The announcement that the United States Department of Agriculture will be hosting another Farmers to Families Food Box program is helping boost Class III milk prices. The demand from the government program is expected to last through the end of November into December. “What’s going to happen after the election is up in the air, but producers need to be aware cow numbers are on the rise and there will still be an ample supply of milk,” said Dan Basse, president, AgResource Company. “Once the government support program leaves us, then we’re back into an oversupply level going into 2021.”

Perdue discusses dairy issues at Wisconsin farm
    Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited a Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, dairy farm Oct. 2. Perdue fielded questions on a variety of topics, including trade, the second round of coronavirus assistance program payments and immigration. “This is real America, and this is real agriculture,” Perdue said. “We have people come to D.C. and talk about things there, but you get a real sense (of the issues) when neighbors come together at a farm like this.”

Stopgap spending bill signed into law
    Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed the continuing resolution, keeping the government running through Dec. 11. The vote was held up in a dispute over the funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation. CCC funding has been approved routinely in this way for the past 30 years. The Russell Group president Randy Russell expects the pushback over the CCC to resurface during the next farm bill debate. “It’s inviting people to look at the CCC and what it funds,” Russell said. “While this may be a partisan issue right now, in the past, Republicans have used the CCC funds and stretched its legal authorities. Democrats have done the same. All it’s doing is inviting, in the future, people to take a hard look at what’s done with the CCC. This should be something of a pause for everyone in the agriculture community to worry about moving forward.” The CCC funds are used for traditional farm programs, including Dairy Margin Coverage.

NMPF welcomes CCC funding
    The National Milk Producers Federation is praising Congress for their bipartisan work on the continuing resolution to fund the government. “This measure not only avoids a government shutdown; it also ensures that additional COVID-19 assistance can be provided as further needs arise and provides important nutrition assistance to families in need,” said Jim Mulhern, president/CEO, NMPF.

Dairy receives $1.8 billion for CFAP 1
    Payments for the first round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program have topped $10 billion. That includes $5 billion for livestock, $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops and $1.8 billion for the dairy sector. The $10 billion figure is far short of the $16 billion budgeted for CFAP 1.

COVID lawsuit exemption sought
    The Dairy Business Association is seeking a liability exemption relating to COVID-19 for individuals, businesses and schools that follow public health orders and take reasonable precautions. DBA president Tom Crave said the dairy industry has faced significant challenges due to the pandemic and the litigation threat is a concern. “Sometimes circumstances can be beyond our control,” Crave said.

MOU signed to enhance dairy exports
    USDA and Food and Drug Administration have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will establish an interagency process to support U.S. dairy exports. This collaboration will streamline the process for exports and expand international dairy markets.

Canadian leaders launch new session of parliament
    Canadian leaders kicked off the new session of parliament with speeches from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Governor General of Canada Julie Payette. The ongoing COVID-19 response and the economy dominated the agenda. The Canadian leaders also cited their commitment to free trade and promised to compensate farmers for losses incurred by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and other trade deals.

Record pizza sales for Papa John’s
    Papa John’s is moving a lot of pizza during the pandemic. During the second quarter, the pizza chain had record sales. For its North American business, Papa John’s saw second quarter sales increase 28% from the previous quarter.

Fonterra spins off China business
    The New Zealand-based Fonterra Cooperative has sold its farms in China for the U.S. equivalent of $368 million. One set of farms was sold to Inner Mongolia Natural Dairy Company and the other went to Beijing Sanyuan Venture Capital. Fonterra is responsible for 3% of the world’s dairy production.

Job cuts for animal health company
    Elanco Animal Health is eliminating more than 900 jobs as part of its restructuring after its acquisition of Bayer Animal Health. Company officials said this move will reduce duplication and drive efficiency.

Excellence in ag finalists named
    The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Excellence in Ag Award finalists have been named. The finalists are Stephanie Abts of Manitowoc County, Natasha Paris of Green Lake County, Julie Wadzinski of Barron County and Kellie Zahn of Shawano County. The state winner will advance to national competition.

DFA member of distinction
    Dairy Farmers of America has honored Brickstead Dairy of Greenleaf, Wisconsin, with its Member of Distinction Award. One DFA member farm is recognized from each of the cooperative’s seven regions each year. Brickstead Dairy milks 1,000 cows, emphasizing sustainable production.

Berdak takes over leadership of Dairy Alliance
    The Dairy Alliance has named Geri Berdak as its new CEO. Since 2015, Berdak ran a consulting group called CloverQuest Group, which had food and beverage businesses as its clients. From 2012-15, Berdak was the senior vice president for nutrition strategy and business development with the U.S. Dairy Innovation Center at Dairy Management Inc. The Dairy Alliance works with schools, health professionals, retailers, processors and the public to promote dairy foods.

OCM names new executive director
    Pennsylvania farmer Mike Eby is the new executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets. Eby will also continue in his role as the chair of the National Dairy Producers Organization.

Trivia challenge
    Dairy cows generally consume 30-50 pounds of water per day. That answers our last trivia question. For this week, what is the optimum temperature for serving 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.