Top Dairy Industry News Stories from June 27th till July 3rd 2020

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GoFundme to help Mike Deaver Medical Expenses

Mike Deaver has helped and influenced so many, and today he needs our industry’s support as he faces his biggest battle.

Mike has been waiting for a heart transplant for some time. On Independence Day, Mike will finally have the surgery, which we hope will allow him to return to what he loves doing.

His health challenges to this point have been protracted and, for him to be able to focus fully on his recovery, and on getting back to the colored shavings – rather than worrying about his medical bills – would be the gift that could change his recovery.

Mike is a proud man, and he would never ask.

But, if Mike has touched you in some way, and you’d like to help – we’d so welcome your support. If you cannot contribute, we ask for your prayers for healing, and to please share the news. We truly appreciate each and every one of you. Stay safe, and thank you.

Please visit GoFundMe

Petitclerc Doorman Sapphire Tops Fireworks at Borderview

The Abbott family hosted the Fireworks at Borderview yesterday.  The sale had an unofficial average of $3,500 on 163 lots.

The top seller at $39,500 was Petitclerc Doorman Sapphire (VG-88), she was the HM All-American Junior 2-Year-Old ’19, Doorman from the Spades family.  She was purchased by Sarah Hill, Four-Hills Farm, VT

The 2nd highest seller at $29,500.00 was MS SID BLEXY-ET Very Good-89 EX-MS @ 2-11.   She was the 2nd Jr 2-Yr-Old & BU NE Fall Nat 2019. Due in July to Diamondback Her dam was none other than the recent EX-97 Rosier Belxy Goldwyn the 2018 World Dairy Expo Grand Champion.  She was purchased by Budjon Farms, Peter Vail, Ross Risner & Mark Binversie, WI

Rounding out the top sellers at $23,500 was Petitclerc Avalanche Syrah, Nom, All-American Fall Calf ’19, Avalanche x Gold Saltalamacchia (VG-89).  Syrah was 1st Fall Calf/Jr Champ MD Spring Show 2019, 2nd Fall Calf Eastern Nat’l 2019 and 7th Fall Calf Int’l Holstein Show 2019. Fresh since June 15, 2020.

Click here to see complete results

Dairy farmers dumping milk worldwide are on the brink of crisis

The world’s dairy farmers are facing an existential crisis.

They’ve dumped millions of gallons of milk, slowed output and sold off older cows. Global governments stepped in with stimulus cash that provided some much-needed temporary relief, helping benchmark Chicago milk futures to almost double in two months. But once the aid money starts to dry up, many producers will confront tough choices again: suffer through losses, or pack it all in and shut the farm.

It’s going to be a long time before restaurants go back to serving buttery, cheesy dishes on the scale they did in the pre-pandemic world. While lockdown restrictions are easing, slower economic growth means consumers will be cutting back on dining out and even home-delivery orders.

That’s a hit the dairy industry won’t be able to sustain. Even with billions in stimulus, the contraction for U.S. herds will likely match record levels this year, according to the National Milk Producers Federation. Declines are also expected in Europe and Australia, two other regions key to global exports.

“Are people still at home in three to six months, ordering pizza to watch a football game? Or are they conserving their money, and will they stop ordering out?” said Matt Gould, editor at Dairy & Food Market Analyst Inc. “At no point have we seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and even now with prices spiking, we could be in the ditch in three to six months.”

Dairy is one of the world’s most important food markets. The sector accounts for about 14% of global agricultural trade and more than 150 million farmers keep at least one milk animal, according to the United Nations. The industry is valued at about $700 billion, but it’s facing a reckoning. For years, milk demand has been on the decline in developed countries. That’s only accelerated recently as more consumers turned to plant alternatives amid climate concerns.

When coronavirus lockdowns went into place, dairy markets were among the hardest hit in the food world. It turns out, consumers the world over eat a lot more cheese and butter when they’re dining out than they do at home. As restaurants shuttered, farmers were left with an overwhelming glut. Hundreds of millions of pounds of milk got dumped.

Things still looked relatively dismal until governments stepped in to intervene. The U.S. promised $2.9 billion in its dairy bailout. The European Union pledged 30 million euros ($34 million), and Australia has also earmarked funds for the industry. That sent milk futures in Chicago soaring after touching a decade low in April.

Wisconsin farmer and dairy consultant Daniel Olson is betting on retrenchment.

Many producers are likely pulling in more profits now than they were pre-pandemic, Olson said, but he’s doing everything he can to lock in prices, with futures still trading near $21 for 100 pounds, the highest since 2014.

“It’s just a matter of time before it goes down to as low as $10,” Olson said. “I’m using this opportunity to never see $10 on our farm.”

The recent price rebound and the government aid will allow some producers to get through this rough period, but it won’t be enough to forestall the long-term trend toward bankruptcy and farmers leaving the industry, said Peter Vitaliano, the chief economist at the National Milk Producers Federation, whose members produce more than two-thirds of U.S. milk.

In 2019, there was a 9% drop in licensed U.S. dairy herds, a record high, Vitaliano said.

“I expect there will be a similar shake-out this year,” he said.

That’s likely to be the case globally, as well. The European Commission has forecast the region’s dairy herd could drop by about 0.7% this year, after a 1.2% decline in 2019. Almost 500 Australian dairy farmers left the industry in 2019, and the trend will probably continue as production costs have stayed above retail prices.

‘Heavy Inventories’

Even with herd contraction, the world will see overflowing supplies, according to analysts at Rabobank, which forecasts a 1% increase in production in the second half of 2020 from a year earlier in the major producing regions.

“Heavy inventories and reduced demand growth will weigh on global milk prices through 2020 and into 2021,” the analysts led by Ben Laine said in a June report.

Still, there’s the chance that governments could supply more stimulus. The Rabobank analysts say that’s a possibility in the U.S. ahead of the November presidential election. Donald Trump has counted on farmers as a key part of his constituency.

But without another injection of funds, there’s more pain in store for farmers.

Tony Sarsam, the chief executive officer for bankrupt Borden Dairy Co., expects more people to continue to eat at home _ especially as the pandemic leads into a recession _ which could worsen dairy demand. Plus, there’s the longer-term problem of consumers turning away from drinking milk.

“How fresh fluid milk becomes a staple again remains to be seen,” he said. “It’s not going to be solved with a government program. Consumers want new ideas, indulgent foods, healthy choices and convenience _ and the dairy industry has a lot of work to do there.”


How yogurt took over the dairy aisle

Once upon a time, yogurt occupied a thin sliver of the dairy aisle. Now it’s an entirely separate section of the grocery store. There are at least a dozen brands of plain yogurt, but wait! There’s more! Yogurt comes with fruit on the bottom, sprinkles on top, M&Ms mixed in, and almond butter swirled over. The choice is overwhelming, but it’s also what consumers have come to expect.

For many Americans, yogurt is a staple snack food. In other parts of the world, it’s a marinade, a dip, a base for a soup, a drink. Indians stir it with chickpea flour and turmeric to make a warming, bright yellow dish called kadhi. Persians use strained yogurt as an aromatic side dish called mast o khiar, with cucumbers, rose petals, raisins, herbs, and garlic. In Turkey and Lebanon, meat dumplings are bathed in a tangy yogurt sauce to make shish barak. In the US, in spite of all the years yogurt has been a fridge mainstay, we’re still stuck on fruit and granola. Go figure.

But despite the more narrow American views of yogurt, it has managed to occupy a unique role in the country’s food culture — its evolution on grocery shelves has mirrored that of eating habits and cultural touchpoints. There have been distinct eras in yogurt tastes, from Greek to Icelandic to nondairy, and each one offers a glimpse into the ingredients, diets, and narratives people were buying into at the time. Sure, yogurt is just one product in a sea of groceries. But it tells a compelling, complete story about the American diet.

1980s and 1990s: The sugary yogurt era

Yogurt showed up in America from Europe as early as the mid-20th century, in the wake of World War II. In Europe, it was a fridge staple meant for snacking or eating for breakfast — plain, tart, and creamy, often adorned with some berries. In the US, though, it would be a while before yogurt achieved that same staple status.

The problem, says Frank Palantoni, who was vice president of marketing for Dannon from 1987 to 1991, is that in its pure, unsweetened form, “yogurt tasted terrible to the American palate.” Americans associated dairy products with ice cream and milkshakes, and therefore a lot of sugar. “Everyone was brought up such that if it smells tart, you throw it away,” he says. In the post-World War II era of rations and cans and boxed mixes and TV dinners, people had a predisposition for foods that were convenient, easily consumed, and often high in sugar. They didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. They didn’t care as much about splurging on higher quality ingredients.

Owing in part to a popular Dannon ad campaign from 1977 featuring older people saying the secret to their vitality was yogurt, Americans gradually began to regard it as a health food.


Dannon’s big breakthrough was fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, released in the late 1980s, which was packaged as single-serve cups, and had the candy-like strawberry and blueberry flavors people were used to. In 1992, yogurt was being marketed to kids in the form of products like sprinkle-topped Sprinklins, which Palantoni helped pioneer. He says sugar wasn’t as much of a concern for people back then. “The thought was, kids run around, they need sugar,” he says. “The basic concept is that we are giving kids milk, and it is high protein, so if there is sugar it is okay.”

Yogurt was marketed equally aggressively to women, because they were seen not only as the primary shoppers in the house, but also as diet-conscious. Advertisements showed women eating spoonfuls of yogurt at the spa bedecked in plush white robes, and ogling at a raspberry cheesecake before realizing excitedly that there was a raspberry cheesecake flavored yogurt. (Spoiler alert: It tastes nothing like raspberry cheesecake.)

As a result of all this, the yogurt business suddenly exploded. Everyone from kids to adults was eating it. Got Milk ads were in full swing, which only bolstered the appeal. In 1992, the yogurt market was valued at $1.135 billion.

Early 2000s: The Greek yogurt era

A single word can define American dietary preferences of the early 2000s: protein. It was the magical nutrient that could keep you both satisfied and trim. Meal replacement bars suggesting they had enough protein to keep you full all day were getting big. Muscle Milk was a body-building staple. It was in this protein-obsessed environment that Greek yogurt — a thick, strained version of the original — was able to not just succeed but completely dominate the yogurt market.

There had been attempts at introducing Greek to the broader market. Palantini says Dannon introduced a product called Mini Moos around 1990 that was meant to be a high-protein snack for kids, but it tanked because it was marketed as “fromage frais,” or fresh cheese. Fage, with its ultra-thick Greek yogurt, was gaining popularity, but it was pricey, and it had a tart taste. Americans still loved sugar — the protein shakes and protein bars were loaded with it.

Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

The brand that was able to break through was Chobani, started by Hamdi Ulukaya, who came from a family of dairy farmers in Turkey. Chobani’s offerings were affordable and had less sugar, but still enough to satisfy American tastes. But most importantly, Chobani pushed the protein messaging hard, and became seen as a healthier choice than all the other sugar-laden yogurt brands.

Because of the protein angle, Greek yogurt prompted advertising to finally shift away from focusing exclusively on women. The containers were now shaped like six-packs, the branding was black (because masculinity!), and the marketing sold it as post-gym fuel for bros — a more all-natural version of protein powder, essentially.

Greek yogurt occupied 1 percent of the yogurt market in 2007; that jumped to 44 percent by 2013. “Once Greek became accessibly priced and broadly distributed and people understood Greek means high protein, they snapped it up,” says Peter McGuinness, president of Chobani. “There was this total Greekwashing,” with every major yogurt brand coming out with its own version of Greek yogurt.

Early 2010s: The artisanal yogurt era

Greek yogurt walked so all the other country-specific yogurts could run. Almost as soon as this once-foreign food became a hit, consumers started looking to see what else was out there. Suddenly, Icelandic, Australian, and French yogurts were crowding grocery aisles, marketing themselves as more curated choices for food lovers. This was at a time when food and restaurant culture was starting to feel more mainstream thanks to publications like Bon Appétit and Lucky Peach, and shows like No Reservations. Chefs like David Chang and Alice Waters were household names. People were traveling not just to see sights, but to eat specific dishes at famous restaurants.

“Greek yogurt did a lot of educating people about the importance of protein so we didn’t have to talk about those things,” says John Heath, the chief innovation officer at Icelandic Provisions. “We were focused on this X factor of having a story. Creating a premium product for someone who has a bit more of a food IQ and an appreciation for where the food comes from.”

Icelandic yogurt, or skyr, was being sold alongside this Viking heritage of Iceland, and stories of heirloom yogurt cultures. In the 2010s, Iceland became a more popular place to travel and was ranked as home to some of the world’s happiest people. “This destination was aspirational,” Heath says.

Siggi Hilmarsson, who founded Siggi’s, another Icelandic-style yogurt, also marketed his product as more premium than Greek. But he decided to focus less on the narrative, and more on the lack of sugar — an ingredient that was vilified in the media. With a tagline that promised “more protein than sugar,” while still offering customers familiar flavors like blueberry and vanilla, from 2013 to 2019, Siggi’s quickly caught the attention of mainstream grocers, trainers, and doctors.

“The story was important,” he says. “But they were primarily buying into the narrative of, wow, I didn’t realize there was this much sugar in yogurt in America. This brand is telling me there is something better.”

Mid-2010s: The nondairy yogurt era

Nondairy yogurt has existed since the 1990s, but it was long associated with a chalky, unpleasant texture, bitter taste, and loads of additives. A few years ago, the tide started to turn in two key ways: First, nondairy milk was becoming standard in coffee shops and in fridges, as people increasingly believed that dairy was bad for the environment, and that lactose was upsetting their digestive systems.

Second, the nondairy yogurt market finally had options that mimicked the creamy texture of yogurt and the rich, full flavor. Anita’s Yogurt, started in 2013, offered yogurt made out of coconut milk. Kite Hill, founded in 2010, popularized almond milk yogurt. Liz Fisher started Lavva in 2018 after discovering that pili nuts became buttery and creamy once blended. Fisher and others started a movement toward branding their yogurt not as “nondairy” but as “plant-based” — shifting the focus away from what their yogurt didn’t have.

The Washington Post via Getty Images

Most importantly, when it seemed like yogurt had been modified and flavored in every possible way, nondairy milk gave consumers even more choice, and even more permutations to try. For a lot of people, the appeal of nondairy wasn’t necessarily that they wanted to stop consuming milk products. They just wanted to try something new, and the environmental and health-angled marketing made that decision feel even better.

Fisher says Lavva’s sales are up 300 percent from last year. Brands like Chobani and Siggi’s have both released nondairy offerings. Still, Fisher adds, while health food grocers can’t get enough of nondairy yogurt, the category is still not growing all that much among larger retailers.

“They are focused on the percentage of the business that anchors the category, which is cow’s milk yogurt,” she says. As popular as nondairy yogurt may seem to be, it’s not a replacement. “Dairy yogurt is here to stay.”

2020: The high-fat yogurt era

With dairy still occupying the lion’s share of the market, there are plenty more innovations to be had. Previously, every brand of dairy yogurt was putting out low-fat or fat-free offerings, to track with the steady concern of Americans with fats. Now, with the rise of low-carb, high-fat diets like ketogenic, and increased awareness of the idea of good versus bad fats, yogurt companies are now leaning into fat.

There’s Siggi’s triple-cream yogurt, Iceland Provisions whole milk yogurt, Chobani Greek yogurt with almond butter, and Peak, a product whose 17 percent milk fat is displayed right on the package. It’s a full-circle moment: These companies are reclaiming the notion perpetuated so long ago by early companies like Dannon that yogurt could be an indulgence, and a legitimate replacement for dessert, while still being good for you.

Next in yogurt?

With yogurt occupying more and more shelf space in grocery stores — and tracking so closely with American diet habits — companies are constantly trying to figure out what’s going to be big in yogurt. Heath says Icelandic Provisions is making a big bet on cold brew, having recently released a coffee-flavored yogurt made with cold brew concentrate. Hilmarsson, meanwhile, believes the business will go the way of the Impossible Burger, and people will develop synthetic proteins that work in yogurt.

Palantini compares what has happened with American consumers and yogurt to what happened with wine. “Americans have a very limited receptivity of their palate to new flavors,” he says. But once given options, with different tastes and textures, “you will eventually develop your palate and it will get more sophisticated.” The variety in yogurt has made many people more adventurous eaters. As packed as the yogurt aisle seems, expect even more wide-ranging offerings in coming years. And that, he adds, is a good thing.


New Elections at Holstein UK

On Wednesday 1st July, at the Holstein UK Annual General Meeting (AGM), the Society elected a new President and two members to the Board of Trustees. Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in place, it was not possible to hold the AGM as part of the annual Holstein UK Celebration as in previous years, therefore it was streamed online to registered members instead.

Robert Clare (Hawksmoor) Elected as Holstein UK President

As part of the meeting, we said a fond farewell to Bryan Thomas of the Gelliddu herd who stood down from his 12 month post as Holstein UK President. Holstein UK are delighted to welcome new President Robert Clare of the Hawksmoor herd to the Society.

Robert Clare is a highly respected member of the Shropshire Club and has been a dedicated member of the Society for over 50 years. At Club level, Robert has previously held the appointments of Shropshire Holstein Club President and Club Chairman.

Robert was born at Hawksmoor, near Market Drayton, Shropshire, where he grew up and took over the running of the Hawksmoor herd 52 years ago. Hawksmoor have been Champion Herd of the Shropshire Club for eight consecutive years, 2011 – 2018, and were reserve National Champion Herd in 2017. Robert has judged County Herd Competitions in Devon, Staffordshire, Cheshire, South Wales, Derbyshire, The Midlands and Scotland.

Commenting on the change of Presidency, Michael Smale, Holstein UK Chairman, said: “Thank you to our retiring President Bryan Thomas and all of his family for the considerable time they have given to the Society over the past 12 months. We have been honoured to have someone who is so highly respected as our President. I must also congratulate Robert on his new appointment and I would like to wish him all the best for the forthcoming year”.

Retiring from The Holstein UK Board

Following the end of their second terms on the Board of Trustees, Stephen Brough has stood down from representing the Northern region and Aled Jones has stood down from representing North Wales.

Commenting, Michael Smale said; “I would like to thank both Stephen and Aled for their work, expertise and experience they have given to the Board over the past eight years. Having both been elected on to the Board in 2011, they have now finalised two four year terms and have been fantastic advocates of both the breed and the Society”.

New Trustee Appointments

Andrew Williamson (Ingleden) for Northern region

Andrew farms in partnership with his wife and son in Cumbria. The Ingleden herd consists of 200 cows and 180 youngstock and has seen success in the show ring, most recently at last year’s ABAB Calf Show, where they won the Calf Championship. Andrew’s aim is to represent the membership in his area and he hopes to drive the Society forward in all areas of technical innovation whilst becoming more relevant to the commercial dairy farmer.

William Williams (Clwch) for North Wales region

Based in Anglesey, William established his Clwch herd in 1992 with 25 cows. The family now milk 200 cows and last year won Holstein UK’s Master Breeder award. William is passionate about developing and promoting the Holstein breed and is looking forward to maintaining good communication links between the Society and its members.

Peter Prior (Designer) and Wallace Gregg (Frocess) were re-elected into their second term of office. 

Global Dairy Commodity Update July 2020

Wholesale dairy markets rebounded strongly from the impacts of COVID-19 with worldwide closure of foodservice outlets – most importantly in the US and Europe – and the cessation of cross-border travel.

Trade was slower than the 2019 comparative for the first 4 months of 2020, impacted by some logistical difficulties due to COVID-19, but also against strong 2019 numbers for milk powders when prices were much lower. There are some timing factors that affected that – the peak of WMP trade was pushed earlier with the Chinese New Year timing this year, while the early 2019 run-out sale of SMP in the EU continued into March – meaning comparatives were strong.

The sustained strong retail sales, refilling foodservice outlets, government aid spending in the US and slower milk supply effects have hauled cheese and butter prices off the floor.

This feels like a false dawn. A deep recession is unfolding due to the huge losses in income due to business closures which will erode household spending in western markets and weaken developing world economies.

As the reality of recession takes hold, food spending in western economies will be impacted, reducing discretionary outlays, reducing the propensity to dine out and causing frugal spending in the grocery store.

The effect on ongoing cheese demand will be the most important driver of the impact on dairy markets, as the processor response to weaker demand will push more milk to powder driers in coming months. In the outlook, cheese EU and US demand remains flat in H2-2020 before improving in 2021.

The impact on cream demand without food service consumption will push up butter production and stocks. Demand from export markets, also with weak food service sectors for the rest of the year, will not help, despite prices being more attractive.

The milk supply response will be all important in this outlook with likely different trends across major producers.

Skim Milk Powder

SMP and NFDM prices continued steady, recovering after the worst of the COVID-19 shocks, as cheese and butterfat markets also stabilised.

Whole Milk Powder

Spot values remained mixed through June; NZ values improved, while EU product was steady. However, EU product continues to trade at a premium. WMP trade shrank (with exports to China 16% lower) further in May, with export declines posted by NZ and Uruguay.


Global cheese markets are likely to be impacted through 2020 by the disruption to food service sales, but not all of the impact will be negative. Attention is focused on the impacts on demand in major EU and US markets, affecting export prices, but also SMP/butter output.


Global butterfat prices have converged with improving EU wholesale prices, while Oceania markets have weakened with demand reflecting the slow reopening of food service channels in major markets and the damage to consumer spending as recession bites.
While grocery and other food retail demand remains buoyant, there is no prospect that this can make up for the loss of butterfat sales into food service outlets.


Whey product prices have inevitably been caught in the complex impacts of COVID-19 due to changes in cheese production, relative protein values and the demand for certain applications.

Source Maxum Foods

David Patrick Selected as Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder

David Patrick of Maple-Dell Ayrshires, Woodbine, Maryland, is National Dairy Shrine’s Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award recipient for 2020. This annual award goes to an active, progressive dairy breeder whose expertise in managing a dairy herd, based upon sound genetic and business principles, is a model for others.

David Patrick, who will celebrate his 90th birthday in August, is the patriarch of Maple-Dell Farm. His grandfather started this dairy farm in 1928. In 1941, David’s father bought him two Ayrshire heifer calves for a 4-H project. By 1955 those two calves had grown into a herd of 45 registered Ayrshires.

Today David and his wife Ann, along with two sons, Mike and Denny, and a grandson, Derek, operate Maple-Dell Farm. The family also breeds Registered Holsteins under the prefix Md-Maple-Dell. The Patrick’s own 450 acres of land and farm 1200 acres. They milk 165 cows in a double-eight parlor and raise over 160 heifers. Cows are fed a TMR and housed in free stalls with sand bedding or on a bedded pack. The herd has been on production testing for over 60 years and classified for 40 years. Productive cows with solid feet and legs, and highly scored udder traits, are the goal of this breeding program.

The Maple-Dell herd has set a standard for excellence in the Ayrshire breed. David received the Ayrshire Association’s Master Breeder award in 2010. He has earned 14 Constructive Breeder awards for the herd’s outstanding production and type. Over 100 cows have classified Excellent, including one at 95 points. There have been 17 All-American and 18 Reserve All-Americans carry the Maple-Dell prefix. The herd has put numerous bulls in A.I. Many cows have ranked on the Cow Performance Index (CPI) List and produced high lifetimes of milk.

David started showing Ayrshires at 11 years old. He has been exhibiting at local, state, national and international shows now for over 75 years. He has shown at the All-American Dairy Show in Pennsylvania for over 50 consecutive years and in 2006 won the show’s Obie Snider Award. He has had 12 grand champions at Maryland State Fair. David had back-to-back grand champions at World Dairy Expo (WDE) with Maple-Dell Luby winning in 1981 and Ardrossan Kellogg Soft Eye in 1982. In 1995, Maple-Dell I.R.S. Sweetnine was junior champion Ayrshire at WDE and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Canada, a first in breed history. David has had two more junior champions at WDE – Maple-Dell BBK Shea in 2006 and Maple-Dell Diligent Gift in 2007.

David has bred and developed many prominent Ayrshires. Maple-Dell Hi-Kick Sweet Pea (Ex-91-3E) was the Ayrshire representative on the Purina Mills “Dairy Breeds of North America” painting by Bonnie Mohr. Grand champion at the 1988 Eastern National Show, she is the dam of Maple-Dell Soldier, a popular A.I. sire. Maple-Dell Trident Song (Ex-91), grand champion at the Mid-Atlantic National Show and reserve grand at WDE in 2003, had two sons in A.I., Maple-Dell Avenger Sarge and Maple-Dell Shipley. The most notable cow family recently has been the “D’s” led by Maple-Dell Zorro Dafourth (Ex-95-2E), 2006 All-American Dairy Show grand champion and WDE reserve grand champion. Four generations of this family have now ranked high on the CPI Cow List. Two of Dafourth’s sons, Maple-Dell Modem Drew and Maple-Dell Modem Diego, and a grandson, Maple-Dell O Dixon, have seen A.I. use.

A great teacher and mentor to young people. David was a key founder of the Maryland 4-H dairy leasing program that gives “urban” 4-H members the opportunity to show and work with cattle. Started in 1989, this program continues to thrive with David leasing over 20 calves from his farm every year to local 4-H members.

David has been very active in breed and farm organizations. A member of the U.S. Ayrshire Breeders’ Association for 73 years, he was Association president in 1998-99 and received their Distinguished Service Award in 2002. He is a past president of the Maryland Purebred Dairy Cattle Association, Wills Fair Association and Maryland/Delaware Ayrshire Association, and was a longtime All-American Dairy Show Board Director. He was inducted into the Maryland Dairy Shrine in 1994 and earned the Maryland Dairy of Distinction Award in 2014. In 2007, Maple Dell Farm was inducted into the Maryland Governor’s Agricultural Hall of Fame. In addition to his farm responsibilities, David has been an A.I. inseminator for over 60 years.

A man of great integrity, deep faith and love of family, David Patrick’s portrait will be displayed at National Dairy Hall of Fame at the National Dairy Shrine Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Mr. Patrick will receive the Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award at National Dairy Shrine’s 2021 Awards Banquet on Thursday, September 30th in Madison, Wisconsin.

For more information about National Dairy Shrine, the banquet, or the students and dairy industry leaders being recognized this year, contact National Dairy Shrine’s office at or visit their website

Monke to Receive National Dairy Shrine’s Pioneer Award

Four outstanding individuals are being honored with National Dairy Shrine’s Pioneer Award this year in recognition of their significant contributions to the dairy industry. The four will join a distinguished group of industry leaders whose portraits are displayed at the National Dairy Hall of Fame at the National Dairy Shrine Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

Among the Pioneers being honored is Dr. Donald R. Monke of Plain City, Ohio, the respected veterinarian who helped open international markets for American dairy cattle genetics and whose work and research led to improvements in male bovine management and care during a 40-year career at Select Sires Inc.

Born in Illinois, Donald Monke earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in 1977 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and then a Master’s of Business Administration from Franklin University in 2003.

In May 1977, Monke joined the staff of Select Sires Inc., the Plain City, Ohio, based A.I. cooperative that today is North America’s largest A.I. organization. Monke was the first Chief Staff Veterinarian in Select Sires’ history and in his role oversaw and managed the health and welfare of the company’s bulls. He was named Vice President of Sire Health Programs in 1991 and in 2003 was appointed Vice President of Production Operations. During his 40 years at Select Sires, Monke spearheaded the design, construction and renovation of facilities used to house the company’s bulls. He developed health, biosecurity, and emergency management protocols to help prevent the seminal transmission of bovine disease. He took the knowledge he gained from researching bovine diseases, and how they may be transmitted via frozen semen, and translated that into practical bull stud management. When Monke retired in June 2017, the Select Sires Board of Directors honored this committed, foresighted employee by naming their Export Production and Housing Facility the D.R. Monke Production Center.

Monke’s expertise on bull health and the A.I. business led him to be called upon many times to assist with the negotiation of international health regulations related to the export of bull semen. Monke travelled extensively as a veterinary technical advisor for the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to help develop and negotiate international bull semen health requirements so that semen from the United States could be exported to dairy producers in countries around the world.

As David Thorbahn, Select Sires CEO, says, “Dr. Monke’s work in disease transmission, aiding the breeding industry in negotiating domestic and exporting health regulations, developing strict biosecurity protocols for managing bovines, and his research and clinical work that improved the standards of care for over 1,600 highly valuable bulls at Select Sires has earned him high regard.”

Monke helped to educate dairy producers and veterinarians on bull care and health and disease prevention through his countless technical presentations at domestic and international conferences and his extensive articles that were published in scientific and lay publications. Dr. Gordon Doak, NAAB President Emeritus, states, “Monke’s contributions to health programs for bulls in A.I. over the years has been instrumental in protecting the health of dairy and beef producers’ herds as they employ A.I. to utilize the best genetics available to them.” Dr. Tony Forshey, State Veterinarian for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, says, “Monke’s dedication to excellence by developing and adopting cutting edge technologies has allowed him to contribute to improving dairy herd health and semen quality.”

Monke has been actively involved in many organizations. He was Chairman of the NAAB Board of Directors from 2003-05, a member of the NAAB Sire Health and Management Committee for 16 years (1978-93) and Chairman of that group for eight years, as well as Board Chairman of NAAB’s subsidiary, Certified Semen Services, for 12 years. In 2014, Monke was recognized with NAAB’s Distinguished Service Award. Monke has been a member of the U.S. Animal Health Association for over 40 years where he has served on numerous animal health and import/export committees including the Bluetongue and Bovine Retrovirus Committee. From 1984-95, he was also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventative Medicine at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

For more information about National Dairy Shrine, the banquet, or the students and dairy industry leaders being recognized this year, contact National Dairy Shrine’s office at or visit their website

Holiday optimism drives markets higher in Chicago Thursday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures closed higher Thursday on holiday optimism and strong cheese demand. Class III milk futures ended the week on a higher note.  July milk added 12 cents to $22.97/cwt.  August milk rocketed 54 cents higher to $20.95.  September increased 45 cents to $18.81/cwt.  Second half 2020 average is $18.99/cwt.  Class IV futures were relatively unchanged.

In the CME Cash Dairy Product Trade,  dry whey unchanged at $0.33.    Blocks up $0.0350 at $2.6750.  Six trades were made ranging from $2.66 to $2.68.  Barrels up $0.0150 at $2.4150.  Four trades were made at $2.41 and $2.4150. Butter down $0.0125 at $1.7375.  Nonfat dry milk up $0.0050 at $1.01.  Markets will be closed on July 3rd for the holiday.

The grain complex receded today.  December corn tumbled 7.50 cents to $3.53/bushel.  November soybeans fell 1.75 cents to $8.9725/bushel.  September Chicago W=wheat decreased 6.75 cents to $4.92/bushel.  August live cattle rallied $2.75 to $100.05/cwt.  August feeders climbed $2.82 to $135.90/cwt.  August crude oil launched a 51-cent gain to $40.33.  

South Dakota Works to Expand its Dairy Industry

According to the International Dairy Food Association, the dairy industry has an economic impact of more than $628 billion annually in the U.S. In trying to identify the states with the biggest impact on that figure, you might say Wisconsin or California. 

But another state is adding value by growing its dairy footprint: South Dakota.

Vikram Mistry, head of the dairy science department at South Dakota State University (SDSU), has seen an increase in the number of students in his classes. 

“Historically, we held steady with about 80 to 90 students between 1979 and 1986. This dropped by 2002 to about 40 following the Whole Herd Buyout program in 1986,” Mistry says. 

This was due to the decrease in dairy cow numbers from 250,000 to nearly 80,000 head by the early 2000s. Those numbers have grown back to 122,000, and the university has also seen renewed interest in its dairy program following strong recruiting. Today, there are 125 students from 13 different states.

David Skaggs, dairy and ag development specialist for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, says when dairy farms decreased in the early 2000s, his department made it a priority to rebuild this part of the industry by adding staff in dairy development. Realizing this priority is what has helped increase cow numbers from the low of 80,000 up to 122,000 head today.

Read more:

General Mills launches three-year regenerative dairy pilot project

The three dairy farms in the pilot, which collectively manage more than 14,000 acres, were chosen for their proximity to General Mills’ dairy manufacturing facility in Reed City, Michigan, which produces a variety of Yoplait products.

This is the third regenerative agriculture pilot General Mills has launched – and the first for its dairy ingredient supply – since its 2019 commitment​ to advancing regenerative agriculture practices on 1 million acres of farmland by 2030. 

General Mills has partnered with consultants Understanding Ag and dairy cooperative Foremost Farms to pilot regenerative practices and provide support to participating dairy farmers.

“In order for regenerative agriculture to be successful, it must first be economically viable for farmers as a lever to help build operational and financial resilience,” ​said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer at General Mills.

With the pilot project, General Mills will ensure that the transition to regenerative practices will be beneficial to dairy partners and enhance the overall health of their farms, added Melendez.

“Consumers increasingly want to support brands and companies they trust are acting as environmental stewards. This pilot with Yoplait is a great example of the role our brands can play in unleashing the scale of our supply chain – supporting farmers, promoting animal welfare, and improving the health of the planet, all while delivering a great-tasting product,”​ Doug Martin, president of the General Mills US yogurt business.

Building dairy farmer resiliency 

“As an industry, dairy farms have been especially hard hit in recent months and their resiliency is being tested. We believe regenerative agriculture builds and strengthens farmer resilience, so they can better withstand pressures, be it societal, financial or environmental,”​ said Martin.

According to the NMPF (National Milk Producers Federation), dairy farmers have faced some of the biggest challenges of all major US agricultural products, with losses potentially reaching $8.2bn, based on a comparison of current USDA projections with pre-crisis estimates.  

As the pilot begins, Understanding Ag consultants will meet with each dairy farmer to co-develop and implement custom regenerative management plans for a portion of their operation. Throughout the pilot, partners will monitor data and measure impacts to soil, biodiversity, water, animal well-being, and farm profitability.

General Mills is also supporting a team of researchers from Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison who are developing data-driven tools to help dairy farmers implement regenerative agriculture practices into their operations.

According to the company, regenerative agriculture practices help to increase water infiltration, improve nutrient cycling, and reduce soil erosion, which in turn, improves and protects nearby lakes, rivers, and streams. Regenerative practices on dairy farms can look slightly different than row crop farms, noted General Mills, specifically in regards to incorporating adaptive grazing on pastures and cropland.

“These benefits can translate to farmers’ pocketbooks by ensuring that more nutrients stay in the field to be absorbed by plants rather than lost to wind or water erosion.”

“The Regenerative Dairy Pilot Program in Michigan gives our farmers the chance to reduce water and wind erosion all while providing top quality feed to their animals. A highly nutritious diet helps ensure healthy, productive cows, which in turn contributes to a stronger bottom line on the farm,”​ said Greg Schlafer, Foremost Farms USA, president and CEO.


New NAFTA will impact dairy sector

The Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement (CUSMA) launched Wednesday, replacing the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as the global economy and international trade reel from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The flow of goods among the three CUSMA members — which totaled $1.2 trillion last year — in April dropped to the lowest level in more than a decade. Meanwhile, the jailing of a Mexican labor lawyer and independent union leader has reignited concern about the challenges of meeting the CUSMA’s labor rights provisions.

Some industries, including automakers, had been arguing for a delayed implementation of the new trade pact because of the difficulties they are facing from the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some of the key changes the new regional pact will usher in:

Dairy, chicken and eggs

Canada will provide U.S. dairy farmers access to about 3.5 per cent of its $16 billion annual domestic dairy market. In exchange, the United States backed off efforts to force Canada to scrap its longstanding “supply management” system, which maintains high dairy tariffs.

The United States will be able to increase exports of some milk products like skim milk and milk proteins to Canada.

The U.S. also gets tariff-free access to Canada for 57,000 tonnes of chicken by the sixth year of the deal, and access for 10 million dozen U.S. eggs and egg equivalents.

Read more here

Canadian firm buys a quarter stake in Fonterra’s biggest supplier, Dairy Holdings

Dairy Holdings has sold a 25 per cent stake to a Canadian pension fund.

Dairy Holdings, the country’s biggest corporate dairy farmer has sold a 25 per cent stake to Canadian pension fund, Sooke Investments, for an unknown sum.

Diary Holdings is Fonterra’s largest shareholder, with more than 12 million shares and $1 billion in assets.

Dairy Holdings’ 59 dairy farms are all in the South Island, with a total herd of 50,000 milking cows that produce around 17 million kilograms of milk solids a year, according to its website.

Sooke is owned by Canadian state-owned Public Sector Pension Investment Board and also owns a 69.5 per cent of Kaingaroa Timberlands, and is the owner of investment holding firm Global Herd.

Timaru-based Dairy Holdings is made up of five companies, the largest of which is Dacca Investments. The other four are Pure Pasture Investments, Turdair 2019 and Turdair Holdings, owned by Temuka farming couple Margaret and Murray Turley.

Prior to the deal with Sooke, the company was wholly New Zealand owned.

Dairy Holdings began in 2001 with the purchase of two South Island corporate farming companies: Tasman Agriculture and Dairy Brands.

Dairy Holdings would not comment on the sale.


Outstanding Youth Recognized as Holstein Distinguished Junior Members

Holstein Association USA recently recognized six finalists as 2020 National Distinguished Junior Members (DJM) during a Facebook Live event on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. This award is the highest honor given to members of the National Junior Holstein Association, ages 17 to 21, in recognition of a commitment to the Holstein breed and involvement in a variety of agriculture related activities.

The finalists for this year’s Distinguished Junior Member competition are Todd Allen, Jefferson, Md.; Matthew Boop, Millmont, Pa.; Kristen Burkhardt, Fowlerville, Mich.; Connor Erbsen, Lanark, Ill.; Mason Jauquet, Pulaski, Wis., and Emily Mikel, Stafford, N.Y.

“The Distinguished Junior Member contest has been held since 1922 and is the longest running Holstein youth program. The award recognition is coveted by Junior members working with Registered Holsteins and participating in our programs across the country,” stated Kelli Dunklee, Holstein Association USA & Holstein Foundation Program Specialist. “These outstanding dairy youth are incredible individuals, leaders and role models for the dairy industry.”

Applicants completed two judging phases. Phase one, the Junior’s entry book, is worth 60 percent of the final score. The book highlights the Junior’s Holstein work, activities and projects, breeding program and personal views. The top 12 individuals based on their book score are named DJM Semifinalists.

Next, the twelve semifinalists are interviewed by a committee of judges, with the interview accounting for 40 percent of their final score. The six individuals with the highest combined scores are named Distinguished Junior Member Finalists and receive an annual renewed Holstein Association USA membership.

2020 Young Distinguished Junior Members (YDJM)

Eight young people were selected as finalists in the 2020 Young Distinguished Junior Member (YDJM) contest and were recognized during a Facebook Live event on July 1, 2020. YDJM applicants are judged on similar criteria as the Distinguished Junior Member contest, but do not complete the interview phase. Junior members ages 9 to 16 are eligible to apply for the YDJM recognition.

The Young Distinguished Junior Members for 2020 are: Colton Brandel, Lake Mills, Wis.; Rachel Craun, Mount Crawford, Vir.; Nevin Erbsen, Lanark, Ill.; Natalie Fredericks, Little Falls, N.Y.; Jacob Harbaugh, Marion, Wis.; Jacob Raber, Gridley, Ill.; Naomi Scott, Westgate, Iowa and Gabriella Taylor, Newark, N.Y.

For more information about Holstein Association USA’s youth programs,

California Fall National Dairy Show announced for October 23-25

The California Holstein Association has announced a new show for the fall! This is an open invitation to all dairy enthusiasts to attend the California Fall National Show in Tulare, CA on October 23-25! Excited to be moving forward in planning this event for CA and out of state exhibitors.

Tentative schedule 
Friday, October 23rd

  • Youth Holstein Show & Showmanship

Saturday, October 24th

  • Jersey and all other Breeds Show & Holstein Heifers

Sunday, October 25th

  • Holstein Cows

Diary supply chains must adapt to changing consumer behaviour – CoBank

New analysis from CoBank shows that COVID-19 has caused shifts and uncertainty in purchasing patterns and consumption habits for the dairy industry.

COVID-19 is dramatically affecting consumer habits and dairy supply chains as food service demand plummets and grocery sales surge. Consumers struggling with job losses and economic uncertainty quickly returned to buying basic dairy products like fluid milk, commodity cheese and butter.

A new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange indicates that consumer behaviour will be different for the next 12 to 18 months than it was pre-pandemic, and as that behaviour takes root, dairy supply chains will need to adjust from farm to fork.

“The dairy industry is coping with some new realities, largely driven by the decrease in food service demand and restaurant sales,” said Tanner Ehmke, manager of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange. “The challenge for dairy supply chains will be adapting to focus on meeting demand trends based on evolving consumer behaviour as we navigate through an uneven reopening.”

As consumers heeded the stay-at-home advisories, they increased purchases of products that in recent years had fallen out of favour. Processed cheese sales increased by nearly 20 percent during the eight weeks ending  31 May. White milk sales gained more than 10 percent during the same period. Cereal is also doing well with sales up almost 15 percent.

Even as restrictions have begun lifting, polling has shown widespread reluctance among consumers about immediately returning to normal activities like restaurant dining and business travel. In late April, a Business Insider poll found just 9 percent of Americans believed they would resume their routine exactly as it was before the lockdowns, with only 16 percent saying they would resume “almost all” of their activities.

At a minimum, it will take some time for sit-down restaurant traffic to look anything like it did before the pandemic. Forecasts from Open Table suggest that the US could lose up to 25 percent of its restaurants.

Any structural reduction in restaurant sales has potential product mix implications for dairy processors and converters. For instance, firms that specialise in making or packaging products for food service accounts will need to retool, making different types of cheese or filling different-sized sour cream containers for at-home consumption.

Much of the price volatility experienced over the past 90 days has more to do with massive supply chain disruptions than major changes to aggregate demand and supply. Perishability played a big role in the upheaval. As demand spun toward retail, food service operators disposed of fresh products that now have to be replenished for reopening.

Some buyers are asking if suppliers can develop and provide extended shelf life alternatives. Movement in that direction would presumably help on the supply side, giving manufacturers and dairy farmers more supply cushion.

A world with more extended shelf life manufacturing options might mean less dumping of milk than took place in April. Business models may also be readjusted from just in time inventory practices to having more inventory stored in warehouses.

Grocers are also cutting down on product selection to enhance operational efficiency. Published reports say that the popular Wegman’s supermarket chain, for example, has cut its offerings from about 52,000 products to 30,000 products.

Data from Nielsen shows that for the four weeks ending 13 June, supermarkets carried nearly 7 percent fewer dairy items than the year prior. For dairy companies and other food marketers, that could mean fewer line extensions, fewer opportunities to differentiate, fewer chances to test new concepts.

As the economy reopens, potential changes in consumer habits, the level of social distancing that remains in place, and the level of disposable income will again reshape dairy supply chains long term.

Click here to read the report, Dairy Supply Chains Adapt as Consumers React to COVID-19.

Milk Futures See Major Gains in Chicago Wednesday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures saw major gains Wednesday ahead of the monthly dairy products report while most cash trade was dimmed by the holiday-shortened week.  Class III moved higher – June announced price is 21.04, July gained 66 to 20.41 and Aug gained 45 to 18.36. Class IV announced June price is $12.90, July gained 1 to 14.74, and Aug gained 11 to 15.09.

The CME spot trade saw Dry whey up $0.0125 at $0.33.   Seven trades were made ranging from $0.31 to $0.3175. Blocks unchanged at $2.64.  Barrels unchanged at $2.40. Butter down $0.0150 at $1.75.  Four trades were made at $1.7475 and $1.75. Nonfat dry milk unchanged at $1.0050. 

The grain complex continued moving higher. Corn begins July trading 9 ¾ higher to 3.48 ¼, Soybeans followed suit, gaining 9 ½ to 8.93 ¾, and November soybeans finished the day at 8.99 even but traded over $9 for the first time since March. Soybean meal moved $6.40 higher to 292.70.

What’s hiding in your dairy cattle feed?

Creating a total mixed ration (TMR) is like a work of art – you work hard to perfectly balance ingredients to provide your cows the nutrition they need for optimal production. But, there’s an unseen pathogen that can throw your ration off course: mycotoxins.

“Mycotoxins are an issue every year and can have a costly impact on your herd if not properly monitored and managed,” says John Doerr, Ph.D., vice president of science and technology, Agrarian Solutions. “Feed testing can help you gain a better picture of the specific mycotoxin challenges in your ration and assist in developing solutions.”

Here are the answers to three frequently asked questions about feed testing:

What can feed testing tell you?

Testing feed is critical to identify and address mycotoxin issues proactively so they don’t lead to milk production drops and reproductive challenges. Often, farms may be dealing with more than one type of mycotoxin and their presence in feed is ever-changing.

Feed testing can tell you:

  • What mycotoxins may be causing harm to your herd
  • What adjustments to make before damage caused by mycotoxins is hard or impossible to repair
  • What vendors, if any, may be selling you contaminated feedstuffs

“It’s also important to watch your herd closely for issues like loose manure, cows going off feed, abortions, unusually low milk production or missed heats,” says Dr. Doerr. “While these can be symptoms of a variety of health issues, sometimes the cause is an underlying mycotoxin which feed testing can identify.”

How often should you test feed?

Seasonal changes in fall and spring can create a spike in mycotoxins. Testing at these times helps you manage mycotoxin risk and make necessary changes to the ration to prevent costly health problems.

“Testing should be managed year-round,” says Dr. Doerr. “Testing frequency can vary from farm to farm based on potential risk and health of cows.”

A key time to test is when a new load of ingredients, like shell corn or cottonseed, is delivered to your farm, or when you’re starting a new batch of silage in your TMR. These ingredients could have varying mycotoxins you haven’t found in your feed. Continue testing these ingredients every two months until they are fed out or replaced.

It is also recommended to take two to three samples throughout mid- to late-fall to understand the mycotoxin risk in newly cropped feed.

How can you make the most of your report?

You work with your nutritionist or feed representative to take feed samples, send it to the lab and get a report back. From there, it’s time to dig into the report data.

“Mycotoxin analysis reports are a great tool to identify the type of mycotoxins you have in your feed and get recommendations to form a solution,” says Dr. Doerr.

At a quick glance, the report determines whether you have a high, medium or low risk of a particular mycotoxin or more than one mycotoxin (see example report).

Depending on the company you’re testing through, a typical report also provides specific product recommendations to counter the effects of a mycotoxin issue, but you need to work with your nutritionist and veterinarian to make ration adjustments.

“It’s important to talk with your nutritionist and veterinarian to determine the best steps to take after receiving your report results and adjust,” says Dr. Doerr. “A mycotoxin challenge can quickly cause a big problem, so addressing it promptly is critical.”

Every farm can be impacted by mycotoxins – even at a low level. Contact your local Agrarian Solutions or Select Sires representative to discuss how to get a free feed sample analysis and a quarterly report of common mycotoxin issues in your area. Learn more at

Since 1996, Agrarian Solutions has been a global leader in providing L-Form bacteria-based technologies for dairy cattle, swine and poultry. Agrarian’s cutting-edge L-Form bacteria technology functions inside of animal cells, populating the cells lining the intestinal tract. There, the L-Form bacteria perform specific functions like balancing intestinal immune function, reducing the burden of pathogenic bacteria or combating feed-borne toxins – challenges animals and their owners face every day. Learn more about Agrarian products and technology at

National DHIA seeks scholarship applicants

National Dairy Herd Information Association (DHIA) is offering $1,000 scholarships to full-time, incoming and continuing students at technical and two-year and four-year colleges/universities. To be eligible for a National DHIA scholarship, the applicant must be a family member or employee of a herd on DHI test, family member of a DHI employee, or employee of a DHI affiliate. The DHI affiliate for the herd or affiliate employee must be a member of National DHIA. (AgSource Cooperative Services, Arizona DHIA, Central Counties DHIA, CentralStar Cooperative Inc., Dairy Lab Services, Dairy One Cooperative Inc., DHI Cooperative Inc., Idaho DHIA, Indiana State Dairy Association, Lancaster DHIA, Minnesota DHIA, Rocky Mountain DHIA, Tennessee DHIA, United Federation of DHIAs and Washington State DHIA are National DHIA members.)

The scholarship selection committee will evaluate applicants based on scholastic achievements, leadership, community activities, work experience, knowledge of and experience with DHIA, and responses to questions on the application. Applications are due Nov. 30, 2020. Recipients will be announced at the 2021 National DHIA Annual Meeting.

To apply for a National DHIA scholarship, log on to: and download and complete the electronic application form. For more information, contact JoDee Sattler, National DHIA scholarship coordinator, at 414-587-5839

National DHIA will award approximately 15 $1,000 scholarships. Generous contributions from National DHIA members, friends and supporters help fund these scholarships.

National Dairy Herd Information Association, a trade association for the dairy records industry, serves the best interests of its members and the dairy industry by maintaining the integrity of dairy records and advancing dairy information systems.

Dairy Sense: The Value of Optimizing Heat Abatement

Summer months are a challenging time of year in the northeast when heat and humidity take their toll on animal performance. The short-term duration of hot weather can have long term ramifications to total milk pounds for the year, components, reproduction, and milk income. Even though the pandemic has created turmoil with supply and demand of dairy products, the producer still needs to focus on animal performance and prepare for when markets correct themselves.

Many farms have two key data sources to draw from when evaluating herd performance. These include the monthly milk check and the dairy herd improvement association (DHIA) tests. It should not be a surprise that cows experience some heat stress during the summer months. Managers need to minimize the effects, so milk income is not seriously compromised.

The milk check is the gold standard for capturing production and component results. DHIA provides a snapshot in time per month and does not always accurately reflect what is happening in the herd. Check the test day bulk tank comparison against the test day information on the DHIA 202 summary report before examining production and component data. If there is greater than a five percent deviation, then production data may require careful interpretation.

Ideally taking the bulk tank milk weights at each pick-up along with the number of cows going into the tank is a more accurate approach to monitoring production. This can detect problems earlier and allow for faster solutions to correct heat stress. A 200-dairy cow operation with minimal heat abatement strategies was evaluated using their 2019 information. They averaged 77 pounds of milk from January through May. From June through September the herd dropped in milk for an average production of 70 pounds with similar days in milk. The milk price/cwt averaged $18.83 for those 4 summer months. The potential lost revenue due to heat stress equated to approximately $34,000. This number does not consider the long-term physical stress to the animal at various stages of lactation and the impact on reproduction. Investments in fans, a sprinkling system, or other cow comfort strategies would pay for themselves in a short period.

Using the same 200-cow dairy, the monthly milk checks from June through September were compared to the DHIA summary report (Table 1) for components. Milk fat more than milk protein had an opportunity for improvement. Using the price of milk fat and protein pounds from the Federal Milk Order #1 report for June through September, the difference in lost revenue was calculated. If the farm had produced the amount of fat and protein reported on test day, the herd would have averaged $0.33/cwt more on their milk price compared to what they received. For those 4 months, an additional $6400 was not realized. Using the milk check information to document heat stress provided a better assessment of what was happening in this herd.

Table 1. The component differences between the milk check and DHIA test day average for a 200-cow dairy.

Month Milk fat, %
Milk fat, %
Milk check
Milk protein, %
Milk protein, %
Milk check
June 3.7 3.575 3.10 3.039
July 3.4 3.428 3.00 2.962
August 3.6 3.402 3.00 3.026
September 3.7 3.610 3.10 3.060
Average 3.6 3.504 3.05 3.013

Heat abatement strategies that help cool cows during difficult times of the summer can be instrumental in minimizing production losses. Herds that do not have well-ventilated facilities can experience both production and component reductions during the summer and well into the fall. The monetary impact that heat stress has on an operation can be significant. If DHIA test day data matches with the milk check, then drilling down further into various performance areas can be beneficial. If there is too much discrepancy between the milk check and DHIA, then it may be more difficult to determine the specific production group(s) causing the problem.

Economic perspective:

Monitoring must include an economic component to determine if a management strategy is working or not. For the lactating cows, income over feed cost is a good way to check that feed costs are in line with the level of milk production. Starting with July 2014’s milk price, income over feed cost was calculated using average intake and production for the last six years from the Penn State dairy herd. The ration contained 63% forage consisting of corn silage, haylage, and hay. The concentrate portion included corn grain, candy meal, sugar, canola meal, roasted soybeans, Optigen, and a mineral vitamin mix. All market prices were used.

Also included are the feed costs for dry cows, springing heifers, pregnant heifers, and growing heifers. The rations reflect what has been fed to these animal groups at the Penn State dairy herd. All market prices were used.

Income over feed cost using standardized rations and production data from the Penn State dairy herd.

Note: May’s Penn State milk price: $14.22/cwt; feed cost/cow: $6.98; average milk production: 84 lbs.

Feed cost/non-lactating animal/day.

Source: PennState Extension

USDA Dairy Safety-Net Program Signup to Begin October 12 for the 2021 Coverage Period

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announces that Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) safety-net signup for 2021 coverage will begin October 12 and will run through December 11, 2020. DMC has already triggered payments for two months for producers who signed up for 2020 coverage.

“If we’ve learned anything in the past six months, it’s to expect the unexpected,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “Nobody would have imagined the significant impact that current, unforeseen circumstances have had on an already fragile dairy market. It’s during unprecedented times like these that the importance of offering agricultural producers support through the delivery of Farm Bill safety-net programs such as DMC becomes indisputably apparent.”

The April 2020 income over feed cost margin was $6.03 per hundredweight (cwt.), triggering the second payment of 2020 for dairy producers who purchased the appropriate level of coverage under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. The April margin reflects a more than a $3 drop from the March $9.15 cwt. income over feed cost margin.

As of June 15, FSA has issued more than $100 million in much-needed program benefits to dairy producers who purchased DMC coverage for 2020.

Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, DMC is a voluntary risk management program that offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. Over 13,000 operations enrolled in the program for the 2020 calendar year.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors may also be required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in office, by phone, and using online tools. More information can be found at

For more information, visit DMC webpage or contact your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit

Dairy Farmers Worldwide Are On the Brink of Crisis

The world’s dairy farmers are facing an existential crisis.

They’ve dumped millions of gallons of milk, slowed output and sold off older cows. Global governments stepped in with stimulus cash that provided some much-needed temporary relief, helping benchmark Chicago milk futures to almost double in two months. But once the aid money starts to dry up, many producers will confront tough choices again: suffer through losses, or pack it all in and shut the farm.

It’s going to be a long time before restaurants go back to serving buttery, cheesy dishes on the scale they did in the pre-pandemic world. While lockdown restrictions are easing, slower economic growth means consumers will be cutting back on dining out and even home-delivery orders.

That’s a hit the dairy industry won’t be able to sustain. Even with billions in stimulus, the contraction for U.S. herds will likely match record levels this year, according to the National Milk Producers Federation. Declines are also expected in Europe and Australia, two other regions key to global exports.

“Are people still at home in three to six months, ordering pizza to watch a football game? Or are they conserving their money, and will they stop ordering out?” said Matt Gould, editor at Dairy & Food Market Analyst Inc. “At no point have we seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and even now with prices spiking, we could be in the ditch in three to six months.”

Dairy is one of the world’s most important food markets. The sector accounts for about 14% of global agricultural trade and more than 150 million farmers keep at least one milk animal, according to the United Nations. The industry is valued at about $700 billion, but it’s facing a reckoning. For years, milk demand has been on the decline in developed countries. That’s only accelerated recently as more consumers turned to plant alternatives amid climate concerns.

When coronavirus lockdowns went into place, dairy markets were among the hardest hit in the food world. It turns out, consumers the world over eat a lot more cheese and butter when they’re dining out than they do at home. As restaurants shuttered, farmers were left with an overwhelming glut. Hundreds of millions of pounds of milk got dumped.

Things still looked relatively dismal until governments stepped in to intervene. The U.S. promised $2.9 billion in its dairy bailout. The European Union pledged 30 million euros ($34 million), and Australia has also earmarked funds for the industry. That sent milk futures in Chicago soaring after touching a decade low in April.

Wisconsin farmer and dairy consultant Daniel Olson is betting on retrenchment.

Many producers are likely pulling in more profits now than they were pre-pandemic, Olson said, but he’s doing everything he can to lock in prices, with futures still trading near $21 for 100 pounds, the highest since 2014.

“It’s just a matter of time before it goes down to as low as $10,” Olson said. “I’m using this opportunity to never see $10 on our farm.”

The recent price rebound and the government aid will allow some producers to get through this rough period, but it won’t be enough to forestall the long-term trend toward bankruptcy and farmers leaving the industry, said Peter Vitaliano, the chief economist at the National Milk Producers Federation, whose members produce more than two-thirds of U.S. milk.

In 2019, there was a 9% drop in licensed U.S. dairy herds, a record high, Vitaliano said.

“I expect there will be a similar shake-out this year,” he said.

That’s likely to be the case globally, as well. The European Commission has forecast the region’s dairy herd could drop by about 0.7% this year, after a 1.2% decline in 2019. Almost 500 Australian dairy farmers left the industry in 2019, and the trend will probably continue as production costs have stayed above retail prices.

‘Heavy Inventories’

Even with herd contraction, the world will see overflowing supplies, according to analysts at Rabobank, which forecasts a 1% increase in production in the second half of 2020 from a year earlier in the major producing regions.

“Heavy inventories and reduced demand growth will weigh on global milk prices through 2020 and into 2021,” the analysts led by Ben Laine said in a June report.

Still, there’s the chance that governments could supply more stimulus. The Rabobank analysts say that’s a possibility in the U.S. ahead of the November presidential election. Donald Trump has counted on farmers as a key part of his constituency.

But without another injection of funds, there’s more pain in store for farmers.

Tony Sarsam, the chief executive officer for bankrupt Borden Dairy Co., expects more people to continue to eat at home — especially as the pandemic leads into a recession — which could worsen dairy demand. Plus, there’s the longer-term problem of consumers turning away from drinking milk.

“How fresh fluid milk becomes a staple again remains to be seen,” he said. “It’s not going to be solved with a government program. Consumers want new ideas, indulgent foods, healthy choices and convenience — and the dairy industry has a lot of work to do there.”


Dairy farmers support each other through the storm

Just when it looks like the storm has let up with a little relief in early 2020 milk markets, another storm bears down, leaving Michigan dairy farmers to believe that short reprieve was just the eye of the storm — a small window of peace and security between the front and back ends of a deluge.

“We’re all in this together” is like nails on a chalkboard at this point, but the truth more than ever before, is that right now, dairy farmers need to support each other wholeheartedly. 

There is no reason to repeat the issues as they are more than obvious to anyone who has ever received a milk check. To support each other, two questions were posed to five dairy farmers from different demographics. Their answers are from the heart.

Question one: What one or two things do you find yourself doing or reflecting on to get through this unique time in history?

Ashley Kennedy: I often find myself going back to my basic comforts of movement or reading. Since I was a kid, I could lose myself in a good book and I have found myself doing that move often lately. I also find my yoga and running/walking habits to be a great way to clear my head.

Tara Good: Things have been very “business as usual” for us, because we are working around the clock. I do think I rely a lot on music to keep me uplifted; and we love what we do! My motto has always been Carpe Diem, or Seize the Day, and I truly try to find beauty in the simple things daily. I think many people forget to do this. It could be as simple as enjoying the sunset, the alfalfa field coming to life after a long cold winter or the birth of a beautiful heifer calf.

Joe Kulhawick: I have a job I love and am grateful that I can get up and go to work every day. I realize I am just passing through this world and trying to do the Lord’s work. This dumping milk to me is sinful and a bitter pill to swallow. I rely on my faith and the Bible, and even though we cannot go to church and worship together, I try to do daily devotions and look for wisdom and knowledge from above, because no one else has wisdom like that.

Mary Costigan: Undoubtedly my faith! Constant conversations with the good Lord throughout the entire day relaxes my anxiety about all the on-farm and off-farm things that are out of my control. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” Those words in Isaiah 41:10 could not be truer in a time like this. How comforting to know that with all the upset in the world, that God is always with us! God has always upheld me with a strong supportive family, including my husband of almost 12 years, my precious and rowdy sons (Case 6, Brant 3, Kipp 10 months) and my Dad, Mom, brothers Jake and Dave and sister Sarah. 

Gerald Geurink: We don’t have any animals here anymore, it was just more than I could do at 80. I just take care of the things we have here at home, read, watch TV, church on the computer, read some more. That’s about it. Once in a while we sneak off and visit some relatives that are our age. 

Question two: What is one business tool or piece of advice that you incorporate to keep your business moving forward?

Ashley Kennedy: While going through struggles and stresses on the farm, I have found that taking time away, even for a bit, helps my frame of mind. Even when I know it is painful, know our numbers. I like to avoid doing things like that when it’s bad and usually I feel more in control when I know the truth, good or bad.

Tara Good: As far as business advice/strategy, I really think for us it is to just take one day at a time. Dairy farming has always been and will continue to be filled with challenges daily. Remember that everything happens for a reason. We focus on taking care of our herd to the best of our ability. From a cow management standpoint, we can sum it up by saying grass is king for us. A high forage diet positively impacts overall immunity and health of our cows.

Joe Kulhawick: The one thing we try to fall back on is to stay out of severe debt and out of the bank. Unfortunately, reserves will only last so long. We watch our labor budget close, and since we are healthy and able, we are working more and of course getting paid less. But we have our health and strength, and it helps keep us out of the bank. We diversified seven years ago into custom feed harvesting and selling feed. We also have a sweet corn plot. Diversification gives us something to fall back on and can be a real help.

Mary Costigan: I am afraid I cannot give too much surprising and helpful insight on this besides living frugally. Being raised by the master of frugality, it is in my blood to not spend frivolously. The fundamentals of my breeding program haven’t changed. I may be quicker to use Angus in a mating, but I am still seeking that perfect (to me) sized individual with functional feet and legs and beautiful udder with positive milk production and always positive fertility traits. We give probably too many chances to calves that don’t show promise because we cannot stand not giving them a chance. We trim out expenses where we can, but the animals and their comfort are still priority. In the background, my dad has been a miracle worker when it comes to enlisting in helpful programs and knowing where to put money that is going to benefit us the most in the short and long term. Has he been hard to convince over the years to spend money to make money? Absolutely, but ultimately that way of thinking is what is getting us through times like these.

Gerald Geurink: I’ve been through crisis, too. Back in the ‘70’s, I got divorced. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Then, about four years later, I got married again and it has been the best 35 years of my life. If you have cows, you just keep doing what you have to every day. Just keep slugging it out.


Cows need to produce their liveweight in milk solids

Lyn Baggot wants cows to produce their liveweight in milk solids.

The job description for cows in Lyn and Deborah Baggott’s herd is simple – the cows need to produce their liveweight in milk solids.

The Baggotts are 50/50 sharemilking 880 mixed breed cows on the family owned 235ha dairy farm at Cust, North Canterbury.

“I have no breed preference,” Lyn Baggott says. “As long as they are performing, pulling their weight. 

“I like cows to produce their liveweight in milk solids, so it’s not a breed thing, it’s the performance of each individual animal.”

Lyn’s parents moved to Cust from Ruawai 20 years ago. The herd, made up of Jersey, Ayrshire, crossbreds and Friesian, was originally all Ayrshire. The move south meant his parents had to build up cow numbers so they purchased Friesians and crossbreds – all New Zealand genetics.i

“I hadn’t been happy with the BW system as we’d been getting cows with poor udders and feet and lots of lameness. When I first bought the herd off my parents I did a simple on-farm exercise where I tagged each cow in order of BW. [For example] the cow with the highest BW received the lowest available herd tag. Within a few years I knew that BW wasn’t reflecting the best performing cows in the herd. 

“After three or four lactations low ear tag number cows (high BW) were not necessarily the best performing cows in the herd.  I felt I was chasing rainbows when selecting on BW – it was always moving and changing. I wanted something better,” Lyn said.   

He decided to focus on important traits like udders, legs, feet, temperament, fertility and, of course, production. 

Lameness is an issue on the farm due to walking distance and track surface. 

Lyn says he needed robust cows with good conformation which would last multiple lactations.

“Changing the source of genetics to overseas enabled me to select from the largest sire line-up in the world and since 2016 I’ve predominantly used World Wide Sires.

“One of the drivers for going to World Wide Sires was to improve the strength of the Jerseys. I like the mix of breeds in the herd but the Jerseys were, in comparison to the crossbreds and Friesians, weak and frail. They needed to be able to hold their own in the herd and I wanted genetics which would add stature and strength to the Jerseys. 

“As soon as the first World Wide Sires’ Jersey calves hit the ground I could see they were more robust and strong than what I’d had before. They grow on well and now more than hold their own with the other breeds.

“Across the herd my heifers come in with good udders which only improve as they move on in the herd. 

“We’re consistently getting nice udders which sit well between their back legs and don’t impede walking. 

“I’m getting the animal I want in the herd and am not worried about their BW. I keep good herd records which show the production I achieve and that speaks louder than anything.”


​Battling bankruptcy and a pandemic, Borden looks ahead

Weighed down by debt, Borden Dairy filed for bankruptcy in January.

The 163-year-old company planned to use the Chapter 11 filing to reorganize its business after some financial missteps left them with $250 million in secured debt, but it didn’t anticipate the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Running a business is tough enough. Running a business in bankruptcy is tougher and then throwing a pandemic on top of that, even tougher,” CEO of Borden Tony Sarsam told Food Dive. 

Both Borden and milk giant Dean Foods filed for bankruptcy just two months apart. Already struggling with shifting consumer demand, the milk producers took another hit as coronavirus shuttered foodservice operations, a major source of business for them. 

Despite the hurdles it faces, Borden is working to get back on track. The company secured a major government contract to supply 700 million servings of fluid milk to nonprofits amid the pandemic, and just five months after filing for bankruptcy, the company is now finishing up that process in the expected timeline. 

Two weeks ago, Capitol Peak Partners and KKR & Co. formed a joint venture and won a bankruptcy auction for Borden. Although union objections put the deal in jeopardy, the court approved the $340 million sale on Friday. 

“We are exiting Chapter 11 as a thriving company that is meeting and exceeding its performance forecasts, making our outlook very promising,” Sarsam said in a statement after the sale was approved. 

Capitol Peak is led by Gregg Engles, a former chairman and chief executive of Dean Foods, while KKR previously owned Borden and was already a lender. Capitol Peak will assume majority ownership of the new company, and KKR will be a minority investor. Sarsam, who led the company for two years, will step down as CEO of the company in July and Engles will take over with a new senior leadership team. 

“My mission when I came here changed once we began understanding the realities of the debt problem that was weighing on the company,” Sarsam told Food Dive.

Borden will remain fully intact, including all branches and plants, and the reorganized business will continue to employ all its workers. The company’s 12 plants in the U.S. produce about 500 million gallons of milk annually.

“My top priority these last six-plus months has been to get the best outcome for all 3,300 employees at Borden, and this outcome with Capitol Peak is the best outcome,” Sarsam said. “For me and for perhaps a few others, we’re going to move in a different direction, but that was still our mission, to get the best outcome for Borden and we’ve done that.”

But even though it is reducing its debt load with familiar faces taking over, analysts say Borden will likely continue to be plagued by the issues hurting the whole dairy industry. 

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Filing for Chapter 11 

Companies in the dairy space, like Borden, have grappled with mounting challenges in recent years from rising competition with alternatives, dropping milk consumption, innovative startups and discounted private label. 

Borden once sold products in all 50 states, but as of last summer, it offered 35 products in the Midwest, South and Southeastern U.S. The milk processor cited a 46% decline in fluid milk consumption per capita from 1980 to 2018 in its filing. 

“The company continues to be impacted by the rising cost of raw milk and market challenges facing the dairy industry,” Sarsam said in a statement when it filed for bankruptcy. 

“Running a business is tough enough. Running a business in bankruptcy is tougher and then throwing a pandemic on top of that, even tougher.”

Tony Sarsam

CEO, Borden Dairy

But what pushed the company to file for Chapter 11? Its debt, Sarsam said. There were “some mistakes that were made during the acquisition from the summer of 2017 that unfortunately put more debt on the company than was reasonable for the size of the company,” he added.  

That year, private equity firm ACON Investments took a major stake in Borden. He said that debt constrained the company’s ability to make basic investments in areas like its plants and equipment. Borden tried to reach a resolution with its lenders, but Sarsam said it was unsatisfactory so the “only choice was to go through a court-supervised process to restructure our debt overall.”

A future with familiar faces

Post-bankruptcy, KKR and Capitol Peak both provide ample experience in this challenging space. 

KKR bought Borden for $2 billion in 1995 and took it private after about 68 years as a public company. However, KKR ended up selling off its brands and divisions during the next decade, although it stayed on as a lender. When Borden filed for bankruptcy, it had a $175 million loan held by firms including KKR. The private equity firm used what it was owed on the loan toward the Borden deal, according to The Wall Street Journal

Eric Snyder, partner at law firm Wilk Auslander and chairman of the firm’s bankruptcy department, told Food Dive that KKR likely didn’t want to take over the company, but they didn’t have much of a choice because there aren’t a lot of buyers interested in milk processing. Swapping the debt for the equity was really the only option. He said the issues plaguing the industry aren’t going anywhere. 

“You wash the company through the bankruptcy. You get rid of your lenders, your general and secured creditors, and they’re able to take the company back,” Snyder said. “But the fundamentals are still there, milk consumption is down.”

While KKR was reportedly unhappy that Borden decided to file for Chapter 11 in January, the company has now paired up with Capitol Peak for a takeover. 


What Capitol Peak and KKR are paying for Borden in its 2020 bankruptcy sale


What KKR paid for Borden in 1995

Engles, who ran Dean for about 18 years, founded Capitol Peak in 2017. “The Capitol Peak team is excited by this unique opportunity to work alongside KKR and build this iconic dairy company,” Engles said in a release. 

Engles has his own checkered past with the industry, but does have experience taking over rival companies. Back in 2001, Suiza Foods acquired its rival Dean Foods and Engles, who was CEO of Suiza, took over the newly merged Dean. 

The company was lucrative at first, with Engles being referred to as a “milkman to the nation,” but it hit road blocks, facing antitrust lawsuits and dropping milk salesForbes even listed him as one of its Worst Bosses for the Buck in 2011, averaging $20.4 million in compensation over six years while Dean’s stock dropped an average 11% per year. ​

At the end of his tenure there, Engles presided over Dean’s spinoff of WhiteWave Foods, which included plant-based brands like Silk, and took over as CEO of WhiteWave, leaving Dean in 2013. He then sold WhiteWave for $12.5 billionto Danone in 2017.

Now that Engles will be heading up one of Dean’s rivals, many will be watching to see if he returns to his reputation as the nation’s milkman or continues to face the same problems at Borden as he did running Dean. 

Dean Foods takes a different path

Just two months before Borden filed for bankruptcy, Dean Foods filed for Chapter 11 in November.

Similarly struggling with mounting debt, changing consumer demands and management blunders, the largest dairy producer in the U.S. announced its filing and said at the same time that it was already in “advanced discussions” with Dairy Farmers of America for a potential sale.

The milk giant recently completed its bankruptcy sale, where it sold off its assets piece by piece. The majority of its assets went to Dairy Farmers of America for $433 million, despite antitrust concerns that the deal could create market consolidation. Although more than 100 objections were filed in court in just three days after the sale, the Department of Justice approved the deal. 

“I think this is a real blind spot,” Sarsam said. “Candidly, I think the Department of Justice missed some things here. There’s a vertical integration as well as horizontal integration — that has the potential to be bad for consumers.”

An antitrust lawsuit was already filed against Dairy Farmers of America in North Carolina after the deal closed.

“The combination of the fact that Dairy Farmers of America has government protections on their pricing, has government protections on their ability to collude on pricing, and now own the largest processor, those three things to me say we should probably take a little harder look at whether that deal was viable or not,” Sarsam said. 

Bondholders from Borden proposed merging the two dairy giants if the DFA sale were rejected, but by that time, the bankruptcy court had already approved the sale. 

“Well it was a better deal for practically everybody. The only loser in that deal would have been DFA. Because in our case, we don’t have vertical integration, we just simply have a merger of two companies and that would have the opportunity to have synergies and best practices that allow us to be better together,” Sarsam said. “But at the end of the day the DFA thing was orchestrated early, and by the time we got to the place where we could actually contemplate that, it was water under the bridge.”

Sarsam said that Borden differs greatly from Dean because Borden was reporting positive numbers last year and prior to the pandemic, which shows that “with the right balance sheet we can actually make money in the current environment.”

Borden’s earnings before debt payments and taxes is positive. In 2018, Borden’s sales reached $1.2 billion with a loss of more than $14.6 million, The Washington Post reported. For January 2019 through December 2019, it had a net loss of $42.4 million.

“We’re in a much more stable situation than Dean Foods,” he said. “Dean Foods is not just a debt problem; they had significant operations problems. They were losing money in a more severe way. … We have to think about our situation differently and it’s a more positive story. We have a business that as a business unit can actually go on and prosper in ways Dean could not.”

Government contract helps amid the pandemic

When Borden filed for bankruptcy, Sarsam said the milk supplier would continue normal business operations as it reorganized. 

But the coronavirus pandemic added additional challenges to an already struggling category. ​As restaurants and schools closed, milk demand in foodservice was down, which makes up about a third of Borden’s business. 

Some of its jobs revolve around those closed businesses so they have tried to redeploy those workers as much as possible, but Sarsam said as of earlier this month 3% or 4% were still furloughed.

In May, however, the dairy company was awarded the USDA’s largest contract through its new Farmers to Families Food Box Program to supply 700 million servings of fresh fluid milk to nonprofits. 

“It offers a better stability for our overall business because it is more volume in a time when our volume is down,” Sarsam said. “Our volume has been down about 20% during this pandemic and having more opportunity to run and produce and ship and all that, provides more stable work hours for our employees and … better stability for our farm partners.”

More than 2,700 dairy farmers went out of business in 2019 as milk consumption declined, Borden said in its filing. Due to the drop in foodservice demand during the pandemic, farmers have been forced to dump millions of gallons of milk. 

Sarsam said Borden works with a lot of independent farmers and for most of them, the company is the single source for their milk, “so if our business is down, their business is down. That’s a tough situation. So this provides more certainty for them, and provides a better financial situation for their business.”​

“Nothing is more gut wrenching than watching a farmer destroy his crop at the same time where somebody on the other end supply chain doesn’t have enough to eat. And so I think this one actually fits the best spirit of how the government can help in a bridge that actually gets the food from the farm to the families,” he said. 

The image by Ashoka Jegroo is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Rohan Jaura, industry analyst at IBISWorld, told Food Dive the “lucrative government contract” Borden won during the lockdown is about 10% of its annual production. The contract, coupled with KKR reentering the market, “could cause a massive reshape of Borden,” he said. 

During the pandemic, Jaura said there could be a slight increase in interest from consumers who never purchase milk during normal times but are buying it during lockdowns. However, he said Borden and other companies are aware they can’t change the shift in consumer habits, which is why they are developing “in” dairy products, such as flavored and higher-protein milks. 

“Innovation is key to surviving in this industry. Plants and companies that only produced fluid milk will not be viable,” Jaura said. “New ownership may be able to find a way to lower costs in certain regions and some plants will close.”

Mary Ledman, global dairy strategist at Rabobank, told Food Dive that although retail sales for dairy have increased during the pandemic, these companies “can’t rest on their laurels here with these increased sales. They’re really going to need to bring things to the category to keep consumers coming back.”

“If we return to our previous habits, this won’t be enough to keep people coming back to the dairy category,” she said. 

Remaining optimistic despite challenges

Last year, Sarsam told Food Dive he was optimistic that there is room for growth in the dairy space. Before the bankruptcy sale was approved, Sarsam said he remained “every bit as optimistic about the fundamental thesis of how Borden can be successful.”

He said consumers have already invested in a sense of trust in its “spokes-cow” Elsie and in the Borden label, so it will be looking to provide new innovations and products in the future. 

“I think that those opportunities are out there for us to grab. They were held up by the practical financial problems we had prior to and during the bankruptcy, but those opportunities are still available, and so I remain quite optimistic,” he said. 

When it comes to innovation, Sarsam said that if all the company is doing is milk in a different container or slightly altering the milk fat percentage, then those are not real innovations and “consumers aren’t really clamoring for that.”

He pointed to Fairlife as an example of a different kind of a milk offering that represented something consumers wanted. Fairlife, a joint venture with Coca-Cola, produces ultra-filtered milk, a higher-protein and lower-lactose product that boosted sales 42% in the first quarter of 2019 compared with the previous year.

“Innovation is key to surviving in this industry. Plants and companies that only produced fluid milk will not be viable. New ownership may be able to find a way to lower costs in certain regions and some plants will close.”

For decades, fluid milk consumption has declined as some consumers have turned to new innovations and plant-based options. Even though it is still a very small share of the overall market, non-dairy milk sales in the U.S. increased 61% from 2013 to 2017.

“It’s going to take some disruptors to wake up some of the folks who haven’t made those decisions to invest in the future. If you’re not investing in the category today, you’re going to have a major challenge to survive,” Paul Ziemnisky, EVP of global innovation partnerships at Dairy Management Inc., previously told Food Dive.

But bankruptcy lawyer Snyder said if Borden does invest more in innovation, that money will be coming out of pocket. He said milk processing is just like coal, it’s outdated, and milk consumption is down almost 50% in the last 20 to 30 years so it’s not going to get any better.

“It’s a total disaster; it’s as simple as that,” he said. 

Even though the category is in decline, Sarsam said continuing to be the most service-oriented dairy while introducing innovations will distinguish the company.  

“Our focus is providing great service, providing new ways to bring energy in the category,” he said before the sale was approved. “I think to a degree, if the entire industry does the same thing then the entire industry will have a brighter future.”


Futures Up Cash Dairy Steady in Chicago Tuesday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Tuesday milk futures were up, and cash dairy prices were steady to up.   Class III milk prices rose double digits in 2nd half 2020. August milk led the charge jumping 60 cents to $19.80 per cwt.  June Class III milk was up $.03 at $20.97.  July was up $.15 at $22.35. August was up $.55 at $19.75.  September was up $.41 at $17.91.  The milk futures from October through next May ranged from two to thirty-two cents higher.   First, half 2021 added double digits as well. Class IV markets were mixed following butter’s unchanged session and nonfat’s slight fall. 

Tuesday’s commodity markets were highlighted by a stronger dairy and grain complex.  Dry whey was unchanged at $.3175 cents per pound.  Five sales were recorded from $.3175 to $.32. Forty-pound blocks were up $.02 at $2.64 per pound. There were five sales recorded from $2.62 to $2.67. Barrels were unchanged at $2.40 per pound.  No sales were recorded. Grade AA Butter was unchanged at $1.7650 per pound.  No sales were recorded. Nonfat dry milk was down $.0075 at $1.0050 per pound.  Six sales were recorded from $1.0050 to $1.01.

Over in the grain complex the USDA released its Planted Acreage and Quarterly Stocks reports. The surprise came in the corn acres data. While the trade was looking for an average of 95 million acres, USDA printed 92 million acres spurring the corn market 12-15 cents higher. December corn traded through $3.50 per bu. for the first time since April 14. Soybean acreage was more in line with expectations as 83 million acres were released. Soybeans rallied 17-20 cents per bu. Tuesday. 

Slow start to $3.5m course set-up to fill 1000 vacant New Zealand dairy jobs

The first intake for the new farm training course was introduced to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in the Waikato.

A $3.5m course to prepare Kiwis to fill the 1000 vacant dairy farm jobs has attracted just 93 registrations.

But Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is confident more New Zealanders will come forward to enrol as the three-week course is rolled out over the coming months.

O’Connor visited Dairy NZ’s Scott Farm, on the outskirts of Hamilton, on Tuesday where the first group of people to sign up to the free farm ready training were into their second week of the course.

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There were just seven people in the group but Dairy NZ said 65 more were working on the online training segment now, which was the first week of the three-week training initiative.

The online segment gave people a clear picture of the dairy industry and a chance to decide whether they wanted to continue on with the training.

“I think the industry still has a big job to get out there and tell the story, to show what opportunities there are in dairy,” O’Connor said, replying to questions about the low number of trainees at the Hamilton farm.

There was still uncertainty around Covid-19 and more people would turn to dairy as a secure employment opportunity, he said.

“The conditions are not as bad as people think. You are outdoors dealing with the elements but the rewards are great, you’re learning how to deal with animals and operate machinery.”

The free farm training is part of Dairy NZ’s GoDairy campaign, to encourage more Kiwis into dairy jobs and it is backed by the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Primary Industries and supported by Federated Farmers.

“With Covid-19, we’ve had people been locked out (workers stuck overseas) so we need New Zealanders to help with calving, to help our farmers get the milk out and help run our key dairy industry,” O’Connor said.

The first week of the course, online, focussed on working and living on a dairy farm.

The trainees then moved into the practical training in the second week, which would look at working with cows and farm infrastructure.

On the final week, the people on the course will be put through farm safety exercises.

The training groups will have up to 12 people each and be rolled out around the country. Dairy NZ anticipates there will be 500 people go through the course in total.

Dairy NZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle said the eight candidates in Hamilton will be ready to start work on farms at the end of the three weeks.

“Farmers will do a lot of their own training with them but this is about getting them ready to enter the farm.

“Later on, they can go on to Primary ITO courses if they want.”

Mackle agreed the group was a lot younger than anticipated, most in their early 20s.

“I think over time, sadly we will see more older people unemployed, and that will be a push factor (towards other employment).

“When you are young you can pivot pretty quickly and that’s what these young people have done but I think the demographic will change quickly over the next few months.”

Among the first intake of trainees is Natasha Price, 21, from the Hauraki Plains.

She had finished a degree in ecology and zoology but when the pandemic hit, she realised job opportunities in her field of study would be slim.

“So I thought I would try something different for a career. I grew up on a dairy farm with my family and already have a lot of experience with animals.

“But being on this course means I can learn more about the science and technology involved in running a large-scale farm.”

That included understanding how automation technology had helped advance dairy farming.

“For example in a rotary milking shed, you’ve got automatic cup removers, automatic teat sprayers which save on time getting people to do those jobs.

“We were showed technology that allowed you to use a satellite to measure grass growth on the farm to predict where to graze the cows next. The technology seems limitless.”

Price was commuting from Hauraki Plains to attend the course and said she was excited to be part of the first intake, others were from around the Waikato, South Waikato and Hawke’s Bay.

Some had worked on farms before while others had come from other careers to learn new skills.

“When we finish, I would love to move on to another farm, as a farm assistant and then move my way up the ladder over the years.”


New grants available to support dairy entrepreneurship in MidWest US

The Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) is a newly announced program that will provide Midwestern dairy farmers and dairy-related businesses with financial and technical support. This initiative, a joint effort coordinated by the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) and the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), was designed to support and promote the diversification and addition of value-added products to the Midwest dairy industry.

Goals of this program include:

• Increasing on-farm diversification

• Creating value-added dairy products such as specialty cheeses

• Focusing on export opportunities for farm-scale and processor dairy products

“We want to allow dairy farmers and processors to be innovative for their futures. We hope to improve the situations on dairy farms, processing plants, and cooperatives,” said DBIA Program Director Karen Nielsen.

Grant applications are available on the DBIA website. The grant application period is now open. Funds totaling $220,000 will be disbursed and awarded with individual projects receiving up to $20,000. The deadline to complete and return applications is Friday, Aug 14. Selected producers and business owners will be notified on September 4th. DBIA is also coordinating online webinars and compiling resources for dairy producers and processors.

Nielsen noted that a grant proposal is currently being written to the United States Department of Agriculture for funding for subsequent years. Future plans for the program include expanding the resources available to dairy producers and processors and learning more about U.S. consumers’ dairy product buying preferences.

For more information, call the Illinois Department of Agriculture at 217-524-9129, visit their website at or call the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance at 608-265-1491 or visit their website at

Jersey Leadership Elected at Annual Meetings

Officers and directors of the USJersey organizations were elected during the Annual Meetings of the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) and National All-Jersey Inc. (NAJ) held virtually on June 26 and 27, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio.

Jonathan Merriam, Hickman, Calif., was re-elected to a third one-year term as President of the American Jersey Cattle Association on June 27. The third generation of his family to breed and own Registered Jerseys, Merriam is the genetics specialist at Ahlem Farms Partnership, Hilmar, Calif., having previously worked in A.I. sire procurement, extension and education. He has served on the boards of the California Jersey Cattle Association and Jerseyland Sires and was co-chair of the 2016 National Heifer Sale. He was General Chair of The All American Jersey Shows & Sales in 2019, and served as chair of The All American Sale Committee in 2017.

Rebecca Ferry, Johnstown, N.Y., was elected to her first three-year term as AJCA Director from the Second District. She owns and operates Dreamroad Jerseys LLC, an 80-cow Registered Jersey herd, with her sister Sandra Scott. The herd is enrolled in AJCA’s REAP program. Becky was the 2002 National Jersey Youth Achievement winner and received the AJCA Young Jersey Breeder Award with Sandra in 2013. She was co-chair of the 2019 AJCA-NAJ Annual Meetings in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. In addition, she has served as co-secretary and vice president of the New York Jersey Cattle Club.

Karen Bohnert, East Moline, Ill., was re-elected to a second term as Director from the Sixth District. Bohnert and her husband, Scott, and children, Tyler, Cassie and Jacob, own and operate Bohnerts Jerseys with her in-laws and brother-in-law. The 500-cow Registered Jersey herd is enrolled on REAP. Bohnert is currently a member of the Development and Finance Committees on the AJCA board. Bohnert works from home as a dairy freelance communication consultant, known for her monthly column in the Hoard’s Dairyman, “Around the Kitchen Table.”

John Maxwell, Donahue, Iowa, was elected for his first term as AJCA Director from the Eighth District. He and his family own and operate Cinnamon Ridge Dairy, a 185-cow Registered Jersey herd. The herd is enrolled on REAP. The farm has diversified through the years, adding a large agri-tourism business that hosts an average of 7,000 visitors a year. The tours aim to educate visitors on practices of a modern dairy and row crop operation. John received the AJCA Young Jersey Breeder Award in 1997. He is currently serving as dairy superintendent of the Mississippi Valley Fair, a supervisor for Scott County and fire commissioner for the Donahue Volunteer Fire Department. He is a past president of DHIA and the Outstanding Young Farmers Organization. As well he sat on boards for Dairyland Jersey Sires Inc., Iowa State University Extension Council and River Valley Cooperative.

Cornell Kasbergen, Tulare, Calif., was elected to AJCA Director from the Eleventh District. Kasbergen and his wife, Teri, and son and daughter-in-law, Case and Allison, own and operate Rancho Teresita Dairy. The dairy consists of 1,800 acres of farmland; 3,600 Registered Jerseys and 1,400 Holsteins. The herd is enrolled on REAP and has many animals that rank among the elite of the breed for Genomic Jersey Performance Index. Cornell chairs the Milk Producers Council and recently completed 22 years of service on the Land O’Lakes board of directors. He chaired the audit committee for Land O’Lakes and represented the organization on the National Milk Producers Federation board. Kasbergen is a member of the dairy committee for the Agriculture Council of California and the milk producer review board for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. As well he served on the California Dairy Environmental Justice Fund.

Chairs of standing committees for 2020-21 are Bradley Taylor, Booneville, Miss., Finance; Mark Gardner, Dayton, Pa., Breed Improvement; Tom Sawyer, Walpole, N.H., Development; and John Boer, Dalhart, Texas, Information Technology and Identification. Gardner will also serve as vice president for the coming year.

National All-Jersey Inc.

Following the Annual Meeting of National All-Jersey Inc. (NAJ) on June 26, John Kokoski, Hadley, Mass., was elected to continue as president by the Board of Directors. Kokoski has been a member of the NAJ Board since 2007. He heads up the family-operated Mapleline Farm LLC. The enterprise includes a 135-cow Registered Jersey herd enrolled on REAP and a dairy plant that processes and distributes a full line of Jersey milk products to grocery retailers, restaurants and university food service. Kokoski is a past director of the Massachusetts Cooperative Milk Producers Federation and has served more than 25 years on the New England Dairy Promotion Board.

James S. Huffard III, Crockett, Va., was re-elected to a fifth term as Director from District #5. He served as president of the AJCA from 2001-2004. Huffard was honored by World Dairy Expo in 2014 as Dairyman of the Year, and as the Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder by National Dairy Shrine in 2012, He was named Master Breeder of the AJCA in 2008.

Huffard was re-elected as NAJ vice president. Calvin Graber, Hurley, S.D., will continue to serve as Finance Chair.

The American Jersey Cattle Association, organized in 1868, compiles and maintains animal identification and performance data on Jersey cattle and provides services that support genetic improvement and greater profitability. Since 1957, National All-Jersey Inc. has provided services that increase the value of and demand for Jersey milk and milk products and Registered Jersey™ cattle and genetics. For more information on AJCA and NAJ services for dairy business owners, visit the website at or connect at

Reducing dairy cow lameness in wet weather

Do you find that your dairy cows have a higher incidence of lameness on your farm than you would like?

By taking a strategic look at your individual farm situation you can identify areas for improvement and help to reduce the incidence of lameness in your dairy herd.

You should aim to have no more than 5 per cent of the herd lame per month.

Farmers are using prevention, early detection and treatment of lameness to achieve better outcomes in cow comfort, improved milk production, and better reproductive performance of their dairy herd.

Lameness in dairy cows in Australia can be caused by a range of environmental, nutritional and infectious factors.

Farm conditions can result in damage to cow’s hooves, including stone bruises and thin soles.

Important things to consider to minimise the incidence of lameness in dairy cows are good laneways, reducing time spent on concrete and reducing pressure on cows during movement.

Managing wet conditions

Most farmers find that extremely wet conditions result in a lot more cows becoming lame.

Prolonged exposure to moisture causes the hoof to soften, making bruising, penetration injuries and white-line disease more common.

The skin between the claws and around the foot also softens and macerates, leaving the skin more prone to infections such as footrot.

The higher bacterial loads present in wet muddy environments add to the problem.

Larger stones and sharp gravel are also exposed after the fine topping materials are washed from track surfaces.

The cost of an individual case of lameness is estimated to be between $200 and $500.

If a herd outbreak occurs, the costs can increase across the herd.

Good laneways

A good laneway can be built by selecting a suitable foundation and with suitable surface materials, so it stands up to the constant cow traffic and damage by rain and excess water.

Select a material for the surface layer that won’t damage the cow’s hooves, but which will also repel and run water off the laneway, helping to keep it dryer and last longer.

The surface layer needs to be crowned to assist with water runoff.

Good drainage for your laneway is also very important. It needs to collect water runoff and divert it correctly to increase the life of your laneway.

The drain should be fenced off so cattle can’t walk in it and pug it up, which will reduce its effectiveness.

Farmers find that regular maintenance to the laneway surface is best as it helps increase its life and avoid costly repairs to the foundation layer.

Reducing time on concrete

Most dairy farmers already follow the practice of minimising the time cows are spending on concrete, which helps to reduce stone bruises and the wearing away of the sole on the cow’s hooves.

Any further reductions in time spent on concrete for cows will assist in reducing the lameness of dairy cattle.

Reducing pressure on cows during movement

When cows are allowed enough time to move slowly at their own pace, the cows can look and place their feet and avoid uneven surfaces or stones and thus avoid stone damage to their feet.

This will in turn help reduce the incidence of lameness in the dairy herd.

Nutritional factors

Acidosis can result in lameness in dairy cattle.

Acidosis can cause laminitis, paint brush haemorrhages and white line disease, reducing the cow’s ability to walk freely.

To help reduce the incidence of acidosis ensure cows are receiving adequate effective fibre, and a precise allocation of grain.

A well-balanced diet for the dairy cow will include adequate fibre, which helps to buffer the rumen pH.

Rumen buffers and/or modifiers may also be required depending on the level of grain feeding to reduce the rumen pH and reduce the incidence of acidosis in the dairy herd.

Infection factors Your cows can have infections on their hooves, including footrot and hairy heel warts.

The use of footbaths and reducing mud in high traffic areas can help reduce the incidence of lameness in some cases.

It’s also important to consult with your veterinarian to develop a strategy for your farm.

Benefits of reduced lameness Reducing lameness on your farm will assist to improve profitability.

Lame cows will usually produce less milk and be culled sooner from the herd.

Lameness will also result in additional costs of veterinary treatment.

Most cases of lameness are foot associated and the rear feet are more commonly affected than the front.

Lameness in individual cows can have an impact on their reproductive performance, depending on the timing of the lameness episode relative to the mating period.

The higher the incidence of lameness in the herd, the greater the potential impact this condition will have on the herd’s overall reproductive performance.

In calf research identified the following reproductive impacts through lameness:

So, if the answer is yes to whether ‘your cows have a higher incidence of lameness on your farm than you’d like’, and you would like assistance to reduce lameness, visit the Dairy Australia website at and enter one of the topics mentioned above in the search bar.


Holstein Canada Announces 2020-2021 Committees

Holstein Canada is pleased to reveal the 2020-2021 Committees, ensuring the Board of Directors continues to receive input from its grassroots membership and industry partners. This year, Jason Rietveld and Tony van Lith have joined the Breed Advisory Committee. We also have added a new Data and Technology Committee.

Jason Rietveld (RIETBEN) is a past president of the Alberta Holstein Association and is currently a delegate for Alberta Milk. He currently milks 120 cows in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta with his wife Kristine and children Tyson, Troy, and Janaye. 60% of his herd is higher than VG, with herd statistics at 8ME 12EX 61VG 45GP 7G.

Tony van Lith (LANGEWEER) helps his family milk 290 cows on his home farm in Woodstock, Ontario. He also registers about 30 high-end Holsteins under the prefix VALIANT. As a young breeder with practical experience, Tony will bring great perspective to the Breed Advisory Committee.

The new Data and Technology Committee consists of Board Members Elyse Gendron, Nancy Beerwort, Benoît Turmel, and Doug Peart, as well as CEO Vincent Landry and Holstein Canada’s Manager of Business Technology Solutions Aaron Neely.

The Board thanks all committee members for their time, effort and dedication to the Association.  Thank you to outgoing Breed Advisory Committee members Ian Crosbie and Josh Ireland. Special thanks also to Dr. Gord Atkins, who provided many years of expertise to guide the Classification Advisory Committee and is taking leave; Holstein Canada expresses much gratitude to Gord for his years serving on this Committee and for helping us improve the Canadian system.

Committee members represent all regions across Canada and are selected for their respective expertise relating to a committee’s area of concern. These individuals are selected by the Holstein Canada President, with consultation from the Board of Directors and Provincial Branches.

Each year, the newly elected Board reviews and updates the committees. Terms range from one to three years, with members eligible to be reappointed for second and third terms, depending on the committee. Board Directors serve on each committee and every committee is also supported by Management Advisors from Holstein Canada’s team. Ideas, comments and suggestions from all Holstein Canada members are always welcomed by committee members. One of the key roles of Committees is to provide recommendations to the Board of Directors on the follow up to the member resolutions presented at recent Holstein Canada AGMs. They also do the “leg work” to ensure Holstein Canada programs and services remain current in a rapidly changing industry.

Holstein Canada hosts eleven committees. The 2020 committees list can be found below; contact information can be found at the Holstein Canada website.

The Big E is Cancelled

An official statement from the staff at the Big E:

“The Big E is so much more than just a fair, it is tradition, it is celebration, it is the showcase of everything we are so proud of in New England. This is why our hearts are heavy as we bring you this news. For the safety of our fairgoers, staff, vendors, entertainers, exhibitors, sponsors, volunteers and the broader community, the 2020 Big E has been cancelled. Thank you all for your support and we’ll see you September 17-October 3, 2021, when we can all celebrate together again. “

Ronald J. Schaap Obituary

Ronald J. Schaap, 72, Marshall, died peacefully on Friday, June 26, 2020. He was born on July 6, 1947, in Sheboygan Falls, to Jacob and Marie (Reiss) Schaap. Ron graduated from Sheboygan Falls High School in 1965. He married Jean Evert on July 21, 1978 in Pewaukee.

Ron spent his career working to advance the holstein breed and supporting the dairy industry. After high school he worked for Pinehurst Farms, eventually becoming a herdsman. In 1984, Ron became a classifier for the Holstein Association. Even after retiring, he continued to work in the dairy industry as a contributor to Dairy Agenda Today.

Ron loved watching sports, talking cows, telling stories, making jokes, and staying connected with family and friends.

He is survived by his wife (Jean), his two children, Andrew (Tara) Schaap of Wichita, Kansas and Ruth Schaap of Lake Mills, and two grandchildren.

Ron was preceded in death by his parents and his only sister, Nancy Schaap.

Due to the current pandemic, there will be no services. In lieu of flowers, watch a Badger game and toast a good man.

Michael Mackey: Saving family dairy farms benefits everyone

My day-to-day work with family dairy farmers keeps me in touch with some of the finest people you can imagine. They produce wholesome food and provide social benefits we all enjoy. Family dairy farms are good for rural economies, good for food security and good for the environment.

But, all of this is in danger of being lost forever. Family farmers have been enduring an economic pandemic for decades. Poor prices and lack of markets have had us measuring dairy losses in farms per day long before COVID-19 was in the news. The get-big-or-get-out perspective is ushering in a system in which remaining farmers are losing their independence in ways that are encouraged by agribusiness, ignored by our political system and lost to the American public. Already, pork and poultry farmers raise animals they do not own in ways determined by multinational corporations. I worry that the dairy stage is being set for business models in which we have plenty of milk but no independent family farmers.

Each of the farm families that, through no fault of their own, is pushed aside by the corporate bulldozer has a tragic story to tell. I remember one, in particular, that finally gave up long after the economy left them with no other choice. I wasn’t able to be on the farm when the truck came to take the cows, but my wife, who is good friends with the family, told me what happened.

The family was heartbroken by the way the frightened and confused cows – beautiful animals that had provided the family with an honest living – were being prodded and forced onto the truck. Finally, the farmer couldn’t take it anymore and insisted that he be allowed to load the cows in a gentler and more respectful way. As he led them up onto the truck, he wept. How many more times must this story be repeated before we come to our senses?

Unlike giant, investor-owned operations that buy direct from remote Big Ag sources, each family farm supports local implement dealers, animal sales, truckers, veterinarians, seed sales, grain elevators, fuel and oil dealers, insurance companies, equipment repair shops, building maintenance operations and farm suppliers of all types. I recently did a rough spending survey of four friends of mine who are family dairy farmers. Together, they invested more than $2 million into our local economy. One of them has already gone out of business. That alone meant our local economy was reduced by the roughly $265,000 the family invested annually. Multiply this loss by the several thousand dairies we lose every year, and the scope of the economic hit to rural America starts to sink in.

We also compromise our food security as Big Ag pushes a business model best described as putting all our eggs in one basket. The family farms I work with are scattered across the countryside. Each herd and each family works at what we now call a (generous) social distance from each other. Compare this to some of the largest farms I have seen. More cows are on one site than I see on dozens of family dairies combined. More animals and more workers confined in such cramped quarters multiply our chances of diseases spreading unchecked among both cows and those who care for them. We are seeing the awful consequences of this as livestock processors are shut down by COVID-19 infecting workers. Will we learn anything from this before it is too late?

More animals on fewer farms means more manure in one place. When spills and other accidents happen on very large farms, the environmental consequences are so widespread and severe that they often make the news. Admittedly, smaller farms can also have manure spills. I have seen a few myself. But I have also seen that the scale of the spills is such that damage is more confined and not to broad watersheds.

What can we do? We must begin by recognizing that past policies have not been up to the job of saving the family dairy farm. Family farmers need a level playing field in the market and a government that does more than give them lip service while promoting larger and larger farms. Bottom-line is this: if the giant corporate/investor owned factory farms continue to go unchecked, then both rural and urban Americans will lose a unique and vitally important human and natural resource. Our leaders can no longer afford to ignore the family farm. They must act before it’s too late!

Michael Mackey is the National Farmers dairy field operations director.


International interests could ‘take over’ Australian dairy industry without Royal Commission

Australia’s dairy farmers need a Royal Commission into the sector to ensure it’s long term viability, according to Eden-Monaro Nationals candidate Trevor Hicks. Mr Hicks said a Royal Commission is needed into the dairy industry given 20 years since it was deregulated, farmers have been “struggling to survive”. “It’s the only thing that’s going to deliver these dairy farmers a long-term viability in Australia,” Mr Hicks told Sky News host Peta Credlin. “Otherwise we could see businesses shutdown, and overseas interests take over”. “We’re going to be really stuck for dairy products if we don’t have a Royal Commission”. The by-election for Eden-Monaro will go down to the wire between Labor’s Kristy McBain and Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs according to polls, but preferences, especially from the Nationals, could play a defining role. Mr Hicks said if he were elected he would be willing to cross the floor in order to push to get support for a Royal Commission.

Coronavirus shakes dairies, but the outlook is improving

The dairy industry was just humming along in early January. Milk prices had been holding steady around $17.50 per hundredweight – roughly 15.625 cents a pound – and producers were making a decent profit.

And then the rest of 2020 happened. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic rocked every corner of the globe, the U.S. dairy industry got hit with some devastating blows. But local dairy representatives think the industry is well on the path to recovery.

“I would have to say that beginning in January of this year, it’s been a very challenging time for our dairy farmers,” said Walter Bradley, government affairs director for Dairy Farmers of America. “We’ve had very poor milk prices, particularly in April and May. But the outlook has certainly improved.”

Dairy reps said the industry basically took three hits associated with the pandemic:

n The first sign of concern, Dairy Producers of New Mexico Executive Director Beverly Idsinga said, came internationally. When COVID-19 was starting to impact other countries, exports slowed down. That was a considerable hit, with Idsinga noting 17% of U.S. dairy products are exported.

n The double-whammy came when schools closed to limit community spread in the U.S. Schools are the largest customer for the industry, with milk a staple of nearly every student breakfast and lunch offering.

n The triple-whammy was a limitation of restaurant services. Sit-down dining was reduced and eliminated in late March in New Mexico, and just reintroduced in limited capacity in the last few weeks. Restaurants weren’t eliminated as customers, but they didn’t need as much product.

“Producers had to get innovative with ways to cut production,” Idsinga said. “This all happened during the spring flush when cows were producing their highest amounts.”

Because dairy is a perishable product, Idsinga said, “everybody was scrambling to repurpose the raw product” and some of the excess was converted to feed calves and make nutrient-rich plant food. In many cases, Bradley said, dairies took about 10% of their cows out of service earlier than they would in non-pandemic years.

Idsinga said the dairy industry worked with the state first to make sure it would remain an essential business as a food producer, and then to make their case on other public health order impacts on the industry. One such measure, Idsinga said, was an early desire to limit grocery store customers to two milk purchases. There was good intent to discourage hoarding with supply chains stressed, but with its large-scale customers sidelined supply wasn’t an issue.

The surplus was somewhat reduced by donations to food banks and federal purchases for aid programs, and Idsinga said the Southwest Cheese plant aggressively donated large blocks of cheese to Albuquerque’s Roadrunner Food Bank because it had the ability to cut the blocks into portions more appropriate for families.

Dairies established COVID-19 safe guidelines with the help of Robert Hagevoort of New Mexico State University.

Martha Kavanaugh of Glanbia told The News “there have been no COVID cases on site to date (at the Southwest Cheese plant) but we remain ever vigilant and highly focused on protecting our employees.

“At this time the plant is operating as normally as possible in these very difficult times.”

“COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation,” Bradley added. “It’s hard to predict and continues to evolve. First and foremost, we’ve got to ensure our supply chain is as up to date as possible and we’re following CDC guidelines. We’ve never had this kind of protocol, and we have to do that to make sure our product is safe for everybody.”

Prices are recovering, and Idsinga said news that schools will at least open to 50% capacity to start is good news provided the industry can make sure its products remain in school meals.

“Retail sales are continuing to be strong,” Bradley said. “We’re seeing gains at food services. We’re on the tight track. Maybe we’re not moving as fast as we like, but at least we’re moving forward.”

Regarding PFAS contamination, Bradley said the issue has honestly been put on a backburner with the pandemic, but at least there is money in recent defense legislation to mitigate the problem that has been traced to military installations and use of firefighting foam that contained the chemicals.

The road has been tough, but Idsinga said there are tough people in the industry.

“All of this hearkens back to Goliath,” Idsinga said of the late 2015 winter storm that wiped out thousands of cattle. “It reminds me of that so much, how our producers are resilient and able to weather these storms. They are family-owned businesses who are staying in it. They wouldn’t be in this industry if they didn’t love it. It warms my heart because they’re doing good things for the world.”


New Countdown to UK Dairy Day

A new countdown starts for UK Dairy Day; instead of being just over 2 months away sadly we now have to wait another 14 months for the dedicated dairy industry event to return to Telford.

Unfortunately, Government guidelines have not provided us with the assurance that UK Dairy Day can go ahead with the large numbers we anticipate attending.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce that the 2020 event cannot take place on Wednesday 16th September at the International Centre, Telford”, said Sue Cope, UK Dairy Day Event Director and CEO of Holstein UK.  “Since UK Dairy Day started in 2014, it has provided dairy farmers and the industry with a fantastic opportunity to network, do business and view a superb show of dairy breeds.  We thank everyone for the positive support in an attempt to make the event happen, however in light of lead times that are required by many of our exhibitors we have had to make the difficult decision to postpone until Wednesday 15th September 2021. Our top priority has to be the health and safety of our visitors, exhibitors, employees, venue support team and the wider community.”

UK Dairy Day 2021 will welcome the return of over 300 trade exhibitors, 9,000 visitors and cows that showcase the exceptional standard of UK dairy cattle.

“We look forward to welcoming everyone to the 2021 event.  In the meantime please stay safe and be proud of the amazing commitment and hard work that British dairy farmers and the industry have delivered during these uncertain times”, concludes Sue Cope.

How Dairy Princess Paige Peiffer is advocating for dairy during a very unusual year

Lebanon County’s Dairy Princess Paige Peiffer is making the best of her reign during a very atypical year. (Courtesy photo)

The near loss of her family’s dairy farm in 2018 was an eye-opening experience for Paige Peiffer.

The farm’s milk contract, along with many other area producers, was suddenly dropped by Dean Foods, sending shock waves through the local agriculture community and leaving Peiffer with mixed emotions about the fate of the family farm.

Fortunately, the family signed with Harrisburg Dairies to process the milk that their Holstein cows produce on their North Cornwall Township farm, which is located just outside Cleona.

What could have been a tragic ending instead taught Peiffer a valuable life lesson.

“That really kind of opened my eyes and made me think that we really don’t understand and appreciate things unless they are taken away from us,” said Peiffer. “So I decided that I wanted to advocate for families in a similar situation as my family as well as become an advocate for the dairy industry.”

The idea to be a spokeswoman on behalf of an industry that she had been around her whole life led Peiffer, who recently turned 18, to compete in the Pennsylvania State Dairy Princess pageant last September.

Lebanon County Dairy Princess Paige Peiffer began her reign in September of 2019. (Provided photo)

As the 2019-2020 Pennsylvania State Dairy Princess, Peiffer is sharing her passion with consumers and using her high-profile position to educate the public and government leaders about the important role the dairy industry plays in the state’s economy.

“One of the big things of any dairy princess, not just the state princess, is going to promotions and engaging with consumers, answering questions with all honesty, addressing their concerns and doing general education,” Peiffer said. “At the state level, I’ve done a lot of activities with kids … With government leaders, we go to different conferences and workshops to not only educate ourselves but them as well.”

When she isn’t educating or advocating, the 18-year-old Peiffer helps her parents, Ammon and Brenda, and her siblings, Mackenzie, Skylar and Seth, run Box-in Acres, milk their 80 Holsteins, and feed all 160 cows.

In addition to growing corn, soybeans, wheat, rye, and alfalfa on their 65-acre farm, they also rent several hundred additional acres of land from farms in Lebanon and Berks counties in order to feed their animals.

In some ways, her reign has been similar to past state princesses. Although, it’s doubtful that any have ever had to deal with as many car issues on the road as the Peiffers, who have faced not one, not two, but three dead car batteries, a busted oil pan — and, during a promotional event, the lug nuts were stolen off the tires of their car.

“The two alternates and the program director, who is my work mom, thought this was really kind of funny and something that’s never happened in any other state princess’ reign before,” Peiffer laughed.

Automobile difficulties aside, it’s been a unique reign for Peiffer —especially since mid-March, when the coronavirus ushered in a new normal.

The pandemic may have temporarily prevented Peiffer and the 26 other county princesses from promoting the industry within their regions of the state, but the girls have shown they are very resilient.

“The virus caused me to have more time on my hands, so it definitely made me want to learn better time-management skills,” Peiffer said. “I had to finish [high] school [at Cedar Crest] online and still had dairy princess activities to do, so it helped me to learn how to manage my time.”

An added benefit is the digital presence Peiffer’s developed now that Pennsylvania Dairy Princess & Promotion Services, Inc., which administers the state princess program, has taken their message online.

“I wasn’t the most necessarily experienced when it came to speaking in front of a camera since I don’t do that on a normal day-to-day basis,” Peiffer said. “But, eventually, with the dairy princess stuff, it has become a regular activity for me. I have become less self-conscious speaking in front of a camera.”

The princess program has also maximized social media to reach people, especially the 16-24 age demographic, according to Peiffer.

“I’ve learned a lot about the importance of social media and the impact it can make,” Peiffer said. “I think through our social media posts, we’ve been able to hit an audience that we normally wouldn’t meet in person. That demographic is important because they are the next generation of consumers who will marry and have children, and it’s important to engage and educate them now about dairy’s benefits.”

Her favorite memory as state princess occurred in January at the milking parlor at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

“I got to see firsthand the guests who got to witness for the first time a cow being milked, and it was amazing to see how fascinating they thought it was,” Peiffer said. “I live and breathe dairy farming, but for me to see their fresh perspective, was really interesting. It also gave us a chance to answer all their questions like, ‘They’re milking a cow, where does the milk go next?’ So, it was a wonderful opportunity to educate people about the dairy industry.”

Paige Peiffer, pictured left, with a young girl at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this past year. (Courtesy photo)

After her year-long reign ends in September, Peiffer will attend Penn State University to major in animal science. She then plans to enroll in veterinary school to become a veterinarian.

With a strong interest in science, and especially biology, Peiffer originally thought she’d like a medical career but then decided she’d prefer to work with four-legged animals instead.

“One of the reasons I love the dairy industry is that I am around animals on a day-to-day basis,” Peiffer said. “I love animals, I love science and I absolutely love to work with my hands. So, I thought about it, meshed it all together and came up with being a veterinarian.”

Until she begins the next chapter in her life this fall, Peiffer is content to continue her highly visible role as an ambassador for the dairy industry.

“What one impression would I like to leave with consumers as an advocate? That’s a great question,” Peiffer said. “Honestly, when you talk about the dairy industry, there’s so many important parts that you can be promoting. But overall, I think that what people need to understand is how vital the dairy industry is, from both a nutritious standpoint and an economical standpoint, and how impactful that really is on the lives of everybody.”

Since June is National Dairy Month, LebTown asked Peiffer to share a dairy-infused recipe with our readers. Creamy Chicken Enchiladas is one of her favorite recipes, and she hopes it becomes one of yours, too.


Recipe: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

(Makes 10 servings)


  • 1- 8 oz. package of cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 5 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 20 flour tortillas
  • 2 cans (10-1/2 oz) cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 can (4 oz) green chiles
  • 1 can (10 oz) red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheese


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, water, onion power, cumin, salt, and pepper until smooth. Stir in diced chicken.

2) Place ¼ cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in two greased 13×9 in. baking dishes. In a large bowl, combine soup, sour cream, milk, enchilada sauce, and chiles; pour over rolled enchiladas.

3) Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.


Holstein Association USA Adds Monthly Classification and Production Record Lists to Web Site

Holstein Association USA has added two new features to the web site to help recognize outstanding Registered Holstein® cows and the people who breed them. New links have been added under the Popular Lists section on the Holstein Association USA homepage for Monthly Classification Summaries and 40,000+ Pound Production Records.

“With so many industry events being postponed or cancelled this year due to COVID-19, Association staff wanted to come up with new ways to help acknowledge the great achievements our members are continuing to attain with their Registered Holsteins,” said Lindsey Worden, Holstein Association USA Executive Director of Genetic Services. “We think these new reports will be of great interest to many and will showcase thousands of animals each month.”

On the Monthly Classification Summaries page, viewers will find lists by month of any cow who classified Very Good-85 or higher in that month, including cows who received a Multiple E designation, regardless of age. The report lists the animals’ names, age at time of classification, final score, sire name, owner name and owner state, and the report is sortable and searchable.

The 40,000+ Pound Production Records page is similar but includes all cows who have a completed lactation record of at least 40,000 pounds of milk that was received in the given month. The report lists the animals’ names, age at the start of lactation, milk, fat and protein information, sire name, owner name and owner state. The report is sortable and searchable.

For both new features, reports are available from January 2020 through present. The lists will be updated each month after classification and production record files are received and processed for the month.

To view these new reports, navigate to, find the Popular Lists section at the lower left of the homepage, and you will find them both listed in that menu.

Holstein Association USA, Inc.,, provides programs, products and services to dairy producers to enhance genetics and improve profitability — including animal identification and ear tags, genomic testing, mating programs, dairy records processing, classification, communication, and consulting services.

The Association, headquartered in Brattleboro, Vt., maintains the records for Registered Holsteins® and represents approximately 25,000 members throughout the United States.

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