September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

MMPA, Midwest Dairy Association sign new agreement

By Don Wick- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

The Minnesota Milk Producers Federation has finalized a contract with the Midwest Dairy Association. Under this agreement, the Midwest Dairy Association will handle accounting and technology needs for Minnesota Milk. In addition, Minnesota Milk's staff will be part of the Midwest Dairy staff. This agreement will maintain the separate identities and missions of the two organizations. As a checkoff board, the Midwest Dairy Association is prohibited from having any involvement in policy work.

More options with new dairy title
The new farm bill dairy title is dramatically different from the current program. Associated Milk Producers, Incorporated President and CEO Ed Welch said the centerpiece of this dairy title is a margin insurance program. "It's definitely an improvement over the old support program, MILC. It gives the dairy producer a lot of options in what level of protection he wants. One of our challenges is going to be to educate our producers about what all the nuances are in the program. When do I sign up? When are the premiums paid? How much milk do I commit? At what level do I commit? There are a lot of options available."

Agriculture was too fractionalized during Farm Bill debate
Former USDA Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner, now the President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, thinks agriculture came very close to not having the 2014 farm bill. "When you lose an up or down vote in the House, that's unprecedented. I've never seen anything like that in my 33 years in this business. I would be in favor of getting started on what we can do now to make sure we don't ever go through this process again relative to a farm bill." In an interview, Conner said agriculture was too fractionalized during the 2014 farm bill debate. "We had producers from different regions calling for different things. That doesn't work anymore in American agriculture because we're such a small minority. We have to come together and argue for one policy, not be arguing with each other."

Defining actively engaged
One thing farm bill conferees could not agree on is the definition of "actively engaged in farming" as it relates to farm program payments. That decision is in the hands of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson questions why the government is trying to define a farmer. "It's like trying to be able to define the cost of production. It sounds simple, but it's not. It's a quagmire. I don't think it'll ever get done and I think that would be the best outcome. Why are we out there mucking around trying to decide who's worthy of government support or not? That's crazy."

Alfalfa and seedling damage possible from freezing temps
Dairyland Seed Company district sales manager Keith Rekow is concerned that some crop damage may have occurred as a result of the freezing temperatures at mid-month. "I did see some established alfalfa tipped over from the frost. It's going to shorten up tonnage on that first cutting. We had temperatures of 25 to 27 degrees for four to five hours. I'm concerned about those temperatures going into the soil and affecting the seedlings trying to get out of the ground." Rekow is based in Langford, S.D.

Check alfalfa stands
After a cold, cold winter, we're faced with cool spring conditions. University of Minnesota Extension educator Lisa Behnken said the alfalfa fields are greening up, giving growers the first look at stand establishment. "They need to go out and check their stands and make sure they're healthy; dig a few roots and make sure you have a good stand." Behnken said winterkill was a significant issue last year, limiting alfalfa supplies and keeping hay prices strong. "I've talked to a number of dairy farmers who are very close to running out of hay or they are out of hay, so the very slow growth is not what we needed to see this spring."

Record cull cow prices
Cull cow prices have been at record levels in 2014. The market has been supported by lower cow slaughter, record high retail beef prices and strong consumer demand for hamburger. Dairy cow slaughter is down 9.6 percent from last year.

S/D Report forecasts continued strong milk prices
According to USDA's latest supply/demand report, US milk production is forecast to increase in 2015, supported by lower feed costs and strong milk prices. For 2015, the all-milk price is forecast at $19.70 to $20.70 per hundredweight. USDA left its 2014 milk production forecast unchanged. 2014 dairy product exports were increased, due to improved sales of nonfat dry milk, butterfat and cheese. The all-milk price is forecast to average $22.70 to $23 per hundredweight for 2014. The Class III milk price was raised, helped by higher whey prices.

Dean Foods releases 1Q financials
For the first quarter, Dean Foods reports operating income of $5 million, down from $30 million in the same period last year. Margins were impacted by record high milk prices and bad weather, which interfered with the company's school milk sales.

Strong first quarter for Land O'Lakes
Land O'Lakes enjoyed strong first quarter earnings. Net income was $125 million, up 74 percent from the same quarter last year. The dairy foods segment recorded big gains with rising cheese, butter and milk powder markets contributing to the upswing. The Land O'Lakes crop inputs business, including the WinField brand, had positive first quarter results. The feed business, which includes the Purina brand, also contributed to the significant quarterly gains.

Garcia named to extension position
Dr. Alvaro Garcia has been named the new South Dakota State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Director. Since 2001, Garcia has served as an SDSU Extension Dairy Specialist and professor of Dairy Science. If approved by the state Board of Regents, Garcia will fill the position previously held by Rosie Nold. Nold accepted the position of Assistant Department Head and Associate Professor in the SDSU Department of Animal Science.

MN Beef Council election results announced
Minnesota's beef producers re-elected five board members to serve on the state research and promotion council. Those elected are Greg Hilgeman of Pennington County, Davis Wulf of Stevens County, Doug Dickmann from Morrison County, Jay Bakken of Rock County and Robert A. Nelson from Freeborn County.

Trivia challenge
The Ayrshire breed originated in southwest Scotland. That answers our last trivia question. For this edition, in what year did the annual June Dairy Month celebration begin? We'll have the answer in the next edition of Dairy Star.
Don Wick is a partner and broadcaster for the Red River Farm Network, based in Grand Forks, N.D. He was the 2004 National Farm Broadcaster of the Year. Don and his wife, Kolleen, have two adult sons, Tony and Sam, and two grandchildren, Aiden and Piper. Don Wick can be reached at [email protected].[[In-content Ad]]


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