The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture will take more time to consider the proposed ATCP 51 rule. This policy sets the standards and the process local governments must follow for new or expanding livestock operations. ATCP 51 updates were scheduled to go to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection governing board, but Agriculture Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff said additional time is needed to evaluate the revised ATCP 51 regulations. A coalition of Wisconsin agriculture groups called on the state to reject proposed changes to the complex rule because it would hurt farmers. The Wisconsin Farmers Union was an exception, saying the ATCP 51 rule should be brought to the DATCP board immediately.
 
USMCA expected to move quickly when it reaches Congress
    The U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement implementing legislation could be soon be sent to Capitol Hill. Once the trade deal reaches Congress, The Russell Group President Randy Russell said it will be considered quickly. “I think there are sufficient votes in the House and Senate to pass it. I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll have the USMCA done between now and when Congress breaks for Christmas.” Russell said it is possible to have something ratified by Thanksgiving. “There’s been lots of work happening to move through the final details.”
 
Dairy margins improve
    Milk prices move into levels not seen in five years. Cheddar cheese prices have not been this high since late 2014. That has provided a boost to Class III milk prices. USDA’s latest all-milk price for all of 2019 was projected to average $18.40 per hundredweight. That is more than $2 higher than the average for 2018.  According to the Dairy Market Report published by Dairy Management, Inc. and the National Milk Producers Federation, the balance sheet for dairy farmers has also been improved by the Dairy Margin Coverage program. This report said the two negatives in the U.S. dairy markets are the modest decline in butter prices and a decline in U.S. dairy exports.

Dairy hay costs rise
    Alfalfa hay prices are rising nationwide. The price for alfalfa has averaged $181 per ton. That compares to $179 in the previous month and last year. In Wisconsin, alfalfa hay averaged $190 per ton in September. That is down $2 from August, but up $36 from one year ago.
 
USDA to buy milk for food nutrition programs
    USDA plans to purchase $50 million in fluid milk for food banks and nutrition assistance programs. This Section 32 purchase is part of the administration’s trade mitigation assistance. The agriculture department bought fresh milk for the first time ever last year. Since that time, more than $250 million worth of milk has been purchased.

Ag labor bill reforms H2A visa program
    A bipartisan agriculture guest worker bill has been introduced in the House. This bill would provide legal status to current ag workers and their families. It also makes changes in the H2A visa program, allowing year-round permitting. The National Milk Producers Federation supports the proposal, saying dairy farmers have a unique labor crisis because their jobs are not seasonal or temporary.
 
Hours of service legislation introduced
    Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in Congress to provide flexibility and relief from Hours of Services rules for agricultural haulers. The Responsible and Efficient Agriculture Destination Act adds the same 150-air-mile radius to the back end of a hauler’s destination, which currently applies from the trip origin. It also clarifies that this exemption would apply in every state on a year-round basis.
 

Fed cuts benchmark interest rates by 25%
    The Federal Reserve has cut the benchmark interest rate by a quarter percent. This is the third interest rate deduction this year. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also indicated interest rates will likely stay at current levels unless the economy takes a sharp downturn.
 
Farmers with harvest delays should contact their insurance provider
    Farmers with a federal crop insurance policy can now request more time to harvest crops by filing a Notice of Loss with their approved insurance provider. The end of the insurance period for corn and soybeans is Dec. 10.  Once the loss notice is filed, insurance providers will then grant additional harvest time on a case by case basis. USDA’s Risk Management Agency is encouraging farmers experiencing harvest delays to contact their insurance agent as soon as possible.
 
AMPI discontinues production at two plants
    Due to a decline in dairy farm numbers and milk production in the region, Associated Milk Producers, Incorporated is shutting down two of its plants. Those facilities are the Rochester, Minn., cheese plant and the Arlington, Iowa, nonfat dry milk plant. The milk that had been processed at these plants will be routed to other AMPI plants.

Dairy exporter of the year
    BelGioioso Cheese has been named the exporter of the year by the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The Wisconsin-based firm sells cheese in 45 countries.
 
National FFA Proficiency Awards earned by Wisconsin students
    Three Wisconsin FFA members took home national proficiency award honors from the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Levi Alsum of Randolph Cambria-Friesland was the winner for vegetable production. Niamh Sexton of Waupaca FFA was recognized for equine science and Kayla Reed of Pulaski was honored for wildlife production and management.
 
Trivia challenge
    A quart of milk weighs 2.15 pounds. That answers our last trivia question. For this week, what is the weight of a gallon of milk? We’ll 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.