With two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, the U.S. economy is in a technical recession. The new Rabobank North American Agribusiness Review said the economy is fading, and a recession will be declared officially soon. The report said milk and dairy product prices during the first half of 2022 have contributed to a nearly 15% year-over-year increase in the Consumer Price Index for dairy products. That is weighing on the demand for dairy products. Total cheese production rose nearly 3% year-over-year in June, driven by a 6% increase in mozzarella production. The bump in cheese output has contributed to an increase in stocks. RaboResearch forecasts second-half 2022 average Class III milk prices at $20.90 per hundredweight.

Real estate debt pushes ag loan balances higher
Farm real estate loans rose nearly 7% at commercial banks this past year. A report from the Kansas City Federal Reserve said non-real estate farm debt increased modestly after two years of significant declines. The delinquency rate for real estate and non-real estate farm loans declined for the seventh consecutive quarter. Delinquencies on production loans is close to all-time lows.
 
Finstad joins ag committee
Minnesota First District Congressman Brad Finstad has been appointed to the House Agriculture Committee. Finstad won a special election to fill the seat left vacant with the death of former Congressman Jim Hagedorn. Finstad is a farmer and small business owner.

Influencing farm policy
The Midwest Council on Agriculture was formed one year ago to help shape farm policy. Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson is leading this effort. “It’s needed because you just can’t operate the way you used to,” Peterson said. “The folks on the (agriculture) committees don’t have the background needed and will need outfits like this to bring information to them.” The MNCA has 90 members across seven states: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin. The group held its first-ever forum in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

Midwest policy center under consideration
National farm policy often goes through farm policy centers, like Texas A&M or the Food and Policy Agricultural Research Institute at the University of Missouri. Midwest Council on Agriculture President Howard Olson said a similar effort is being considered for the Midwest and Northern Plains. “If they want to make changes to a commodity title or want to change a farm program, they commonly contact (Texas A&M Regents Fellow) Dr. Joe Outlaw and that’s probably got a bit of a southern tilt to it,” Olson said. The goal is to create a Midwest-based policy center. Land grant colleges were part of a conversation this past week to consider collaboration in this effort. “I thought there’d be some turf wars, but there really wasn’t,” Olson said. “I think everybody is focused on the same thing, and they like the idea.” Former House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson is behind the creation of the Midwest Council on Agriculture with the hope to influence farm policy.

New money needed for 2023 farm bill
Since the 2018 farm bill was enacted, the federal government has spent an additional $60 billion on ad hoc programs, like the Market Facilitation Program, pandemic assistance and disaster relief. Combest, Sell and Associates Managing Partner Tom Sell said none of that is captured in the baseline funding for the farm bill going forward. “I think you have to get some new money into this farm bill to take some of that ad hoc spending that’s been done; I think there’s an opportunity to make some real strong forward-looking investments,” Sell said. The 2014 farm bill was passed during a time of deficit reduction and budget sequestration. That was followed by a budget-neutral bill in 2018. Sell believes new investments must be made in the 2023 farm bill. “We shouldn’t negotiate against ourselves; there are needs in rural America reflected in the fact that we’ve spent so much in recent years,” Sell said. “Volatility is the new norm, and we’ve got to be prepared to stand by these farmers.”

Hunger conference scheduled
The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health will be held Sept. 28 in Washington, D.C. The Biden administration plans to announce its strategy to address food insecurity, nutrition and health. International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes expects the recommendations to include an expansion of nutrition incentive programs, especially those connected to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Export sales report paused
The United States Department of Agriculture will not publish its weekly export sales report until mid-September at the earliest. The USDA pulled the report in late August after a technical problem caused uncertainty in the markets. USDA plans to revert to its legacy system while it fixes the new system.

South Dakota continues to build milk cow numbers
Milk production in the 24 major dairy states totaled more than 18 billion pounds, up a fraction from July of last year. South Dakota leads the way with a 13% increase in milk output. Minnesota milk production dropped just over 1%. Over the past year, South Dakota dairy farms added 20,000 cows to the state dairy herd. During the same time, the number of dairy cows in Minnesota declined 12,000 head.

New Minnesota state veterinarian named
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health appointed Dr. Marion Garcia as Minnesota’s new state veterinarian and the executive director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Garcia has been a livestock veterinarian in the poultry industry for more than 20 years. Garcia starts in her new position at the end of September.
 
National FFA membership hits record high
The National FFA Organization now has all-time record high membership of more than 850,000 members. That’s an increase of 15% from last year.
 
Trivia challenge
In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy spoke at a national conference on milk and nutrition. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what is the most popular cheese recipe in the United States? 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.