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home : columnists : don wick August 23, 2017

7/24/2017 10:45:00 AM
Dairy outlook from region to region

Don Wick

The Upper Midwest is producing plenty of milk, which is moving into the cheese market and keeping a lid on prices. INTL FC Stone senior broker Dave Kurzawski said the Midwest dairy industry is in decent shape, but that's not the situation everywhere. "There are dire straits in California. When we had all of this product and we have all of this milk through our flush, it was enough to hide the sins of weather in California. I don't know if we'll be able to do that in the second half of the year." Butter remains a hot commodity. Kurzawski said the milk powder market has been more bearish.

AFBF calls for MPP changes
The American Farm Bureau Federation has submitted a list of farm bill recommendations to the House and Senate Agriculture committees. For dairy policy, AFBF is seeking a 25 percent reduction in premium rates for the first 4 million pounds of production history in the Margin Protection Program. That would be linked to a 25 percent increase in premiums for milk production above that level. Farm Bureau also wants to modify the feed ration formula.

Farm Bill won't address labor shortage
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway said the 2018 Farm Bill will not include language to deal with the agricultural labor shortage. Dairy farmers may be looking for ways to address the immigration rules for foreign employees, but Conaway said the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction on that issue. Congressman Bob Goodlatte previously chaired the House Agriculture Committee and now leads the Judiciary Committee.

EPA to curb 'sue-and-settle' policy
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has sent a directive throughout the agency, to rein in the so-called 'sue-and-settle' policy. Agriculture groups have questioned a common practice taken by environmental activists, like the Sierra Club and the Waterkeeper Alliance. In these situations, the government has been sued for failing to meet regulatory deadlines. Rather than going to court, the cases are settled out of court. Agriculture groups have said these settlements often accomplish the goals of the environmental organizations with little or no input from farmers and other impacted by the policy. Congressional leaders have praised the move and asked Pruitt and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to formalize this new course of action.

Stray voltage case goes to court
Paul and Lyn Halderson of Galesville are suing Xcel Energy for more than $6 million claiming stray voltage has impacted the dairy herd. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2012. Northern States Power, which is a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, reportedly identified the stray voltage issue in 1996, but failed to report it. The case is now being heard in the Trempealeau County Court.

Manitoba organic group asks for GMO intervention
The Manitoba Organic Alliance is asking the federal government to cancel variety registration for all genetically modified alfalfa. MOA is part of a coalition that wants a full economic impact assessment and testing protocols created for all imports of alfalfa seed from the U.S. "Canada has found a niche," said MOA President Kate Storey. "When the U.S. adopted GM alfalfa, Canada started to fill those non-GMO markets with GM-free forage, GM-free seed and those are pretty lucrative markets."

Western Dairy groups to merge
The Western Dairy Association and Dairy Max are merging. Western Dairy Association represents dairy farmers in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, while Dairy Max oversees dairy promotion efforts for farmers in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma. This merger will bring together dairy checkoff programs from the Mexican border to Canada. The merger will not be finalized until the end of 2018, but Mike Konkle is already serving as the CEO for both organizations.

DFA spins off New York plant
Dairy Farmers of America has sold its dairy plant in Batavia, N. Y., to HP Hood LLC. This plant was built as a joint venture of PepsiCo and Theo Muller in 2013 and acquired by DFA in 2016. DFA will continue to supply raw milk to this plant when it becomes operational in 2019. HP Hood will use the facility to manufacture extended shelf-life beverages.

Vetter named UNL diplomat in residence
The former chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has taken on a new role at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Ambassador Darci Vetter, who is a Nebraska native, has been named UNL's diplomat in residence and will help create the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance.

Heikes named CRI CEO
Cooperative Resources International has named Keith Heikes as its next chief executive officer. Heikes will succeed Doug Wilson, who will retire next month. Heikes has been the chief operating officer for GENEX, which is a CRI subsidiary. The CRI cooperative brands also include Central Livestock Association and AgSource.

GENEX promotes Fielder
GENEX has named Kristi Fiedler as its vice president of production. Fiedler has been the associated vice president of technical services for the cattle genetics cooperative.

Zinpro hires dairy researcher
Dr. Adam Geiger has joined Zinpro Corporation as the dairy research nutritionist. Previously, Geiger was with Milk Products Inc. Geiger will provide technical support and assist with Zinpro's dairy research.

Agriscience teacher of the year
Kristin Hanson has been named the agriscience teacher of the year by the Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators. Hanson is the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor for Barron High School.

Trivia challenge
The United States leads the world in milk production from dairy cows. India's milk output is larger, but most of that milk production comes from water buffalo. That answers our last trivia question. For this week's trivia, how many pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year? We'll have the answer in the next edition of Dairy Star.

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