News – Page 2

WestGen Donates $100,000 to BCDA Disaster Relief Fund

WestGen Digs Deep to Donate

Thrust into the middle of the unprecedented floods in BC, WestGen has felt first-hand the devastation, but have also benefitted first-hand from the surrounding farming community’s heroic efforts to assist us in evacuating animals from our barn; and thereafter have been in a position to return that support to other farmers in need. “It has been a humbling, emotional and yet inspirational week”, Chris Parry, CEO, WestGen Group sums up. “For many, there is a long road ahead to recovery, but the farming community and WestGen will be there to do what we can”.

BC’s Sumas Prairie represents a small geographical piece of the total WestGen territory. Still farmers right across the four-province region that WestGen services are donating and offering assistance to their peers. It is in that spirit of giving that WestGen is donating $100,000 to the BCDA’s disaster relief fund. “The need is great. As a farmer-owned, farmer directed company, this is a donation on behalf of all farmers in western Canada” states Richard Boonstoppel, WestGen President.

We are proud to be part of Western Canada’s farming community.

Strength in the Herd

Cremona International Livestock Exhibitions: the Italian Minister for Agriculture at the Opening of the Exhibition

Cremona International Livestock Exhibitions, historical appointment for professionals of the sector and privileged observatory on one of the pillars of the agrifood sector, are starting on Friday 26th. The Italian Minister for Agriculture, Stefano Patuanelli will also be there and will attend the official opening of the Exhibition: a 3-day-event featuring 200 national and international exhibitors presenting machinery, equipment, technologies and services for livestock and agriculture. 14 international Delegations of buyers and institutional representatives are coming to Cremona, since it plays a key role for agro-livestock markets. The Exhibition is also very much awaited by breeders, who for the first time in the last two years, will have the chance to join an international livestock show counting 470 heads of cattle from 75 livestock farms, from Italy and from abroad.   A really unique event, taking place in a year that has deeply been impacted by health emergency and being even more involving thanks to the presence of an International Auction with a charity scope.

Cremona International Livestock Exhibitions roots in our strong desire to represent such an important sector. Starting again was not so easy this year due to the health emergency, but the event will take place and will, as usual, favour business and relations  – says Roberto Biloni, president of CremonaFiere -. The Exhibition will be a chance for professionals to exchange a vision on market and this is the main role of a specialized exhibition. To this extent, next to a high-level exhibit repertoire, we have developed a scientific and cultural programme with over 60 appointments to discuss the key topics of the sector , from renewable energies from agricultural sources, to precision livestock farming up to presentation of international market trends and new business outlets. All this, thanks to the cooperation with the most important technical and scientific research centres and institutions and with breeders, who asked us to be the protagonists of such a top-level event”.

Cremona International Livestock Exhibitions  are also an important opportunity for consumers, since they provide the chance to get in touch and explore in depth one of the fundamental production chains of Italian economy: two historical exhibitions are on display, with historical agricultural machinery and on Sunday, November 28, a guided tasting of cheese organized in cooperation with ONAF Association will bring consumers closer to the dairy chain.

“The Exhibition is at the service of the sector: from breeders to consumers. Consumers shall appreciate the value of the whole production chain – concludes the President of CremonaFiere, Roberto Biloni -. To this extent, the Exhibition cooperates with sector institutions and associations, to share the vision on the future, discuss problems to be solved and enhance the value of our productions”.

For further information and to read the complete events programme prease visit the website

NSW dairy farmers back in black after best season in 10 years

It has been a miserable period marked by drought, floods, fires and the supermarket price wars that saw milk sold for just $1/litre, but things are looking up for the state’s 523 dairy farmers.

Key points:

  • NSW dairy farmers are experiencing their best season in a decade
  • Average profit is up by 75 per cent
  • Some farmers still in recovery from floods, fire and drought

Profit is up

A survey of dairy farmers conducted by the DPI showed that the 2020-21 financial year was the best in 10 years.

DPI’s dairy development officer Sheena Carter said the most recent survey of 41 dairy farmers was the best they had ever seen.

“It was just over $269,000 in the 2019-20 financial year.

“So it’s up nearly 75 per cent on what it was in the previous year.”

Ms Carter said the average net farm income had also increased exponentially.

“Average net farm income is the operating profit and then we take out interest and lease costs for the business,” she said.

“That increased from around $163,000 up to about $370,000 on average across the data set.”

‘Incredible’ year for young dairy family

Brodie Game runs 300 cows on two South Coast properties she leases with her husband, Kevin.

They started from scratch nine years ago with just two cows and almost gave up during the peak of the drought.

Things have certainly turned, however.

She said this year had been “incredible” and they had been “cutting silage like crazy” to store feed ahead of the next dry season.

“It’s been amazing and it’s really widespread. It hasn’t just been a few good farmers who’ve seen it,” she said.

Farmers are spending up big as well.

Ms Game said they had used this year’s income to pay off debt.

“Not having those debts … will make a massive difference to us, not having to worry about that,” she said.

A supermarket fridge full of milk
Farmers are getting better prices for their milk now the supermarket $1 per litre milk war is over.(ABC News: Margaret Burin)

Ms Carter said the industry was going well thanks to good terms of trade.

“We’ve got stable, strong milk prices at the moment, which is reflective of processors still trying to make sure they’ve got milk supply,” she said.

Farmers were also making money from selling livestock and some costs for concentrates, hay or silage fell 18 per cent.

“Farmers can grow much more of their home-grown feed now [they’re out of drought],” Ms Carter said.

A man stands in a dairy with brown water up to his chest with dairy cows in the background.
Incomes are up 75 per cent on NSW dairy farms but some are still recovering from the March floods on the Mid North Coast.(Supplied: Rachel Nicholson)

Floods take their toll

Not everyone has had a good year.

A one-in-100-year flood on the state’s Mid North Coast in March destroyed pastures, fences and infrastructure and swept away animals.

Confidence high for next year

Ms Carter said confidence was up and a number of businesses were buying land or upgrading equipment.

“All farmers either expect to see stable or improving profits, with no-one anticipating declining profits,” she said.

Farmers are worried about rising fertiliser prices, however, as well as climate change, labour shortages and the milk price.

Source: ABC

Supply chain issues impacting Iowa dairy industry

Shipping containers are in high demand and short supply as continued supply chain shortages pose a unique challenge for Iowa’s dairy industry.

Chad Hart, an agricultural economist for Iowa State University, says exporting dairy products overseas was already tricky, and it’s worse right now. “They often tend to have a fairly short shelf life, meaning, we can’t wait for months to get a shipping container in order to ship a container full of yogurt,” Hart says. “You need to move that in days.”

Farmers on the local level have their own headaches. Doug Stensland, a dairy farmer in northwest Iowa, says he’s in the habit of ordering inventory way ahead of time. That’s because he can’t be certain the semiS full of empty milk jugs will arrive at his Lyon County farm on time. That, combined with the rising cost of feed additives and labor, makes business hard right now.

“It’s cut into profits there’s no doubt about it, it’s just a matter of how far we can be able to grab that back,” Stensland says. “Our sales are tough anyway. Right now, it’s kind of a hard balancing act.”

For many Iowa dairy farmers, supplies like dry tubes, ear tags, and milk jugs have been harder to purchase. They say the uncertainty of finding both affordable labor and packaging has put a dent in profits.

(By Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio)

Dairy urges U.S. to emphasize trade in House hearing

National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) First Vice Chairman and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) board member Simon Vander Woude encouraged the U.S. government to prioritize expanded market access opportunities for U.S. dairy exports at a House Subcommittee for Livestock and Foreign Agriculture hearing today focused on trade policies and priorities.

Vander Woude and his wife, Christine, operate a 3,200-head dairy in Merced, CA. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of California Dairies, Inc. (CDI), the largest dairy farmer-owned cooperative in California and the second largest in the United States. With sixty percent of the cooperative’s milk powder sold to foreign markets, CDI’s 360 family-owned dairy farms strongly rely on U.S. trade policy tools to keep export markets for their products open and growing.

“I think Chairman Costa and Ranking Member Johnson for the opportunity to testify today about U.S. trade policies and priorities impacting the U.S dairy industry. Despite all the growth and success the dairy industry has enjoyed on the export front over the past two decades, we could be doing even better with a level playing field,” said Vander Woude. “While trade is all too often disparaged in this country and its benefits sold short, our competitors are busy forging new agreements. We farmers need a proactive trade policy to keep pace and continue to increase sales to support the good farm and manufacturing jobs our industry creates.”

Vander Woude stressed in his testimony the urgency of expanding access to key dairy markets like the UK, Asia (Japan, Southeast Asia, China) and the Middle East to catch up with dairy competitors whose countries have aggressively sought trade agreements over the past decade. Vander Woude also highlighted other policy priorities significantly impacting U.S. dairy operations, including the current supply chain crisis, securing long-term relief from Chinese retaliatory tariffs, and implementation and enforcement of existing trade agreements, including USMCA.

“As Simon outlined so well to the House Livestock and Foreign Agriculture subcommittee today, exports are essential to the health of dairy farmers and to our wider industry,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “New access into markets like Canada and Japan last year was a welcome first step, but still far less than what our farmers need to remain competitive globally. The United States needs to begin moving forward again with trade agreements and other policies that expand foreign market opportunities to help family dairy farms thrive and support the thousands of jobs that depend on dairy across this country.”

“Sound trade policy that opens doors for American-made products takes time to negotiate and the time is ripe for laying that foundation,” said Krysta Harden, USDEC president and CEO. “With the administration and Congress having charted progress on many domestic priorities, now is the time for the U.S. government to take a proactive approach to tearing down both tariff and nontariff trade barriers. We also need forward-looking solutions to the nation’s supply chain issues that are hindering U.S. exports, particularly in markets where America’s farmers are at a disadvantage to our competitors.”

Read full testimony here.

Communicating with Farmers Under Stress

Our farmers are a valuable resource facing ongoing daily stressors and challenges to their mental health. Find out how you can help them by scheduling a virtual webinar or in-person workshop for your organization or in your community today!

This workshop provides an overview of the stressors experienced by farmers and their families and shares best practices for connecting them with local, state, and national resources. Developed by Michigan State University Extension, Communicating with Farmers Under Stress is designed for agriculture industry professionals, veterinarians, loan officers, family members, and others who interact directly with farmers on a regular basis. The current financial situation for farmers and other potential causes of stress will be reviewed. Participants will learn how detrimental unproductive stress can be on the body and mind, to recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety and warning signs of suicide in the farming community, and to connect people to available resources.

The Penn State Extension Farm Stress team is comprised of educators from multiple disciplines who understand and support the farming community. Besides this workshop, our team offers Weathering the Storm: How to Create a Productive Mindset  , helping farmers and their families understand the effects of stress and how to manage it effectively.  Additionally, the team offers a workshop, Mental Health First Aid for Adults  , created by the National Council for Mental Well-Being, about how to approach and assist someone with a mental health challenge.

In this workshop, you will learn to:

  • Build awareness of the stressors affecting farmers and their families
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety and warning signs of suicide
  • Assess, approach, and assist farmers who are showing changes in their mental health
  • Access local, state, and national resources

Who should attend this workshop:

  • Agriculture industry professionals
  • Loan officers
  • Family members of farmers
  • Concerned citizens

For more information on scheduling training for your organization, contact the farm stress team below.

Abbie Spackman –

Adriana Murillo-Williams –

Christi Powell –

Cynthia Fisher –

Cynthia Pollich –

Elise Gurgevich –

Ginger Fenton –

Linda Fetzer –

Liz Bosak –

Malu Tejada –


Clean Energy Breaks Ground on Renewable Natural Gas Dairy Digester in Joint Venture with TotalEnergies

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE) announced it has broken ground on a renewable natural gas (RNG) digester at Del Rio Dairy in Friona, TX, its first in a joint venture with TotalEnergies to produce the ultra-clean transportation fuel which will be negative carbon intensive. All the RNG fuel produced at Del Rio Dairy will make its way into Clean Energy’s nationwide network of RNG stations.

“Del Rio is a family-owned and operated dairy with multiple generations of Ginggs involved in running it. We take great pride in the sustainable way in which we operate”

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“With a growing focus on capturing methane highlighted by the recent discussions at COP26, the Del Rio Dairy RNG project is significant on many levels,” said Andrew J. Littlefair, president and CEO, Clean Energy. “It brings together concerned parties ranging from a family-owned dairy, to one of the world’s leading and most sustainably-minded energy companies TotalEnergies, to manage greenhouse gas emissions and tackle global warming. When the RNG produced here goes into the tank of a large vehicle, it will usually be replacing a much dirtier fuel, demonstrating the unique qualities of RNG as the cleanest fuel in the world.”

When completed, the Del Rio Dairy digester project will capture the waste from more than 7,500 milking cows and generate an anticipated 1.1 million gallons of RNG annually. RNG helps Clean Energy’s customers achieve their sustainability goals by dramatically reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation operations. Clean Energy has a target to provide RNG at all its U.S. stations and for the carbon intensity (CI) of the fuel to be zero by 2025.

Yesterday, Mr. Littlefair participated in a groundbreaking ceremony with members of the Gingg family who own Del Rio Dairy and executives from TotalEnergies, Montrose Environmental Group (NYSE: MEG), a leading provider of environmental solutions, providing EPC, startup and commissioning services for the project. Other partner companies include Black Bear Environmental Asset Advisors, a research and consulting firm, and Atmos Energy (NYSE: ATO), a distributor of natural gas.

Del Rio is a family-owned and operated dairy with multiple generations of Ginggs involved in running it. We take great pride in the sustainable way in which we operate,” said Rocky Gingg. “By adding a RNG digester to our operation, we will be able to say to future generations that we are helping to address serious climate issues that impact the world they live in.”

Agriculture accounts for nearly 10 percent of U.S. GHG emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Capturing methane from farm waste can lower these emissions. RNG is used as a transportation fuel and has lower GHG emissions on lifecycle basis when compared to conventional gasoline and diesel. The California Air Resources Board has given similar projects a carbon intensity (CI) score of weighted average of -320 compared to CI scores of 101 for conventional diesel fuel and 15 for electric batteries.

About Clean Energy

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. is the country’s largest provider of the cleanest fuel for the transportation market. Our mission is to decarbonize transportation through the development and delivery of renewable natural gas (RNG), a sustainable fuel derived from organic waste. Clean Energy allows thousands of vehicles, from airport shuttles to city buses to waste and heavy-duty trucks, to reduce their amount of climate-harming greenhouse gas. We operate a vast network of fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada. Visit and follow @CE_NatGas on Twitter.

About TotalEnergies

TotalEnergies is a global multi-energy company that produces and markets energies on a global scale: oil and biofuels, natural gas and green gases, renewables and electricity. Our 105,000 employees are committed to energy that is ever more affordable, cleaner, more reliable and accessible to as many people as possible. Active in more than 130 countries, TotalEnergies puts sustainable development in all its dimensions at the heart of its projects and operations to contribute to the well-being of people.

About Montrose Environmental Group

Montrose is a leading environmental services company focused on supporting commercial and government organizations as they deal with the challenges of today, and prepare for what’s coming tomorrow. With more than 2000 employees across over 70 locations around the world, Montrose combines deep local knowledge with an integrated approach to design, engineering, and operations, enabling the Company to respond effectively and efficiently to the unique requirements of each project. From comprehensive air measurement and laboratory services to regulatory compliance, emergency response, permitting, engineering, and remediation, Montrose delivers innovative and practical solutions that keep its clients on top of their immediate needs – and well ahead of the strategic curve. For more information, visit

Construction Milestone at the Center for Dairy Research Reached

Substantial completion of the addition for the Center for Dairy Research (CDR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) has been achieved. As a part of a four-year, $72 million, two-phase project, the completion of the addition marks a significant milestone for the University and the dairy industry.The CDR is known as one of the premier dairy food research centers in the world. With more than 30 researchers and scientists onsite, the CDR focuses on scaling down large-volume manufacturing and exploring functional, flavor and physical properties of cheese, cheese products and other milk components. The CDR significantly benefits the dairy industry, offering specialized training and short courses with over 1,400 industry personnel impacted annually.

The two-phase construction project consists of a new addition to the CDR (Phase I) and Babcock Hall Dairy Plant renovation (Phase II). The $47 million, Phase I expansion gives the program two full floors of research space, training center for dairy industry employees, specialized ripening rooms, space for different styles and types of cheese vats, and ample dry and cold storage space.

Phase II is now underway to modernize the dairy plant, which will add a new ice cream maker, more freezer and cooler space and an improved raw milk processing. Additionally, new piping, pumps and valves will be installed to move milk and milk products more efficiently around the plant. Phase II renovations are scheduled to be completed in Fall 2022.

C.D. Smith Construction, Inc. (C.D. Smith), of Fond du Lac, WI, provided general contracting services to UW-Madison. During Phase I CDR Addition, C.D. Smith self-performed concrete, structural steel, masonry, studs and drywall, and carpentry trades. In Phase II Dairy Renovations, C.D. Smith will self-perform demolition, masonry, concrete, studs and drywall, carpentry and structural steel trades.

C.D. Smith has played a vital role in providing construction services to Wisconsin’s dairy manufacturers. Over the last 85 years, C.D. Smith has provided construction services to dozens of iconic dairy producers throughout the state, including Grande Cheese Company, Sartori, Saputo, Sargento Foods, Schreiber Foods, Masters Gallery Foods, Land O’Lakes, Baker Cheese and many others. This extensive knowledge and expertise in dairy manufacturing construction made C.D. Smith a natural choice for the CDR Expansion and Dairy Plant renovations.

Source: PR Newsire

500 cows killed in B.C. floodwaters, says dairy association

Sturgeon Slayers and The Fraser Valley Angling Guides Association help save cows, by boat, last week | Photo: Ryan Lake / Twitter

At least 500 cows were killed by floodwaters across southern B.C. last week after a powerful atmospheric river dumped record rainfall across much of the Fraser Valley, says the BC Dairy Association.

Of an estimated 23,000 cattle scattered across the Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Agassiz region, about 6,000 have been evacuated while another 16,000 remain on their farms. 

“It is possible the number of deceased cattle may rise should more flooding occur or more animals need to be euthanized due to health problems caused by the flooding,” said the association in a statement Tuesday. 

Over the past week, 62 farms across the Yarrow and Abbotsford region were under evacuation order. 

Among them was Abbotsford dairy farmer Karl Meier, who says his 240 cows all made it through the floods alive after water rose up to their bellies.

His family was woken in the night last week when floodwaters floated firewood and a 100-year-old snooker table in the basement, knocking them against the walls.

The following days were spent in an endless cycle of evacuation and return, as the family checked in on the animals.

“They were just not feeling great. They were in standing water, in survival mode,” he says. “Now, they’re doing well. We put in fresh bedding. Animal health is up. They look good.”

Cleaning up the farm has been a monumental task. Meier was forced to throw out several bales of wet feed to avoid sickening the animals. 

The BC Dairy Association says it’s working with the province and transport companies to make sure cattle are housed, fed and watered. “Significant amounts of grain and supplies” have been brought in to help farms hit by floods, says the association.

Last week, the association told farmers to dump their milk after floods cut off access to farms. On Tuesday, BC Dairy said 80 per cent of the milk produced in B.C. is being picked up for processing, enough to supply the province. 

In B.C.’s Interior, milk is temporarily being trucked to Alberta for processing until reliable transportation can be restored to the Lower Mainland; in the eastern Fraser Valley, milk is being sent along Highway 7, a four- to five-hour detour.

While dairy is getting through, the transportation disruptions mean not all milk in the Fraser Valley is making it to market. That’s not likely to improve until a flooded section of the Trans-Canada Highway through Abbotsford reopens. 

Sumas Prairie farms adjacent to the flooded stretch of highway — including the Meier farm — make up 14 per cent of the province’s milk volume.

The slow recovery effort has been made easier by a steady stream of volunteers, says Meier.

“Every day, at least twice a day, I get calls offering help,” says the farmer.

Meier says his friend Russ has been an “iron horse” over the last week, coming every day to help out. Surrey-based technology firm Western Robotics stopped by to help power wash the farm, a neighbour has offered to clean up plastic flotsam strewn across the property and Meier’s hoof trimmer came last week to wash all the barn clothes.  

Some of the biggest help, says Meier, has come from the Abbotsford Rugby Club — they cleaned out the soggy firewood from Meier’s basement, gutted the insulation, drywall and subflooring, and shovelled out the entire barn.

Today, the club is helping a neighbouring farm.

“We’re busy. Someone wants to come and lend, we’ve got shovels. Come on down,” he says. 

The only thing that worries Meier is the coming storm Environment Canada predicts could dump as much as 80 millimetres of rainfall across the region. 

“Our dikes are still up. Our gravel berms are still up. The river comes up, the river comes,” Meier says.


Americans are Expected to Purchase 161 Million Pounds of Butter for the Holidays

As friends and family gather for the holidays, Americans are expected to purchase 161 million pounds of butter from the second week in November through Christmas. While butter sales usually increase during the holidays, the pandemic, which spiked a rebirth of home cooking, has also caused butter sales to grow significantly year-round.

According to Suzanne Fanning, Senior Vice President at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, the organization saw a 400% spike in recipe searches during the pandemic. “We want to encourage residents to choose all-natural Wisconsin farm-to-table butter to create their favorite recipes at home,” said Fanning.

Wisconsin is one of the top two butter producers in the U.S., and the dairy industry in the state employs more than 150,000 residents and contributes $45.6 billion to the state’s economy.

From rich sauces to flaky golden crusts and buttery cookies, the best food is made with real Wisconsin butter. Here’s why:

  • Wisconsin butter is all-natural, simple and pure, made with only two ingredients – fresh cream and salt.
  • Local butter starts with high-quality milk from Wisconsin, thanks to dedicated dairy farmers and the state’s lush grasslands.
  • After fresh, whole milk is collected from Wisconsin dairy farms, it’s transported to a local creamery where the cream is separated from the milk. Once the butter is churned, it’s delivered to the local grocery store for people to take home and enjoy.

When grocery shopping for the holidays, check the label to make sure you’re purchasing Wisconsin butter. Use real Wisconsin butter to make memorable holiday meals everyone will love. For recipe inspiration, visit

EU company produces an additive that mitigates methane gas emission in dairy cattle

A Netherlands company has produced an additive that mixed with the feed given to cattle helps to mitigate methane gas emissions and its impact on climate change. Allegedly it is the first product to reach the European market following its approval by the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA.

EFSA stated that Bovaer based on 3-nitrooxipropanol, made by DSM, which specialized in chemical compounds reduces methane gas emissions among dairy cows between 20% and 35%, with no impact on milk production, and is safe both for the cattle and dairy consumers.

EFSA provides scientific data referring to the safety and efficiency of new products and based on this information the European Commission makes a decision together with the different governments of country members.

DSM has yet to commercialize the product and according to the EU release, similar regulatory authorities from Brazil and Chile also approved Bovaer last September.

Since then the Netherlands company has signed a development agreement with Brazil’s JBS, (the world’s largest processor of meats), with interests in all continents.

Agriculture overall is the main source of methane gas, caused by human activity according to UN Environment Program and UNCTAD. And cattle breeding is the main culprit. At the recent Glasgow summit, COP26 over a hundred countries agreed t0o reduce methane gas emissions by 30% in 2030,


O’Brien Says U.S. Agriculture Has ‘Open Door of Opportunity’

Barbara O’Brien, President and CEO of Dairy Management Inc. and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, said agriculture has an “open door of opportunity” amid growing pressures and expectations to feed a growing population sustainably and responsibly during her opening comments at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit, Nov. 17-18.

The Summit, conducted under the theme “Regeneration and Resilience,” annually convenes the collective food and agriculture value chain to learn, develop and advance a shared vision for a sustainable and resilient U.S. food system.

O’Brien referenced recent events including the UN Food Systems Summit and COP26 (26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) as examples of how the conversation has reached an apex globally. She said this is U.S. agriculture’s time to collectively lead and demonstrate its vital role in the health of people and the well-being of the planet. She cited a recent global survey that revealed agriculture is the third most-trusted industry when it comes to acting on climate change, exceeded only by the renewable energy and technology sectors.

“And yet, while trust in agriculture is high, consumers want to know more, with 65 percent of people saying they don’t know much – or anything at all – about climate change solutions,” O’Brien said. “They want to be better informed but say they can’t find information they trust or easily understand. And overwhelmingly, they want to hear less about the problem, and more about the solutions.

“This means U.S. agriculture has an open door of opportunity to demonstrate our determination to innovate and to lead in being good and responsible stewards of the land. While we know there are no easy solutions, we also know we are stronger together.”

Kelly Bengston, senior vice president and chief procurement officer at Starbucks, served as the Summit’s keynote speaker and stressed how the coffee company values the contributions of farmers, including the nation’s 31,000 dairy farm families. Bengston said dairy remains an integral part of its business and is featured in more than half of Starbucks’ core beverage offerings.

“For 50 years, Starbucks has been dedicated to inspiring and nurturing the human spirit – one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time,” Bengston said. “And in that time, we’ve also learned an important fact – our future is tied to the future of farmers, their families, and the health of our planet. Right now, from the impacts of the climate crisis to rising costs, we know it’s never been harder to be a farmer.”

Bengston said dairy and coffee account for more than a third of the company’s carbon emissions. This led to Starbucks last year announcing 2030 targets to reduce its carbon, water and waste footprints by half. Starbucks also joined the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative (NZI), collaborating with the industry on research, on-farm pilots and programs to make the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies more accessible and affordable to farms of all sizes.

To that end, Bengston announced that Starbucks is partnering with Alliance Dairy in Trenton, Fla., to apply and measure innovative technologies and regenerative farming practices that build an economically viable path to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve water use efficiency and quality.

As part of this pilot, technologies such as evaporative nutrient recovery will be explored with the goal of helping Alliance Dairy become a source of renewable and organic fertilizer and water reuse, while significantly reducing GHG emissions.

“At Starbucks, we are focused on driving innovation at scale to support people and planet,” Bengston said. “This includes identifying new ideas and technologies with our partners that are meaningful to farmers, and then working hard to help get them on their farms.”

The Summit included various breakout sessions and panel discussions, including one that featured a group of industry leaders examining the implications of the UN Food Systems Summit (UN FSS) for U.S. agriculture, which took place Sept. 23. The UN FSS convened international stakeholders from across the food system with the goal of transforming the way the world produces, consumes and trades food. The event served as a call to action to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

More than 2,000 ideas were submitted during the UN FSS, including several Game Changers offered by U.S. dairy and other agriculture sectors. Coalitions were announced to drive action on priorities following the summit. Organizations including the Innovation Center, U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Dairy Council were engaged throughout the UN FSS process as were several other U.S. agriculture organizations.

“The U.S. dairy industry determined early on that UN FSS provided an important opportunity to participate, to demonstrate industry leadership and share with the world our commitments to sustainability and continuous improvement,” said panel moderator Janice Giddens, vice president of sustainable nutrition for the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “We wanted to ensure that the U.S. dairy supply chain, from farmers to processors, to retailers and exporters, was recognized for the contributions it makes to creating healthier, more sustainable and resilient food systems for all.”

Dairy Sustainability Alliance Holds Fall Meeting

The 2021 Dairy Sustainability Alliance Fall Meeting followed the Summit on Nov. 19. The Alliance is a multi-stakeholder initiative of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and includes more than 150 companies and organizations. Representatives exchange ideas, best practices and tackle shared challenges on issues affecting the industry to accelerate progress toward common sustainability goals.

O’Brien kicked off the meeting praising the 34 cooperatives and processors – representing 75 percent of U.S. milk production – who have adopted the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment. The commitment allows companies to demonstrate and document how they responsibly produce milk and dairy products, reporting on key priorities such as animal care, environment, food safety and community engagement. She also referenced the dairy community last year setting the 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals.

Despite the disruptions of the pandemic, O’Brien said the industry has set in motion a cascade of environmental work at the feed, farm and processor levels that includes:

  • Pilots and research projects to identify and scale solutions that will be a win-win for farmers and the environment.
  • Transparent reporting of progress at the processor level, included for the first time in aggregate within the 2020 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report.
  • Communications efforts to share the practices and resources available that make a meaningful difference in improving dairy’s environmental footprint.
  • Baselines being set with an eye toward future goals where U.S. dairy can have positive impact.

“In a world where hundreds of companies, countries and global organizations are setting public-facing net zero goals, U.S. dairy’s leadership is critical in keeping dairy – and animal protein overall – positively positioned within global discussions around what constitutes sustainable food systems that can nourish both people and the planet,” O’Brien said.

“It has taken a lot of work to get where we are as a dairy community, and yet we know there is more that we can do to ensure that dairy continues to earn a place in homes and in communities around the world.”

Other meeting highlights included:

  • Donald Moore, executive director of Global Dairy Platform, and Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, assessed the potential policy and market impacts that the UN FSS and COP26 will have for dairy. They offered views on how these events will influence global expectations not only for exports but for sustainable businesses in all markets, as well as what is needed for U.S. dairy to provide solutions and to remain competitive.
  • Dairy farmers Sam Schwoeppe (Indiana), Matt Freund (Connecticut), Tara Vander Dussen (New Mexico) and Jim Werkhoven (Washington) participated in a discussion to share how they are approaching sustainability and what the broader value chain can do to support their efforts.
  • Sustainability author and strategist Dan Esty provided a keynote address where he explored dairy’s place in a rapidly evolving business landscape. Esty touched on how nearly every aspect of business is viewed through a sustainability lens, and investors are incorporating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles into their approach, putting pressure on companies to demonstrate how they will operate in a net-zero economy and resource-restrained world. He said the U.S. dairy industry taken steps that have it positioned to be part of the solution.

For information about the industry’s sustainability work and the dairy checkoff, visit

Serotonin Found to be an Important Factor in Calcium Homeostasis in Dairy Cows

Maternal physiology of dairy cows shifts at the onset of lactation to adapt to the immense nutrient demands by the mammary gland, resulting in altered tissue metabolism. Research over the last decade has focused on understanding the shift in calcium metabolism, with an emphasis on the relationship of serotonin with calcium during the transition period and lactation. In a new review in the December issue of the Journal of Dairy Science® researchers examine the current knowledge on calcium metabolism, mammary calcium transport, serotonin metabolism, and the serotonin-calcium axis.

This review by scientists from the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison (USA), focuses on dairy cows during the period just before, during, and after giving birth. “Due to the rapid and robust demand for calcium at the onset of lactation by the mammary gland, a dynamic change in calcium metabolism ensues as the mammary gland’s demand for calcium in the blood and extracellular pools outpaces the rate at which pools can be maintained,” said first author Meghan K. Connelly, PhD student.

Without accommodating for this shift in calcium metabolism, disruptions in calcium balance can lead to an increased risk of displaced abomasum, ketosis, mastitis, and metritis. Research has found that as much as 50% of cows who have previously given birth experience subclinical hypocalcemia, with older cows experiencing greater calcium balance disruptions than cows who have not previously given birth.

Blood calcium levels are tightly regulated through an integrated homeostatic process that is controlled by hormones, vitamin D, and proteins in a negative-feedback loop. The synthesis and secretion of these hormones, including parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP), is prompted by low blood calcium concentrations. More recently, PTHrP has been found to correlate with serotonin during lactation.

Recent data have shown that lactation results in a substantial increase in serotonin concentrations in the blood. “Recently, an interesting relationship between serotonin and calcium has been demonstrated during lactation, with significant changes in both calcium and serotonin physiology occurring at the onset of lactation and being mammary driven,” said Connelly.

Mammary serotonin drives mammary production of hormones and peptides that ultimately modulate mammary calcium transport. Additionally, prepartum infusion of 5-HTP (the immediate precursor to serotonin) increases serotonin levels in the adult dairy cow and improves calcium metabolism postpartum. This increase in serotonin is thought to cause a transient hypocalcemia as calcium is directed out of blood and into milk. The resulting decrease in calcium concentration in blood allows the bone to release calcium into peripheral pools to support mammary calcium demand, driving calcium metabolism.

The review concludes with strategies to mitigate hypocalcemia, including feeding a negative dietary cation-anion difference diet or a calcium binder for prevention, or oral, intravenous, and subcutaneous calcium therapies postpartum for treatment. Connelly and colleagues note that although the exact mechanisms of serotonin’s ability to improve calcium metabolism remain unclear, further consideration of serotonin as a hormone in calcium metabolism is warranted.

Source: Eurkea Alert/Journal of Dairy Science

Milk Futures Continue to Decline in Chicago Tuesday

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures fell again Tuesday and cash dairy prices were mixed.  November Class III milk was down $.01 at $17.94.  December closed down $.09 at $18.33.  January closed down $.24 at $18.75.  February was down $.17 at $18.94.  March through October contracts ranged from twelve cents lower to one cent higher.

On spot trade cheese Barrels went up $.0150 closing at $1.5250.   There was one sale at $1.5225 and one offer at $1.55. Dry whey was unchanged at $0.70.  One sale was recorded at that price and there were two offers at $.73 and $.74. Cheese Blocks were unchanged at $1.8575.  No sales were recorded. Butter closed unchanged at $1.99.   There were no sales or offers Tuesday. Nonfat dry milk was unchanged at $1.5675.  There were two sales at $1.5675 and $1.57 and two offers at $1.5750 and $1.58.

SaskTel brings Australian ag tech to Canada’s livestock industry

Smart Paddock offers advanced livestock monitoring and GPS tracking solutions

SaskTel has signed a memorandum of understanding with Smart Paddock, an Australian agtech company that specialises in advanced livestock monitoring and GPS tracking solutions. Under the agreement, SaskTel and Smart Paddock will explore opportunities to advance the deployment of smart technologies in Canada’s livestock industry.

“The livestock industry is a critical component to the overall success of our province, contributing billions of dollars to our economy,” said Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskTel . “I am pleased to see SaskTel working to drive innovation in this sector by forming strategic partnerships with companies like Smart Paddock.”

The aim of the partnership is to introduce Smart Paddock’s smart ear tag solution to the Canadian livestock industry. Already deployed on livestock herds across Australia, Smart Paddock’s solar powered smart ear tags come equipped with GPS tracking, accelerometer, and temperature sensors providing livestock farmers with real-time location tracking and biometric data.

“Data collection and analytics are just as important in the livestock industry as any other. With the data captured by our ear tags, livestock farmers can track the location of all members of their herd and monitor for biometric anomalies that may indicate if a cow is sick or calving,” said Darren Wolchyn, Smart Paddock Founder and CEO. “We’re looking forward to working with SaskTel to deploy our smart GPS ear tag solution across the Canadian Prairies to improve livestock producers’ daily lives as well as the care and wellbeing of their animals.”

“Connectivity is essential to the deployment of smart IoT (Internet of Things) technologies and as Saskatchewan’s leading communications provider we have the networks and expertise to facilitate those connections,” said Doug Burnett, SaskTel President and CEO. “We’re excited to be working with Smart Paddock to bring their unique solution to the Canadian market and to play a key role in fostering innovation in the ag tech space.


Diagnostics Role in Selective Dry Cow Therapy

Dry Cow Management Protocols Vary Around the World

In Europe SDCT is Replacing Blanket Dry Cow Therapy (BDCT)

Case Study: The Netherlands

Dry cow management varies across the globe, but many countries in the EU either have shifted, or are in the process of shifting, to selective dry cow therapy (SDCT). The Netherlands offers an excellent case study of a country that has worked through the implementation pains of transitioning to this dry cow therapy protocol. Blanket dry cow therapy (BDCT) was banned in the Netherlands in 2012, and since then, their antibiotic use in dairy has dropped 63%, which was the aim of the government regulation.

The Netherlands Dairy Production Relies on SDCT

It is important to note that the Netherlands is home to 16,000 dairy farms and 1.59 million dairy cows, contributing 13% of the world’s milk. Their average herd size in 2020 was 101 cows. The average milk production is 54 pounds per day. It’s likely that dairy producers in the Netherlands are drying off 3–5 cows at a time rather than a large cohort.

SDCT protocol

“The Netherlands has set the standard for the rest of Europe for dry cow therapy management, and while SDCT hasn’t been adopted across the whole of Europe, we see many countries moving that direction,” said Dr. Mathijs Bakker, a dairy veterinarian and consultant based in the Netherlands.

The protocol for SDCT in the Netherlands is the same on every farm:

  1. Producers start with individual somatic cell counts (SCC) (data collected by DHI sampling) for cows that are ready to dry off.
  2. For cows, antibiotics can be used if individual SCC are above 50,000. For heifers, the threshold for SCC is 150,000. Cows under those thresholds are not eligible to receive any antibiotic therapy; a teat sealant can be applied at dry-off.
  3. If eligible for antibiotics, producers determine which is prudent to use:
  1. First choice—can be used “empirically,” e.g., before it is known which bacteria are causing the infection and without carrying out sensitivity testing
  2. Second choice—can only be used if sensitivity testing (e.g., diagnostic testing to see whether the bacteria are resistant to certain antibiotics) shows that first-choice antibiotics would be unlikely to work
  3. Third choice—can only be used if sensitivity testing shows that neither first- nor second-choice antibiotics would work

No Antibiotics as a Preventive Measure Against Mastitis

“It’s forbidden in the Netherlands to use antibiotics as a preventive measure against mastitis or any disease,” Dr. Bakker explained. “However, if the SCC for a cow is above 50,000, it’s not preventive as it’s likely there’s an infection in the udder—either clinical or subclinical.”

Consumer Demand Drives Government Regulatory Mandate for SDCT

The decision to switch to SDCT is a government regulatory mandate, driven in part by consumer demand for less antibiotic use in food and to lessen the risk of antibiotic resistance.

Diagnostics Role in SDCT

Which Antibiotic to Use in a SDCT Protocol?

Diagnostics play a significant role in determining which antibiotic to use in a SDCT protocol. There are two types of bacteria: gram-positive and gram-negative.

Gram-Positive or Gram-Negative?
Real-Time PCR Helps Determine the Right Choice of Antibiotic

“The first choice of dry cow therapy can only be used for gram-positive bacteria,” Dr. Bakker noted. “Real-time PCR is one of our first steps in the process and helps determine the right choice of antibiotic for each cow. If you have a lot of gram-negative bacteria on your farm, then you are allowed to use a second-choice dry cow therapy and don’t need to test for antibiotic susceptibility. But if there’s resistance developing in the gram-positive bacteria, then an antibiotic susceptibility test is needed to determine a second-choice dry-off therapy.”

Thus, if the bacteria are gram-positive, producers need to culture the bacteria or use MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry to prove the bacteria are resistant to first-choice antibiotics.

“As a veterinarian, if I must make the choice between first- and second-choice dry-off therapy, it’s always problem driven. If the cure rate is very low, then we must dive into it and determine what’s going on with that cow or the herd,” Dr. Bakker said. “For me, I always start with real-time PCR, just to make sure I know if it’s a gram-negative or gram-positive problem, and after that, I go to the antibiotic susceptibility test.”

PCR for Speed and Accuracy

Speed is a key benefit with PCR—results are often available same day. This is especially true for Dr. Bakker because he’s performing the PCR test in his own lab. He also likes to deliver the results directly to his client.

“If I send the sample to an external laboratory and they get a result, they are phoning my farmer with their advice. There are different ways to solve a problem, but as the veterinarian, I want to be working with my farmer to find the best solutions for the herd,” he said. “If I perform the test by myself, I don’t have bias. I don’t have any disturbance in my advice to my client, so that’s also a big advantage for our practice.”

With PCR, Dr. Bakker also gets more information from a PCR test than a traditional culture, especially when it comes to gram-negative bacteria.

Click here for more information on Thermo Fisher Scientific’s diagnostic solutions. 

Ferme Jacobs Rocks the Dairy World with Outstanding Sale

 The extremely talented team at Ferme Jacobs hosted an amazing sale at the farm on November 17th, 20201.  Known the around the world for their top show cow families and commitment to developing the best of the best, the sale featured many elite consignments from their own breeding program as well as some elite consignments from partner herds as part of this Best of Jacobs Sale.The sale averaged 10750$ average on 160 lot.

Jacobs High Octane Dia
Intermediate Champion
Canadian National Holstein Show 2021

Topping the sale was the VG-89-3yr Lot 17 JACOBS HIGH OCTANE DIA at $230,000 to Jim Butler.  The Junior Three Year old was RES. Can. Champs Contest Spring Junior 2-Yr-Old 2020 as well as 2ND JR.2-YR Fall Invitational Show 2020.  She would go on to be 1st Junior Three Year old and Intermediate Champion a few days later at the Canadian National Holstein Show for her new owner. Dia is a STANTONS HIGH OCTANE from a VG GILLETTE WINDBROOK followed by VG-87 DROLIE GOLDWYN DELAWARE  then GEOBASTIEN HILLCREST DELTA EX-92-3E 6*

1st place Senior Three
Canadian National Holstein Show 2021

The 2nd highest seller was Lot 172, Linderright Devour Movember at $115,000 by Jim Butler.  Purchased by Ferme Jacobs, Fortale and Boulet in July from Lookout and London Dairy, when she would soon win Reserve Intermediate Champion at Le Supreme Latier and Movember has continued to develop and had recently scored VG-89-3YR Max score.  For her new owner Jim Butler, Movember would win the Senior Three Year old Class at the Canadian National Holstein Show.  Movmber is a MR DANIELLE DEVOUR from a EX-91-2E VAL-BISSON DOORMAN then a EX-91-2E BRAEDALE GOLDWYN followed by then and EX-92 BRAEDALE GOLDWYN from Stadacona Outside Abel VG-88 48*.

The 3rd highest seller of the day was Jacobs Unix Darcy, the VG-87-2YR sold to Elmvue for $95,000.  The CROTEAU LESPERRON UNIX daughter was from a VG-88 WALNUTLAWN SOLOMON then a EX-92 SCIENTIFIC DESTRY from BUDJON REDMARKER DESIRE EX-96-4E-USA GMD 5*.   Darcy would go on to place 3rd in a strong Junior Two Year old class at the Canadian National Holstein show a few days later. 

Rounding out the top sellers was GHISLAIR SIDEKICK FRAMBOISE VG-86.  The VG-86 2YR was purchased by Elmvue for $54,000.  The WALNUTLAWN SIDEKICK daughter is from a EX-92-4E LIRR DREW DEMPSEY then a VG-88 WILCOXVIEW JASPER.

Other notable lots:

  • Lot-175 Shakira x Lambda – 46000.00
  • Lot-125 JACOBS UNIX TIMBERLAND VG-88 – $45,000 
  • Lot-5 JACOBS DELTA SHANESSA – 38000.00
  • Lot 173 GARRY DOORMAN BREE – 38000.00
  • Lot-7 JACOBS LAMBDA SHANGHAI – 37000.00

Interior British Columbia’s Milk Being Re-routed to Alberta for Processing

Dairy farms in B.C.’s Interior are dealing, like everyone else, with repercussions from the B.C. storm and flooding.

With the closure of the Coquihalla Highway and flooding of Highway 1 in Abbotsford, raw milk that would typically be processed in the Lower Mainland can no longer make that route.

“Certainly the concern was that our milk was not going to make it to the coast, and we did get an email saying that until further notice all of our milk would have to be dumped,” said John Schut, Beatrix Farms president.

Schut said it was a devastating email to receive, but, thankfully, an alternative was found before any of his milk had to be dumped.

“Fortunately within hours, we got a phone call saying they had found a home for our milk and actually our milk is actually being rerouted to Alberta (for processing),” Schut told Global News on Friday.

The whole situation has proven that B.C.’s Interior needs to be able to process its own raw milk, according to Schut and other dairy farmers he’s talked to in the Interior.

“It does show that the whole infrastructure of the province needs to be looked at,” said Schut.

“Ideally, we would like to see (milk) processing in the interior of B.C. because the majority of the milk has to go to the lower mainland for processing.”

The BC Dairy Association’s chair, who is also a dairy farmer in Agassiz, said some farms have been forced to dump their milk, due to being inaccessible for pickups, including his own.

“We had to dump our milk as well, we are high and dry here and there’s no way for the trucks to get to us so we had to dump our milk on Tuesday,” said Holger Schwichtenberg.

At this point, it’s a wait and see situation for many dairy farmers across the province, waiting for highways, specifically Highway 3 to be reopened, which at this point was just reopened late Friday afternoon.

Source: Global News

B.C. dairy farmers working to replenish milk supply after flooding

B.C. dairy farmers are working together to get their products back on the shelves after flooding took out their usual routes.

Holger Schwichtenberg with the BC Dairy Association says while the main roads to his farm in Agassiz were washed away, trucks have been finding alternative ways to get to suppliers.

“The roads were impassable,” he said. “Even though we were producing milk, they could not get to us. So the milk wasn’t picked up and we had to dump it because it’s a perishable product.”

Many farmers had to leave their farms and animals behind, which Schwichtenberg says he can’t imagine.

“But what has been amazing is how the rest of the community has stepped up. Farmers with trucks and trailers have moved as many animals out of the affected area as possible to farms like mine,” he said.

He has 30 extra cows in their barn right now. A friend of his has about 70, while another another is taking care of about 80.

In Abbotsford, where floods have created an emergency, animals had to swim to safety. A 2.5-kilometre-long levee will be built there to stop water from pouring across Highway 1, but the situation remains critical.

Of farmers taking extraordinary measures to try to save their animals, “We’re not encouraging that but we understand that” @lanapopham says (and tragically some had to abandon the atempt as the road essentially washed out below them)#bcpoli @CityNewsVAN

— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) November 17, 2021

The poultry industry is also struggling, with one Abbotsford farmer forced to leave thousands of chickens to die in the floods.

Hundreds of farm workers lost their jobs, further complicating the situation.

The farmers are exhausted, driven only by protecting their product and animals, says Schwichtenberg.

“You’re worn down and you’re tired, but you keep going. You have to keep going. Your animals come first, and we need to try and get the situation back to normal again as fast as we can,” he explained.

Flooding has created severe challenges for dairy farms throughout BC. Right now, dairy farmers’ top priority is making sure that people and livestock are safe. Read our statement:

— BC Dairy (@BCMilk) November 19, 2021

On Friday, he was expecting the milk truck to get through to his farm via the Lougheed Highway over Mount Woodside.

“It is the long way, but they are able to get through to us and pick up our milk — maybe a little bit later than normal, but they’re able to pick it up,” he said.

“There’s going to be a disruption obviously, but we’re trying to get things back to normal as fast as we can.”

Current conditions along Highway 1 east of Cole Road. Water levels are still very high in this area.

— Abbotsford Police Department (@AbbyPoliceDept) November 19, 2021

To help the dairy farmers, the average British Columbian can be patient and understand they’re doing everything they can, Schwichtenberg says.

He adds he’s proud of how farmers are coming together to find solutions.

“Whether it’s taking care of family, opening your barn up, or taking an old barn that hasn’t been used a long time and getting it ready to quickly accommodate animals — the farmers in their trailers with 10 animals at a time hauling them out of the affected area — it’s amazing to see an industry come together like this when things go sideways,” he said.


Holstein Association USA Announces All-National Showcase Program Honorees

Holstein Association USA is thrilled to present the 2021 All-National Showcase honorees. Launched in 2019, the All-National Showcase Program recognizes U.S. Registered Holstein® cows and their owners for outstanding performance at National Holstein Shows. Exhibitors from across the country earned points throughout the show season.

“After taking a break in 2020, we are excited to present the second group of All-National Showcase honorees” says Jodi Hoynoski, Executive Director, Holstein Identification & Member Services. “It has been extra special having Registered Holsteins parade around the ring this year, and we are honored to recognize these outstanding animals and exhibitors.”

The top 10 animals in each class and full details on the All-National Showcase Program rules and point system can be found at

Congratulations to the following All-National Holsteins!

All-National Breeder
James & Nina Burdette, Mercersburg, PA

All-National Exhibitor
Jim Butler, Chebanse, IL

Summer Heifer Calf
All National: BUCKMEADOW US MADELYN, Colt & Luke Buckley, KY
Reserve All-National: EXPRESS-SMD VITTORIA, Express Holsteins & Stan-Mar-Dale Holsteins, OH

Spring Heifer Calf
All National: WINDY-KNOLL-VIEW PESKY, Jim Butler, IL
Reserve All-National: REYNCREST DLAMBDA LIT UP, Reyncrest Farms Inc., NY

Winter Heifer Calf
All National: GLEN-PAUL WARRIOR BACARDI, Audrey Sidle & Marissa & Logan Topp, OH
Reserve All-National: BUDWEISERS DNVR BROOKLYN-ET, Jim Butler, IL

Fall Heifer Calf
All National: MS REBAS RAVEN BEAUTY-ET, Glamourview – Iager & Walton, MD
Reserve All-National: BORDERVIEW DENVER CHLOE-ET, Brian & Becky McGee & Vickie Roudabush, PA

Summer Yearling Heifer
All National: TOPPGLEN GOLDCHIP WAKIKI, Colton Thomas & Caroline Egolf, OH
Reserve All-National: MERRILLEA BITTY BUG, Merrillea Holsteins, NY

Spring Yearling Heifer
All National: KIMBALL-WAY GDWYN MONDAY-ET, Glamourview – Iager & Walton, MD
Reserve All-National: CHEERS AVALANCHE CHARLEY-ET, Rocco Cunningham, CA

Winter Yearling Heifer
All National: MS LACES UPGRADE LACIE-ET, Jim Butler, IL
Reserve All-National: TAL-VIEW TATOO PISTOL, Michael & Julie Duckett & Matt L Hawbaker, WI

Fall Yearling Heifer
All National: MILKSOURCE UNIX CHASSUP-ET, Jacob & Logan Harbaugh & Erin R Viergutz, WI
Reserve All-National: BANOWETZ DIAMOND RING, Shawn & Levi Banowetz, IA

Milking Yearling
All National: ROSEMARY UNIX GOLDIE, Jim Butler, IL
Reserve All-National: DUCKETT UNIX LACY, Triple-T Holsteins, R Pierick & S McWilliams, OH

Summer Junior Two-Year-Old Cow
All National: B-J-GROVE UNIX CHEROKEE, Kasey E Clanton, IL
Reserve All-National: ESPERANZA-CC THUNDERSTRUCK, Jim Butler, IL

Junior Two-Year-Old Cow
All National: HOBBY-HILL DENVER ELIZABETH, Gracin & Chesney Speich, WI
Reserve All-National: LADYROSE CAUGHT YOUR EYE-ET, GenoSource, IA

Senior Two-Year-Old Cow
All National: TREE-HAYVEN TATOO LAST SONG, Michael & Julie Duckett, WI
Reserve All-National: PINELAND TATOO POUTINE, Jacalyn C. Bortner, PA

Junior Three-Year-Old Cow
All National: DINAS D DELORA-ET, Hogge, Dymentholm & Wadeland So Dairy LLC, UT
Reserve All-National: WRIGHTVALE DOORMAN LIVVY, MB Luckylady Farm, CA

Senior Three-Year-Old Cow
All National: OAK-RIDGE-K GCHIP TURBO, Milk Source LLC & Ransom Rail Farms Inc, WI
Reserve All-National: HERITAGEGRD HIOC CABARET-ET, Elmvue Farm, NY

Four-Year-Old Cow
All National: STONE-FRONT UNION IMELDA, The Imelda Group, WI
Reserve All-National: OAKFIELD SOLOM FOOTLOOSE-ET, M & J Duckett, Vierra Dairy & T & S Abbott, WI

Five-Year-Old Cow
All National: K-HURST ARMANI DAZED-ET, Jay R. Ackley, OH
Reserve All-National: RUANN DOORMAN JEAN-55162-ET, Stephen & Patrick Maddox, CA

Six-Year-Old & Older Cow
All National: GLEANN BRADY PRIVATEER, M & S Mitchell, B Engleking , J Eby & Rosay Farm, TN
Reserve All-National: ERBACRES SNAPPLE SHAKIRA-ET, Ferme Antelimarck 2001 Inc, Ferme Jacobs Inc, Ty-D Holsteins, Kilian Theraulaz, & C&F Jacobs, QC

150,000 Lb. Lifetime Milk Production Cow
All National: BLONDIN GOLDWYN SUBLIMINAL-ETS, Peter & Lyn Vail & Budjon Farms, WI
Reserve All-National: FARNEAR TBR ARIA ADLER-ET, A Simon, A Dougherty, M Rauen T & R Simon, IA

Contact Jodi Hoynoski at 800.952.5200, ext. 4261 or with questions about the All-National Showcase program. Congratulations to all the exhibitors!

Tunbridge dairy farmers sue telecom companies after wires left in fields sickened cows

Amber and Scott Hoyt at Hoyt Hill Farmstead in Tunbridge on July 2. Photo by Emma Cotton/VTDigger

Tunbridge dairy farmers whose cows became sick after ingesting stainless steel wire found in their feed last fall have sued the telecommunications companies they believe are responsible. 

Amber and Scott Hoyt’s complaint — filed by Arend Tensen, an attorney with the New Hampshire-based firm Cullenberg & Tensen — names four defendants: Eustis Cable Enterprises, ValleyNet, ECFiber, and Crammer O’Connors Fiber Genesis. 

It accuses those parties of negligence, nuisance, trespassing and consumer fraud, and asks for punitive damages and a trial by jury. It was filed Nov. 5 and served Nov. 18. 

In a statement, ECFiber Chairman F. X. Flinn said the telecommunications companies had been working for months to “resolve the matter, determine responsibility, and ensure that those who are responsible are held accountable.” He expressed disappointment that the Hoyts had gone ahead with the lawsuit.

“Attorney Tensen’s decision to file suit at this sensitive time, at the precise moment when the parties and their respective carriers had come to the table in good faith, has likely significantly delayed resolution of the Hoyts’ claim,” ECFiber officials said in a statement issued Friday. 

Donna McCann, a paralegal at Cullenberg & Tensen, which represents the Hoyts, said the firm has “no comment to make regarding our decision to file suit at this time.” Amber and Scott Hoyt also declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The problem remains unresolved for the Hoyts, who previously told VTDigger that the situation could be crucial for their farm. Three cows died after ingesting wire, and more than 70 have been exposed to the contaminated feed. 

In August, the farmers learned their insurance claim had been denied because the subcontractor who performed the work wasn’t fully insured at the time. 

ECFiber, a communication union district that serves the Upper Valley, has been working to expand broadband in the area. The district hired a contractor, Eustis Cable, to help complete the job, and Eustis hired a subcontractor, Crammer O’Connors Fiber Genesis, whose workers used a stainless steel lashing wire to “lash a cable or cables to a supporting strand” between telephone poles in the fields where the Hoyts harvested hay, according to the complaint. ValleyNet operates the line.

Crammer O’Connors Fiber Genesis worked in Tunbridge on five dates during the fall of 2019, and that’s when “lashing wire was discarded or left in the fields by Crammer’s installation crew,” the complaint alleges.

Then, in September 2020, the Hoyts found pieces of mangled wire, like needles, in their cows’ feed, which is made of hay mixed from several fields. It appeared the chopper that mowed their fields had inadvertently ground wire in with the hay. 

The Hoyts have taken standard measures to prevent so-called “hardware disease,” which can affect farm animals that inadvertently ingest metal or other farm equipment. Their chopper is equipped with a metal detector that collects metal pieces, and the cows swallow magnets that harmlessly sit in their stomach to collect stray hardware they might ingest. 

But the type of stainless steel wire found in the fields wasn’t magnetic, so it slipped through the farmers’ protective measures. 

Since last December, some of the cows have shown symptoms the Hoyts hadn’t seen before: sudden bloody noses, signs of discomfort, a high number of aborted calves and declining milk production. With their vet, the Hoyts performed necropsies of cows that died and pulled wire from their bodies. More than 70 have eaten the contaminated feed. 

“As a result of the feed being damaged in the fall of 2019, plaintiffs’ herd was exposed to the feed and all are at risk of dying or being injured,” the complaint says. 

Damages suffered by the Hoyts, according to the complaint, include the cost of replacing contaminated feed, reduced milk production, veterinary services, time spent caring for sick cows and investigating the problem, damage to their fields and a reduction in the value of their herd. 

“Plaintiffs have suffered personal injury and severe emotional stress as a result of witnessing the damages being occasioned by their dairy herd and operations, being unable to control the numerous problems experienced within their operations and engaging in extraordinary efforts in an attempt to correct those problems,” the complaint says. 

ECFiber’s statement said the district hopes to resolve matters by Christmas this year. 


Connecticut’s largest dairy farm taps into energy markets with a plentiful supply of cow manure

It’s a common farm odor, but for Connecticut’s largest dairy operator, cow manure is the smell of money.

In the complicated business of energy markets, manure produced from a herd of 3,000 cows at Oakridge Dairy in Ellington will be transformed into gas sold in New Jersey.

Oakridge and its partner, South Jersey Industries, broke ground recently on an anaerobic digester that will capture raw methane and other greenhouse gases produced by manure. In the process, bacteria break down organic matter such as animal manure, wastewater and food wastes in the absence of oxygen.

The $12 million project, which is set to begin operating next September, will turn biogas into commercial-grade renewable natural gas added to the distribution system of Elizabethtown Gas, a subsidiary of the Folsom, N.J., company, and its 300,000 customers.

Founded in 1890 and in its fifth generation, Oakridge will welcome the new source of revenue to defray high taxes and rising costs for energy and labor, Chief Executive Officer Seth Bahler said. Local milk markets were once dominant, but Oakridge now competes in global markets, he said.

“We have to produce it more cheaply, and Connecticut is not cheap,” he said.

Oakridge will not be lacking the raw material fed into the digester. A cow eats 100 pounds of food a day and produces 15 gallons of manure, Bahler said. Oakridge Dairy will still have plenty left to fertilize its 3,000 acres, he said.

For South Jersey Industries Inc., the Oakridge project will be the first in a portfolio of dairy farms to break ground in its partnership with REV LNG, a renewable energy project development and mobile energy services company.

SJI has other investment opportunities in Michigan and elsewhere, said Dominick DiRocco, vice president of external affairs. The gas produced at Oakridge will be liquefied and transported by truck to customers in New Jersey.

“There aren’t many dairy farms in New Jersey,” DiRocco said. “There aren’t enough dairy cows to produce gas.”

Agriculture accounted for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The emissions are from livestock such as cows, agricultural soils and rice production.

Some environmentalists advocate for zero-emissions electricity from sources such as wind and solar as a better choice over methane transported through pipes and into homes. Methane leaks and the end product, burning gas, have a greater environmental impact.

Still, it produces much less greenhouse gas “than if you threw manure into a lagoon,” said Matthew Freund, a co-owner of Freund’s Farm in East Canaan.

Freund’s operates one of the earlier digesters, dating to 1997, he said. It’s a septic tank heated to the body temperature of a cow to replicate a stomach compartment and collect gas used to provide electricity for farm offices, a house, water and the digester.

Fort Hill Farms, a Thompson dairy farm, uses cow manure and restaurant waste to generate electricity sold to Middletown and New Britain. Part of a state program authorized in 2014, electricity production is initially used to reduce a farm’s electric consumption, with surplus electricity used to reduce someone else’s electric bill.

Kies Orr, a member of the fourth generation owners of Fort Hill Farms, said her father, who died in 2018, began planning an anaerobic digester about five years ago.

“My father asked how we can be sustainable and diversify to keep us alive,” she said.

More farmers in Connecticut’s small agriculture sector are showing interest in generating revenue by turning cow manure into energy. Although it’s sizable, at $4 billion a year, agriculture is a small part of the state’s nearly $295 billion economy.

The construction site for an anaerobic digester at Oakridge Dairy in Ellington.
The construction site for an anaerobic digester at Oakridge Dairy in Ellington.

Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt said a few other digester projects are in discussions, and state legislation enacted this year streamlined the process for issuing permits.

Efforts behind the planning for the anaerobic digester at Oakridge took five years, much of it in negotiations with the state environmental officials said Foster, an Ellington Democrat.

Looking to require only a single permit, lawmakers this year enacted legislation to accelerate the permitting process. Rules related to hazardous waste and air pollution had previously taken the most time to win state approval, Foster said.

The number of farms in the United States with manure-based anaerobic digestion systems is small: 317 that reduce methane emissions by collecting biogas from the degradation of animal manure, according to AgSTAR, a collaborative program sponsored by EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture to promote the use of biogas recovery.


Junior All American’s Announced by USJersey

Twenty-three Jersey youth between the ages of nine (9) and 20 from nine states have been recognized by the American Jersey Cattle Association as the owners of the Junior All American winners for 2021.

The winners in each class division are: 

Milking Yearling  
Unique Victorious Lovely, Mason Pires, Modesto, Calif.,  Junior All American winner
Underground Lollipop Laralei-ET, Camryn Crothers, Pitcher N.Y.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Junior Two-Year-Old Cow  
Cowbell Casino Dorsay, Chase Rozler, Canton, N.Y.,  Junior All American winner
Maple Lawn Ladd Lazone, Lane Schweigert, Tremont, Ill.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Senior Two-Year-Old Cow 
Cowbell Shoes Cleopatra, Chase Rozler, Canton, N.Y.,  Junior All American winner
McGuires Hired Gun Kimberly, Dixie Hensley, Daleville, Ind.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Junior Three-Year-Old Cow 
Ho-Crawf Andreas Joplin, Sophie Leach, Linwood, Kan.,  Junior All American winner
Arethusa Colton Cadbury-ETS, Grace Sauder, Tremont, Ill.,  Reserve Junior All American

Senior Three-Year-Old Cow 
Meadowridge Triple Crown Fae, Alleah Anderson, Cumberland, Wis.,  Junior All American winner
SVHeaths Tequila Chloe-ET, Kamryn Kasbergen, Tulare, Calif.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Four-Year-Old Cow 
Stoney Point Colton Edele, Lauren Starr, Tulare, Calif.,  Junior All American winner
Meadowridge Vitality Strawberry, Alleah Anderson, Cumberland, Wis.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Five-Year-Old Cow 
WF Valentino Lokie, Reagan Jackson, Clear Brook, Va.,  Junior All American winner
Page-Crest Satin JuJu {5}, Sophie Leach, Linwood, Kan.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Aged Cow 
Green Diamond Comerica Valarie-ET, David Rider, Tillamook, Ore.,  Junior All American winner
Jemi Velocity Moonshine, Evan Westerfield, Ulster, Pa.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Spring Heifer Calf  
DKG Gentry Heidi, Lane Greiwe, Sidney, Ohio,  Junior All American winner
Bolle-Acres Fireman Passion, Lane Bollenbacher, Argos, Ind.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Winter Heifer Calf 
Dashs Delusion, Elizabeth Gunst, Wis.,  Junior All American winner
DKG Gentry Secret, Garrett Hageman, Sidney, Ohio,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Fall Heifer Calf  
Schulte Bros Colton Fergalicious-ET, Cole Kruse, Dyersville, Iowa,  Junior All American winner
DKG Justice Suzanne, Blake Greiwe, Sidney, Ohio,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Summer Junior Yearling 
Mead-Manor Fizz Popsicle, Megan Moede, Algoma, Wis.,  Junior All American winner
RBR-FRM Fizz I-Fancy, Addison Raber, Gridley Ill.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Spring Yearling Heifer 
Bolle-Acres Gentry Fashion, Blaine Warburton, New Albany, Pa.,  Junior All American winner
Meadowridge Vitality Star, Alleah Anderson, Cumberland, Wis.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Winter Yearling Heifer 
HC-Rader Gentry Saba, Shelby Rader, Conneaut Lake, Pa.,  Junior All American winner
Roc-N-Roll Shameless-ET, Robert Nagel, Panama, N.Y.,  Reserve Junior All American winner

Results from The 69th All American Junior Jersey Show are posted on the USJersey website, with complete show coverage published in the January, 2022 issue of the Jersey Journal.

The All American Junior Jersey Show is an annual production of the American Jersey Cattle Association. For information on sponsorship opportunities or to make a contribution to the Maurice E. Core Jersey Youth Fund in support of Jersey junior exhibitors, contact the AJCA Communications Department at 614/322-4451. 

Iowa’s dairy industry faces challenges from supply chain disruptions

Doug Stensland can’t always trust that the semi-trucks filled with the supplies he needs to run his family dairy farm and processing plant in Larchwood will show up on time.

After one truck carrying milk jugs arrived a little late, Stensland said he shifted how he runs his operations.

“After that it was like ‘Boy we have to keep everything ordered way ahead,’” Stensland said. “We used to be able to order and keep a real lean inventory, but now we’ve gotten to a point where we have to stock up a lot of inventory just to make sure we don’t order it and it’s not available.”

Nationwide supply chain disruptions have impacted businesses across the country — and Iowa’s dairy industry is no exception. Transportation and logistics issues have touched all levels of dairy production, from local farmers to large dairy exporters.

In most cases, agriculture economist for Iowa State University Chad Hart said supply isn’t the major issue. The problem is connecting the supply to the demand, and the chain link between many products has been disrupted.

“If the feed additive is in China, but the need for it is here in an Iowa dairy herd, then that doesn’t help you, unless you can deliver it where it’s needed,” Hart said.

On the local level, farmers are facing obstacles in receiving the tools they need to continue business. At Milk Unlimited Dairy, a farm in Atlantic with 34,000 cows, owner Christy Cunningham said the first shortage she noticed was in personal protection equipment used for milking cows at the start of the pandemic.

“Not only were we not able to get them, but when we were, the inflation of the price was enough to make you take notice,” Cunningham said.

Now, equipment like dry tubes, ear tags, feed additives and packaging for milk products are more difficult to stock and require a lot more planning. Between shortages and rising prices, Stensland said the last two years have been very hard for his business.

“Everything’s gone up,” Stensland said. “It’s cut into profits, there’s no doubt about it. It’s just a matter of how far we can be able to grab that back. Our sales are tough anyway. Right now, it’s kind of a hard balancing act.”

Labor shortages 


Waldemar Brandt

Local Iowa dairy farmers are facing higher prices and fewer hands to help with work.

Cunningham usually employs around 30 to 35 people on her farm, but right now she’s about three to four employees short. That’s after giving two rounds of raises just this year.

“Milking cows probably isn’t the sexiest of jobs out there,” Cunningham said.

Iowa State University dairy specialist Fred Hall said labor has become one of the largest issues for dairy farmers around the state. Many farmers are competing with higher wages at manufacturing jobs at places like Tyson Foods or Seaboard Triumph Foods.

“You don’t want to lose an employee because it costs too much to train folks,” Hall said. “There’s only so much farmers can do to increase wages before it costs more to produce than what they’re getting out of the business.”

“It’s cut into profits, there’s no doubt about it. It’s just a matter of how far we can be able to grab that back.”

Doug Stensland

At Stensland Family Farms, workers’ wages have increased throughout the year to keep employees from leaving for jobs at nearby manufacturing plants in Sioux County, Lyon County and Sioux Falls.

So far, it’s been a successful tactic for keeping employees on the farm. But, he’s not sure he can continue to raise wages and keep them competitive.

“We had our labor budget figured out back in 2020, and now we’ve just blown that out of the water,” Stensland said. “It took us a lot of dollars to make sure we kept our people.”

Moving products overseas

Supply chain disruptions have also affected how much dairy can move overseas. Exporting milk products is becoming a bigger challenge for large dairy processors in the dairy industry.

Shipping containers are in high demand and in short supply. Hart said the perishable nature of the products puts them in a tough position.

“They often tend to have a fairly short shelf life. Meaning we can’t wait for months to get a shipping container in order to ship a container full of yogurt. You need to move that in days,” Hart said.

Even when dairy exporters can book a shipping container, oftentimes the containers may be too far to help move products that need to be moved quickly. Blocked ports and a shortage of truck drivers to haul products all impact the amount of product the dairy industry is able to move.

The National Federation of Milk Producers estimated a nearly $1 million loss due to shipping disruptions in the first six months of the year.

Executive Director of Iowa State Dairy Association Mitch Schulte said the Iowa dairy industry has felt this loss. He said transportation concerns have resulted in a loss of opportunity for many state dairy producers.

“Anything that impacts our export market, impacts the price on our dairy farms. Even one container being delayed is an issue, let alone more than that,” Schulte said.


Markets Mostly Down in Chicago to Start the Week

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange milk futures fell except for January and February and cash dairy prices were mostly down Monday.  CME Class III futures settled mainly lower.  December fell 15 cents to $18.42/cwt.  2022 months ranged anywhere from a penny higher in January and February to 18 cents softer.  Most months remain in the higher $18s-$19/cwt.  Class IV was unchanged.

On spot trade dry whey was unchanged at $0.70.  No trades were recorded, but there were two offers at $.73. Cheese Blocks were unchanged at $1.8575.  No sales were recorded. Cheese Barrels went down $.01 closing at $1.51.   No sales were recorded, but one offer at $1.51. Butter closed down $.0575 at $1.99.   There was one sale at that price. Nonfat dry milk went up $.0125 to $1.5675.  There was one trade at $1.56 and a couple of offers at $1.57 and $1.5750.

Some positive signs among low Q3 dairy exports

table of latest UK dairy trade figures

UK dairy trade[1] continues to be down on the year overall, with quarter 3 (July-September) exports 10% lower year on year, while imports were down 7%. Subsequently, overall year to date figures remain down on 2020.

Trade in most of the key product categories was down on the year for Q3, with the exception of powders and butter. This was largely helped by both products seeing a drop in exports in Q3 2020, making the comparison more favourable. Still, with positive growth hard to come by this year, these small wins are worth noting.

Butter[2] exports totalled 15.3k tonnes in Q3 2021, up 34% on Q3 2020. The vast majority of this growth came from exports to the EU, which were up 42% yoy to 13.0k tonnes. In Q3 2020, the EU’s demand for imported dairy fell as a result of the pandemic, with particularly reduced demand from the food service sector. In 2021, this demand has been returning, and low growth in EU milk supplies will have increased import demand.

graph showing quarterly UK butter exports

Exports in the milk powders and concentrates category[3] totalled 34.1k tonnes in Q3 2021, up 16% on Q3 2020. SMP exports were up 13% at 19.1k tonnes, and WMP exports up 17% at 9.2k tonnes. Powder exports can be highly variable, as key importers often purchase via tender or shop around for the best prices. For example, the UK exported 2.9k tonnes of SMP to Algeria in Q3 2021, compared to only 0.1k tonnes in Q3 2020 – which is a fairly common fluctuation for Algeria. Additionally, the UK exported 3.4k tonnes of WMP to China in Q3, more than we shipped to them in the whole of 2020. There has also been an increase in exports of concentrated milk and cream this year.

graph showing quarterly UK milk powder export

[1] Trade codes 0401-0406 inclusive. Includes raw milk crossing the Irish border for processing.

[2] Trade code 0405, “Butter And Other Fats And Oils Derived From Milk”

[3] Trade code 0402, “Milk And Cream, Concentrated Or Containing Added Sweetening”


Fire burns at southern New Mexico dairy operation

A fire was burning Sunday afternoon at a southern New Mexico dairy operation.

The flames broke out at the Big Sky Dairy on Stern Drive in Vado, which sits just off an I-10 access road.

Images from an ABC-7 photographer at the scene showed flames burning at the facility and the fire spreading among hay bales.

Details were scant, it wasn’t known what ignited the fire or the full extent of the damages.

An online business directory said Big Sky operates a dairy farm and milk production effort from a 6,000-square foot facility at that location that has been in operation since 1992.

Source: ABC7

Thousands of farm animals dead in B.C. floods, agriculture minister says

Thousands of farm animals have perished in B.C. floods, and thousands more will be in “critical need of food” over the next few days, according to the province’s minister of agriculture.

“This is a very difficult time for agriculture in B.C. and our producers,” said Lana Popham during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

“Over the last two days, I’ve been able to have FaceTime discussions with farmers, and some of them are in their barns, and some of their barns are flooded, and you can see the animals that are deceased,” she added. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Popham said her ministry has made more than 300 contacts with B.C. agriculture groups and individual farms since the flooding began earlier this week.

“I feel confident that we’ve covered off most commodity groups and people understand that we’re there with them,” she said.

Hundreds of farms have been affected by flooding, including both those that are underwater and those that have stayed dry, but are cut off from necessary resources.

Many farmers on Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford have stayed put, despite evacuation orders, refusing to abandon their animals.

Owners, along with volunteers, are desperately trying to save cattle.

Frightened cows are being towed one by one through treacherous flood waters behind jet skis. They are then pulled to safety and herded into trailers.

One of the people using a boat to help in the effort is Abbotsford resident Menno Koehoorn.

“The cows are very confused,” Koehoorn told CTV News. “They’re of course shivering and shaking and panicked … There were a lot of brave people out there – 50, 60 people wading cows across.”

He has spent the past two days on the water.

“The best thing is we’re community, so everybody is helping everybody,” said Koehoorn.

Still, the situation is heartbreaking.

“There’s going to be dead livestock and dead chickens and some other things,” said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun. “We know that a lot of the cows came out. The heroic efforts of our farmers was unbelievable. I wish you could see what I saw.”

But the emotional mayor says many calves drowned when waters rose to four or five feet.

Paulette Johnson, 66, and her 86-year-old husband David, were rescued from their farm on Tuesday after a frightening 24 hours in the flood zone. Her husband has been sick and has since been hospitalized.

“I was scared, but I didn’t let myself be scared because I knew I couldn’t be,” Johnson said. “I was really worried about my husband and my livestock.”

She says the water came up fast, flooding her home and leaving the cows standing in water as well.

“The hay started floating and they were eating the hay as it floated,” she explained.

She says her neighbours were able to care for the animals and the water had started to recede at their farm.

She’s extremely grateful to those who rescued her after previous attempts had failed.

Meanwhile, Popham promised disaster relief funds for farmers affected by the disaster, and added that B.C. is working with other provinces, the federal government, and private businesses not affected by the floods in an effort to secure food and other resources – such as medical care – for animals that survived the flooding.

“There will have to be euthanizations that happen, but there are also animals that have survived that are going to be in critical need of food in the next few days,” Popham said.

Flooding in the Fraser Valley also inundated the province’s animal health lab, which conducts testing for diseases in livestock in the province, as well as safety testing for B.C. milk, according to the minister.

Popham said Alberta and Saskatchewan have offered their labs for milk testing while B.C.’s facility is out of commission.

The agriculture minister’s remarks came after earlier comments from the mayor of Abbotsford regarding the devastation in the Sumas Prairie.

“I saw barns that looked like they were half full of water,” Braun said. “I can’t imagine that there are any birds left alive.”

Dairy and chicken farms cover the area, where residents in 1,000 properties were told to evacuate on Tuesday.

Farmers spent hours Tuesday working to transport their animals to safety, in some cases relying on boats and other watercraft.

Braun said he watched farmers trudge through water that was 1.5 metres deep to get the livestock out.

The situation grew more frantic Tuesday night when it appeared a crucial water pump station would be overwhelmed. Braun urged those farmers who had ignored the evacuation order to leave their animals and get out.

By Wednesday, the pump station had been surrounded by sandbags and Braun said he felt better about the situation.

The flooding situation in parts of southern British Columbia has forced farmers to lean on each other to save their animals, says the chair of the board for the BC Dairy Association.

Holger Schwichtenberg said he was not yet sure how many farmers were working to move their milking cows, but in such situations, they would reach out for help to get their animals off-site.

He said 25 to 30 cows were being transported to his own farm in Agassiz on Tuesday from another farm in the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver.

“This is an example of an industry coming together when things really get ugly,” Schwichtenberg said. “We’re doing the best that we can with the situation that we’ve been handed and it’s a tough one.”

Moving livestock is time consuming and stressful for the animals and people involved.

“You’ve got trucks, you’ve got neighbours, you’ve got whoever’s got a pickup truck or something to haul cattle in and you start moving them to higher ground or you’ve made arrangements to get them off-site,” Schwichtenberg said.

Braun said Tuesday watching farmers work to save their animals was “heartbreaking.”

“They want to protect their animals. Many would give their lives for their animals,” Braun told reporters.

Schwichtenberg said this week’s flooding has put a strain on the industry, which is still reeling from a disastrous summer.

“We had a long, hot summer, we had a very poor growing season unless you had irrigation, the ongoing effects of COVID, and now we have this situation,” he said.

“It’s testing the resilience of dairy farmers, that’s for sure.”


Squeezed by low prices and a worker shortage, 60-year-old Maine farm shuts down

Idle farm equipment sits next to the empty barn at Cole Dairy Farm in this small town outside of Augusta, the most recent casualty in an industry fraught with dairy consolidations, high production costs, downward product price pressure and labor shortages.

All that’s left on the farm, which used to produce 2.4 million pounds, or about 278,400 gallons, of milk a year from its 100 cows, is the faint smell of manure and some very young heifers that will be sold after the remaining food runs out.

It’s a story playing out across the state, where dairy farms are a key link in the chain of producing enough food locally to feed Mainers. Some 109 Maine dairy farms shut down over the past nine years, according to Maine Milk Commission data. With fewer outlets buying milk, the price pressure on dairy farmers likely will continue. If more fail, Mainers ultimately could have fewer local choices in the dairy aisle.

Only 187 dairy farms remain in operation in Maine today compared with their heyday in 1954, when there were almost 4,600 farms. For years production costs have been higher than revenues, according to Maine Farmland Trust, making it hard for farms to survive.

For Cole Dairy Farm owner Dale Cole, 63, the final straw was not being able to hire farmhands at a livable wage. Last week he sold his cows to another dairy and closed the farm, which had three part-time and three full-time workers.

“The labor pressure has been building for some time,” said Cole, a second-generation farm owner. “If your labor costs are going way up and you get a reduction in pay for the milk, I don’t have to explain to you what’s coming down the road. It just can’t be done.”

David Doak, who shut down Doak Farms in Monroe three years ago, agreed. Low prices for milk and high costs of trucking figured into his decision to sell his 45 cows. He also represents another trend in the state of older farmers retiring and having no one to take over the farm. The average age of a US dairy farmer is 56 and fewer young farmers are coming into the industry, according to national data.

Dairy farming is a big contributor to Maine’s economy, with an estimated $2.7 billion in direct and indirect economic impact, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. It makes up 4.2 percent of Maine’s GDP, provides almost 17,000 direct and indirect jobs and contributes almost $147 million in state tax revenues, the association said. Consumers can tell if their milk is produced and processed in Maine by looking for the number 23 starting the code on the milk container.

The consolidation in the dairy industry has left fewer places for dairy farmers to sell milk, which means less competition to keep prices stable. One example of consolidation is the former Grant’s Dairy in Bangor, which Garelick Farms bought in 1994. Garelick ceased milk production there in January 2013, citing competitive pressures. In the Portland area, Oakhurst Dairy ended its 92 years of being family run in 2014, when it was sold to Dairy Farmers of America.

Having to rely more heavily on fewer customers, a byproduct of the industry consolidation, poses additional challenges to farmers. That came to light in August when 89 organic dairy farms in the Northeast, including 14 in Maine, were notified they would lose their contracts with organic dairy company Danone when it stops buying milk in the region by the end of August 2022.

Gov. Janet Mills, along with all four members of Maine’s Congressional delegation, wrote letters to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture asking for federal help. Mills also asked Danone to revisit its decision to end the contracts or at least extend the termination date from 12 months to 18 months.

In a market with fewer customers that can push prices low, it is difficult to invest in farm upkeep and improvements. Cole fell short of money to build a new barn for his heifers and update some equipment. Money got even tighter when buyers put a quota on how much milk they would purchase, such as when they didn’t have enough labor for a production shift.

“It’s difficult if I need to make a large investment but then have to cut back 15 percent of my milk because of the quota,” Cole said. “When a bigger and bigger piece of your output goes to one place, you lose control of your business.”

Cole said the saddest thing about closing down is there will be no third generation to continue running the farm. Instead, he plans to sell hay with help from his son.

But the broader picture, he said, is that local farms need to continue, because Maine needs its own food supply. The effect of supply-chain disruptions was laid bare early in the pandemic when supermarket shelves with milk and beef were often empty. Retail experts expect ongoing shortages on a broad array of goods through this holiday season.

“The thing that’s been driven into us a bit more in the last 18 months with COVID-19 is the state of Maine always needs to have a viable source of food,” said Heath Miller, treasurer of the Maine Dairy Industry Association and owner of the Green Valle Farms in Newburgh, where he milks 200 cows. “When you lose any aspect of the agricultural culture, you lose such a big part of the infrastructure.”

A large part of the community also is lost, Sarah Littlefield, executive director of the Maine Dairy Promotion Board, said.

“To see a farm go out of business is very emotional, because their way of life is going to significantly change and their community is going to change because that farm isn’t there,” Littlefield said.


US Dairy Prices Jump as Milk Production Growth Slows

US dairy prices have risen by double-digit percentages this year, adding to an overall increase in food inflationary pressures. But in the case of dairy, heightened demand comes at a time when milk supply growth has slowed sharply and is expected to continue to decelerate for the rest of the year. 

Higher dairy prices impact a variety of companies at multiple points in the food supply chain. Grocers could see higher selling prices for a key driver of foot traffic. Food manufacturers of products from confectionery to yogurt may be forced to raise prices, and even restaurants with large coffee offerings may need to do likewise. 

Futures contracts for class III milk, which is used for making most types of cheese, have rallied nearly 10% so far this year. Class IV milk, used for butter and nonfat dry milk (NFDM), is up 14%. Milk is priced according to its end use, with products grouped into four classes.

Gro’s US Food Price Index, which reflects prices on a basket of consumer food items, is up nearly 20% year over year, signaling strong inflationary pressure on basic food necessities. And the US government reported last week that the Consumer Price Index rose by 6.2% in October from a year earlier, the fastest gain in more than 30 years. 

The easing of pandemic-related food service restrictions has fed US domestic demand for dairy products such as cheese and butter. Exports have also risen. Nonfat dry milk exports so far this year are up 12% from a year earlier, with gains mainly to Mexico and Southeast Asia. And cheese exports are 9% higher. 

On the supply side, an increase in US milk production that started over a year ago has slowed. Milk production in September totaled 18.1 billion pounds, up just 0.2% from a year earlier, the slowest growth pace since mid-2019. The USDA has forecast a continuing slide in milk production growth through the end of 2021. 

The US dairy herd also has shrunk, with milk cow numbers in September of 9.4 million, down 85,000 from an all-time peak in May. The drought that has plagued the western US has taken cows away from pasture and driven up feed costs, mainly for corn and hay. That has cut into returns for dairy producers, who have thinned herds, and prompted changes in the mix of feed rations, resulting in lower milk production because of reduced nutrition levels. 

Milk is produced in all 50 US states, with the highest producing states in western and northern areas of the country. California, the biggest producer with over 41 billion pounds of milk production per year, has suffered some of the country’s worst effects from this year’s drought. ​​


Dairy farm loses 400 tons of hay in Utah County fire

Hundreds of tons of hay burn at Elberta Dairy on Sunday, November 21, 2021. (Utah County Fire Marshal)

ELBERTA, Utah (ABC4) – A dairy farm in southern Utah County lost thousands of pounds of hay during a Sunday morning fire.

The Utah County Fire Marshal says Elberta Dairy is now without roughly 400 tons of hay. While the cause remains under investigation, the fire marshal says it may have been caused by a wet stack of hay.

“Did you know that excessive moisture is the most common cause of hay fires? Spontaneous combustion is always a possibility with stored hay, particularly if hay was baled too wet or too green,” the marshal explains.

The Utah County Fire Marshal shared these photos, seen in the slideshow below, of the hay fire. Flames can be seen eating at the hay bales as smoke billows skyward.


Dairy Farmer Finds Success Pasteurizing His Own Milk

The solution to Omar Beiler’s dairy problem was crammed into a small room a stone’s throw from his house.

The structure was built about five years ago, primarily for the flour mill upstairs. The lower level is now the site for a high-temperature, short-time pasteurization system that has helped Beiler’s Heritage Acres head in a new direction.

When he lost his wholesale market, Beiler decided to pasteurize, bottle and sell his milk himself. The Amish farmer, who has been in business for 40 years, bought the equipment with the help of Steward, a private lender that helps farmers generate new revenue.

Spike Gjerde, a chef and founder of Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen, worked for Steward as a liaison between the lender and Beiler.

“He was faced with the choice of either selling off his herd and losing that part of his farm income or this other kind of radical solution,” Gjerde said. “To add his own processing equipment onto the farm and take the bull by the horns, if you will. The reason most farms don’t consider that is because the cost is very high.”

Steward helped Beiler with a loan for $527,499 that he has since paid in full, according to the company’s website. Gjerde said the lender guided Beiler through the complexities of getting his Grade A license so he could sell the milk. Steward also assisted with marketing.

The first conversations between the two took place in 2018, and it wasn’t an easy road. Beiler had to renovate the room to fit the equipment and learn the pasteurization process. There were moments of frustration.

“There were a couple of different phases,” Beiler said. “A couple of times I was like, ‘This doesn’t make any sense.’ I was about to throw everything back to where I’d gotten it from.”

Production became smoother with experience, and today Beiler is able to crate or box milk, butter, cream and other dairy products under his own label for direct shipment to buyers.

Gjerde and Beiler built a friendship through the products the farmer sold to the chef. Beiler’s Heritage Acres also produces grains, wheat and eggs on the 100-acre property. Gjerde saw Beiler’s organic, grass-based farm as a good place to test the milk pasteurization idea.

“The story around milk is there’s a global oversupply,” Gjerde said. “In this country, that’s being exacerbated by insane consolidations of producers and processors. The folks like Omar are kind of getting left in the lurch. One of the results of that is the commodity price of milk has continued to decline. It affects even the people doing the best work. A lot of the folks in Pennsylvania and the Northeast are getting squeezed out.”

The impetus for making this change came when Beiler lost his milk buyer. He was painted into a corner.

“It was either this or get out of dairy,” said Beiler, who has approximately 40 cows on his farm. “They dropped me, and it was a time when nobody was really looking for milk. Nobody would have taken me at that point.”

Beiler estimated that he produces 1,500 pounds of milk daily in the fall. The hope is this plan can be replicated at other farms. Gjerde called it “possibly a game-changing option” to sell directly to customers.

For Beiler, it was a path forward when he didn’t have one. Although it required a great deal of effort, patience and self-education, he believes it’ll be a positive for his farm in the long run.

“He’s a great grower,” Gjerde said. “Really smart and really entrepreneurial. Always looking for opportunities to do things and do them really well.”

That’s how, on one farm, a radical idea became a solution.


American Cows Are Making Less Milk as Farmers Cut Back on Feed

Milk output in the U.S. is on a historic weak streak, potentially signaling climbing costs for dairy products.

Production per cow was less than a year ago for a third month in a row, according to government data released Friday. The last time that happened was more than 20 years ago, said Nate Donnay, director of dairy market insight at StoneX Group. 

Farmers are probably feeding their animals less, said Donnay. The cost of grains like corn is soaring this year due to drought, storms and robust demand. Labor and energy costs are also more expensive. It’s all hurting farmers’ bottom lines and making it difficult to afford feed.  

“The most obvious contributor to this drop in cow numbers and slowdown in production is feed cost and availability,” Donnay said.

U.S. milk production in October was down 0.5% from last year, compared to StoneX’s forecast for a 0.3% rise.

The dairy cow herd also continues to shrink. This should eventually lead to higher prices for consumers, Donnay said.

American Cows Are Making Less Milk as Farmers Cut Back on Feed


‘America’s Dairyland at the Crossroads’ Debuts on Milwaukee PBS

Nowadays the only dairy farmers many Milwaukeeans will ever meet are at Wisconsin State Fair, exhibiting their prize cattle. And yet: even if our license plates didn’t remind us daily, living in America’s Dairyland remains part of our identity, even as those red barns overlooking pastures of contented cows are in danger of passing into memory. In 2019, some 800 Wisconsin dairy farmers locked the barndoors and sold their cows.

The title of a new documentary, “America’s Dairyland: At the Crossroads,” states the situation plainly. A collaboration between Milwaukee PBS and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “At the Crossroads” focuses on Marathon, Clark and Fond du Lac counties, interviewing farm families and agronomists along with Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Some of the farmers who spoke to “At the Crossroads” abandoned farming in the face of rising debt and financial uncertainty. Others remain in business and are optimistic that they will survive through new technology, cheap alternative energy and crop diversification. At some family farms, robots perform the chores once done by children, wind turbines generate power and families reunite on weekends to tap maple syrup from the trees.

Milk prices fluctuate, making it hard for small family farms to compete with industrial-scale producers. “At the Crossroads” asks whether consumers are willing to pay a bit more to make America’s Dairyland thrive. Ninety percent of Wisconsin’s dairy production goes toward cheese. How about a 25-cent increase on each package?

“America’s Dairyland: At the Crossroads” premieres on 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 18 on Channel 10.1. Milwaukee PBS producer Scottie Lee Meyers responded to questions.

How were the farmers you focused on chosen? And why did you choose Clark, Marathon and Fond du Lac counties?

Before starting the project, we sat down with [Journal Sentinel reporter] Rick Barrett and talked about where we wanted this story to take place. We had to take a variety of factors into account, of course the most important being dairy farmers willing to share their stories with us over a pretty significant period of time. That’s not an easy task if you consider the time commitment, the invasion of privacy. We were really after the average dairy farmer. Someone who could lend insight into how dairy defines us, labor, policy, technology and so on. 

Another thing we had to consider was proximity—after all, we knew this would require us to travel regularly. 

We decided early on that Clark County would be a good fit—it’s pretty much the epicenter of dairy farming in Wisconsin. The county is home to the most dairy farms in the state. There are literally more cows than people there. We needed a place that was just kind of a good representation of the dairy industry dynamics. For our first trip to Clark County, we kind of went on a tour, meeting a half dozen or so small dairy farmers to scout their operation.  

For previous installments of this project—which included two different 15ish-minute segments, the first one being about how the pandemic was affecting small town Clark County, and the second looking at the next generation of dairy farmers—we centered on different farm families in Loyal, a small town inside Clark County. Legend goes that it got its name because every eligible man volunteered to fight in the Civil War. And just down the street is Greenwood, where Grassland Dairy Products is located, which I believe is the second biggest butter producer in the country. 

When we began focusing on the final, hour-long documentary, we realized that we didn’t have all the pieces. And so we had to broaden our profile outside Clark County.

Did you gain any insight into the satisfaction dairy farmers find in their work? It’s not easy or often profitable—what keeps them engaged?

Historically speaking, there was a stretch from 2014 to 2019 that was about as bad as it’s ever been for dairy farmers. Wisconsin lost almost 700 dairy farms in 2018, an unprecedented rate of nearly two a day. Wisconsin lost nearly 70% of its dairy farms since 2000. Those are just stunning numbers. This is, after all, Wisconsin’s economic engine. As dairy goes, so too goes the state. But it’s about so much more than that, right? It’s about who we are, our cultural identity. It’s individual lives and livelihoods. And it’s not uncommon for those who chose to go on to be massively in debt, like six figures in debt. And yet so many dairy farmers choose to go on. And I think that’s for a lot of different reasons. 

I think many dairy farmers are independent and like working for themselves. They love the animal husbandry, the land ethic, the connection to the soil, the honesty of it all. For others, it may be tradition. They’re doing it because their parents did it, their grandparents did it. And to break that family lineage would be shameful. Also, a lot of farmers told us they liked the environment for raising children. There’s a real dependency on a farm. It makes them physically strong, emotionally close. 

Farming is a way of life. And people are understandably reverent about it. One of the first farmers we met on this adventure was Marty Nigon in Greenwood. He shares this story about when he was younger and the day he was going to take over the family farm from his parents. And his dad told him something like, “Marty, two things got to be true for you to be a farmer. First, you got to like it. And second, you got to believe next year is going to be better than the last.” And Marty says both those things have always been true for him. I really find that optimism to be incredible, especially in wake of what we’ve seen in milk prices in the past six years or so. 

Also, it’s not just about creating profit for individual dairy farmers. It’s a symbiotic relationship. When farmers are doing OK, they go into town and spend money. They prop up Main Streets across America. 

In simple terms, what drives the fluctuation of milk prices?

Oh boy. That’s a tough one. And I’m afraid it’s not so simple. I’m not an agricultural economist, so this is a little above my paygrade. But here’s what I’ve learned through Rick’s reporting on this. The prices farmers receive for their unprocessed, unpasteurized milk are largely determined by the forces of supply and demand, and government programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does set the minimum price using complicated formulas based on the wholesome market value. Over the years, the price farmers receive for their milk has fallen nearly 40%. Again, it was a terrible five-year stretch there and there have only been glimmers of hope that it’s getting better. Farmers don’t know how much their paycheck is going to be until weeks later. Imagine living like that? 

Other factors: Sales of milk as a beverage have fallen steadily since the 1970s. You also got the emergence of soy milk and almond milk products, not to mention the explosion of sports and energy drinks that have come onto the beverage market. A typical American today drinks about 40% less milk than in the 1970s. Also, foreign markets shrunk in the Trump administration with the revision of NAFTA and the temporary tariffs. Cheese shipments to China and Mexico have fallen sharply. And there’s just an oversaturated milk market. We’re squeezing more and more quality milk out of less dairy cows. 

Can the decline of the family dairy farm be stopped or slowed? Does new technology provide an answer?

Yes, I believe it can. We hear from John Ikerd in the documentary. He’s a really knowledgeable guy—a professor emeritus at the University of Missouri, an ag economist. And he stresses this point. He, and others, say Wisconsin’s dairy farming infrastructure is envied around the country. There’s enough here worth saving. But it will take a public education campaign and sort of a renewed dedication to localism. I think it also poses questions to us consumers. How much do we value the workers who feed us? 

Have some family farms expanded into industrial sized “concentrated animal feeding operations” or have CAFOs been largely driven by agribusiness corporations?

From what I understand, the vast majority of CAFOs in Wisconsin are actually family owned. 

When did you begin work on America’s Dairyland at the Crossroads and when did you finish?

We first met with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in July 2019. And we literally finished editing the hour-long doc on Monday [Nov. 8]. Neither the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel nor Milwaukee PBS had the luxury of working on this project exclusively over that timespan. It was an enormous story. And an all-encompassing one. We really touch on so many issues. And to make matters worse, the pandemic really limited our ability to travel. We had to be very creative with getting our footage and doing interviews and just generally moving the story forward. 


‘Ludicrous’ that Fonterra is still bound by legislation that tilts playing field towards its competitors

OPINION: With the prospect of this season’s farm-gate milk price looking closer to $9 than $8 and a significantly better than expected free-trade deal with the UK, economically things are looking rosy for Fonterra farmers. I’m a strong supporter of the co-op and was intrigued when it announced it was looking to change its capital structure to make it easier for farmers to join.

The new proposed capital structure put forward by Fonterra’s board would make joining the co-operative easier by reducing the high capital investment required to supply it and allow farmers greater financial flexibility when they decide to leave.

Fonterra last changed its capital structure when it adopted Trading Among Farmers (TAF) in 2012. TAF was a response to the issue of farmers exiting Fonterra and redeeming their shares, meaning large sums of money were washing in and out of the co-op, mainly out.

It addressed one issue, the threat to Fonterra’s balance sheet, but ignored systemic problems like the high cost of becoming a Fonterra supplier and the fact suppliers were still leaving the co-op in favour of independent processors who don’t require farmer investment.


TAF was based on the belief milk supply would continue to grow and Fonterra’s share of that supply would remain stable. In fact, milk supply levelled off shortly after the introduction of TAF and Fonterra’s share of the milk pool fell from 96 per cent to its current level of around 80 per cent.

The Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, who has been an outspoken critic of TAF since it was introduced, welcomed the news of an impending change. In May this year he said he would assist Fonterra’s board in speeding through the necessary law changes, seeing the need to quickly amend the legislation that controls Fonterra, once final decisions were made.

With Fonterra’s board actively consulting farmers and amending their proposal based on the feedback received, and the Minister of Agriculture enthusiastically supporting change, all that would be needed to see the changes put in place is a favourable farmer vote in December.

Or so you would think. A recent email from Fonterra Board Chair Peter McBride poured cold water on that notion.

The email, which was announcing the board’s intention to go ahead with the vote, contained a chilling paragraph towards the end which read: “At this stage, the Government is not in a position to support DIRA changes to facilitate our proposal, but we understand the Government wants to work with us to reach an outcome that works for both parties.”

The news that O’Connor is no longer willing to amend the legislation is an obvious sign that something has gone seriously awry behind the scenes.

We can expect Fonterra’s competitors will be lobbying hard for the status quo as any changes that would make it easier for farmers to join Fonterra poses a risk to their supplier base, a base they would move mountains to protect.

Another possibility is that the Government departments reviewing the proposed changes simply don’t like what they’re seeing, and if that’s the case it explains O’Connor’s sudden reticence. It would be a brave minister indeed who went against the advice of his ministry without very strong justification.

McBride’s email also held out hope the changes would be in place before the start of the next milking season starting in June.

Given that the changes are obviously not a Government priority, there’s no legislation prepared, not to mention the looming long Parliamentary Christmas break, I’d say that’s a very faint hope indeed. I also hope O’Connor’s time is focused on delivering farmers and growers a decent trade deal with Europe.

In the worst-case scenario, Fonterra and the Government are so far apart that the changes farmer shareholders will vote on in December will look nothing like what the Government is willing to implement. If so, this may end up being an opportunity wasted and the significant share value farmers have invested in the co-op will have been decimated for no reason. For the sake of farmers, I sincerely hope this isn’t the case.

The whole saga however highlights a very important truth, after 20 years in existence Fonterra is still bound by legislation that tilts the playing field heavily towards its competitors. The fact that a company could take a democratic shareholder vote and the decision whether to enact the outcome is left to the Government is ludicrous.

DIRA needs to be scrapped, except for the milk price manual, and Fonterra and its farmer shareholder need to be free to chart their own course.

With the next DIRA review only a couple of years away, that’s where the co-op’s lobbying muscle (and the Government department’s time) should be directed instead of attempting to tinker around the edges. Only then will decisions about the co-op’s structure solely be in the hands of farmers.


Wisconsin dairy industry needs reform amid COP26 calls to fight climate change

The dairy industry has been heavily criticized in recent years for its impacts on the environment and role in climate change.

The World Wildlife Fund found that dairy farming contributes to climate failure in every section of the environment. It has been shown to impact the air and atmosphere, soil health and water quality and cause habitat degradation.

According to a report by the United Nations, the global dairy sector contributes to four percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The industry is especially well known for the methane it produces, contributing to over 50% of its total greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy farming can also have unintended environmental consequences, with more natural habitats being transformed into mass agriculture production to supply dairy cattle with corn, alfalfa and soy.

Wisconsin has felt the brunt of these environmentalist criticisms because of its strong affiliations with the production of dairy products. The state has more dairy farms than any other in the nation, and is number two in milk production within the U.S.

With the COP26 summit in Glasgow earlier this month bringing climate change to the forefront of the international agenda, it is important to look at Wisconsin’s unsustainable dairy farming habits and what needs to change going forward.

A common misconception about Wisconsin’s dairy is that it is run by small and local farms. In reality, over 50% of the dairy produced in the U.S. is through just 3% of its dairy production corporations — referred to as dairies. While small family farms have been struggling to stay afloat with rising milk demand, mass commercial dairies are increasingly common in the state and are by far the biggest contributors to the industry’s environmental impact.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin state Attorney General announced a quarter-million dollar settlement with two dairy corporations for the manure spills that led to significant water contamination in Wisconsin’s natural water bodies.

Commercial dairies can house ten times the amount of cows as the typical family farm. With this comes a high level of manure which is one of the biggest issues with concentrated groups of cattle. The largest Wisconsin concentrated animal feeding organizations — which accommodate 6,000 cows or more — produce as much manure and urine as 252,000 people. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of Madison. This extreme backup of excrement has resulted in dangerous levels of runoff across the state that can contaminate groundwater and other bodies of water.

The first step to reforming Wisconsin’s dairy practices is recognizing that local, family-run dairy farms are not the biggest problem in the industry — highly commercialized dairies are. Unfortunately, the fact is, Wisconsin is not exempt from the national trend towards corporatization in farming and animal production.

Knowing this, it is crucial to hold these companies accountable in a few key ways, like setting caps on their greenhouse gas emission rates and increasing animal health monitoring and illness prevention in large farms to decrease emissions per liter of milk produced.

Shifting companies towards more sustainable practices is also important in making dairy farming more eco-friendly. An example of a sustainable farming practice is the use of cattle manure as soil fertilizer because of its high nutrient content. Making dairy collection more efficient is critical in lowering gas emissions and rates of habitat loss.

There is no denying that dairy is a strong part of Wisconsin culture. The demand for dairy products isn’t going away anytime soon, which means the solution is not going to be as simple as shutting down the industry as we know it. But the actions of both maximizing the efficiency of the system and implementing sustainable farming practices can at the very least move Wisconsin in the right direction towards becoming an eco-friendly state amid the international fight against climate change.


Top Dairy Industry News Stories from November 14th to 20th 2021


Top News Stories of the Week:

Fonterra pushes on with capital restructure, despite government concerns with proposal

Giant New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra is pushing ahead with a capital restructure proposal despite not gaining support for it from the New Zealand government.

The changes include placing a cap on the listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which is open to investors in Australia, including non-farmer shareholders.

The proposal would see its NZ farmer suppliers required to hold a reduced minimum of one share for every three kilograms of milk solids they produce and allows for additional farmer classes, including sharemilkers, to hold shares in the co-op.

But the NZ government has not backed the proposal, which will require changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), under which Fonterra was formed.

Fonterra released the government’s advice in details about the proposal sent to NZ farmer shareholders on Wednesday, two days before voting starts on November 19.

In the letter, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said “it would be difficult for the government to support an amendment to DIRA to facilitate the proposals”.

“The current proposals envisage a legislative change to remove key mechanisms that risk weakening performance incentives on Fonterra,” he said.

“Without alternative measures, I am not yet assured that these proposals would deliver the best long-term outcomes for farmers or the dairy sector as a whole.”

Mr O’Connor said he was concerned the proposal would create division between farmers with minimum shareholdings to supply milk and those with larger shareholdings for investment.

“My concern is that this could result in competing shareholder priorities relating to Fonterra’s future direction and strategy,” he said.

Bur Mr O’Connor said the government acknowledged a successful and innovative Fonterra was central to a well-functioning dairy industry, which was vital to the NZ economy.

“Ensuring that Fonterra operates as a strong, intergenerational, farmer-owned dairy processor is therefore important for the New Zealand dairy industry’s future,” he said.

Mr O’Connor said he was prepared to consider an alternative, more balanced proposal from Fonterra.

Fonterra remains confident it can get the government on side.

Fonterra chair Peter McBride said he had spoken with the minister and was confident that it could provide the necessary assurances and work with the government to find a regulatory framework to support the new structure.

He urged farmers to exercise their vote.

“This is one of the most profound decisions we will make as farmers,” he said.

“There is no perfect answer, but we are confident that the flexible shareholding structure will support the sustainable supply of NZ milk that our long-term strategy relies on.

“One enables the other, and together they give our co-op the potential to deliver the competitive returns that will continue to support our families’ livelihoods from this generation to the next.”

READ MORE: The future of Fonterra in Australia

Fonterra plans to hold a special meeting to vote on the proposal, which requires a minimum 75 per cent support from votes cast, following its annual meeting on December 9.

The proposal has already passed one hurdle – the requirement of a 50pc support vote by the Fonterra Co-operative Council, the representative body elected by farmers to represent their interests.

The council voted 92pc in support of the recommended changes.

READ MORE: Chunk of Fonterra Australia may hit the market

But the proposal has disappointed the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which wanted Fonterra to buy back the fund, in part, due to its poor performance.

Units in the fund have fallen almost 30pc since it was launched in 2012.

Unit holders in the fund are not able to vote on the proposed changes as they are not Fonterra shareholders.

The co-op is aiming for a June 1, 2022, start date.

Changes to initial proposal

Fonterra has made changes to the proposals, first floated in May and detailed in September, in response to feedback from farmer shareholders and the shareholders’ fund.

Mr McBride said the decision to go ahead had been informed by a significant volume of shareholder feedback that showed strong support for the changes.

“Our strategy is focused on New Zealand milk, and our future success relies on our ability to maintain a sustainable milk supply in an increasingly competitive environment and one that is changing rapidly due to factors such as environmental pressures, new regulations and alternative land uses,” he said.

“We see total New Zealand milk supply as likely to decline or flat at best.

“Our share of that decline depends on the actions we take with our capital structure, performance, productivity and sustainability.

“If we do nothing, we are likely to see around 12-20pc decline by 2030 based on the scenarios we have modelled.”

Mr McBride said changes made from the proposals outlined in September included:

  • The introduction of thresholds to support the alignment of share ownership and milk supply. These would reflect Fonterra’s intention that the total number of shares on issue in the co-op would be within +/-15pc of total milk supply, and that the proportion of shares held by ceased suppliers would be less than 25pc of the shares in the co-op.
  • The way dry shares would be allocated to associated shareholders (sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm lessors) had been simplified to make it easier for them to apply to hold dry shares.
  • The overall limit on the size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund had been reduced from 20pc to 10pc of total shares on issue, rather than having a total ban on any further shares being exchanged into units. This recognised that the fund size, which was currently around 6.7pc of total shares on issue, could change from time to time subject to the overall limit. Shares would still not be able to be exchanged into units on a day-to-day basis, and the board would retain its current rights to regulate this process.


Dairy Farmer Leader Receives Prestigious Lyng Award

The National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB) honored Kenton Holle as the 2021 recipient of the Richard E. Lyng Award for his contributions and distinguished service to dairy promotion.

Holle, a dairy farmer from Mandan, N.D., was recognized at the Joint NDB/National Milk Producers Federation/United Dairy Industry Association Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

The award is named for former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Richard E. Lyng, who played a critical role in implementing policies that led to the establishment of NDB more than 35 years ago. The Lyng Award honors leaders who have made a significant contribution to dairy promotion that benefits the entire industry.

“This award celebrates farmers who have shown a long-standing commitment and dedication to dairy promotion,” said Alex Peterson, Missouri dairy farmer and chair of the NDB. “Kenton exemplifies this leadership with a more than 15-year commitment to advancing farmer priorities nationally, regionally and locally.”

Holle served as chair of the NDB in 2013-14. As chair, he oversaw the evolution of the national program from generic image advertising to helping grow sales and trust in dairy by working with and through the industry. “Kenton did a masterful job in sharing with other farmers why the transition to partnership was so valuable to the checkoff,” Peterson said.

This commitment to promotion extends through Holle’s community involvement. As a member of his local Lions Club, Holle was instrumental in the creation of “Salem Sue,” the world’s largest Holstein cow that is located on a hill outside of New Salem, N.D., and remains a national tourist attraction.

Today, Holle and his family continue to share dairy’s story and its importance to their community by hosting numerous farm tours, “breakfast on the farm” events and other activities at their Northern Lights Dairy.

As part of the Richard E. Lyng Award, the NDB will contribute $2,500 in Holle’s name to North Dakota State University’s College of Human Sciences and Education.

For information about the dairy checkoff, visit

Chippewa County approves permit for large dairy, Riverview Dairy’s sixth in area west of Willmar

Riverview Dairy LLP will be constructing its sixth large dairy west of Willmar in the area where Chippewa, Swift and Kandiyohi counties meet.

The Chippewa County Board of Commissioners approved a conditional use permit Tuesday for a 10,500-animal unit dairy to be developed in Grace Township along Minnesota Highway 40, about 23 miles west of Willmar.

Riverview LLP currently operates the similar-sized East and West Dublin, Louriston, Swenoda and Meadow Star dairies in the open expanse between Willmar and Milan and south of Benson.

Grace Dairy represents an estimated $60 million investment. It’s expected to generate an estimated $3 million a year in wages and $90,000 in property taxes, according to information presented Tuesday.

No timeline has been set for its construction. While its development could get underway in 2022, that is not yet decided, Riverview representatives Tom Walsh and David Yost told the West Central Tribune.

The Chippewa County planning and zoning commission recommended approval of the permit for the dairy after holding a public hearing Nov. 10.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had urged Riverview Dairy LLP to consider a different site for its planned Grace Dairy due to the site's proximity to the Grace Marshes Wildlife Management Area. The project is moving forward on the original site as proposed. Contributed / Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had urged Riverview Dairy LLP to consider a different site for its planned Grace Dairy due to the site’s proximity to the Grace Marshes Wildlife Management Area. The project is moving forward on the original site as proposed. Contributed / Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

County Board chair David Nordaune said several neighboring landowners had expressed concerns about potential impacts on their domestic water supplies, as well as traffic. About an equal number of people attended the hearing to voice support for the project, according to Nordaune.

He said the company had met the requirements of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources, and also the county’s land use ordinance. A turn lane on Highway 40 will be constructed to address traffic concerns. The dairy will handle an expected 250 trucks weekly.

The dairy is projected to use 120 million gallons of water a year. It will produce an estimated 85 million gallons of manure, which will be applied on 7,300 acres of farmland each year. The company has lined up 12,113 acres for applying the manure, according to its permit.

Walsh told the commissioners that the dairy’s water appropriations permit requires that the operations do not impact the water supplies of neighboring farms. He said the company is committed to working with any landowner with concerns.

“There is what the law requires and then there is what’s called doing the right thing,” he told the commissioners.

Commissioner Candice Jaenisch said there had also been some concerns raised about the density of livestock in the area with the addition of this dairy. She noted that there are also hog operations in the area. The county has no ordinance regulating livestock density. Walsh and Yost said the area where the dairies are located has ample acreage to both provide feed for the dairies as well as use the manure.

The No. 1 cost of production for the dairy is feed, said Walsh. The dairy expects to purchase 75% to 85% of its feedstock from farms near the dairy, along with soybeans processed in Dawson.

The new Grace Dairy to be constructed by Riverview Dairy LLP will occupy a quarter section of land in Grace Township, Chippewa County, roughly midway between Willmar and Milan along Minnesota Highway 40. Contributed / Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

The new Grace Dairy to be constructed by Riverview Dairy LLP will occupy a quarter section of land in Grace Township, Chippewa County, roughly midway between Willmar and Milan along Minnesota Highway 40. Contributed / Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Two landowners near the dairy urged the commissioners to approve the permit.

Kyle Petersen, who has invested in Riverview dairies, pointed to its dairies already operating in the area.

“They are good players. They run a good operation,” Petersen said.

Floyd Hettver cited the economic benefits for neighboring farms producing feed for the dairies.

“It’s been good for us,” he said, “to keep the family out there farming in our community.” He called the dairy “a positive for us out there in the middle of nowhere.”

The dairy will ship approximately nine semitrailer loads of milk for processing each day when in full operation. Yost and Walsh said no decisions have been made on where the milk will be shipped at this point.

Along with offering the land and water resources the dairies need, the area west of Willmar is also located within reasonable distances of dairy processing facilities. They include First District in Litchfield; Associated Milk Producers in Paynesville; Lakes Area Cooperative in Perham; Valley Queen in Milbank, South Dakota; and Agropur in Lake Norden, South Dakota.

The commissioners unanimously approved the conditional use permit with Bill Pauling, Jaenisch and Nordaune voting. Members David Lieser and Matt Gilbertson were not present.


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