Net farm income was at record high levels the past two years. That trend is not expected to continue this year, but the expectation is it will still be an above average year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Chief Economist Seth Meyer spoke at the Agricultural Outlook Forum and said net farm income is expected to top $150 billion this year. That would be down 23% from this past year.

Record trade deficit
USDA is forecasting a record agricultural trade deficit of $14.5 billion. USDA blames the value of the U.S. dollar for the negative trade balance. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman said this forecast is not unexpected given the Biden administration’s lack of attention on trade. Boozman emphasized the need to open new markets, expand existing markets and demand trading partners follow the rules of the trade agreements.

Record exports for Wisconsin
Wisconsin dairy product exports totaled $617 million in 2022, up 32% from 2021. In total, Wisconsin agricultural exports totaled a record $4.2 billion, up 7% from the previous year. Canada, China, Mexico, Korea and Japan are the top five markets for U.S. ag exports.

Agriculture pinched by labor shortage
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum. “The pandemic put a spotlight on agriculture’s workforce and highlighted labor instability, irregular migration and the need for increased labor protections,” Vilsack said. Vilsack said by addressing labor shortages, the United States can put resiliency back into the supply chain.

Plant-based confusion
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced draft recommendations for plant-based foods. It will continue to allow the plant-based food industry to use dairy terms, such as soy milk. The National Milk Producers Federation said the FDA guidance recognizes plant-based beverages do not have the nutritional value found in dairy products. However, NMPF remains upset with the labeling confusion.

Dairy Pride reintroduced
A bipartisan group of lawmakers have reintroduced the Dairy Pride Act. This bill would prevent products made from nuts, seeds and plants to use dairy terms, such as milk, yogurt or cheese. This follows the FDA proposed guidance allowing these non-dairy products to continue to use dairy-type labels. Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin is a co-sponsor of this legislation.

Court of Appeals protects right to use common name
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld previous court decisions, ruling “gruyere” is a generic term for a variety of cheese. The National Milk Producers Federation, U.S. Dairy Export Council and the Consortium for Common Food Names and other dairy stakeholders defended the generic usage of gruyere as a common food name. European groups claim this type of cheese is produced only in the Gruyere region of Switzerland and France. “This sets a terrific precedent for the right to use common food names in the United States,” said Krysta Harden, president/CEO, U.S. Dairy Export Council. “Now, we need other countries to likewise stand up for what’s right and defend that use just as strongly.”

Milk production edges higher
Milk production in the 24 major dairy states totaled 18.5 billion pounds in January. That’s up 1.5% from January of last year. Wisconsin milk production increased 1.6%. Over the past year, the size of Wisconsin’s dairy cow herd declined by 3,000 head.

DMC payments to be Issued
For the first time in 2023, Dairy Margin Coverage payments have been triggered. The February DMC income over feed cost calculation is $7.94 per hundredweight. Milk covered at the $9.50 level will receive an indemnity payment of $1.56.

Biden appoints Ford to trade council
Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford has been appointed to the President’s Export Council. Ford is one of 25 people selected for this advisory group.

Schwager to lead common food consortium
The Consortium of Common Food Names has named Jeff Schwager as its new chairman. Schwager most recently served as CEO of the specialty cheese company Sartori. Schwager succeeds Errico Auricchio who has led CCFN since its founding in 2012.

Dairy checkoff board elections
Rio, Wisconsin, dairy farmer Becky Levzow was elected vice-chair of Dairy Management Inc. The balance of the officer team are from Pennsylvania, New York and Kansas.
Discovery Farms director passes
The University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms Director Eric Cooley, 51, passed away Feb. 22. Cooley had been dealing with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis for the past year. Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Kevin Krentz said Cooley “was a true friend to agriculture and will be greatly missed.”

WFBF hired advocacy, issues coordinator
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation has selected Erin Tomasik as its member advocacy and issues coordinator. Most recently, Tomasik was the administrative assistant for the WFBF government relations team.

UW-Extension hires water quality specialists
UW-Extension has filled three positions that will focus on farm production’s impact on water quality. Lindsey Hartfiel is the new Discovery Farms research manager. Hartfiel recently finished her Ph.D. at Iowa State University and is originally from a dairy farm near Marshfield, Wisconsin. Lindsey Rushford will coordinate the on-farm nitrogen optimization program. For the past eight years, Rushford worked in the private sector as an alfalfa breeder. Kelsey Hyland is the new agriculture water quality program outreach specialist. For the past three years, Hyland worked in the plant pathology department at the University of Minnesota.

Trivia challenge
The Arctic Cat brand introduced the Pantera, Puma and Kitty Cat snowmobile models. That answers our last trivia. For this week’s trivia, what is the name of the 19th century French biologist who created the practice of pasteurization? 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.