Indiana Boy’s Ayrshires Shine as Top Cow and Top Heifer at the Premier National Junior Show

Dillon Freeman, 15, of Bremen, Ind., swept the supreme pageant with home-bred animals at the Premier National Junior Show, part of the 2019 All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg. His Senior 3 Year Old, Nor-Bert Reinholt’s Lochin Vail ET, was named Supreme Champion Cow, while his fall yearling heifer class winner, Nor-Bert Lochin Vesta, took Supreme Champion Heifer honors.

Freeman is a 9th-grader at James Madison High, and enjoys fitting and farmwork. He was joined at the show by brother Dalton and sister Breanne.

Lochin Vail ET, an EX 91, previously secured honors as Grand Champion of the junior and open shows at the Ohio Spring Dairy Expo, as Grand Champion Junior at the Midwest Spring National, and Supreme Champion of the Indiana State Fair.

Premier National Junior Show Judges:

Ayrshire and Milking Shorthorn– Matt Henkes, Luana, Iowa

Brown Swiss – Sean Johnson, Glenville, York Co.

Guernsey – Neil Kittle, Winchester, Ontario

Holstein – Nathan Thomas, North Lewisburg, Ohio

Jersey and Red & White – Jason Lloyd, Middleburgh, N.Y.

Breed Champions:


Ayrshire – Nor-Bert Lochin Vesta, Dillon Freeman, Bremen, Ind.

Brown Swiss – Meadow Hill Winmore Award, Melia Santillanez, Clear Spring, Md.

Guernsey – Twincounty Whats on Tap-ET, Landree Fraley, Muncy, Lycoming Co., Pa.

Holstein –  BV-CW Doorman Lexi-ETS, Ella Hlavaty, Lititz, Lancaster Co., Pa.

Jersey – Big Guns Andreas Vienna, Lillian Franke, London, Ohio.

Milking Shorthorn – Hard Core Lottery Firework, Katelyn Taylor, Allenwood, Union Co., Pa.

Red and White – Knonaudale Lite My Fire-Red, Kaila Stoltzfus, East Earl, Lancaster Co., Pa.


Ayrshire – Nor-Bert Reinholts Lochin Vail ET, Dillon Freeman, Bremen, Ind.

 Brown Swiss – Top Acres Peppy Songbird ET, Kelly Manion, Scottsville, Ky.

Guernsey – Sniders Mentor Wildcat, Chase Cessna, New Enterprise, Bedford Co., Pa.

Holstein –  Webb View Lady Bell Wildthi, Landree Fraley, Muncy, Lycoming Co., Pa.

Jersey – Sugar Brook Joel Jeopardy, Kirsten Feusner, Ulster, Bradford Co., Pa.

Milking Shorthorn –  Valley View Oakleigh, Brittany Crawley, Gravette, Ark.

Red & White –Cherry-Lor Ladd Ripple-Red, Matthew Boop, Millmont, Union Co., Pa.


Live shipment of 5,000 Australian cattle halted over alleged ear tag tampering

A shipment of 5,000 cattle due to leave Victoria for China on the live export ship Yangtze Fortune has been halted by Australian officials. Photograph: Caroline Duncan Photography/AAP

Australian officials have halted a proposed shipment of 5,000 cattle over allegations that ear tags had been tampered with to circumvent China’s strict import protocols.

The dairy cattle were scheduled to leave Portland in southern Victoria on the live export ship Yangtze Fortune on 23 August, bound for China as breeding stock.

Instead they spent weeks in feedlots as federal agriculture officials told the live exporter to halt the consignment following allegations of tampering.

“This decision was due to the department’s concerns that elements of China’s strict export protocols had not been adhered to in relation to this specific consignment,” a Department of Agriculture spokesperson said. “This issue does not relate to any type of disease outbreak in Australia.”

The department said it was conducting a joint investigation with Agriculture Victoria and providing regular updates to authorities in China. It said it would not comment further while the investigation was under way.

The Portland Observer newspaper reported that the cattle were filling up local feedlots, but the department said they could be moved.

“There are no current restrictions on the domestic movement of the cattle,” a spokesman said. “This is a commercial decision for the exporter.”

It was understood that ear tags, used to trace the origin of cattle, were tampered with.

The Australian Live Export Council’s chief executive, Mark Harvey-Sutton, said the incident related to an alleged breach of Australia’s domestic traceability systems.

He said that halting the shipment was a “drastic action” that reflected the seriousness of the incident.

“Compliance with our integrity systems is paramount and if there has been a breach we hope the department investigates that thoroughly,” Harvey-Sutton told Guardian Australia. “But we would also like the department to conclude their investigation as soon as possible because it obviously does come at a significant cost to the exporter when consignments are held up.”

It comes amid calls for an urgent review of the live export supply chain system after Guardian Australia reported that another live exporter was under investigation for a supply chain breach in Indonesia.

Four Australian cattle, exported by Perth-based International Livestock Exports, were filmed being held down by ropes and slaughtered in a mosque car park. ILE said it believed the cattle had been sold by a “rogue person” at one of the 140 Indonesian facilities in its supply chain, and had suspended that facility.

The RSPCA’s senior policy officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow, said the incident was a stark reminder of the inherent risks of live export, and criticised attempts to shift blame onto Indonesian facilities.

“RSPCA Australia is also concerned about a trend in [exporter supply chain assurance system] non-compliance investigations where blame is being shifted to the in-market abattoir or facility, which is then periodically suspended to allow the exporter to simply move to the next abattoir down the road,” Goodfellow said.

“Given the number of breaches recorded against this exporter, this shows that there is simply no effective deterrent under the current ESCAS system. It is has become a system of managing animal cruelty incidents rather than stamping them out.

“At the end of the day, the exporter must be held accountable for such breaches as it is ultimately their decision as to what supply chains the animals are sent into.”


Dairy industry being set up for failure

Like my family before me, and following after me, I’ve always taken great pride in being a dairy farmer, and in the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry internationally.

My husband and I grew up in a generation where we had the opportunity to buy a farm and build our livelihoods on the land as our family had before us. It has been a privilege to forge an incredible career as a dairy farmer. My husband, Louis, and I are both award-winning dairy farmers and we’re proud of the mark we’ve made on the industry.

Sadly, the outlook for New Zealand’s primary sector is the worst that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t make this strong statement lightly, nor to scaremonger – but rather to reflect the policy settings under a virtue-signalling government which is setting the dairy industry up for failure. As a rural MP, but more importantly as a farmer, I won’t sit back and allow the ladder to be pulled up behind future generations of New Zealanders wanting to pave their way in the farming sector.

Like every industry, the environmental practices that were acceptable 30 years ago are not acceptable today. But farmers have responded to stricter environmental standards with major changes in farm practices and investment over the last 15 years to meet the ever-stricter demands of central and local government.

Dairy farmers have fenced and planted over 20,000 kilometres of waterways. As an industry, dairy has invested over a billion dollars on environmental improvements over the last five years. They have been running fertiliser budgets to calculate precisely how much fertiliser is needed on their farms. This has resulted in a reduction in fertiliser use per hectare.

The ongoing uncertainty of mycoplasma bovis has been thrust upon farmers who are already struggling beneath the heavy pile of environmental regulations and the stresses of turbulent times for our cooperatives, which has a very real impact on the livelihoods and retirement savings of every dairy farmer.

Westland Milk is now in the hands of private interests, something that the shareholders of the company would obviously have preferred to avoid. Fonterra has announced a $675 million loss, and the share price has dropped from $6.70 just a year and a half ago to less than $3.20. This has wiped out a huge chunk of the retirement savings for 10,000 Fonterra supplier shareholders.

Sadly, the picture being painted isn’t such a rosy one, but rather an outline of the massive drop in confidence we’re seeing in rural New Zealand.

We know that agriculture sector business confidence is low. Business confidence surveys show that if you asked 100 farmers if they are confident, neutral or pessimistic, 80 would tell you

they are more pessimistic than positive. This is worse than any sector in the last 14 years. It is no wonder rural mental health has become an even more pressing issue for me as a rural MP.

The government has been completely silent on this crisis of confidence. Their response has been warm words such as ‘Just Transition’.

The Government’s climate change targets are particularly worrying for farmers. In his first month as Climate Change Minister, James Shaw flew to Germany and announced New Zealand’s agriculture sector would be carbon neutral by 2050.

I respect the climate is changing, but we cannot afford to move faster than the rest of the world in our response. The world’s four largest emitters, China, the US, Russia and India, responsible for over half of global emissions, have not taken on such a target.

Too often decisions are made with little regard for the impact on the livelihoods of hardworking families. It is nothing short of incompetence if this government believes we can lead the world on climate change without any impact on the confidence and investment farmers will undertake. I often reflect that they need to be reminded that this sector represents 60 per cent of our exports as a nation. If we undermine farming, we undermine our entire economic fabric.

The oil and gas ban, close to home for me in Taranaki, as well as swift moves to halt coal and gold mining activities in Waihi and the West Coast, are other examples where the government preaches kindness and compassion, but shows no consideration for the impact of their decisions on the families working in export industries.

The irony of a Labour Party implementing policies which hurt working class New Zealanders has not been lost on me. We are slowly but surely becoming a nation with limited reliable economic industries to support the prosperity of New Zealand, and it’s about time we were honest about this.

The primary sector is rightly becoming increasingly wary of this government’s intentions. We will soon see the introduction of freshwater targets and certainly the burden of yet more obligations that our farmers will have to meet, with crippling effect.

Despite the ‘‘climate change is our nuclear-free moment’’ rhetoric of our Prime Minister and the radical green hype of her government partners, water quality is not solely a rural issue. I would comfortably propose urban centres could do more to grasp an understanding of the impact that their actions have on water quality. Every farmer I know is making an effort to ensure that their impact on their surroundings is, if anything, a positive one.

Before the end of the year, the Government hopes to pass the long awaited Zero Carbon Bill, new freshwater regulation, and an amendment bringing agriculture into the ETS. Individually, arguments will be made for and against each of these policies.

My challenge to the government is to look at this package as a whole and consider the message this is sending to a sector which remains our economic backbone and has already worn a huge amount of the burden of improved environmental performance over the last 15 years.

In my view, farmers are right to push back on these reforms if their collective impact on the sector is too much. I for one won’t roll over for this government without a fight.

The primary sector is rightly becoming increasingly wary of this government’s intentions.


Fonterra’s milk slide worsens in Oz

Fonterra’s Australian milk collection in July was down nearly 30%.

Fonterra’s woes are also worsening in Australia.

The cooperative kicked off the season there with a 28.9% decline in milk production as it continues to lose its collection share.

This was the percentage drop for the first month of the season, July, versus the same month last year. It represents a small percentage of the full year’s collection, Fonterra says in its latest Global Dairy Update.

However it admits its share of the milk collection continues to decline, impacted by intense competition for milk supply and the continued impact of the poor conditions on farm.

“The drought has led to an increase in cow cull rates, a significant number of farm retirements and a continuation of historically high input costs resulting in a material reduction of the Australian milk pool in FY19 (full year) versus FY18.”

Australia’s overall milk production is dropping but nothing like as steep as Fonterra is seeing

Australian milk production in the 2018-19 season (ending June 30, 2019) was 8.8 billion litres, down 5.7% from 9.3b litres the previous year, says Bonlac Suppy Company chairman John Dalton. This production is noticeably greater than Dairy Australia’s previous estimate of a fall of 7-9% to 8.45-8.65b litres.

Dairy Australia anticipates a further drop in national milk production of 3-5% to 8.3-8.5b litres during the 2019-20 season, due to continued high input costs and the reduced size of the national herd.

In New Zealand Fonterra’s milk collection was up 2.2% in July versus the same month last year and 4.7% for the season to the end of July. Season-to-date collections represent only about 2% of full season collections.

NZ’s total production was up 4.8% for July. Fonterra’s South Island collection is up 8.6% for the season to date and the North Island is up 4%. 

The update showed that European Union (EU) and US production is flat. 

The EU was up just 0.1% for the 12 months to June 2019 and the US was up just 0.3% for the 12 months.

Exports for the 12 months to the end of June from NZ grew by 8.4%, from Australia for the same period by 5.1% and the EU by 3.7%,  but the US was down by 6.3%.

Imports into the Middle East and Africa showed large declines of 24.5% for May versus the same month last year and 11.4% for the year to the end of May.

Asia, Latin America and China imports continued to grow, with China up 8.4% for the 12 months to June this year.

No China effects

Talk of economic slowdown in China has not yet affected dairy demand, says Open Country chief executive Steve Koekemoer. 

“We will deal with it if and when it happens,” he said. 

Results of the September 3 Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction support a view of price stability within the whole milk powder product range, he says. 

Participation levels were the highest in at least the last 18 months which is a good sign for demand.

“The dairy industry is not an easy industry to be in and volatility has been a constant for many years,” he said. 

“The food industry, like many, is changing fast and requires businesses to review their investments and strategies regularly. Our strategy and investment decisions remain sound for dairy ingredients for the foreseeable future.”

Open Country says it is looking towards another solid year and that its projects are tracking well. It is well positioned with its large customers and multinationals, who now “view us as a long term strategic partner”.


Global Dairy prices advance as milk powder price gains

Dairy product prices gained for a second consecutive trading in the past nine Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions on Wednesday.

The GDT price index advanced 2 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago. The average price was 3,303 U.S. dollars per tonne, compared with 3,255 dollars two weeks ago. 37,345 tonnes of product were sold, increased from 34,410 tonnes, compared two weeks ago.

Whole milk powder climbed 1.9 percent to 3,133 dollars per tonne.

“Strengthening prices seems linked to fewer volumes sold, compared with the previous event,” New Zealand stock market dairy analysts Robert Gibson highlighted.

At the latest GDT auction, rennet casein dipped 0.1 percent to 6,636 dollars per tonne, while lactose increased 5.6 percent to 770 dollars per tonne.

Anhydrous milk fat added 0.6 percent to 5,030 dollars a tonne, and butter jumped 2.7 percent to 4,129 dollars a tonne.

Meanwhile, cheddar rose 0.4 percent to 3,846 dollars a tonne.

Skim milk powder increased 3.4 percent to 2,599 dollars a tonne.

“Different from the market expectations, skim milk powder prices also increased at this event,” according to Gibson and Castleton.

Price of butter milk powder and sweet whey powder was not available at the latest auction.


Pennsylvania Cow Claims Senior and Grand Champion Red and White at the 2019 All-American Dairy Show

Cherry-Lor Ladd Ripple, owned by Matthew Boop, Milmont, Union Co., Pa., won Senior Champion and Grand Champion and Budjon-Vail HZ Lacey-Red-ET, owned by Allison Galton, Nunda, N.Y., won Senior Reserve Champion and Grand Reserve Champion on Monday, September 16 during the Premier National Junior Red & White Show, part of the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg.

Red & White class winners:

Spring Heifer Calf – Cherry-Lor Jordy Rippy-Red, Cael Hembury, Muncy, Lycoming Co., Pa.

Winter Heifer Calf – Reyncrest Savannah-Red-ET, Dakota Fraley, Muncy, Lycoming Co.,Pa.

Fall Heifer Calf – Cashells Un Cabernet-Red-E, Katelyn Nolt, Towanda, Bradford Co., Pa.

Summer Yearling Heifer – Oakfield US Ramona-Red-ET, Jarrett Welk, Quarryville, Lancaster Co., Pa.

Spring Yearling Heifer – Ranway Incred Dancer139-RE, Mallory Rhodes, Millport, N.Y.
Winter Yearling Heifer – Knonaudale Lite My Fire-Red-Can, Kaila Stoltzfus, East-Earl, Lancaster Co., Pa.

Fall Yearling Heifer (Not in Milk) – Gem-Rock Barbwire Essie-RE, Ainsley Sellers, Lebanon, Lebanon Co., Pa.

Junior Champion – Knonaudale Lite My Fire-Red-Can, Kaila Stoltzfus, East-Earl, Lancaster Co., Pa.

Reserve Junior Champion – Reyncrest Savannah-Red-ET, Dakota Fraley, Muncy, Lycoming Co.,Pa.

Yearling Heifer in Milk – Ovaltop Rlty Fay-Red, Justin Wolfe, Richfield Springs, N.Y.

Cow, Junior Two-Year-Old – Milksource Defiant Safari-R, Cameron Gross, Collins, N.Y.

Cow, Senior Two-Year-Old – Oakland-View Legacy-Red-ET, Natalie Youse, Ridgely, Md.

Cow, Junior Three-Year-Old – Savage-Leigh Classy-Red-ET, Connor Savage, Union Bridge, Md.

Cow, Senior Three-Year-Old – Luck-E Awesome Jacuzzi-Red Ian Briechle, Susquehanna, Susquehanna Co., Pa.

Intermediate Champion – Savage-Leigh Classy-Red-ET, Connor Savage, Union Bridge, Md.

Reserve Intermediate Champion – Cherry-Lor Awe Rippy-ET, Cael Hembury, Muncy, Lycoming Co., Pa.

Cow, Four Years Old –         Budjon-Vail HZ Lacey-Red-ET, Allison Galton, Nunda, N.Y.

Cow, Five Years Old – Cherry-Lor Ladd Ripple, Matthew Boop, Milmont, Union Co., Pa.

Cow, Six Years and Older- Jerland SH Godiva-Red-ET, Jacob Kline, Myerstown, Lebanon Co., Pa.

Senior Champion – Cherry-Lor Ladd Ripple, Matthew Boop, Milmont, Union Co., Pa.
Reserve Senior Champion – Budjon-Vail HZ Lacey-Red-ET, Allison Galton, Nunda, N.Y.

Grand Champion – Cherry-Lor Ladd Ripple, Matthew Boop, Milmont, Union Co., Pa.

Reserve Grand Champion – Budjon-Vail HZ Lacey-Red-ET, Allison Galton, Nunda, N.Y.

Taking a chance on dairy farming in Franklin County

Gus Tafel of Sidehill Farm in Hawley carefully measured grain from a trough for his cattle’s breakfast — a specific amount based on each cow’s milk production. In their stalls, the cows strained at the scent of food, swinging their heads from side to side in excited anticipation.

Outside the milking parlor, the morning air was crisp. Birds sang on overhead wires. Long shadows slanted across the farm’s 225 rolling acres. Across a field, amber tones tinged the green canopy of a distant treeline.

It’s not just the seasons that are changing on Sidehill Farm. Before the end of the year, Gus Tafel, 34, and his wife, Kyra Tafel, 36, intend to purchase the operation from farmers Amy Klippenstein and Paul Lacinski, who started Sidehill Farm in 2001. While signing is a cumulative step in both their respective careers in agriculture, it’s also a transition into murky economic territory.

“The dairy industry is in a pretty poor state. It’s a huge risk,” Tafel said about their plans.

Over the last 20 years or so, the number of dairy farms in Franklin County has thinned from around 75 to about 30. Nationally, the picture is no better — the United States Department of Agriculture reported recently that dairy operations nationwide had decreased by more than 2,700 farms in the last year, a drop of more than 6 percent.

Despite these sobering statistics, Gus Tafel said investing in agriculture in today’s world is a worthwhile endeavor — perhaps more important than ever.

“There’s a disconnect, now. People don’t (always) realize where their food is coming from,” he said. “It’s our passion. It’s what we think is important, so we have to try.”

An evolving industry

With the current decline in the national dairy industry, the economic machine of today’s agriculture industry in Franklin County is evolving yet again. It’s not the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. During the second half of the 20th century, Claire Morenon, communications manager with South Deerfield-based Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), said the farming industry changed drastically because of federal policies and increased globalization, among other stressors.

As a result, Franklin County farmers bowed under “the loss of regional wholesale markets and increased price competition,” Morenon said. Those changes drove farmers to diversify into direct sales markets. They built farm stands, founded CSAs and forged other revenue streams such as corn mazes or by producing value-added products like jams, vegetable pasta and beverages.

“When CISA was founded 26 years ago, it was because farmers and advocates for farmers were looking for local solutions to the challenges that farmers were dealing with as a result of those changes,” Morenon said.

Decades on, area farmers are facing another challenge: legacy continuity, as an older generation gives way to a younger one. Acold cording to 2012 Census of Agriculture data compiled by the American Farmland Trust, 92 percent of New England’s 10,369 senior farmers (representing 35 percent of total farms) don’t have a manager under 45 working with them. These senior farmers own a collective $6.45 billion in agricultural assets and steward 1.15 million acres of farmland. Over the next few decades, a 2016 report by the American Farmland Trust noted that “30 percent of New England’s farmers are likely to exit farming.” The land and assets they hold will change hands one way or another. This transition has already forced some farmers to shutter their barns altogether, according to Jason Silverman of Conway, a Massachusetts agent for Land For Good, an advocacy organization.

But there are also success stories, like that at Sidehill Farm.

Klippenstein and Lacinski broke into the agricultural business as first-generation farmers nearly two decades ago. They founded the farm as a vegetable operation, leasing land from more than a dozen different landowners before buying land in 2012 and starting the yogurt business. The brand grew “much faster than we ever expected,” Klippenstein said, noting they rode the “buy local” initiative that was pushed by CISA in response to Franklin County’s changing agricultural economy.

“People were really excited about it and grabbed onto the idea of local dairy. We went through a couple of years of enormous growth,” Klippenstein said.

Regional mainstay

These days, Sidehill Farm Yogurt is a regional mainstay. It’s identifiable purple and green containers can be found in supermarkets throughout Western Massachusetts. Now at a precipice of that growth, Klippenstein said they want to shift their attention from managing the land to making more yogurt.

“About a year ago, we decided that working 100 hours a week and two full-time jobs is not what we want for the long -term. We (want) to stick to the yogurt making,” Klippenstein said.

To that end, they began searching for younger farmers looking to purchase land last September. They posted an advertisement on their website and connected earlier this summer with Gus and Kyra Tafel, who were searching for their next business endeavor after managing bovines on a number of farms in upstate New York. Most importantly, according to Klippenstein, they shared their vision of organic farming.

As part of a transition agreement, the Tafels began working on the farm in June as employees to “learn the systems” and to ensure a good match, Lacinski said. Their working relationship so far “is feeling like validation.”

Pinned to an office wall behind Lacinski was a map outlining their property. In a room next door, two Sidehill Farm Yogurt employees, Shahid Jalil and Chris Ryan, added maple syrup to a 900-gallon vat of plain yogurt. Outside, more than 100 grass-fed Normande and Jersey cows ranged as far as the eye could see, producing enough milk to make thousands of gallons of yogurt each week.

The Tafels intended to purchase the Hawley farm using a Food Safety and Drug Administration farming loan. While they were applying for it, however, Klippenstein said they ran into a problem because they didn’t have the 30 percent down-payment required to qualify. To circumvent the fiscal conundrum, Klippenstein said they connected with Dirt Capital Partners, a mission-driven investment firm and technical partner for farmers around land access, transition and conservation, according to Benneth Phelps of Sunderland, director of farmer services at the national firm.

The investment “allowed them to buy a $1 million-plus dairy farm,” Klippenstein said.

According to Phelps, “Gus and Kyra Tafel are skilled young farmers who had lost their milk market in N.Y., and we’re fortunate that due to the (Pioneer) Valley’s business and market opportunities, they have joined us here in the region,” she said. “When we sat down to discuss finding successors for the farm, Paul Lacinski and Amy Klippenstein had a vision grounded in reality about creating an opportunity for young farmers, and they were realistic about the timing and factors involved. Passing on the farm is an emotional step for all farmers.”

In this case, Phelps noted that Dirt Capital is providing transaction due diligence, facilitation and flexible financing for the Hawley farmers. It’s not the first time she’s helped facilitate such a transition.

“Retiring farmers face decisions about how to sell their farm or transfer their business. Viability plays a key role,” she said. To that end, “Dirt Capital (works) with farms approaching a family or non-family transition if there is a transition agreement in place; the business is viable and will still be viable after the transition.”

Moving forward and once the documents are signed, Kyra and Gus Tafel will run the day-to-day operations on the farm and will sell their milk to Lacinski and Klippenstein — continuing a symbiotic relationship that is the farm’s “financial engine,” Klippenstein said. Without it, Kyra Tafel said the business move might not have made sense.

“This is a really unique situation, here — the sale of Sidehill, the combination of the business and the farm and the two relying on each other,” she said. “It’s everything we were already doing, plus a contract for our milk, which was what we needed.”

Fragile dairy industry

In their decade or so of farming together in New York, first working on organic farms and then starting their own, Kyra Tafel, who grew up in a non-farming family in Connecticut and studied agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said they’ve experienced just how fragile the dairy industry can be. Gus Tafel grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York and studied carpentry before following in his parents’ footsteps.

“We started our farm with a goal of starting small … and gradually building up over time. We couldn’t just jump into buying a farm, especially with no guarantee of a market,” Kyra Tafel said.

Previously, Gus Tafel said they owned about 40 acres of land and ran a dairy operation through a three-year milk contract with a New York buyer, selling organic milk at a premium.

“But it was only for three years. We knew very well that the history of dairy was up and down, up and down,” she said. “When we started off, we were getting paid 36 cents per hundredweight. Three years later when we lost our contract, we were down to 21 cents per hundredweight.”

In contrast to the unstable business plan within which they operated in New York, which was reliant on selling product outside of the region, “Being that Sidehill is right here in the market, the milk goes right from the farm to the creamery and it is marketed to locals,” Kyra Tafel said. “This is a local farm, and you can go and see it if you want. … That’s what’s behind the product, and we think that’s great. It’s more secure than other businesses in the dairy industry. We didn’t have that when we started our first farm. It was uncertainty.”

While they differ somewhat in their approaches to farming, Klippenstein said they share the same farming values — a commitment to organic farming practices and to managing the land in a sustainable way.

“We each have something to bring to this. This really is going to be a partnership,” Klippenstein said. “Maybe the details will change, but the principles will stay the same, and that’s what’s important.”

Now that they don’t have to worry about birthing calves, haying or daily milking anymore, Lacinski said they’ll spend more time experimenting with new yogurt flavors (perhaps using locally produced fruit) and pushing into new markets. The transition, once it’s solidified, will ensure that Sidehill Farm and its symbiotic yogurt business continues its legacy for the foreseeable future — even if the dairy industry is in a state of decline right now.

“People will hold up their 3-year-and say ‘This baby is 80-percent Sidehill Farm Yogurt,” Lacinski joked. “That feels pretty good.”


Wisconsin dairy farmer finds new purpose

The dairy crisis continues in Wisconsin. In 2018, more than 2,700 dairy farms in the U.S. went out of business, with nearly a third of those closures taking place in Wisconsin, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. So far this year, more than 300 dairy farms in the dairy state shut down between January and May.

There are many factors involved in the reason farms close. Family farms are at the mercy of trade wars, the economy and Americans consuming less milk. Off of County Road M in Barre Mills in La Crosse County you’ll find acres and acres of farmland on what’s left of the Lane Creek Dairy Farm.

“It’s always kind of a jolt to see it empty,” Johanna Berg said as she walked through what used to be their free stall barn to milk their dairy cows.

In 2017, the Berg’s made the tough decision to quit the dairy business. “The money was not there. The bills were getting larger, the milk check was sometimes at a zero amount when it would come in the mail,” said Berg.

Dairy farming was their life, “farming is everybody’s bread and butter,” said Johanna’s husband Jeff, who grew up on the farm.

“We used to bring our kids out here in their stroller in the middle of the barn as we milked the cows,” said Johanna. The Berg’s raised their four children on the land.

A majority of that land had to be sold. “It was difficult to look out the window out there and know that that wasn’t ours anymore. You lose your animals and what you thought was your legacy to your children and their children.”

And they aren’t the only ones going through this, “used to be everybody milked cows, farm here farm there but now there’s like nobody left,” added Jeff.

It just one year before they sold that the Berg’s hosted the La Crosse County Dairy Breakfast. But even then they knew times were tough.

Today their outlook is still positive. “So we know on one hand even though it wasn’t our decision to sell the animals, the farm, we realize now it’s working out okay. That’s the way it needs to be right now. We couldn’t have kept on going with his health,” said Johanna.

Jeff was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 30 years ago.  “Actually the week before we got married I told her to run. She stayed,” said Jeff with a smile.

They’re tackling life’s obstacles together.  “We sold at a good time… a good thing for us, maybe not what we wanted at the time but now we’re okay with it. Not everybody gets that choice,” explained Johanna.

Their hope for other farmers facing the same circumstances is that they are free to make the choice to close on their own and to do a job they love for as long as they choose. “It’s not your fault. We’re giving it all we can, we gave it all we can and it wasn’t enough.”

For now, they are still seeing the beauty in life and hoping that other farmers can make it through these hard times and find a new purpose like they have.

Johanna and her daughter are re-purposing and selling old barn wood, candles and other barn items as a hobby. The Berg’s sell the items they make in the barn on weekends. You can follow them on Facebook.


Milk Futures Fall as a Result of Weaker Global Trade and Cheese Loses Tuesday in Chicago

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Tuesday brought the recent run-up in milk futures to an end as both futures and cash prices closed mostly lower.  October gave back much of its gains, down limit move of 75 cents to $18.99 per cwt. September only fell 5 to $18.29, and November lost 58 cents to $18.15 per cwt. 2020 markets also sharply lower, Jan- March falling 25-34 cents to average at $16.53 per cwt. Class IV milk was weaker as well. September and October were unchanged at $16.33 and $16.48, but November fell 24 cents to $16.55 per cwt.

The cheese market giveth and the cheese market taketh away.  Blocks down $0.0675 at $2.17. Eight trades were made ranging from $2.17 and $2.24. Barrels down $0.05 at $1.89. Dry whey unchanged at $0.3975. Butter down $0.0575 at $2.15. Three trades were made ranging from $2.15 to $ 2.18.25. Nonfat dry milk up $0.0150 at $1.07. Eight trades were made ranging from $1.0650 to $1.07.

Belgian dairy farmers call for a fair price for milk

The saying goes: Don’t cry over spilled milk, but these farmers say they simply can’t carry on at current prices.

This demonstration is to mark the 10 year anniversary of a protest which saw Belgian dairy farmers spray 3 million litres of milk over the very same field they’re in now.

“We are exactly in the same situation as the dairy producers ten years ago, when they didn’t have quotas anymore, and had to work below their production costs; so they lost money producing milk,” Jean-Jo Rigo, a farmer tells our reporter.

Around 600 tractors from across Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands turning up to voice their demands for production quotas which they hope would boost prices.

The difference between this protest and ten years ago is that it isn’t only dairy farmers who brought their tractors out to the field, it’s also pig, cattle, sheep and arable farmers who are all unhappy about the pricings.

The farmers say the EU’s trade deals with Canada and the Latin American Mercusor bloc are flooding European markets.

They say citizens must boycott all imported produce and only shop locally.

“The European agricultural policy is the only policy that is totally integrated in the EU, and moreover, that is used by the European trade direction as leverage in international treaties,” Hugues Falys – FUGEA tells Euronews.

The European Commission has just launched a fresh set of measures aimed at forcing transparency around the pricing of produce.

But the farmers say unless more action is taken to support them when the EU’s agricultural policy is renewed post-2020, they’re feelings towards those in power will remain sour.


Copenhagen farm family recovers from devastating fire; love of dairy shines through

Construction workers lay roofing on the skeleton structure of the Kennel family’s new barn on Thursday in Copenhagen. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

Once the smoke had cleared and the immediate shock wore off after the devastating barn fire that took a family’s main livelihood, new opportunities and a renewed commitment to a tough industry shone through

“I hope I’m farming when it’s all done. That’s where my heart is,” said Walt Kennel the morning of April 27, as the blaze that took 550 of the dairy cows belonging to he and his wife, Doris, was still smoldering, and the family was considering their next steps.

The decision to re-build the barn and replenish the herd didn’t, however, turn out to be the most difficult part, according to Mrs. Kennel.

Weighing options, comparing prices, quality, customer service and myriad other options for every part of the new barn was overwhelming at times for the family.

“Now that all of the decisions have been made, it’s exciting,” Mrs. Kennel said.

Insurance covered rebuilding costs, according to Mr. Kennel, and the company was very helpful.

“Everything just came together,” one of the Kennel’s sons, Tim, said, “Everybody rolls with the punches in dairy. There are always challenges. This was just a bigger challenge.”

In the largest loss of livestock to a barn fire in recent memory, 550 cows were killed in a blaze at Walt and Doris Kennel’s farm at 8711 State Route 12 in Copenhagen. Watertown Daily Times

On Aug. 24, W.L. Moser Construction led by Wendell Moser began the new barn and by Sept. 12, metal panels were being mounted on the 116-foot by 482-foot wooden frame.

“We added about eighteen feet onto the back of the barn,” the younger Mr. Kennel said, “We just needed a few more stalls.”

Rather than rebuild exactly what was lost, the family also decided to invest in adding a separate milking parlor to the farm’s buildings instead of milking in the main barn, which was “cheap but not so efficient.”

“We’re going a bit beyond what we had before. If you’re going to stay in it, you have to keep moving forward,” he said.

The cows will be the biggest beneficiaries of change, Tim Kennel said, with better ventilation and motorized back scratchers because, without happy cows, there is no business.

The family has already bought 250 cows, with 300 still to come, but Tim said it takes time to find the right cattle dealer with the right herd at the right price so the rest of the herd will wait until the barn is finished.

Focusing on surviving the income loss since the fire while they rebuilt and ensuring they haven’t had to let go any of their workers, the family is eager to get milking again as soon as possible and so will move cows in as soon as the first half of the barn is built to get started.

The Kennel family credits their ability to rebuild relatively quickly and survive the financial hardships largely to the people in their lives.

“Friends and family are all pitching in some,” Tim Kennel said, “It’s a testament to our community around here. Lewis County is a great place to live.”

For the fact that both he and his brother had no desire to leave the farm, but wanted to stay with the family, he gave the kudos to two specific people.

“It’s a credit to our parents,” he said, “There are no guarantees, but it’s a great place for a family, to raise kids on the farm. We enjoy the community, we enjoy the work and we have an opportunity to do it.”

By November, the younger Mr. Kennel said, the new barn is expected to be finished and, hopefully, have every stall filled with a happy cow.


Is A2 milk the future of dairy?

Jersey cows are more likely to naturally have the A2/A2 gene that creates A2 milk.

While consumers might just be jumping on to the A2 milk bandwagon, some dairy farmers have been riding it for nearly a decade.

More milk with the A2 label is making its way to the stores, along with claims that it’s easier to digest and causes less intestinal discomfort than regular milk.

It’s a niche market for now, but some see it as the future of fluid milk.

It’s all about genetics

People who are lactose intolerant are unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. But A2 milk is all about a protein.

Milk has different types of proteins, one of which is called casein, said Maurice Eastridge, a professor and extension dairy specialist at Ohio State University.

Depending on the cow’s genetics, it could produce the A1 beta casein, A2 beta casein or both in its milk.

Certain breeds, like Guernsey and Jersey, naturally are more likely to have the A2/A2 gene that produces only the A2 beta casein in milk.

Regular A1 milk has a mix of both the A1 and A2 proteins. Milk marketed as A2 only has the A2 protein.

Eastridge said the dairy community has known about the different types of proteins for years. A few decades ago, researchers began looking into how the A2 protein might impact dairy products.

The A2 difference

The a2 Milk Company, founded in New Zealand in 2000, began selling milk containing only the A2 protein in the U.S. in 2015 in California. This year, it reached national distribution.

Farmers and consumers often point to the book Devil in the Milk by Keith Woodford, published in 2007, as what turned them on to the A2 milk difference.

The book makes claims that regular A1 milk is connected with a number of serious illnesses, including heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism and schizophrenia.

What scientific literature points to is less extreme.

Eastridge said some studies show that milk consumed that has a higher A2 protein content creates less inflammation in the intestine, and presumably less intestinal discomfort.

Other studies show there isn’t a difference in consuming regular milk with the A1 protein or A2 milk in terms of intestinal discomfort or digestibility.

“The data is mixed,” he said. ‘But it does have the attention of consumers. And it does have the attention of the dairy industry.”

A new study at Purdue University, funded jointly by National All-Jersey and the a2 Milk Company, is looking into the digestibility of different milks in people who are lactose intolerant.

The study, headed by nutrition policy professor Dennis Savaiano, will compare four milks — A2 milk, conventional A1 milk, Jersey milk and lactose-free milk, said Erick Metzger, general manager for National All-Jersey.

The study is supposed to conclude sometime this fall.

It takes time

Regardless of the surety of the science behind it, dairies are making the switch to breeding for the A2/A2 gene and selling milk marketed as containing only the A2 protein.

Heather Fuston, marketing director for Snowville Creamery, said they switched to A2 milk after one of the founders of the company read Devil in the Milk and began researching the possible benefits of A2.

Snowville Creamery is based in Pomeroy, Ohio, in Meigs County, and receives milk from three farms that. In addition to A2, they also market their milk as coming from cows that are allowed to graze and use non-GMO feeds.

Switching to A2 isn’t something that can happen overnight.

“We had to give our farmers multiple years’ notice that this was something we wanted to work towards,” Fuston said. “It required them to breed the genetics into their existing herd or replace their cows with cows with A2.”

Snowville began selling A2 milk in 2015, she said. A half gallon retails between $4.99 and $5.49. Their milk is also non-homogenized and minimally processed, which may also make a difference with digestibility, Fuston said.

“All the time people tell us ‘I thought I was lactose intolerant, and yours is the only milk I can drink now,’” she said.

Niche market, for now

Vickie Baker, owner of Maple Bottom Farm, said she began breeding her cows to only A2 bulls about eight years ago.

The farm, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, milks all major dairy breeds, but is focusing now on its Guernseys. She read Devil in the Milk and heard Guernsey breeders talking about the A2 protein years ago.

“When I started asking which bulls were A2 from [artificial insemination] companies, the guys looked at me like they didn’t know what I was talking about,” she said. But that’s changed now that others are showing an interest in the A2 gene.

Baker sees A2 milk as the only way to grow the fluid milk market. There’s no downside to breeding for the A2 gene, and the upside is that possibly more people can comfortably drink the milk.

Baker is in the process of forming a Guernsey co-op with six dairies to sell “golden Guernsey” milk. The milk will also likely have a higher A2 content that regular milk, but they’re not marketing it as A2, Baker said.

“We know golden Guernsey has a place in the niche market,” she said. “It won’t be in every refrigerator. But we know people are looking for milk they can drink and looking for smaller scale.”

A tangible difference

Indian Creek Creamery, in De Graff, Ohio, began bottling their own non-homogenized milk in February and sells both A2 and regular A1 milk, said Ella King, who helps run the farm owned by her parents, Ray and Colleen Jackson.

The Jacksons, in Logan County, began breeding for the A2 gene about five years ago. King said she did a research paper on A2 milk in college and talked to her parents about pursuing it.

Just over 20 of their 80 milking cows now have the A2 gene. They too put a focus on non-GMO feed, grazing and minimal processing for their milk.

“We were seeing that it might start to become a bigger thing,” she said.

Their A2 milk sells for about 75 cents more per half gallon than their regular A1 milk. The retail price for their A2 milk is around $4, she said.

They’ve heard good things from people who drink it, but the demand for A2 shows in the sales.

“In some areas, it’s crazy how well the A2 sells,” King said.

They’ve found it sells especially well around bigger cities.

“It’s a real tangible thing,” she said. “There’s all kinds of marketing things, like organic or non-GMO. But at least with A2, you can genetically test for it. That’s intriguing.”


Wisconsin first state to to try to stop the mislabeling of dairy products

The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association is applauding three state lawmakers for new legislation designed to stop the use of misleading labels on imitation milk and other “dairy” products. The legislation would ban the labeling of products as milk or as a dairy product or ingredient if the food was not made from the milk of a cow, sheep, goat, or other mammals.

“The plant-based food industry increasingly masquerades its products as real dairy foods,” says DBA President Tom Crave, DBA President. “This mislabeling confuses customers who often make judgments about a food’s nutritional value based on its name. Milk is milk and cheese is cheese, customers deserve transparency.”

A recent national survey about imitation cheese confirms customer confusion. About one-quarter of customers mistakenly think plant-based products that mimic cheese contain milk. About one-quarter of customers purchase plant-based foods that mimic cheese because they believe them to be low in calories and fat, as well as without additives. The reality is plant-based foods contain a comparable amount of fat and calories and substantially more additives than dairy cheeses.


NY dairy farmers and legislators having a cow over potential chocolate milk ban

Dairy farmers and local legislators are asking for answers after a recent proposal to ban chocolate milk in New York City schools.

Legislators say the ban would greatly hurt the dairy industry of the Southern Tier. Local dairy farmer Judi Whittaker of Whittaker Farms is concerned about the proposal.

“Why would you consider taking choices from children that is encouraging them to consumer a healthy product, white or chocolate, why would you take a choice away from a child like that,” said Whittaker.

Whittaker Farms has been in business for over 100 years, but the potential ban, would greatly hurt sales.

“It’s all going to affect us, because if they take away the chocolate component, that’s less consumption that’ll be going on. It’s going to lower consumption and the amount of milk they’ll be buying,” said Whittaker.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle, are calling the ban ridiculous, slamming New York City Bill DeBlasio.

“I don’t know how someone running for president expects to relate to folks in rural Iowa, when you’re sticking it to dairy farmers in upstate New York, your home state. Recognize the important nutritional benefits that chocolate milk provides, and make sure it’s an option for students in New York City schools,” said Representative Anthony Brindisi.

Source: WBGN

Dairy farming a labor of love, but not financially sustainable for farmers

Sixty-five-year-old David Duprey has been a dairy farmer almost his entire life. It’s the life he has built, the life he knows, and the life he’s not yet ready to give up, even if it’s not the most lucrative.

“Dairy farming is not easy,” Duprey said. “You put in a lot, but you don’t get back anywhere near as much, except satisfaction.”

Duprey is a third-generation dairy farmer. He lives in the house and on the land where his grandparents lived and farmed, and then, his parents. His son helps on the farm, when he’s not working his full-time job. His two daughters live near Boston and have careers there.

Sunbrite Farm at 144 Eden Trail in Bernardston was passed down to Duprey after his father died. Today, Duprey owns about 100 acres — 70 are woodland and 30 are pasture and hay. To keep the cows fed, they also rent another 75 acres for haymaking.

“He died when I was a kid,” Duprey said of his father. “He started farming after he was in the service. I watched him work hard, and I helped. But I never knew just how hard it was until I took over.”

Duprey’s father died from a brain tumor. He said he was only 12 years old at the time, so his mother rented the land to farmers, though that never lasted long.

“It sat idle for a long time,” he said.

When Duprey graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he decided he wanted to try dairy farming on his own.

“I didn’t know what else to do,” he said.
Cost of living

Duprey, like many other dairy farmers in Franklin County and across the state, said dairy farming has always kept a roof over his and his family’s heads, but not much else. His wife, Deborah Barton-Duprey, 64, has always had to work a full-time job off of the farm to keep food on the table and for the health insurance.

“We raised three kids,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without her working off of the farm.”

Barton-Duprey said though she has always worked off the farm, she has also helped on the farm when she could. For instance, she helps her husband and son get the cows ready for milking.

Selling milk, the couple gets a paycheck every two weeks for their efforts. They have 120 cows and are milking about half of those (56). Forty are young stock, so they’ll be milked in another year or two.

Duprey said what they get paid for the milk doesn’t cover the cost of living, even for just the two of them now that their three children are grown.

“You do this because you love it,” he said.

Duprey said he receives around $18 for 100 pounds (11.6 gallons) of milk. That’s the price at this time, though he said it fluctuates from day to day — sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.

He, his wife and son, plus the three part-timers who work for him milking every morning and every evening, produce about 3,800 a day. A single cow can produce up to 65 to 70 pounds each day.

“The amount they produce can change each day, too,” he said. “A heat wave can knock down production. So can other things.”
‘We’ll keep doing what we’re doing’

Duprey said it’s almost impossible for someone to start dairy farming at this point, because of all of the costs and little return financially.

“It’s a lot of manual labor and you’re always looking for ways to make things more labor-efficient,” he said. “You need machines that help lighten the load. You need a milking parlor. Unless you have a lot of money to begin with, you’re not going to get rich doing it, so not a lot of young people are looking at it as an option.”

When he first started dairy farming, it was extremely labor-intensive, so there was a much higher turnover of employees. He said dairy farmers have struggled with that for years.

Duprey said a state incentive program has helped him buy equipment and invest in the farm over the years.

“I’m not sure what we would have done without the program” he said. “It was getting to the point of ‘I have to fix these things or quit,’ when the program assisted with some money to fix them.”

He has used the program twice in 10 years to borrow money that he could pay back slowly and at a good rate.

Barton-Duprey, who does the bookkeeping for the business, along with working a full-full time job off the farm, said she loves the farm, too. It has taught her to be frugal, and she knows how much her husband loves what he does, so that makes it all worth it.

“I grew up in Leyden,” she said. “I always worked two jobs when I was old enough, so I could pay my bills and buy whatever I wanted. The way you live on a dairy farm put stress on the marriage in early years, because I couldn’t do that any longer. But I learned you don’t do something like this for the money.”

Duprey said he’ll see how things go. He said he has no intention of retiring at this point, but you never know.

“We’ll keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We’ll keep equipment purchases to the bare minimum and spend time taking care of the cows because, after all, they pay the bills.”

Duprey said the only advice he can give someone who is either thinking about starting a dairy farm or taking one over is to not think they have to get really big really fast and to realize you need an outside income to keep it going.

He worries about the future of dairy farming. He’s not sure any of his children will end up taking over his farm, and he said it’s the same with many other dairy farmers he knows.
Family tradition

According to Claire Morenon, communications manager at Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture in South Deerfield, land costs are high in Western Massachusetts and dairy farmers do not get paid well, so it makes it difficult to survive financially.

Currently, there are 29 (bovine only) dairy farms in Franklin County. There are 142 across the state, with half of those in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. She said dairy farms make up about 2 percent of all farms in Massachusetts and 3 percent of the farms in the Pioneer Valley, while they make up 18 percent of agricultural activity. Twenty percent of the milk in the state is produced by Massachusetts dairy farms.

“Dairy farmers are anchor tenants,” she said. “They manage a lot of land and livestock, but get little for what they do. They still have all of the costs other farmers have, like equipment maintenance. So, many of them are closing their doors.”

Morenon said it’s an emotional issue for farmers, because they take what they do seriously, love it so much and many have done it for as long as they can remember, so deciding to stop can be quite traumatic, especially if generations before them were dairy farmers, as well.

“It’s a family tradition for most dairy farmers,” she said. “Not many, if any, new farmers will choose dairy.”

Morenon said the process of producing and selling milk is efficient. Farmers milk the cows — some are turning to robotics to make it even more efficient — and trucks pick it up at the farm and get it to nearby plants, like Cabot and Hood. There is at least a “splash” of Massachusetts milk, and in many cases it’s local, in the milk people drink in Franklin County. Milk is collected from all over the state and combined.

“It’s a well-functioning infrastructure,” Morenon said. “But, there are big, regional meetings that are happening to discuss how dairy farmers can stay in business. Farmers are always thinking about how they can maintain the status quo and make it even better. The industry needs to be stabilized. They’re just not making enough money to survive.”

Morenon said many dairy farmers have started to diversify, so they have other sources of income to fall back on, like ice cream stands and crops they never grew before.

“They’re just not on stable ground and that’s sad,” she said. “They’re just not as visible as other types of farmers because they don’t sell their products directly to the public; so, for instance, you don’t see them at farmers markets selling milk.”

The challenge, Morenon said, will be helping farmers find a way to make it possible to pass their farms on to the next generation and keep the industry viable.

Duprey said he hopes that’s possible.

“We’ll see how it goes over the next few years,” he said. “I’d like to keep doing it a few more years, at least. It all depends on how I feel. Then, we’ll see what happens after I decide to retire.”


Dairy Defined: With Demand at 56-Year High, “Death of Dairy” is a Myth

Dairy is facing challenges. In a crowded beverage marketplace, per-capita fluid milk consumption in the U.S. is down by a quarter in the past 20 years, and the number of U.S. dairy farms dropped 6.8 percent in 2018.

That’s one part of the story. But a more accurate picture of the health of the dairy industry is much brighter than the doom and gloom conjured from selective use of data. No matter what critics may say, attempts to craft a “death of dairy” narrative are mistaken.

Looking more broadly than milk in a glass, per-capita dairy consumption has been on the rise since the 1970s, according to USDA data. Last year’s level – 646 pounds per person – was the most popular year for dairy in the U.S. since 1962.

Individual products tell similar stories. Cheese per-capita consumption has tripled since 1971. Butter is at its highest per-capita use since 1968. Contrast that with nose-diving sales of margarine, the longest-established “plant-based” dairy alternative, which in 2010 was at its lowest per-capita consumption since 1942. After that, the federal government stopped tracking it altogether.

Milk, like every other beverage, exists in a competitive marketplace. Bottled water, orange juice, energy drinks, and yes, plant-based dairy imposters, all compete for shelf space. But spinning a segmenting beverage market into a “declining dairy” narrative is disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst. Just like Mark Twain when he said of an erroneous news story, “The report of my death was an exaggeration,” dairy is very much alive — and on the rise. ­­­


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

China’s Mengniu to buy baby formula maker Bellamy’s for $1 billion

Mengniu Dairy offered 1.5 billion Australian dollars ($1 billion) to buy infant formula maker Bellamy’s Australia in an all-cash deal.

One of China’s biggest dairy companies is gearing up for a massive takeover of an Australian baby formula maker.

Mengniu Dairy has offered 1.5 billion Australian dollars ($1 billion) to buy infant formula maker Bellamy’s Australia, the companies said Monday. Bellamy’s said its board had unanimously recommended shareholders vote to accept the all-cash bid, which represented a 59% premium to the company’s closing price on Friday.

The deal is still subject to approval from Australian regulators.

Shares in Mengniu slumped 2.8% in Hong Kong on Monday, dragging down the broader Hang Seng Index (HSI), which was down about 1%. Shares in Bellamy’s soared 55% in Sydney.

Mengniu is «an ideal partner for our business. It offers a strong platform for distribution and success in China, and a foundation for growth in the organic dairy and food industry in Australia,» Andrew Cohen, Bellamy’s CEO, said in a press release.

Bellamy’s brand position and supply chain are «critical to Mengniu,» said Jeffrey Minfang Lu, Mengniu’s CEO, adding that the Chinese company wants to grow Bellamy’s sales in Australia and the broader Asia Pacific region.

Earlier this year, China’s top economic planning body said it wants domestic production of baby formula to be above 60% within three years. Domestic infant and toddler milk formula accounted for about 44% of the market in 2018, according to data analytics company Nielsen.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission also said the country will improve the quality of infant formula to boost consumer confidence, state-run news agency Xinhua reported in June.

Infant formula has been a source of controversy in China in the past.

In 2008, tainted milk in China killed at least six babies and sickened about 300,000 others. Raw milk used to produce powdered baby formula had been watered down and the chemical melamine was added to fool quality checks. More than a decade later, some Chinese parents are still wary of local dairy brands.

The global baby food and infant formula market was worth $52.9 billion in 2018, according to a recent report from China was the largest importer of baby formula, according to the market research firm.

Source: CNN

Dairy industry pushes back against new manure storage rules

The Wisconsin dairy industry raised a stink Monday over potential new restrictions on manure storage, insisting the regulations would make life harder on struggling farmers and force them to relocate.

State agriculture officials have been working for nearly three years on new farm siting standards. If the governor and Legislature approve the standards local governments could impose them as local ordinances or ignore them.

Regardless, industry advocates say the changes would have a chilling effect on factory farm expansion at a time when farmers are already grappling with low milk prices. The new standards would be so onerous that farmers could move to other states, a coalition of agricultural groups said during a state Capitol news conference.

“Adoption of this rule without change will simply put a halt to livestock expansion in the state,” said Cindy Leitner, president of the Wisconsin Dairy Alliance, which represents factory farms.

The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection adopted regulations in 2006 that set up a minimum 350-foot minimum distance between manure pits on farms with 500 or more animals and neighbors’ property lines. If a local government permits farms it must apply the state standards. So far 134 local governments have imposed the standards, according to DATCP figures.

Things changed in April when a DATCP advisory committee concluded a 350-foot minimum doesn’t protect residences, schools and other high-use areas such as playgrounds from odors.

Under the proposal, new farms with at least 500 animals as well as farms looking to expand to at least 500 animals to place manure storage facilities between 600 feet and 2,500 feet from neighbors’ property lines depending on the size of the herd.

Farms could reduce the setback by taking steps to mitigate the stench, such as using anaerobic digesters and injecting manure into the ground rather than spreading it.

The agricultural groups sent a letter last week to DATCP arguing nothing shows the new approach will be workable. For example, farmers could be forced to fit manure facilities thousands of feet from a neighbor’s empty field rather than a residence, they said.

They also accused DATCP of not running tests on how the new setbacks would affect farms and lamented that farmers would have to purchase expensive odor-mitigation equipment to reduce setback distances.

“The changes would … send a message that we don’t want modern dairy farms in our state,” Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association, said at the news conference.

Sara Walling, administrator of DATCP’s agricultural resource management division, said the department doesn’t want to run anyone out of Wisconsin. She stressed that the changes would apply only to new farms and farmers looking to expand. Still, the department is poring over public comments on regulations with an eye toward tweaks, she said.

“We intend to take all of this into consideration,” Walling said. “This is a balancing act we’re trying to strike (between) the interest of the farm and the community in which it resides.”

DATCP plans to submit a final version of the regulations to its board in November. If the board signs off the regulations would go next to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers for approval. A green light from the governor would send the package to the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff didn’t immediately respond to an email asking if the governor supports the changes. Mike Mikalsen, an aide to Republican state Sen. Steve Nass, co-chairman of the Legislature’s rules committee, also didn’t immediately respond to an email.


Mixed Markets in Chicago Monday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures surged again higher on higher cash cheese prices. September Class III milk up three cents at $18.34. October up 54 cents at $19.72. November 38 cents higher at $18.73. December up 23 cents at $17.83. January through April contracts eight to 16 cents higher.

Dry whey unchanged at $0.3975. Blocks up $0.0325 at $2.2375. Three trades were made at $2.2150 and $2.23. Barrels up $0.02 at $1.94. One trade was made at that price. Butter down $0.0150 at $2.2075. Nonfat dry milk unchanged at $1.0550. One trade was made at that price.

Four farmers die after climbing into a noxious manure tank

This picture shows manure collection vats used to heat a farm in western France. Authorities believe the manure tank that the men drowned in was used to collect fertiliser. Four Indian nationals have died after they drowned in a manure tank near Milan

Four men have drowned in a manure tank on an Italian farm.

Officials believe three of the men, who were all of Indian descent, were overcome by carbon dioxide gases after they jumped in to rescue the man who fell ill while cleaning the tank.     

The accident happened at the Singh dairy farm at Arena Po, roughly 30 miles from Milan.

This picture shows manure collection vats used to heat a farm in western France. Authorities believe the manure tank that the men drowned in was used to collect fertiliser. Four Indian nationals have died after they drowned in a manure tank near Milan 

It is reported that the farm, owned by two of the victims, Prem Singh, 48, and his brother Tarsem Singh, 45, was one of the biggest in the Pavia region. 

Two of their farm workers, Arminder Singh, 29, and Majinder Singh, 28, also drowned.

While the farm produced milk and veal, investigators believe the manure was collected to fertilise the fields. 

The accident happened at the Singh dairy farm at Arena Po, roughly 30 miles from Milan. The dairy farm sold veal meat and milk. The men did not show up for lunch yesterday so their wives’ raised the alarm and found them in the sewage

The four men failed to turn up for lunch on Thursday and their wives rushed to the scene, spotting one of the bodies in the manure. 

They called the fire brigade who recovered them, covering themselves with specialist equipment so they would not succumb to the fumes. 

This year in Italy has seen the highest number of fatalities from work related accidents since 2016 with 486 people dying. 

The BBC reported that all four men were of the Sikh faith and full Indian residents from Punjab. 

Teresa Bellanova, Italy’s new Agriculture Minister, who had worked on a farm when she was younger, tweeted her condolences, adding that ‘safety at work is an inalienable right.’ 

Source: Daily Mail

Kansas teen wins State Fair Champion after losing family farm to tornado

The tornado that hit near Lawrence back in May, took out a family farm. 

But the Leach family came all the way back, and today took home a big title at the Kansas State Fair.

It’s show day for Sophie Leach and her cow, Tess.

A day she didn’t know she’d see again.

Her family’s farm in Linwood was completely leveled after a terrible tornado this past May. 

Almost everything was deemed a total loss,even some cattle, killed. Her family had to make a decision that day.

“We decided somehow, someway we would find a way to get back at it and get back in the show ring,” says Leach.

Today, Sophie and Tess won senior champion. But more than that, her family has a new appreciation for just being there.


Masked intruder shoots two workers at dairy near Turlock CA

Sheriff’s officials on Friday were investigating a shooting in which two workers were hit by gunfire Thursday night at a dairy several miles west of Turlock.

The dairy workers suffered injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, said Stanislaus County sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Clayton. He said one of the men suffered a gunshot wound to his face and the other was hit in the leg. Both men were hospitalized.

The shooting occurred about 10 p.m. Thursday at the dairy in the 2300 block of West Fulkerth Road, near South Carpenter Road.

It’s unclear what might have led to the shooting, including whether it was an attempted burglary or some type of dispute that escalated to gunfire. Clayton on Friday afternoon said he didn’t have any information that might indicate a motive.

Source: The Modesto Bee

Struggling Pennsylvania Dairy Farmers

The dairy industry is a major part of Pennsylvania’s economy, with more than half a million cows on 7,000 farms.

This week, people from across the country are showcasing their cows at the All-American Dairy Show at the Farm Show Complex.

“It’s a very important part of youth development in learning animal science, learning what makes a great dairy cow,” said Shannon Powers, Press Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

While many show off their cows at the show, it’s also highlighting the struggle in the industry, as the market and consumer demands change.

“It’s been tough to keep going and keep the finances where they need to be, but we’re fighting through it,” said dairy farmer Jacob Kline.

Kline’s family runs a dairy farm in Myerstown, Lebanon County. He’s part of the younger generation stepping up to find ways to make sure their family farms are more profitable.

“We milk about 170 cows, fluctuates a little bit in the difficult economy,” Kline said.

He’s finishing his college degree in agriculture business management, trying to figure out how to keep the business going.

“What we can do to become successful and keep going and try and see what else we can do to generate revenue so we can continue and have a good family operation,” Kline said.

The state is stepping in to help too. This past year, $5 million became available through the Dairy Investment Program.

“We awarded grants to people for things like new products that they’re developing on their farms or new ways to do business that can offset those changes in the marketplace,” Powers said.

Consumer demands are changing, so farmers are being encouraged to produce things other than liquid milk, such as yogurt and cheese.

“We need the dairy industry in Pennsylvania. It’s part of our heritage and it’s part of our future,” Powers said.


Australian Dairy Farmers finds $11 million

FUND FOUND: Australian Dairy Farmers president Terry Richardson has written to ADF members regarding the lobby body’s funding.

Peak lobby body Australian Dairy Farmers is the rightful owner of an $11 million fund that had been claimed by ADIC.

National lobby body Australian Dairy Farmers is the rightful owner of an $11 million fund that had been claimed by the Australian Dairy Industry Council.

The ADIC, a body representing both farmers via ADF and processors via the Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF), had controlled the fund until an investigation of historic documents uncovered its origin.

The investment portfolio was born from the Dairy Industry Stabilisation Fund created in the 1960s.

In an email to members on Tuesday, ADF president Terry Richardson wrote that ADF would supplement its revenue with income generated by the fund while preserving its current value.

“In the short-term, this means that we now have access to the capital growth of the assets, which allows us to be more financially self-sufficient,” he wrote.

“This means we will be able to draw from the growth of the assets.

“We have no intention to draw down on the corpus itself.”

Mr Richardson said the ADF would continue to seek other funding sources.

In July, ADF announced it would no longer access up to $1.1 million a year annually from processors to run the ADIC in response to farmers concerns surrounding its independence.

Irrespective of any payment by processors towards its costs, it appears ADF staff members will carry on coordinating the operation of the umbrella body.

“ADF will continue to provide a secretariat service for the ADIC on matters of industry significance, but I want to assure you that our one priority is the work that benefits farmers,” Mr Richardson told members.

The farmer body provided the secretariat service for the ADIC under a 2003 agreement signed by ADF and ADPF.

The terms would be reviewed at the next ADIC meeting, an ADF spokesperson told Stock & Land.

United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) president Paul Mumford said it was, “extremely important that there is unification of industry under ADIC branding on appropriate topics like trade.”.

“On the flip side, however, it is equally important ADF has a strong, independent voice to fight for farmers’ concerns.”

Source: Stock & Land.

Fonterra would be “willing and able” to adjust its milk prices paid to farmers

Credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings believes Fonterra would be “willing and able” to adjust its milk prices paid to farmers in future in order to support debt servicing requirements.

S&P, which has an A- rating (ratings explained here) for Fonterra, sees the flexibility the dairy co-operative has in setting its milk price as enabling it to have a higher debt capacity than similarly rated peers.

“We assess Fonterra as having higher debt capacity because milk payments to its New Zealand supplier base are effectively subordinated to payments to other creditors,” S&P credit analyst Graeme Ferguson.

“Fonterra has a long-established track record of exercising its discretion over these supplier payments during and at the end of the season,” Ferguson said in an article on Fonterra. The article did NOT constitute a rating action.

Fonterra sets its milk price using the Farmgate Milk Price Manual.  However, the board does have the discretion to retain a portion of the milk payment if its deemed necessary for Fonterra’s balance sheet. A portion of the payout was retained in both 2014 and 2018.

ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby recently suggested that Fonterra might have to retain as much as 45c per kilogram of milk solids of the milk price payout in the current season in order to shore up its balance sheet.

S&P’s Ferguson said S&P considered it “highly probable that the cooperative would be willing and able to adjust milk payments in the future given its position as the dominant buyer of milk in New Zealand, purchasing more than 80% of milk production”.

However, he noted that farmers supplying Fonterra outside New Zealand are not shareholders.

“To this end, we believe the effective subordination of payments could be meaningfully tempered if New Zealand-sourced milk declined to around 70% of Fonterra’s total global milk collection. This would imply a lower debt capacity. So, too, would any adverse changes that arise from Fonterra’s current capital structure review.”

Ferguson said Fonterra’s milk price structure “supports debt servicing in virtually all foreseeable circumstances”.

“We note that Fonterra’s flexibility and willingness to pass through milk price changes to farmers is significantly greater than many offshore peers, where this flexibility is theoretically available but rarely demonstrated by global peers.

‘Ability to reduce member payments’

“Fonterra’s constitution provides it with the ability to reduce member payments. Milk prices are determined by the board based on the cooperative’s milk price manual, a publicly available document, and the forecast milk price is published at the start of each season. Any revisions to the forecast price are publicly released. 

Ferguson said S&P believed Fonterra has “a credible deleveraging plan” and reasonable prospects of building a rating buffer over the next 12 to 18 months. T

“The new leadership is forthright in its acknowledgement of the challenges confronting the cooperative and the scale of the task ahead. The suspension of dividends and adjustment of the milk price indicate the group is willing to actively protect the interest of creditors, which we view as broadly analogous to the long-term sustainability of the cooperative.”

S&P believes that Fonterra “somewhat lost its way” over the past seven years, with the common undercurrent being the co-operative’s “ambitious capital investment programme that sought to grow Fonterra beyond its core function of collecting, processing, and selling New Zealand milk”. 

‘Unconstrained global demand’

“This investment cycle was predicated upon the cooperative’s belief that unconstrained global demand would surpass New Zealand’s milk supply.

“In response, Fonterra embarked on a strategy to build global scale by investing in offshore milk pools and processing capacity in New Zealand to accommodate significant milk supply growth. This occurred during a period when the cooperative was also investing in higher-value specialised ingredients and consumer and food services. The result was a step-change in organic and acquisition-led growth that pressured Fonterra’s balance sheet,” Ferguson said.

Fonterra is yet to release its results for the year to July 31, 2019 but has said the results will be released no later than September 30.

At the half-year mark, January 31 the company’s Economic Net Interest Bearing Debt, which Fonterra says “reflects total borrowings, less cash and cash equivalents and non-current interest-bearing advances, adjusted for derivatives used to manage changes in hedged risks”, stood at $7.352 billion.

Total borrowings at that time stood at $7.754 billion.  The major components of that were $4.746 billion borrowed through Fonterra’s medium term notes programme, $1.947 billion of bank loans, $600 million of bond issues listed on the NZX debt market and $354 million of commercial paper.

Gearing ratio

Fonterra’s gearing ratio, which is calculated as economic net interest-bearing debt, divided by equity (shareholders’ funds) plus economic net interest-bearing debt, stood at 52.5%, up from 51.6% at the same time a year earlier.

The co-operative targets a year-end gearing ratio of 40% to 45%. As at July 31, 2018 the Fonterra gearing ratio was 48.4%. The company had targeted reducing its debt by $800 million by the end of the financial year to July 2019, but it has conceded that it didn’t make the target, though it hasn’t yet said how far short of the target it was.

At the July 31, 2018 balance date Fonterra’s net debt was 4.5 times operating earnings (as expressed through earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – EBITDA). That was up from 3.5x in July 2017.

S&P is forecasting that asset divestments, reductions in capital expenditure, better working capital management, and some earnings normalisation will restore Fonterra’s debt-to-EBITDA ratio below 4x within the next few months.

“While the cooperative’s leverage will remain above its downward ratings trigger at the July 2019 balance date, the deleveraging timetable is still broadly consistent with past expectations.”

Earnings stability

S&P’s Ferguson says Fonterra’s divestment of noncore or underperforming assets should promote earnings stability with proceeds applied to reduce debt. Lower capital expenditure and more stable working capital will also help repair the balance sheet.

“In addition, we believe the cooperative has made good progress in restructuring its operating cost base and is committed to better transparency, forecasting, and performance monitoring.

“In our opinion, Fonterra has maintained its global market leadership, dominance in the purchase of raw milk in New Zealand, and position as the lowest cost, large-scale producer globally. That said, we are mindful of execution risks and any wavering of the cooperative’s commitment to restoring its financial health would put immediate downward pressure on the ‘A-‘ rating.”


Wisconsin Is America’s Dairy Goat Land

Wisconsin’s self-proclaimed moniker as “America’s Dairyland” is taking on fresh meaning in the 21st century thanks to a growing market for milk from an animal that bleats rather than moos. While the state’s traditional dairy cattle industry continues to hemorrhage producers at a record pace, Wisconsin’s dairy goat industry is in the midst of a long-term, and accelerating, growth spurt. Indeed, in 2019 Wisconsin can reasonably claim to be America’s dairy (goat) land.

Data from the United States Department of Agriculture, which counts livestock across the United States every 5 years, show just how much Wisconsin dominates the nation’s dairy goat industry. In 2017, the most recent year the USDA surveyed producers, the size of Wisconsin’s dairy goat herd easily topped the nation at more than 83,000-head. California came in a distant second, with some 43,000 dairy goats, while Iowa, Texas and Missouri rounded out the top five.

It’s not only the sheer size of Wisconsin’s dairy goat herd that stands out: The state also leads the nation in the value of sales from dairy goat operations and is the epicenter of national growth in goat dairy.

 While these figures give Wisconsin producers bragging rights among their peers elsewhere, they also reveal just how much, and how quickly, the industry has grown in the state in recent years. Between 2002, when the state’s herd amounted to about 26,000 goats, and 2017, the number of dairy goats in the state skyrocketed some 222%.

 This explosive growth — about half of which occurred in the five years between 2012 and 2017 — has even caught some producers off guard.

“It would’ve really surprised me when we started 10 years ago that now there would be so many goats in the state,” said Becky Mills, who milks 110 goats and 280 cattle in Winnebago County with her husband, Marvin, and their son.

Wisconsin’s dominance in the dairy goat industry

The growth of the industry is especially astonishing given its humble beginnings in the 1980s, when tariff threats prompted a scrappy upstart from France to bring European-style goat dairy processing to rural Wisconsin.

Arnaud Solandt moved with his parents from France to the U.S. in 1983. At the time, his father represented French food manufacturers to foreign markets and agreed to a four-year stint abroad. Solandt had just graduated from high school and decided to follow his parents and attend college in the U.S., but tragedy struck two years later when a car wreck killed his father and severely injured his mother. With his mother requiring care and two younger sisters at home, Solandt said he had little choice but to alter his plans.

“I had to get working,” he said. “My father had been representing a French goat cheese company at the time, and the owner asked if I could get involved for a few months answering calls at the office and taking orders.”

Then, a long-running trade spat between Europe and the U.S. over the use of hormones in American beef came to a head when widespread boycotts of American veal in European countries including France, Italy and Germany prompted U.S. officials to threaten a 100% tariff on French cheese.

“It was only a threat, but [American] buyers wanted to hold off on their purchases,” Solandt said. “So I asked my [employers] ‘Why not make goat cheese in the U.S.?’ They said it wouldn’t be easy, but find some goats and find a building and we’ll see.”

Solandt traveled far and wide in search of a region with enough dairy goats to start a cheese processing operation, he said, from Minnesota to Oregon and beyond. It was at a goat conference in California where he met a dairy goat farmer from Wisconsin who told him about a small dairy-goat cooperative in the south-central part of the state that might fit what he was after.

At the time there were only about 5,500 dairy goats in Wisconsin, according to the USDA, with a quarter of them concentrated in Columbia and Dane counties. Solandt soon came to an agreement with the co-op to purchase milk, and together with his French partners purchased an abandoned cheddar processing plant in Preston, in Adams County.

 “The threat of tariffs was lifted at that point,” Solandt said. “But there wasn’t much risk and the building was very cheap. We found something in Wisconsin that was very good.”

On July 4, 1989, the new company, called Montchevre, accepted its first milk delivery. After a couple years struggling to make ends meet, business began taking off in the early 1990s, Solandt said. Eventually, Montchevre bought a much larger processing plant in Belmont, in Lafayette County, and cultivated a milk supply network that steadily grew the dairy goat industry in Wisconsin and eastern Iowa.

By the time Solandt and his business partners sold the company to the Montreal-based dairy processor Saputo in 2017, Montchevre had 320 employees, contracts with about 500 farms and was the top-selling brand of goat cheese in the U.S.

Raising dairy goats can be tricky

The Mills in Winnebago County are among the roughly 500 farms that contracted with Montechevre and now sell milk to Saputo. The family entered the dairy goat business in 2009 after years of experience milking cattle and quite a bit of research about what to expect with goats, Becky Mills said.

She noted that while there are important differences between cattle and goats, including what she called their “vastly different” nutritional needs, Mills believes having a history in traditional dairy helped ease the transition to goats. She’s witnessed numerous people enthusiastically start milking goats without enough preparation only to realize how difficult it can be to produce high-quality milk and turn a profit.

“I’m thankful I have a background with dairy cattle,” she said. “The number of people that just decided that they’re going to milk goats because they think there’s money in it and they jump in completely blind is astounding.”

Courtesy of LaClare Family Creamery

Goats are more finicky eaters than many believe, and producing quality goat milk requires highly-tailored diets.

Anna Thompson Hajdik, vice president of the Wisconsin Dairy Goat Association, said that there are several common misconceptions about dairy goat farming that can lead to trouble for new producers who haven’t done their homework. Chief among them is that goats are fine, or even thrive on, eating substandard forage.

“One of the kind of grand myths out there about the dairy goat world is that goats will eat anything,” Thompson Hajdik said in an Aug. 12, 2019, interview on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Morning Show. “And that is a myth that, you know, so many of us in the industry are really … working hard to dispel. They are actually quite finicky.”

In fact, Thompson Hajdik said in a follow-up interview with WisContext, achieving high-quality goat milk can require even more nutritional care than in cattle.

“Goats are a little more high-maintenance than cows, and getting a high level of performance means really tailoring the diet in some ways even more than cows,” she said.

Feeding goats the right diet to achieve high-quality milk can be tough, Mills said, especially in years like 2019, when cold and wet conditions led to a rise in hay and grain prices. These and other expenses can be too much for many new and smaller producers to handle, as evidenced in the churn of dairy goat operations in Wisconsin.

Between 2002 and 2017, the number of dairy goat farms in the state grew by about 350, but that overall growth, concentrated in southwest and western Wisconsin, masks the industry’s volatility. A quarter of Wisconsin counties actually had fewer dairy goat farms in 2017 than in 2002.

 The finicky nature of dairy goats can also make scaling up an operation more difficult, Thompson Hajdik said, which is one reason why the average dairy goat herd in the U.S. includes only 15 goats. However, there are signs that Wisconsin’s industry is becoming more consolidated.

Wisconsin’s largest dairy goat businesses

The only measure of dairy goat farming that USDA tracks where Wisconsin lags behind other states is in its total number of dairy goat farms. With just a little over 1,000 farms, Wisconsin ranks 14th in the nation, slightly fewer than California and a number of other Midwestern states and well behind Texas, which boasts more than 3,600 farms.

As a result, the average size of Wisconsin’s dairy goat herds tops the nation, signaling a more developed, and more consolidated, local industry.

 For example, a pair of massive new farms in Calumet County have demonstrated that, with enough capital, scaling up a goat operation in Wisconsin is possible. The farms include Drumlin Dairy, which milks about 8,000 goats and contracts with Saputo, as well as the nearby Chilton Dairy, which has capacity to milk between 6,500 and 9,000 goats and supplies LaClare Family Creamery in Malone, in Fond du Lac County. Chilton Dairy is owned by Milk Source, which also operates several of the state’s largest dairy cattle operations.

Meanwhile, Drumlin is a venture of the owners of Holsum Dairy, another large dairy cattle producer in the state. When Holsum announced the new venture in 2016, those in the industry said it would easily be the largest dairy goat operation in the nation.

The two farms, which are located just 7 miles from each other in the town of Brothertown, milk as much as 20% of the state’s dairy goats, accounting for a large part of the growth seen in the state’s herd in recent years.

Though Drumlin Dairy and Chilton Dairy are enormous, they do not necessarily qualify as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Wisconsin. Known as a CAFO, this type of business must house an equivalent of at least 1,000 animal units, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which defines one goat as one-tenth of an animal unit. That means a goat dairy would have to be at least 10,000-head to meet the threshold for air and water quality standards that come with a CAFO permit.

Drumlin Dairy is regulated under a CAFO permit for Holsum that includes nearby dairy cattle operations, according to Raechelle Cline, a spokesperson for the WDNR. 

Management at both Drumlin and Chilton dairies declined to comment, as did representatives at Saputo.

However, Drumlin Dairy general manager Kevin Wellejus told Green Bay’s Fox 11 in 2016 that Holsum was “approached by processors” to fulfill demand for goat milk in the state.

Meanwhile, Larry Hedrich, who owns and operates LaClare Family Creamery with his family, said that a contract with Chilton Dairy has allowed his processing business to flourish. The Hedrich family has milked dairy goats since the 1970s, and today milks several thousand goats. Unlike most Wisconsin producers, however, they no longer sell their milk but process it into dairy products on-site in what is known as a farmstead creamery operation.

“We had come to the conclusion that if we were to survive in the long-term we had to add value to our milk,” Hedrich said. “And that caused us to look at processing milk products.”

Courtesy of LaClare Family Creamery

The goats at LaClare Family Creamery, near Malone, produce milk that is processed into dairy products on-site in what is known as a farmstead creamery operation.

After a trip to Europe in 2009 to study how farmstead operations there work, the Hedrich family jumped into the business, with Larry’s daughter, Katie, becoming a cheesemaker. Business steadily grew, Hedrich said, sometimes faster than they could manage.

“We ran short on milk for the first few years until I talked to Milk Source,” Hedrich said. “The [contract] with Chilton Dairy is what’s allowed our plant here to grow.” More broadly, Hedrich points to Wisconsin’s extensive dairy infrastructure as key to growth of the wider industry.

Even with the success of businesses like Montchevre and LaClare in Wisconsin, some are anxious that the industry’s growth is beginning to crowd out smaller producers, leading to a dynamic that is somewhat reminiscent of the dairy cattle industry, said Becky Mills and Anna Thompson Hajdik.

There are only a few major goat milk processing plants in the state, including Saputo, that contract with smaller farms, and they can exercise considerable power over producers by dictating milk hauling routes and determining when to accept new supply contracts. As of fall 2019, Saputo was not accepting new contracts, according to Mills, but potential plans for an expansion of its plant in Lancaster, in Grant County, could significantly add capacity and demand for more milk.

Still, Mills remains concerned that potential smaller producers could be left on the sidelines as larger operations fulfill demand among processors.

“Why should the plants go to 10 little guys if there’s one big one?” said Mills.

The farmstead route can be an expensive risk itself, made even riskier by new producers who might find the notion of producing artisanal goat cheese more romantic than financially feasible, Thompson Hajdik said.

“For people wanting to get into goats, the biggest thing is you’ve got to have a plant that’s willing to take your milk before you take the leap,” she said to WisContext. “People can have stars in their eyes about goats and making a living milking goats, but the economics of it is just so complex. We’re in a better place overall than dairy cattle, but when you have these 7,000-head dairies coming in, you’re starting to see similar dynamics. As a small producer, there’s just so much that’s out of your control, particularly if you’re going to just milk goats and sell your milk. That kind of tension is something a lot of people don’t realize.”


Cornell’s Dairy Barn Offers A Look At The Modern Dairy Farm

Dairy is big business in New York, but the dairy industry is changing and so is the look of dairy farms.

Inside the Cornell Teaching Dairy Barn its breezy and comfortable. The barn is part of the Veterinary School.

Veterinarian and farm manager Blake Nguyen described the place like it’s a bovine spa.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Media

Dr. Blake Nguyen, Veterinarian and Manager of the Cornell Teaching Dairy Barn. (Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Media)

“In here we have shade,” he said. “We have sprinklers. Fans, to keep the cows cool.”

They have constant access to nutritionally-balanced food and back scratchers. They look like the big spinning brushes in a car wash. 

Nguyen said they have fewer than 200 cows. That’s the average size of a New York dairy farm. Everything at the Cornell barn is about making farming more efficient and profitable.

“In pretty much all our life stages [of the animals],” he said, “our goal is to manage health and productivity, and those two things go hand in hand. The healthiest animals are also the most productive.”

These cows don’t go out on pastures. That is more common these days, unless a farm is certified organic, which requires cows be on pasture a certain number of hours a day. 

Matt Haan is with Penn State cooperative extension and works with organic dairy farmers. He said cows on pasture are not necessarily healthier. 

“I don’t think there’s a big contrast,” Haan said, “between the cow health in a pasture versus a confinement situation. I think a lot has to do with the management of that individual farm and that individual farmer.”

The importance of knowledgeable farmers, veterinarians and farmworkers is a priority at the Cornell Teaching Barn.


Life lessons, fresh off the farm: Late summer dairy day a north country treat

High above Lake Superior’s south shore, the Tetzner dairy farm is set against a skyline broken by small woodlots and a handful of grain silos. In this far northern Wisconsin territory oftentimes associated with wild rivers, sprawling forests, and freshwater lakes, a network of family-operated dairies anchor a resilient agricultural community. On one memorable day in August, the Tetzner family propped open the barn doors, welcoming more than a thousand visitors to their property for Chequamegon Dairy Association’s 2019 Dairy Day.

“One of things that’s important to us is that the kids know where their food comes from. Their milk and ice cream comes from these cows, in this place,” said Rachel Pufall of Ashland, attending dairy day with her husband Frank and two young sons. “The kids get a connection to the food that we eat, and learn what our friends and the people that we care about do for a living.”

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Visitors enjoyed a complimentary picnic-style lunch, featuring fresh milk by the half-pint and ice cream dessert produced on the farm. Volunteers served up some 800 hamburgers and bratwurst, plus 100 hot dogs. Additional helpers and family members took up positions at the calf barn, robotic milker, and other stations explaining the how-tos of running a successful dairy.

“Until people see it, they can’t believe that a robot can milk a cow,” said Peter Tetzner, manager of the 99-year-old Bayfield County dairy. “It’s always a big surprise.”

The family made the high-tech transition five years ago. Tetzner said that while the automatic milker can accommodate 65 cows, three times a day, he soon found a sweet spot with 60 animals.

“We get the same amount of milk with 60 as we did milking 80 cows before the robotic milker,” he said. “There were a few bugs to work out during the move to robotic but overall it’s been a good switch.”

While technological upgrades made an impression on grown-ups at Chequamegon Dairy Day, kids found engaging farm-tour favorites from the moment they stepped off the tractor-powered wagon that shuttled visitors from a cut-hay parking area to the home farm. Holstein calves were only an arm’s reach away, the traveling educational exhibit Little Farmhands attracted scores of young children, and Maggie the Interactive Cow proved to be an all-ages draw. A hand-painted fiberglass statue standing more than 5 feet high, Maggie is fitted with pliable synthetic udders that just about anyone can grip and try out traditional milking. For many, it provided a tangible connection to time-honored farm life.

Success on the honor system

Since family patriarch Philip Tetzner first oversaw installation of the farm’s dairy processing facility in 1976, up to one-half of their annual milk production has been dedicated to creating in-house products. A self-serve store on Nevers Road in the Bayfield Peninsula highlands, along with wholesale ice cream and milk distribution to grocers around Chequamegon Bay, offers customers a variety of purchase options.

“Once people find us, learn about our products, we can make a customer for life,” said Peter Tetzner, noting that the balance of their milk yield goes to National Farmers cheese plants. “There’s no antibiotics, no growth hormones. We offer high quality and I think it keeps families coming back for generations.”

At the farm’s self-serve store, patrons write down the items they are purchasing on an envelope, place money inside, and drop it together into a box. It’s an arrangement that keeps the Pufall family returning with their sons David and Auggie.

“There are good lessons here for the boys,” said Frank Pufall. “And it helps them understand they are part of a bigger world.”


Top Dairy Industry News Stories from September 7th to September 13th 2019

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ABS’ Sexcel Sexed Genetics Remains on Growth Trajectory After Litigation

ABS Global (ABS), a division of Genus plc, announced today that while disappointed in an unfavorable jury ruling in the patent case between it and ST, ABS remains focused on responding to the increasing demand in the market for Sexcel® sexed genetics. 

The growth in Sexcel is driven by ABS’ continued investment in its genetic lineup and in improvements to the IntelliGen® technology. ABS will continue to provide the most elite sexed genetics to producers around the world.

“While disappointed in the jury decision, it’s important for our customers to know they will have no interruption in availability of Sexcel, powered by IntelliGen Technologies,” noted Nate Zwald, COO. “We are continuing to grow our offerings to meet the needs of dairy and beef producers around the world.”

This litigation has been part of a long-running dispute between ST and ABS/IntelliGen Technologies. In 2017, the federal court agreed with ABS and found that ST held an illegal monopoly in the processing of sexed bovine semen in the U.S., permitting Genus to launch its semen sexing technology known as Genus IntelliGen Technologies. The current patent litigation was brought by ST after the court’s prior decision.

The jury in this second case found that the IntelliGen technology infringed two new patents related to a small component of the technology called the microfluidic chip. ABS incorporated a new, non-infringing chip in the technology earlier this year which means ABS will incur no additional costs as a result of the jury verdict moving forward. Prior to the recent trial, ABS successfully invalidated or demonstrated non-infringement of five of ST’s patents.

“Fortunately, during this long litigation period, we have continued to improve the technology which now incorporates the non-infringing chip in our proprietary IntelliGen technology,” added Zwald. “We’re happy to have earlier succeeded in creating an open market in the sexed semen space. That has and will continue to benefit ABS customers and the industry by providing a choice in sexed semen technology. Maintaining competition in the market for the processing of sexed bovine semen is important for all dairy and beef producers.”

About ABS
Headquartered in DeForest, Wisconsin, U.S.A., ABS Global is the world‐leading provider of bovine genetics, reproduction services, artificial insemination technologies, and udder care products. Marketing in more than 70 countries around the globe, ABS has been at the forefront of animal genetics and technology since its founding in 1941. ABS Global is a division of Genus plc.

New York 4-H Girls “The Git Up” and Drink Milk Video Goes Viral

One of the big benefits of the 4-H Program is team building. And these young ladies with Otsego County Dairy Promotion certainly know how to put a team effort into promoting milk with the help of a little music and dance.

Kendara Hammond, Abbie Ainslie (in cow apron) ( in the back) and Hannah Bonczcowski and Ashlyn Wolfe (in front) took Blanco Brown’s song, “The Git Up” to the barn for “Git Up and Drink Milk”. Watch as the girls put on some nice dance moves while drinking milk and even dunking some cookies in the video above. Watch a second time for the cow’s expression in the background.

A big thank you to Ovaltop Holsteins for sharing the video along with this message:

Had fun producing this with these energetic farm girls…enjoy! Hope it makes you dance along and pour a cold glass of milk!

These girls put our ‘Git Up’ to shame.


Dairy exports are not the answer for US Farmers

Growth in export markets has long been lauded as the measure of success in American agriculture. Last year, U.S Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue credited exports for being a “major driver of the rural economy, generating 20 percent of U.S. farm income and supporting more than a million U.S. jobs.”

Those statistics conceal a hidden truth that most farmers know firsthand: exports don’t actually bring better prices. In dairy, exports have reached historic highs — now topping 15% of the total U.S milk supply — but that growth has failed to provide farmers a livable wage.

In a recent webinar hosted by Wisconsin Farmers Union through the Dairy Together initiative, dairy economist Chuck Nicholson explained, “price impacts of export growth tend to be limited. One of the reasons for that is the milk supply response. If we have opportunities to sell more product, typically the industry can respond fairly readily.”

In other words, opening new markets generates demand in the short term, but farmers quickly ramp up supply right along with it. Any price increase is quickly neutralized.

Nicholson’s analysis shows that for every 1% increase in dairy components exported, the All-Milk price increases by only 10 cents.

Despite the limited impact on milk prices, the U.S Dairy Export Council aims for a goal of exporting 20% of the U.S milk supply, a 5% increase from 2018 levels. USDEC claims that export growth benefits everyone in the industry: farmers, consumers, and everyone involved in the complex dairy supply chain. But Nicholson’s analysis suggests that may not be the case.

“The primary benefits will go to farms that are growing because they are the ones that will be supplying that additional product that goes into export markets. Other benefits will go to supply chain partners like the processors and exporting companies that are also part of facilitating trade flows of dairy products outside the U.S.”

Exports do contribute to farm income, but the profits are not distributed equally among dairy farmers or throughout the supply chain. Nicholson explains the income distribution issue this way: “The average milk price does not increase that much by increasing exports. So farms that are not growing are going to see milk revenues that look a lot like the revenues we would see if we weren’t exporting very much. The place where there is a difference is farms that are growing will see a larger demand for their milk. The benefits are not higher prices, but bigger quantities.”

That’s why many farmers feel pressured to expand their operations to stay afloat. But others cannot or do not want to manage a large dairy operation. For them, higher prices are the only way to stay in business. Since the price bottomed out in 2014, 7,339 U.S dairy farms have called it quits.

If we want to save the 37,000 dairy farms that remain, as well as the rural communities they support, we need higher prices. If higher prices are the goal, then exports are not the answer. To bring real prosperity to dairy farmers and rural communities, we need a national system to balance milk supply with profitable demand. Visit to learn more about the grassroots movement to bring fair prices to family farmers.


U.S. farmers, battered by low commodity prices and trade war, brace for things to get worse

The U.S. Farm Belt, already battered by low commodity prices, the trade war and mounting bankruptcies, is bracing for even worse times ahead.

Record flooding this spring across the Midwest and Great Plains damaged stockpiles of corn and soybeans in some areas, while the extremely wet weather led to widespread planting delays.

Now the threat of a weak fall harvest and the danger of an early frost could amplify hardship felt through stretches of Wisconsin and Minnesota and tip more family farms into bankruptcy.

“It’s going to be a tough year, there are no two ways about it,” said Steve Zenk, a farmer and farm advocate from Danube, Minnesota, a small town of less than 500 in the southern part of the state.

‘Holding our breath’

It was a soggy spring and cool, wet summer, which left crops in the area easily two to three weeks behind schedule in terms of maturity, according to Zenk.

Delays in getting the year’s crops into the ground have farmers and bankers keeping vigil over the harvest and approaching autumn.

“It gets cold this time of year,” Zenk told MarketWatch in a telephone interview. “We are kind of holding our breath, because an early frost could really damage crops.”

Corn, soybean and wheat crop progress across Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin has largely lagged behind five-year averages, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture crop-progress reports.

Concerns about 2019 crops come as U.S. farm balance sheets already have been stretched thin by a handful of years of lower commodity prices. But early USDA forecasts for larger-than-expected corn production have contributed to pressure on prices while also drawing skepticism from producers and many analysts.

Weather-related worries had pushed corn futures C00, +1.16%  to a five-year high above $4.50 a bushel in Chicago in June. On Wednesday, corn traded at $3.61 a bushel, after suffering a brutal August selloff. Soybean futures S00, +0.22%  traded at $8.67 a bushel, after hitting a more-than-a-decade low earlier this year below $8 a bushel.

Wisconsin is the nation’s second-largest dairy producer after California, while Minnesota is also among the nation’s top dairy-producing states. While larger, industrial dairy farms may benefit from low crop prices that make it cheaper to feed cattle, family operations in states with shorter growing seasons often suffer.

“For the traditional dairy farmer growing their own crops, having low commodity prices is a bad thing,” said Pat Lunemann, a crop and dairy farmer with about 740 milking cows in Clarissa, Minnesota, in an interview.

Milk prices have risen in 2019, with September milk Class III futures DAU19, +0.00%  trading at $18.20 a hundredweight Wednesday, marking a 9% year-to-date gain. Analysts have attributed gains in part to falling dairy cow inventories, which have contributed to slower growth in milk production.

Rising bankruptcies

Meanwhile, farm bankruptcies in the Federal Reserve’s Ninth District, which covers Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin, recently hit their highest level in nearly two decades.

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

The chart below shows Wisconsin and Minnesota leading the Ninth District in chapter 12 filings, a special section of the bankruptcy code born out of the 1980s farm crisis to give farmers and fisherman ways to restructure their debt, while holding on to their businesses.

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Joe Mahon, regional outreach director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said the current farm landscape looks less bleak than during the farm crisis of the 1980s, mainly due to lower borrowing rates, less overall farm household debt and relatively stable land prices.

“Farms went into this slump with pretty built-up cash cushions,” Mahon told MarketWatch in a recent interview. “The concern is that the cash cushion has been worn down quite a bit. Not as many farms are positioned to withstand another year of low incomes.”

While bankruptcies have been a growing problem, Lunemann also said that many family-run dairies are calling it quits simply because they are burning equity and losing money. “At some point you say: enough is enough. I need to have something left over for retirement.”

Farm aid

Meanwhile, farmers have needed to tap the lifeline of federal government aid programs, which the Trump administration recently bolstered in the face of its continuing U.S.-China trade war.

The USDA this year expects direct farm payouts from the government to reach a decade high of $19.5 billion, or double the payments seen in 2014.

Farm aid on the rise

“We are shipping practically nothing. We don’t have markets. We don’t have crops,” said farmer and farm advocate Ruth Ann Karty, of Clarkfield, Minnesota.

Since the 1980s, farm advocates have helped farmers in financial stress negotiate with lenders and apply for assistance programs, for free, including sometimes giving them a list of attorneys that handle chapter 12 proceedings. Farm Aid, started by musicians Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp, partners with national farm advocate programs.

Both Karty and Zenk said that bankers this fall were checking up on borrowers earlier in the season than usual about expectations for the 2019 harvest.

“It’s not an overwhelming number,” Zenk said of inquiries from bankers. “But we are seeing more than usual, pushing the issue of are you going to be short.”

Recent trade war escalations between Washington and Beijing, led China, the world’s largest buyer of soybeans, to close its doors last month to all U.S. farm products.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in August called the move a “body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by.” Farm Bureau estimates show that U.S. agriculture exports to China were down by $1.3 billion in the year’s first half, after dropping to $9.1 billion last year from $19.5 billion in 2017.

U.S. stocks moved higher Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.29%  and Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.17%  closed at session highs following reports that China offered to buy more American agricultural products in exchange for a delay of coming tariffs.

“We would have had problems even without the trade war,” said Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“A lot of farmers are baby boomers,” he said, adding that many older farmers are opting to retire early or sell before things get worse.

“They are being rational about what they want to do with their lives, and they don’t think the good times are coming back soon,” Mitchell said.


Erie County dairy farm seeks protection from creditors

A Warren County dairy farm filed from protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code, the third dairy operation since July to go bankrupt in the 25 counties comprising the Western District of the U.S. District Court of Pennsylvania.

R-Dream Farms LLC in Corry, which has about 350 cows, listed assets ranging between $500,000 and $1 million, and liabilities ranging between $100,000 and $500,000.

Springville, New York feed dealer Gramco Inc. was listed as the farm’s biggest creditor at $432,316 followed by John Deere Financial of Johnston, Iowa, $87,796; and farm supply company Platts Mill Inc., of Spartansburg, Pa., $54,390.

R-Dream representative Robert E. Nickerson filed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, which allows the farm to hold creditors at bay during financial reorganization. 

Since July, dairy operations Kooser Farms in Mill Run, Fayette County, and Kimmel Brothers, Plumville, Indiana County, both for bankruptcy. For the fiscal year ending July 31, 370 dairy farms closed in Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Success for Australia’s first European Young Breeders School Team

Australia’s first team of young dairy men and women to compete at the European Young Breeders School in Battice, Belgium has returned home having scored a great team result.

The five strong team – Brady Hore (Leitchville, Vic), Julia Paulger (Kenilworth Qld), Ricky Nelson (Irrewillipe, Vic), Sam Hall (Australind, WA) and Zoe Hayes (Girgarre, VIC) competed against 163 youth from 15 countries in the five-day event which included workshops, judging and clipping competitions and conformation and showmanship classes.

Team Australia had a strong showing with all members placing in the top third of the results. Standout results included Zoe Hayes (7th overall), Ricky Nelson (11th overall) and Julia Paulger (14th overall). Each team was judged on their participation, teamwork and how they cared for their animals.

Team leader, Justin Johnston, says: “I’m really happy for the entire team. This really is a fantastic result in our first year of competing against top teams from around the world.

“There were also some great individual results Ricky won the leading class in his age group, Zoe was awarded third in clipping and second in leading, Julia fourth in leading.

“It was great to see our guys come together and really support each other. They worked hard for the team result, and the support and commitment they gave each other contributed to the individual results. They also made the most of every opportunity provided by the trip. We’ll definitely be back next year.”

The five individuals were chosen for the Australian team following a rigorous selection process earlier this year. Participation in the European Young Breeders School provides young dairy men and women from Australia with a practical hands-on learning experience on the international stage and provides valuable insight into cattle preparation and showmanship best practice from around the world.

The Australian team stayed on after the five-day event for an educational tour that included a visit to K.I. SAMEN, the Netherlands largest private AI station and Holland’s largest dairy farm with 2,500 cows on an 80 stand rotary. They also visited the new floating dairy farm trial site in Rotterdam, which opened earlier this year to demonstrate how food production can become less vulnerable to climate change.

The 2019 Australian European Young Breeders School team was supported by supported by Holstein Australia, the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, Jersey Australia, Genetics Australia, Dairy Australia, GippsDairy, Gippsland Dairy Youth, Gardiner Dairy Foundation, Fonterra, STgenetics Australia, Ridley AgriProducts, WFI Insurance, Dick Smith, Smyth Seeds, B. Braun Australia and New Zealand and the Australian Football League.

Principal Partner Quotes

Holstein Australia CEO, Graeme Gillan, says: “It has been great to be part of this initiative. The experience and knowledge gained by every team member will last them a lifetime, and I think that our young dairy men and women have signalled Australia’s arrival at the European Young Breeders School, which sees the best of the best from around the world compete, in the best way possible.

“The other great sign for the future has been the way that the Australian dairy sector has thrown their support behind this initiative,” continues Mr Gillian. “In particular I’d like to acknowledge the huge amount of time and hard work from Holstein Australia member, Justin Johnston, to make the Australian team and this trip a reality.”

Jersey Australia General Manager, Glen Barrett, says: “The EYBS was a great opportunity for our young breeders across the country to participate and compete on the international stage and it certainly comes as no surprise that the team achieved the results that they did. Our industry and people are world class. Jersey Australia certainly thanks Justin Johnston for his drive to make this opportunity a reality and the many sponsors who worked together to make this a reality. Our congratulations to Julia, Brady, Sam, Zoe and Ricky for representing our industry with distinction.

Paul Guerra, The Royal Agricultural Society Victoria (RASV) CEO, says: “The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria were proud to support the inaugural Australian youth delegation to the European Young Breeders School. We are thrilled to learn that the five participants enjoyed and valued the unique educational experience at the European Young Breeders School and trust that their participation will assist greatly in their development as emerging leaders in the dairy industry. We are committed to supporting youth development in in agriculture and in particular delighted with the successful outcomes from partnering with Holstein Australia and Jersey Australia to deliver this initiative.”

124-year-old dairy processor Brancourts goes into voluntary administration

The Brancourts dairy processing company has gone into administration and there will be an immediate impact on jobs at its two factories in Victoria and New South Wales.


A spokesman for administrators PKF Australia said the sales and manufacturing arm of Brancourts had been placed in voluntary administration.

The administrators said the business continued to trade, with the administrators to consider all restructuring options to place the business back on a sustainable footing with the potential of re-commencing production.

The administrators said they were expecting a high level of inquiry.

The Brancourts family business has made cheese for Australian consumers since 1895, and its brand of cottage cheese, sour cream, haloumi, yoghurt, and condensed milk are common fixtures on Australian supermarket shelves.

Thirty-three full-time workers and four casuals have lost their jobs at Brancourts’ Traralgon processing site in the Latrobe Valley.

About 20 employees have been stood down at Brancourt’s Hunter plant at Hexham, near Newcastle.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes said the Government was working with the administrators and the Federal Government to ensure all employees received their full entitlements.

Ms Symes said reduced national milk volume was driving increased competition among dairy processors to secure supply for their factories.

The Victorian Government was not given any notice that the company was about to go into administration.

Hopeful of sale

Meat Workers Union representative Grant Courtney said employees had been guaranteed their full entitlements.

“We were on site last Friday on a regular visit and were notified by members and by the company of the voluntary administration,” Mr Courtney said.

“They notified the employees that they would be paid until Wednesday, being today, when the administrators take over.”

Mr Courtney said workers were sad to be finishing up with the company.

“We’ve had an industrial agreement on site at Hexham for around five years, we only just renegotiated the agreement last year,” he said.

“The company predominately employs people directly and they were also making a cream product that was being exported to Japan.”

United Dairyfarmers of Victoria President Paul Mumford said the administrators were confident of finding a new owner for the business.

“Essentially they are confident of on-selling the business and hopefully get the business back on track and salvage some of the jobs,” he said.

Mr Mumford said administrators PKF were quietly confident of re-employing the workers, but would need to work swiftly to make that happen.

Milk shortage also to blame

Mr Mumford said the ongoing stress on Victoria’s dairy industry was likely to blame.

“We have seen stress at the farmer level for numerous years and it’s now being transferred to the processing sector, and with the closure of Dennington and Tongala in Victoria the manufacturers are hurting,” he said.

Mr Mumford said there had been a 10 per cent decrease in milk supply nationally due to the number of farmers who have shut their doors.

“Milk is becoming harder to get and we’re seeing that in the current year’s milk price,” Mr Mumford said.

“It’s one of the highest we’ve ever seen at farmer levels, purely because of competition.

“With milk at $7 per kilogram milk solid, I just doubt the company can pass that on to their customers.”

Ms Symes said reduced national milk volume was driving increased competition among dairy processors to secure supply for their factories.

Pressure on industry

The Traralgon workers who have lost their jobs will have access to the Latrobe Valley Authority’s workers transition service, set up after the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station.

Australian Manufacturers Workers Union national food division head Jason Hefford, who represents workers at the Traralgon factory, said the food industry was under pressure.

“Within Victoria we’ve had four or five dairy factories close,” he said.

Last month, Nestle announced it was closing its dairy factory at Tongala, in northern Victoria, and earlier this year Fonterra announced its Dennington plant in south-west Victoria would close.

The Brancourt family business was started in the 1895 by Julien and Alice Brancourt, the great-grandparents of current owner Julie.


Dairy Farmers are Key Contributors to Canada’s Economy and Community Vitality

Travelling through Canada’s beautiful countryside, with its green pastures and well-ordered dairy farms, it may not occur to everyone that they’re looking at the engine of one of this country’s key economic success stories.

The reality is that the dairy sector is one of the top two agricultural sectors in 7 out of 10 provinces. Overall, dairy production contributes $19.9 billion to our total annual economic output, and the sector remits $3.8 billion a year in taxes.

In all, dairy production sustains more than 221,000 jobs across the country, adding to the vitality and cohesion of Canada’s communities and our rural fabric. A typical Canadian dairy farm is run by a family, but also relies on many experts to ensure the family business is successful and the animals are healthy and thriving. Professionals who regularly visit farms to provide services include animal nutritionists, veterinarians, dairy herd improvement advisors, farm business management experts, herd classifiers, hoof trimmers, milk graders, milk truck drivers, feed truck drivers, mechanics, and agronomists who provide all kinds of expertise required to run a dairy farm.

The stability and predictability in pricing in Canada have helped dairy producers become key drivers of Canada’s economy. At the same time, they provide a strong foundation of leadership and support for rural Canada and communities across Canada.  

A vibrant dairy industry means more jobs, improved access to rural infrastructure, and a stronger economy that benefits all Canadians.


Chocolate Milk Outperforms Sports Drink in Strength Test with Teen Athletes

In the first-ever field-based study of high school athletes recovering post workout, chocolate milk outperformed a commercial sports drink by a net strength difference of 6.7%. The study was performed in 2018 and was initiated by Dairy MAX, a regional dairy council covering eight states, as part of research and science-based health initiatives.

The research, conducted in 2018 and published in the 2019  Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, showed that high school athletes drinking chocolate milk lifted 3.5% more than before while the adolescents drinking a commercial sports drink lifted 3.2% less than before.

Previous studies all looked at adults, but never at the nearly 8 million high school athletes in the nation – yet nutrition is especially important for these young athletes, whose bodies are still growing while also handling the heavy physical demands of athletics.

“What we really noticed was, that there was not a lot of research out there on adolescent recovery. Even though it’s the largest group of sports participants in the country, nobody was really looking at that,” said Andy Cheshire, Ph.D., a co-author on the study from the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at The University of Texas at Austin.


In 2018, The Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin studied 103 high school athletes, including a mix of varsity and junior varsity male and female athletes with an average age of 15. The students trained four times per week for five weeks, with both free weights and field agility drills. They were randomly placed into one of two groups: those who would drink chocolate milk as a recovery drink, and those who would drink a leading sports beverage instead.


Chocolate milk was shown to have a more positive effect on strength development – demonstrating that it is an appropriate, welcomed post-exercise recovery drink for adolescents. It’s also particularly helpful to note that this compares results against sports drinks available in stores, demonstrating the difference between the two options for families.


The carbohydrate-protein ratio in chocolate milk was shown to be more beneficial than carbohydrate-only sports drinks in improving athlete performance as part of a strength and speed training at a high-school level.

“While there has been a number of studies that show chocolate milk helps adults to recover following strenuous exercise and to improve strength in a lab setting, this study is the first to test the effectiveness of commercially-sold, readily-available chocolate milk to see if it can help adolescents to increase their strength as a part of their normal, Summer training – which is did.,” said John B. Bartholomew, co-author of the study and Department Chair, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at The University of Texas at Austin.

This field-based study builds on the previous research of Dr. John Ivy, conducted with The University of Texas in 2011, on adult male and female athletes that revealed low-fat chocolate milk is an ideal post-workout recovery drink.

Chocolate milk is an accessible, affordable and delicious recovery option for adolescent athletes—and it may give them a strength edge due to the protein-carb ratio, which is optimal for recovery and rebuilding, said Dr. Lana Frantzen, Vice President of Health and Wellness at Dairy MAX. “Our dairy farm families are thrilled this research will provide more reasons to enjoy the natural goodness of dairy.”

About Dairy MAX

Founded more than 40 years ago, Dairy MAX is one of the leading regional dairy councils in America – representing more than 900 dairy farmers and serving communities in eight states: Colorado, southwest Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, western Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. A nonprofit organization, Dairy MAX is part of a nationwide effort to promote American agriculture, support dairy farming and drive impact for every dairy farmer. The organization operates five audience outreach programs: business development, consumer marketing, health and wellness, industry image and relations and school marketing. For more information about Dairy MAX and its team of experts, visit Dairy resources and delicious recipes are available at

Milk Futures Continue Higher in Chicago Thursday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures continued their rally again Thursday breaking the $19 mark after a supportive supply and demand report. Class III milk markets had an amazing day with October milk closing limit up 75 cents at $19.16/cwt. November followed closely behind adding 50 cents and December was also up 37 cents. First quarter 2020 markets lept 23 to 38 cents per cwt and second quarter closed 17 to 22 cents higher. Class IV markets harnessed the strength in Class III and grew 13 to 22 cents in the fourth quarter of 2019 and first quarter of 2020.

Dry whey up $0.0075 at $0.3975. One trade was made at that price. Blocks up $0.0525 at $2.1450 One trade was made at that price. Barrels up $0.06 at $1.88. Two trades were made at $1.8750 and $1.88. Butter down $0.0075 at $2.2275. Seven trades were made ranging from $2.2225 to $2.24. Nonfat dry milk up $0.0125 at $1.0550. One trade was made at that price.

Is Breeding for A2 Milk for You?

A2 milk appears to be all the rage in the dairy industry today. In commercials on TV, online, at the grocery store and even on the farm, many people are talking about A2 milk.  There have been claims in the press that A2 milk is easier for humans to digest, improves health and lowers the risk for some diseases.  Many of these claims have not been proven by science.

What is A2 milk?  

Beta-casein, which makes up 30% of milk protein, exists in two forms: A1 and A2.  A2 milk only contains the A2 variant of beta-casein protein. Cows with the A2A2 gene only produce A2 milk.  Jersey, Guernsey, Normande and Brown Swiss breeds have a higher percentage of A2 genes than Holstein.

Testing your herd

Some farmers have transitioned to A2 herds, but this can take many generations, depending on the status of your herd. One way to determine the status of your herd is to genomic test your cows and heifers.  

If you are already genomic testing, A2 status can be determined for an extra $5 per animal. If you choose to transition to an A2 herd, you can determine which cows and heifers to keep or cull once you receive your genomic results.  

An A2A2 animal bred to another A2A2 animal will always have an A2 offspring. Cows that are A1A2 or A1A1 will not produce A2 milk.

Many A.I. studs have been marketing A2 bulls and more information can be found online or in published bull catalogs.  

Breeding for A2

The University of Minnesota’s research dairy herd at the West Central Research and Outreach Center at Morris uses Holstein, Jersey, Montbéliarde, Normande and Viking Red in their breeding program.  For the Normande breed, six bulls have daughters and the other 14 bulls are genomic only bulls.  As expected, the Holstein breed has the lowest percentage of A2A2 bulls in the Top 25 for Net Merit. The Jersey and Normande breeds have the highest percentage of A2A2 bulls.

Over 50% of the Holsteins in the herd are A2A2, which was not expected because we did not select for this trait.  The 1964 genetic line Holsteins had a lower percentage of animals that were A2A2 at 26%. The crossbred cows and heifers ranged from 36 to 50% of animals that were A2A2.

Table 1 gives the A2 status of the Top 25 Net Merit Proven bulls for Holstein and Jersey and the Top Proven Montbéliarde, Normande and Viking Red bulls available in the U.S.

During the past year, all cows and heifers were genotyped at the University of Minnesota’s research dairy herd in Morris.  The A2 status of the cows and heifers in the herd is shown in table 2.

A2 status of the top genetic bulls by breed

Breed Number of bulls % A2A2 % A1A2 % A1A1
Holstein 25 20 76 4
Jersey 25 72 28 0
Montbéliarde 17 41 47 12
Normande 20 85 15 0
Viking Red 24 54 42 4

A2 status of the University of Minnesota dairy herd in Morris, MN

Breed Number of cows % A2A2 % A1A2 % A1A1
Holstein 114 56 33 11
1964 Holstein 82 26 48 26
Holstein-sired crossbred 65 49 34 17
Jersey-sired crossbred 51 47 45 8
Montbéliarde-sired crossbred 98 36 47 17
Normande-sired crossbred 56 50 45 5
Viking Red-sired crossbred 136 45 40 15

Should you care about A2 milk?

Well, if the industry pays a premium for A2 milk, then you might consider selecting your herd for A2A2 animals and even start using A2A2 bulls.  However, remember that selecting from the top Net Merit bulls is essential to maximize farm profitability, so be sure to check out that list when placing an emphasis on A2 genetics.  

The future will tell if A2 milk is just a fad or if it will permanently have a seat at the table of the dairy industry.


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