World Dairy Diary

New Holland New at NFMS

New Holland Roll Belt 560Robert Hendrix is the rock star of New Holland hay and forage tools. I had fun letting him show off a couple of new products at the National Farm Machinery Show, the Discbine 313 mower-conditioner and Roll Belt 560 round baler. In the interview below he talks us through all the new features.

Discbine 313:

New Holland has taken the Discbine® mower-conditioner to a new level with two new center-pivot models. Combining both speed and performance, the new Discbine® 313 and Discbine® 316 feature increased durability, more efficient crop flow and smoother, more effective conditioning. The combination of larger cutting discs and a wider conditioning system leads to cleaner cutting, better crop flow and more consistent drying. Co-rotating disc modules have been removed on the Discbine 313 and reduced to one pair on the Discbine 316. This greatly reduces the crop convergence between the cutterbar and the conditioner.

Roll Belt 560:

The New Holland’s Roll-Belt™ 560 5′x 6′ round baler delivers two elements cattle producers ask for the most: higher baling capacity and better feeding ability in a wide range of crops and baling conditions. New Holland’s proven combination of rolls and belts gets hay rolling quickly for fast, reliable core starts and helps pack more hay into every bale for less outside storage losses.

You can listen to the interview with Robert here and learn more: Interview with Robert Hendrix

National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album

Farm Bill With Dairy Reform Signed

fb-signingPresident Obama traveled to Michigan State University to sign the Agricultural Act of 2014 on Friday.

“Despite its name, the farm bill is not just about helping farmers,” President Obama told the small crowd invited for the signing. “Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill, an innovation bill, an infrastructure bill, a research bill, a conservation bill. It’s like a Swiss Army knife.”

Obama said passage of the bill by Congress is a good sign they can get other work done. “We’ve got more work to do – to do immigration reform that will help farmers,” he said.

Listen to or download the president’s speech here: President Obama farm bill signing

Commenting on the signing, Dairy Farmers of America Senior Vice President John Wilson said they were thankful for the new bill, “which replaces outdated dairy programs with an important risk management tool that will help the nation’s dairy farm families maintain financial stability.”

“We would like to thank our members, supporters in Congress and National Milk Producers Federation for their tireless pursuit of new dairy policy and a completed bill.

“The unified voice the dairy producer community expressed during this process is admirable, and while the final bill does not reflect the exact policy we had proposed, we achieved our goal of creating dairy policy that will better serve U.S. dairy farmers.”

Prince Agri Products – More Than Just Mineral

Prince Agri ProductsDuring the Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop, Wendell Knehans, Director of Marketing and Specialty Products for Prince Agri Products, spoke with Chuck about their company’s vested interest in the dairy community.

“Many people in the industry think of Prince as a mineral company, which is our heritage. We have been in minerals for the animal industry since the beginning of the nutritional understanding of minerals. Our two products we are featuring more significantly here are dairy speciality products.”

Prince Agri Products sponsored the pre-conference symposium for the workshop. This gave them the opportunity to work with leading experts and focus on bringing management practices back to the industry and customer base. For those interested in learning more about Prince, Rob suggests contacting your local dairy technology specialist. They can explain how their products fit into a dairy herd and help producers manage situations that might be new to them. Or simply check out their website at

Listen to my interview with Wendell to learn more about Prince Agri Products: Interview with Wendell Knehans

Prince Agri Products Dairy Pre-Conference Symposium Photo Album

Reducing Hypocalcemia

Dr. Dave BeedeDr. Dave Beede, Michigan State University, was one of the presenter during the pre-conference symposium of the Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop. He spoke on “Revisiting Prepartum DCAD: Reducing Hypocalcemia of Transition Cows.” The symposium was sponsored by Prince Agri Products.

Afterward I sat down with him to ask a few questions including:

Why is it vital to maintain proper blood calcium levels through the transition period to support a healthy and successful lactation?

Could you define subclinical hypocalcemia, and explain why monitoring is important.

What are the benefits of a negative DCAD (dietary cation-anion difference) diet as part of a close-up ration, and your recommendations for formulating such a diet?

What role can Vitamin D supplementation play?

Dr. Beede answers these questions and more so listen in to hear the answers!

Listen to my interview with Dr. Beede here: Interview with Dr. Dave Beede

Prince Agri Products Dairy Pre-Conference Symposium Photo Album

Growing the Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop

Rebecca White and Virginia IshlerThe Penn State Extension Dairy Team was hard at working making sure everything ran smoothly for the Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop. Two of the team members I spoke with are (l-r) Rebecca White and Virginia Ishler.

Virginia says the workshop was born out of conversations about how to do more educational programs for the feed industry. She says they used to have a “road show” that included multiple stops around the state and after some years these developed quite a following. They grew so big that it was decided to just conduct one program at a central location. This year the attendance was over 600!

Rebecca says the workshop has a variety of types of programs like the pre-conference symposium sponsored by Prince Agri Products. These educational sessions, trade show and networking opportunities make it a great place to be.

Listen to my interview with Rebecca and Virginia here: Interview with Rebecca White & Virginia Ishler

Prince Agri Products Dairy Pre-Conference Symposium Photo Album

Keys to Good Dairy P&L

Dr. Gary BethardDr. Greg Bethard, G&R Dairy Consulting, conducted a presentation at the pre conference symposium, sponsored by Prince Agri Products, titled, “Keys to a Good P&L: Strategies to Make Money. He presented a number of key components to managing your dairy. One of those is knowing statistics on your business like volume of milk shipped. He says “We’re a commodity business and so the volume of product shipped everyday is a crucial part of a good P&L.” He says this isn’t just milk per cow which is important but also the volume per cow. Dairies that can figure out how to get more volume out the door will be the ones that are more efficient. Some of the best investments a dairy can make are incremental like adding a few cows at a time.

Some other key elements included:

• Keep a full barn
• Healthy fresh cows
• Offer a career change to unprofitable cows
• Realize quality and component premiums
• Maximize income over feed costs
• Minimize feed cost/cwt
• Procure high quality forages
• Generate pregnancies (heifers and cows)
• Minimize replacement costs
• Cut costs intelligently
• Control labor costs

Listen to my interview with Dr. Bethard here: Interview with Dr. Greg Bethard

Prince Agri Products Dairy Pre-Conference Symposium Photo Album

Protecting Dairy Cattle Immune Function

Dr. Robert CorbettThe opening speaker at the Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop pre-conference symposium, sponsored by Prince Agri Products, was Dr. Robert Corbett, Dairy Health Consultation. His focus was on how nutritional and management practices can have a major impact on a dairy cow’s immune system during the transition period. I spoke with him after his presentation.

He says that minimizing stress in close-up and fresh cows is important in supporting their health, milk production and reproductive efficiency. He also noted that dairy cows experience a suppressed immune system at parturition, caused by the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, which makes them more susceptible to mastitis and a host of other health disorders. Elevated blood cortisol, he explained, causes white blood cells, known as neutrophils, to lose their ability to fight infections.

Listen to my interview with Dr. Corbett here: Interview with Dr. Robert Corbett


Getting to Know Prince Agri Products

Dave CalabottaPrince Agri Products sponsored this morning’s Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop pre-conference symposium. To learn more about the company I spoke with Dave Calabotta (right), VP of Marketing and Business Development.

Dave says that Prince Agri Products has been around for about 150 years and is part of Phibro Animal Health. Prince focuses on the marketing of minerals and value added products with the goal of helping maximize the bottom line of dairy producers as well as other primary animal species. The focus here at this conference is on their OmniGen-AF and Animate products.

When dairy producers think of Prince Agri Products Dave wants them to think, “Innovation. We want to be one of the most respected companies as it relates to bringing new technologies in nutrition but more importantly on the cutting edge of where the industry is moving.”

Listen to my interview with Dave to learn more about Prince Agri Products: Interview with Dave Calabotta

Prince Agri Products Dairy Pre-Conference Symposium Photo Album

Beef Checkoff Doing More With Less

Weldon WynnDoing more with less was a consistent theme at the Cattlemen’s Beef Board summer meeting this week in Denver.

“We’re down in funds and the funds are probably going to be lower next year,” said CBB chairman Weldon Wynn of Arkansas. “But we’re doing more with less than we’ve ever done before within this industry and we’re still gaining ground.”

Having less funding has meant a streamlined committee structure and a conference that’s one day shorter, as well as other cuts. “We’ve cut staff, we’ve done everything possible to hold this together,” he said, stressing that the industry needs to keep moving forward and working together. Interview with Weldon Wynn

Cattlemen’s Beef Board meeting blog
2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference Photo Album

Beef Checkoff Executive Report

Polly RuhlandCattlemen’s Beef Board CEO Polly Ruhland says the summer industry meeting in Denver is about strategy where “the rubber meets the road.”

At the general session, Ruhland talked about the new committee structure and shorter format for the conference. “The format focuses more on strategy and the consumer directly than our old format did,” she said in an interview at the meeting. “Our volunteer leaders spend a lot of time working on the beef checkoff, time away from their farms and ranches, so we condensed the schedule to allow them to work real hard while they’re here and it is fast paced but they’re away from their places less.

Ruhland says that during the summer meeting committees meet and provide feedback to contractors about projects in progress or being proposed. She says it’s a process that includes as next steps, board approval of the budget and then work plans will be looked at by the operating committee in September. Interview with Polly Ruhland

Cattlemen’s Beef Board meeting blog
2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference Photo Album

Checking up on Beef Checkoff Dollars

Davis DenmanWorld Dairy Diary has been in Denver this week covering the Cattle Industry Summer meeting which includes the major decision-making meetings of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board regarding the spending of beef checkoff dollars.

The Audit Committee of the Beef Board is chaired by Davis Denman (pictured on right). Davis is a dairy and grain farmer in Cortland, Ohio, and was nominated to the Beef Board by Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).

His committee kicked off the work of the Beef Board at the conference and in this interview from the meeting he talks about the importance of making sure beef checkoff dollars are spent both wisely and legally. Interview with Davis Denman

Complete coverage of the beef checkoff meetings in Denver can be found on

2013 Cattle Industry Summer Conference Photo Album

Senate Passes Immigration Reform Bill

senate-immigrationDespite concerns by some members about the agricultural provisions, the full Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation on Thursday by a vote of 68-32.

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) took to the floor Wednesday evening to detail some of his concerns about the farm worker provisions in the bill and amendments that he wanted to see added.
The Georgia senator’s main issues center around requirements under the “Blue Card” program the new legislation would set up that he feels could add too many farm workers and ultimately make it easier for them to move out of agriculture and into other areas of employment.

Chambliss spent time detailing the amendments he would like to offer that would fix some of the concerns he has and said he was disappointed they would not be considered. “The ag portion of this bill is a critical piece of the legislation and I’m afraid it’s been overshadowed by some of the other issues,” he said. “Ultimately, I want what’s best for American agriculture.”

Listen to or download – Senator Saxby Chambliss 6/26/13

Agricultural groups hailed passage of the Senate bill within minutes of the final vote.

“We’ve known for years that the status quo employment situation in dairy farming is not sustainable. Today, the Senate moved decisively past that admission, and voted to change our labor and immigration laws for the better,” said National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jerry Kozak “Rather than tinker with what wasn’t working, this new immigration measure builds something new and much better.”

“The key is to demonstrate to a majority of the House that action is needed. The bill the House will consider is going to be different than this Senate bill, but the critical thing is that a bill addressing the needs of agriculture must be passed by the House. Inaction is not an option,” Kozak said.

Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a press conference today, “The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill, through regular order.” (Audio and video below) Boehner on Immigration Reform

Dairy and Food Stamps Kill Farm Bill

peterson-fbRepublican amendments to the dairy program and giving states the option to require able-bodied food stamp recipients to seek employment were the straws that broke the camel’s back when it came to getting a farm bill passed in the House last week. The dairy measure was the Goodlatte-Scott amendment, which effectively killed the Dairy Security Act included in the bill, and the food stamps amendment was sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL).

“Those two votes cost us a lot of votes and I would guess it didn’t get them a damn thing on their side,” House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) told reporters after the vote.

Collin Peterson comments

More farm bill reaction.

In fact, at least 58 Republicans who voted in favor of the deal-killing Southerland amendment voted against the final bill, which was pointed out by several Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who was blamed specifically in a statement by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (D-VA) for failure to pass the bill. Watch her reaction in the YouTube video below.

House Farm Bill Fails

fb-no-buttonDespite an impassioned plea by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas to “move this bill forward” the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM) failed on a vote of 194 to 234, with 60 Republicans joining the majority of Democrats to defeat the House version of the farm bill.

“If it fails today, I can’t guarantee you’ll see in this Congress another attempt,” said Lucas. “If you care about your folks, if you care about this institution … vote with me on final. If you don’t, when you leave here they’ll just say it’s a dysfunctional body, a broken institution full of dysfunctional people. That’s not true!”

Listen to Rep. Lucas urging his colleagues to vote for the bill Rep. Frank Lucas on the House farm bill

Among the Republicans voting against the bill was Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), despite the fact that the House voted to approve his amendment striking the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and replacing it with a stand-alone margin insurance program for dairy producers.

Here’s a link to Roll Call vote.

Boehner Supports Farm Bill Despite Dairy Provisions

boehnerSpeaker of the House John Boehner says he would vote for the House Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) of 2013, but intends to try and change the dairy provisions.

“I’ve got concerns about the farm bill, as I told our members,” Boehner said during the Republican Leadership press conference Wednesday. “But doing nothing means that we get no changes in the farm program, no changes in the nutrition program. And as a result, I’m going to vote for the farm bill to make sure that the good work of the Agriculture Committee and whatever the floor might do to improve this bill gets to a conference so that we can get the kind of changes that people want in our nutrition programs and our farm programs.”

Boehner sound bite: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)

On Monday, Boehner released a statement about the farm bill noting that his main problem with the bill is dairy. “I had concerns about some of the dairy provisions of the Farm Bill last year, and those concerns remain this year. I oppose those provisions and will support efforts on the House floor to change them appropriately.”

Farm Bill Now up to House

The Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 by a vote of 66 to 27 on Monday evening, putting even more pressure on the House of Representatives to complete its work to get a bill to conference and passed by the end of summer. Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), a member of the House agriculture committee, is hopeful.

vicky-small“Certainly that should be the goal,” says Rep. Hartzler. “I know the leadership of the House Ag and I think the Senate Ag Committee as well want to see this done and wrapped up by August, so we’re certainly going to try.”

Rep. Hartzler says the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) of 2013 is a good bill that deserves to pass so she is cautiously optimistic it will once it gets to the floor next week. “But there are going to be a lot of amendments and there is going to be a lot of discussion,” she said. “There’s a lot of controversial aspects to the bill among several members.”

Those controversial issues include food assistance and the dairy program. The full House is expected to take up its version of a farm bill next week.

Listen to or download interview with Rep. Hartzler: Interview with Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)

Dairies to See More Opportunities to Turn Waste to Energy

usda-logoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture extends the deadline on a program that could see more farmers, especially those in the dairy industry, turning livestock waste into energy. The deadline to submit for funds under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and Dairy Industry Memorandum of Understanding has been extended to to May 31, 2013. During a teleconference moderated by Jerry Bingold from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the USDA’s Energy Policy Advisor for Rural Development Todd Campbell said this is a top priority of his agency.

“Taking biomass feedtsock and creating renewable energy, helping to implement enhanced manure management techniques, it not only helps our dairy farmers across the country to continue to be the great stewards of the land, it makes also makes real dollars and cents in their farming operations,” Campbell said.

Kelley Oehler, USDA’s Branch Chief Energy Division said the budget battles that have resulted in continuing resolutions, instead of real federal budgets, actually helped more money go to REAP.

“We’re still working with budget to identify the specific amount, but what I can tell you is it is significantly more than the [$20.8 million original amount announced in the March 29, 2013 deadline],” Oehler said.

More money meant they needed more time to give out the grants for things such as grants for under $20,000 programs, feasibility study grants (up to $50,000), and grants and combination grants-loans for things like biodigesters (which could be up to $500,000 for those digesters) that dairy farmers can use to turn waste into energy. Guaranteed loan-only deadlines remain at July 15, 2013. (More information available here.) Another program, the 9005 Program (for advanced biofuels payments made from things, such as biodigesters) will have a notice go out shortly that will have an additional 30 days, usually sometime in October.

Meanwhile, Campbell and Oehler praised the recent renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects and energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms, both of which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations. The original MOU was signed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.

“Through the renewed commitment, the USDA, working with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, will continue the research, development and deployment of these technologies that are helping to make dairy farmers’ operations more sustainable,” Campbell said.

Listen to an edited version of the teleconference here: USDA Teleconference on REAP

House Ag Committee Supports DSA in Farm Bill

The House Agriculture Committee came out in support of the Dairy Security Act (DSA) on Wednesday, voting to reject an amendment by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and David Scott (D-GA) to remove the supply management mechanism of the act.

“Supply management is antithetical to the future growth of the dairy industry,” Goodlatte and Scott said in a statement expressing their disappointment in the vote. “A supply control program that will directly intervene in markets and increase milk prices will ultimately hurt dairy producers and consumers as well as dairy food manufacturers by stifling industry growth. This program is contrary to the reforms already in the Farm Bill.”

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) was pleased with the outcome. “The House committee has now twice rejected the Goodlatte-Scott effort to undermine establishment of a workable national dairy policy,” said NMPF president and CEO Jerry KozaK. “As the farm bill moves to the House floor, we hope that the committee’s decision today will be the final word on the matter. It is time for dairy processors to end their campaign of divisiveness, and assist us in moving the farm bill toward completion.”

lucasThe committee worked for over five hours straight on the bill before taking a break, but will reconvene this evening to finish. By contrast, the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday completed its work in less than four hours. House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) met with farm broadcasters just shortly before his committee began the markup saying he expected it to be a long day but maybe not quite as long as last year’s 15 hour session. “But I would note that we had approximately 100 amendments a year ago, as of this morning we have approximately 100 amendments this time,” he said.

Lucas says the bill will go to the House floor this year “a dramatic improvement over a year ago” but he does expect it to be a struggle. “Whatever we do in the committee, many of the battles – whether it is over dairy, or sugar, or the size of the nutrition reforms, will be fought out again on the floor of the United States House,” he said. “But it’s a struggle we’re prepared to engage in and we’re prepared to move forward on.”

Listen to Lucas’s comments here House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas

Ag Secretary Sees Dairy as Challenge in Farm Bill

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 15-5 today to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, which includes the Dairy Security Act.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom VilsackThe House Agriculture Committee will take up their version of the bill on Wednesday, where an alternative plan to the DSA will be proposed. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told farm broadcasters meeting in Washington on Tuesday that he expects dairy to be a challenge in the farm bill.

“I think everybody likes the price stabilization piece of it, (but) how do you ensure that it doesn’t break the bank financially,” said Vilsack. “But clearly something’s got to get done in dairy because we’ve had too much volatility and we’ve lost too many of our producers because of it.”

Listen to Vilsack’s comments here: Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack Mtg. with NAFB

A new analysis of the two dairy proposals under consideration in the House Agriculture Committee finds the Dairy Security Act (DSA) would better for farmers and less costly for taxpayers compared to the Goodlatte-Scott alternative.

The new report, prepared by University of Missouri agricultural economists Scott Brown and Daniel Madison, assessed how each option would have affected farm-level economics during the period 2009 through 2012. Under that model they found the DSA would have increased net farm revenues by $0.55 per cwt over the period studied, while the Goodlatte-Scott amendment would have raised farm revenue by only $0.48 per cwt. In addition, the model suggests that the Goodlatte-Scott proposal would have cost $1 billion over the 2009 to 2012 period compared to the DSA, because it would encourage more milk production at lower margins.

Farm Bill Markups Begin

NAFB Washington WatchThe Senate Agriculture Committee meets this morning to consider the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 and the House ag committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow morning to consider their version of a farm bill. Drafts from both committees were released last week.

Chris Galen with the National Milk Producers Federation says both drafts contain the Dairy Security Act and he expects the Senate to pass this proposal which they support, but on the House side there is another proposal being offered which they oppose. “Basically it would turn farmers into takers of government welfare because it would not allow the marketplace to correct quick enough,” he said. “They would be getting margin insurance subsidized by the government but not getting the necessary price signals that would either restore the market price for milk or reduce the cost to the taxpayer of the program.” That alternative is being proposed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

Galen says Congress appears to be serious about getting a farm bill passed this year. “I don’t think anyone wants a repeat of 2012,” he said. “The good news is that we’ve heard rumors that not only is the Senate Ag committee going to work on the farm bill this week, but they may actually vote on it on the Senate floor this week.” The House was a hold out last week, of course, but Galen hopes they will schedule time for it this year. “I think the stars and planets will align and that they will either be desperate enough or sick enough to get us a new farm bill this year.”

Listen to an interview with Galen conducted yesterday in Washington D.C. at the annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting Washington Watch: Interview with Chris Galen, National Milk Producers Federation

Link to Senate farm bill page.
Link to House farm bill draft.

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