The 35-day partial government shutdown is over, but Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is seeing a possible hangover effect on agriculture. The delay slowed down implementation of the farm bill. “We fell behind in signup of the Market Facilitation Program, ARC and Dairy Margin Protection Program; I think the hardest hit is our dairy farmers,” she said. Klobuchar said the dairy industry is seeing the biggest impact from the downtime. The government is funded through mid-February, giving the administration and Congress time to negotiate border security issues. Klobuchar wants to avoid another shutdown. “The hope is these people have learned their lesson and this won’t happen again,” she said.

$200 million in trade promotion funds awarded
    The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded $200 million to nearly 60 organizations as part of the trade mitigation effort. The American Soybean Association received the largest allocation through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program at nearly $22 million. A total of $5.2 million was given to the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The money will be used by these groups to identify and access new export markets.

Lost opportunity
    The new trade agreements between Japan and other countries will put U.S. dairy exports at a competitive disadvantage. U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack cites the Japan’s trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand and the European Union. “They basically now tilt the playing field to our competitors; we will lose market share to the tune of potentially $90 million and over the next five years, the cumulative impact will be $185 million of lost opportunity,” he said. USDEC commissioned a study that calculates the loss of market access. Cheese would feel the most significant negative impact, but other dairy ingredients will also feel the pain. “At a time when we’re looking for every single dollar we can in the market, we can’t afford to let that happen,” Vilsack said.

Long-term relief sought for farmers
    The National Farmers Union board of directors is asking the administration and Congress to strengthen the farm safety net. The Market Facilitation Program was welcomed, but the NFU board said long-term relief is necessary. In addition, the Farmers Union wants Congress to address what it sees as a chronic oversupply situation in the U.S. dairy and grain sectors.

Dairy Revenue Protection is back in gear
    Sales of the new Dairy Revenue Protection policy have resumed. The sales had been suspended during the government shutdown. This revenue insurance policy is offered through the federal crop insurance program. The program is designed to insure against declines in quarterly revenue from milk sales.

IDFA sites success stories
    International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes recapped the past year during the Dairy Forward Conference in Orlando, Fla. The dairy title in the farm bill and the new Class 1 pricing formula were cited. Dykes also highlighted USDA’s first-ever purchase of fluid milk for food banks and the increase in dairy product exports. Regarding industry challenges, Dykes said animal protein is in the crosshairs, with consumers demanding food that includes a story about the environment and social responsibility.

I’ll have whole milk      
    House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Pennsylvania Congressman Glen Thompson have introduced legislation allowing whole milk in school nutrition programs. Peterson said this proposal will provide more healthy choices for the kids and provide a valuable market for dairy farmers when they are facing difficult market conditions.

New bill encourages support for Minnesota 4-H and FFA members
    The Minnesota FFA Foundation Executive Director Val Aarsvold addressed House File 221 in front of the Minnesota House of Representatives Agriculture Food, Finance and Policy Committee, requesting special license plates be established and money appropriated for the state 4-H and FFA organizations. Two local FFA members testified as well. “The question that has come up is why an agricultural license plate? The answer is quite simple,” Aarsvold said. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate what’s right with agriculture and invest in our future. It’s a voluntary way to have Minnesotans show their support. In 2016, more than 665,000 people voluntarily paid an additional fee to support a cause they believe in. These young people are worth that involvement.” Committee Chairman Jeanne Poppe referred House File 221 back to the House Ways and Means Committee to be re-referred to the Committee on Transportation, Finance and Policy.
Below budget year for GENEX
    The 2018 financial results for the GENEX cooperative came in below the levels budgeted, impacted by low milk prices. This past year was a time of significant change for the cattle artificial insemination company. A new parent company, URUS, was formed through the combination of Cooperative Resources International and Koepon Holding BV. The new company also divested itself of Central Livestock Association. Revenue was also influenced by the industry’s shift to using beef semen on dairy females, with beef into dairy sales quadrupling in the past year.

Awards presented at MFBF LEAP conference
    During the Minnesota Farm Bureau LEAP Conference, the MFBF Promotion and Education Committee presented the golden apple award to Brian Randolph, who passed away in January. Debra Durheim of Todd County was named the advocate of the year. The MFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee presented the golden pitchfork award to Pam and Tim Uhlenkamp of Sibley County and the outstanding friend of YF&R to MFBF’s east central area program coordinator Dennis Sabel.
Trivia challenge
    A juicy Lucy is the term for a cheeseburger with the cheese in the middle, rather than the top. That answers our last trivia question. How old was the oldest cow on record when she died? 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.