World Dairy Diary

Collegiate Dairy Leaders from U.S. & Canada Converge in Fort Wayne

PrintThe Dairy Challenge Academy and contest will bring 280 students from 38 college dairy programs to Fort Wayne, Ind., April 4-6. This North American event – hosted by Purdue University, Michigan State University and The Ohio State University – is the largest gathering of collegiates pursuing a dairy career.

Students will converge in Fort Wayne from all corners of the U.S. and two Canadian provinces. These students are training for careers in the dairy industry, as farmers, researchers, educators, financial analysts, nutritionists, farm service providers and veterinarians.

Collegiate participants will visit six dairy farms in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, to learn how to help farmers evaluate and adapt their management to optimize success and care for animals. Also at Dairy Challenge, industry professionals will present cutting-edge research, new programs and career opportunities to students.

North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC) is fully funded through generous support by 130 agribusinesses and dairy farms. Dairy Challenge started 13 years ago through cooperation between universities, dairy producers and agribusinesses. The event expanded in 2013 with the first-ever Academy, which allowed more students to participate, network and gain skills. This year, about 130 students will compete in the national contest, and 150 students will participate in the Academy.

The tri-state area has a rich history with Dairy Challenge. The 2013 national event was also held in Fort Wayne, and Michigan State hosted the first two national contests in East Lansing in 2002 and 2003. Purdue University and The Ohio State University organized the Midwest regional events in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

“Dairy Challenge has provided a splendid opportunity for our students to integrate what they learn in classes with real-world situations, use problem-solving skills and network with leaders in the dairy industry,” states Maurice Eastridge, 2014 event chair and professor at Ohio State.

“This program has become a critical activity in teaching efforts at Purdue – and other universities – because it transforms the lives of excellent dairy students,” adds Dr. Michael M. Schutz, Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue.

At Dairy Challenge, each team of students puts textbook knowledge to the ultimate test – consulting for an actual dairy. Teams inspect an operating dairy, analyze farm data and ask questions of farm owners. Then each team develops recommendations, which will be presented to farm owners and a panel of five judges. At a concluding banquet, eight college teams will be announced as award winners, meaning their recommendations most closely match those of the official judges.

Supporters can follow the student activity through posts and photos on Facebook and @DairyChallenge on Twitter.

“Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan State are pleased to team up and once again host the 2014 national Dairy Challenge,” continues Eastridge. “This area is blessed with strong dairy programs at these three universities and strong industry leadership and support. Hosting Dairy Challenge is truly an opportunity to showcase the Midwest and help develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders.”

Dairy Industry Applauds White House Strategy

America’s dairy farmers, cooperatives, processors, manufacturers, and other industry leaders applaud today’s announcement by the White House of a Biogas and Energy Roadmap to reduce methane emissions from agriculture.

In its announcement, the White House formally cited the work of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy’s Sustainability Council, whose efforts in part include a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to proactively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including methane.

“This announcement validates the path the dairy industry is on – one focused on proactive incentives that can increase farm income, not punitive regulations that would add more costs,” said Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation, which develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own. “Because of our recent efforts and farmers’ long-standing environmental stewardship, the White House strategy for agriculture includes a commitment to cost-effective, voluntary actions to reduce methane emissions through partnerships and programs.”

A Biogas and Energy Roadmap will be developed in partnership with the dairy industry to accelerate the adoption of biogas systems and other cost-effective technologies. For example, the recovery of nitrogen and phosphorus, valuable soil nutrients, has the potential to make these systems revenue-enhancing for dairy farms of all sizes. The roadmap will help the industry seize these opportunities by:

– Breaking down inter-governmental agency barriers, providing dairy operations access to resources because it formally recognizes biogas systems as a proven and effective technology to mitigate environmental risks;
– Stimulating and accelerating research to advance technologies, such as for extracting nutrients from food waste and manure; and
– Attracting additional third-party investment, both financial and technical, to support the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment.

Through the Innovation Center, the dairy industry ramped up its efforts to build business value while reducing environmental impact across the value chain more than five years ago. These efforts provide a way for dairy farm families to turn environmental risks into new revenue streams, and demonstrate farmers’ ongoing commitment to being even better neighbors.

“This is great news for America’s dairy farm families of all sizes across the country,” said Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, which brings together leaders of dairy farmer organizations, cooperatives, processors, manufacturers, and brands to foster innovation. “For decades, dairy farmers have demonstrated a commitment to environmental stewardship, and adopting new practices and technologies along the path to continuous improvement. Our work continues.”

Biogas systems have been singled out because of the significant potential they have to help address methane, which are the single largest source of dairy’s greenhouse gas emissions. These systems recycle cow manure and food waste into valuable co-products like fertilizer, renewable energy and cow bedding. New technologies can optimize this potential and deliver economic benefits to dairy farms and those they work with, as well as the communities in which they operate.

“The roadmap makes good sense – not just for dairy, but for rural communities that realize economic benefits, including job creation, through innovation,” Gallagher said.

2014 Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference Scheduled

The 2014 Mid-South Ruminant Nutrition Conference will be held April 23-24 in Grapevine, TX.

The program is presented by the Texas Animal Nutrition Council and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in cooperation with various cattle and dairy industry groups, associations and businesses.

“These conferences provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about the most recent developments in ruminant nutrition and from some of the nation’s foremost experts,” said Dr. Ellen Jordan, AgriLife Extension dairy specialist based in Dallas and member of the conference planning committee. “They consistently draw over a hundred people from the dairy industry and associated businesses and organizations across the U.S.”

She said conference programming has been approved for six continuing education units from the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiner and seven continuing education units from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists.

The April 23 program will be from noon-4:30 p.m. and will address human versus animal nutrition, particularly fact and fiction about food and feed. Lunch, which is included in program registration, will be from noon-1 p.m., followed by topics and presenters to include:

– Enough: The Fight for a Food Secure Tomorrow, Colleen Parr Dekker, Elanco director of communications. Dekker will speak about safe technologies, vaccines and disease control as means of helping provide enough milk to meet future demand.
– Milk, Milk Fat and Human Health: Challenging Popular Misperceptions, Dr. Adam L. Lock, Michigan State University. Lock will address milk and human health, as well as the impact of changing management techniques on milk composition.
– The Interface Between Animal and Human Health: Antibiotic Use, Resistance and Controversy, Dr. Guy Loneragan, Texas Tech University. Loneragan will discuss the use of antibiotics in food animal production and the potential impacts on antibiotic resistant microbes, as well as explore the relationship between antibiotic use and resistance.
– A Decade of Algae Technology R&D: Hopes, Hypes and How Animal Ag May Benefit, Dr. Peter J. Lammers, New Mexico State University. Lammers will discuss an algae-based co-product of biodiesel production that may have use as an animal feed and risks associated with the introduction of this new feed product.

Presentations will be followed by the Texas Animal Nutrition Council meeting at 4:30 p.m., then a reception to begin at 5:35 p.m. that will include light hors d’oeuvres. The April 24 program will be from 8 a.m.-noon and will focus on nutrition efficiency.

Topics and presenters for that morning will be:

– Maximized Feed Intake: Access and Consumption, Dr. Trevor DeVries, University of Guelph, Kemptville Campus. DeVries will discuss how to maximize feed intake without compromising the health and well-being of the animals and ways to enhance access and consumption; thereby improving animal well-being.
– Production Efficiency and Sustainability of the Cattle Industry, Dr. Frank M. Mitloehner, University of California – Davis. Mitloehner will speak about the growth and environmental impact of the dairy industry, including how to decrease the carbon footprint and improve sustainability by increasing feed efficiency.
– Using Models on Dairy Farms-How Well Do They Work? Dr. Larry E. Chase, Cornell University. Chase will discuss and compare different nutritional systems in differing environmental situations and how well they may predict animal performance.
– An Economic Comparison of Conventional vs. Intensive Heifer Rearing, Dr. Michael W. Overton, Elanco. Overton will present performance data as well as health data from multiple locations to evaluate the economic returns from switching to an intensive heifer rearing program and share this comprehensive analysis with the audience.
– Panel Discussion on Efficiency of Nutrition – Next Steps.

Visit http://www.txanc.org for a conference registration form or contact Sharon Harris at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas at 972-952-9201 or srharris@ag.tamu.edu.

Aging US Population Seek Dairy Products to Boost Health

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 4.16.50 PMAs the US population continues to age, dairy products that meet the nutritional needs of older consumers will become increasingly influential. US dairy marketers should communicate the health benefits of their dairy products by promoting their advantages for maintaining an active lifestyle.

Figures reveal that the number of people in the US aged 65 and older is set to more than double from current levels to 85 million by 2050. A Canadean report tracking the influence health needs have on consumer dairy choices has found the highest influence among consumers aged 55 and over. But rather than these consumers looking for more therapeutic products that help with maintaining certain issues such as bone decay, consumers in their fifties and sixties in particular are looking for dairy products to act as preventatives, to keep them active and in good health.

Canadean has tracked the influence of 20 consumption motivators in the US dairy market and found that 34.6% of yoghurt and 32.0% of milk consumption volume, was tied to the consumers’ age requirements. According to Joanne Hardman, Analyst at Canadean, “markets should look at this as a good opportunity to focus on the older consumer market by producing functional products that offer a health boost and cater specifically to the needs of an ageing US population.”

Older consumers are increasingly looking to dairy products for their functional, nutritional benefits in satisfying age-based needs such as tooth-retention, avoiding osteoporosis and maintaining heart and brain health. Specific minerals such as Calcium are desired by consumers to help maximise healthy bone strength, as is riboflavin to maintain good nerve function and limit the risk of cancer, dementia, and heart disease.

According to Hardman there is opportunity for US dairy marketers to take advantage of these findings as dairy consumption is increasing among the US population aged 55 and over. This age band has the highest amount of dairy food occasions per year totalling 33.5 million. However, this is due to the sheer size of the demographic, and they have the smallest number of occasions per person at 416.1 per year. With this being the case, more dairy products with age-specific benefits need to be on the market to encourage older consumers to eat dairy products more frequently.

Can Farm Movies Help Public’s Image of Agriculture

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “How will you celebrate Ag Day?”

National Ag Day is nothing new to the agriculture community, but that doesn’t weaken the importance of it’s purpose. Our poll results showed an even spread of those heading to D.C. to celebrate Ag Day, participating via social media and taking a farmer to lunch. It was also evident that there were many state and local events happening nationwide. Others shared that eating good food while toasting American farmers was on their schedule. We all took part in festivities no matter big or small.

Our poll results:

  • In Washington DC – 21%
  • State or local event – 17%
  • Through social media – 21%
  • Take a farmer to lunch – 21%
  • Other – 13%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Do you think farm movies can help the public image of agriculture?”

National Ag Day activities were special this year because of of two great documentary films about farming. There was a private advance screening of Farmland and the national premier of The Great American Wheat Harvest for those lucky enough to get a sneak peek. There is no question we in the agriculture community need to stop sitting on our hands and tell our ag story so it is not told by others inaccurately. Are these movies doing just that? Do you think farm movies will help improve the public’s opinion of agriculture?

Opposition Allowing Interstate Sales of Raw Milk

The nation’s dairy farmers and dairy companies today expressed their opposition to new legislation in Congress that would allow the interstate sales of raw milk, saying that any additional availability of the product will increase the number of sicknesses and deaths of people who consume it.

The International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation said that “the risks inherent in raw dairy products are not worth any imagined benefits to either consumers or producers of unpasteurized milk products. Raw milk skips the pasteurization safety process, and this is playing Russian roulette with the health of too many Americans – including many of our children.”

The two associations urged lawmakers to reject the “Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014,” a bill introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), which would repeal a long-standing ban on the sales across state lines of unpasteurized milk. Federal law currently gives states the discretion to regulate raw milk within their borders, but the dairy organizations expressed concern that repealing the interstate ban would greatly increase the production and consumption of a known health hazard.

“If this measure passes, those most vulnerable to dangerous pathogens – children – are the ones who will suffer the most. The benefits of consuming raw milk are illusory, but the painful costs of illness and death are very real,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Productions Federation.

“Consumption of raw milk is a demonstrated public health risk. The link between raw milk and foodborne illness has been well‐documented in the scientific literature, with evidence spanning nearly 100 years. Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of human pathogens, including E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella,” he stated.

Several states in recent years have considered and approved legislation expanding the sales of raw milk, even as the product has been repeatedly linked to serious illnesses from coast to coast.

“Our dairy industry benefits from a very high degree of consumer confidence – confidence built in large part due to the excellent food safety record of milk and dairy products,” said Connie Tipton, President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “While choice is an important value, it should not pre‐empt consumers’ well‐being. To further ease the regulations surrounding the national sale of raw milk is an unnecessary risk to consumer safety.”

The two dairy groups said that the Centers for Disease Control has reported that nearly 75 percent of raw milk‐associated outbreaks have occurred in states where sale of raw milk was legal. Only one to two percent of reported foodborne outbreaks are attributed to dairy products. However, of those, over 70 percent have been attributed to raw milk and inappropriately‐aged raw milk cheeses.

“Seldom has the science behind public health policy been so clearly one-sided. Pathogenic bacteria can be found on any dairy farm, regardless of its cleanliness or the good intentions of its owner. This legislation is a threat to public health and should not be approved,” the organizations said.

CWT Assists with 3.6 Million lbs in Dairy Export Sales

CWTCooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 15 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 2.094 million pounds of Cheddar cheese, 1.185 million pounds of 82% butter and 308,647 pounds of whole milk powder to customers in Africa, Asia, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered March through August 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 29.299 million pounds of cheese, 15.495 million pounds of butter and 2.881 million pounds of whole milk powder to 21 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 619.5 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

In the long-term, assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

CWT will pay export assistance to the bidders only when delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.

2014 Junior Infographic Web Contest

no cowHolstein Association USA announces a web based contest for its Junior members to create an educational infographic. An infographic is a visual presentation of information; utilizing charts, diagrams or maps to engage the audience.

Holstein Association USA Junior members are encouraged to design one infographic for submission. This design should be in color and able to fit on an 8 ½-by-11-inch page. Juniors 9 to 13 years of age are permitted to draw their infographic; intermediate (14 – 17 years) and senior (18 – 21 years) participants must use a computer in their design. All computer images should be high resolution (300 dpi). Each division must base their design on the following topics:

Junior: Favorite Dairy Product
Intermediate: How Dairy Farmers Care for their Animals
Senior: How Dairy Farmers Care for the Environment

Judging will be based on several factors, including educational value, design quality, visual appeal, and creativity.

All entries are due to the Holstein Association USA office by April 15, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. Files should be kept to 5 MB or less and submitted to rpomeroy@holstein.com as a .PDF or .JPG file.

Awards will be given to the top three in each division. Winners will be announced May 1, 2014 on the Holstein Association USA Junior website, www.holsteinusa.com/juniors.

For more details, go to www.holsteinusa.com/juniors, and click on the banner for the Junior Infographic Web Contest, or contact Rachel Pomeroy at rpomeroy@holstein.com or 800.952.5200, ext. 4165.

GEA Adds Eating Time Analysis to CowScout™

GEA_CowScoutS_Neck Tag_Eating Time_PR_032414Electronically monitoring cows for activity helps to automate the heat detection process, and supply more accurate breeding information for increased pregnancy rates. Activity monitors can also alert producers to health challenges ahead of clinical signs being visually observed, allowing for earlier treatment and avoiding a potential drop in milk production. To increase monitoring capabilities, GEA Farm Technologies has added eating time to the CowScout™ activity monitoring system.

“CowScout™ provides instant activity updates on a herd and with the addition of eating time it uniquely monitors the amount of time a cow’s head is in the eating position,” said Chris Genal, U.S. national sales manager for milking equipment products at GEA Farm Technologies. “The CowScout™ neck tag continuously monitors movement patterns related to forage intake and records the total time each day an individual animal takes in feed. The system compares the daily total eating time with totals from the previous 10 days, alerting a producer to changes in a baseline.”

The CowScout™ activity monitoring system brings convenience and efficiency to herd management. When a cow or heifer has reduced average eating time, the CowScout™ herd database sends a message to a computer, a mobile device, or both – depending on pre-set preferences – alerting herd managers precisely when a cow has changed eating patterns. CowScout™ data is transmitted continuously from the tag, to the receiver, to the database, so dairy producers always have the latest information to monitor herd health.

“CowScout™ eating time monitoring is especially beneficial before and after calving, when monitoring intake is vital to a healthy transition period,” said Genal. “CowScout™ not only provides dairy producers a simple, accurate and flexible heat detection program, but the added eating time analysis also provides dairy producers the ability to monitor eating behaviors and intervene when health challenges arise, avoiding a potential drop in milk production.”

“The addition of eating time to CowScout™ increases an already robust system that fits any management style – and works with any brand of milking equipment or parlor configuration. It is also an excellent choice for heifer raising operations. Installation components are minimal and there is no complex software,” adds Genal. “No other system on the market compares.”

The CowScout™ activity monitoring system with eating time is fully-supported and installed by GEA Farm Technologies dealers, carrying the WestfaliaSurge product line; a professional network with unsurpassed dairy equipment experience – available to local dairy operations 24/7.

Revised – Biery Cheese Plans $19.7 Million Expansion

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) today announced it is providing a $1 million loan to the Biery Cheese Co. for a facility upgrade that will solidify the company’s commitment to Wisconsin.

The Ohio-based Biery Cheese, which has operations in the Town of Sherry in Wood County, plans to invest $19.7 million in Wisconsin, including equipment and upgrades to its recently purchased facility in nearby Plover. Once complete, the project is expected to create 31 full-time jobs and retain 111 positions at the new location.

Biery, a cheese packaging, processing and distribution company, has been operating in Wisconsin since November 2013, when it purchased the Kickapoo Valley Cheese Corp. in Sherry.

“There is no question that the cheese industry plays a significant role in Wisconsin’s economy, and Biery’s decision to expand its operations in the state will only strengthen the industry,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “WEDC is pleased to assist this family-owned company as it readies its operations for the future.”

“First and foremost, we would like to thank the WEDC for its assistance and commitment to our company. Our dedicated teammates, strategic suppliers and valued customers have all played a role in our decision to participate in the heart of the dairyland,” said Ben Biery, CEO of Biery Cheese, which has been in the family for four generations. “It is a tremendous honor to be able to contribute to the area and invest in our people so that we can prepare for future strategic growth opportunities.”

The Biery Cheese Co. was founded in 1929 by Norman F. Biery, who started making Swiss cheese in Louisville, Ohio. The company has evolved from a manufacturing company to one that now provides chunks, shreds, slices, diced, cubes, and snacking cheeses to its customers around the world.

WEDC has agreed to provide the company with a $1 million forgivable loan. If the company retains the 111 existing jobs, creates at least 31 new ones, and spends at least $19.7 million in capital investment by the end of 2018, the loan will be forgiven.

New Directors & Committee Members for World Dairy Expo

WDE_interface_2014_fWorld Dairy Expo’s Board of Directors and committees met March 3 and 4 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis. Representatives from across North America provided input on a multitude of topics related to hosting the annual dairy event.

The Board of Directors seated two new members at the annual meeting. Michael Schiller of Freeport, Minn., will represent Associated Milk Producers Inc., and Glen Easter of Laurens, S. C. will represent Dairy Farmers of America. The board includes a wide range of dairy exhibitors and industry representatives.

The Dairy Cattle Exhibitor Committee welcomed seven new members. Richard “RT” Thompson, Random Luck Farm, Darlington, Wis.; Steve Nuttleman, Adams Creek Farm, Bangor, Wis.; Jim Meyer, Holstein Association USA, Fairbury, Ill.; Billy Lattire, Lattire’s Twilite Farm, Lacey, Wash.; Nicky Rueth, Rosedale Genetics, Oxford, Wis.; Donna Mertz, Bear-Ayr Farm, Neosho, Wis.; and Dr. Sheila McGuirk, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine; Madison, Wis., will serve as the new representatives.

Three new industry representatives joined the Commercial Exhibitor Committee. They include Sandy Larson, Larson Acres, Evansville, Wis.; Holly Parr, Organic Valley, LaFarge, Wis., and Danielle Brown, Select Sires, Inc., Plain City, Ohio. These new committee members joined 20 others who represent exhibiting companies to guide Expo’s Trade Show policies and logistics.

World Dairy Expo offers producers a wide array of venues to experience new innovations, gain knowledge and exchange ideas. Dairy enthusiasts from around the globe are invited to the Alliant Energy Center September 30 through October 4, 2014, to experience “Designer Dairy” at World Dairy Expo. Visit worlddairyexpo.com for the latest schedule details or follow us on Facebook and Twitter and follow the conversation with #WDE14.

Now Is The Time To Work On Your Spring Checklist

With spring approaching, a Purdue Extension dairy specialist says now is the time for dairy producers to assess their farms and work through a checklist of duties, including facility and pasture maintenance and taking inventory of forage supplies.

After a particularly harsh winter with higher-than-normal snowfall, dairy farmers can expect to find a lot of mud in their pastures, cow lots and heifer pens – something Mike Schutz said needs to be addressed.

“Producers who have any animals outside need to be sure those cattle have adequate dry areas to lie down,” he said.

Farmers also need to take a look at their feed supplies to determine whether they have enough high-quality forage to keep cows fed until the first forage harvest.

Further, they should be evaluating forage stands as plants start to green up to determine the health of the coming crop. If perennial forages are in bad shape, farmers have some options, said Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension forage specialist.

One of those options to get an early forage harvest to fill a void would be to plant spring oat on land normally used for corn or soybean. Producers who choose this option need to look at plantback restrictions of herbicides used on last year’s crop before planting oats.

But because that takes land out of already planned crop production, Johnson said it might be best to consider purchasing forage supplies.

“Producers really need to assess the severity of their inventory problems,” he said. “If the quantity and quality of forage needed can be found from suppliers and the price is reasonable, it may be best just to buy it.”

In the meantime, farmers can work on rehabilitating perennial forages or starting completely over.

“If a field of perennial forage winterkilled, the key is to get another perennial forage back into production as quickly as possible,” Johnson said.

Many dairy producers also use corn silage in their feed rations and oftentimes employ custom workers to harvest that crop. According to Schutz, dairy producers need to communicate with custom workers as they plan the growing season.

“It’s really important to work closely with custom harvesters to plan the timing of corn silage maturity,” he said. “That allows custom workers to plan harvest for you and their other clients.”

Facilities and equipment maintenance also should be on the list. Many dairy producers have been forced by volatile milk prices and high feed costs to put off some on-farm maintenance for the last few years.

Now that feed costs are down and milk prices have been steadier, profit margins have started to expand. That has put many producers in a better position to improve their farms.

Finally, Schutz said, producers need to keep farm safety on their minds.

“This likely will be a later spring than what we’re used to, so people will be anxious to get out there and get their on-farm tasks completed,” he said. “It’s important that farmers not use speed in place of safety. That applies to all farmers – not just dairy producers.”

How Will You Celebrate Ag Day?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What do you think of the Open Ag Data Alliance?”

Over half of those who participated in this week’s poll thought the Open Ag Data Alliance (OADA) was a great idea. Even though many are for this new software project, there are many who are questioning it’s benefits and believe it is confusing. If the learning curve was easy, would more be for it?

Our poll results:

  • Great idea – 54%
  • Terrible idea – 16%
  • No idea what it is – 22%
  • Other – 8%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “How will you celebrate Ag Day?”

National Ag Day is Tuesday, March 25. The agriculture community will be taking part in festivities across the country to celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Chuck and Cindy will be in Washington D.C. Chuck is covering the National Ag Day Activities and Cindy the American Coalition for Ethanol Biofuels Beltway March. Whether big or small, we can all do something to recognize the contributions of farmers and ranchers to our nation. What will you do?

Candidates Announced for WMMB Director Elections

wmmblogoThe Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced today that 11 nominees are certified eligible for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) 2014 Board of Directors election.

Here are the certified candidates, listed in alphabetical order by district:
– Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn Counties – Ben Peterson of Grantsburg
– Barron and Polk Counties – Audrey Kusilek of Rice Lake
– Clark County - David Bangart of Greenwood – Richard Price of Stanley
– Brown, Door and Kewaunee Counties – John Pagel of Kewaunee
– Buffalo, Pierce and Pepin Counties – Lanette Harsdorf of Beldenville
– Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Marquette Counties – Dave Schmitz of Fond du Lac
– Columbia and Dodge Counties - Becky Levzow of Rio
– Grant County - Ann Kieler of Platteville – Mary Wackershauser of Lancaster
– Green, Rock and Walworth Counties – Stacy Eberle of Monroe

DATCP confirmed that each candidate is an active dairy producer who sells milk into commercial channels and lives in the district up for election. In addition, DATCP certified each candidate’s nomination form, which included five signatures from active dairy producers within the district and a notarized “Affidavit of Eligibility” requirement.

Nominations were first filed by February 21, however, District 4 failed to receive any nominations during the allotted time period. DATCP then extended the deadline for that district until March 14. One nomination was received during the extension.

To vote, DATCP will distribute mail-in ballots in early April to dairy producers who live within the nine affected districts. Producers who do not receive a ballot by April 14 should call Noel Favia at (608) 224-5140. Elections will be held through April 26, 2014, with results announced later in May. For more election information, visit www.wmmb.com/elections.

Registration Extended for Dairy Calf & Heifer Conference

PrintThe registration deadline has been extended for the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association annual conference, to be held April 1-3, 2014 at the Hyatt on Main in Green Bay, WI.

“Only a few weeks away, dairy producers, calf and heifer raisers won’t want to miss this event,” says Vickie Franken, owner of City View Farms, near Sioux Center, Iowa and 2014 conference chair committee. “The response from dairy producers, calf and heifer raisers and industry for this upcoming conference has been overwhelming.”

Conference highlights will include:
– Unique speakers and a wide variety of industry experts to share research, expertise and advice on calf and heifer management.
– Both presentations and hands-on demonstrations and tours at some of the industry’s best dairy calf and heifer facilities.
– An educational track specific for farm employees and staff.
– Networking with other producers and industry leaders.
– Calf and heifer-specific trade show.
– Keynote speaker, Donald Driver – NFL superstar, Dancing with the Stars Champion and author.
– Reception at Lambeau Field and optional behind-the-scenes tour.

Heifer raisers, dairy producers, veterinarians, nutritionists and anyone with a vested interest in raising calves is invited to attend the upcoming conference.

Register today! The pre-registration deadline has been extended to Monday, March 31.

Register by visiting www.calfandheifer.org or calling 855-400-DCHA (3242). Sponsorship opportunities are also available for this can’t miss event.

DFA Meeting Emphasizes Dedication to Dairy by Members, Cooperative

DFA-4-colorMore than 1,400 Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) members and guests convened in Kansas City for the Cooperative’s 16th Annual Meeting. In recognition of the dedication by its farmer-owners, DFA explored the diverse ways the Cooperative and its member-owners are committed to the dairy industry.

This year’s meeting theme — Dedicated to Dairy — recognizes DFA’s members and their commitment to their cows, their operations, their communities and their families. The meeting highlighted how DFA is working with customers and the industry to build a Cooperative that, from the moment milk leaves members’ farms to the moment it is served on family tables around the world, brings members value through every step in the process.

“One thing you learn very quickly in our business is that dairy farmers and their families are passionate about what they do. That they are indeed dedicated to dairy,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “As owners of our cooperative, (DFA member-owners) control our own destiny. We have choices. Together, we can move proactively to invest in our shared future, in new milk processing factories, in expanded dairy product lines, in exciting consumer brands, in growing overseas markets — all driven by our mission to deliver value to members.”

The meeting kicked off with the chairman’s report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy in Rogersville, Mo. He focused on the steps DFA has taken to advance the dairy industry around the nation and world. Mooney also discussed issues, such as the new Farm Bill, that are affecting farmers every day at home.

An overview of the Cooperative’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His report also discussed how the Cooperative has increased its commercial business focus during the past several years, in an effort to better serve and provide value to its members.

“As a national milk marketing cooperative that is owned by dairy farmers across the nation, DFA is committed to bringing value to our members,” Smith said. “That means we are committed to innovation and success by operating first-rate commercial businesses and investing in elite dairy companies. We also want to provide on-farm services that make it easier and more profitable for our members to farm.”

Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting program included:
– Lowell Catlett, regents professor and dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, discussing the world’s increased need for agriculture, now more than ever
– “Maintaining the Global Momentum for U.S. Dairy,” a presentation by Tom Suber, president, U.S. Dairy Export Council
– A summary of DFA’s global strategy by Jay Waldvogel, the Cooperative’s senior vice president of strategy and global development
– An update on National Milk Producers Federation’s work for the dairy industry by Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer
– An overview of the latest dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.

The Cooperative’s Annual Banquet will bring a host of recognitions, including the 2014 Members of Distinction. Every year, one member farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas is recognized for their service to their dairy, their families, communities and the industry.

In addition, outgoing Board Director Donnie Fisher, who has served the Cooperative in a leadership role since its formation, will be recognized for his contribution to DFA.

Winners of the 2014 DFA Cares Foundation Scholarship will be announced at the banquet. DFA Cares Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. This year’s record-breaking 36 recipients will receive a combined total of $42,500 toward their undergraduate and graduate level studies.

Also at the banquet, guests will meet employees who have been awarded the Cooperative’s elite Be More Employee Awards. The program encourages employees to demonstrate DFA’s core values and reinforce the meaning of “More Cooperative.”

The Annual Meeting concludes with the resolutions process, which brings together 250 elected delegates from across the nation to vote on a slate of issues that guide the policy position and business activities of DFA for the coming year.

Elberton Cheese Maker Wins 2014 Flavor of Georgia

Elberton farmer, cheese maker and local food advocate Tim Young took home the grand prize from the 2014 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest on March 18. The annual contest, conducted by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, is a chance for food businesses to showcase their new products.

Young owns Nature’s Harmony Farm, and his grand-prize-winning Georgia Gold Clothbound Cheddar Cheese is made from milk produced by the farm’s herd of Jersey dairy cows. The cheese is hand crafted and aged for six to 12 months in the farm’s cheese caves.

The cheese was one of 35 Georgia products selected as finalists in the 2014 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest. The products were selected from more than 125 entries from across the state—one of the largest contest fields in the competition’s history.

In addition to the grand prize, Nature’s Harmony Georgia Gold took first place in the competition’s dairy category.

Gov. Nathan Deal and Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black announced the category and grand prize winners as part of Georgia Agriculture Awareness Day at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta.

Young hopes that his Flavor of Georgia win will bring attention to Georgia’s burgeoning artisan cheese industry.

Georgia Gold Clothbound Cheddar Cheese is one of a handful of artisan cheeses Young makes on his farm. A marketing professional turned farmer, Young has spent the past seven years refining his farm business. He and his wife, Liz, decided to focus exclusively on cheese production shortly after the birth of their son in 2013.

Nature’s Harmony cheeses are available at restaurants and artisan food shops across metro Atlanta and at the Young’s on-farm store in Elberton.

Showcase events like the 2014 Flavor of Georgia competition help entrepreneurs spread the word about their products. Many have landed spots in regional and national grocery chains like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, Kroger and Harvey’s.

The contest is sponsored by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in partnership with the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, Office of Governor Nathan Deal, Walton EMC, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Agribusiness Council and the UGA department of food science and technology.

CWT Assists in 4 Million lbs. in Export Sales

CWTCooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 10 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Upstate Niagara Cooperative (O-AT-KA) and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 220,462 pounds of Cheddar cheese, 2.535 million pounds of 82% butter and 1.268 million pounds of whole milk powder to customers in Africa, Central America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered March through June 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 27.205 million pounds of cheese, 14.309 million pounds of butter and 2.573 million pounds of whole milk powder to 20 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 573.4 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

In the long-term, assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

CWT will pay export assistance to the bidders only when delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.

Profits Bring Opportunities for Dairy Farm Improvements

Growing dairy profit margins on the heels of strong export demand are giving producers more opportunities to improve and repair farm equipment and facilities, a Purdue Extension dairy specialist says.

While Mexico continues to be the largest buyer of dairy products exported from the U.S., growing demand in Southeast Asia for powdered milk and whey has helped boost on-farm profits. That, coupled with lower feed prices, has put dairy farmers into better financial positions than what they’ve faced in recent years.

“These improved margins really provide an opportunity for producers to keep up on the things they’ve had to delay,” Mike Schutz said. “That could mean doing facility or equipment repairs or even installing new and improved milking equipment that could ultimately lead to higher milk quality premiums – anything you can do to save on labor costs and improve operation efficiency.”

Dairy producers since 2009 have faced a lot of volatility in milk prices. Between 2004 and 2008, record profits encouraged dairy farmers to expand the national herd at a rapid rate. But when global recession struck, the bottom fell out of the U.S. dairy markets, leaving producers with an abundance of cattle and more dairy products than they could sell. That resulted in a nearly 50 percent decrease in dairy prices almost overnight.

Prices have rebounded since then. According to Schutz, milk prices in 2013 were the most stable they’ve been since 2000. But feed prices remained high for much of the year because of short supplies from the drought of 2012. It wasn’t until late 2013 that feed prices started to come down as new grain and forage crops were harvested.

“While dairy producers certainly welcomed the reasonably stable milk and dairy product prices last year, high feed costs still resulted in tight margins,” Schutz said. “A large 2013 corn crop in the eastern Corn Belt, along with moderating demand for ethanol production, has driven down feed prices.”

Another facet to the complex reasons why U.S. dairy margins are improving is that producers in Australia and New Zealand, both major dairy production countries, aren’t able to expand quickly enough to meet the demands of Southeast Asian markets.

“U.S. exports to Southeast Asia, especially China, are growing because the Asian demand exceeds the expansion rates in Australia and New Zealand,” Schutz said.

But even though this is good news for U.S. producers, Schutz pointed out that they still need to be cautious.

“Nothing right now leads us to believe the bottom will fall out of the dairy market in the near future unless something changes internationally,” he said. “But at this point, we also can’t forecast whether herd expansion would be a safe investment.”

BouMatic Sponsors NAMA Chapter

Boumatic_LogoBouMatic, the largest U.S. based, globally operating dairy equipment company, announces their sponsorship of University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Pioneer National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) Chapter to the national NAMA product marketing competition.

“We appreciate BouMatic’s contribution to Pioneer NAMA, UW-Platteville,” states Abigail Fink, Pioneer NAMA President. “BouMatic’s support made it possible for us to attend the competition this year.”

BouMatic’s President, Todd DeMonte states, “BouMatic is proud to sponsor such an outstanding group of students at this important event. Our company recognizes the significant role these competitions play in preparing young people for their future careers in agriculture. We are confident the Pioneer NAMA Chapter will skillfully represent BouMatic and its products.”

The Pioneer NAMA Chapter will present, and be evaluated on, a comprehensive marketing strategy for BouMatic’s AMI 5450 Detacher, an innovative new milk yield indicator released in early 2014. The Pioneer NAMA Chapter was recognized as a national finalist for their work at the 2013 national competition. The 2014 contest will take place in Jacksonville, FL on April 8-10.

In 2014, BouMatic celebrates 75 years of helping dairy farmers harvest milk gently, quickly and completely. The company serves dairy operators in more than 45 countries and employs 400 people worldwide. To learn more about BouMatic, please visit: www.boumatic.com.


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