‘I don’t know what else to do’: Fremont dairy farmers fight to survive after 55 years

Russell Rieckmann, son of farm owner John Rieckmann, feeds their cows before milking Wednesday Feb. 13, 2019, in Fremont, Wis. Danny Damiani/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

In 1964, John Rieckmann and his wife, Mary, bought a dairy farm from John’s father, on land that had been in the family for three generations.

The son had lived and worked on the farm, about a 20-mile drive west of Appleton, his whole life. So when his father asked him to take over, John felt obligated to do so.

When John farmed under his father, they still used horses for most of the labor. 

“We farmed everything the old way,” he said. 

As a result, the son had to make necessary — although expensive — upgrades right away, including a complete renovation of the barn.

And that was only the beginning.

As decades passed, John and Mary endured any hardship that came their way, farming their land and raising their cows, investing whatever they could back into the operation.

They raised seven children. Two of their sons, Russell, 55, and Steven, 49, still work on the farm. 

For the couple, both 79 years old now, the rural lifestyle they provided their children was exactly what they wanted for their family.

“As far as I’m concerned, there’s nowhere else to raise kids other than out in the country,” Mary said. “They learn to respect people, and they learn to respect themselves too.

Inside their home’s small dining room, photos of the family and the farm fill the walls. Out a side door, a short path leads to a picturesque red barn, flanked by smaller red outbuildings.

Their farm was founded in the 19th century, just as a wave of settlers from Europe arrived in Wisconsin and began dairy farming. By 1915, Wisconsin was the top milk producer in the U.S., a title the state held until 1993 when it dropped behind California.

But dairy farming remains central to Wisconsin’s identity — and to John and Mary’s identity.

‘We’ve had hard times, but nothing like this’

John and Mary should be thinking about retirement. Instead, everything they’ve worked toward their entire lives is at risk. The price of milk has plummeted in the last few years, leaving them and many other dairy farmers fighting to survive.

“We’ve had hard times, but nothing like this,” Mary said.

John and Mary are still milking 52 cows, but they are struggling with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, plus monthly expenses they can’t avoid if they want to keep the farm running. They’re barely able to get by, Mary said.

“Stress is the one thing that’s got to be worse than the work,” she said. “It gets to the point where you can’t even sleep at night.”

Many dairy farmers across Wisconsin find themselves in a similar situation, unable to make money at jobs they’ve often spent their lives doing.

In January, the state had 8,110 milk cow herds, according to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, which tracks the number of dairy producer licenses in Wisconsin. That’s 691 fewer than a year earlier.

Sarah Grotjan, a dairy educator with the UW-Extension in Outagamie County, said dairy farmers in northeast Wisconsin face the same challenges as farmers elsewhere in the state.

“We’re in a situation where all commodities are down,” she said. “And they’ve been down for quite a while.”

Most farmers are highly educated and have invested a lot of money to improve their operations, Grotjan said. That has made everything more efficient, leading to more milk production.

But with a massive supply of milk on the market, mixed with uncertainty about exports, prices have suffered.

“We just have a lot of milk and nowhere to go with it,” Grotjan said.

Many farmers have become so overwhelmed they have a difficult time making decisions.

“Right now, it seems like everybody that’s dairy farming should have an exit plan,” she said. “You just don’t know from day to day what’s going to happen.”

As bills pile up, the couple waits for milk prices to rise

John and Mary are hopeful the prices will come up soon. But they acknowledge that at this point, a small increase won’t make much of a difference for them.

The couple doesn’t have a computer, but a friend helped them start a GoFundMe campaign in early January, hoping to raise money to help support their farm. By late February, they had raised $150. Their goal was $50,000.

They’ve watched helplessly as bills have piled up. An unpaid veterinarian bill grows by about $100 every month from the interest. They make their farm payment before anything else, then pick what they can afford to pay next. 

They’re careful to stay away from any unnecessary spending. They haven’t gone out to eat in years, Mary said. Some expenses, though, simply can’t be avoided.

“The cows have to have their feed,” John said. “They need to be fed.”

Hopefully, John said, his sons will be able to take over someday — if John and Mary are able to keep the farm going.

“I’m going to try and make it, I guess,” John said. “I don’t know what else to do.”


Calls for ‘Megadairy’ Moratorium In Oregon Increase

Environmental groups are doubling down on demands for a ‘megadairy’ moratorium in Oregon as a new owner takes over a troubled operation in northeastern Oregon.

The Statesman Journal reports that Easterday Farms, based in Pasco, Wash., just bought the shuttered Lost Valley Farm in Boardman, Oregon, which was permitted to have 30,000 cows. In less than two years in operation, Lost Valley racked up nearly $200,000 in fines for more than 200 environmental violations.

Easterday has hired an Oregon lobbyist, and registered an Oregon corporation called Easterday Farms Dairy, LLC.

Advocacy groups want to make sure Easterday doesn’t reopen Lost Valley, and other operators don’t move into the state, until stricter rules for megadairies are in place.

“Weak rules have allowed industrial megadairies to push family farmers off the land, pollute Oregon’s air and water, and threaten animal welfare,” Amy van Saun, of the Center for Food Safety, said before a legislative committee Thursday.

A coalition of advocacy groups is lining up behind Senate Bill 103, which would apply to large dairies, defined as those with at least 2,500 cows, or those with at least 700 mature cows that do not get seasonal access to pasture.

The bill would place a moratorium on permits for new or expanded large dairies.

It also would define large dairies as industrial, rather than agricultural or farming operations, meaning they wouldn’t qualify for regulatory exemptions available to farmers.

The bills’ opponents say the state’s dairy farmers should not be punished for bad management at one dairy.

“Any bill that threatens right to farm is a threat to the heritage of our state,” said Shannon Lourenzo, who is on the board of the Tillamook County Creamery Association, which bought milk from Lost Valley Farm.

Opponents include all three commissioners in Marion County, which has the state’s second-highest number of dairy farms.

Source: Associated Press

U.S. Farmers’ Field of Dreams Is Soaked

Just when it looked like the trade-war pain would ease, flooding across the Midwest has done billions of dollars in damage.

American farmers just can’t catch a break.

With the U.S. agricultural sector facing its worst downturn since the 1980s and record debt levels, there’s been one glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel: that an imminent end to the U.S.-China trade war would see Beijing gorge on farm products, providing the revenue to help repay all those borrowings.

Floodwaters are washing away that dream.

Spring floods this month have inundated a swath of the U.S. grain belt from Nebraska to Iowa, causing an estimated $3 billion of damage. The rising waters have wrecked grain elevators and the makeshift storage bins farmers have been using to accommodate 2018’s record crop.

There could be worse to come. About three-quarters of U.S. corn and soybeans in storage are in states around the upper Mississippi-Missouri basins, where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects to see major flooding through May as spring rain and melting snow exceed rivers’ capacities. Overall, about $76 billion of corn and soybeans alone have been set aside, according to the Farm Bureau, a lobby group.

As of Dec. 1, about 60 percent of stored corn could be found in the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Minnesota alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The first two have been worst-hit by the recent weather, and just under half of the country’s soybeans in storage are in the same four states.

Futures markets have also been encouraging farmers to wait for better times. The spread between March and May contracts for soybeans and corn is at its widest in more than two years, a trend that started when the last planting season ended in June. That steepening futures curve, just as China eases an unofficial trade-war boycott, has been a strong incentive to hold onto crops for a few more months and sell at a better price.

Grain that’s been touched by floodwaters is considered contaminated and has to be destroyed, but even crops stored on higher ground could face problems.

Most U.S. Midwestern crops leave the country via barges on the Mississippi. Rising floodwaters can make the river hard to navigate, or even stop movements altogether when the water is high enough to block passage under bridges. Unloadings of grain barges at New Orleans hit their lowest level in three years this month. Anyone looking to sell their crops under a futures contract better be sure they’re in a position to deliver. Farmers’ season from hell isn’t over yet.


Source: Bloomberg

Last Alaskan dairy farmer ‘confident’ legislature will find solution

For the lone dairy farmer operating in Alaska, the month and a half since Gov. Mike Dunleavy unveiled his budget proposals has been ‘a roller coaster.’

Among the widespread cuts proposed was eliminating funding for dairy regulation.

The administration said that would save the state around $180,000. For Havemeister Dairy, that cut would be the death knell of a business that predates statehood.

“We’re a Grade A facility, so if we don’t have someone to inspect our facility, we can’t maintain Grade A,” said Ty Havemeister, “Which means I won’t be able to ship milk to the store, so that would be the end of us.”

In a budget overview produced for the legislature by the administration, the state notes that “Alaska’s dairy industry has declined from 65 dairies to one operating bovine dairy today,” and the “Federally required program requires significant state subsidization.”

The presentation also notes that “eliminating the program will not increase risk to public health, as dairies would not be able to sell milk products commercially.”

Havemeister posted to the dairy’s Facebook page when he learned what the budget proposal would mean for the farm.

“Within a week we had 32,000 views on our page, which I never expected and there was just an outpouring of letters and phone calls to lawmakers, which that’s what we needed,” Havemeister said.

Havemeister says he has spoken with Mat-Su lawmakers Rep. DeLena Johnson and Sens. Shelley Hughes and Mike Shower.

Last Monday. Sen.Hughes discussed the dairy in a Facebook live. She said she has heard a lot of concern about losing the dairy and said they were working on a solution.

The Department of Environmental Conservation House Finance Budget Subcommittee reviewed 17 budget action items proposed by the governor. It rejected 11 of them, including eliminating the dairy program.

“At this point in time, I’m pretty confident that the legislature’s going to come through,” Havemeister said. “They’ll figure something out and this will all work out.”


Wisconsin dairy farmers lean on creativity, innovation

Some Wisconsin dairy farmers are crediting creativity and investments in innovation for their success after seeing hundreds of peers leave the industry last year.

Laura Daniels, who farms near Dodgeville, told WUWM-FM that her farm has been working to determine better breeding choices. Daniels’ farm evaluates butter-fat and protein in the milk to select “the mothers of the next generation of cows” that make the best quality cheese.

Luke Lisowe and his parents own about 800 cows at their farm near Malone in Fond du Lac County. Lisowe said the farm is looking to cut costs. Many dairy farmers in the state have suffered years of low milk prices and rising trucking costs.

Lisowe said the farm uses a less expensive cow sanitizer before and after milking to keep each cow’s stall clean. But he said the cost-saving practice takes up time.

“If you have a cleaner stall, there should be less of a bacteria or less chance of infection. But it takes more time to bed,” he said. “You have a lot of stalls to bed and everything takes time, and that’s not the only thing you’re doing throughout the day.”

Fennimore dairy farmer Peter Winch bought four robotic milker units last year for his 240 cows. Each machine can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but Winch said the milkers give his family a break and reduce his reliance on workers.

“The cows just do it,” Winch said. “They’re on their own schedule.”

Some dairy scientists are working to make more data available to farmers on their cows, feed and other factors.

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Victor Cabrera wants to help farmers make better decisions through his project called Dairy Brain , which would collect and integrate data from all parts of the farm operation, then use artificial intelligence to analyze the findings and help farmers make smarter management decisions.

His team hopes the online system will be available later this year.

Source: WBAY

Markets Yo-Yo as Mixed Markets Continue in Chicago Monday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures started the week mixed following the direction of the cash market.  We saw April Class III milk rally as much as 30 cents during cheese trading, to settle at 20 cents higher to $15.49. The remainder of the months didn’t do as well. March was up 2 cents to $15.05 and second half saw mixed moves from 1 cent lower to 5 cents higher for an average of 16.22/cwt. Class IV milk was also mixed from 7 cents lower in August to 9 cents higher in June. April Class IV ended the day at 15.84/cwt and May at $15.96.

Dry whey down $0.0025 at $0.3275. Eight trades were made ranging from $0.3275 to $0.33. Blocks up $0.07 at $1.64. Barrels up $0.0050 at $1.57. Fifteen trades were made ranging from $1.5650 to $1.57. Butter up $0.0150 at $2.28. One trade was made at that price. Nonfat dry milk down $0.0025 at $0.9550. Two trades were made at $0.9450 to $0.9525.

Artificially inducing cows to produce milk has big benefits for farmers and cows

OPINION: My wife and I adopted our first child. During this time we got involved in a number of online adoption groups and did a lot of research on the subject.

It turns out there are adoptive mothers who breastfeed their newly adopted babies.

These women were not pregnant and many had never been pregnant, yet they are able to start lactating when they receive their adopted baby.

Lactation is all based on hormones naturally released from the paturity gland. During pregnancy, multiple hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, insulin, growth hormone, cortisol, thyroxine, and human placental lactogen all work together to develop breast tissue and prepare the body for lactation.

Post birth, the release of hormones prolactin and oxytocin control milk production and milk let down.

Armed with a bit of knowledge, maternal emotions, fenugreek and various pharmacy medicines, non-pregnant woman are lactating.

Dairy cows are good at lactating, so it’s not surprising much of the research on inducing lactation in non-pregnant mammals has been conducted on dairy cows.

Farmers require a cow to give birth in order for her to start producing milk. The pregnancy causes the cow’s body to produce the hormones required to prepare the cows body and udder to produce milk for the calf.

Once the cow calves, she is ready to supply milk to her calf.

When a farmer milks a cow, it’s sending the message to the cow’s body that it needs to keep producing milk and the various hormones levels within the cow stay at the required levels.

The amount of milk the cow produces decreases as the months go by and farmers eventually “dry off” the cow 230 days after she calved.

The cow has three to four months off before she calves again and the whole process continues.

Many critics of the dairy industry point to the fact that the farmers are reliant on perpetually pregnant cows, which they perceive to mean that these cows are cogs in a big factory.

The manner in which cows get pregnant is also controversial. With artificial insemination of cows getting some negative attention.

Then we have the actual calves. These calves are often a low-value by-product that is not particularly wanted by anyone.

The treatment of these calves is another controversial aspect. The practice of removing newborn calves from their mothers doesn’t sit well with many modern consumers and it’s impossible to spin a good story around the bobby calf industry, which slaughters these young unwanted calves.

If thats not enough, another thing to consider is most cows don’t make it to their 6th birthday. One of the biggest reasons a cow is culled is because she doesn’t get pregnant. This means she won’t produce milk for the next season.

But what if we can get milk from a cow without the cow needing to be pregnant?

It’s a controversial proposal though.

How does it work?

Essentially, a non-pregnant cow is given hormone injections in order to replicate what would happen in a natural pregnancy. The cow will then receive fortnightly treatments to maintain hormone levels during lactation.

The research shows that cows given this treatment produce the same amount of milk, with the same composition and have the same lactation length as cows with a normal calving.

What might a system based on induced lactation look like?

There would be no unwanted calves, so no bobby calves.

For farmers, there would be no busy calving period. No calves to feed, no calving difficulties.

Farmers could theoretically time the treatment so they start milking the whole herd on one particular day.

The lifespan of cows could be much greater too.

But is it ethical to give a cow artificial hormone treatment?

A farmer can hardly fly the “natural” flag when they are artificially promoting the cow’s lactation.

But then, many people think that the current industry practices are hardly natural anyway. For some, the reduction of calves suffering and the extension of cows lives will outweigh any objections.

Today, highly processed plant-based meat using GMO (genetically modified organism) technology and meat grown in tanks is considered by some to be a more ethical option than conventional meat.

It’s potentially a divisive subject and different people will have different opinions all based on their different priorities.

But I think it is always a good exercise to think about different ideas.

I feel I need to confirm that the artificial induction of lactation of cows is not Happy Cow Milk policy.

Glen Herud is the founder of the Happy Cow Milk Company.


Source: Stuff

9 ways activity monitors can pay off in a herd

Activity monitoring technology is beneficial to both you and your cows.

With today’s milk prices, investing in activity monitoring technology might seem like an unnecessary expense. But, the reality is, activity monitoring technology can help dairy herds of all sizes maximize their labor and resources, a smart investment at any milk price.

“Maximizing resources is critical when margins are tight and activity monitors can do just that,” says Stephanie Aves, business development manager for Nedap North America. “Activity monitors can observe and identify heats, unusual behavior and signs of disease, allowing you to reallocate labor resources elsewhere. An added bonus is that activity monitors show more than the human eye can see and they never call in sick for work.”

Today’s activity monitoring technology offers you more control than ever before. At their fingertips, farmers can quickly identify sick cows, cows in heat or discover someone left the gate open. They can also check cows and make decisions, even when they’re away from the farm.

Here are nine ways activity monitoring can pay-off in a herd.

  1. Easy, accurate record keeping. Activity monitoring tracks how each cow is doing, what her heat status is and where her location is 24/7. It also identifies bottlenecks and delivers herd performance trends. It records cow activities that humans aren’t able to record and offers insight at any time.
  2. Real-time decision making. If something is wrong with individual cows or groups of cows, an alert is triggered. Immediate steps can be taken to correct the situation. No more waiting until morning or afternoon chores to notice a sick cow or other situation that requires attention.
  3. Improved labor efficiency. Instead of spending time checking for heats and herd health or searching for cows, employees can spend time tackling management areas begging for more focus on the farm.
  4. Decreased medication and labor costs for sick cows. Activity monitoring systems detect sick cows before humans. They allow you to save time and money by catching and treating a sick cow before she starts showing symptoms.
  5. Reduced health issues. State-of-the art activity monitoring systems continuously monitor eating activity, rumination patterns and inactive behavior. You can quickly detect diseases like ketosis, subclinical mastitis and pneumonia a few days before the cows show symptoms.
  6. Improved cow longevity. Reduced health issues due to use of an activity monitoring system translate to improved herd productivity and longevity.
  7. Improved cow comfort. Activity monitoring systems provide data that could positively influence adjustments in housing, handling, nutrition or activity.
  8. Improved conception rate. Dairy farms with well-managed activity monitoring systems have seen improved conception rates. Sensors identify the optimal breeding time more accurately for improved breeding results.
  9. More time to enjoy life. Activity monitoring is constantly watching over the herd, giving you the confidence to leave the farm and participate in things that are important to you and your family.

Using actionable data helps you better your best. Making the most of the activity monitoring technology available to you will bring the nine benefits to life.

Even in down economies, farms using the technology report it only takes 1-3 years for the technology to pay for itself.[1] And that doesn’t account for the peace of mind you get with the system.

Where do I start?

“If considering the purchase of an activity monitoring system, start your search with your milking equipment or A.I. supplier,” says Aves. “Many milking equipment and A.I. companies carry activity monitoring systems that connect seamlessly with individual parlor and herd monitoring systems.”

To learn more about activity monitoring systems and how they can help your farm reach its productivity goals, visit

Nedap Livestock Management ( is the global leader in farming automation using individual animal identification. Nedap’s easy-to-use technology helps farmers manage millions of dairy and beef cattle, and pigs 24 hours a day, in more than 100 countries. Nedap empowers managers and personnel with dependable information to make operational and strategic decisions and has for more than 40 years. Nedap focuses on helping livestock farmers become the best farmers in the world. A publicly listed company, Nedap employs more than 700 people globally, across 11 locations and eight business units.

A2 Milk appoints China exec to boost market share

Dual-listed dairy producer a2 Milk has appointed a new Shanghai-based executive to help boost its Chinese market share.

Li Xiao will begin his role as a2’s chief executive of Greater China next month, reporting directly to Asia Pacific chief executive, Peter Nathan.

In February, the company – listed in both Australia and New Zealand – reported a more than 50 per cent jump in half-year net profit in February, despite slowing demand in China.

A burgeoning US and China market, coupled with fresh milk sales growth in Australia helped propel the company to a record net profit in the six months to December 31 to $NZ153 million ($147 million).

In a release to the ASX on Monday, a2 said Mr Xiao had helped grow a number of multinational consumer-driven companies in China including Mars, Nike, Burger King, and more recently the high-growth Kids Entertainment Division at Wanda Group.

“[He] will be responsible for maximising the significant opportunities that the China market presents for the company, with an initial focus on delivering against the company’s existing well-developed strategy and preparing for future growth opportunities across Greater China,” the company said.

At the time of the February half-year results, chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said :“In the last six months we’ve spent considerable time deepening our understanding of consumers in China.

“We know brand awareness in China still has scope for growth and that our consumers – once they’ve tried our products – are typically some of the most loyal and committed in the category.

“As a consequence, marketing investment in second half of FY19 will be approximately double the first half, with the majority of that going to brand building activities in China.”

Shares in a2 Milk slipped by 0.52 per cent to $13.34 on Monday, down from an all-time high of $14.27 earlier in March.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Economics professor says milk should be $1.56 a litre in 2019, something Australian dairy industry hopes for

What should the price of milk be in 2019?

This week major supermarkets Coles and Aldi announced they would lift the price of their home brand milk by 10 cents a litre, a month after Woolworths made the same move.

While southern Queensland dairy farmer Peter Garrett welcomed the increase he also hoped this was just the beginning.

“Milk at $1.10 a litre is still 20 cents below where it was being sold in 2011 [before dollar-a-litre milk was introduced],” he said.

“Let alone inflation [and] what that would have done [to the price of milk] in the past nine years.

“We need to see further structural reform through the industry right from the top down.”

Professor of economics at the University of Queensland John Quiggin said if milk prices kept up with inflation, consumers would have to fork out an extra 46 cents a litre.

“Of course there is no economic law that says that all prices should rise at the same rate.

“Historically Australian supermarkets, especially the big chains, have used milk as a loss-leader, an item they can advertise very cheaply in order to get customers through the door.”

Dairy farmers working towards $1.50

CEO of Australian Dairy Farmers David Inall said the industry was working towards getting close to that figure of $1.50 a litre.

“An objective of ours is to see dairy products right through the dairy cabinet rise, whether it’s cheeses, whether it’s yoghurts and of course liquid milk,” he said.

Mr Inall said that “until dollar milk was gone it was an almost impossible conversation to have”.

“It took one [major supermarket] to go first and in this case it was Woolworths, it went 10 cents out in front of its competitors,” he said.

“I think it would be unlikely for one to go 20, or 30, or 40, or 50 cents out on the first jump, but absolutely it’s an objective to keep this moving forward.”


Source: ABC News

Highland Dairy is the pilot farm for revolutionary new milking parlor

Rena Johnson, who operates the Glade Spring family business Highland Dairy, is seeing a lot of happy cows these days.

It’s thanks to a new milking parlor that’s not only making the cows more comfortable, it’s improving dairy profits for the three-generation farm family.

Highland Dairy is the pilot farm for a new revolutionary design by DeLaval, a worldwide leader in milking equipment and solutions for dairy farmers with headquarters in Sweden.

“We’re the first farm in the world to use this design commercially,” said the young dairy farmer. “It’s a pretty big deal for our farm in this little corner of Southwest Virginia.”

Last week, a video crew representing DeLaval traveled from New Zealand to the Washington County farm to make a promotional video of the cutting-edge equipment in use.

The video, which includes interviews with Johnson, eventually may be used as a DeLaval Virtual Farm Tour on the company’s website to advertise the P-500 model of the milking parlor.

DeLaval dealers from across the country are expected to bring prospective buyers to the Glade Spring farm throughout the year to see the revolutionary milking parlor.

“A month ago, we had 60 DeLaval dealers visit the farm, representing 20 different countries,” Johnson said. “People who work for the company visit us to learn about the parlor and return to their respective countries to promote the new equipment.”

Johnson, who grew up learning about the dairy business and graduated from Virginia Tech in 2006, described the purchase as a “leap of faith.”

“We definitely needed to do this if we were going to stay in business, and I wanted to make this change while I had the help of my dad,” she said.

Her father, Dave Johnson, was instrumental in designing the barn for the new parlor. The construction, which began a year ago, suffered several delays before it was completed and ready to use in January.

Milking Parlor-06

Marcos Rodriguez, a milker at Highland Dairy, prepares to attach milking units to the cows. Above milking platforms, a built-in computer monitors the milk flow and production of each cow.

“We had a sinkhole appear, two hurricane events and I don’t know how many inches of rain to endure before it was done,” Johnson said.

The milking parlor they had been using, a 1970s model, was outdated, and repair costs were increasing each year, she said.

“We knew if I wanted to milk cows for my lifetime, we had to have a new parlor. It was scary to borrow the money, but we did it. Now, I’ve sealed my future. I’ll be milking cows for the rest of my life,” Johnson, 35, said with a laugh.

The new parlor has replaced a herringbone design. With the herringbone parlor, cows were stacked in a 45-degree angle, milking from the sides of the udders.

The new parlor is a double 16, milking 32 cows at a time. Milking equipment is attached to the udders at the rear of the cow between the legs.

Marcos Rodriguez, a three-year employee at the farm, said he likes milking the cows in the new parlor.

“Especially since I get kicked less with this system,” he said.

“The challenge with the new equipment was getting the cows to enter the parlor and make a 90-degree turn when they were used to making a 45-degree turn. Cows are creatures of habit,” Johnson said.

“Extra helpers — friends and neighboring farmers — were called on to help physically push the cows into the parlor spaces because they had no idea what was going on. Now, they’re used to it, and I think they really like it better. They have more room to stand and move around. That makes me happy, too.”

Milking Parlor-11
Rena Johnson, who operates the family’s dairy business, Highland Dairy, said the new milking parlor allows the cows more room to stand and move around. The efficiency of the new DeLaval system allows Johnson enough time to milk their 550 cows three times each day.

The new parlor is amazingly quiet. The milking equipment is under the parlor, leaving the milking area free from noise and distractions.

The new parlor is also making the milking process more efficient and quicker.

“In the old parlor, we milked at best 80 cows in an hour. In the new one, we have the capability of milking as many as 140 cows an hour,” said Johnson.

Because the equipment is faster, she is able to eliminate three hours off each milking time during the day.

“With the old system, we were just milking half of the herd three times a day because we didn’t have enough time to milk all of them three times. Now, we can milk all of them three times a day — at 4 a.m., noon and 8 p.m. — which is better for the health of the cows,” she said.

Johnson explained milking the cows more often helps increase production.

“We’ve gained five pounds of milk per cow. When you milk them an extra time during the day, you get more milk.”

Johnson is impressed with the efficiency of the new equipment.

“Cows spend less time in the new milking parlor than before, even though we’re milking an extra time during the day. The equipment is so much quicker. The cows can get in and out, allowing them to go back to the barn to eat or lie down,” she said.

Safety is another important benefit to operating with the DeLaval system.

Milking Parlor-13
A refrigerator in the new barn holds an in-line sampler that takes a representative sample of the milk which is regularly checked for bacteria count, milk quality, and fat and protein content.

“Before, the milk went into two big bulk tanks, which stored and cooled it before it was loaded onto milk trailers. Now, we do direct load, which means the milk goes straight from the cow through a chiller, bringing the milk from 101.5 degrees to around 33 or 34 degrees, then on to the milk trailer.

“A flow meter lets me know when the trailer is full and ready to be switched to another trailer.”

Johnson said an in-line sampler takes a representative milk sample of each trailerload of milk, which is sent off to check for bacteria count, milk quality and fat and protein content.

“Before, we had to take the samples from the tank and send them off to be checked.”

The cows even wear their own form of technology — blue collars with built-in pedometers that monitor their activity and relay the information to a computer. Increased activity signals a cow is in heat and ready to be bred. Low activity may signal that she is not feeling well.

Radio Frequency Identification Technology ear tags track and relay information about each cow to a computer at the barn.

“For example, the computer alerts me if a cow’s milk production is not what it’s supposed to be. I can enter her tag number in a keypad here in the parlor, and she is automatically sorted before leaving the parlor. That way, we can address her needs while she’s here inside the barn.

“Technology in the dairy business is the wave of the future,” said Johnson. “After all, we milk 550 cows, so I have to keep track of each one of them. Who knows what technology will come to the milking parlor by the next generation?”


2019 Dairy Farmers of America Members of Distinction

Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) Members of Distinction program honors members who embody the Cooperative’s core values and excel on their operations, in their communities and in the industry. Each year, one member farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas is honored during the Annual Banquet at DFA’s Annual Meeting. The 2019 Members of Distinction are:

Central Area
Brandt Family, Brandt Dairy — Linn, Mo.
Nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Alfred Brandt was born into dairying, and today, as the sixth generation on the farm, he milks about 130 registered Holsteins and raises 120 acres of corn and alfalfa in Linn, Mo. Citing a disconnect between legislators and farms, Alfred dedicates many hours off the farm to promote dairy and be a voice for others in the industry.

Mideast Area
Brown Family, Brownhaven Dairy — New Bremen, Ohio
Brothers Lou and Alan Brown grew up as the second generation on their parents’ dairy farm in New Bremen, Ohio. Beginning with just two cows, the farm has now grown in size — both the family and the cows. The Brown family focuses on cow comfort, sustainability and a very high-forage diet. Their children are the third generation, and together, they care for more than 300 cows on two farm locations just a mile apart.

Mountain Area
Korn Family, Korn Dairy — Terreton, Idaho
Richard and Kim Korn of Korn Dairy in Terreton, Idaho, are continuing a legacy of providing top-notch care to their herd of 90 Holstein and Brown Swiss cows. Richard is a third-generation dairy farmer and has instilled his philosophy of treating each cow as an individual to his children, David and Becky, and his grandson, Boden. The family makes it a point to check on each cow and has recently implemented GPS trackers to help monitor cow movement and breeding cycles.

Northeast Area
Reynolds Family, Cross Winds Dairy & Daughters — Alburgh, Vt.
In Alburgh, Vt., the Reynolds family is focused on water quality, cow comfort and their community. With over 700 milking cows on 1,600 acres, Darlene and Newton Reynolds are defying the odds as first-generation dairy farmers with their four daughters who all play a role on the dairy. Their family has led the way helping clean up Lake Champlain, by helping other farmers find local ways to avoid discharges into the fresh water lake.

Southeast Area
Eberly Family, Eberly Family Farm — Waynesboro, Ga.
Eberly Family Farm in Waynesboro, Ga., may be a first-generation dairy, but the family sees dairy as an exciting and thriving industry, and is setting itself up to be part of the future of DFA. A 2014 transition from a pasture-based model to a conventional system helped the Eberly family maximize cow comfort, hygiene, management practices, and ultimately, milk quality. Now they’re passing on that spirit of careful attention to quality to the second generation — with the third not far behind.

Southwest Area
Koke Family, Blue Bonnet and Blue Jay Dairy — Dublin, Texas
In Dublin, Texas, the Koke family is dedicated to feeding the world. With roughly 1,700 milking cows on 800 acres, Johan and Sonya Koke are living their dream of being dairy farmers. Originally from Holland, Johan moved to the United States in 1991 before landing in Texas where his family are now leaders in their community and beyond. Their six children are active around their operation and also judge dairy cattle through the state of Texas and around the country.

Western Area
Verwey Family, Philip Verwey Farms 2 and 3 — Hanford, Calif.
For the Verwey family of Hanford, Calif., green practices make good business sense, as well as environmental sense. Since they built their first dairy in 2000, Philip, Shelley and their son, Brent have installed several innovative, sustainable features, including an anaerobic digester, an electric feed mixer and using recycled water from electric wells. Their passion for the dairy industry inspires them to demonstrate the viability of implementing sustainable practices to their fellow dairy farmers.

Source: Dairy Farmers of America

#1 GJPI Dancer daughter sells for $75,000 to Select Sires at Franchise Kind III

Topping the sale at $75,000 was Lot 1G, Roc-Bot Dance Off 10636 (GJPI +199 GJUI +18.3 +1.7T) from EX-90 Mackenzie x VG-84 David. She was consigned by Rock Bottom Dairy, IA, and purchased by Select Sires.  The sale was managed by the Franchise Kind while Norm Nabholz read pedigrees and Chris Hill took care of the auctioneering duties.  The sale averaged $7,407 including embryos. The sale was held March 23 at the Eldorado Scioto Downs Casino in Columbus, OH.

The highest selling Type lot was South Mountain Andreas Rascal-ET (9/18 Andreas x South Mountain Voltage Radiant EX-91, All American & ABA All-American Junior 3yr Old) x Marynole Excite Rosey (EX-94) for $28,000. She was consigned by Kueffner & Packard and purchased by Rivendale, PA.

Other Highlights Include:

  • $45,000…Lot 2G…Pine-Tree Chrome Bulgaria 1910-ET +203 GJPI (the #1 GJPI Chrome), +26.8 GJUI, +1.6DPR, a Chrome from a VG83 Method
  • $26,200…Lot 64…Big Guns Andreas Virtue-ET, undefeated as a heifer, the 2018 National Junior Champion, 2x Unanimous ABA All-American, due in June to Applejack, she is an Andreas   out of Big Guns Jamaica Vanilla EX95 2016 AJCA & ABA All-American
  • $25,000…Lot 66…Sugar Brook Bartender Bridgett, an Avonlea CF Bartender Junior 2 Year old, fresh in March, from a VG84 Prescott
  • $21,000…Lot 51…Glamourview Premier Spade, 2018 AJCA All-American Winter Calf & Reserve National Junior Champion, a Premier out of Stoney Point Tequila Sunrise EX90, 2013 ABA & AJCA All-American Spring Yearling & National Junior Champion
  • $20,300…Lot 3…First Choice of five Gentry females due in September out of MB Lucky Lady Feliz Navidad-ET EX93, 2018 WDE Grand Champion
  • $20,200…Lot 1…First Choice Female of four due in March 2019, Gentry calves out of Musqie Iatola Martha EX97 2016 WDE Supreme Champion, 3x Royal Winter Fair Supreme Champion
  • $19,800…Lot 33…Pfaffsway Colton Gracefullness, a June 2018 Colton from 2016 ABA All-American Spring Yearling Pfaffsway Imp Gracious Choice-ET EX90, second dam Pfaffs Prairie Tequila Gracious 2014 AJCA All-American Sr 2 Year Old
  • $17,500…Lot 3G…JX MFW Stoney Sparkler {4} #1 Stoney for GJPI at +208, #24 overall; +1.1DPR, a Stoney from a World Cup
  • $13,200…Lot 11…Big Guns Tequila Bianca-ET, a September 2018 Tequila x EX93 Remake x EX95-4E Ashanda Dean Bambi
  • $12,700 Lot 5G…South Mountain Chrome Caroline-ET, +151GJPI Chrome from a Torpedo sister to Casino, next dam Chilli Premier Cinema EX93 2015 ABA All-American
  • $12,500…Lot 70…Julie-Ann Tequila Asia VG89, 2018 ABA All-American Milking Yearling, due in July to Rockstar, a Tequila from a VG87 Reagan
  • $12,200…Lot 68…Stoney Point Andreas Becca VG89, AJCA All-American, Reserve ABA All-American Milking Yearling, due in August to sexed Casino, she is a Tequila x EX94 Stoney Point Verb Blush EX94


Bills would end “right-to-farm” protections for large dairies

A defunct Oregon dairy with an extensive history of wastewater problems loomed large over a legislative hearing March 21 about proposals to overhaul state dairy regulations.

Proponents of changing the existing rules for “confined animal feeding operations,” or CAFOs, argued that environmental violations at Lost Valley Farm of Boardman, Ore., underscored the need for increased safeguards.

Opponents of several bills that would impose new restrictions on large CAFOs countered that Oregon’s entire dairy industry should not be punished for the misdeeds of one bad operator.

While the trouble at Lost Valley Farm constituted a “perfect storm” of regulatory difficulties, this extreme example “did reveal some weaknesses in our processes,” said Sen. Mike Dembrow, D-Portland, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

“There’s no reason we can’t learn from the experience and improve the process,” Dembrow said.

One bill to strengthen permit requirements for large dairies in Oregon was the product of Dembrow’s legislative work group and was evaluated alongside two more far-reaching proposals during the hearing.

Under Senate Bill 876, state regulators would have to sign off on the construction of a large “confined animal feeding operation,” or CAFO, such as a dairy with more than 700 mature cows.

Before such a CAFO could begin operating, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Quality would have issue a final approval after ensuring it has secured all necessary permits and sufficient access to water.

The environmental groups Food & Water Watch and the Center for Food Safety are urging the committee against passing SB 876 because they don’t believe it goes far enough to fix “systemic” problems with the CAFO process.

“Senate Bill 876 will not stop another Lost Valley,” said Amy van Saun, attorney with the Center for Food Safety.

The bill wouldn’t resolve problems that “mega-dairies” cause with air pollution and groundwater contamination, said Tarah Heinzen, attorney with Food & Water Watch.

“It doesn’t look at the big picture,” she said.

Critics of Oregon’s CAFO regulations are pushing for legislation that would reclassify certain large dairies as “industrial” facilities, thus eliminating “right to farm” protection against local restrictions and lawsuits alleging nuisance and trespass.

Lost Valley Farm in Boardman is often cited as the impetus for changing dairy regulations, as the facility repeatedly violated wastewater rules since starting in 2017, leading the Oregon Department of Agriculture to seek its closure. The dairy and its cattle have since been sold as part of bankruptcy proceedings.

Steps taken by ODA to penalize the facility and eventually revoke its operating permit show the current regulatory framework is functioning properly, said Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena.

“It was not a regulatory failure, it was a management failure,” he said.

Much of the testimony offered during the recent legislative hearing focused on Senate Bill 104, which would reclassify large dairies as industrial, and Senate Bill 103, which would also prohibit the construction of new large dairies and require additional air and water regulations, among other provisions.

“Moratorium is the best path forward and it needs to be part of any bill we support,” said Heinzen of Food & Water Watch.

The need to reform Oregon’s dairy regulations arises from the loopholes in state law that allowed Lost Valley’s construction to move forward despite serious concerns about tapping limited groundwater and managing animal waste, said Ivan Maluski, policy director for Friends of Family Farmers, a nonprofit that supports SB 103.

“This was never a problem of just one bad actor,” Maluski said.

Smaller family farms are also harmed by the surplus production of milk that has diminished prices, he said. “The reality is mega-dairies are flooding the market with milk.”

Joe Rocha, a Tillamook dairy farmer, said the economic distress experienced by dairies is a global and national problem.

Oregon dairy farmers should not be penalized based on size, as it’s determined by the circumstances of individual operations, he said.

Rocha said his dairy has grown larger as other local farmers have retired and his four sons have joined the business.

“It gets mistaken what a family farm actually looks like,” he said of the legislation.

Reclassifying large dairies as “industrial” facilities would also have land use implications, said Louie Kazemeir, a Polk County dairyman.

A dairy would either have to be located in an industrial zone closer to town or try to rezone farmland, which is “akin to an act of God,” he said.


Source: Capital Press

New Zealand dairy dramas

Dairy farmers face a strange mix of uncertainties when contemplating with satisfaction the likelihood of a fourth consecutive season of $6-plus milk prices.

While extreme volatility in dairy product prices has calmed down and New Zealand farmers now receive as good as others in Europe and the United States, their institutions have developed cracks.

There might be no better time to rebuild the foundation, beginning with the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, part 2019.

Last week Fonterra’s leaders promised for the third or fourth time since the embarrassment of their first financial loss in 2018 a fundamental strategy review.

Co-operative principles will remain inviolate but outside of that there will be no sacred cows, chairman John Monaghan quixotically claimed.

The giant co-operative will fundamentally change in its quest to find balance sheet stability and sustainable profits, he said.

The extent of the new strategy and structure would not be fully revealed until September though sales of non-core assets will be announced as they happen.

But the bombshell of the unsettling week was Westland Milk’s proposal to sell the country’s second-largest dairy co-operative to Inner Mongolia Yili, China’s largest dairy company.

It came after a string of poor payouts that resulted from restricted product options and unsuccessful plant expansions during an 18-year fight to remain independent of Fonterra.

Initial reactions from some of its farmer-shareholders were mixed – for, against and wait-and-see.

Monaghan incurred the disapproval of Westland by prematurely regretting the demise of the co-operative and welcoming farmers who might switch supply.

Aside from the breach of convention, Westland’s directors will be concerned about the ease with which its 25 Canterbury suppliers with 30 farms could switch to Fonterra or Synlait.

Westland has 423 farms owned by 342 shareholders and 75% of those voting must approve the proposal in early July.

Fonterra was consulted about retaining Westland as a co-operative but those talks came to nothing, Monaghan said.

He and chief executive Miles Hurrell stoutly defended Fonterra’s milk prices, now widely criticised as being routinely too high for its competitors to match and for the co-operative to pay an adequate return on shareholder capital.

Those high milk prices holed Westland as a co-operative below the waterline.

Yili has promised to match Fonterra for at least 10 years, an unusually generous time.

Coupled with the $3.41/share offer, it seems likely the required majority of Westland suppliers will agree to sell.

Canterbury farmers who do want to switch supply have a choice of no share capital requirement for Synlait or $4.25 a share Fonterra re-entry, not much more than Yili’s offer.

As a multinational, Fonterra could express only mild concern about the prospect of NZ’s third-largest dairy company passing into foreign ownership.

Its seemingly constant battle for viability in Australia was highlighted again in the interim results.

Newcomer Saputo from Canada, which took over Murray Goulburn, formerly Australia’s largest co-operative, is making life very difficult for Fonterra Australia.

Now down to 1100 supply farms and 20% of the milk, Fonterra is battling to fill its new $200m Stanhope cheese plant in northern Victoria. 

Synlait didn’t have a good week either.

Its shares dropped 17% on earnings weakness that sharemarket investors hadn’t expected.

At the same time A2 Milk came off its all-time share price high, its fortunes being strongly linked to Synlait as a manufacturer.

Share price volatility might have replaced milk price volatility in the new landscape of the NZ dairy industry.


Source: Farmers Weekly

Jersey Canada’s 2018 Individual Production Awards announced

Jersey Canada has announced the winners for the 2018 Individual Production Awards.

Honouring the Hall of Fame Cow with the highest composite BCA for protein and butterfat 2018
Village Crest On The Money Baby -11862329
(2 0) 15,541 8763 4.91% 555 3.57% 625 574 590
Composite BCA for Fat & Protein: 1164
Owners: Hollylane Jerseys, Corbyville , ON

Bona Chairman Monia -ET VG 87 (3-6) -101950406
4519 Kilograms Protein
Owners: Ferme Bona 2012 Inc, St-Bonaventure , QC

Bona Chairman Monia -ET VG 87 (3-6) -101950406
5708 Kilograms Butterfat
Owners: Ferme Bona 2012 Inc, St-Bonaventure , QC

Ragged Hill Dairy brings back home delivery to Massachusetts

They say everything old becomes new again and 46-year-old Michael Sweeney is finding that’s true as he brings back old-time milk deliveries in the same truck he drove back when he delivered at Lundgren and Jonaitis Dairy in Shrewsbury.

With home delivery of food and goods on the rise and buying local a popular philosophy, Mr. Sweeney saw a market for delivery of local products and so, as Ragged Hill Dairy, he recently began delivering local milk in glass bottles that can be reused.

And his delivery service includes more than just milk.

“Actually, we deliver products from local farms throughout Worcester County and Hampden County,” Mr. Sweeney said, adding that some products also come from Hampshire County.

So in addition to milk: whole, skim, 1.5 percent, chocolate and strawberry, there are also meats, cheeses, eggs and, when the weather gets better, Mr. Sweeney hopes to add produce, all locally grown.

“I’m going back to the old-school milkman,” he said. “So what else is usually in a milk truck when it comes to your house? That’s what we’re outsourcing from people who live right in the local area. We have cheese, pasture-raised pork, pasture raised beef and eggs.”

While he’s competing with larger companies that deliver from grocery stores, Mr. Sweeney said he is able to keep his delivery charge to $3 which he believes is a good deal for people who are localvores, recyclers and earth-conscious consumers. Customers must order a minimum $9 in products for delivery for a total with the delivery cost, of $12.

“Technically it is a little bit more expensive than the Walmart because they mass produce it, it doesn’t come from any place local so they’re able to provide it to the consumer cheaper,” he said.

But he believes buying local is a better option, even with the slightly higher price, “and you’re supporting a local farm.”

Ryan Witkos of Hardwick has been getting dairy products delivered for a few weeks and said the service is great. He especially likes having fresh cream for his coffee.

“Everything’s very fresh,” he said. “The milk was wicked fresh and getting two quarts of cream for six bucks? I’m sold.”

Mr. Witkos said he’s also happy to support a small local business that is helping other area agribusinesses to thrive.

Mr. Sweeney, who grew up in Worcester, said some of his customers have fond memories of a milkman dropping by and tucking a few glass bottles into a milk box on the porch. Back then many simply walked in through unlocked doors and stuck the milk directly into the refrigerator. Mr. Sweeney’s dad was a milkman and he sometimes went to work with him in those days. Later, he went to work for Lundgren and Jonaitis Dairy, too.

“I always enjoyed it,” he said. “I always enjoyed working there but unfortunately they closed.”

He spent several years driving trucks and then bumped into a friend who owns Maple Farm Dairy in Mendon and delivers milk. The two talked and Mr. Sweeney, who has been buying milk in glass bottles at Gibson Farm’s on Sunderland Road in Worcester, realized the area near his new home in West Brookfield was untouched and rife with opportunities for delivery.

“I decided, why don’t I give it a shot,” he said. “Being out this way and having more access to local products can keep my costs down as opposed to being in Worcester and having to have everything shipped in.”

With a bit of planning and collaboration with local farmers, bakers and dairies, he was underway and started making deliveries several weeks ago.

He even got himself a milk truck — the same one he excitedly drove when it was brand new “with the plastic still on the seats” back when he worked in Shrewsbury.

To get a delivery, go to and order products by 8 p.m. on Tuesday for weekend delivery. Customers need a cooler or a milk box — which can be purchased on the website — or an accessible refrigerator in a garage. Mr. Sweeney said he’ll even bring the milk inside if a customer wishes. Once an order is submitted, the customer will be assigned a delivery date between Saturday and Monday and Mr. Sweeney will deliver and pick up any glass milk bottles from previous orders.

Source: Telegram

Milk, cheese, and baby formula – mooing for more Bega Cheese

Bega Cheese (BGA, $4.69) CEO Barry Irvin believes the change is more structural – it will endure long after the rain starts falling again. This emerging milk scarcity is moulding the strategy of the country’s only listed scale processor that sources 1.1 billion litres of milk – 10% of total supply – annually.

“We are very conscious of what we think is a changing dynamic in Australian supply,” Irvin says.

The problem is that western Victoria and Gippsland are the only regions fundamentally suitable for dairying, with south east Queensland, NSW and northern Victorian producers facing water-related and other issues.

At the same time, processors have been merrily expanding capacity, such as Australian Consolidated Milk, which is building an $80m milk powder and butter plant near Girgarre in northern Victoria.

Freedom Foods (FNP, $4.65) is doubling capacity at its Shepparton facility to 500 million litres. The specialist food maker also recently acquired the nearby Coomboona Dairy, the country’s biggest single dairy infamously partly owned by Harvey Norman before going into receivership.

 “The deterioration is as fast as I have seen in terms of Queensland, NSW and northern Victorian supply,” Irvin says. “Some of it will come back but I don’t have the feeling it will come back to its pre-drought levels.”

In south east Queensland, dairy farmer numbers are dwindling and they’re not being replaced. “As they close down, they are not being bought by their neighbour and they can be alternate use or urbanisation,” Irvin says.

As a result, big dairy manufacturers such as Parmalat are eyeing supply from northern Victoria, where water availability issues has seen the volume of milk reduce from three billion litres to one billion litres over the last decade.

Eventually, he says, Victorian farm gate prices will catch up with the traditionally higher prices enjoyed by the Queensland farmers who, ironically, supply most of the supermarket’s $1 a litre milk. (Coles and Aldi this month followed Woolworths’ move to raise its price from $1 to $1.10 a litre).

While partially offset by stronger prices for its end products, Bega’s recent half year results reflected the higher input costs as well as energy, along with higher inventory costs (and higher debt) relating to its acquired Koroit facility in western Victoria.

Bega’s normalised ebitda came in at $57.9 million, down 17%, with full-year guidance confirmed at the lower end of the previously stated $123-130 million range.

Ignoring Irvin’s protest that the numbers were coming off an especially robust previous comparative half, investors sent the stock down 5% in the ensuing two trading days.

Bega’s core strategy involves milking the full potential of its legacy plant in Tatura and its acquired Koroit facility, while not sinking capital into excess capacity.

On this note, Bega announced the closure of its mozzarella and cheddar making factory in Melbourne’s North Coburg, at the cost of an unquantified number of jobs. The company has outsourced supply to “a very large third party producer.”

An urban anachronism on the front line of northern suburbs hipster expansion, the plant had been subject to increasing complaints from residents who love their (goat’s) cheese – as long as it’s made elsewhere.

 Irvin says the shifting supply dynamics highlight the importance of the Koroit factory, in the lush western district. Bega bought the facility from Saputo for $250 million in July 2018, with the Canadian processor forced to divest the factory after it acquired the struggling Murray Goulburn collective.

Bega is looking to expand from butter and nutritional powders to higher value derivatives, such as lactoferran, a protein product that’s been around for decades but is gaining favour as an additive to infant food formula.

Lactoferran has fetched up to $3,000 a kilogram but is still a small market subject to price volatility — and oversupply if every other producer has the same idea.

Bega’s other main strategy ploy is building its consumer brand portfolio – notably Vegemite and peanut butter and cheese slices – acquired from Mondelez International (formerly Kraft) for $460 million in early 2017.

In the first few months after the purchase, Vegemite sales enjoyed a boost on the back of headlines about the patriotic Bega buying back the farm.

Sales of the yeasty black delight have since reverted to steady-state normality, although Bega argues it never viewed Vegemite as a high-growth play. If anything, there’s better growth in peanut butter even though the sector is more heavily competed.

Without an ounce of schadenfreude – ok, just a bit — Irvin is “comforted” that Freedom Foods’ half-year results were just as sobering. The point is that Freedom has been winning milk suppliers from Bega at a better price, but this largesse to the cow cockies can’t be sustained.

Evidently, Bega is confident of regaining its mojo, even if it’s in a Stephen Bradbury manner as its rivals falter because of overly aggressive expansion.

But the company needs to overcome Supreme Court legal challenges related to its grocery business, which could greatly affect its emerging acquired consumer business.

The first is from the Kiwi-based Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy processor which is licensed to use the Bega cheese brand in Australia. 

Unhappy Fonterra alleges that Bega’s intention to rebrand the Kraft lines as Bega products is in breach of contract. Bega has counter claimed, pushing the hearing date out to late 2019.

Separately, Kraft has challenged Bega’s right to use its distinctive yellow packaging on its Vegemite and peanut butter jars.

Judgment on this one is due in April.

Meanwhile, Fonterra and Bega remain in a now loveless marriage until 2025. “We probably don’t have as many beers with them but we are still perfectly polite to one another and get on,” Irvin says.

Australian Nutrition and Sports (AN1) not yet listed

Amid signs of a slowing Chinese infant formula market exacerbated by oversupply, Australian Nutrition and Sports (ANS) is joining the fray with a $5-8 million capital raising ahead of an ASX listing in early April.

As its name suggests, ANS is not so much about the powdered baby nourishment but its range of health and fitness products such as protein bars and shakes and ‘rapid energy gels’.

Having said that, ANS plans to grow its Chinese and Hong Kong presence with its infant (and adult) dairy formula range that is made by a certified third-party Victorian manufacturer.

ANS founder, CEO and former personal trainer Tom Lashan concurs that with about 40 different brands available in Hong Kong alone, consumers are spoiled for choice. But most of the cowboy entrants – inspired by vision of desperate shoppers cleaning out whole shelves of formula – have left the market.

ANS generated revenue of $419,000  in the 2017-18 year, 193% higher but still well short of any meaningful scale.

On the formula side ANS is roughly comparable with Bubs Australia (BUB, 72c) or Wattle Health (WHA, 87c) but on the sports side there’s no real listed comparison.

Post listing, ANS will bear a market cap of $16-19.1 million.


All-National Showcase Program Launched by Holstein USA

Holstein Association USA announces an exciting new award recognizing U.S. Registered Holstein® cows and their owners for exceptional performance at National Holstein Shows. The All-National Showcase Program is designed to add value to Registered Holstein cattle and reward their participation in National Shows.

“Having another recognition program for Registered Holsteins is very exciting for us. A lot of sports have points-driven contests throughout the season to determine the overall best of the best, and this program will mirror that,” says Jodi Hoynoski, executive director, Holstein Identification & Member Services.

To be eligible, animals must be registered in the Holstein Association USA herdbook on or before November 15 in the award year. Animals will be eligible to earn points at each National Holstein Show exhibited at throughout the year. Points are allocated for a top 10 placing in their respective uniform age class, based on the size of the show. Bonus points will be awarded to champions.

In each of the uniform show classes, the top 10 animals earning the most points will be recognized on the Holstein Association USA website and will receive a certificate. For the top two animals, the website will feature a picture and pedigree link, and the recognition will be added to the animal’s Official Holstein PedigreeTM.

All-National results will be posted on the website in December. Full details on the All-National Showcase Program rules and point system can be found at For questions please contact Jodi Hoynoski at 800.952.5200, ext. 4261 or


Top Dairy Industry News Stories from March 16th to 22nd 2019

Feature Stories:

Top News Stories:

B.C. dairy farmers say federal budget not enough to cut losses from USMCA

Concerns raised over vague details, funding access and impacts on growth

Shuswap dairy farmers are concerned federal funding intended to support the industry will be too difficult to access.

The federal government has earmarked $3.65 billion to help Canada’s dairy farmers whose operations have been hampered by increased competition resulting from free trade agreements.

Of the federal funding, $2.15 billion is being set aside to help farmers who have lost income due to trade deals made with countries in Europe and the Pacific Rim. An additional $1.5 billion is to compensate farmers who lose money when selling their production rights to another dairy farmer.

Nic Dewitt, who runs Dari Delite Farm in Sicamous, said on the surface the government’s measures are encouraging, but whether they will stop the long-term losses farmers are dreading is anybody’s guess.

“What they’re doing is they’re actually giving away future growth in our own marketplace,” Dewitt said.

“If you don’t have any growth in any business it makes things pretty tough, especially when input costs are going up and margins are getting tighter. You have to be able to capitalize on the growth side of things – that’s the issue that everybody is facing in the dairy industry as producers.”

Dewitt said fewer people are looking to buy quota to either expand or start up a dairy operation amidst the uncertainty created by the free trade agreements. The sales at a loss that part of the government funding is meant to protect farmers from could become an increasingly common reality.

John Schut, a dairy farmer from Salmon Arm, expressed concern that bureaucracy would make the funds difficult to access.

Schut says he has been disappointed by the onerous effort it has taken to access funds through previous government stimulus packages. Schut knows the application process to federal funds from experience, having applied for money towards a building project on the farm.

“We accessed some of those funds on a building project. It was very time consuming to apply for those funds, it took a lot of effort,” Schut said.

Schut thinks the upgrades he was able to perform on his farm with the last round of federal funding did succeed in making his operation more competitive.

“It’s just too vague, but you come to get used to that,” Dewitt said of the federal funding announcement

“Until something actually comes into place, it’s just kind of same old, same old. It doesn’t change anything in our day-to-day struggles.”

Dewitt said even for those farms that are able to maintain some growth in the face of competition from outside Canada, the trade deals are putting a pinch on the market and the milk price.

“On a first take, it’s encouraging that they will provide that funding. I will also say it would’ve been really nice if they didn’t sell us out in the first place. Sell us out and then get the Canadian taxpayer to pay for whatever has happened to the dairy industry,” Schut said.

“We would much prefer to be self-sufficient.”


Source: Terrace Standard

The milk market has failed the Australian dairy industry

Coles’ and Aldi’s decision to finally follow Woolworths and abandon $1 a litre milk represents a small, but powerful step towards addressing a marked decline in farmer returns.

Currently, dairy farmers are feeling the bleeding edge of deregulation and globalisation in agriculture.

While concepts of trading on level playing fields are laudable, the experience of the last 30 years is that protection in Europe and the USA will not be readily dismantled.

We have allowed export milk prices set in corrupted markets to determine the price of whole milk in unsubidised Australia.– Ian Lean

It is naïve to expect this situation will change in a time frame consistent with maintaining a viable dairy industry in Australia.

Australian milk producers compete locally against subsidised cheese and dairy products from the European Union, US and other places.

We have allowed export milk prices set in corrupted markets to determine the price of whole milk in unsubidised Australia.

Tail wagging the dog

With only 30 per cent of Australia’s milk exported, the tail is wagging the dog.

Valuing milk at an export price into the internal markets results in a loss of viability of producers. Since fresh milk market deregulation in 2000 returns to dairy producers in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania have been essentially zero.

There has been marked volatility, with farmers profiting some years, but making big losses in others.

These outcomes were predictable.

I noted in 2000 a “marked downward pressure on market prices for whole milk through the concentration of purchasing power in supermarket chains.

“The effects of these changes on individual producers are to accelerate trends towards larger farms, high production per cow and more intensive management of cattle.

“Less obvious changes may include rural poverty.”

Fast forward to 2019 and many dairy producers have diminished viability with fewer, larger, but less profitable farms.

Fewer farms, less equity

In 1983, dairy producers in all states had more than 90 per cent equity, except Victoria which had about 88pc.

Now only about 33pc of Victorian farms remain and they average less than 66pc equity.

The impact $1/litre on producers was discounted by the Australian Consumer Competition Commission (ACCC), but this price has not been indexed in 8 years.

The severe initial effect is much worse.

Further, large contracts offered by supermarket chains to milk processors have led to low tenders, resulting in farmers receiving prices below costs of production.

Export milk product production was once based on seasonal production from pasture in areas with predictable rainfall.

Fresh milk costs money

By contrast, whole milk is of highest quality, it’s fresh, available all year and costs more to produce.

Not all the collapse in milk production since 2011 can be attributed to $1/litre milk, but declining production and profits and fewer farm numbers are not coincidental.– Ian Lean

Traditionally, better returns for whole milk allowed some producers to maintain cows to take advantage of good seasonal conditions to produce milk for export.

Pricing milk on an export parity-basis erodes a strong base to support export.

While not all the collapse in milk production since 2011 can be attributed to $1/litre milk, declining production and profits and fewer farm numbers are not coincidental.

Importantly, there are increasing demands for animal protein – we will need 70pc to 100pc more food than currently produced in the world by 2050.

It is vital to identify ways to ensure there are sufficient producers to meet future demand. Some steps may help rejuvenate the industry.

What’s needed now

The promised mandatory code of conduct between farmers and processors is essential.

Bargaining groups are needed to equilibrate power in negotiation.

A floor price for whole milk based on production costs rather than a corrupted export price is also needed.

The price for whole milk and milk products produced and consumed within the country should reflect nutritional and other values of milk and could allow dairy manufacturers and exporters to maintain infrastructure and milk throughput necessary to access export markets.

Ideally, forward pricing would allow some certainty in planning to reflect the biological cycles in cattle production.

It takes about three years to raise a calf from conception to herd entry.

Highly volatile markets put producers at risk if they choose to expand a herd and then milk prices collapse.

New plan required

Agricultural businesses should be robust enough to successfully plan for debt, drought, fire or flood and to cope with burgeoning regulation.

To continue with the same approaches that clearly failed for 20 years is to court a loss of food security, destruction of rural communities and less employment.

Our farmers are not being rewarded for the world-leading quality of the food produced.

The consumer should not benefit from a corrupted market and lack of negotiating power leading to unsustainable pricing.

But neither should producer returns be feather-bedded.

It is time to accept the market is not a plan, and time for leadership in developing new plans.

Dr Ian Lean is an authority in dairy cattle management, medicine and nutrition, and the managing director of research and advisory firm, Scibus, and adjunct professor in veterinary clinical studies at the University of Sydney.


Source: North Queensland Register

Washington Blizzard Killed 1,850 Cows, Yakima Farmers Reeling

The unexpected blizzard that swept through the Yakima Valley on Feb. 9 was just one more clobbering for the region’s dairy farms.

The number of dairy farms in the state has plummeted from 2,500 in 1993 to 377 in 2018, according to the Washington Farm Bureau, which represents the mostly family-owned businesses. Four years of low milk prices have led numerous farmers to call it quits.

Dairy farms also face new state regulations for handling and storing cow manure that one dairy consultant estimates have initial costs of $300,000 to $2 million. Requirements include special liners for the lagoons holding the manure, and a mandatory leak-detection system.

But Yakima Valley dairy farmers were unprepared for what befell them on Feb. 9. A storm with wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph and temperatures in the low to mid-teens sent wind chills plummeting near zero degrees, leaving 1,850 dairy cattle dead in the span of a few hours. With each cow valued by the dairies at $2,000, the loss was $3.7 million.

Though dairy farmers can apply for reimbursement of 75 percent of the livestock’s market value for weather-related deaths through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, the loss hit Yakima Valley farmers hard.

“What next? Biblical plagues? A violent tornado?” says Stu Turner, a West Richland-based agronomist and consultant to the dairy industry. “They’ve faced almost everything that you can think of that’s negative.”

Dairy cows have died by the hundreds – even the thousands – before in blizzards. An estimated 35,000 cows died in December 2015 when a winter storm dubbed Goliath swept through West Texas and New Mexico. Tens of thousands more died in an October 2013 snowstorm in South Dakota.

But last month’s tragedy drew national coverage, spurring angry reaction from animal-rights groups and condemnation on the internet.

PETA announced it would purchase either a billboard or maybe transit ads in the Yakima area to commemorate the deaths. The image will be of a mother cow and her calf, next to the words, “Not Your Mom? Not Your Milk! Choose Vegan.”

Jason Sheehan, who lost 200 cows at his J & K Dairy, says most of the dairy farmers who lost cows don’t want to be part of media coverage. Not far away from his farm is a dairy that lost 600 cows, he says, but that farmer didn’t want publicity.

“No matter how good a job we do, how well we care for the animals, people tend to turn it around on us,” Sheehan says. “There’s lot of keyboard warriors out there these days.”

In fact, few Americans know much about farm life. In 2016, only 1.5 percent of Americans were employed in agriculture, forestry, fishing or hunting, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Source: Insurance Journal

Milktime from Gen-I-Beq Shottle Bombi family Tops Westcoast Classic Sale at $200,000

It was a bright and sunny day in Chilliwack, BC with a large crowd coming out for this year’s edition of the Westcoast Classic, held on March 21st.  Topping the sale was Lot 12 Siemers Milk Bombi who sold for $200,000.  Consigned by Siemers Holsteins, Milk Bombi has elite genomic tests of 30485-ET +2932 GTPI +3504 GLPI +998NM$, she is a Milktime daughter that goes back to Gen-I-Beq Shottle Bombi EX-94 2E 25*

Other notables:

  • Lot 1 – $41,000 – Dicklands Absolutely Unstopabl – 9/18 Unstopabull that is the #1 Conformation female in the world at +21 Conf and the #1 R&W PTAT Female in the world from the Apples. Consigned by: T&L Cattle Ltd. and  J. Dick & Family, BC Buyer: Ferme Blondin, QC
  • Lot 79 – $18,000 – Elmbridge Doorman Rolex VG-87-2YR – a Doorman daughter fresh again in January from five VG-CAN dams. Consigned by: Nicole Parkinson & Peter Tuytel, Jr., BC Buyer: Westcoast Holsteins, BC
  • Lot 77 – $14,000 – Daridelite Mogul Darby VG-87-2YR – a Mogul junior 2-year-old out of a VG-86-CAN Goldwyn dam, then three more VG & EX dams. Consigned by: T & L Cattle Ltd. Buyer: Westcoast Holsteins, BC


Fire-ravaged New Zealand dairy farmer returns

The only dairy farmer forced off his farm by the massive Tasman fire has been able to continue milking despite earlier believing the farm would be too damaged.

Sharemilker Michael Shearer runs 360 cows on a property in the Teapot Valley, west of the town of Brightwater. The farm became one of the front lines in the fight against the 2300ha fire, which came up to the boundary and could have continued but for an estimated 25ha of firebreaks cut into the farm.

Shearer was temporarily milking his herd at a property the other side of the Waimea River, but had expected to dry them off when he returned to the farm because be believed there was too much damage to continue milking.

However, Shearer says while it looked like that at the time, he has “managed to make things work”.

“We got on and discovered the water was salvageable to half the farm, which was the main concern.

“The laneways were fine and we could patch up a few fences to get the cows to and from the shed. Then we figured that if we could milk them out of one paddock at Ealams we should be able to milk them out of about 15 at home.”

The herd’s temporary home was a paddock on Bruce and Cameron Ealam’s property at Brightwater. This recent conversion to hops from dairy boasted a still-workable milking shed.

Shearer said things had worked out better than expected.

“Everything lined up nicely. We were to get out the day after Ealams started the hops [harvest], and got out of their way.

“We had a couple of MPI guys who really helped put an emergency plan in place for getting the cows back; that got us over the line to being able to get back on the farm.”

Meanwhile, the state of emergency has been lifted but Shearer is still working off only about a third of the farm, not grazing the hills and keeping behind certain firebreaks.

The fire has only worsened the effects of the continuing drought.

“We kind of forgot about [the drought] when the fire kicked in but now it’s getting back to fighting on both fronts again,” said Shearer.

“We’ve got our silage stack there which will last another two to three weeks and then I’ve got some baleage we’re going to get off my brother-in-law.

“After that it’ll be making more decisions so, yeah, we are kind of a bit reliant on altruism.”

But he believes his cows were happy to be home.

“I think they got back on the laneway and thought ‘yeah that’s right, that’s back to normal’. I know we sure appreciate it. It’s certainly nice being back on your own place and in your own shed. That’s where you feel comfortable.”

Meanwhile, the drought appears to be starting to affect production across the region.

A Fonterra spokesperson says that while the company does not publish regional data, collections in the Tasman Marlborough region are tracking down on what would normally be expected at this time of year.

Fonterra has lowered its forecast national milk collection for the full season, to 1530 million kgMS, down 1% from the previous forecast of 1550 million kgMS (although still up 2% on last season).

“To help farmers deal with dry conditions, we delivered 7000 bales of hay from our Darfield farm to about 10 farmers in the Nelson area,” the co-op said.

“We were also able to provide drinking water with our tankers to some farms.”


Source: Rural News Group

How a2 Milk plans to revitalize the slumping dairy category

The dairy industry has faced a steady decline in consumption for almost two decades as consumers have turned away from these products in favor of alternatives made from soy, almonds, coconuts and other plants.

But the a2 Milk Company is aiming to change that.

While most milk products contain both A1 and A2 proteins, the New Zealand-based company found A1 can cause stomach discomfort. a2 Milk, as its name implies, now sells dairy products that only contain the better-for-you A2 protein.

Blake Waltrip, the company’s U.S. CEO, told Food Dive this appeals to consumers and has played a role in increasing a2 Milk’s distribution and product offerings. The company more than doubled its retail count during the last year to more than 12,000 stores, with more growth forecast in 2019.

“You’re going to start seeing people come back to dairy — we’re seeing it already,” he told Food Dive at Expo West earlier this month. 

Education has been an important part the company’s growth since a2 Milk, which entered the U.S. in 2015, is still new to many consumers, he said. Waltrip said the company has heavily invested in education in the U.S. through public relations, social media, in-store shopper marketing and a national TV advertising campaign. 

“It could be a little scientific if you’re not careful and consumers don’t care about science,” he said. “Consumers fundamentally care about what works for them and how the product tastes.”

While it is still building its recognition among American consumers, a2 Milk has already established a sizable presence in other parts of the globe. The company was originally founded by a New Zealand scientist in 2000. For years, a2 Milk increased its popularity in Australia and the brand now controls about 10% of the milk market in grocery stores there, according to its website. 

While traditional milk sales dropped15%from 2012 to 2017, non-dairy milk sales in the U.S. have increased 61% during the past five years to more than $2 billion annually. The drop in dairy consumption has hurt some big companies who have had to adjust, including Dean Foods, which said last month it is exploring strategic alternatives that could include a sale of the company, and Kraft Heinz, which is considering divesting its Breakstone’s brand.

Despite the dire picture for dairy, Waltrip is optimistic his company can disrupt the category in much the same way plants did in his industry.

Credit: a2 Milk

“The category’s been starving for innovative new products and that’s the only way out of commodity declining situations — you’ve got to bring innovation to the category,” he said.

The plant-based beverage category is facing its own share of challenges as dairy makers want to ban the term “milk” from their labels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is going through more than13,000 public commentson regulating labels for plant-based dairy alternatives. While no decisions have been made, outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb seemed to be leaning toward limiting the debated terms to dairy products, saying last year that “an almond doesn’t lactate.”

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Waltrip said plant-based beverages have a place in the market, but he doesn’t see them replacing milk. He said it’s not really about consumers confusing nut milk versus the traditional variety, but rather that people will be uniformed about the nutritional values each of them possesses. Waltrip said real dairy milk has all nine essential amino acids and it is a complete protein, which is a drastically different nutritional profile than plant-based beverages. Some claim plant proteins often have incompleteamino acid profiles. 

As the company’s milk has made inroads in the market, Waltrip said a2 Milk expanded earlier this month into coffee creamers. The category, he said, is growing and the product was the top requested item customers wanted from the company. More new items could be on the way in the coming years, he said. 

“The (creamer) category is screaming for something simple and dairy based. We think it’s a big opportunity as a great extension for our milk brand, but also to build awareness of A2 milk,” he said. “It’s still a relatively new proposition here in the U.S., very big on a global basis, but we’re building it here for the last three years in the U.S. and making some good headway.”


Milk Futures Spring Up In Chicago Thursday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Thursday, Milk futures, cheese, and whey prices were up. March added 9 cents to its price and closed at $15.03 per cwt. April-July fared the best, jumping 11-23 cents. The 2ndquarter of 2019 is offering producers $15.50 cents per cwt, the highest we have seen in that period of time since mid-January. August through December prices increased 2-5 cents and the 2ndhalf settled at a price of $16.29 per cwt. Class IV markets ranged from 2 cents lower to 3 cents higher.

Dry whey was up $.0125 at  $.3225 cents per pound. Six sales were recorded from $.31 to $.3225. Forty-pound blocks were unchanged at $1.5825 per pound.  No sales were recorded. Barrels were up $.02 at $1.5650 per pound.  Eleven sales were recorded from $1.5450 to $1.5650. Grade AA Butter was unchanged at $2.2850 per pound.  No sales were recorded. Nonfat dry milk was unchanged at $.9575 per pound.  No sales were recorded.

CDN has updated their genetic base for 2019

Each year, the genetic base used to express genetic evaluations in Canada is updated in conjunction with the first official release.  The definition of each genetic base used is therefore as follows:


The table below indicates the amount of base change realized in 2019 compared to 2018 for each trait and breed. For LPI, the following base adjustments reflect the change to the new scale with half the variance compared to previous years.

Download a PDF copy of this article

Dairy industry support for graduate students pays off


When it comes to generating useful ideas and solutions for the dairy industry, graduate student researchers are the unsung heroes.

“Most of the research that gets done on campus is carried out by grad students. They’re the boots on the ground,” says Kent Weigel, who chairs the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Dairy Science.

While faculty researchers provide guidance and advice, it’s the students who comb through literature, work out the experimental design, and collect and analyze the data, notes Weigel, a professor and extension specialist in the department.

“This benefits the industry in two ways,” he says. “Students conduct research that leads to new products and protocols and technologies. And they graduate as highly trained potential employees.”

UW­–Madison dairy scientists would like to bring in more grad students to conduct industry-related research, so last year they introduced a new initiative, the Dairy Research Partnership, to encourage dairy-related businesses to fund the roughly $50,000-per-year cost of educating a grad student.

This year the initiative is supporting four students who are conducting research related to nutrition, animal behavior and reproduction. Individual firms are funding two of them, while the other two are being supported from a pool of contributions from several companies, organizations and individuals.

One of those students is Megan Lauber, who is working in the lab of reproductive physiologist Paul Fricke, a professor and extension specialist. Lauber is looking at strategies to improve fertility when using sexed semen to impregnate cows and heifers.

“Current reproductive fertility programs are optimized for the use of conventional semen,” she says. “But more farmers are using sexed semen inseminations, while fewer are using conventional semen. My project aims to adapt protocols to improve fertility when using sexed semen.”

Part of Lauber’s work involves collecting and analyzing data on pregnancy from dairy farms across the country. She will also be doing in vitro work to assess and better characterize bull fertility between conventional and sexed semen.

Rekia Salter, another of the industry-funded students, is researching housing calves in pairs rather than individually. Paired housing has been shown to improve the calves’ cognitive skills and social development, as well as their solid feed intake and growth.

“Hutches are the most prevalent calf management system. My goal is to create a successful way to use pair housing in a hutch system,” says Salter, who is working with assistant professor and extension specialist Jennifer Van Os. “This would improve calf welfare while allowing producers to gain the benefits of social housing without having to change their management system.”

Salter says that her research is teaching her technical skills that will be invaluable when she goes to work as a consultant in the industry.

“I am learning skills that I will be able to apply to many different jobs, such as animal handling, farm management, working with large data sets and statistical analysis,” she says.

Meghan Lauber says that her research is not only building her technical expertise, but also sharpening her analytical skills.

“My research is teaching me how to think in a completely different way,” says Lauber, who wants to work as a reproductive specialist.  “I have to go out and find the knowledge I need by searching through literature and other sources, and then think about how I’m going to apply what I’ve learned. I believe this will allow me to analyze data and farm management more effectively as a consultant.”

Paul Fricke seconds that notion.

“Farmers are confronted with all sorts of ideas and products that are said to do certain types of things,” he says. “I tell my students they have to look at the data to see whether it supports those claims. It’s a critical skill that comes out of master’s-level programs.”

Fricke says that the industry funding is essential for this “translational” research — work that distills scientific knowledge to develop solutions that can be used directly by farmers and veterinarians.

“The type of project Megan is doing wouldn’t be funded by a granting agency geared towards basic science,” he says. “She’s looking at a way to better use an existing technology. The better we can get that technology to perform in the field for dairy farmers, the more likely they are to use it.”


Source: UW-CALS News

The Power of Promotion – March 2019 ­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Designed to keep Wisconsin dairy farmers informed on how their promotion dollars are driving demand and building trust for Wisconsin dairy products.

Wisconsin Dairy Farmer Films These films celebrate and showcase the positive associations people have with dairy farmers while sharing stories about environmental stewardship, innovation, animal care and the importance of family. The films will be featured around three agriculture-centric holidays.

National Ag Day (March 14): YouTube ads and DFW social media · June Dairy Month: YouTube ads, social media and in Marcus Movie Theaters in Wisconsin prior to movies

National Farmers Day (October 12): Social media and YouTube ads Video is more memorable and popular than any other form of storytelling or advertising today. Almost half of all viewers watch YouTube ads to the end. YouTube videos are viewed one billion hours per day!

Watch for the films on the DFW Facebook page and share the films on your farm Facebook page.

Watch the Farmer Videos

Farm to Table with Wisconsin Dairy

In an effort to educate students about the innovative dairy community and where their foods come from, the “Farm to Table with Wisconsin Dairy” video, hosted by Alice in Dairyland, takes students on a virtual field trip across the state of Wisconsin. They’ll discover healthy foods grown or produced by Wisconsin Agriculture. Explore our state’s agricultural impact on Wisconsin’s economy and the foods grown or produced in America’s Dairyland.

The video and materials are complimentary! Share with your school’s teachers and encourage them to register, view the video and use the resources.


Dairy Farmers of America reports $1 Billion in Losses in 2018

Dairy Farmers of America, the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, reported more than $1 billion dollars in lost sales last year during their annual meeting.  The co-ops says losses were incurred as a result of lower milk prices.  The co-op reported 2018’s net income was $108.5 million with total net sales of $13.6 billion, down more than a $1 billion from the year before. DFA marketed 64.5 million pounds of milk during 2018, about 30 per cent of total U.S. production. 

Canadian dairy farmers, supply-managed sectors to get $3.9B in compensation for CETA, CPTPP – but not NAFTA

Canadian dairy farmers and those in other supply-managed domestic sectors will get close to $4 billion in compensation to make up for the hit of new trade deals with Asia and Europe.

Budget 2019 promised $3.9 billion in funding to eligible dairy, poultry and egg farmers to help them cope with the economic impact of the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, both signed and implemented by the Liberals over the last three years.

Previously, the Liberals had announced $250 million to help dairy farmers upgrade and modernize their farms to adjust to the impact of CETA and the increased amount of foreign dairy products that will be allowed onto Canadian shelves as a result.

That leaves a remaining $3.65 billion to be spent on measures to support supply managed incomes and guarantee the value of quotas.

However, there are few details available in the budget and officials have no plan on when they will actually explain what the two proposed programs mean.

The first program is a pledge to make $2.15 billion available “to deal with income losses associated with these agreements.”

Officials would not say whether that would take the form of an income supplement or what other form it might come in.

But they did say it would likely not be similar in form to the Employment Insurance model.

The second program proposed in the budget is $1.5 billion to be given out on a demand-driven basis to “protect the value of investments made by farmers in supply-managed sectors” through what will be known as the Quota Value Guarantee Program.

That quota program would aim to “protect against reduction in quota value when the quota is sold.”

There is no timeline for when more details on those programs will be announced.

The two proposed programs also do not include compensation to reflect the impact of market share given up to foreign producers under the new NAFTA deal reached last fall.

That deal has yet to be ratified but Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has already said there will be compensation for dairy farmers impacted by that deal.

What compensation that could include is not yet clear.

Beata Caranci, chief economist at TD Bank, said she expects any future compensation package to address that deal will be equal to or smaller than the two programs proposed to deal with CETA and CPTPP.

She said it’s not possible to try calculating the concrete effect of the $3.9 billion on farmers without more details.

“It’s hard to judge because so much is forthcoming,” she said. “There’s detail but not the technical aspects you need to calculate impacts.”

Caranci also cautioned that without a timeline on how long the government will make the compensation available, it is difficult to gauge whether the United States could mount a challenge.

“If you’re doing it in perpetuity it could be considered a subsidy,” she said, noting such a program could be ripe for a challenge at the World Trade Organization.

Dairy compensation is shaping up to be a campaign issue for the federal parties.

Just two weeks ago Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet and named Marie-Claude Bibeau, a Quebec Liberal MP who was formerly the minister for international trade, as Minister for Agriculture.

Bibeau represents a rural Quebec riding home to a large number of dairy farmers.

Her appointment suggested the government wants a local on the ground who can speak directly to farmers impacted by the trade deals signed by the Liberals – and also take the government’s plan for compensation directly to the stakeholders.


Source: Global News

Report Highlights Continued Financial Stress For Wisconsin Dairy Farmers

The number of Wisconsin farms filing for bankruptcy has more than doubled since milk prices fell in 2014, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

The public policy think-tank used federal data to examine the relationship between milk prices and Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings, a bankruptcy code reserved for farmers and fishermen.

“The bankruptcy filings rose, with a certain lag, but they rose as the milk price fell in recent years,” said Jason Stein, research director at the Wisconsin Policy Forum. “And I think in some ways that’s not surprising given what we know about the crisis on dairy farms, as well as how important dairy is to agriculture in general in Wisconsin.”

United States court system data shows Wisconsin had 22 Chapter 12 bankruptcy cases in 2014. That number rose to 50 cases in 2017, and the Western District of Wisconsin had the most Chapter 12 bankruptcies in the nation that year.

Stein said 50 cases could seem small, especially when compared to the 68,500 farms in Wisconsin. But he said the rising number of farm bankruptcies suggests broader financial distress in the dairy industry that could be detrimental to the state’s economy.

“Dairy farms support not just their own jobs, not just the jobs of farmers who provide grain and other inputs for the dairy farms, they also support processing plants that make cheese, fluid milk, and other dairy products,” Stein said. “One of the things that I’ve been struck by is that between 2000 and 2017, almost every segment of manufacturing in Wisconsin lost jobs, or most segments did. But dairy food processing is one of the few segments that actually added thousands of jobs over that period. So that just gives you a sense of why this matters whether or not you live in a rural area.”

One factor that could be contributing to more farm bankruptcies is a decline in producers’ income. The report found net farm income in Wisconsin fell 56 percent between 2011 and 2017. Combined with low milk prices, Stein said declining incomes could be forcing farms to take on more debt and even push some into bankruptcy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2019 Farm Income Forecast shows farm debt increasing by 4 percent this year, reaching $426.7 billion — the highest level of farm debt since 1982.

There’s a broader question about sustainability of rural life in Wisconsin”There’s a broader question about sustainability of rural life in Wisconsin and other communities around the country. Anything like this that further adds to those problems I think is really worthy of consideration and concern on behalf of the public,” Stein said.

With little sign of improving milk prices, state officials have been working to find ways to help dairy farmers. Former Gov. Scott Walker created the Dairy Task Force 2.0, assembling a group of farmers, processors and other industry leaders to recommend ways to support the dairy industry. Gov.Tony Evers recently applauded the group ahead of a March meeting, where members approved 49 recommendations.

The proposals include everything from increasing access to capital for farmers to researching consumer preferences and new dairy products.

But Stein said it’s unclear how much the state can help farmers.

“The challenge is that dairy prices are set by national and, really, international commodities markets,” Stein said. “How do you respond, how do you help these businesses, these farms and still recognize the fact that the key problem lies outside the control of this state or any other one state?”

Stein said getting farmers to agree on federal changes to the dairy industry would be a challenge and any program meant to help farmers borrow money during hard times could ultimately lead to higher bankruptcy rates.


Sunny-Plains Dempsey Laurel tops the Borderview 2nd Edition Sale at $40,000

Sunny-Plains Dempsey Laurel EX-92 went for ($40,000) to Westcoast Holsteins topping the Borderview 2ndEdition Sale. At $32,500, the Farlinger family of Ontario purchased Walkerbrae Doorman Locket EX-95.  The sale drew a larger crowd, consisting of the complete herd dispersal of Tim and Sharyn Abbott on a cold and blustery day in Richford.  The sale completed with 167 lots being sold (Jerseys & Embryos included) and the sale finished off with an average of $3717,  with 6 other lots selling over $15,000 and over 40 head were purchased by buyers from Canada

For complete sale results click here 

A More Humane Livestock Industry, Brought to You by Crispr

Alison Van Eenennaam at the UC Davis Beef Barn. Christie Hemm Klok

Hopes were running high for cow 401, and cow 401 serenely bore the weight of expectations. She entered the cattle chute obligingly, and as the vet searched her uterus, making full use of the plastic glove that covered his arm up to his shoulder, she uttered nary a moo. A week ago, Cow 401 and four other members of her experimental herd at UC Davis were in the early stages of pregnancy. But now, following a string of disappointing checkups, it was all down to her. Alison Van Eenennaam, the animal geneticist in charge of the proceedings, kept watch from off to one side, galoshes firmly planted in the damp manure, eyes fixed on a portable ultrasound monitor. After a few moments, the vet delivered his fifth and final diagnosis. “She’s not pregnant,” he said. Van Eenennaam looked up. “Ah, shit,” she muttered.

Cow 401 and her herdmates were the product of two and a half years of research, Van Eenennaam’s attempt to create a strain of gene-edited cattle specially suited to the needs of the beef industry. Had everything gone as planned, all the calves in this experiment would have been born male—physiologically, at least. Like humans, cattle carry two sex chromosomes; those born XX are female, and those born XY are male. But it isn’t the Y that makes the man. It’s a single gene, called SRY, that briefly flickers to life as an embryo grows and instructs it to develop male traits. Using Crispr, Van Eenennaam’s team added a copy of SRY to the X chromosome too. That way, even if a cow was born genetically female, she’d be expected to appear male all the same. Since beef ranchers generally prefer males to females (more meat for the money), Van Eenennaam believed there could someday be a market for these Crispr’d animals.

More than that, though, the project was a proof of concept. One of Van Eenennaam’s goals is to make the raising of livestock not only more efficient but also more humane. If a calf’s sex could be altered with a copy-paste of a single gene, that might pave the way for all kinds of experimentation—and not only in the beef business. Although ranchers may prefer male animals, their colleagues in the egg and dairy industries favor females. Since bulls can’t make milk and roosters can’t lay eggs, it’s cheaper to destroy them than raise them to adulthood. But if you could ensure that only heifers and hens are born, the carnage wouldn’t be necessary.

The Davis team wasn’t yet sure what had gone wrong with the pregnancies. They’d done their work with such care. First they located a target area on the bovine genome and created a custom set of Crispr scissors to cut the DNA and insert the new gene. Then they took a trip down the interstate to a slaughterhouse in Fresno, where they purchased a fresh batch of ovaries. Back in the lab, they aspirated the eggs, fertilized them, and set their Crispr scissors loose. They let the resulting embryos grow for a week, biopsied them to make sure the edits had gone as planned, then froze them until the cows were ready for implanting.

Perhaps, Van Eenennaam thought, the arduous process had simply knocked the life out of the embryos. “Science is a bitch,” she said with a shrug. But there was a more troubling possibility—an issue with the gene edit itself. On a map of the bovine X chromosome, the location where they’d inserted SRY seemed to be within a stretch of extraneous code, far from any life-critical genes. But then again, the map they currently had was about as accurate as a 16th-century atlas of the New World, full of unknown and mislabeled territories. Maybe, by tinkering in the wrong place, they had arrested development in the womb.

Twenty-five years ago, Van Eenennaam was a student at Davis in the early days of the GMO craze. Animal scientists, long limited by the pace of traditional trial and error breeding, could now mix and match genetic traits from different organisms, giving their livestock strange new powers. At Davis, for instance, they engineered a line of goats that carried a human protein called lysozyme in their milk. (Later on, researchers realized that, when fed to children in the developing world, that milk could prevent diarrhea.) As a young faculty member at Davis in the mid-2000s, Van Eenennaam explored a method for modifying cows to produce milk with extra omega­-3s. Then, just as she prepared to begin experiments in actual cattle, she says, the money dried up.

Around that time, the Food and Drug Administration had decided to classify genetic modifications to food animals as veterinary drugs. At specific issue were transgenes—DNA ported from one species into another—which, in the agency’s view, altered “the structure or function” of the animal. This meant that scientists would have to submit to an expensive approval process before anything reached the grocery store. There were calls for reform, but policymakers lacked the will to implement regulatory changes that would both promote research and assuage people’s growing fears about GMOs. With no path to commercialization in sight, and with the looming threat of a public backlash, the institutions that had funded the work ended their support. Only one animal from that period, the AquAdvantage­ Salmon, has since been approved for human consumption, though no one in the US is eating it yet, owing to regulatory hand-wringing over how it should be labeled. The lysozyme goats still amble, idly, around a pasture on the Davis campus.

Van Eenennaam argues that Crispr experiments like hers—those not involving transgenes—should be treated differently. As she sees it, the technology is just a faster, more precise version of what farmers have done for centuries, because it makes changes that could have occurred in the organism on their own. The US Department of Agriculture, which oversees gene editing in plants, appears to share this view; in March 2018, it decided, in most cases, to regulate this use of Crispr like it does traditional breeding methods. But the most recent guidance from the FDA, issued in January 2017, seems to lump gene editing in with the old GMO techniques. That’s because, as the agency sees it, both approaches present similar risks, not only to people but also to animal welfare—something the USDA doesn’t have to consider. Van Eenennaam worries that the same fears and heel-dragging as before could scuttle the field before it has a chance. “The engineering debate killed my career,” she says. “Now this editing debate has the potential to kill my students’ careers.”


For all the anxiety and ambiguity surrounding Crispr, there’s little doubt that it could revolutionize farming as Van Eenennaam hopes. In January, British researchers announced plans to raise chickens with an immunity to influenza. A small genomic incision, they hypothesized, could prevent the virus from infecting its hosts. That would not only save chickens from untimely demise but also cut out a likely conduit for a devastating human pandemic. You may not like the idea of Crispr meddling with grandma’s chicken pot pie recipe, but would you relent if it could stop the next Spanish flu?

“I’d hope so,” says Randall Prather, a geneticist at the University of Missouri. His lab has raised pigs that are resistant to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, or PRRS, an untreatable disease that costs the US swine industry more than half a billion dollars each year. The solution, he says, comes down to modifying as few as two DNA base pairs out of 3 billion. Prather licensed the technology to a British company called Genus, which says it expects to spend tens of millions of dollars on the FDA approval process.

Yet not all Crispr experiments in livestock offer such unambiguous benefits. Many merely aim to improve efficiency, speeding up the process that gave us broiler chickens four times the size they were in Eisenhower’s day. That fuels perceptions that gene editing will only encourage the worst inclinations of factory farming. In Brazil, for example, scientists recently bred Angus cattle that carry a heat-tolerance gene called Slick. While this could eventually be a path to readying the global cattle industry for climate change, for now it likely means that the Brazilian Amazon will have to support even more cows than it already does.

Robbie Barbero, who led efforts to modernize biotech regulations in the Obama White House, says that it’s time for the FDA to offer some clarity. “In the absence of a regulatory path that’s rational and easy to understand, it will be almost impossible for any animals to make it to market,” he says. With transgenes, he argues, it was possible to wrap your head around the logic of regulating changes as drugs. “But when you’re talking about regulating changes to the genome that could’ve happened naturally, you’re asking to stretch the imagination,” he says. The draft guidance, Barbero notes, was intended as a starting point, not the final word.

If and when the FDA decides to weigh in, says Hank Greely, a bioethicist and professor of law at Stanford, it will have to reckon with the unique risks of gene editing—that an edit might produce new allergens, for example, or spread from livestock to their wild cousins. His underlying fear, however, is “the democratizing nature of Crispr.” An argument against GMOs was that the expense of creating them would consolidate power in the hands of wealthy multinationals; a company such as Monsanto would spend millions engineering a new transgenic crop, then sell it to struggling farmers at an exorbitant price. But the remarkable ease of gene editing, Greely says, could have the opposite effect. It could push certain rogue actors—say, “a guy with a dog kennel or a biologically sophisticated rancher”—toward cavalier, DIY experimentation. That’s why Greely thinks researchers should be required to register their edits.

For now, though, political momentum appears once again to have stalled. That’s left nascent projects, like Van Eenennaam’s, waiting for answers.

If there is a purgatory for gene-edited cattle, it can be found in the Davis Beef Barn, which is home to six young penitents. About five years ago, their father, a bull, was genetically dehorned by a Minnesota-based company called Recombinetics. Just as egg farmers prefer hens, dairy farmers prefer polled, or hornless, cows. Often they’ll prevent the horns from growing by burning them off with a hot iron or applying caustic chemicals. So, using a Crispr-like technology known as Talens, Recombinetics gave the bull two copies of the polled variation, in the hope that none of his descendants would have to undergo the procedure.

Five of those hornless descendants turned out to be male, which meant they wouldn’t be much use to the dairy industry anyway. Van Eenennaam has asked the FDA for permission to sell them as food. “They’re either all going to be incinerated or they’re all going to become steaks,” she explains. One of the bulls gently sniffs her fingers through the wooden slats of the pen. “Sorry to talk about this in front of you guys.”

Princess, the lone polled female, is hanging out a few pens away. Before she and her brothers can be introduced into the food supply, the FDA requires that they pass a range of tests, both genetic and physical. Their gene-edited uncle supplied the meat for quality testing; now Princess will be bred so that, when her milk comes in, it can be analyzed. But Van Eenennaam says the agency hasn’t told her clearly what results it is looking for, almost as though it’s searching for the risks it wants to regulate. For instance, the FDA asked her to confirm, via full genome sequencing, that there had been no unintended edits that jeopardized the animals’ safety. But sequencing the same genome 20 times over, as Van Eenennaam did, will turn up slightly different results with each pass. And besides, she says, even if you could pinpoint any errant edits, what would they tell you about the animal’s health? She advocates a wait-and-see approach: “There’s a natural evaluation process called ‘living’ that will weed out anything that’s weird.” (The FDA does not comment on pending applications.)

Even as Van Eenennaam and her calves are hung up in regulatory limbo, she is looking ahead to the next step in the process: scaling up genetic improvements on the ranch. Unlike pigs and chickens, whose reproduction is strictly controlled, beef cattle tend to procreate unsupervised, out on vast grazing ranges. This makes it hard to ensure that desirable traits, like swift growth or well-marbled meat, get passed down. Van Eenennaam thinks she’s found a solution. She plans to take a group of bulls, knock out the gene that allows them to create sperm, and swap in a replacement from a superior animal—perhaps even one that carries the edits for hornlessness or all-male offspring. The result would be ordinary bulls with, as Van Eenennaam puts it, “excellent balls.” Rather than spreading their own mediocre genes, they’d spread the elite genes of others—and they’d do it faster than ranchers could manage on their own.

Van Eenennaam and her colleagues are also focused on getting their earlier experiment working. After the disappointment of the pregnancy checks, they soon came up with two possible explanations for what went wrong: Either they inserted the SRY gene in the wrong place or they damaged the embryos in the lab—perhaps during the biopsy, when they were checking to see whether the edit took. In the next stage of the project, they’ll investigate both possibilities at once. First, they will insert SRY into a completely different chromosome, at a location where other researchers have successfully dabbled in mice. But this edit will be different from the last one: It will include a gene, borrowed from a jellyfish, for red fluorescence. If the insertion is successful, the cells will simply glow, no biopsy required.

It’s not an ideal solution. If all goes well, Van Eenennaam won’t have gene-edited cattle, as she originally intended; she’ll have a transgenic herd. So while she’d hoped to get the FDA’s blessing to sell the animals at the end of her research, she now plans to incinerate them instead. Even the mothers, which naturally share small amounts of genetic material with their offspring, could be considered tainted. “I’ve been resisting putting a transgene in,” she says. “But we’re just going to have to bite the bullet and kill them and their mothers and everything that touches them.”

Van Eenennaam does the math: $15,000 to buy 10 cows from a local rancher, plus $8 a day, each, to pasture them until a Christmas birth. Her grant will have ended by then, and she worries she won’t get another one.


Floodwaters threaten millions in crop and livestock losses

Farmer Jeff Jorgenson looks out over 750 acres of cropland submerged beneath the swollen Missouri River, and he knows he probably won’t plant this year.

But that’s not his biggest worry. He and other farmers have worked until midnight for days to move grain, equipment and fuel barrels away from the floodwaters fed by heavy rain and snowmelt. The rising water that has damaged hundreds of homes and been blamed for three deaths has also taken a heavy toll on agriculture, inundating thousands of acres, threatening stockpiled grain and killing livestock.

In Fremont County alone, Jorgenson estimates that more than a million bushels of corn and nearly half a million bushels of soybeans have been lost after water overwhelmed grain bins before they could be emptied of last year’s crop. His calculation using local grain prices puts the financial loss at more than $7 million in grain alone. That’s for about 28 farmers in his immediate area, he said.

Once it’s deposited in bins, grain is not insured, so it’s just lost money. This year farmers have stored much more grain than normal because of a large crop last year and fewer markets in which to sell soybeans because of a trade dispute with China.

“The economy in agriculture is not very good right now. It will end some of these folks farming, family legacies, family farms,” he said. “There will be farmers that will be dealing with so much of a negative they won’t be able to tolerate it.”

Jorgenson, 43, who has farmed since 1998, reached out to friends Saturday, and they helped him move his grain out of bins to an elevator. Had they not acted, he would have lost $135,000.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has declared a disaster in 41 of Iowa’s 99 counties, said she planned to press Vice President Mike Pence for a federal disaster declaration during his stops in Omaha to tour flooded areas along the Missouri River.

“It will be helpful for him to see it. I’ve reached out, and we’ve told him it’s catastrophic,” she said.

Pence said the Trump administration would expedite presidential disaster declarations for Nebraska and Iowa. He said he spoke to the governors of both states shortly after arriving to assure them federal aid will soon be on the way.

The flooding is expected to continue throughout the week in several states as high water flows down the Missouri River. Swollen rivers have already breached more than a dozen levees in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The flooding, which started after a massive late-winter storm last week, has also put some hog farms in southwest Iowa underwater. The dead animals inside must be disposed of, Reynolds said.

The water rose so quickly that farmers in many areas had no time to get animals out, said Chad Hart, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.

“Places that haven’t seen animal loss have seen a lot of animal stress. That means they’re not gaining weight and won’t be marketed in as timely a manner, which results in additional cost,” he said.

In all, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson estimated $400 million of crop losses from fields left unplanted or planted late and up to $500 million in livestock losses.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Gov. Pete Ricketts said there have been deadlier disasters in Nebraska but never one as widespread. He said 65 of the state’s 93 counties are under emergency declarations.

In neighboring Missouri, water was just shy of getting into Ryonee McCann’s home along a recreational lake in Holt County, where about 40,000 acres (16,188 hectares) and hundreds of homes have been flooded. She said her home sits on an 8-foot (2.5-meter) foundation.

“We have no control over it,” the 38-year-old said. “We just have to wait for the water to recede. It’s upsetting because everything you have worked for is there.”

The Missouri River was forecast to crest Thursday morning at 11.6 feet above flood stage in St. Joseph, Missouri, the third highest crest on record. More than 100 roads are closed in the state, including a growing section of Interstate 29.

Leaders of the small northwestern Missouri town of Craig ordered an evacuation. The Holt County Sheriff’s Department said residents who choose to stay must go to City Hall to provide their name and address in case they need to be rescued.

In nearby Atchison County, Missouri, floodwaters knocked out a larger section of an already busted levee overnight, making the village of Watson unreachable, said Mark Manchester, the county’s deputy director of emergency management/911.

Officials believe everyone got out before thousands of more acres were flooded. But so many roads are now closed that some residents must travel more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) out of their way to get to their jobs at the Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska, he said.

“It’s a lot harder for people to get around,” Manchester said.

River flooding has also surrounded a northern Illinois neighborhood with water, prompting residents to escape in boats. People living in the Illinois village of Roscoe say children have walked through floodwaters or kayaked to catch school buses.

Flooding along rivers in western Michigan has damaged dozens of homes and businesses.




Global prices for dairy products go up by 1.9 percent

Dairy prices have risen again, for the eighth consecutive time.

At the latest global auction overnight, the average price was up by 1.9 percent to $US3324 ($NZ4846) a tonne.

Prices have steadily climbed since late November, when they hit a two-year low because of market oversupply.

The price of whole milk powder – a key influence on farmer payouts – increased by 4 percent to $US3017 ($NZ4398) a tonne.

Prices for most products rose.


Source: Radio NZ

Milk Futures Higher, Cash Markets at a Standstill in Chicago Wednesday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures ended higher again midweek while cash dairy trade slowed.  Class 3 markets saw a positive move after barrels moving higher in the spot trade this morning. Class 3 traded anywhere from 1 to 16 cents higher. March finished up 1 cent to 14.94, April was up 12 cents to 15.10, and May was up 16 cents to 15.31. The remainder of the 1st half average is at 15.23 and the second half average is at 16.24.  Class 4 markets moved slightly lower but only traded in April through July losing anywhere from 1 to 8 cents.

Dry whey up $0.0050 at $0.31. Seven trades were made ranging from $0.3050 to $0.31. Blocks unchanged at $1.5825. Two trades were made at $1.57 and $1.58. Barrels up $0.0350 at $1.5450. Nine trades were made ranging from $1.52 to $1.5450. Butter unchanged at $2.28. Nonfat dry milk down $0.0050 at $0.9575. Five trades were made ranging from $0.9525 to $0.96.

DCRC webinar focuses on feeding strategies to enhance fertility

The April 26 Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council (DCRC) webinar features Feeding Strategies to Support Health and Fertility During the Transition Period. Scheduled for 2 p.m. Central time, José Eduardo P. Santos, University of Florida, will summarize research that manipulated transition period diets.

In addition, Santos will discuss formulating prepartum diets that consider DCAD (dietary cation-anion difference), supplementing with rumen-protected choline, developing separate prepartum diets for first-calf heifers and cows, and adding moderate fatty acid to improve fertility. Furthermore, webinar participants will learn about proper cow comfort and heat abatement to support healthy transitions cows.

To register for this webinar, go to: and follow the prompts. As the webinar approaches, you will receive an e-mail with information on how to log in to participate. If you are a DCRC member and cannot attend the live program, you may access the webinar at

For more information about DCRC’s webinars, e-mail Natalia Martinez-Patino, DCRC Education Committee chair, at: or e-mail DCRC at:


Snow melt, rainfall demand caution in spreading manure

With snow melting and rain falling on frozen soil, Wisconsin’s Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast is completely pink today, meaning the risk of manure runoff is severe statewide.

DATCP encourages farmers to keep this in mind as they consider emptying manure storage that may be full. Spreading manure while the risk of runoff is severe could cause manure runoff into streams, threatening water quality.

At the click of a mouse, farmers can check the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast, available online at, for the latest information on spreading risks. The runoff forecast provides maps showing short-term runoff risk for daily application planning, taking into account soil saturation and temperature, weather forecast, snow and crop cover, and slope. It is updated three times daily by the National Weather Service.

“It’s always a bad idea to spread manure during high-risk runoff times, and we strongly advise against it,” says Richard Castelnuovo, chief of resource management with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Farmers should contact their crop consultants, county land conservation offices, or the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for help identifying alternatives to high-risk spreading, such as stacking manure away from lakes or rivers, drinking water wells, or areas with sinkholes or exposed bedrock. If farmers must spread manure, crop consultants and county conservationists can help identify fields where the risk is lower. You can find contact information for county conservation offices in the WI Land + Water Directory at

Farmers should always have an emergency plan in place in case of manure spills or runoff. The plan should include who to call and what steps to take if runoff or a spill occurs, how to clean it up, and perhaps most important, how to prevent it from happening. Information about preventing and planning for manure spills is available at


Source: The Shawano Leader

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