Ag Insider

Confidence in virus testing

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According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a good sense of the way the H5N1 virus is spreading. “Thousands of tests have been conducted and reviewed,” Vilsack said. “Not only of cattle but of milk taken directly from cows and bulk tanks on the farm, I’m confident that we have a good understanding of the nature of this virus and how it’s being transferred between various farms.” A plan is in the works that would reimburse dairy farmers for loss of production related to the virus. “Hopefully, in the very near future, we’ll be outlining the indemnification process and how that might operate in order to indemnify or reimburse the farmer for their losses,” Vilsack said.

New testing requirements 

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, has announced new testing requirements for lactating dairy cows. These animals must test negative for H5N1 and get a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection before attending events, like a show or fair. If samples test positive, the state will begin a disease investigation and quarantine the cows. All results will remain confidential.

Farm bill framework released 

Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman has released his farm bill proposal. It includes language similar to the farm bill passed out of the House Agriculture Committee. Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow welcomed Boozman’s farm bill framework but quickly criticized it. Stabenow said the Republican proposal follows what she called the “flawed approach” taken in the House Committee on Agriculture farm bill and splits the broad farm and food coalition.

Fighting the same farm bill funding issues 

North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center Director Brad Lubben describes himself as a “cynical optimist.” Lubben was part of a farm policy discussion at the Midwest Council Ag Forum and said lawmakers have been fighting over the same farm bill funding issues for many years. One issue is the use of the one-time Inflation Reduction Act to fund conservation programs. Secondly, Congress is bogged down with the agriculture secretary’s authority to use Commodity Credit Corporation funds. “We have a history of almost 15 years battling over that discretionary authority, and neither party generally seems to be willing to trust a (agriculture) secretary of the other party with how to spend that money, so we’re fighting over the same issue,” Lubben said. Lubben, who is at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the third funding issue is with federal nutrition programs.

Policy highlighted at NMPF board meeting 

The National Milk Producers Federation leadership has wrapped up its summer board meeting. The modernization of Federal Milk Marketing Orders and the H5N1 response were high on the agenda. The board also considered improvements to its Cooperatives Working Together self-help initiative, which promotes dairy exports.

Farm bill extension

According to American Farm Bureau Federation Government Affairs Director Joe Gilson, House Republicans want to finish the work on the fiscal year 2025 spending bills before focusing on the farm bill. That puts the appropriation bills and the farm bill on a collision course with the same September 30 deadline. Without a path to passage of a five-year farm bill, another extension will be necessary. “We’re starting to hear some extension talk, but remember with a lot of the farm bill programs, while the expiration is September 30, they run ‘til the end of the year, so really we need a (farm bill) extension by the end of the year,” Gilson said.

Stabenow rallies anti-hunger advocates 

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow criticized the House Committee on Agriculture farm bill during an appearance at the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference. Stabenow said the House bill took nearly $30 billion from federal nutrition assistance and “gave a 70% increase to the biggest farmers.” The Michigan senator went on to say she supports risk management for all farmers, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the most vulnerable.

Court rules on Emergency Relief Program for “socially disadvantaged” farmers

A federal court in Texas has granted part of a motion to prevent USDA from providing additional assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers. The case centers on payments for the ERP which based the assistance on a farmer’s gender and race. The court said a progressive payment system can be used in future assistance programs if it is not based on race or sex.

Dairy demand boosts milk price outlook

The latest USDA supply and demand report left the milk production forecast for this year and next year unchanged from last month. For 2024, commercial exports were raised on a fat basis due to higher-than-expected cheese shipments. Strong international demand remains in place for 2025. The all-milk price forecast was raised to $21.50 per hundredweight, and the Class III milk price outlook also rose. The Class III milk price is influenced by the strong demand for butter, cheese and whey.

New dairy forage research facility

Ground has been broken for a new state-of-the-art dairy forage research facility at Prairie De Sac, Wisconsin. The facility is scheduled for completion in 2027. It is a joint effort of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It will include robotic milking systems, an advanced animal nutrition center and agronomy and dairy science laboratories.

Crowder passes May 30

Richard Crowder served as the chief agricultural trade negotiator in the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office during the George W. Bush Administration and was the USDA undersecretary for international affairs and commodity programs during the George H.W. Bush years. Crowder’s career also included time as a senior vice president for Dekalb Genetics and as the head of the American Seed Trade Association.

AMPI chair elected to NMPF board 

The National Milk Producers Federation board has elected three new members, including Associated Milk Producers Inc. Chairman Dave Peterson. Peterson farms at Boyd, Wisconsin.

Stars recognized

The Wisconsin FFA honored its Stars during the state convention. Taylor Maroszek of Pulaski is the Star Farmer. The Star in Agricultural Placement is Kaydence Hodorff of Eden. The Star in Agribusiness recognition went to Allison Loosen of Slinger, and The Star in Agriscience is Andrew Gotham of New Auburn.

Trivia challenge

The third Sunday of July is National Cream Day. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what is the most popular ice cream topping? We will have the answer in our next edition of Dairy Star.

Don Wick is owner/broadcaster for the Red River Farm Network of 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 sons, Tony and Sam, and five grandchildren, Aiden, Piper, Adrienne, Aurora and Sterling.

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