majority of the herd are Illawarra with about 20 per cent of the herd Holstein.

“Dad started with Illawarras and I have kept them going. It gets pretty humid up here and we need a tough breed of cow,” Shane said.

“Illawarras are hardy, have good calving ease and high production and protein — I am happy milking them.”

The family has two compost barns and the herd is fed a TMR from October through to May.

Through the winter months the herd graze one pasture feed during the day and a TMR at night.

Over summer corn and silage is pitted for silage while over winter it’s barley and trit.

“In a normal year we are self-sufficient for fodder. We have always bought in grain but over the last 10 months we have had to buy in lots of fodder and that has been the killer.”

Shane said he hopes there is a future for Queensland dairy but the recent closing of the Lactalis Rockhampton site has left him wondering how long before the Brisbane site is shut.

Shane is a passionate cow man and he loves milking cows along with the challenge of getting them to produce well.

The purchase of Illawarra Ovensdale Pearl in March last with neighbouring dairy farmer and mate Matt Henry has bought some joy to Shane in 2020, after she was crowned International Dairy Week grand champion Illawarra exhibit for 2020.

The boys took Pearl along with three other cows down to Tatura on an 18-hour, one-way trip.

“We stopped overnight at the Forbes showground, milked her there and then spent the lead-up to the show with the Hayes family at Girgarre.

“Pearl is a great traveller and she didn’t miss a beat. She doesn’t stop and if you keep the feed up to her, she will just keep eating,” he said.

Getting Pearl up and ready to walk the ring at International Dairy Week might have been a long haul but the mates said they would do it all again if they had a cow that was good enough.


Canadian milk supply not expected to be impacted by COVID-19

COVID-19 isn’t expected to have a big impact on Canada’s milk supply.

David Wiens is chair of Dairy Farmers of Manitoba.

“My understanding is that all the processors in our province continue to operate and that they’re continuing with the same output as they had before,” he said.

Wiens says dairy farms should be operating as normal.

“As long as there’s no disruptions on the farm, for example, so far we have been able to have a supply of the cleaning agents that we use for milking equipment,” he commented. “Feed supply continues to come in uninterrupted. Our milk pick-ups, the transportation system, is currently working very well. All the milk is still being tested everyday for quality and components.”

Wiens adds having a business continuity plan is vital in these types of situations.


The COVID-19 virus and U.S. agriculture’s supply chain concerns

If they said it once, they said it 20 times during a one-hour webinar, “The U.S. food supply chain is the biggest concern, right now, in this fight against the COVID-19 virus.”

Agricultural economists at the University of Illinois, repeated that phrase Friday, during a webinar outlining the COVID-19 virus and its impacts on agriculture.

It just so happens to be the same message coming from USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“Food supply chain is sound, it’s stable & there’s plenty of food available. To the folks working in grocery stores & driving trucks full of products: Y’all are the heroes in the food supply chain,” Secretary Perdue tweeted on Friday.

Ag Sectors Impacted

Nick Paulson, University of Illinois director of graduate programs, says the run on groceries from the consumers is putting pressure on grocery supplies at the stores.

“Delivery of food is changing because consumers are coming into stores more often, making the effort to keep shelves stock difficult,” Paulson says. “Between staff having to sanitize shelves, special hours for the at-risk population, this end of the food chain is changing.”

Hoarding is happening, prompting experts to ask consumers to resist being a part of the problem.

“There is no need for more than a few weeks’ worth of groceries and other household items,” Paulson says. Be good humans.”

Meanwhile, Gary Schnitkey, farmdoc’s soybean industry chair in agricultural strategy, says that keeping the supply chain operational during the COVID-19 virus pandemic is key.

“There will be short-term changes in product demands and how it’s delivered,” Schnitkey says.

With restaurants and universities closing, that food will be shifting and get transported to other areas of the economy, Schnitkey says.

“The transportation companies are working overtime to handle this big shift,” Schnitkey says.

Over time, we’ll see a shift in ethanol demand and ethanol exports, Schnitkey says. “With lower fuel use, ethanol consumption and exports will change, over time, as well.”

Meat, dairy, egg and produce supply chains are the most important, the farmdoc experts say.

“Our biological units – hogs, cattle, and dairy have to be fed. We have to keep feed and veterinary supplies moving to those animals. The USDA is responding to the fact that as draconian measures are taken (to combat the spread of COVID-19), the importance of keeping transportation systems running is well known,” Schnitkey says.

Ag officials are watching processing plants and remain concerned when employees report infection of the COVID-19 virus.

“Given that we are trying to slow the spread of the virus, instead of stopping it, it seems likely that we will see packing plant employees contracting the virus,” Schnitkey says. He added, “We are likely to see some spiky, erratic prices at some supply points.”

Crop Sector

It appears that seed, fertilizer, and chemicals are in place for the U.S. 2020 planting season, the farmdoc experts say.

“However, we need to maintain a solid transportation system and a virus-free workforce. Washing hands, social distancing, and restricting travel are very important,” Schnitkey says.

Because there are time-sensitive activities during planting season, be careful of working with COVID-19 infected staff, Schnitkey says.

It’s too early to see acreage shifts as a result of the pandemic’s impacts on grain prices.

Regional Illinois corn prices are down 50¢, while soybeans are off 60¢ since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

“Profitability in Illinois may favor soybean planting, but it’s still too early to know what the market will look like for this year,” Schnitkey says.

Grain Markets Hold Up

Scott Irwin, U of I farmdoc economist, says since the first of the year, the agricultural markets, energy, and equities have felt the impact of the pandemic and an oil war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

“Since the beginning of the year, the U.S. crude oil market is down 65%. After reaching an all-time record high in January, the S&P 500 stock market is off 30%. On the ag side, live cattle futures prices have dropped by 30%, and corn is down 15%,” Irwin stated on the webinar.

So, where do we go from here?

“Although we may never reach a technical economic recession, which is two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth, it is conceivable that we can experience a contraction of economic activity in the second quarter of 2020, equal to the Great Depression era. It would be a flash recession with recovery at the end of the second quarter,” Irwin says.

Todd Hubbs, farmdoc economist, says that concerns with the crop outlook during the COVID-19 virus involve how the EU and South America supply chains hold up.

“If we see a breakdown in those parts of the world, our summer crop market could benefit,” Hubbs says.

Hubbs added, “It looks like China, Japan, and some other Asian countries are starting to come out of this pandemic. So, there could be some buying (of U.S. ag commodities) there.”

Meanwhile, the question that everyone is asking is whether China will meet its trade obligations with the U.S. as a result of the pandemic.

“Based on the start-of-the-year purchases from China, it doesn’t look like it. They are way behind, due to their own COVID-19 outbreak. But I do think they will be significant buyers of U.S. ag products as we move through 2020.”

Selling Old-Crop Corn

Regarding marketing crops, a lot of farmers are holding basis contracts.

“Some of these contracts have been rolled forward,” Hubbs says. “That may turn out to be a good move. We have seen basis weaken dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 virus. A lot of that weakness is due to ethanol plants cutting bids, following a drastic drop in gas consumption. Gasoline demand may drop 20% or worse.”

In the short-run, if this pandemic situation lasts two months and ethanol plants experience a 15% retraction in gasoline demand, it may result in a drop of 120 to 150 million bushels of corn, Hubbs says.

“It may take a while for the ethanol industry to gear back up, if there is more idling at plants. So, this situation may get worse. And the basis market will reflect that,” Hubbs says.  

For corn exports, the U.S. still needs to expand its base market.

“If Brazil has a supply chain breakdown, this would help the U.S. exports,” Hubbs says.

He added, “If we can keep the supply chain in place, there are still a lot of livestock out there to feed. The first indication of how much corn is being used will show up in the USDA’s March 31 Grain Stocks Report. But if livestock production scales back appreciably in the summer, we could see more impacts on the corn market.”

USDA’s Long Arm

Jonathan Coppess, farmdoc ag policy director, says that it’s important to point out that during times such as a pandemic, the USDA and Defense Production Act gives the government the ability to coordinate food resource priorities.

“For instance, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is a purchasing agent for the USDA. If there are localized shortages or food supply challenges, we do know that FSA can purchase, deliver, and prioritize supplies to certain regions,” Coppess says.

This includes everything from food to farm equipment and farm supplies, Coppess says. If shortages occur during this spring’s planting season, the FSA can jump in and help solve those problems under this Defense Production Act.


Coronavirus: How dairy giant Fonterra will operate under lockdown

The collection of Fonterra farmers’ milk and the co-op’s operations will be prioritised under new restrictions to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Monday, the Government announced a move to a level 3 alert, to be followed by level 4 in 48 hours.

All non-essential businesses must close, as well as bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, and playgrounds.

In announcing the new levels, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said food suppliers were classified as an essential service.

“Those who are part of the food supply chain, who provide for our supermarkets, are part of our essential primary industry,” said Ardern.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell told Newshub that it had received advice from the Government that Fonterra is considered an essential service. 

“As part of the food supply chain, the collection of Fonterra farmers’ milk and our operations will be prioritised,” said Hurrell.

He said Fonterra employees in the food supply chain, such as farmers, tanker drivers, manufacturing and distribution centre employees, were to keep working but follow the very strict guidance from the government to protect themselves and the community from COVID-19.

“The Government has shown a lot of trust in us to keep operating under a level 4 alert. 

“This is a big responsibility. I sincerely thank all our people who will continue to keep dairy in production for everyone’s health and nutrition during this difficult time.”

All Fonterra staff who are able to work from home would do so. 

The Fonterra owned Farm Source retail stores across New Zealand would be closing for the time being, however people would still be able to shop online, he said.


Automation and Grit Help Grube Family Carry on After Dad’s Stroke

An automated dairy feeding system that does just about everything but fill silos helped the Allen Grube family weather a crisis that jeopardized the future of the fourth generation Berks County family farm.

The crisis arrived four years ago when family patriarch Allen suffered a massive stroke. The stroke left his mind — and sense of humor — intact, but it put him into a wheelchair and made it impossible to help with farmwork.


Jay Grube was concerned he’d have trouble navigating the touchscreen on his Autoration Pro automated mixing and feeding system. He found out it wasn’t so hard after all.

Dick Wanner

Allen’s son, Jay, went from sharing the workload with his dad to doing — or trying to do — the work of two people. When the workload means the care and feeding of 60 Holstein milking cows, plus dry cows and replacement heifers… well, that’s a lot of workload.

There’s field work, too. Jay cuts 45 acres of haylage for two of the farm’s silos, and hires a custom operator to fill the other two silos with 45 acres of corn silage. Then another 250 acres is cash cropped for hay, soybeans, corn for grain and barley. Oh, and there’s Grube’s Dairy Store 5 miles away in Shoemakersville. Jay’s wife, Dorie, manages the store, which they opened in 2012, but Jay helps out once a week with pasteurizing and processing about 300 gallons of whole milk from the family herd.

The Grubes had four options:

• Sell the herd. But Jay likes cows and he likes to stay busy. He and his dad like their tie stalls. The cows are content and clean and average about 80 pounds a day. Somatic cell count averages around 150,000, and the DHIA herd average is right around 24,000 pounds. It’s too good a herd to sell.

• They could hire a helper. But Allen didn’t like the idea of having his son dependent on a hired hand who may or may not show up on any given Monday. Or Tuesday, or Wednesday, etc.

• Automate with robotic milkers. The robots they checked cost about $200,000 and with their setup wouldn’t have saved that much labor.

• Automate the mixing and delivery of the cows’ feed.


In his search for a solution, Jay came upon Valmetal, a Canadian company with 500 automated feeding systems in Canada and another 300 in other parts of the world. When the system was installed three years ago on the Grube farm, it was the first in Pennsylvania and the first to serve a tie stall herd.

The key part of the Valmetal Autoration Pro system is actually invisible. It is a computer program housed in a touch screen that monitors the scales, belts and motors that are the mechanical parts of the system. Autoration mixes feed twice daily, and delivers it to the cows at approximately six-hour intervals four times a day, beginning at 3 a.m. When the feed lands on the tiled alleys in front of the cows, it’s fresh. The girls don’t pick through it to avoid the dried out parts because there are no dried out parts.

There’s none of the waste that goes with loading carts for twice-a-day feedings, then sweeping the alleys of the leftovers before the next go-round with the cart.

The system conveys haylage and corn silage from four concrete stave silos to a bin where it is mixed with minerals and dietary supplements. From the mixing bin, the total mixed ration moves on overhead conveyor belts to the cows. Allen pointed out that TMR has been a management strategy on the farm since 1986.

The first time the system was turned on, Jay said he was worried about what the cows would think when their feed started suddenly falling from the sky. When the belts started up for the second feeding, he said the cows perked up, looked up and ate up. He said there wasn’t an immediate jump in production, but by the end of the first month, he said individual daily averages had increased by about 5 pounds with no added feed cost.

Jay figures Autoration saves him about four hours of labor every day. He figures he’ll save even more work when a new heifer barn is completed. When the heifers are moved out of the main barn, he plans to install another 26 tie stalls in preparation for an eventual increase in herd size. That will put the total number of tie stalls at 80.

Currently, he’s milking 60 cows in 54 tie stalls, which means six cows get switched in and out of tie stalls for milking. That’s a labor intensive part of the milking operation, and the switching puts a damper on individual production. By giving the switch cows permanent homes, he’ll save labor and get a bit more out of each cow.

Jay’s mother and wife help with the twice-a-day milking. Each member of the three-person milking crew milks five cows at a time with standard milkers that feed into a pipeline system. The plan going forward is to switch to automatic takeoff milkers and have each crew member milking 12 cows at a time.

As part of the automated mixing/feeding program, the Grubes upgraded the barn’s electrical system then added the Autoration Pro control panel, software, motors and belts for a total cost of $80,000. The system made it possible for Jay to continue dairying without hired help.

While he knew from the beginning that it was going to save him a lot of work, he was anxious about navigating the control panel screen. He did punch the wrong icon three times in the first few months. Each mishap was cleared up with a call to the Valmetal 24/7 help line, where techs have a direct connection to customers’ systems. Jay wasn’t billed for the calls. A Valmetal rep said company policy is to offer free service calls for the first five years after installation. Software updates will be provided free for the life of the system.

Jay said he found bonuses he didn’t even know were part of the system. He hadn’t realized, for example, the extent of the Autoration inventory control feature. Instead of constantly eyeballing bin contents, he can see from the touchscreen when he’s running low on a mineral or other supplement.

The system is designed to add water automatically to the TMR as it’s being mixed. Jay said he samples the silo contents — haylage varies a bit, corn silage not so much — and punches his moisture numbers into the control panel and the system figures out how much water to add.

With automated mixing and feeding, and the eventual addition of auto takeoff milkers, Jay Grube figures he’ll be able to build the herd to the point where every one of his 80 tie stalls will be filled.

Source: Lancaster Farming

Silo collapse claims 23 year old Australian Dairy farmers’ life

A young man has died after a silo collapsed on him on his family’s dairy farm in Victoria.

The 23-year-old man was understood to be working on the Mooroopna North farm when a silo collapsed on top of him about 4pm on Friday, WorkSafe said.

It brings the year’s workplace deaths to 14, four of them at farms. That is eight more than this time last year, the most of any industry.

WorkSafe chief executive Colin Radford says it serves as a reminder that every workplace needs to stay focused on safety.

He adds many Victorian workplaces will look very different as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that does not mean safety can take a back seat.

Source: Yahoo


Pasteurization Inactivates COVID-19

Research specific to COVID-19 is still emerging as the current outbreak evolves. While COVID-19 is anovel (new) virus and data is limited, characteristics of similar viruses such as SARS (Severe AcuteRespiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) are significantly relevant and applicable to milk banking.

On February 11, 2020, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) named this newlyidentified virus “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)”, now called “COVID-19” because of its genetic similarities to the SARS coronavirus responsible for the outbreak in 2003 (WorldHealth Organization [WHO], 2020). Existing SARS and MERS research provide valuable informationwhen evaluating virus transmission and inactivation.

Studies have documented complete heat inactivation of genetically similar viruses such as SARS andMERS, specifically heat treatment of 60°C for 30 minutes (Miriam & Taylor, 2006; Rabenau et al., 2005;van Doremalen, 2014). 

According to Jamie Jonker, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) vice president of Sustainability and Scientific Affairs pasteurization of dairy products inactivates COVID-19, so there is no danger than consumers can contract the disease while consuming dairy products.

“All pasteurized dairy products, whether it is milk in the jug, cheese in the cheese case, butter or ice cream, are safe to eat,” says Jonker. “But for health reasons unrelated to COVID-19 virus, a person should never drink raw milk.”

Jonker explains that the Food and Drug Administration has confirmed the pasteurization process, whether it is at high temperature for a short time or a slightly lower temperature for a longer period, inactivates the COVID-19 virus.

Dairy Situation and Outlook

Back in December and January the forecast was for milk prices to average as much as $1 or more higher than 2019. Milk production would recover slowly, strong economy with low unemployment and higher wages spelled a modest growth in domestic demand, and a relatively low growth in world milk production offered an opportunity for higher dairy exports especially nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder and cheese. The coronavirus has changed matters and things change daily creating a lot of uncertainty where things might be headed.

Dairy product prices started to decline the end of December and continued into now. Cheese was above $2 a pound mid-October to mid-November. Butter was above $2 per pound until the end of November. Nonfat dry milk was high as $1.2675 per pound in December. As of January 1st, cheddar barrels were $1.6425, 40-pound blocks $1.9025, butter $1.95 and nonfat dry milk $1.2275. As of March 19th, barrels were $1.3875, 40-pound blocks $1.8625, butter $1.70 and nonfat dry milk $0.9625. As a result, Class III which was $20.45 back in November was $17.05 in January, $17 in February will be about $16.30 in March. Class IV was $16.70 in December, $16.30 in January, $16.23 in February will be about 14.85 in March. Prices are headed even lower for the immediate months ahead. Dairy futures change hourly but now Class III futures April through December are below $16 which would give an average $15.92 Class III for the year, over $1.00 lower than the $16.96 average last year. Class IV futures May through August are below $14 reaching just $15.20 in December which would give an average of $14.57 for the year, about $1.70 lower than the $16.30 average last year.

How long before the coronavirus comes under control will be a major factor where milk prices will end up. But there is a strong possibility milk prices could rally second half of the year. The level of milk production will be important. A rather mild winter has been positive for milk per cow. A strong spring flush would put downward pressure on milk prices. USDA’s estimate of February milk production leap year adjusted showed milk production coming on rather strong. Leap year adjusted February milk production was 1.7% higher than a year ago the result of 0.2% more cows and 1.5% more milk per cow. Milk cow numbers increased 5,000 head January to February and 27,000 head December to February. Major cow expansions have incurred in the West with numbers up 11,000 in Colorado, 27,000 in Idaho, 11,000 in New Mexico, 32,000 Texas and 6,000 in Kansas. However, numbers were down 6,000 in Arizona and 3,000 in California. In contrast in the Midwest numbers were down 5,000 in Iowa and Minnesota, and 10,000 in Wisconsin with South Dakota up 4,000. In the Northeast numbers were down 1,000 in New York, and 17,000 in Pennsylvania but up 3,000 in Michigan.

Leap year adjusted relatively strong increase in milk production occurred in Colorado 7.5%, Idaho 5.5%, Texas 7.0% and Kansas 5.4%. Milk production was up 2.6% in California, 2.6% in New Mexico, 1.1% in Michigan, 1.9% in New York, 4.7% in South Dakota, just 0.2% in Minnesota, and down 2.1% in Iowa and 0.8% in Wisconsin. Increase in U.S. milk production at this level will push milk prices down. The latest USDA forecast has milk production for the year up 1.5% leap year adjusted, the result of an average of 9,000 more milk cows and 1.4% more milk per cow. But, with relatively low milk prices first half of the year the size of the dairy herd may end up being less and the increase in milk per cow less since production was 1.0% higher in 2019.

The coronavirus is not positive for the economy and will impact milk and dairy product sales. The closing of schools will impact beverage milk sales since about 8% of beverage milk sales are to schools. This loss volume will need to be made in to cheese or some other dairy product. The cancellation of conferences, closing of restaurants, sport events, colleges etc. will impact butter and cheese sales. People will still eat, buy groceries, order food through drive throughs and online. But many people will have reduced incomes which will hurt dairy product sales. But hopefully by second half of the year thing start to improve. Schools will open late summer increasing beverage milk sales and we can expect butter and cheese sales to increase during the holiday season.

Dairy exports started out strong in January. Export volume was 21% higher than a year ago and was equivalent to 15.1% of total milk solids, the most ever for January and compared to 12.5% a year ago. Compared to a year earlier nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder exports where 41% higher, total whey product exports 18% higher and cheese even. The coronavirus is impacting world economies which will not be positive for exports. But there will be exports. The increase in world milk production is expected to be no more than 1%. EU milk production is running a little higher than expected with a mild winter but will still be a modest increase. New Zealand is currently experiencing a major drought. Mexico, our largest customer will still buy cheese and nonfat dry milk. As we move through the year China could very well increase imports. China is dropping retaliatory tariffs on U.S. cheese in March. So, while exports may not be higher than 2019, they will still be at a level to provide support to milk prices.

Milk prices will change daily and change with rather small changes in milk production, milk and dairy product sales and exports. So, there is a lot of uncertainty now as to where milk prices will end up. It now looks like Class III will average about $16.80 first quarter, but may average only about $15.40 second quarter, $16.50 third quarter, $17.25 fourth quarter and average $16.50 for the year, about $0.50 lower than $16.96 last year. These prices are much more optimistic than current Class III futures. As we move through the year and see what is happening with milk production, milk and dairy product sales and exports milk prices will be revised and hopefully revised upward. But, as of now what looked like a better year now looks like another difficult year for dairy farmers.

Source: UW Extension


Increasing UK milk price gap indicates a broken market

The widening gap between the highest and lowest milk prices was highlighted as competing brands announce opposing price points.

According to analysis in the Farmers Guardian, Arla foods announced it was increasing its manufacturing milk price by nearly 1 ppl while competitor Meadow Foods said it would drop its price by 2 ppl.

AHDB figures show the gap between the highest and lowest 2019 milk price was 9.34 ppl, more than double 2018 figures. The most expensive was Muller’s price for suppliers to Marks & Spencer. The supermarket has been top in eight of the last 16 years, with Booths and Waitrose topping the chart in other years.

The least expensive offering was Pensworth – a Buckinghamshire-based dairy – at 24.09 ppl.
The article reports that the gap between the highest and lowest isn’t the largest seen in the UK. In 2015 the gap reached nearly 14 ppl, with Meadow Foods producers being paid just 19.19 ppl compared to 32.92 for farmers supplying Booths.

Dairies who supply non-supermarket customers with liquid milk regularly appear towards the bottom of the league.

Dairy market analyst Chris Walkland said it was difficult for processors who over-rely on liquid sales in expensive to service markets.

“Those dairies have a fragmented customer-base in urban areas where it is getting more difficult to make deliveries,” said Mr Walkland.

“This is especially the case in London which is expanding its emission zone charges over the next two years to cover more vehicles and a wider area.”

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said reform and investment were needed in the sector.
“It is clear the British dairy market is not working in the interests of a lot of producers,” said Mr Oakes.

“At a recent European dairy producer meeting, the Arla price of about 30ppl was the standard, not the exception.”

“In the long-term, there needs to be more investment in value-added processing and the Government has a role in encouraging that.

“However, this does little to comfort farmers who are facing a fall in prices which could see them losing 5ppl or more.

Read more about this story here.

World Dairy Expo statement regarding COVID-19

World Dairy Expo is actively monitoring the ongoing public health risks associated with the COVID-19 global pandemic. Live events like Expo are in a particularly fluid state, with some future events continuing as planned and others facing cancellation or postponement.

At this time, WDE is moving ahead with plans for World Dairy Expo 2020 and has no intention of cancelling or postponing the show. However, the health, well-being and safety of exhibitors, attendees and volunteers are of the utmost importance and will guide our future decision making.

The Board of Directors and staff of World Dairy Expo will continue to monitor this ongoing global situation and will weigh all options for the 2020 show. Information provided by public health officials, healthcare professionals and industry experts will drive decisions in the months ahead.

Thank you for your ongoing support of World Dairy Expo as well as your continued engagement during this unprecedented time. Be well, and we’ll see you in Madison, Wisconsin, September 29 – October 3.


Why culture matters for dairy industry

Culture was the theme of the Australian Dairy Conference earlier this year – and its messages were ones that resonated with the 500-plus delegates as the dairy industry continues to look at its future direction.

Culture was the theme of the Australian Dairy Conference earlier this year – and its messages were ones that resonated with the 500-plus delegates as the dairy industry continues to look at its future direction.

Across the two days, the conference firmly confronted the notion that someone else is responsible for fixing your problems.

This was whether people were trying to take on a big national issue – like food waste in Australia – or whether they were tackling issues on their own farms – like trying to get the best from the people working for them.

It also took on some hard-hitting issues, including sexual harassment in agricultural industries.

There were a couple of key things that stuck with me.

One was OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn’s call for people to join the Order of the Teaspoon – which she explained thus, quoting Israeli writer Amos Oz, from his book How to Cure a Fanatic, which has inspired the founding of the order in Sweden.

I believe that if one person is watching a huge calamity, let’s say a conflagration, a fire, there are always three options.

1. Run away, as far away and as fast as you can and let those who cannot run burn.

2. Write a very angry letter to the editor of your paper demanding that the responsible people be removed from office with disgrace. Or, for that matter, launch a demonstration.

3. Bring a bucket of water and throw it on the fire, and if you don’t have a bucket, bring a glass, and if you don’t have a glass, use a teaspoon, everyone has a teaspoon. And yes, I know a teaspoon is little and the fire is huge but there are millions of us and each one of us has a teaspoon. Now I would like to establish the Order of the Teaspoon. People who share my attitude, not the run-away attitude, or the letter attitude, but the teaspoon attitude – I would like them to walk around wearing a little teaspoon on the lapel of their jackets, so that we know that we are in the same movement, in the same brotherhood, in the same order, The Order of the Teaspoon.”

The second was from workplace consultant Mandy Johnson who said culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Both hit at the heart of bringing about meaningful change. It is about ensuring that we are doing the right things for the right reasons. It is about being part of the solution, not the problem.

The last afternoon of the conference featured a session with three young farmers who have overcome adversity in their lives – with courage and a positive attitude to make a difference.

I doubt there was a delegate who left the conference not thinking about what they could do differently.

I know I certainly did – and a real sense that even small actions in the right direction can make a difference.


IDFA Pleased that White House, Federal Agencies Confirm Food Industry is a “Critical Infrastructure Industry”; Additional Guidance Needed

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), released the following statement today:

“On behalf of the nation’s dairy industry, the International Dairy Foods Association is grateful that the Administration confirmed yesterday that the food and agricultural industry is one of the nation’s critical infrastructure industries. Additionally, IDFA was pleased to see the U.S. Department of Agriculture issue a proactive statement underscoring that the Department will work to maintain continued access to food and will fulfill its mission of ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply during these extraordinary times.

“The White House issued The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America – 15 Days to Slow the Spread yesterday, with 7 general rules to slow the spread of COVID-19. The White House document recognizes food as one of the nation’s critical infrastructure industries: ‘If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services, pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule. You and your employers should follow CDC guidance to protect your health at work.’

“Later in the afternoon, in a statement to industry from Dr. Mindy Brashears, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, and Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, USDA said, ‘It is more important than ever that we assure the American public that government and industry will take all steps necessary to ensure continued access to safe and wholesome USDA-inspected products. … As we come together as a country to address this public health threat, know that USDA remains committed to working closely with industry to fulfill our mission of ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply and protecting agricultural health.’ (link)

“Further, in various communications, the Department of Homeland Security also clearly recognizes 16 critical infrastructure sectors ‘whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof,’ according to a DHS fact sheet on Critical Infrastructure Sectors. From these public communications, it is clear that the food industry, including our dairy industry, is one of the nation’s critical infrastructure industries, which ensures certain safeguards for the food industry and its workforce from disruptions related to federal and state efforts to protect public health during the COVID-19 response.

“As the White House document states, the food industry ‘also has a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule,’ which underscores the need for our industry to continue to closely collaborate with federal and state officials to remove potential bottlenecks for our workforce, to our supply chains, to our inputs stream, and our transportation networks, among others.

“Based on critical lessons learned from other nations and regions, including our dairy industry partners in the European Union and Canada, it is essential that our federal government now begin to lay out a strategy for ensuring the continued operation of the 16 Critical Infrastructure Industries. After speaking with the EU and Canada about impacts to their own dairy industries, we must prioritize the safety and availability of our workforce, ensuring transportation routes remain open, and providing a viable market or market alternatives for our nation’s dairy products.

“At the present, IDFA is collaborating with many other food industry trade groups to bring the following issues and concerns to the Administration for action and consideration:

  1. Workforce: Ensure workforce continue to have access to food production and distribution facilities
  2. Services: Continuity of waste management services, energy and utilities services, and telecommunications and internet
  3. Transportation: For trucking and rail service, ensure inbound and outbound transportation routes are not impeded for any reason, including potential curfew or quarantine orders; for ports, ensure ports remain open and functional for imports and exports; for all transportation, provide access to refrigerated containers, trailers and pallets
  4. Borders: Ensure border inspection facilities prioritize entry of foodstuffs and have mechanisms in place to allow drivers and vehicles expedited screening and entry
  5. Manufacturing: Ensure food production facilities have access to inputs; provide a plan to standardize safety of operations in production facilities; confirm the federal government will have enough inspectors and other government officials who are essential to the production or movement of food

“We are amid extraordinary circumstances which require an extraordinary response. We know from other nations managing COVID-19 responses that things may indeed get worse before they get better, and it is absolutely essential that our federal government now begin to lay out a strategy for ensuring the continued operation of the nation’s Critical Infrastructure Industries, including food and agriculture. Our nation’s dairy industry is critical to our nation’s food security, and we are ready to do our part to continue to contribute to our nation’s food security. We are grateful for your work to safeguard dairy, to the best of your ability, from significant supply chain disruptions in the weeks and months ahead.”

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

Newlat in talks to buy Italian dairy group as coronavirus boosts sales

Italian food group Newlat (NWLF.MI) said on Thursday it had entered talks to buy a majority stake in dairy group Centrale del Latte d’Italia (CLII.MI), adding the coronavirus outbreak was boosting its food sales.

Newlat, which produces pasta, bakery products and baby food, said that the acquisition of Centrale del Latte d’Italia (CLI) would boost its revenue to 500 million euros ($533 million).

“The strategic rational is combining the two companies’ production capacity to become one of the leaders for dairy production in Italy,” Newlat Chief Executive Giuseppe Mastrolia said in a conference call on 2019 results.

The owner of Delverde pasta brand said on Thursday it had signed a letter of intent with CLI’s top investor Finanziaria Centrale del Latte di Torino to negotiate the acquisition of a majority stake in the dairy group.

CLI’s revenue were 180 million euros last year, with core earnings of around 6 million euros. Parma-based Newlat said its revenue rose 5% to 320 million euros last year driven by pasta and dairy products.

Newlat said that in the first two weeks of March, when Italians stocked up food products in response to concerns about the coronavirus, it recorded a 35% rise in sales compared with the same period of last year.

“The high demand is for our products with a long-shelf life including pasta, baby food and bakery products … we are doing all our efforts to satisfy our customers and we can win new ones,” the CEO said.


World Record for Butterfat Set in Jersey Breed

For the first time in more than a dozen years, a new world record for fat production by a Registered Jersey cow has been recorded by the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA).

On October 18, 2019, Lyon Renegade Barb completed a 365-day lactation of 3,072 lbs. fat, breaking the record set in 2007 by Norse Star Hallmark Bootie of 2,827 lbs. fat. The record-setting lactation had a butterfat test of 8.6%.

The complete lactation, begun at 6 years, 1 month of age, was 35,716 lbs. milk, 3,072 lbs. fat, and 1,382 lbs. protein (94 DCR). Based upon federal order pricing, the gross dollar value of the lactation was $11,042.

Owned by Logan and Autumn Courtney of Chouteau, Okla., the Excellent-90% daughter of BW Renegade-ET was bred by Lyon Jerseys, Toledo, Iowa.

The record-breaking lactation began October 19, 2018, when “Barb” calved with her fifth calf. She was managed in a herd of 65 cows, milked in a robot setup and fed a TMR of primarily wheat or oat silage and commodity grain mix. The ration is supplemented with long stem hay. She had eight test days over 90 lbs. milk, peaking at 121 lbs. on July 3, 2019.

“Barb” joins U.S.-bred world record milk, protein and cheese yield holder Mainstream Barkly Jubilee. She set her world records of 55,590 lbs. milk, 1,796 lbs. protein and cheese yield of 6,201 lbs. in 2008. The Very Good-87% daughter of Long Distance Barber Barkly was bred by Melissa R. Kortus, Lynden, Wash., and milked at her family dairy, Mainstream Jerseys.

The American Jersey Cattle Association was organized in 1868 and has provided herd production recording services since 1928. The organizations offer a comprehensive service package through REAP (registrations, Equity, appraisal, and performance testing), which also includes the state-of-the-art JerseyMate™ program. For more information, visit the website at or call 614/861-3636.

Holstein Canada Announces Convention Cancellation

Holstein Canada’s vision of a Healthy Canadian Dairy Industry for All” is a proud and true statement for our Association, no matter what the circumstance.

For this reason, and as a precautionary measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made two important decisions:

1) The National Holstein Convention and AGM, scheduled for April 15-18, 2020 in Saskatchewan, is cancelled. Information will be made available to all participants as soon as decisions are made for future plans.
2) All on-farm services – Classification, Field Service in Atlantic/Western Canada, and Cattle Assessments – are temporarily suspended from March 17 through Friday April 3, 2020. The situation will be reviewed continually to determine whether additional measures are required.

Two main components motivate this decision:
1) The health and safety of the Canadian food chain and the supply of nutritious products we provide to the Canadian population. Milk pick-up and drop-off is essential.
2) The health and safety of our members, clients, and their families, as well as the health and safety of our employees and their families.

Holstein Canada’s Classification and Field Services are essential to the long-term functional profitability of a dairy farm. Under the current circumstances, however, services offered in-person and at large gatherings of our members need to be minimized in order to keep our farm families safe.

The Holstein Canada office continues to serve our members and clients from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many employees are working remotely to respect social distancing recommendations so response times may be slightly longer than normal as everyone adapts to this new work environment. We thank you for your understanding and support.

Please consult the Holstein Canada website homepage for updates.

Australia dairy must be labelled an ‘essential service’

THE Dairy industry has joined red meat processors in calling on state health ministers to deem their supply chains essential services, granting them priority access to COVID-19 testing, utilities, freight and government support.

“We have to get government support at state and federal levels to do that,” Australian Dairy Products Federation executive officer Janine Waller said.

The call comes as panicked shoppers strip supermarkets of milk in all its forms, while politicians call for calm.

But processors are increasingly concerned as to what impact the virus could have on their workers and ability to maintain processing plants.

ADPF, the Australian Dairy Farmers and the industry’s peak research and development arm – Dairy Australia – met this morning to thrash out how they would respond to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure plants were kept open, milk was picked up from farms and essential products delivered to stores.

Ms Waller said the focus was getting governments to declare dairy and its supply chain an essential service.

She said the dairy industry peak bodies were also preparing protocols and messaging for farmers and the broader community, that would soon be released.

ADPF’s move follows the Australian Meat Industry Council writing to all state and the federal health ministers calling for their supply chain to be deemed an essential service.

“We’ve written to health ministers across the country saying it’s (test kits) one of the things they need to put in place (and) we need to make sure the meat supply chain is deemed an essential service,” AMIC chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said.

He said the key issue was to ensure that if a coronavirus case was picked up in a meat processing plant, then workers could be quickly tested, the site cleaned up and put back in operation as soon as possible.

AMIC has already raised concerns as to why rugby players were being granted greater access to coronavirus testing kits than the workers maintaining Australians’ food supply.

“We’re hearing the rugby league community is getting preference for coronavirus (testing) kits,” Mr Hutchinson said.

Mr Hutchinson said deeming meat processing an essential service would give processors priority access to freight, fuel and of course coronavirus testing kits.

He said Australians already deemed red meat as an essential source of healthy protein, as evidenced by the long lines at butchers and rationing at supermarkets.

All states have essential services legislation, which in an emergency allows the relevant minister to prohibit strike action and under the Victoria Act “requisition the use of property of any kind which is used or may be used for or in connection with the operation or maintenance of any essential service”.

The Weekly Times is seeking feedback from Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, who was asked to respond earlier today.


Coronavirus: Can you freeze milk? Can you freeze cheese?

The Government has advised the population that there is no need to stockpile food and work is being done to ensure supply chains continue to provide enough for everyone. Freezing food is one way to ensure you have something to eat or drink in the event supermarket shelves are empty.

There are a number of food items that can be frozen for later use.

Freezing doesn’t necessarily kill nutrients and is a useful way to store food without having to use chemical preservatives.

Speaking on the Today show in Australia, Dr Joanna McMillan said: “Freezing is a really amazing way of preserving our food because you don’t have to use chemical preservatives.

“It’s actually one of the oldest means of preserving foods. I think we under-utilise the freezer in today’s age where we think everything that’s fresh is better for us and it’s actually not the truth.”

Coronavirus UK: Can you freeze milk? Can you freeze cheese?

Coronavirus UK: Can you freeze milk? Can you freeze cheese?

As well as the likes of leftovers, bread, nuts, butter, flour, eggs and pasta, you can freeze milk.

Frozen milk should be thawed before it is used and should be shaken before being poured it to ensure all the solids and liquids have been fully mixed.

Milk will also expand when it’s frozen, so it shouldn’t be put in a tight container.

If you’re afraid of running out of milk for your tea or coffee, you can freeze some of using an ice cube tray and use the portions for your hot drink.

Coronavirus UK: Can you freeze milk? Can you freeze cheese?

Alyssa Pike is a registered dietitian and manager of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council.

She recommends long-life or plant-based milk because they don’t necessarily need to be frozen because of their shelf life.

This makes them a great option for those who don’t want to or can’t make a trip to the shops.

Cheese can be frozen either in a block or grated.

If opting for the latter option, it can be stored in a zip-lock bag and used as of when it’s required.

All types of cheese from the softer mozzarella to the harder parmesan can be frozen.

However, precaution should be taken with cottage cheese as that can react badly in freezing temperatures.

Nutritionist Jackie Newgent, authour of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook, says yoghurt and some dairy products can experience problematic texture changes in the freezer.

But dairy products like cheese and yoghurt are another story.

She said: “Due to texture changes when you freeze yoghurt or cheese, I only recommend freezing yogurt if you plan to use it in a recipe, like for a smoothie.

“And I only recommend freezing shredded cheese that you plan to use in cooking, such as packaged shredded mozzarella.

“Hard cheese, like Parmesan, can keep in the refrigerator for weeks.”


COVID-19 resources available for US dairy farming families

The Pennsylvania-based Center for Dairy Excellence has launched a library of farm resources to help dairy farm families and small business owners through the COVID-19 outbreak. The resources include crisis management tools, stress and wellness resources, and financial planning information.

“We recognize these are very challenging times for everyone and especially for dairy farm families and other small business owners who are working to operate as best they can through this crisis,” said Jayne Sebright, Executive Director at the Center for Dairy Excellence. “Part of the Center’s mission is to connect Pennsylvania dairy farm families to the resources they need to strengthen their dairy operations. With that, we believe an important role we can play is providing a library of resources available to help farmers work through the COVID-19 situation.”

The library of information includes:

-A breakdown of COVID-19 so farmers can fully understand exactly what the virus is, how it is transmitted, the incubation period, and other information.

-A COVID-19 fact sheet that helps you best prevent it on the farm.

-Crisis planning resources that will help dairy producers through the crisis planning process and limit the impact on producers. 

-Stress and wellness resources to help dairy farm families cope with financial and farm stress, and find the support to keep moving forward.

-Financial planning resources to help producers better navigate the uncertainty with risk management tools.

The library of information will be continuously updated throughout the outbreak.

Dairy farmers can find information by clicking here.

Dairy farm broken into during coronavirus pandemic

The dairy farm in Bosque Farms we told you about earlier this week that was trying to keep up with the demand during the coronavirus pandemic is looking for the person responsible for stealing milk and eggs from their creamery.

Erica DeSmet, the owner of DeSmet Dairy Farm in Bosque Farms is disappointed after discovering someone had stolen from her business. 

She said after our story aired and one of the big grocery chains in the small town told their customers they were short on dairy products, someone stole four half gallons of milk and two dozen eggs Tuesday night.

They found out they were missing the next day when they were doing inventory. 

“I’ve got a lot of people that I think are in panic mode because they’re used to going to the grocery store and finding these items on the shelves and so I think there are a lot of people looking for alternative sources,” said DeSmet. 

DeSmet said they have 150 cows so they will always have enough dairy products for people. But said they are starting to limit the number of eggs due to the high demand from their new customers.

“I’ve already gotten several phone calls from him about people being upset that we don’t have eggs, threatening to not come back,” said DeSmet.  “I’ve dealt with things I haven’t had to deal with before.”

DeSmet said they’ve added more surveillance cameras and locks to their facility. Unfortunately, the crime was not caught on surveillance cameras but police are patrolling the dairy more. 

Source: KRQE

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