Testing underway to prevent the spread of bovine flu


The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with state animal health officials to collect data about the spread of bovine influenza A virus in dairy cattle. USDA chief veterinary officer Dr. Rosemary Sifford stresses the importance of this information. “It is important to us at this time to receive samples from these herds so we can get a more clear picture of what is going on,” Sifford said. “So far, it appears that the cattle can recover after a couple of weeks.”

Words matter

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners is now referring to highly pathogenic avian influenza in cattle as bovine influenza A virus. The disease presents itself very differently in cattle than poultry and should not be referenced as “HPAI in cattle” or “bird flu in cattle.” The organization is asking the government and industry to also adopt the name change.

USDA communicating to trade partners about bovine influenza

During a Senate Committee on Appropriations meeting, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the USDA has made a concerted effort to reach out to trading partners about bovine influenza A virus in dairy cattle. “We’ve seen very little restriction if you will,” Vilsack said. “There’s a couple of countries expressing concerns, but for the most part, our trading partners understand that we’re on top of this.” Vilsack emphasized that dairy cows recover, the milk is safe, and this issue is a “very, very low risk” for people.

‘The right policy at the right time’

House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson is again emphasizing a farm bill will be considered in the House Committee on Agriculture before Memorial Day. Thompson released a statement about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Commonly known as food stamps, Thompson said the program has evaluated food prices and nutrition standards every five years, and it has remained budget-neutral. However, the Biden administration changed that in 2021 when it increased SNAP spending by $256 billion over a 10-year period. Thompson said that executive order violated the Congressional Review Act. In the order, Thompson said it is important to correct any misinformation about cuts to nutrition spending.

Vilsack warns about GOP budget cuts

In an address to the North American Agricultural Journalists, Vilsack warned about the farm bill budget cuts that are being promoted by the Republican Study Committee. A report from this conservative House group said farmers with an income of $500,000 or more should not be eligible for farm program payments, no farm should receive more than $40,000 in farm program benefits, and cuts should be made to crop insurance. The RSC proposal would also eliminate the USDA trade promotion programs and eventually end the Conservation Reserve Program. Vilsack said 21 of the 29 Republicans on the House Committee on Agriculture have signed off on the Republican Study Committee report.

Tai promotes Biden administration’s trade agenda

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai faced the House Committee on Ways and Means earlier this month. Her testimony provided an update on trade issues. “Through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, we are actively championing the interests of our farmers and agricultural producers,” Tai said. “We have pursued two cases now against Canada’s dairy tariff rate quota allocation measures, and we are currently challenging Mexico’s restrictive measures on biotech corn before a panel.” Tai said the administration has secured over $21 billion in new agricultural market access in the last three years.

Food allowances change for WIC participants

The USDA has announced changes to a federal nutrition program. It increases the allowance for fruits and vegetables in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children program and reduces the amount of dairy and cheese products. It also makes plant-based and lactose-free dairy options more available. Vilsack said this decision reflects the latest nutritional science. Meanwhile, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Gregg Doud is upset with the decision, saying it reduces access to the essential nutrients in dairy products.

Congress, common food names

The House Committee on Ways and Means has approved the renewal of the Generalized Systems of Preferences trade program for agriculture-specific products. This bill protects the generic use of common food and beverage terminology, such as Parmesan and feta. The European Union has been trying to impose restrictions on these terms based on geography. Minnesota Rep. Michelle Fischbach is one of three lawmakers who were behind this bill. The NMPF, U.S. Dairy Export Council and the Consortium for Common Food Names praised this action.

Slaughter cow market remains strong

At the end of March, dairy cow slaughter nationwide was down 14.2% from one year ago. Beef cow slaughter is down 11.3%. The demand for ground beef has kept slaughter cow prices high. The value of the 90% lean beef trimmings used for hamburger meat is record high.

A new chairman for AMPI

Dave Peterson is the new board chairman for Associated Milk Producers Inc. Peterson, who farms near Boyd, Wisconsin, succeeds Steve Schlangen, of Albany, Minnesota. Schlangen served as AMPI’s board chairman since 2011. The vice chairman is Dennis Hawkins of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Steve Hoffman of New Ulm, Minnesota, returns as secretary. Schlangen now takes over as treasurer.

Ford named to TIME 100

TIME magazine has named Land O’Lakes Inc. President and CEO Beth Ford to its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Ford has been in her current role since 2018. Ford is also part of the President’s Export Council.

Midwest Dairy CEO takes the job at a unique time for the industry

Corey Scott is in her early days as the new executive director of Midwest Dairy. Scott spent the last 15 years of her career with Land O’Lakes and its sustainability division, Truterra. “It’s a unique time to be coming into a checkoff role given what the economics look like,” Scott said. “With my background in risk management, it forces me to take a very critical business look at how we’re deploying checkoff dollars. We don’t have the luxury to be using checkoff dollars in such a way that we can’t quantify the impact.”

Trivia challenge 

National Blue and Corn Gold are the official colors of the National FFA Organization. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, which common dairy breed originated in Scotland? 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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