Top Dairy Industry News Stories from July 13th to 19th 2019

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Trump’s Trade War is Wreaking Havoc On the Economic Security of Erie County Dairy Farmers

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series highlighting the local impact of Trump’s policies in key counties in MI, PA, WI, and FL.

In March 2018, dairy farmers in Erie County, Pennsylvania received an unanticipated notice in the mail. Dean Foods, a local dairy processor in the area that bought products from over 40 dairy farmers across Pennsylvania, gave farmers a 90-day notice that they would no longer be purchasing their products.

Two months later, Dean Foods closed its Meadowbrook Dairy and laid off over 100 employees in favor of shipping their business to a Wal-Mart-owned dairy operation in Indiana.

Because of President Trump’s trade policies, a 25% tariff has been placed on American cheese in retaliation by foreign countries, forcing American processors and farms to either close shop or conglomerate with large corporations to compete in the costly trade war.

Since dairy farmers are only permitted to sell to one distributor at a time, when organizations like Dean Foods announce they are conglomerating with large corporations, it leaves many farmers without a primary source of income.

“That means that their whole way of life is gone. They’ve lost everything they’ve worked maybe 20, 30, 40 years for. They’ve lost it. They have no recourse, “ Dean Curtis, an Erie County dairy farmer said to

The U.S. dairy industry is set to lose up to $5.4 billion over the next several decades if trade agreements are not quickly ratified with foreign countries, such as Japan and China. And in Erie County, those losses are already beginning to quantify.

Since the Dean Foods plant closure, local leaders say the decline of the local dairy industry has rapidly increased. According to the Associated Press, Mark Muir, a Pa. farmer who is the current president of the Erie County Farm Bureau, said, “It’s a spiral…. Interest rates are going up. Your inputs are going up. It doesn’t pay.”

Trump himself seemed to admit his trade policies were hurting farmers, calling them “patriots” and promising he would “make it up” to them. Last summer, he issued dairy farmers a $127 million bailout from the Department of Agriculture. But that amount totaled at just 13% of farmers’ losses at the time, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.

In 2016, President Trump won Erie County by just under 2,000 votes. With a margin that thin, President Trump will need the support of Erie Dairy farmers should he want to win the county again in 2020.

And while he has praised farmers, the president doesn’t seem to be planning a change of the trade policies that are wreaking havoc on their financial well-being anytime soon.


Source: American Ledger

Fonterra denies withdrawal from Australia

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today gave an update on its strategy review and shared timeframes for turning around the Co-op’s performance. At the same time, it announced its third-quarter business update, revised forecast earnings range, narrowed the range for its 2018/19 forecast Farmgate Milk Price, and gave an opening forecast Farmgate Milk Price range for the 2019/20 season.

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell said that good progress is being made on the strategy review and reiterated that the benefits from those changes will take time to flow through into the Co-op’s financial performance.

“I appreciate that our farmers and unit holders want clarity on our new strategy and expect a decent return on their investment.

“We’re on-track to share our new strategy in September. In the meantime, we’re getting on and making decisions to reduce complexity and simplify our business so we can focus on where we have competitive advantages.

“Farmers and unit holders can expect to see some fluctuation in our earnings over the next couple of years and there will be one-off transactions and adjustments (some positive, some negative) as we reset the business and deliver on our new strategy.

“We are committed to keeping people updated as we make progress. Today’s update is:

  • We are commencing a strategic review of our two wholly-owned farm-hubs in China
  • We have agreed with our partner Nestle to review options for the future ownership of our Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) Brazil joint venture, including a potential sale of respective stakes
  • We are closing our Dennington site in Australia.

“These decisions relate to our new strategic direction – in particular, prioritising our New Zealand milk supply and simplifying our global portfolio, which, as we have said previously, requires us to review every part of business to ensure it meets the needs of the Co-op today.”

Commenting on the strategic review of its China farms, Mr Hurrell said China remains a key market for Fonterra.

“We have contributed to China’s dairy industry by developing high quality model farms and showing there is a valuable opportunity for fresh milk in China’s consumer market, and this continues to be an attractive prospect.

“However, this does not necessarily mean that we need to continue to have large amounts of capital tied up in farming hubs.

“On DPA Brazil, which is a joint venture distributing chilled dairy products throughout Brazil, the review into future ownership options and whether to sell is expected to be completed by the end of 2019,” said Mr Hurrell.

“Yesterday, we also started talking to the team at our Dennington factory in Australia about the tough call we’re making to close the site. The Australian Ingredients business continues to feel the impact of the drought and other significant changes that mean there is excess manufacturing capacity in the Australian dairy industry.

“This is not a one-off for this season, it’s the new norm for the Australian dairy industry and we need to adapt. We need to get the most value from every drop of our farmers’ milk and, with the reduced milk pool in Australia, we must put it into our highest returning products and most efficient assets. Dennington is over 100 years old and not viable in a low-milk pool environment.

“We have 98 employees at Dennington and this decision will be incredibly hard for them. Our top priority is to support our people.”

Business performance and revised earnings guidance

Fonterra’s revenue for the nine months to 30 April 2019 was $15 billion, up 1% on the same period last year, and sales volumes were 16.6 billion liquid milk equivalent (LME), up 4%. However, normalised EBIT was down 9% to $522 million.

In Ingredients, sales volumes for the first nine months were up 10% to 16.3 billion LME, gross margin was down to 8.6% from 9.6% and EBIT was down $64 million to $602 million.

In Consumer and Foodservice sales volumes were down 1% to 3.8 billion LME, gross margin was down to 22.8% from 23.6% and normalised EBIT was down $62 million to $266 million.

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell said the New Zealand Ingredients business is performing as expected but Australia Ingredients continues to face challenges and it is taking longer than planned to lift performance in some parts of the Co-op’s Consumer and Foodservice business.

“Due to the challenges in Australia Ingredients and tightening relative price differences between reference products, or those products that inform the Farmgate Milk Price, and non-reference products – that’s all our other products, we are reducing the forecast full year normalised EBIT for the whole Ingredients business to $645 – $725 million, down from the $750 – $850 million range we shared at our Interim Results.

“Consumer and Foodservice improved its performance in the third quarter relative to the first half. Due to our performance in Latin America we have lowered our forecast normalised EBIT from $475 – $525 million to $400 – $430 million for this part of the Co-op.

“Our China Foodservice recovered as demand for butter bounced back. This helped pricing and in-market inventory return to more normal levels. There was good demand for Anchor Food Professionals UHT culinary cream and the team at our Waitoa UHT factory have been working hard to get shipments up to our China foodservice customers.

“Our Oceania Consumer and Foodservice business continued to perform well with Australia’s spreads category, including Western Star butter, contributing significantly to gross margin.” Mr Hurrell said that there are some increased risks in the fourth quarter to the Co-op’s previous forecast earnings – in particular, the recovery in key markets is slower than expected and there are tightening price relativities between non-reference and reference products along with the on-going challenges in Australia Ingredients.

As a result, Fonterra is revising its earnings guidance range from 15 – 25 cents per share to 10 – 15 cents per share.

2019/20 opening season forecast Farmgate Milk Price and updated 2018/19 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range.

Chairman John Monaghan said, as farmers get ready to start the new season on 1 June, the forecast 2019/20 Farmgate Milk Price range will be $6.25 – $7.25 per kgMS.

“This is a realistic opening forecast. We are having to look out more than a year into the future which is difficult, but what the information available is continuing to show us is that demand remains strong across key trading partners and this is reflected in GDT prices.

“We are giving farmers a wide range for the opening forecast milk price. It will be narrowed as the season goes on. The 2019/20 Advance Rate Schedule has been set off $6.75 per kgMS.

“Weather plays a significant role in determining global milk volumes, and therefore price. We are forecasting our New Zealand collections to be 1,520 million kgMS for the new season, which is up slightly on the current season. There’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge before we’ll have a clear view of what the season holds for both our Co-op’s production and global dairy supply.”

Fonterra has also narrowed its 2018/19 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range from $6.30 – $6.60 per kgMS range by 20 cents to $6.30 – $6.40per kgMS.

This reflects favourable foreign exchange movements but slightly weaker than expected pricing for whole milk powder and skim milk powder.

The Co-op has now contracted the majority of its farmers’ milk for the current season and has greater certainty on the likely closing Farmgate Milk Price. This is also reflected in the tighter forecast range.


Skilled workers needed to ensure longevity of Australian dairy industry

Attracting skilled labour will be critical for Australia’s dairy industry as farms get bigger and require more staff.

More than 800 new employees will be needed on dairy farms nationally by 2023, as the number of farms with six or more employees rises from 4 per cent to 20 per cent by 2025.

Dairy Australia managing director David Nation said attracting and retaining people was an ongoing challenge.

“The evolution of the industry and the trend towards larger farms places greater demand on labour, but also provides opportunities,” he said.

He said the need for skilled labour also increased with the use of technology and the need to monitor farm inputs, animal care and milk quality.

Dr Nation said starting the conversation about careers in dairy when young people were at school was absolutely key.

He said Dairy Australia’s Cows Create Careers program had seen more than 15,000 young people learn about careers in dairy.

“It’s important that we show the diversity of career pathways and highlight the opportunity to be successful.”

Dr Nation said making young people feel connected and supported through strong networks and skills building was key to retaining workers.

This week the State Government announced a three- year program to improve training across dairy sector.

The $300,000 program will be run by DairyTas and aims to improve productivity, job creation, farm businesses and value-adding strategies.

It will include a training program for businesses, skills training for farm managers and pasture education.

The Cows Create Careers program will also be rolled out to a further eight schools a year.

Source: Weekly Times

Markets Rally in Chicago Thursday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures continued their rally and closed mostly higher Thursday while cash trade was mixed. Class III milk markets closed Thursday slightly higher. July added 11 cents while August through November gained 2-3 cents and December declined 2 cents. 2020 prices added 2-10 cents out through October. Class IV markets were 3-8 cents higher September 2019 through February 2020. 

Dry whey up $0.01 at $0.3350. Two trades were made at $0.3275 and $0.3350. Blocks up $0.0050 at $1.78. Barrels up $0.0150 at $1.7050. Two trades were made at $1.70 and $1.7050. Butter down $0.0050 at $2.41. Eighteen trades were made ranging from $2.4050 to $2.4225. Nonfat dry milk unchanged at $1.0275.

Grain prices continued to slide on Thursday following a cooler and wetter forecast change. The corn market lost 11.25 cents and settled at $4.2975 per bu. Soybeans declined a penny and a half to $8.99 per bu. The wheat complex softened 12 cents in Chicago, 9 cents in Kansas City and 3 cents in Minneapolis.

Despite industry hardship, dairy added $20 billion to California economy last year

The California dairy industry contributed $20 billion to the state economy and supported 179,900 jobs last year, according to a report from the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.

Dairy is still the top agricultural commodity in California, despite a rough couple of years for the industry.

“It’s impressive to us, that even given some of the milk price issues that California farmers have been facing the past few years,” William Matthews, a researcher at the center, said. The industry “is still contributing quite substantially to the economy.”

In calculating economic impact, researchers included all the spending and employment generated directly and indirectly by the California dairy industry. The report was prepared for the California Milk Advisory Board.

Dairy’s economic contribution has declined since 2015, the last time the Agricultural Issues Center did a similar report. Then, it found dairy’s contribution to be $21 billion.

“We were kind of expecting to see a pretty steep drop-off,” Matthews said.

Matthews co-wrote the report with Daniel A. Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center. Matthews said they were surprised, given that milk prices have been low, expenses have been rising, and there are fewer dairy farms now than there have been in decades, that the industry was still so robust.

“Even though being a dairy farmer in California has been a lot more of a challenge,” farmers are still managing, Matthews said.

While the total number of farms has gone down, the average size of the farms has grown.

In 2017, California dairy farms had on average five times more cows than the national average.

Even Sacramento County, which has smaller farms compared to the state as a whole, averages almost 500 cows per farm, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which is more than twice the national average.

In 2017, dairy was the second-largest agricultural commodity in Sacramento County, generating $52 million in revenue.

The county also has the HP Hood LLC dairy processing facility, which processes milk and other nutritional beverages in everything from half-gallon to single-serving sizes. That facility also processes fresh milk into shelf-stable packages, that can stay good for up to a year until being opened.

Processing facilities are one of the reasons dairy has a unique ripple effect on the economy, Matthews said. On the production end, cows support not only dairy farmers, but farmers growing cow feed, as well as veterinary services. Then once milk is produced, it can’t travel very far to be processed or sold.

“Dairy is unique in that it has a short shelf life,” Matthews said. That means processing facilities — and their economic impact — stay in the state.

And dairy processing, turning milk into butter, powder, yogurt, ice cream, cheese and other products, makes up the bulk of the value of dairy, in terms of economic contribution, sales, and jobs.

“It’s more labor-intensive than packing houses and fruit,” Matthews said. “I don’t think it takes nearly as many people to process almonds as it does to process dairy.”

Source: BizJournal

When is Hay Dry Enough?

There is a great misconception that once hay is “dry” and baled it is plain and devoid of life. The truth is that hay is never completely dry, and it is full of microscopic life. If the hay is not dry enough, those microscopic life forms can cause major problems.  It’s Alive! Many microorganisms (mainly fungi species like Aspergillus and Fusarium, bacteria, and others) are ever present in hay (Figure 1). They feed on available carbohydrates on the surface of the forage plants and inside the stems and leaves. This feeding results in the loss of some dry matter (DM), reduces the quality of the hay, and also generates heat. The temperature of these hay bales, stacks, and barns can get very hot. In extreme cases, it can get so hot that the bales can catch on fire, even without a spark (i.e., spontaneous combustion). Even if the temperature does not reach these extremes, these microorganisms can also form spores. It is these spores that give the hay a moldy smell.

Summary of heating during hay storage, including recommended actions at various hay temperatures, what is causing the temperature increase, and what is happening as a result of the heat.

Figure 1.  Summary of heating during hay storage, including recommended actions at various hay temperatures, what is causing the temperature increase, and what is happening as a result of the heat.

Nearly all hay goes through “a sweat” during the first few days after baling when the temperature rises. Figure 2 shows two cuttings of hay in a study I conducted while at the University of Kentucky wherein the bales’ temperature was tracked over time. Notice that the
summer cutting, which was put up at 16% moisture, stayed relatively cool even during higher average ambient air temperatures. However, the fall cutting was baled a little wet (20% moisture) for round bales and it spiked over 140° F within just 3 days.

Figure 2. Temperature of round bale alfalfa hay from summer (16% moisture) and fall (20% moisture) cuttings relative to the ambient air temperature during the first few days after baling.

Figure 2. Temperature of round bale alfalfa hay from summer (16% moisture) and fall (20% moisture) cuttings relative to the ambient air temperature during the first few days after baling.

The heat that is generated when hay goes through “a sweat” is a side effect of the microorganisms consuming the most digestible portions of the forage, such as carbohydrates like sugar and starch. Consequently, a substantial portion of the hay could be used up during this process.

Dr. Wayne Coblentz, Research Agronomist at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, has conducted several experiments on the impact that hay moisture and the resulting heating of the hay have on dry matter (DM) loss, hay quality, and heat risk. He recently found that for every 10° F increase in maximum temperature, the hay would lose up to 2% of the DM during storage.

Since these losses are coming from the most digestible forms of energy in the forage, hay heating comes at the expense of digestibility and the concentration of energy in the forage. Dr. Coblentz showed that the TDN of bermudagrass hay is decreased by more than 1 percentage point for every 10° F increase in maximum temperature over 100° F. In other words, a good bermudagrass hay crop that was just a little too wet when it was baled might have gone into the barn at 58% TDN, but it likely will come out of the barn with less than 54% TDN if it heated up to 140 °F or more.

What is “Dry Enough?”

Much of the original research suggests hay moisture content should be kept less than 20% for small rectangular bales, less than 18% for round bales, and less than 16% for large rectangular bales. These are still good “rules of thumb,” but there are exceptions. Consider, for example, the advances in bale package sizes and high-density baling systems that have occurred in the modern era. These denser bale packages enable the heat to build up to a higher degree.  Other factors can also contribute to the extent of hay heating, including the amount of available carbohydrates in the forage crop, air circulation in the hay stack, relative humidity in the storage area, and the ambient temperature and humidity outside. Each producer’s situation will be somewhat different because of equipment, storage technique, and climatic differences. So, within the ranges provided in Figure 3, hay growers should allow for the effect that these factors might influence which target bale moisture is right for their farm.

Figure 3. The effect of bale moisture on the amount of damage that can be expected with different sizes and densities of hay bales, as well as other factors that affect hay heating.

Figure 3. The effect of bale moisture on the amount of damage that can be expected with different sizes and densities of hay bales, as well as other factors that affect hay heating.

Every year, I get 3-4 calls from folks who have had hay barns burn down. The calls almost always include the question, “Do you think I might not have gotten that hay dry enough?” It is truly tragic when it happens. The key is to control what you can control.  For more information on hay molding and heating, visit our website at

Results from the National Junior Holstein Awards Luncheon

National Junior Holstein members had a wide variety of competitions and activities to participate in throughout the Convention. See below for a summary of the results and check The Pulse, Summer 2019 for complete information.

Dairy Bowl

Junior Division (ages 9-15 as of January 1)

Champions: New York

Runner-ups: Pennsylvania 
Sportsmanship: Minnesota

Senior Division (ages 16-21 as of January 1)

Champions: California

Runner-ups: Virginia
Senior Division: Pennsylvania 

For more information on the dairy bowl contest, visit the Holstein Foundation website.

Dairy Knowledge Exam

Junior Division (ages 9-15 as of January 1)

1st place: Hayley Dauber, Virginia

2nd place: Jennifer DeBries, California 

3rd place: Rachel Craun, Virginia

Senior Division (ages 16-21 as of January 1)

1st place: Isabelle Leonard, Virginia

2nd place: Greg Norris, Massachusetts
3rd place: Summer Henschel, Wisconsin

Prepared Public Speaking

Junior Division (ages 9-13 as of January 1)

1st place: Abby Meyer, Wisconsin

2nd place: Sarah Craun, Virginia

3rd place: Justin Irwin, Illinois 

Intermediate Division (ages 14-17 as of January 1)

1st place: Lauren Siemers, Wisconsin

2nd place: Matthew Gunst, Wisconsin

3rd place: Bradley Richman, New Jersey

Senior Division (ages 18-21 as of January 1)

1st place: Ariel Staffin, New Jersey

2nd place: Miriam Cook, Michigan 

3rd place: Brock Irwin, Illinois

Folding Display Contest – Creative Division

Junior Division (ages 9-13 as of January 1)

1st place: Konrad Reidman, California

2nd place: Makenna Mase, Pennsylvania

3rd place: Joseph Coltrane, North Carolina

Intermediate Division (ages 14-17 as of January 1)

1st place: Lauryn Young, Washington

2nd place: Reagan Rhodes, Virginia

3rd place: Madison Sifford, Virginia

Senior Division (ages 18-21 as of January 1)

1st place: Nelson Brooks, North Carolina 

2nd place: Montanna Heinricher, Washington
3rd place: Nicole Guise, Pennsylvania 

Folding Display Contest – Scientific Division

Junior Division (ages 9-13 as of January 1)

1st place: Cait O’Sullivan, New Jersey

2nd place: Lemuel Coltrane, North Carolina

3rd place: Alex Empet, Pennsylvania 

Intermediate Division (ages 14-17 as of January 1)

1st place: Clarissa Ulness, Wisconsin

2nd place: William Coltrane, North Carolina 

3rd place: Austin Holcomb, Florida 

Senior Division (ages 18-21 as of January 1)

1st place: Molly O’Sullivan, New Jersey 

2nd place: Brooke Carey, Pennsylvania 

State Scrapbook – Traditional Division

1st place: Iowa

2nd place: North Carolina

3rd place: Illinois

4th place: Pennsylvania

5th place: Michigan

State Scrapbook – Digital Division

1st place: Virginia

2nd place: Illinois

3rd place: Washington

4th place: Wisconsin

5th place: New York

For more information about the other Holstein Association youth programs, visit the Holstein Association USA Junior website!


New tools from Extension help farmers navigate the Dairy Margin Coverage program

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the signup period for the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program will open June 17, 2019. Dairy producers who elect a DMC coverage level between $9 and $9.50 would be eligible for a payment for January, February, March and April 2019.

With the FSA signup there is renewed interest by farmers in learning more about the program. Mark Stephenson, Director of the Center for Dairy Profitability at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, created resources to help farmers consider signup strategies for their farm. County Extension Agents can help farmers access information and tools for the DMC program. Farmers can utilize an informative video, chart the current forecasted margin, and access the DMC decision making tool from the website: For access to Dairy Margin Coverage informational meetings offered in your area visit or contact your local county Extension office

DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

For example, a dairy operation that chooses to enroll an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 cwt.) and elects the $9.50 coverage level on 95 percent of production would receive $1,543.75 for March.

Sample calculation:

$9.50 – $8.85 margin = $0.65 difference

$0.65 x 95 percent of production x 2,500 cwt. (30,000 cwt./12) = $1,543.75

DMC premiums are paid annually. The calculated annual premium for coverage at $9.50 on 95 percent of a 3-million-pound production history for this example would be $4,275.

Sample calculation:

3,000,000 x 95 percent = 2,850,000/100 = 28,500 cwt. x 0.150 premium fee = $4,275

The dairy operation in the example calculation will pay $4,275 in total premium payments for all of 2019 and receive $9,950 in DMC payments for January, February, March and April combined. Additional payments will be made if calculated margins remain below the $9.50/cwt level.

All participants are also required to pay an annual $100 administrative fee in addition to any premium, and payments will be subject to a 6.2 percent reduction to account for federal sequestration.

For DMC signup, eligibility and related dairy program information, contact your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit


How long until Fonterra is targeted?

The Chinese take a long-term view of investment and must be rubbing their hands in glee at having played a bunch of farmers on the West Coast out of their co-operative, subject to Overseas Investment Office approval. Just like a lion hunting down its prey, they spotted weakness and went in for the kill.

“Absolutely stunning” is Katie Milne’s reaction to the vote by Westland Milk Products farmer shareholders to agree to the sale to Yili, the Chinese milk conglomerate one quarter owned by the Chinese government. She is a West Coast farmer and director of WMP.

WMP has been managed hopelessly for years now and as a reward for incompetent management, bonuses are to be paid to the management team when the deal goes through. The shareholders have chosen to focus on the short term and thus, not being willing to see beyond the end of their noses, have grabbed the deal with both hands.

So another key piece of New Zealand infrastructure falls into foreign hands, just like the 50 percent of Silver Fern Farms now owned by the Chinese and South Canterbury milk processor Oceania Gold, already owned by Yili.

What use is it in the long term to have such important parts of our economy hived off into foreign ownership?

Remember when prime minister Key said he didn’t want New Zealanders to become tenants in our own country?

The dairy farming sector is heavily indebted (obviously a large factor in this latest sale), owing some $40 billion to the banks.

Fonterra is licking its wounds at the moment and will be for some time to come.

How long will it be before the Chinese start circling around its door with another outsized offer the farmer shareholders of Fonterra will be unable to resist?


Source: The Gisborne Herald

Meijer Honored at WI 4-H Hall of Fame Gala

Wisconsin 4-H Foundation announced that Meijer, Inc., was honored as a major partner and contributor at the 2018 Wisconsin 4-H Hall of Fame Gala.

[L-R] Matt Calvert, Linda Funk, Ella Breitenfeldt

Meijer, Inc. is a family-owned company serving the needs of families at each of their stores throughout Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. With the help from their Team Members and customers, Meijer strives to make the community a better place to live, work and play. Meijer has also been a major sponsor of the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation’s annual Governor’s Blue Ribbon Meat Products Auction at the Wisconsin State Fair for the last 4 years. Find out more about Meijer at their website,

“We are truly grateful for the support of continued generous partners, like Meijer,” says Brenda Scheider, Executive Director for the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation. “Our partners help 4‑H create cutting-edge, relevant programs for young people to learn real-world skills that will prepare them for the challenges of today and tomorrow, moving communities, the state, our country and the world forward in ways no other youth organization can.”

4-H, the youth development program of UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension, is one of the largest and oldest statewide youth organizations in Wisconsin, offering a wide variety of programs in both urban and rural settings. From the 4-H activities in the city of Milwaukee to the 4-H clubs in Bayfield County, 4-H is making a positive impact on our young people all throughout the state. Nearly 150,000 youth participate in the Wisconsin 4-H program, and more than 22,000 volunteers support the program. Meijer helps support all their efforts.

Since 1914, Wisconsin 4-H has helped young people develop the skills they need to meet the demands of our complex and ever-changing world. 4-H has grown from a rich history of agricultural clubs that helped the University of Wisconsin-Extension connect families to research-based advancements in farming technology and techniques. Today’s 4-H still boasts strong programs in agriculture and animal science and has grown to include science, leadership, healthy living and communications programming that will help Wisconsin youth build a healthier and more prosperous future.

The Wisconsin 4-H Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin, provides essential funding for 4-H programs throughout Wisconsin. By partnering with individuals, corporations and foundations, the Foundation supports various 4-H leadership, development, and community-building activities throughout the state. Learn more about the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation by visiting


Mel and Janelle – the city slickers turned New Zealand dairy farm superstars

Janelle Nee (left) and Mel McEntyre with three of their furry friends.

After trading in the corporate life in downtown Auckland’s grey streets for the luscious green pastures of a Ōhauiti dairy farm, Janelle Nee and Mel McEntyre aren’t looking back.

The couple took over Nee’s family farm in 2016 and they’ve taken to farming like ducks take to the water, picking up a Fonterra farming award and getting the farm out of a deficit along the way.

“Three years ago if someone had said to me, ‘oh you’re gonna love your cows,’ I would’ve been like, ‘oh whatever’,” McEntyre says, with a flick of the hand and a roll of the eye.

“But I do love my girls. You get to know their personalities. Most of them end up getting nicknames.”

The duo both had a rural upbringing – Nee on the existing farm and McEntyre in Glenorchy – but neither knew the first thing about farming before moving back.

Both had corporate backgrounds, with McEntyre in accounts and operations management while Nee was in private education.

McEntyre learnt the ropes by shadowing the existing farm worker for a year, but the two came in “totally naive,” she says.

The seeds for the move were sown in 2015 when McEntyre picked out the location for their hilltop house on the farm.

Within a year, their Auckland house was sold and they had moved into a newly-built house on the farm in 2016.

While McEntyre now works longer hours, they’re pleased to escape the Auckland rat race.

She says she never liked corporate work and farm duties are more rewarding.

“I didn’t realise how stressed I was in Auckland until I moved down here and everything eased off. It all felt cluttered there.”

“It shows how if you’re doing what you love, it can make all the difference,” Nee adds, who now works as a vet clinic business manager.

The farm has also been pulled from a deficit to breaking even, but money doesn’t make the couple’s world go around.

“As long as there’s food on the table I’m not fussed,” McEntyre shrugs.

The duo said the farming community and Fonterra were supportive and they could ask for help or advice.

They prioritised being environmentally sustainable, with a farm environment plan to manage carbon emissions and protect waterways.

“We make a real effort to show people that there are farmers out there that care about their animals and the environment,” Nee says.

“You don’t have to pillage the land and get every last drop of profit out of it.”

Aside from enjoying the lifestyle change, they’ve proven themselves to be better than most at farming and recently picked up two Fonterra awards for milk with a low bacteria count and the other was for grade free milk.

This meant they came out with the top 10 in the Bay of Plenty and the top 4 per cent in New Zealand, McEntyre says.

All aspects of farm operations contributed to the win, from what the cows were fed to the hygiene of the cowshed.

“I was pretty chuffed with that,” McEntyre says.

Nee credits the success they have had in the past 12 months to the “business operations” approach McEntyre takes to farming.

“I’m all about working smarter, not harder. I might still clock up the hours, but that’s probably because I’m hanging out with the cows,” McEntyre laughs.

Fonterra regional head for the Bay of Plenty, Lisa Payne, said the company recognised farmers who went the extra mile to achieve excellent milk quality.

“Considering they are new to dairy farming, this is especially impressive and both Janelle and Mel are a great addition to the farming family.”


Source: NZ Herald

Man accused in Fair Oaks Farms animal abuse appears in court for first time

NEWTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — A suspect in custody for the Fair Oaks Farms animal abuse case will be released from jail Wednesday. The former Fair Oaks Farm employee had his bond reduction hearing Wednesday morning in Newton County.

Edgar Gardozo-Vazquez had a bond set at $20,000 cash and 10-percent permitted, meaning he could have bonded out at $2,000. He bonded out at $1,000 on Wednesday.

The judge agreed to reduce his bond after his partner took the stand and testified for him. A family friend translated for the courtroom when she testified. His partner said, “He’s not doing anything wrong. I know he’s innocent.”

The woman told the judge she only had $1,000 for bond because she just got surgery and has not been working. 

The woman told the courtroom she and Gardozo-Vazquez were not married, but have been in a relationship for several years. She said they have one child together, and she has two other children from a previous relationship. 

The woman said he is the only supporter for their family and all three children. She told the judge he has another job lined up already in Kankakee, Illinois. She said he will be working at the Del Monte factory there once he is released from jail. He would start work immediately.

Alongside Gardozo-Vazquez’s partner in the crowd were two children and her father. The family lives in a home in Brook, Indiana. The partner told the judge before living in Brook, they lived in Rensselaer. Gardozo-Vazquez has lived in Indiana for a total of 14 years. Before coming to Indiana, he lived in Mexico. He still has family in Mexico, but has not been back since moving to Indiana. She said when he is released from jail he will move back in with the family. 

The state asked if Gardozo-Vazquez was released, how she would assure he would show up to future court dates. Through translation, the partner replied “He’s a good person and he’s going to show up in court. I promise to you [judge] he will come back to court.” She then explained he will show up [to court] because he knows if he doesn’t, he won’t be with his family because he will be in jail. 

The partner denied knowing about any previous criminal activity of Gardozo-Vazquez. 

Gardozo-Vazquez is the only suspect that has been taken into custody in this case. The 36-year old was arrested on a warrant for animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor, and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a Level 6 felony.

Immigration Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has placed a hold on him.

Animal Recovery Mission said they had someone working at the farm undercover for three months documenting what they saw. 

Gardozo Vazquez is one of three suspects in this case. The other two, Santiago Ruvalcaba Contreros and Miguel Angel Navarro Serrano, have not been arrested. There are outstanding warrants for their arrests.

News 18 spoke with the attorney for Gardozo-Vazquez, and he did not want to comment on Wednesday’s hearing.

The next hearing for Gardozo-Vazquez is on Aug.12 at the Newton County Courthouse.


Egypt’s biggest dairy farm to get even bigger

Dina Farms, which spreads over some 10,000 acres with a herd of more than 17,000 Holstein cattle, will enter a new phase of growth and restructuring. It has already seen its milk capacity double, while an upcoming new yogurt line expects to double its production.

The company currently focuses on integrated business across agriculture, livestock and dairy manufacturing. It also runs a single farm retail outlet, ElShadr.

Its chairman, Ahmed Hiekal, told the Zawya news agency that the injection would go to serve milk production, increase the planted areas and introduce solar plants at the farms. It has already invested $30m on the farm to date, he said.

Dina was originally acquired by Qalaa Holdings in 2007 and has today grown to become Egypt’s largest producer of fresh milk.

The dairy farm was originally established in 1987 with 300 Holstein Friesian heifers, and expects to have more than 8,500 milking cows by the end of this year. In addition, the total cultivated land has increased by 40% since the acquisition.

It is currently undertaking several initiatives to improve its milk productivity, including the installation of curtains and cooling systems at its milking stations. This drive is expected to continue over the coming years and will substantially improve the company’s overall performance once completed.

ICDP, a subsidiary that supplies Dina’s fresh milk, has experienced steady growth since it was founded in 2010. Today it is the leading market force in its category, controlling some 70% of Egypt’s fresh milk market.

Qalaa’s agrifoods investments began in 2007, and were geared towards overcoming agricultural and food production challenges in Egypt and the region.

While most of Qalaa’s agrifoods portfolio has been divested, with 23 companies sold in total, the holding company remains committed to Dina Farms, its key investment in the agrifoods sector.


Kingboy Daughter Wins Pyrénées-Atlantiques Show

In the idyllic  setting of southern France the Pyrénées-Atlantiques show was won by the second lactation Liligirl (<Kingboy) from Gaec Les Vignes. Judge Olivier Vallès selected L’Alizee (<Doorman) from Gaec Elissetchia as his Reserve Grand Champion. The champion of the lifetime production class was the powerful Xacobeo daughter Fixtop, also from Les Vignes.

Farm wife details dairy problems in stray voltage trial

A farm wife who plays a major role at a Registered Holstein dairy operation near Sleepy Eye testified for seven hours Tuesday in a civil case alleging stray voltage issues nearly put the family farm out of business a couple of years ago.

Under examination from plaintiff’s attorney Jeremy Stevens, Jill Nelson of Olmar Farms testified that converting electrical service on the farm to three-phase power at their own expense in 2017 solved the stray voltage issues that power testers for the Brown County Rural Electrical Association (REA) said were not present on the farm.

She testified that the power testers told her if there was stray voltage, it was on the Nelson’s part of the farm.

Brian and Jill Nelson are seeking more than $50,000 in the case that began Tuesday and is scheduled for three weeks.

Jill Nelson testified that even after three-phase electric power was installed in 2017 at their own expense, cows didn’t not behave normally until a non-isolating transformer was replaced by an isolating transformer on the farm two years ago.

“Cow health drastically improved immediately after the fix,” Nelson testified.

She earlier testified that a power brown-out in April 2011 caused lights on the farm to flash on and off, then go out.

“We hooked up our (power) generator to milk,” Nelson testified. “That was the start of the hell we went through. The brown-out wrecked our milking and transfer pumps and a toaster.”

She testified in a wavering voice how the cows wouldn’t drink water, had muscle weakness, laid down and wouldn’t get up.

“The cow kicking got worse after the brown-out. It was ‘get away from me, I want to kill you’ kicking,” Nelson said. “We tried to stop the (cow) kicking with kicking bars, but the cows broke them. One hit me in the head, so we tied their legs with rope. I saw a cow drink from a puddle of urine. I’ve never seen that before.”

Nelson testified in a wavering voice again, “in early 2017, we were at the end of our rope. I felt like a complete failure. I told Brian we had to find out what was going on or we were done.”

After asking a number consultants and friends for help, Nelson said talking to a veterinarian friend led to her Wisconsin Master Electrician Larry Neubauer.

“He had lots of wires and hooked them up to things before telling us we had stray voltage bad enough to affect cows and it came from the power company’s side,” Nelson testified. “He said we should bring three-phase power to the farm.”

Nelson later testified that after the power and transformer change were done on May 1, 2017, cow issues went away and milk production improved greatly.

Olmar Farms received the 2017 Elite Breeder Award. It is bestowed annually upon a living Holstein Association USA, Inc. member, family, partnership, or corporation who has bred outstanding animals and made a notable contribution to the advancement of the Holstein breed in the United States.

A 1989 Sleepy Eye High School graduate and valedictorian, Jill (Marti) Nelson was a member of the school’s FFA national championship dairy judging team. At the University of Minnesota, she was president of the Gopher Dairy Club, a dairy judging team All-American, and traveled to Australia to meet dairy farmers.

“I fell in love with meeting dairy farmers in other countries,” Nelson testified.

She created a workbook that was published by the American Breeders Service, based in Madison, Wi. Nelson worked for three years as a project and promotions specialist at the company, touring more than 300 dairy farms in the U.S.

“I did lots of networking. It helped me establish genetics on our farm,” Nelson testified.

She later worked as a nutritionist and consultant near Madison before meeting her husband and moving home with him to operate the family farm and start a family.

The jury trial continues at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Nelson will be due for cross examination.


This $20 ice cream is made with dairy grown in lab—and it sold out immediately

Perfect Day Foods founders, Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi

Agri-tech start-up, Perfect Day, released a line of real ice cream made with lab-grown dairy that costs $20 a pint on Thursday — and it sold out in hours.

“We were completely blown away by the response,” co-founder Perumal Gandhi tells CNBC Make It.

Perfect Day’s cultured dairy is created by taking cow’s milk DNA and adding it to a micro-organism like yeast to create dairy proteins, whey and casein, via fermentation. Those dairy proteins are then combined with water and plant-based ingredients to create a dairy substitute that can be used to make ice cream, cheese, yogurt and a slew of other dairy products.

Gandhi, 28, says the dairy substitute is nutritionally identical to cow’s milk and tastes just like it. In fact, while Perfect Day Foods at least considers its product “vegan” and lactose-free (since lactose is a sugar found only in mammals’ milk), federal law actually requires them to put “contains milk” on any labeling because its protein is identical to cow’s milk on a molecular level and could cause allergies.

Co-founder Rayan Pandya, 27, says the process to make the dairy is similar to what plant-based “meat” start-up Impossible Foods is doing using heme, a molecule in soy plants that’s identical to the heme molecule found in meat. Using heme, Impossible Foods is able to make its vegetarian meat substitute taste and feel like beef without using animals.

The limited edition run of 1,000 three-packs of Perfect Day ice cream — a pint each of Milky Chocolate, Vanilla Salted Fudge and Vanilla Blackberry Toffee for $60, which costs closer to $100 with dry ice shipping — was the first and only product released by Perfect Day Foods (which has been working with the Food and Drug Administration since 2014) to drum up buzz. The pints, which were sold on the company’s website, will be delivered to customers in three to four weeks, according to the founders.

One writer who got an early taste of the product said she was surprised how creamy and smooth it was and claimed it tasted just like real ice cream. Another reviewer, who has been a vegan for years, said while the product is good (and creamy), it may not be for people who believe dairy is detrimental to your health.

Pandya says while the $20 a pint is high, they decided on the cost based on other premium direct-to-consumer ice creams being shipped on dry ice in the U.S. Most of the premium pints on the web today range from $12 to $17 a pint.

For any future ice cream made with Perfect Day’s dairy proteins, the company plans to work with ice cream manufacturers rather than produce and sell it themselves, according to the founder. And the company plans to forge partnerships with brands and food manufacturers to ultimately become a dairy supplier. Perfect Day says it already has several deals in the works but declined to disclose any names.


Source: CNBC

Class III Milk Makes a Come Back Thanks to Global Markets Wednesday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures closed mostly higher Wednesday as strength from global markets continues while cash trade was mixed. July finished unchanged at $17.31 but the remaining months saw double digit gains. August up 17 cents to $17.67, September also gained 17 to $17.89 and the second half averaged at $17.61/cwt. First quarter of 2020 also saw gains of 16-18 cents and averages at $16.75. Class IV milk was not as robust. July fell 1 cent to $16.90, August gained 2 cents to 17.10 and the second half finished the day averaging $17.18/cwt

Dry whey up $0.0025 at $0.3250. One trade was made at that price. Blocks unchanged at $1.7750. Barrels unchanged at $1.69. Butter down $0.02 at $2.4150. Ten trades were made ranging from $2.41 to $2.4350. Nonfat dry milk down $0.0075 $1.0275.

Grain and Feed prices were mixed on Wednesday December corn gained a quarter of a cent to $4.41 ¾, November Soybeans fell 5 ½ to $9.00 ½ /bu, and Aug Soybean meal finished the day down $0.90 to $307.50/ton.

Holstein Assn updates its online transfer system

Holstein Association USA is excited to announce new improvements and added features to its online transfer system. A seller can now enter multiple buyers when transferring a group of animals in a single online submission, which will be an especially welcome feature for sale managers. If an account number is provided for the buyer, it does a look up so buyer contact information is not required, and allows an animal name change request. For a video tutorial of the online transfer system, visit

“When we started work on our online transfer system, we wanted to give our customers a better experience submitting transfers online. The latest improvements will give our customers the ability to do multiple transfers in one seamless transaction and make the process easier,” says Bridget Cummings, Identification Services Manager.

Online transfers continue to increase in popularity with a free updated registration certificate provided to the new owner for each transfer submitted online.

A Holstein Association USA website log in must be established to use the online transfer application system. If you would like assistance setting up a log in, please contact customer service at 800.952.5200.


Ronald L. Horst, Ph.D. Receives Award for Meritorious Service

Ronald L. Horst was recognized posthumously

Ronald L. Horst, Ph.D., Ames, Iowa, received the Award for Meritorious Service given by the American Jersey Cattle Association and the National All-Jersey Inc. in ceremonies June 29, 2019, during the association’s 151st Annual Meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

The Award for Meritorious Service is presented to an individual or family who has made a notable contribution to the advancement of the Jersey breed and the livelihood of Jersey owners in the United States through research, education, development, marketing or other significant activities of the allied dairy industry.

The loss of his favorite cow to milk fever as a young boy spurred Horst to pursue scientific nutrient. After obtaining his degrees from West Virginia University and the University of Wisconsin, he joined a physiopathology research unit team at the National Animal Disease Center (NADC) to find a cure for hypocalcemia in dairy cattle. His early research led to the development of monitoring dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) of the ration and feeding anionic salts to modify the blood pH. With the Jersey breed’s sensitivity to hypocalcemia, his work was a game-changer for breeders and nutritionists.

Through his studies on milk fever, Horst gained expertise in calcium metabolism and vitamin D. His team did much of the scientific work on oral calcium supplements to enhance intestinal absorption and bone resorption of calcium which also help prevent hypocalcemia.

Horst’s studies on milk fever were cited as one of the top research findings supported by the National Research Initiative competitive grants program in 2000 and by the U.S. Animal Health Association in 2011 as one of the top 10 cattle health achievements of the past two decades.

His contributions have also been recognized by many organizations including Dean Food and the American Dairy Science Association. Horst was the first non-veterinarian to lead a research group at the NADC and the only one to direct the center.

In 2008, Horst with his wife, Marina, and in-laws established Grand Central Jerseys LLC. They milk 200 cows on the farm in Bristow, Iowa. In addition to their emphasis on herd health and milk quality, Horst also enjoys showing.

The American Jersey Cattle Association was organized in 1868 to improve and promote the Jersey breed. Since 1957, National All-Jersey Inc. has served Jersey owners by promoting the increased production and sale of Jersey milk and milk products. For more information on its programs and services, visit or call 614/861-3636.

Note: We are regretful to note Dr. Horst passed away on May 23, 2019, He was recognized posthumously at the AJCA Breeders Banquet.


Holstein UK Team Selected for European Young Breeders School

Preparing for a trip of a lifetime are seven young aspiring dairy breeders who have been selected to represent the UK at the European Young Breeders School (EYBS) in Battice, Belgium.

From 28th August until 1st September, EYBS takes centre stage in Battice, attracting over 150 young members between the ages of 13 and 25 years from up to 25 different countries.  Holstein Young Breeders (HYB) is thrilled to announce its talented team, which will be making the trip to Belgium this year. Each HYB club nominates two members who have shown commitment to HYB and the dairy industry, all nominees are then reviewed by a panel of Holstein UK Trustees to select the team.

The team is made up of:

Harriet Jackson- Lancashire
Since the age 5 of Harriet has been a HYB member.  She has worked for breeders at shows, competed at ABAB and helps on the family farm Newdawn Holsteins. Harriet has recently finished Agricultural college before going to Uni in September.

Cari Thomas – Cornwall
Land agent Cari has been a HYB member for 3 years and helps on her boyfriend’s family farm at Racewood Holsteins.  Cari and her partner Steven won Champion, Reserve and Honourable mention at their calf show qualifier.

James Robinson – Staffordshire
Currently on a placement year from Reaseheath College where he is studying Agricultural Engineering.  James has been a HYB member for 4 years and is actively involved with the family farm and has shown calves at Staffordshire County Show.

Sophie Powell – West Midlands
An active HYB member, Sophie is currently working on the family farm that milks 150 pedigree Holsteins averaging 10,500 litres. She is focussing on developing the genetics of the herd and supporting the management of the farm.

Desmond McCorry – Northern Ireland
A member of HYB since the age of 5, Desmond has just completed his A Levels and hopes to complete a degree in Agricultural Technology.  He works on the family farm under the Derrymore prefix.

George Thomas – East Midlands
George is currently studying Agriculture at Harper Adams University and has a future aspiration of expanding the family’s Wolston Holstein and Kimcote Guernsey herds.  He has been a HYB member for over 10 years and his ultimate aim is to have showing success and genetic improvement within the herd.

Holly Dyer – South East ( Returning Team Member)
Since the age of 11 Holly has been a HYB Member and milks 280 cows for Onco Holsteins.  With her husband, they have invested in embryos from Canada and America to develop their own prefix Holben Holsteins, rearing and marketing calves.

The aim of EYBS is to coordinate young farmers on a European scale, who are keen to learn and increase their knowledge of cattle breeding and showing. The event has now established itself as the international reference for the training of young breeders who are passionate about Holstein cattle. Whilst at EYBS, the young breeders participate in three days of training where they learn the steps of animal preparation for shows (washing, bedding, feeding, clipping, judging, showmanship and theoretical courses such as marketing). Following the training, two days are spent competing, putting into practice their stock judging and showmanship skills. Throughout the five days, the emphasis is placed on team spirit and the participation of each member is evaluated throughout each stage of animal husbandry and preparation.

After participation in EYBS, many of the young breeders go on to compete on an international stage and work for renowned farms. According to its organisers, EYBS is the best springboard to reach the top in the world of breeding and a great meeting place for future breeders. In three words, it is best described as providing learning, exchange and conviviality.

Cerys Petrie, Events & National HYB Coordinator for Holstein UK, comments, “It is fantastic to be presenting a team of seven HYB members to fly the flag for British Agriculture.  EYBS is a fantastic event for each member to develop their skills and learning, and to compete and network with their European counterparts. We wish them every luck and success and look forward to following the results online as the event takes place in August.”

Fairlife Sued For Allegedly Getting Milk From Abused Cows

A class action lawsuit claims that Fairlife LLC, owners of Fair Oaks Farms, abuse their dairy cows, contrary to the advertisements on their milk products. The Fair Oaks Farms class action lawsuit was filed by Andrew Schwartz and Alice Vitiello who say they purchased the milk on multiple occasions at least in part because it is advertised as being produced in a way that is humane to animals. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this with Scott Hardy from Top Class Actions.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins:                  Part of modern marketing for any product that comes from animals is to tell people that don’t worry, our animals are treated humanely. They’re treated fairly. We do not abuse them in any way. This isn’t a factory farm. They’re free range. They get to do whatever they want, live a long, nice life before we take a product from them. But, consu… excuse me, corporations also know that this is a good way to get people to think that they’re doing things correctly. And unfortunately, as we’re starting to find out now, that is typically not always the case.

Joining me now to talk about what’s happening is Scott Hardy from Top Class Actions. And Scott, the issue specifically I’m referring to today is Fairlife the milk that says, hey, we treat our cows like royalty. No harm, no abuse, nothing whatsoever. These are great loved cows. That’s not what’s happening at all in any of these Fairlife dairy farms, is it?

Scott Hardy:                          Well, that’s what this class action alleges. And as you said, people will pay a premium. You know, we like milk. I like beef. But we don’t want to think about these animals getting abused. We want them to grow and when their time comes, make it as easy as possible on the animal. In the case of milk, we want to just picture, you know, granny milkin’ old Bessie there, no problem, no pain but, and we will pay extra for that. But in this case there was a group that came in and did, ran video. So Animal Recovery Mission went onto the Fairlife farms, onto Fair Oaks farm, which is the flagship farm for Fairlife and saw and recorded a lot of this abuse on the animals.

And they were talking about a video recording of the conduct, they witnessed calves being starved to death, beaten with steel bars and being burned with branding irons. And allegedly some cows who could no longer produce milk were shot and left to die, a process which sometimes took multiple hours and that is horrific and not at all what Fairlife supposedly stands for. And so you’ve got this farm with the, with their flagship farm, which is doing this and Fairlife as far as we’ve seen hasn’t come out with a statement.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. And Fairlife is specifically actively out there marketed as the humane alternative to just the generic, you know, white gallon of milk that you see sitting in the grocery store. Fairlife is supposed to be better. We know we’re not just hurting these cattle, you know, hundreds by the time into these cramped little stalls, hooking them up to the automatic milking machine. It is, as the name says, a fair life. We get milk from you and in exchange we treat you very well and give you everything you need.

But, you know, to add to the horrible list of things that you just described, this, the starving, the beating was steel bars. They, they also witnessed, they were throwing the calves. The, the workers would pick up a newborn calf, they would throw it, they would kick it, they would slap it. And this is all according to Animal Recovery Mission. I mean, this, this goes above and beyond just, oh, we have inhumane facilities to we’re straight up just abusing these animals for no other reason than we apparently can.

Scott Hardy:                          Right. And you’ve got the owner of that farm who actually takes “full responsibility” and who also happens to be a part owner of Fairlife. But according to this class action the company continues to treat the cows cruelly and has not changed its practices. And so you’ve got a company which is charging consumers more money just to go, so we can get some of that guilt of, of making sure that these cows are hopefully properly getting taken care of and then they get caught. But they haven’t even fixed the problem yet according to this class action, which is just despicable.

Farron Cousins:                  Absolutely. And, and this is the important part, you know, when, when this is your entire marketing campaign and you’re making consumers pay more money for a product that, you know, as you said, hopefully it’s going to ease their conscience. And, and hopefully the company was doing everything that they said they were. Treating these animals, you know, with the utmost care and with extraordinary care and comfort. But based on, you know, what we’re starting to see, it doesn’t appear that that is the case.

They market it as one thing behind closed doors and, you know, behind barn doors, an entirely new set of circumstances is playing out. That’s absolutely horrific for these animals. You know, these are, these are dairy cows. These are not cows that are being raised for slaughter. Right? You, you don’t have to kill a cow to get milk from it. There is no reason for any of this abuse, any inhumane treatment. These animals should live long, happy, and healthy lives being milked regularly as cattle have to be.

You know that’s the other side of that, just to point out, cattle have to be milked regularly. So this is just overall disgusting. The, this to me seems like individuals, maybe the farm knows about it, maybe they didn’t, but either way, the individuals doing this need to be removed. They should not be allowed around animals at any point anymore because there’s absolutely no, no need for this. This is just, you know, borderline sociopathic, psychotic, whatever you want to call it, behavior of individuals willing to do this to animals. I mean, that’s, that’s psychology talking right there.

Scott Hardy:                          Right. We, we should get a full report. The, hopefully the farm will, will clean up their practices. Fairlife should come out with a full audit of all of their farms and allow others to go out there and do their own audit, make sure that these cows are getting taken care of. Then if they want to call themselves fair life for cattle, they can use that term.

Farron Cousins:                  Absolutely. For more information about this particular issue, follow the link in the description of this video. Head on over to Top Class Actions and while you’re there, make sure you sign up for their weekly newsletter. Absolutely one of the best resources out there for consumers. Scott Hardy with Top Class Actions. Thank you very much for talking to me today.

Scott Hardy:                          You’re welcome. Thanks your time Farron.


Source: ROF

European Legend – Ashlyn-Vray EX-96-ES passes

Reserve Grand Champion
2016 All-European Champion Holstein Show

Ashlyn-Vray EX-96-ES, a legend in the European show circuit recently passed away. This tremendous Goldwyn daughter bred in France and became the the first EX-96 cow in Spain.  Ashlyn-Vray was aslo named Res. Grand Champion at the European Show in Colmar 2016, Res. Senior Champion European Show Fribourg 2013, Grand Champion Int. Show Verona Italy ’14 and won many more titles. This tremendous cow comes from the same herd as the European Champion 2016: Galys-Vray EX-94-CH bred by Vray Holsteins, France.

Global dairy prices jump 2.7%, ending two-month losing streak

Global dairy prices rose, ending a two-month falling streak, in an auction held early on Wednesday, supported by strong demand for milk powder from Asia and the Middle East.

The GDT Price Index climbed 2.7%, with an average selling price of $3,412 per tonne, at the fortnightly auction. The index had fallen 0.4% at the previous sale. Gains were led by a boost in prices for milk powders, with whole milk powder, the most widely traded item, gaining 3.6% and skim milk powder jumping 3.8%.

“Milk powder prices strengthened in response to stronger demand from south east Asian countries and (the) Middle East,” said Robert Gibson, dairy analyst at NZX.

Global milk supply was expected to remain relatively subdued throughout the rest of the year, pointing to further price gains, especially if demand held up in China, according to analysts.

“One crucial development we will be keeping a close eye on is how Chinese demand evolves in the coming months,” said Anne Boniface, senior economist at Westpac Bank. “Demand for dairy products in China seems to be holding up well, despite growing headwinds for the Chinese economy and trade tensions.”

A total of 25,000 tonnes was sold at the latest auction, an increase of 1.2% from the previous one, the auction platform said on its website.

The auction results can affect the New Zealand dollar as the dairy sector generates more than 7% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

However the kiwi currency was trading down 0.3% at around $0.6695 on Wednesday morning, in response to a stronger U.S. dollar.

GDT Events is owned by New Zealand’s Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, but operates independently from the dairy giant.

The New Zealand milk co-operative, which is owned by about 10,500 farmers, controls nearly a third of the world dairy trade.

U.S.-listed CRA International Inc is the trading manager for the twice-monthly Global Dairy Trade auction.

The auctions are held twice a month, with the next one scheduled for Aug. 6.


Building a Dairy Farm Team

Would anyone doubt that a successful dairy farm requires a team effort? Silly question? Not at all. Most dairy farms have groups of people or collections of individuals rather than teams. Success does not demand a team approach. A farm manager who prefers a team approach faces a tough test of patience, people skills, and communication.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

Team Basics

A dairy farm can have a team of people, a group, or just a collection of individuals. The differences among the three are important:

Team→ Several people who work together as a cohesive unit to achieve specific, shared goals.

Group→ Several people who have common goals but work independently without depending on each other for their success.

Individuals→ Several individuals who work independently to accomplish their individual goals without depending on each other for their success.

There are good reasons for dairy farm managers to form teams. Successful teams are likely to help managers accomplish the following:

  1. Efficiency in use of farm resources
  2. Complementarity of skills brought to the team by its members
  3. Reinforcement of goals, standards, procedures, and rules
  4. Mentoring of newer and less skilled team members by other team members
  5. Esprit de corps from team members personally enjoying each others’ company and the team’s accomplishments
  6. Peer pressure to help meet team goals and to correct performance deficiencies
  7. Monitoring of performance at both the individual and team level.

However, people sometimes have understandable reasons for resisting teamwork:

  1. Previous negative experiences with attempts at teamwork
  2. Fear of the risk that goes with commitment to a team effort
  3. Management’s failure to develop an atmosphere of trust in a team’s ability to be good for both the farm and individuals
  4. Some people not fitting well into a team environment, e.g., perfectionists, scorekeepers, grudge carriers, loners, and procrastinators.

Stages of Team Development

A dairy farm group goes through several stages before becoming a highly efficient and effective team. The stages are:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Initial Integration (norming)
  4. Total Integration
  5. Dissolution

Teams go through these stages at different rates and in different ways. Most will go through all five stages provided they don’t stall at an early stage and cease to function.

Note carefully! We are describing a process uncommon in group work. Teamwork is easy rhetoric. The practice of teamwork challenges even the most experienced dairy farm managers. Some farm managers look for “top down” shortcuts. Some scoff at the time necessary to turn a group of people into a team. However, for those who understand the principles and then work hard at implementation, the payoffs can justify the effort.

We turn now to the characteristics typically associated with each of the five stages in the team development process.

  1. Forming
    1. Members become acquainted
    2. Members learn about goals and tasks of the team
    3. Members evaluate work associated with and benefits of the team relative to career and personal needs
    4. Almost everyone exhibits good behavior and courtesy
    5. Leader is identified
    6. Preliminary plans are made for the next steps
    7. Members enjoy a good and seemingly easy start
  2. Storming
    1. High emotion
    2. Conflict may occur during long and seemingly inefficient meetings
    3. There is a lot of “behind the bosses’ back” and “behind the leaders’ back” kind of grumbling
    4. High emotion characterizes some of the interaction among team members
    5. Doubts based on previous negative experiences cause people to be cautious
    6. Doubts emerge about ability to deliver all that is expected
    7. Writing a mission statement and/or goals is stressful and leads to additional statements about differences of opinion
    8. Outcome finally is to push ahead with a sense that some important progress has been made but that there is much still to be accomplished
  3. Initial Integration (norming)
    1. Team begins to function cooperatively
    2. Rules of acceptable conduct, or norms, are established
    3. Team needs begin to take precedence over individual needs
    4. Hostility ceases
    5. Mission statement and detailed goals are completed
    6. Individuals begin to experience benefits of close cooperation with others on the team
    7. Sense of closeness and group purpose emerges
    8. Team has some major successes
  4. Total Integration
    1. Major successes continue
    2. Conflict is rational
    3. Creative tension regularly reappears
    4. “What next?” is a compulsive question
    5. Team struggles with how to handle changing membership
    6. Successes are widely recognized
    7. Members are concerned more about the team than their own successes
    8. Team is well organized; meetings are short and efficient
  5. Dissolution
    1. No team goes on indefinitely
    2. Teams that have functioned well sense when change, new members, and “mission accomplished” have taken members back to the forming stage.

Cultivating Team Performance

Neither the farm manager nor outside cooperators, e.g., veterinarians, can accept responsibility for team performance. Each team is responsible for its own performance. However, the following guidelines for team members, managers, and cooperators can help cultivate team performance:

  1. Establish urgency. Have a driving cause, issue, or need.
  2. Pay particular attention to early planning meetings and actions. Remember that most groups never reach the norming stage of team development.
  3. Set some clear rules of behavior. Those rules will vary from team to team. Examples include holding all scheduled team meetings, starting meetings on time, volunteering to help each other with disagreeable jobs, saying thank you, and not talking about problems with neighbors and friends.
  4. Set and seize upon a few performance-oriented tasks and goals. Make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, and Timed.
  5. Challenge each other with fresh facts and information.
  6. Spend lots of time together. There is no substitute for a team caring about its members and each team member caring about the welfare of the team. Celebrate birthdays, go to a baseball game together, have frequent team meetings, and have a daily “coffee break” together.
  7. Exploit the power of positive feedback, recognition, and reward. Celebrating successes is time well spent.


Indiana farmer starts unique rent-a-calf program to save dairy farms

Working to breathe new life into the dying dairy farm industry in Indiana.

One farmer has made that his mission in light of the decline in dairy farms across the Hoosier states.

The LaGrange county farmer started a program to allow kids to virtually ‘rent a calf’ in hopes of increasing their interest in the industry.

Century Farms owners Brian and Riley Lewis remember the time when their dairy farm was surrounded by more than a dozen others.

“The problem is there’s only like half a dozen English dairy farms in the county anymore. No one has the counties anymore. Nobody has the cows to do it. As the numbers go down, and the families move on and kids grow up, there’s no more dairies,” said Brian Lewis.

According to the Indiana Dairy Producers Association, more than 10 percent of the states dairy farms closed in 2018.

This year, another five percent closed.

Century Farms’ doors have been open for over a hundred years—so to keep it that way, Riley Lewis is starting a lease program allowing local kids to essentially rent-a-calf for 35 dollars to help them gain experience in dairy farming.

“I figured, I have the animals so it was a perfect fit. Its just a good way to get kids who wouldn’t have a chance to do larger animals a chance to do that. Also get a experience that they don’t get to have anymore,” said Riley Lewis.

The kids get to spend quality time with the calf’s over eight weeks.

“We take turns taking care of the calves here. We got to shave our cows and bathe them,” said Eden Carey. She’s one of eight kids in the program.

One of the best perks is the kids get to show them off at the LaGrange County Fair.

“Well I always wanted a show cow. I’ve always wanted to be a farmer,” said Carey.

That’s the reason why her mother took advantage of the program.

“My granddad was a dairy farmer, my uncle was a dairy farmer, they closed up shop. I know its difficult. These are small farms but we’d like to keep these small farms in our community. The only way I think to do that is to have kids come up and be raised in that so they could potentially take it over,” said Tricia Carey.

The kids will get to show off the calf’s this Wednesday at the LaGrange County Fair, but it doesn’t end there.

They’ll continue to build their relationships with these calf’s year after year if they choose to and continue to show them off at the fair.


Mental Health and Stress for Agricultural Producers

Did you realize

Farm families are the backbone of America. But farm families are feeling the pressure of an inconsistent and unreliable economy. These stressors can lead to mental and emotional distress, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and even suicide.

Farming and ranching rank in the top ten of most stressful occupations. They also rank first and third respectfully in suicides. Understanding what those stress signs are is imperative. We may want to ignore them but at some point, there is a price to pay-physical health like a heart attack, emotional health like a broken relationship, mental health like depression or worse. Taking care of yourself and those around you is so important.

So what can you do, be aware, add coping strategies, find someone to talk to. Be intentional! Exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthy, take time every day to reflect on the good things in your life.

Awareness is the first step to understanding Stress and its effect on us. Making small intentional steps daily can be a life saver!

Penn State Extension has prepared this selection of assets to help farm families navigate the numerous resources available online and provide timely, science-based education and information to support prosperous farms and healthy farm families.

If you are a farmer in crisis, or know of someone in need of immediate assistance, go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or call 1-800-273-8255 or dial 911.

Additional Extension programs to help communicating with producers with stress

If you want to host a class or series of these workshops contact Cynthia Pollich at or for program information and questions, please contact Penn State Extension-Lancaster.

Additional Resources


Global Markets Drive Milk Markets Higher in Chicago Tuesday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures closed mostly higher Tuesday picking up some strength in global markets while cash trade was mixed.  Class III milk prices results had July futures down two cents while August – December months gained 6-14 cents. The 2nd half of 2019 is offering $17.47 per cwt. Class IV milk was also up to the effect of 3-7 cents August through November. Grain prices had a weak performance on Tuesday as corn dropped 5 ¾ cents, soybeans were down 14 cents, and the wheat complex lost 1-3 cents. 

The CME spot product market followed GDT with mixed results.  Dry whey up $0.0025 at $0.3225. One trade was made at that price. Blocks up $0.0125 at $1.7750. Barrels down $0.0225 at $1.69. Nine trades were made ranging from $1.69 to $1.71. Butter up $0.0050 at $2.4350. Four trades were made ranging from $2.43 to $2.45. Nonfat dry milk down $0.0025 $1.0250.

Dairy Sense: Will Raising Crossbred Dairy Steers Improve Cash Flow?

Production perspective:

Dairy producers have been investigating the strategy of using beef semen on their dairy cows to generate crossbred dairy steers as an alternative enterprise. The low prices paid for cull cows and calves has forced producers to examine other ways to improve their cash flow. The level of management related to home raised feeds, especially quantity and basic animal husbandry will determine if a profit is possible. There are a lot of aspects to consider about this kind of venture before moving forward.

Examining alternative enterprises relies heavily on knowing the current financial status of the business. It is not a far stretch to engage in the beef side since this aspect has always been a minor component of the dairy operation with income from cull cows and calves. Evaluating the dairy enterprise for the past six years in Pennsylvania, animal sales account for between 5.5 and 8.0 percent of the total inflow on a per cow basis. For the average producer thinking about implementing crossbred dairy steers (assume 40 animals annually), this may increase that number by two to four percent. When the expenses are factored in, it most likely will be a breakeven endeavor. There is a lot of homework that needs done before making any changes.

As with any commodity, there are market specifics including a consistent buyer and a good price. Producing an acceptable-quality carcass from dairy beef crosses requires feeding a high-energy ration and marketing them at an early age (12 to 14 months) and acceptable weight (1,150 to 1,450 pounds). The first questions to answer are: “can the dairy operation provide the number of beef animals to improve the cash flow?” and “will the price paid for Holstein beef crosses make a profit?”. For the week ending May 31 the average crossbred dairy steer price was $0.77/lb. The potential income on 40 animals could be around $35,000. The other side of the equation is the expenses, and growing good animals for beef production does not come cheap.

Adequate facilities, labor, and feed will be the three target areas that will determine if raising crossbred dairy steers is profitable. Good management practices must be followed to get animals to the desired weight within the proper time frame. The producer’s mind set must change from a forage-based approach to a high concentrate diet if the desired gains are to be achieved.

Dr. Tara Felix at Penn State developed an easy budget calculator to examine costs involved in raising dairy beef steers . Using the standard prices from the budget, the only changes made were for home raised corn grain, corn silage and hay based on high and low profit herds from the Extension dairy team’s crops to cow project. The comparison includes only the variable costs (feed, health, bedding, miscellaneous etc.) for 40 animals. The prices used for the high and low profit herds respectively were corn grain: $2.37/bu. and $4.62/bu.; corn silage: $22.58/ton and $40.51/ton; and hay: $231/ton and $64/ton. Expenses for the high profit herd came to $31,000 and the low profit herd $51,000. Herds doing an excellent job on their cropping enterprise have potential to make a cash surplus assuming fixed costs are reasonable. Herds that consistently struggle with high costs for their home-raised feeds would need to market their animals from this alternative enterprise at $1.10 per pound to breakeven just looking at the variable costs, which may not be realistic even for well finished dairy steers.

The same approach for determining what makes a positive cash flow for the dairy operation applies to the beef enterprise. The number of animals and the market price will determine the inflow needed to cover the outflow, and feed cost will be a substantial component. A positive return is possible, but good management practices must be in place to make it work.

Action plan for pursuing crossbred dairy steers as an alternative enterprise

Goal – Determine if raising dairy beef steers is a profitable endeavor

  • Step 1: Utilize Penn State Extension’s Excel Cash Flow Spreadsheet to determine the farm’s breakeven cost of production coupled with the costs to raise home raised feeds.
  • Step 2: Working with the appropriate consultants, evaluate what the beef market is looking for and what average price has been paid for crossbred dairy steers raised for beef markets.
  • Step 3: Determine the number of crossbred dairy steers needed to cash flow the operation and determine if current facilities and labor are adequate.
  • Step 4: Work with a nutritionist to develop the appropriate rations to achieve the necessary gains ensuring current feed inventories are adequate. If home raised feeds cannot cover the diet requirements, evaluate using purchased feed prices.
  • Step 5: Using a sample crossbred dairy steer budget, enter in numbers and prices appropriate for the operation. Determine the number of animals and price per pound needed to show a profit.

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 costs is a good way to check that feed costs are in line for the level of milk production. Starting with July 2014’s milk price, income over feed costs 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: Penn State’s May milk price: $18.49/cwt; feed cost/cow: $6.20; average milk production: 84 lbs.

Feed cost/non-lactating animal/day.


Washington State Dairy Ambassadors Selected

Kayla VanWieringen, representing the Yakima Valley, was crowned as the new 2019-2020 Washington State Dairy Ambassador! Kala was one of three finalists at the 64th Annual Washington State Dairy Ambassador Coronation on June 22nd at the Lynnwood High School Performing Arts Center in Bothell, WA.

Emily Rockey representing Grays Harbor County and Kara Teachman representing the King-Pierce counties were selected as equal Alternate State Dairy Ambassadors.

Kayla expressed her appreciation to over 150 people that attended the event “Thank you so much dairy farmers of Washington for this amazing opportunity. We are very excited to represent you this year!”

As a representative of the Dairy Farmers of Washington, the State Dairy Ambassador and Alternates will visit schools, attend local and state fairs; appear at Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) events, parades and many more activities including addressing the Washington State Legislature promoting the health and nutrition benefits of dairy products.


The dairy industry was well represented by the 2018-2019 Washington State Dairy Ambassador Abigail Zurcher (Mesa) and Alternate State Dairy Ambassadors Jacoba VanSlageren (Granger), Agathe Lopez (Carnation) and Rebecca Ford (Chehalis). These young ladies traveled around the state educating students, parents and others on the positive impact and value of Washington’s dairy industry and the importance of dairy products.

(L to R): Kara Teachman, Kayla VanWieringen, Emily Rockey

New Ambassador Bios:

Kayla VanWieringen the newly crowned WA State Dairy Ambassador represented the Yakima Valley. Kayla graduated from Sunnyside Christian High School. Kayla is the daughter of Lynn and Randy VanWieringen of Sunnyside. Kayla has shown dairy heifers in 4-H for eight years. Her future plans include attending college to earn a nursing degree. After graduating from nursing school Kayla hopes to get an opportunity to work at a children’s hospital. She also hopes to stay connected with the dairy community through her family and other organizations. She is proud to represent the hard-working dairy farmers in Washington State.

Emily Rockey is the newly crowned Alternate State Dairy Ambassador and represented Grays Harbor County. Emily is a recent graduate of Elma High School. She is the daughter of Stacey and Scott Rockey of Elma. Emily worked on a local dairy farm where she cares for the calves. Her future plans include attending the University of Washington to obtain a degree in Psychology. Upon graduating from college, Emily plans to have a career as a hospital psychologist to help patients recover from traumatic experiences. She is honored to represent the hard-working dairy farmers in Washington State.

Kara Teachman is the newly crowned Alternate State Dairy Ambassador and represented the King-Pierce Counties. Kara recently graduated from High School and is the homeschooled daughter of Lori and the late Mike Teachman. Kara has been active in the Dairy Project with Barn Buddies 4-H Club for seven years and is currently serving as the Vice President of her club. Kara has shown both Holstein and Jersey heifers, and is working on building her own herd of Registered Jerseys. Upon graduation from high school, Kara would like to attend a University and obtain a degree in Animal Sciences, with a career goal of operating her own dairy farm. She is proud to represent the dairy farmers of Washington State and all of the hard work that is behind every glass of milk.

Administrated by the Washington State Dairy Women, the Dairy Ambassador program began in 1955 and has mentored and supported outstanding young women.


Source: Hoard’s Dairyman

Matthew and Alicia Derr Receive 2019 Young Jersey Breeder Award

Matthew and Alicia Derr, Linden, Pa., received one of six Young Jersey Breeder Awards given by the American Jersey Cattle Association in ceremonies June 28, 2019, during the association’s 151st Annual Meeting in Canton, Ohio.

The Young Jersey Breeder Award is presented to individuals or couples who are at least 28 years old and under the age of 40 on January 1 of the year nominated, who merit recognition for their expertise in dairy farming, breeding Jersey cattle, participation in programs of the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All-Jersey Inc., and leadership in Jersey and other dairy and agriculture organizations.

The Derrs own and operate Heavens Blessins Jerseys with their two young sons, Blake and Luke. They milk 85 Registered Jerseys and have an actual rolling herd average of 19,596 lbs. milk, 925 lbs. fat and 706 lbs. protein. Their appraisal average is 82.6% with 12 Excellent and 53 Very Good animals and have bred nine cows to make AJCA Honor Roll records.

The herd has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Jersey Cattle Association (PJCA) on numerous occasions as a top-producer for milk, fat and protein. They also rank nationally among the top 10 among similar herd sizes (80-149 lactations).

The couple is active in the PJCA to improve and promote Jerseys in the state. Matt has served as a state director since 2011 and is the club’s current vice president. He and Alicia have both chaired the club’s youth charity auction and served on the financial and hospitality committee when the club hosted the 2017 AJCA-NAJ Annual Meetings.

The American Jersey Cattle Association was organized in 1868 to improve and promote the Jersey breed. Since 1957, National All-Jersey Inc. has served Jersey owners by promoting the increased production and sale of Jersey milk and milk products. For more information on its programs and services, visit or call 614/861-3636.


Dairy Girl Network Adds Two New Advisors to Board of Directors

Dairy Girl Network is excited to welcome two new advisors to the Board of Directors. The Dairy Girl Network Board of Directors is comprised of ten voting members along with three advisory members. These individuals are elected representatives serving as dairy farmers and industry professionals and they oversee the overall execution of the organization’s mission. In adding to the organization and supporting dairywomen through connections, encouragement and inspiration, DGN is delighted to announce the two new advisors: Dr. Kelly Reed of Washington and Anna-Lisa Laca of Nevada.

These new advisors join our current advisor Leah Ziemba of Wisconsin. In addition to the advisors, the DGN Board Members is comprised of Laura Daniels, Founder and President, of Wisconsin, Kristy Pagel, Vice President, of Wisconsin, LuAnn Troxel, Financial Officer, of Indiana, Carrie Mess of Wisconsin, Michelle Philibeck of Wisconsin, Sadie Frericks of Minnesota, Tami Smith of Pennsylvania, Michele Schilter of Washington, Katie Dotterer-Pyle of Maryland and Mary Knigge of Washington DC. These individuals are advocates for advancing women within agriculture and are dedicated to the mission and vision of Dairy Girl Network.

“As our organization continues to grow, we look for the expertise and guidance of our Dairy Girl Network advisors on our Board of Directors. Both Kelly and Anna-Lisa are brilliant and impactful dairywomen and their passion for the industry fit perfect with our organization and our vision and mission,” says Laura Daniels, Founder and President of the Dairy Girl Network. “Kelly brings a great wealth of knowledge as a skilled veterinarian and technical specialist, while Anna-Lisa brings a unique combination as she is a well-informed agriculture journalist, accomplished editor and also a dairy farmer. Our new advisors will both bring new knowledge and skills as advisors and will directly support the Dairy Girl Network in moving our mission forward.”

In the spring, Dairy Girl Network put out a call to add a veterinarian advisor to the Board of Directors, and after a nomination and selection process, Dr. Kelly Reed was designated by the Board. Kelly works for Diamond V as a Ruminant Field Technical Specialist in the Pacific Northwest. She was raised on a small family farm in upstate New York and received both her Bachelors of Animal Science and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degrees at Cornell University. Kelly has a special interest in calves and still serves as the consulting veterinarian for a 15,000 head calf ranch. Kelly said she has “a passion for the dairy industry specifically in education and collaboration, both within our industry and to our consumers. Dairy Girl Network provides a great opportunity to advance our industry in these ways and so much more. I am very excited for the opportunity to contribute!”

Our second new advisor comes from our partnership with our media sponsor, Dairy Herd Management. Anna-Lisa Laca is an accomplished agriculture journalist who reports on all things agriculture online and in print as the Online and Business Editor for Farm Journal’s MILK and Top Producer. She also owns and runs a dairy with her husband, Scott, and grew up on a West Coast cow-calf operation. Anna-Lisa shared, “It’s an honor to be involved in an organization committed to inspiring, empowering and enabling women to lead their farm businesses to new levels of success.”

With additional leadership and advisors, the Dairy Girl Network will continue to reach and support all women in dairy by connecting, inspiring and achieving. Learn more about the organization and the opportunities DGN offers at

Dairy Girl Network is made possible by Vision sponsors: Dairy Herd Management, Diamond V and Mycogen Seeds, in addition to support from Sustaining sponsors: DeLaval, DMI and Land O’Lakes.

The Dairy Girl Network connects all women of the dairy industry, encouraging ideas and camaraderie in an effort to achieve personal and professional development. Designed as a welcoming network of passionate women involved in dairy, relationships will grow through shared experience, support and inspiration.


Source: Hoard’s Dairyman

The New Zealand Dairy Farmers who took on an $81b bank – and won

Tough and stubborn Taranaki dairy farmers Bill and Sharon Coomey have been fighting New Zealand’s biggest bank ANZ for half a decade to recover up to $10 million of business losses and additional interest payments. Photo: Supplied

Sharon Coomey’s Facebook page doesn’t have a whole lot of content. Over five years there are perhaps a couple of dozen posts. Proud pictures of the grandchildren on the farm, Coomey looking glamorous at a family wedding, a photo gimmick from a cancer fundraiser, a selfie with husband Bill sticking his tongue out at the camera.

And then half way down there’s something totally different. A shot of a bank building and a 2017 Stuff article headlined “Interest rate swaps cause more headaches for ANZ as farmers sue for $7.5 million”.

And there you have the other side of Sharon and Bill Coomey. The tough, stubborn, righting-a-wrong side. The dairy farmers from Taranaki have for half a decade been fighting ANZ, New Zealand’s biggest bank. And they’ve been battling the $81 billion bank  [its sharemarket capitalisation, not the $2b profit previously mentioned here and in the headline to this article] over a financial derivatives product so complicated that most of the bank managers selling it didn’t understand what could happen if things went wrong.

The court battle started in 2014, when the Coomeys, through their Bushline trustee companies, began proceedings in the High Court to recover up to $10 million of business losses and additional interest payments. 

Their argument is complex. But it centres around what The National Bank (which was bought by ANZ in 2003, and merged into its operations in 2012) told the Coomeys about interest rate swaps.

Interest rate whats?

Swaps are enormously complicated and risky financial derivatives probably best dealt with in fast-paced international dealing rooms. Instead, New Zealand banks, including The National Bank, ASB and Westpac, sold these swaps to hundreds if not thousands of farming customers, particularly in the period up to the global financial crisis in 2008.

The trouble was that the banks’ assurances that these complex products were safe turned out to be false. And according to one estimate, up to 2000 New Zealand farmers may have lost close on $1 billion.

Why were farmers meddling in swaps anyway? Basically because at that time interest rates looked like they were going to keep rising for a while, meaning farmers who had borrowed money to expand their business were looking at potentially having to pay more and more interest on their loans. The answer: hedge the risk. Banks told farmers swaps were a great way to reduce the risk of having to pay more money on their bank debt.

Don’t worry, said the banks. Interest rate swaps seem complicated, but actually they are just like fixed rate loans, only with more flexibility and lower costs.

Anyway, we’ll see you right, the banks said. You can trust us. 

And farmers, many of whom would have known their bank managers for years, played rugby with them, drunk beer with them, did trust them.

Only it didn’t work out that swaps were low risk and low cost. When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, interest rates fell fast and New Zealand farmers were left paying tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars more in interest rate payments than they would have done if they had stuck to standard fixed rate bank loans.

And the banks didn’t see them right. They dumped on them.

In good times and bad

In court, the Coomeys’ lawyer Murray Branch of Harkness Henry in Hamilton, argued ANZ/National Bank had reassured them the bank would be proactive in monitoring the interest rate risk so they wouldn’t lose out. 

Branch said National Bank had told the Coomeys they could get out of the swaps if they needed to, and that the bank would be there for Bushline “in good times and bad”.

However when the global financial crisis turned the banking system to custard, and Bushline’s hitherto beneficial swaps became liabilities, the bank didn’t advise Sue and Bill Coomey to exit the swaps. And when they asked about getting out, the bank ignored them. 

The margins on their borrowing soared.

No one seems to be arguing these days that what the National Bank told the Coomeys was “false and misleading”, nor that it was seriously detrimental to the farm finances. 

What is up for debate is whether the ANZ should compensate them for their losses – and how much they should pay. 

After a Commerce Commission investigation in 2013, ANZ offered the Coomeys a $155,000 settlement as part of a wider $18.5 million compensation payment to farmers.

They turned it down, arguing they were owed millions not $155,000. Instead they chose to take ANZ to court. 

“I’m disgusted by what ANZ did”

Sharon and Bill Coomey didn’t want to talk to Newsroom for this story. Following the recent Court of Appeal ruling in their favour, they are in negotiations with their former bank and are worried about jeopardising those talks.

But other people want to tell their story. They say what the Coomeys have done with this case is astonishing, almost unbelievable. 

They are very principled people. I really admire them for their guts and the shit they had to go through to get a win in court.

One of them is Valdimar Einarsson. Born in a tough rural community in Iceland – the sort of place “where you either survive or die” – Einarsson worked in rural banking in New Zealand for 20 years, before getting out of the industry. Now he often mediates between farmers, rural businesses and banks when there are problems. 

He says he’s worked with the Coomeys for years.

“They are very principled people. I really admire them for their guts and the shit they had to go through to get a win in court. Standing up to a bank is really tough.”

Einarsson, “Valdi” to his friends, worked for Rabobank at the time.

“Rabobank asked me to look into selling [interest rate] swaps. I said we could do that, but we’d have to tell people about the downside.

“The best thing Rabobank did was not getting into swaps, but National Bank continued. I had conversations with National Bank and I said ‘You haven’t told people about the downside’. I said ‘You’ll end up with a whole load of betting slips no one is going to want to buy.’”

Which is just what happened. When interest rates went down instead of up, farmers were caught holding the equivalent of betting slips on losing horses. 

As the Commerce Commission would find in its investigations, The National Bank/ANZ and to a lesser extent Westpac and ASB, protected their own interests, not those of their customers.

Einarsson reckons farmers lost between $800 million and $1 billion in the swaps fiasco. The Commerce Commission-ordered settlements with ANZ, Westpac and ASB provided less than $25 million in reparation. 

He says there are plenty of former bankers who share his views on the interest rate swaps and who also left the industry.

“There were people I used to work with and I know they were just as disgusted by what ANZ did as I was. People that no longer wanted to do this for a living.”

“Deliberate misrepresentation”

Janette Walker is a former farmer who lost her 200-acre farm east of Palmerston North three years after the GFC and turned farmers’ advocate because she was angry at what the banks were doing to farmers. She was an unsuccessful Labour candidate for Kaikoura at the last election.

She says interest rate swaps were a disaster for farmers and wrecked people’s lives and livelihoods.

“It was a product that should never have been offered to farmers. It was deliberate misrepresentation.

“Working with farmers around swaps took three years of my life, yet even today there are aspects of swaps I don’t understand and I never will.”

And that’s not surprising. Last month’s Appeal Court judgment concludes ANZ Bank staff themselves didn’t recognise the downside of the products they were selling.

“In our view clearly there was considerable uncertainty and confusion within ANZ in 2008 and 2009 as to the true nature of the swap product it had been offering to rural clients since 2005,” Justices Forrest Miller, Raynor Asher and Denis Clifford wrote in their decision.

In particular, ANZ had been selling the swaps to farmers as being “just like fixed rate loans”, a claim which was totally wrong. 

And by early 2009, ANZ knew that. It also knew that this misrepresentation was having a disastrous impact on farmers like the Coomeys.

Malcolm Nitschke, then ANZ’s senior rural manager for Hawera and Whanganui wrote to a colleague in January 2009 about the significant margin increases being imposed on ANZ clients at the time.

“The decision to fund bills on a 12-month term I consider was a ‘bank need’ and when combined with longer term swaps gave the impression to both clients and staff that the lending was for a much longer term. Once again the way these products were sold to the client by rural managers is questionable. (Hindsight is a great thing).

“Both our integrity and reputation are on the line.”

Part 1: “They get slaughtered”

November 2017 was a low point for Bill and Sue Coomey. After a hearing in the High Court at Auckland, Justice Rebecca Edwards ruled against the Coomeys. It wasn’t so much that she didn’t agree on what the bank had done, but she didn’t think ANZ had a duty of care to Bushline over any misrepresentation of the swaps. Nor had there been any promise by ANZ not to vary the 0.7 percent margin, she said. 

There may have been verbal agreements, Edwards said, but Bill and Sharon Coomey had signed documents with clear disclaimers. Like this one:

“Each party agrees that it has not relied on any advice (whether oral or written) from the other party (other than set out in this confirmation) and that a) it has the capacity to evaluate the transaction and b) it understands and accepts the risks and obligations involved.”

And she accepted ANZ’s arguments that the Coomeys had been sent information as early as 2005 warning them that derivatives markets can be volatile and customers “may suffer substantial losses”.

Buyer beware.

‘You don’t go home until the cow is out of the ditch.’

Not only did the Coomeys lose the case in the High Court, but the judge awarded costs in favour of ANZ. She also increased them by 50 percent because, in her assessment, Bushline had acted unreasonably when it had declined two ANZ pre-trial settlement offers.

As Janette Walker says: “They got slaughtered.”

Most people advised the Coomeys to give up. Walker says the pressure involved in taking a case like this breaks marriages, wrecks lives. The suicide rate for farmers over the post-GFC period was graphic evidence of the stress people were going through, she says.

The Coomeys’ legal costs would have been more than six figures at this stage, she says, and there was no indication judges would accept their arguments in the end.

But farmers have a saying ‘You don’t go home until the cow is out of the ditch’, Walker says. The Coomeys chose to keep fighting.

“I congratulate them because they knew they were right. It was a point of principle for them. They believed what the banks were doing was wrong.

“They are people who believe in honesty and that your handshake is as good as your word. They are no fuss people, but they knew they were right and they were going to see it through.”

Part 2: The Appeal Court rules

Eighteen months later, on June 24 2019, the Coomeys got the vindication they had been looking for for five years. The three Appeal Court judges overturned the High Court ruling, and told ANZ it has to compensate the Coomeys – although the case has been thrown back to the High Court to decide how much money ANZ should pay.

In their judgement, Miller, Asher and Clifford put considerable weight on the Contractual Remedies Act, a 1979 statute which got merged into the Contract and Commercial Law Act in 2017. In particular the judges weighed whether ANZ should compensate Bushline for the various “false statements of fact” in their selling of the interest rate swaps.

The judgment found National Bank staff gave “false and misleading” information when they didn’t disclose the downsides of swap transactions compared to fixed rate loans. The judges found the Coomeys were right to think that their 0.7 percent margin had been fixed for longer than ANZ later claimed it had. And they said ANZ had given every impression to the Coomeys the bank would look out for them. That included giving them options around the best time to get out of (“break”) the swap contracts.

The judgment points to an exchange in court between the Coomeys’ lawyer Murray Branch and Stuart Esquilant, a former dealer in ANZ’s Global Markets team:

Branch: So the case for the plaintiff is that they thought you were giving them ongoing full advice and that would include at all time, options including pros and cons of breaking at a particular time. Do you accept that’s what you promised?

Esquilant: Yes.

B: You do accept without a question?

E: Yes. Yes, I do accept.

B: You accept that’s what you promised?

E: Yes.

But in court Esquilant said there was no evidence ANZ had “at any point through 2008” considered the potential for Bushline to break the swaps. 

And although Bill Coomey contacted the bank in October 2008 to ask for an update on Bushline’s swaps strategies, including break costs, the bank’s advice “included several options for lengthening the swaps, with an associated interest rate saving. But there was no response to the request for break costs,” the judgment says.

“The first time a break cost calculation was provided to the Coomeys in terms of the documentary record was in February 2009, at which point the break costs were in the vicinity of $1.6 million.”

The judgment emphasises the imbalance of bargaining power between the bank and the Coomeys, and the fact that all the information about swaps given to the farming couple, their lawyer and accountants all came from the same source – ANZ presentations.

The Appeal Court judges were unequivocal in their slating of ANZ’s tactics.

“We do not think it fair and reasonable that ANZ should be able in effect to say to the Coomeys: ‘Notwithstanding what we promised we would do and what we represented to be true, you have no claim against us even though we did not do what we said we would and what we represented to you was false.’”

Swaps: “a legitimate product for farmers”

ANZ spokesman Stefan Herrick says the bank is disappointed with the Court of Appeal decision and hasn’t decided whether to take the case to the Supreme Court. The bank can’t discuss any negotiations with the Coomeys or any sums they may have been offered in the past, Herrick says.

He says sales practices around derivatives have been “extensively reviewed and changed” since 2008, and he defends the bank’s right to sell swaps to farmers.

“Interest rate swaps are a legitimate product for farmers and others wishing to manage their interest rate exposures.

“Before signing up to a transaction we make sure customers sign appropriate documentation to acknowledge they understand the product and we recommend in writing that they seek appropriate external advice.”

Certainly there’s an argument this is just one more piece of evidence that banks don’t always follow the rules.

ANZ, the country’s biggest bank with profits of almost $2 billion last year, is particularly in the firing line at the moment. The Reserve Bank has censured ANZ over its capital requirement modelling, and is asking for two reports about its financial prudence. At the same time the bank is embroiled in an expenses scandal involving its former chief executive David Hisco and his wife, with some people calling for the head of the chair of the bank, former Prime Minister Sir John Key. 

In the past, ANZ has had to pay compensation to customers over errors around KiwiSaver and home loan payments. It’s one of the banks in trouble over sales incentives. And it’s even found itself involved in the scandal around Israel Folau’s homophobic social media posts. His wife Maria is a star Silver Ferns netball player and ANZ sponsors her employer, Netball New Zealand.

Wider implications

Farm consultant Valdimar Einarsson says in an environment where New Zealand banks are under huge pressure from government, regulators and customers about their behaviour, this case has implications far beyond interest rate swaps.

“This judgment is a lot bigger than the Coomeys and they realise that. Consumers and farmers need protection through legislation when it comes to banks. 

“This tells me there is legislation [the Contractual Remedies Act provisions, now embedded in the Contract and Commercial Law Act]. Why haven’t they been pulled up before?”

He says the problems in the ANZ vs Bushline case may appear to be historic, but he says there are multiple and ongoing problems between farmers and banks because the banks still have all the power.

“I see it every day, mostly in terms of the margins they charge, the costs, how they intimidate people, and the lack of requirement to have to refer to the law.” 

Einarsson says the Farm Debt Mediation Bill going through Parliament at the moment is a step forward, but isn’t enough.

“The rural sector has put up with this for years. We need laws that protect us. We need to look at existing legislation and pull it together and make it more specific to bankers.”

Einarsson says the Coomey-ANZ judgment is also important because until now there has been a shortage of case law involving banks misrepresenting products to their customers.  Going to court is expensive and uncertain and disputes tend to be sorted at the last minute, he says.

“Banks will settle. They try to finish customers off before they can go to court.”


How Milk Is Really Priced in the U.S.

In the U.S., minimum milk price regulations enforced by Federal Milk Marketing Orders are based on a system of mandatory dairy price reporting, milk pricing formulas, price discrimination based on the end-use of raw milk and equity payments from a revenue sharing pool. A recent Market Intel, How Milk Is Priced in Federal Milk Marketing Orders: A Primer, reviewed milk pricing regulations under Federal Milk Marketing Orders.

This complex government framework of determining regulated milk prices that ultimately set the benchmark value of milk at the farm-level begins with price discovery in Chicago. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has electronic spot markets for butter, cheddar cheese, nonfat dry milk and dry whey – the same products that are surveyed in USDA’s mandatory dairy price report (Background on National Dairy Product Sales Report).

Price Correlation with USDA Survey Prices

Reviewing the weekly average CME dairy spot market prices alongside USDA’s weekly National Dairy Product Sales Report survey prices for cheddar, butter and dry milk powders reveals a high degree of correlation – at or above 98% – for butter, cheddar and nonfat dry milk since 2010. For dry whey, the correlation is 65% from March 2018 to the present. In addition to the high degree of correlation, a regression analysis reveals that all USDA survey prices are statistically linked to CME prices from the prior two weeks. As a result, while not directly linked to USDA’s survey prices, CME settlement prices discovered in Chicago indirectly price all milk across the entire U.S. regulated on FMMOs.

Figures 1 through 5 highlight the strong price relationships observed between weekly average CME spot market prices and USDA’s dairy product survey prices for cheddar cheese, butter and dry milk products.

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Trading Volume Relative to U.S. Dairy Product Production

Given the strong link between CME spot market prices and USDA’s survey prices, which are then used in federal milk pricing regulations, it is appropriate to evaluate the spot market trading volume relative to U.S. production levels. To provide this perspective, we compared the CME spot market trading volume over the last decade to U.S. dairy product and milk solids production.

From 2009 to 2018 there were more than 7,200 loads of butter traded on the CME spot market. Based on the maximum contract size, these loads represent approximately 313 million pounds of butter. Over the same period, nearly 18 billion pounds of butter were produced in the U.S. Thus, less than 1.7% of butter production was traded on CME spot markets.

Across cheddar blocks and barrels, approximately 573 million pounds of cheddar cheese was traded on the CME from 2009 to 2018. Meanwhile, U.S. cheddar production totaled 33.5 billion pounds – indicating that 1.7% of U.S. cheddar production was traded on the CME. Similarly, less than 1% of nonfat dry milk was traded on the CME, and in 2018 less than 1% of dry whey was traded on the CME.

Converting these dairy products to their milk solids equivalent indicates that approximately 785 million pounds of milk solids were traded on CME spot markets over the last decade. Compared to total solids production of 257 billion pounds, CME spot market activity represented 0.3% of total U.S. milk solids production – yet it was used as a benchmark to set regulated prices for more than 3.6 trillion pounds of milk. 

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Price Discovery Using Spot and Futures

Reliance on futures markets for price discovery is common. For example, grain and oilseed prices are often quoted based on the futures price in Chicago, plus or minus the local basis. The local basis then changes based on regional supply and demand conditions. Cotton prices are linked to prices discovered through futures market transactions on the Intercontinental Exchange. Lean hogs and cattle also rely on futures markets for price discovery.

The difference in price discovery between dairy and the rest of the agricultural sector is two-fold. First, dairy is the only major U.S. commodity that uses (indirectly) CME spot markets in federally regulated pricing formulas. The connection between spot markets to FMMO milk prices may serve as a deterrent to adding trading volume and liquidity – hindering price discovery. Some participants may not be willing to engage in spot market transactions due to the impact it may eventually have on farm-level milk checks. For example, a dairy cooperative seeking to sell surplus cheese, butter or dry milk powders could risk driving commodity and milk prices further down based on the spot market transaction. In this scenario, the actions of the cooperative in the spot market could result in lower farm-level milk prices for all their farmer-members. This occurs only because CME spot market prices indirectly set milk prices.

Second, while the spot market provides an opportunity for buyers and sellers to transact and aids in futures market liquidity, this small sampling is then injected into the regulated milk prices used in FMMOs. The combination of end-product pricing formulas and USDA’s requirement that products sold under terms of a forward contract are excluded from mandatory price reporting results in only spot market transactions facilitating price discovery in FMMOs. Prices established under the terms of a forward contract – which is likely based off futures prices – are not surveyed under mandatory price reporting. As a result, the price discovery and liquidity from these markets have no impact on farm-level regulated milk prices.

Consider Expanding Mandatory Price Reporting

Farm Bureau analysis of USDA’s mandatory dairy product reporting revealed that less than 10 percent of the milk solids in the U.S. were captured in USDA’s survey over the last two decades. One reason is that mandatory price reporting excludes prices established under the terms of a forward contract, e.g., products sold for export typically have agreed upon prices and a later delivery date.

The rationale, some propose, is that regulated milk prices should be based off the current value of milk. But, could farmers share in the risk from a sales price agreed to 60, 90 or 180 days, or even a year, prior? If we are going to have end-product pricing formulas, why not capture more of the dairy market transactions and share in the risk through the revenue sharing pool? If dairy futures prices are truly unbiased, which we should agree they are, the risk sharing should wash out and would be unlikely to change the average long-run regulated milk price.

Expanding the risk sharing by including prices negotiated in a forward contract would increase the volume of products captured in USDA’s mandatory price survey. Moreover, by including both cash settlement and physical delivery transactions, price discovery in milk would be expanded to many more market participants. This would also reduce the impact of spot market transactions on milk prices and may reduce price volatility. Additionally, reducing the role of spot markets on milk price discovery could provide some dairy manufacturers cover to enter the spot market on a more frequent or permanent basis – thereby improving volume and price discovery in the spot market.

Expanding mandatory price reporting should not be considered in a vacuum, and perhaps the products survey should be reconsidered, it could be expanded to other products or used for other purposes such as surveying the value of milk solids. Maybe mandatory price reporting should not be used for regulating prices, but instead to facilitate price discovery in a competitively priced market. In either case, in considering an expansion of price reporting we must also contemplate other tweaks to the FMMO program designed to help modernize, simplify and improve milk pricing for the entire dairy supply chain.

Note: In January 2019, voting delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th annual meeting recommended to the AFBF board of directors that the organization convene a Farm Bureau- and producer-led coalition to review methods to restructure and modernize the current Federal Milk Marketing Order system. This article was prepared to inform that policy development effort. A background paper on CME dairy spot markets, including price settlement procedures and trading hours prepared for AFBF’s Federal Milk Marketing Order working group is available here.


Loh TJ Allesja Wins Grand at German National Show

Hailing from the A-family of Luck-E from the USA, Loh TJ Alessja, was selected by judge Markus Mock as Grand Champion at the 2019 German National Show.  Excelling in her overall strength and blending of for udder Alessja went on to be named Supreme Champion of all six participating dairy breeds. Alessja is co-owned by J. Lohmoller, T Melbaum, M. Nosbisch & Blaise.


Ex-dairy princess convicted of homicide to be released

A former Wisconsin dairy princess convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend’s fiancee in a case featured in a made-for-TV movie is about to be released from prison.

The Wisconsin Parole Commission has granted release for Lori Esker, who is now 50. WSAW-TV reports Esker will be released Tuesday from a correctional facility in Racine County.

Esker was convicted in 1990 of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Lisa Cihaski. The 21-year-old woman was strangled with a belt in a car in a Rib Mountain motel parking lot in 1989.

Cihaski was engaged to Esker’s former boyfriend. Witnesses testified the Marathon County dairy princess was obsessive and still wanted a relationship with the man.

The case was featured in the TV movie “Beauty’s Revenge” which aired on NBC and Lifetime.


Trump Administration Proposes New Agriculture Immigration Rules

The Trump administration proposed new immigration rules Monday for temporary agricultural workers that officials said would make it easier for employers to apply for the visas.

The regulatory changes will play out in a charged political climate on immigration as President Donald Trump has clamped down on border crossings and promised a series of raids against undocumented immigrants around the country.

The Labor Department said in a statement announcing the proposed new regulations that the changes would simplify the H-2A program through electronic filing of job orders and applications and allowing employers the option of staggering entry of H-2A workers on a single applications.

Agricultural groups have pressed for changes to make it easier to bring in foreign workers to meet seasonal needs. The H-2A visa is intended for temporary agricultural workers in cases where there are insufficient American workers able or willing to fill openings.

“The proposed rule will increase access to a reliable legal agricultural workforce, easing unnecessary burdens on farmers, increase enforcement against fraud and abuse, all while maintaining protections for America’s workers,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “When this rule goes into effect, our farmers will be released from unnecessary and burdensome regulations.”

A 489-page notice covering the regulatory changes will be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, the Labor Department said.

Representatives for the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Western Growers Association said Monday that the groups were still analyzing the new regulations.

United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero and UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres said the proposed rules “would make it easier to deny jobs to domestic farm workers so growers can hire more temporary foreign agricultural guest workers and pay them less, thereby depressing pay for domestic workers.”

“Trump is setting a new low of hypocrisy, racism and self-dealing, even for him,” they added in a joint statement.


ANDROBERGE WINDBROOK TIGUANE Wins Grand at Expo Victoriaville

The Victoriaville agricultural show was held on Friday, July 12th 2019. 131 subjects were shown to the judge M. Blair Weeks.

Grand Champion: ANDROBERGE WINDBROOK TIGUANE – Michel Roberge

Reserve Grand Champion: LUCK-E OLYMPIAN ACTION-ET – Ferme Laitière Rayon d’or inc.

Honorable Mention Grand Champion: BELCHER GOLDCHIP JELLYBEAN – Freiland Holstein


Bred & Owned Grand Champion: ANDROBERGE WINDBROOK TIGUANE – Michel Roberge

Bred & Owned Reserve Grand Champion: MILIBRO GOLDCHIP ROSELUKARNE – Ferme Milibro inc.


Beauty & Utility: BELCHER GOLDCHIP JELLYBEAN – Freiland Holstein


Intermediate Champion: ALLWICK CONTROL MARIE LOUVE – Alain Roberge Holstein et Ferme Lafontaine

Reserve Intermediate Champion: PREMIUM DEMPSEY ROSIE – Francis Morneau

Honorable Mention Intermediate Champion: LANORMANDE IMPRESSION ZAMIRA – Ferme Lanormande inc


Junior Champion: DESNETTE DIAMANT DOC – Ferme Rochelet inc.

Reserve Junior Champion: GAELANDE KINGPIN SORRY – Gaetan Gosselin

Honorable Mention Junior Champion: RAYON D’OR DENVER OPALE – Ferme Laitière Rayon d’Or inc.


Senior Banners:

Exhibitor: Deslacs Holstein

Breeder: DESLACS


Junior Banners:

Exhibitor: Ferme Lanormande inc.



To consult the entirety of the results of the day, click on the following link :

To consult the entirety of the pictures of the day, click on the following link:

INTENSE BROKAW RIANA Wins Grand at Expo Lachute

The Lachute agricultural show was held on Sunday, July 14th 2019. 70 subjects were shown to the judge M. Jean-Claude Fleury.

Grand Champion: INTENSE BROKAW RIANA – Ferme Luc Tanguay, HV Farm, Mathieu Chartrand & Kelly Hardy

Reserve Grand Champion: LOLISEE ATWOOD SPARKLE – Ferme Lolisée

Honorable Mention Grand Champion: BONNIESPRING GOLDWYN LYNN – Ferme Lolisée


Beauty & Utility: BONNIESPRING GOLDWYN LYNN – Ferme Lolisée


Junior Champion: HARMALY DOORMAN AMBER – Ferme Tomshipe senc, HV farm, Mathieu Chartrand & Kelly Hardy

Reserve Junior Champion: BLONDIN UNSTOPABULL EVIL – Kim Grenier, Richard Cadieux & Johanne Mallette

Honorable Mention Junior Champion: HARMALY DOORMAN RILEY – Andrée Ménard, HV farm, Mathieu Chartrand & Kelly Hardy


Senior Banners:

Exhibitor: Ferme Lolisée

Breeder: Lolisée


Junior Banners:

Exhibitor: Andrew & Joël Mcouat

Breeder: Harvestacre


To consult the entirety of the results of the day, click on the following link :

To consult the entirety of the pictures of the day, click on the following link:


Joël Lepage to Judge Holstein Show at Swiss Expo 2020

Canadian Joel Lepage is set to judge the 2020 Swiss Expo Holstein Show in its first year in Geneva. Joël Lepage has owned or co-owned many animals who have had success in the show ring. He farms with his wife and children in Amqui, located in the beautiful Matapedia region of Quebec. In 2012, they did a non-family farm transfer and started milking cows together under the prefix JM Valley. Mr. Lepage has been an official Holstein Canada judge for several years now, and has had the honor of judging several shows, including the Night of the Holstein show in Belgium, the Ontario Spring Discovery show, the Western Canadian Classic, the Expo Saint-Hyacinthe, the Red & White Show at the Supreme Dairy Show, and the National Argentina Holstein Show. He was also an Associate Judge for the 2014 RAWF.

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