Ag Insider

Volatility in butter markets


Butter prices have moderated after reaching record highs. DairyVisor President Joe Spader said holiday demand has been the biggest support for the market. “There may be a shift in consumer buying patterns for butter, but it has definitely created some volatility,” Spader said. He also said he is somewhat disappointed in the recent activity. “Given the fact that we are in that pre-Thanksgiving window, you’d like to see the front end of the market performing better than it is,” Spader said. “We also have expectations of that milk (production) surge coming back, and that’s also having a negative impact.”

Johnson calls for December farm bill action

In a letter to his fellow Republicans, House Speaker Mike Johnson said his plan is to pass a new farm bill in December. Before that, Johnson wants Congress to pass all 12 appropriations bills, including the ag spending bill, during the week of Nov. 13. The Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration appropriations bill was on the floor a month ago and voted down in a dispute over budget cuts and language dealing with the availability of an abortion pill. Johnson plans to appoint a new working group to address those concerns.

Johnson has a connection to agriculture

Combest Sell and Associates Managing Partner Tom Sell is excited to see Congress get back to work with Louisiana Congressman Johnson on the job as speaker. “After 20-some odd days of not having a speaker, we’re back to the way the Constitution designed it,” Sell said. Sell is optimistic about what Johnson will do for agriculture. “Even in his initial rollout of priorities, the farm bill was among the six, and that’s a great sign,” Sell said. Johnson represents many rural Louisianans. Sell said Johnson is also well connected to Republican lawmakers from other agricultural districts.

Stabenow calls for farm bill extension

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow is now calling for an extension of the 2018 farm bill. In comments made on the Senate floor, Stabenow said the delays in the House made it impossible to pass the farm bill on a timely basis. In January, the farm program reverts to permanent law, and Stabenow said that would be “irresponsible.”

Help for organic dairies

A bill has been introduced in the Senate that would extend disaster assistance to organic farmers who had net income decline of at least 10% due to organic feed shortages and increased input costs. This proposal would also call on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to collect more information about organic dairy production, such as what is available for convention production. Virginia Sen. Peter Welch introduced this bill with support from Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Baldwin said this bill recognizes the headwinds faced by the dairy industry, especially the organic dairy sector. “I’m fighting to make sure those organic dairy farms have the tools and support they need to continue to be the backbone of our rural communities,” Baldwin said.

Animal welfare standards included in USDA organic rule

USDA’s new standards for organic livestock and poultry production include strong language dealing with animal welfare. To qualify for the organic label, poultry must have access to the outdoors and pigs must have adequate space to move freely. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this is a big step forward, supporting “an industry that is incredibly important to American agriculture.” While these standards only cover animals raised in the National Organic Program, Humane Society of the United States President and CEO Kitty Block said this is the first time farmers will be required to honor animal welfare standards in the care, treatment and handling of animals within a government program.

Biden highlights his rural agenda on a MN farm 

Dutch Creek Farms, south of the Twin Cities, hosted President Joe Biden as he kicked off his focus on rural issues. Biden said the economics of agriculture told farmers they had to get big or get out. “Over the past four decades, we lost over 400,000 farms in America and over 141 million acres of farmland,” Biden said. “That’s roughly equal to the size of Minnesota, North and South Dakota combined.” Faced with higher costs, Biden said family farms have struggled to make the math work, “and the promise of keeping the farm in the family is slipping out of reach for so many across America.” To support farmers and rural communities, the White House announced over $5 billion for rural infrastructure and climate-smart agriculture projects. 

More time sought for feedback on H-2A reform 

A bipartisan group of senators is asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor for a 60-day extension for public comment on reforms to the H-2A ag worker program. There is concern the DHS and DOL will finalize rules before they can fully determine the impact on agricultural employers. 

Suputo to close Lancaster plant

Suputo plans to close its Lancaster, Wisconsin, dairy manufacturing plant in early 2024. The Canada-based company recently converted a facility in Reedsburg which will take on the production that has been done at Lancaster. Suputo previously announced its plant in Belmont, Wisconsin, will close in 2024.

Nelson promoted at Organic Valley

Organic Valley has named Shawna Nelson as its new executive vice president for membership. Nelson has been with Organic Valley since 2005, most recently as vice president of the dairy pool.

Jorgensen joins Edge

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative has hired Emma Jorgensen as its assistant project manager. Jorgensen will work on the $50 million USDA Climate-Smart grant, helping members reduce their carbon footprint and implement sustainability projects. Jorgensen is a Wisconsin native and has been working as an auditor for USDA and the Federal Milk Marketing Order.

WFBF leader passes

Wisconsin Farm Bureau past president Jim Holte has passed away. Holte served seven years as WFBF president, retiring in 2019. He spent 24 years on the WFBF board of directors. Holte, who farmed near Elk Mound, Wisconsin, is also a past president of the Wisconsin Beef Council.

Trivia challenge

The National FFA Convention has been held in Kansas City, Louisville and Indianapolis, Indiana. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what country is the largest producer of butter? We will have the answer in our 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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