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home : columnists : don wick August 23, 2017

6/26/2017 1:57:00 PM
Vilsack: USDA reorganization may not impact trade

Don Wick

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is moving forward with the reorganization of USDA, including the creation of an undersecretary position that focuses on trade. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack does not believe this change will result in any increased focus on trade. "I don't see it moving the dial on exports, but I think it will satisfy people within the United States that they will have someone accountable to make sure the agriculture message is conveyed and pushed." Vilsack is now President/CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Vilsack concerned about the focus on bilateral trade agreements
One of the key issues for the U.S. dairy industry is the ability to protect common food names. The European Union wants to protect these geographic-based names, like Asiago and Gorgonzola, preventing other countries from using those terms. With the Trump Administration focused on bilateral trade agreements, the Red River Farm Network asked U.S. Dairy Export Council President Tom Vilsack how that would impact this issue. "When the U.S. pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we walked away from the protections in that agreement that would have created a due-process system." Former Agriculture Secretary Vilsack said the United States will now need to negotiate these issues with each individual country. The European Union has been working on trade agreements around the world and are further along in the process than the United States. "It is incredibly important for us if we're going to enter into bilateral discussions that we do so aggressively and we get some resolution with key markets on the GI issue. If we don't, the European Union is going to fill that void and get commitments from Japan, Mexico and others and it will be difficult for us to reverse in any bilateral discussions that we have."

Dairy groups support a modernized NAFTA
The U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Milk Producers Federation pledges to work with the Trump Administration to update the North American Free Trade Agreement. The two dairy groups have two priorities, safeguards to open trade with Mexico and deal with protectionist dairy policies in Canada. Canada's new pricing strategies that prevent ultra-filtered U.S. milk from crossing the border has been the most recent point of contention.

U.S. and China sign dairy trade MOU
The United States and China have signed a memorandum of understanding that will give the U.S. dairy industry greater access to China. With this MOU, third-party auditors will evaluate U.S. dairy facilities to make sure they comply with the standards set by the Chinese. Per capita dairy consumption in China is far below what is seen in the United States, but the U.S. Dairy Export Council said the potential to increase exports is tremendous.

Kind introduces dairy strategy
Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind has unveiled his strategy to support the dairy industry. The plan includes five key principles, including the opening of new markets for Wisconsin dairy farmers. Kind's plan also reforms the tax code, expands agriculture research and deals with the country's immigration policy. The final aspect of the Kind plan encourages the next generation of dairy farmers to enter the industry.

Deadline extended for nutrition label revamp
The Food and Drug Administration has pushed back the implementation date for its new nutrition labeling standards. Previously, the deadline was July 2018 for food companies to change the nutrition labels. The Trump Administration is now extending that deadline for another year. The FDA said this change gives companies more time to come into compliance.

Preventing residues in raw milk
The U.S. dairy industry is launching a pilot testing program which will include random testing of raw milk for the tetracycline class of drugs. Dairy processing plants across the country will participate in the program starting July 1. With this program, milk will also be tested for other drug residues, temperature, bacteria and added water.

S/D report forecasts a small increase in the milk price
In the USDA supply/demand report, milk production forecasts were lowered for 2017 and 2018. Cow numbers are expected to increase, but that will be offset by lower-than-expected milk output. For 2017, the average Class III milk price forecast was raised to $16.20-$16.60 per hundredweight. Class III milk prices are being helped by an increase in cheese prices.

Preliminary injunction granted
Arla's 'Live Unprocessed' advertising campaign was shutdown, thanks to a preliminary injunction granted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Eli Lilly & Company and Elanco U.S. filed the lawsuit, saying the Arla Foods advertising made false and misleading claims about bovine somatotropin. The court also ruled Arla cannot claim that dairy products made from milk supplemented with Posilac is of lesser quality or less wholesome than other dairy products.

New state FFA officer team named
Ciera Ballmer of Clinton FFA is the new Wisconsin FFA president. Ballmer is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in dairy science and life communications. The officer team also includes Meikah Dado of Amery, reporter; Brooke Brantner of Menomonie, vice president; Ciara Koboski of Black River Falls, vice president; Morgan Fitzsimmons, Mineral Point, vice president; Sam Pinchart of Luxemburg-Casco, vice president; Amelia Hayden of Big Foot, vice president; Liz Grady of Oregon, secretary; Sami Jesse of Lodi, sentinel; Kathryn Lampi of the Owen-Withee chapter, parliamentarian; Elisha Riley of Waupaca, treasurer.

Stars shine at FFA convention
Carley Krull of Lake Mills FFA was honored as the State Star Farmer. Erica Helmer of Plymouth is the Star in Agricultural Placement. Dylon Pokorny of Waupun was named the Star in Agribusiness and Amelia Hayden of Big Foot FFA is the State Star in Agriscience. More than 3,500 people participated in the Wisconsin State FFA Convention.

Hall of fame recognition
Three individuals were inducted into the Wisconsin FFA Hall of Fame; Louis Arrington, Richard Daluge and David Erickson. Arrington retired last year after a long career as a poultry specialist at UW-Madison. Daluge oversaw Wisconsin's Farm and Industry Short Course and was the assistant dean at UW-Madison. Erickson spent 40 years with Cooperative Network as the director of member services and executive director for the Federated Youth Foundation. These three individuals volunteered countless hours to Wisconsin FFA.

Trivia challenge
Milk products contain up to 16 essential nutrients, including Vitamin D, protein and calcium. That answers our last trivia question. For this week's trivia, what country leads the world in per-capita milk and milk product consumption? We'll have the answer in the next issue of DairyStar.
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.

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