December 13, 2021 at 1:34 p.m.

$1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law

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

The infrastructure package includes $550 billion in new spending over five years for roads, bridges, railroads, ports and waterways. There’s another $65 billion to expand access to the internet across rural America. At the White House ceremony, President Joe Biden said this bill delivers real results. “Here in Washington, we’ve heard countless speeches and promises and white papers from experts, but today we’re finally getting this done,” Biden said. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar called the infrastructure package “a historic investment in our country’s future.” Klobuchar introduced the portion of the law that expands broadband infrastructure. The Minnesota lawmaker said 42 million Americans, including 16% of the households in rural Minnesota, lack reliable broadband access.

U.S. dairy industry meets to discuss farm policy, demand
The National Milk Producers Federation and the National Dairy Board met in person in November to look back on the year and plan for 2022. NMPF Senior Vice President of Communications Alan Bjerga said farm programs were part of the discussion. “In the last year, we’ve seen improvements in the Dairy Margin Coverage program,” Bjerga said. “We had seen the creation of new initiatives like the Dairy Donation Program, which links dairy products with families that need them. We also need a revamp of the Federal Milk Marketing Orders.” There were conversations about U.S. trade during the dairy checkoff portion of the meeting. “This involved a discussion with Krista Harden, the head of the U.S. Dairy Export Council,” he said. “It looks like 2021 is going to be a record year for trade, but everyone is hearing about supply chain issues, crimping the ability for the U.S. to be a reliable exporter.”

Opportunities ahead for U.S. dairy exports
One bright spot for the dairy industry is export demand. The United States Department of Agriculture is forecasting dairy product exports to increase $200 million in fiscal year 2022, reflecting strong global import demand and tightening competitor supplies. American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist Roger Cryan also has optimism for dairy export growth potential. “About 15% to 16% or more of U.S. milk is going overseas in the form of dairy products,” Cryan said. “A lot of that is dry products that can be used to make and process other products overseas. We also export lots of cheese to Mexico. The future for dairy is bright in the long-term.”

Hearings sought for federal order reform
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and Maine Sen. Susan Collins have introduced a bill calling on USDA to begin national hearings on Federal Milk Marketing Orders. Six Midwest dairy groups released a joint statement saying they are pleased milk marketing orders are top-of-mind in the Senate, and “a lasting solution” is needed for their dairy farmers. The six groups include the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, South Dakota Dairy Producers, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and dairy groups representing Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Gov. Walz open to a special session
A special session is still possible between now and the end of the year, according to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. “I proposed $250 million in budget negotiations for essential workers and a nice package on drought relief for agriculture that had bipartisan support,” Walz said. “We could bring these two things to the table, but we’re still fighting COVID and there are political differences. I’m open again for a special session; if we could set aside a half day, we could get things done.” Drought conditions improved this fall in western Minnesota, but Walz thinks it’s still important to get drought relief funds to livestock producers. “The support programs don’t do as well in livestock, and we thought this filled the gap. I’m afraid we lost livestock producers in the drought and a little help can make a difference, but that window is closing,” Walz said.
Little change in national milk production
USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service said milk production in the 24 major milk producing states during October totaled 17.7 billion pounds, down 0.3% from a year ago. Compared to one year ago, South Dakota dairy farms added 21,000 head to the state herd, and October milk production was up 15%. Minnesota milk output rose 3%.

Ag banker survey released
Seventy percent of ag bankers said overall farm profitability was higher in 2021 compared to one year ago. This is the first time since the survey began in 2016 that the survey found a majority of ag lenders reported in increase in overall profitability. The annual survey conducted by the American Bankers Association and Farmer Mac found 38% of net farm income came from government support. There was less demand for farm loans this past year, but lenders expect that to change in 2022.

Kraft Heinz cheese business sold
The Kraft Heinz natural cheese business has been acquired by the Lactalis Group for $3.3 billion. Kraft Heinz will retain its Kraft Singles, Velveeta and Cheez Whiz business. The France-based Lactalis Group will operate out of the Chicago area. There are three production facilities in Wisconsin, California and New York that are part of the deal. This acquisition was announced over a year ago, but the Department of Justice stepped in due to antitrust concerns. Divestitures were made to avoid antitrust violations.

Glessing takes the reins at Minnesota Farm Bureau
Wright County dairy farmer Dan Glessing is the new president of Minnesota Farm Bureau, succeeding Kevin Paap of Blue Earth County. Glessing has been vice president for seven years and said he wanted to give back to this organization. “My grandparents and parents were members, and when I became a farmer and saw all that Farm Bureau did, I jumped in as well and have that desire to give back to an organization that did so much for us,” Glessing said. MFBF delegates approved policy priorities at the annual meeting. That includes access to meat inspection and processing. “We want to address that and opposition to the California Clean Car Rule was another thing that came out of our delegate session,” Glessing said. Carolyn Olson of Lyon County was elected vice president. Board terms were filled by Peter Bakken of Rock County, Keith Allen of Goodhue County and Miles Kuschel of Cass County. Amanda Cook of Chisago County was elected to serve as the Promotion and Education Committee chair, and Caitlin Keck of Steele County will lead the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.

Regional farm broadcasters elected to lead NAFB
Members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting have three individuals with connections to the region elected to their officer team. Spencer Chase is the incoming president. Chase is a Wolsey, South Dakota, native who is with Agri-Pulse. The president-elect is Joe Gill, farm broadcaster at KASM in Albany, Minnesota. Carah Hart of the Red River Farm Network was elected national vice president. RRFN services Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Trivia challenge
A blizzard is the most popular item on the Dairy Queen menu. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what popular Christmas beverage is also known as milk punch? We will 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.


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