The American Farm Bureau Federation has developed a new risk management product focused on milk revenue prices. The current landscape of insurance products available to dairy farmers involve margin-based tools. Director of Market Intelligence John Newton said Dairy Revenue Protection Insurance brings something different to the table. “We know that revenue-based policies have been the most successful and widely utilized in the crop insurance sector,” Newton said. “A key feature allows farmers to use futures prices to develop a price for butterfat, protein and other milk solids.” There are other tools, such as the Margin Protection Program, that help during a prolonged decline in milk prices. However, Newton said Dairy Revenue Protection moves with the market. The policy is expected to be available in late summer of 2018.
 
Klobuchar wants more focus on dairy
    Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is looking to put more focus on dairy in the Senate version of the farm bill. “We’re looking at what we have for crop insurance and applying it to dairy. That’s some of the work that’s been done and needs to be done. It was done outside the farm bill. There are some farmers who say they’re grateful for the changes, it will be helpful, but everyone knows it’s not everything we need to do.”
 
MN House moves forward with ag bill
    The Minnesota House passed an omnibus supplemental bill that includes agriculture, environment, job growth and state government finance bills. This bill includes $35 million for the Rural Finance Authority. There’s increased funding for mental health counseling services for farmers and support for the Farm Advocates program. In addition, there is language that would prevent the Minnesota Agriculture Department from implementing its nitrogen fertilizer rules without legislative approval. Governor Dayton has promised to veto the bill if it includes that policy language. If Dayton follows through on that promise, agriculture lobbyist Bruce Kleven said the veto would impact the entire bill. “There are two weeks remaining in the session. There are other files where this language could be added as an amendment. They also could negotiate it out in a conference committee. Lawmakers could take it out and replace something in exchange. I don’t know if the legislature will forge ahead and risk everything under a veto, they’ll work it out somehow. Dayton really wants to sign the nitrogen rule before he leaves.”
 
Labor shortage compounds animal rights issues
    During the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholder’s Summit, speakers highlighted the extremes seen within the animal rights community. Jamie Jonker, vice president of sustainability and scientific affairs with National Milk Producers Federation, was part of the program. Activists will try to demonize normal production practices. In addition, activists will showcase bad actors. To prevent animal welfare problems, Jonker said it is important for employees to understand the expectations for the care of the animals. “In the dairy sector, we are in a very tight labor market and sometimes there is a need to fill a position and a warm body seems like the right thing to do.” Jonker said it is more important to check each employee thoroughly and make sure their credentials are correct. “If they seem too good to be true, they probably are too good to true. Don’t substitute having a warm body on the farm for someone who will actually care for the animals the way you want them to do.”
 
Values decline for dairy replacements
    The value of dairy cow replacements is at its lowest level in seven years. Prices in the latest quarter declined $160 per head from the previous quarter. Low milk prices are an oversupply of replacements are contributing factors. Meanwhile, the latest USDA numbers indicate dairy cow slaughter is up 14 percent from a year ago.

Dairy products report updated
    In its annual report on dairy products, USDA put total U.S. cheese production at 12.7 billion pounds, nearly 4 percent higher than 2016. Butter production totaled 1.8 billion pounds, up less than 1 percent from the previous year. The amount of whey protein products increased 3.4 percent. Traditional ice cream production declined slightly, but lowfat ice cream sales rose 5.5 percent.

MN has funds available to prevent wolf attacks
    The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has new grant funds available to help livestock producers prevent wolf attacks. Eligible expenses include veterinary costs for guard animals, additional fencing and the installation of lights or alarms to reduce the threat from wolves. Applications for the grants are due by June 29.

MAELC issues 2025 blueprint
    The Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council has released its blueprint for 2025. In a series of listening sessions statewide, MAELC Executive Director Sarah Dornink said four major principles were heard. “We need to make sure that we have a quality education for our students and that our teachers are prepared; we need to provide more access and programming; we need to have resources available statewide and locally.” There is a shortage of ag education teachers, which is being addressed in this MAELC report. “It’s the number of teachers and they must be qualified. The content they have to provide is so broad and diverse, so continuing professional development opportunities and mentorship programs to help retain them in the profession is very important.”

Income increases for Land O’Lakes
    For the first quarter, Land O’Lakes reports net earnings of $115.7 million. That compares to nearly $110 million in the same period last year. The co-op’s financial performance was driven by its animal nutrition business segment. The dairy foods division reports higher sales volume. With late spring planting, the crop inputs business segment dealt with a downturn in seed sales and competitive pricing discounts.

State officers named at MN FFA Convention
    The new Minnesota FFA State Officer Team is in place for the year ahead. The president is Grace Taylor of Randolph FFA; the vice president is Kegan Zimmerman of Red Rock FFA. The secretary is Laura Church of Randolph FFA and the treasurer is Adam Kroll of Pierz FFA. Lauralee Eaton of Pine Island FFA is the reporter and James Mathiowetz of Belle Plaine FFA is the sentinel.

Trivia challenge
    A sterile heifer calf born twin to a bull is known as a freemartin. That answers our last trivia question. For this week, what cheese originated in southern Italy, is light in color and has a mellow taste? We’ll have the answer in the next edition of Dairy Star.
    Don Wick is owner/broadcaster for the Red River Farm Network, based in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Wick has been recognized as the National Farm Broadcaster of the Year and served as president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. Don and his wife, Kolleen, have two adult sons, Tony and Sam, and five grandchildren, Aiden, Piper, Adrienne, Aurora and Sterling.