During its first-ever virtual annual meeting, National Milk Producers Federation Chairman Randy Mooney applauded the dairy industry’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “Are we out of the woods yet? Certainly not, the economy still has too many unemployed workers and too many restaurants are closing for good. We need the federal government to continue stimulating demand,” Mooney said. Mooney said NMPF is ready to work with whoever is in the White House next year to help the dairy industry recover.

Exports help drive dairy markets higher
    China is credited for boosting demand within the dairy markets. “There’s good Chinese demand for things like powder and cheese, giving that market quite a lift,” said AgResource Company President Dan Basse. “The extension of the Farmers to Families Food Box program has helped.”  

EU ramps up sales of US dairy products
    The United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service annual report on dairy product exports offered positive news for dairy sales to the European Union. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, sales of milk, butter, cream, yogurt, low-cost cheese and processed cheese are forecast to increase. However, the FAS said exports of high-value cheese to the EU will decline due to the closure of most restaurants. FAS expects U.S. fluid milk exports will increase 5% over 2019, primarily due to strong Chinese demand.

Labeling dispute continues in Europe
    The European Parliament has rejected a proposal made by farmers to prevent plant-based products from using terms such as steak, sausage or burger. Farm groups claim these terms could mislead consumers. However, medical groups and environmental activists said banning these terms would discourage consumers from shifting to more plant-based options, which is part of EU goals for human health and the environment. Meanwhile, EU lawmakers voted for a ban on terms like “milk-like” or “cheese-style” for plant-based foods that contain no dairy ingredients. The European courts already banned terms like “soy milk” and “vegan cheese.”

Break the bureaucratic logjam
    The National Milk Producers Federation is asking the Food and Drug Administration’s ombudsman to make sure the agency enforces the proper labeling of imitation dairy products. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said the ombudsman should “intervene to break the bureaucratic logjam,” allowing products containing no dairy ingredients use dairy terminology.

Gray wolf removed from Endangered Species Act
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the gray wolf from the list of protected species under the Endangered Species Act. The rule gives states like Minnesota the authority to manage gray wolf populations and prevent livestock losses. A plan is being updated in Minnesota. Environmentalists are already promising to take the Trump administration’s decision on the gray wolf to court. Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and the Western Environmental Law Center are among the activist groups saying they will legally challenge the delisting of wolves from federal protection.

Dairy consumption at a 60-year high
    Per capita dairy consumption totaled 653 pounds per person last year, which is a 60-year high. Dairy Management Inc. gives a lot of the credit to demand for pizza. That demand has continued during the coronavirus pandemic. Frozen pizza has experienced double-digit growth during the pandemic. Pizza Hut and Dominos have also averaged 10% sales growth over the last two quarters.

Diversified ingredients buys Preston plant
    Foremost Farms is selling its Preston, Minnesota, manufacturing plant to Diversified Ingredients. The sale is scheduled to close on or before Nov. 18. Diversified Ingredients is based in Missouri, providing products and services to the food ingredient, pet food and feed industries. The new entity will be called Preston Protein Products and will be a joint venture with Johnson Farms of Lime Springs, Iowa.

Developing elite cattle genetics  
    Vytelle has announced an exclusive agreement with Synomics Insights Platform to fast-track genetic progress in cattle. Vytelle and Synomics are both part of the Wheatsheaf Group, which is an international investor in the food and agriculture sector. Vytelle officials said this deal will help cattle producers to more accurately predict cattle performance and develop elite genetics.

Calyxt and S & W Seed partner on alfalfa traits
    Calyxt is collaborating with S & W Seed Company to identify quality enhancing traits for alfalfa. The new alfalfa seed will be sold as part of the S & W seed portfolio and branded IQ Alfalfa. The alfalfa trait will deliver improved digestibility for livestock.

AMPI wins championship cheese contest
    For the second year in a row, Associated Milk Producers Incorporated won the Chairman’s Trophy following the National Milk Producers Federation Championship Cheese Contest. AMPI’s aged asiago cheese was named best of class in the Italian division and went on to win the overall competition. The award-winning cheese is made at the cooperative’s plant in Hoven, South Dakota.

American Butter Association elects a new president
    Associated Milk Producers Inc. Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Marshall Reece is the new president of the American Butter Institute. Catherine Fox of Land O’Lakes is vice president, and Mark Armon of Darigold is the first vice president.

FFAers embrace virtual convention format
    According to Minnesota State FFA President Ben Olander, FFA members are comfortable with technology and embraced the National FFA Organization’s virtual convention. “Although it looks a little different this year, it is something our generation can readily adapt to; it also allows members who were not able to attend in person to participate in every session this year,” Olander said. With young people comfortable with the online experience, Olander expects the FFA to deliver a hybrid option for the convention in the future. Olander is a graduate of Staples-Motley High School and is now a student at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, studying ag business and agronomy.

Trivia challenge
    The optimum temperature for serving milk is 40 degrees. That answers our last trivia question. For this week, how many servings of dairy products are recommended by the American Dietary Guidelines? 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.