The dairy industry continues to mourn the loss of John Pagel of Kewaunee County. Pagel, his son-in-law and their pilot, died in a plane crash in rural Indiana. Pagel is the visionary behind Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy with more than 5,000 cows in the herd. Pagel also owned a farm-to-fork restaurant in Green Bay and a cheese shop in Luxemburg. Pagel was also a founder and president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative. Dairy Business Association President Mike North described Pagel as a leader. “He was bigger than life. His expression was always ‘living the dream.’ He took great joy in what he did and he was someone we looked to for that spirit of leadership.”

NAFTA benefits dairy farmers
    A new analysis by Informa Economics said U.S. trade agreements with Mexico are beneficial to dairy farmers. In 2016, the United States shipped $1.2 billion worth of dairy products to Mexico. For every $1 of sales associated with dairy exports, an additional $2.50 in output is supported elsewhere in the U.S. economy. U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack said, “It’s important to preserve existing market access to Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

Seeking solutions to Section 199a snafu
    According to a letter signed by nearly 90 members of Congress, a portion of the new tax law resulted in a dramatic competitive imbalance in the agriculture industry. While not intended, the lawmakers said Section 199A went too far and creates a tax advantage for farmers who sell to cooperatives instead of private and independent companies. The letter asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to take immediate action. The lawmakers recommend a retroactive fix, returning to tax benefits of Section 199.  

Senators ask President Trump to rejoin TPP
    A coalition of 25 Republican Senators are asking President Donald Trump to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump pulled out the trade agreement shortly after taking office, but recently said he may consider rejoining the TPP.

Milk production rises
    In the 23 major dairy production states, January milk output rose 1.8 percent. Wisconsin milk production is up a fraction of one percent. In Minnesota, milk production rose nearly 1 percent. California milk production increased 2.2 percent.

FARM receives global approval
    The National Dairy FARM Program now complies with the International Organization for Standardization Animal Welfare Management, becoming the first livestock animal care program in the world to receive the designation. The FARM program was created in 2009 by the National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Management, Inc.

Record earnings for Land O’Lakes
    Land O’Lakes reports record net earnings of $364 million for 2017, up 14 percent from the 2016. The dairy foods division had earnings of $71 million, up $1 million from last year. The Land O’Lakes crop input business reports net earnings of $230 million, an improvement of $27 million from 2016.

Key development for Michigan dairy plant
    The Michigan Strategic Fund has given its support for plans to build a new milk processing plant in Greenville, Mich. Foremost Farms USA, which is based in Baraboo, plans to build a $60 million processing plant utilizing more than 3 million pounds of milk per day.

Patronage funds distributed
    Compeer Financial is returning almost $119 million in patronage funds to its member-owners. Of that total, more than $43 million is being distributed to the 11,000 members in Wisconsin. Compeer Financial was formed this past year with the merger of three farm credit groups and serves Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.

Northey confirmed
    A four month hold on the confirmation of the USDA nominee for Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey has finally been lifted and the Senate confirmed the Iowa agriculture secretary with voice vote. The confirmation is good news according to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts. In a statement, Roberts said he has no doubt Northey will be a champion for farmers and ranchers at USDA.  

Doud confirmed
    Gregg Doud was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as chief agriculture negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office. Doud has been serving as president of the Commodity Markets Council. Previously, Doud was on the Senate Agriculture Committee staff and was chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Wisconsin farmer takes leadership role on dairy board
    Connie Seefeldt of Coleman, Wis. has been elected as vice chair of the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board. Seefeldt chaired the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for five years.

    David Simpkins, who was a champion for the newspaper industry and the communities they serve, has passed. Simpkins’ enthusiasm helped launch Dairy Star 20 years ago and will be missed immensely. We extend our condolences to Dave’s family and many friends.

Trivia challenge
    The cow’s stomach has four separate compartments. That answers our last trivia question. For this week, what type of cheese is the most widely purchased and consumed in the world? 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.