In the 23 major dairy states, September milk production totaled 16.4 billion pounds, up 1.5 percent from one year ago. The size of Wisconsin’s dairy herd totaled 1.27 million head, down 4,000 head from one year. While the size of the state’s dairy cow numbers declined, milk production increased 2 percent. The No. 1 dairy state of California enjoyed a nearly 5 percent increase in milk output.

S/D report adjusts milk production
    According to the October USDA supply/demand report, the milk production outlook for 2018 and 2019 was adjusted higher. On a per-cow basis, milk production is growing faster than expected. Dairy cow numbers are also estimated to increase in 2019. The Class III milk price forecast was lowered for 2018, but increased for 2019.

Large-scale loans drives ag lending activity
    The volume of non-real estate farm loans rose sharply in the third quarter. According to the Federal Reserve’s Agricultural Finance Book, the total loan volume was up 30 percent from one year ago. Nathan Kauffman, who is a vice president with the Kansas City Fed, said the loan volume is due to the current market environment. “Cash flows are still relatively weak; producers need financing and some seem to be needing it in larger amounts.” The number of loans larger than $1 million nearly doubled and accounted for nearly 40 percent of non-real estate lending during the quarter. Loan delinquency rates on farm loans at commercial banks remained low. Kauffman said the big test for agriculture will be in this fourth quarter. Trade concerns were seen in the second and third quarters, but this is the time of the year when soybean exports typically happen.

Farm financial situation is not as bad as feared
    Trade with China is the biggest risk for U.S. agriculture. Given the trade situation, CoBank Economist Will Secor said the farm financial situation is better than expected. “My gut is if they’re making sales and with the Market Facilitation Program, I think it will be OK in the short-term,” Secor said. “There’s still a lot of pain out there; I’m glad to see land values remain pretty steady.”

Dairy revenue insurance now available
    The Dairy Revenue Protection insurance product was developed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and is backed by the Federal Crop Insurance program. This policy provides risk management protection, picking up the difference between the revenue guarantee and the actual milk price. “Essentially, it allows farmers to value the milk in the policy more closely with what they’re doing on the farm,” said AFBF Chief Economist John Newton. “One key feature is that farmers can use futures prices to develop a price for butterfat, protein and other milk solids.” Newton goes on to say the cost of Dairy-RP will vary, depending on market prices and premiums. “Early indications are that higher levels of coverage could range from 10 to 30 cents per hundredweight. Nearby quarters will be more affordable than distant quarters, and policies with higher deductibles or lower values of milk insured will be more affordable.”

Co-op 100 list released
    Minnesota-based CHS remains the largest cooperative in the nation. According to the National Cooperative Bank list of the top cooperatives, CHS reports nearly $32 million in revenue. Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes are ranked second and third. The other major dairy cooperatives on the list include California Dairies Inc. (12), Darigold (17), Prairie Farms Dairy (20), Associated Milk Producers Inc. (22), Select Milk Producers Inc. (23), Foremost Farms (23), Organic Valley/CROPP (42), AgriMark Inc. (55), Michigan Milk Producers Association (66), United Dairyman of Arizona (69), Bongards’ Creameries (86), First District Association (88), NFO (95).

More co-ops sign up for Land O’Lakes/Gravie Insurance Plan
    Land O’Lakes and Gravie are expanding their health insurance plan for Minnesota farmers in 2019. The group health benefits were available on a pilot basis this past year and the number of participating cooperatives will increase by 60 percent. Minnesota implemented a law last year allowing ag co-op members to band together to purchase group health insurance.

PETA ads pulled
    The animal rights activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals posted a controversial 30 second video ad at grocery stores in Madison and Milwaukee earlier this month. The ad, called ‘the pregnancy gun,’ highlighted the use of artificial insemination in the dairy industry. A PETA spokesperson said the ad was designed to remind consumers that dairy products come from “sexually assaulted cows.” Faced with complaints, the videos were pulled shortly after their debut.

Dairy Shrine officer team elected
    The National Dairy Shrine has elected its new officer team. Larry Schirm, Laurelville, Ohio is the new president and Nate Janssen, Wheaton, Ill. is president-elect. The executive committee also includes Dr. Dennis Funk, Sun Prairie, Wis., Janet Keller, Oregon, Wis. and Joel Hastings, Madera, Calif.

WI Holstein Association hires Broege
    Kristen Broege is the new director of sales and membership for the Wisconsin Holstein Association. Broege is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was an active WHA junior member.
Trivia challenge
    The famous shavings at this year’s World Dairy Expo were rust in color. That answers our last trivia question. For this week, how many countries were represented among the attendees at this year’s World Dairy Expo? 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.