Ag Insider

Positive momentum for Class III milk

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Rabobank senior dairy analyst Lucas Fuess said the cheese market has been squeezed, supporting Class III milk prices. “What I think has happened lately is a combination of weaker cheddar production coupled with very firm cheese exports,” Fuess said. “February and March cheese exports were exceptionally strong and that absorbed a lot more product than we might have expected.”

Thompson unveils farm bill language

House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson has released his farm bill text. It includes many provisions farm groups wanted, including premium support to help farmers ‘buy up’ higher levels of crop insurance. It raises reference prices and doubles the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program funding. Thompson’s bill also addresses the problems associated with California’s Prop 12, making it illegal for a state to impose standards on livestock and dairy production outside of its borders.

Dairy title details

Thompson’s farm bill proposal makes adjustments in dairy programs. It increases the cap on Tier 1 coverage for Dairy Margin Coverage to 6 million pounds. There is an opportunity to update production history for DMC, and it provides a 25% discount on DMC premiums for dairy operations that enroll coverage for the life of the 2024 farm bill. The farm bill text mandates biennial cost surveys to make sure make allowances accurately reflect the cost of manufacturing dairy products. Thompson’s dairy title would also restore the higher of formula for the calculation of the price for Class I fluid milk until the Federal Milk Marketing Order updates are ratified.

Farm bill text delivers momentum for the process

The Russell Group President Randy Russell has been pouring through the lengthy farm bill text. “Chairman Thompson releasing this text is a very positive move,” Russell said. “It builds some momentum in a farm bill process that has been long and prolonged. We can haggle about the details, but you’ve got to step in the batter’s box and start the game before you can score any runs, so I think this is positive.”

Activist groups step up federal focus

A new coalition of 15 animal rights groups has been formed to make local, state and national policy changes. The Animal Policy Alliance’s mission is to end what it sees as animal cruelty in large-scale farms. This coalition says it has had success with state initiatives and wants to increase animal welfare regulations at the federal level.

A chaotic finish

The agriculture policy and supplemental budget bill passed in both the Minnesota House and Senate. With the midnight deadline approaching Sunday night, nine bills were combined into one in the House. Majority Leader Jamie Long said the minority has a right to be heard, but the majority has the right to govern and brought the massive bill to a vote. Chaos took over with Republicans upset with the DFL majority. Amid the commotion, the combined bill passed on a 70-50 margin in the House. After adjournment, Republicans filed an ethics complaint against House Speaker Melissa Hortman for pushing the large bill through at the last minute after shutting down the debate. On the Senate side, the agriculture bill passed with a 36-31 margin.

Compromise found for agriculture bill

The final agriculture bill in the Minnesota Legislature extends the Agriculture Fertilizer Research and Education Council through 2030. The House bill would have allowed AFREC to expire in 2025 and divert the 40-cent per ton fee on fertilizer purchases for a new private well water assistance program for southeastern Minnesota. The Senate wanted to extend AFREC for another 10 years. The compromise bill requires the council to develop best management practices for areas where water is vulnerable to nitrate losses. Senate Agriculture, Broadband and Rural Development Committee Chair Aric Putnam praised the negotiation process in the conference committee. “So often in politics, we think what makes things happen is passion, but, in truth, it’s patience,” Putnam said. “This is the result of patience, grace and thoughtfulness; I’m very proud of this bill.”

MMPA pleased with environment, agriculture bills

Reflecting on the Minnesota legislative session, Minnesota Milk Producers Association Executive Director Lucas Sjostrom is satisfied. “We’re quite pleased with the environment and agriculture bills,” Sjostrom said. “There weren’t very many changes that affected dairy, which is good.” Sjostrom said any changes impacting the dairy sector were negligible.

Canada cattle import restrictions

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has created more requirements when importing dairy cattle from the U.S. This is in response to the first confirmed case of H5N1 in a dairy herd in late March. Since April 29, breeding cattle have been required to have milk tested and a negative test to cross the border. Farmers must be willing to voluntarily test asymptomatic cattle as well.

Federal relief on the way for dairy farmers

There’s financial support coming for dairy farmers dealing with H5N1 in their cattle. That includes reimbursements for veterinarian costs associated with the virus. “We’re going to provide funding for heat treatment to dispose of milk in a bio-secure fashion,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “This is going to provide producers a safe option for disposing of milk.” Vilsack also announced increases in federal surveillance and testing of human and animal health.

Farm Credit collaboration

The collaboration agreement between AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit Services of America and Frontier Farm Credit has been in place for a month. This is the largest collaboration of its kind in the Farm Credit System. Marc Knisley, who is the executive vice president of AgCountry business development, said this collaboration protects the local brand presence. “It is an opportunity to keep these local associations more local, let them leverage the scale of working together and maybe slow down the merger trend that we’ve seen,” he said. In an interview with the Red River Farm Network, Knisley said this was a board-driven decision. The three entities will share leadership, planning and technology while local boards, offices and programs will be maintained. “It’s not really a take-away, it is more of the added value that the broader leadership team can bring and the depth of knowledge and experience that we can bring in a collaboration,” Knisley said.

Hay stocks up over a year ago

As of May 1, hay stocks totaled 21 million tons nationwide. That’s up a massive 47% from one year ago. Meanwhile, Minnesota hay stocks dropped 30%.

Broton to succeed Nelsen at AgriGrowth

The Minnesota AgriGrowth Council has named its new executive director. Darin Broton has spent the past 25 years at the cross-section of communications, policy and politics. Broton is now with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and has previous experience in the attorney general’s office and the Tunheim consulting firm. Broton said AgriGrowth has a role as an advocate for Minnesota agriculture. “The ag community can either be in the driver’s seat and helping drive these changes and conversations or we can be in the backseat,” Broton said. “If we’re in the backseat, we’re going to have things thrust upon us versus being a proactive, thoughtful convener and problem solver to help solve multiple challenges.” Broton’s start date is June 10. AgriGrowth’s executive director, Tamara Nelsen, is retiring.

Trivia challenge

The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling pickup in the U.S. for nearly 50 years. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, we look at June Dairy Month. This celebration began as National Milk Month. What was the year? We will have the answer in our next edition of Dairy Star.

Don Wick is owner/broadcaster for the Red River Farm Network of 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 sons, Tony and Sam, and five grandchildren, Aiden, Piper, Adrienne, Aurora and Sterling.

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