Congress in limbo

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Policy Solutions President Jay Truitt doesn’t see a quick solution to the changeover in the House speakership and the resulting chaos. “Someone inside the GOP strategy circle has to feel like the people that made the marketing decisions at Bud Lite right now,” Truitt said. “They pulled off a coup and got something done that nobody else could do, but what did they get? All you did was make yourself look silly.” Truitt describes himself as a “hard-core conservative political analyst” and understands the frustration but believes the Freedom Caucus “shot themselves in the foot with this move.” The current uncertainty in Congress will not help the farm bill process. “Everything is on hold from the farm bill to defense spending to anything else the House thought they would get done,” Truitt said.

Dairy policy discussed at World Dairy Expo
Dairy Margin Coverage is a voluntary risk management program that was established in the 2018 farm bill. Associated Milk Producers Inc. Vice President of Marketing Sarah Schmidt said DMC works, but changes are needed. “Right now, dairy farmers can only insure the pounds of milk that their farm produced back in 2011, 2012 and 2013; that’s dated production information and we’d love to see that brought up to date,” Schmidt said. On the sidelines of World Dairy Expo, Schmidt said AMPI would also like the volume levels for DMC program to be increased.

Plant-based option promoted for school lunch program
A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced the ADD SOY Act to provide a “nutritionally equivalent” plant-based beverage option in the National School Lunch Program. The ADD SOY Act stands for Addressing Digestive Distress in Stomachs of Our Youth Act. The activist groups behind this measure claim “half of the 30 million kids participating in the NSLP are lactose intolerant.” This proposal would require schools to offer a plant-based option and allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reimburse schools for those purchases as it does for dairy milk. Animal rights groups are supporting this measure. “The federal government is overreaching by subsidizing and promoting milk beyond its natural appeal to consumers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president, Animal Wellness Action. Previously, Pacelle was the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. He resigned in 2018 after allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace surfaced.

Historic $122M settlement over defective robotic milkers
A class-action lawsuit has been settled with Lely for allegedly manufacturing defective robotic milkers. Class members have the option to replace their existing Lely A4 robot with the newer A5 model or receive a cash payment. There are nearly 400 farmers in the class action and the settlement is worth $122 million. This agreement came after three years in the courts. This follows a $55 million settlement with DeLaval last year for a similar issue. Another case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota with DeLaval facing allegations of similar defects in the VMS V300 robotic milking system.

Hastings Creamery sued
Valley Acres Dairy, which is located in Lewiston, Minnesota, has filed a lawsuit against Hastings Creamery. Hastings Creamery, which closed and was destroyed by fire, allegedly failed to pay Valley Acres Dairy more than $800,000 for milk it received.

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery settles wastewater allegations
Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery will pay a $250,000 penalty and install new pollution control equipment as a settlement with the state of Wisconsin for allegedly violating its wastewater discharge permit rules. ECC CEO and General Manager Paul Bauer said any wastewater effluent discharged over permit limits was “completely unintentional and addressed immediately.”

Select Sires, STgen to create new company
Select Sires and Inguran, which does business as STgen, have signed a letter of intent to combine their production, research and development programs into a new company. The sales and service network developed by both companies will continue to operate independently. The new company is expected to gain cost efficiency with more technological advancements.

A sustainability partnership
John Deere and DeLaval have formed a strategic partnership to create a digital system to help dairy farmers improve the efficiency and sustainability of their businesses. The Milk Sustainability Center will monitor nutrient use efficiency and carbon dioxide equivalent for the farm or specific fields. The partnership will be launched at the AGRITECHNICA trade show next month in Germany and released in North America next summer. The cloud-based system is available for mobile or desktop platforms.

USDA provides oversight to dairy checkoff program
USDA has completed an analysis of the mandatory dairy promotion and research program. The evaluation covered the period from 1995 to 2020. It found per capita consumption of fluid milk, cheese and butter rose by 8%, 4% and just over 5%, respectively. The benefit-cost ratio for every checkoff dollar invested was $1.91 for fluid milk, $3.27 for cheese and $24.11 for butter.

Checkoff programs included in ag appropriations debate
During the House debate on the agriculture appropriations bill, numerous hot-button issues surfaced. Indiana Republican Victoria Spartz introduced an amendment demanding more transparency in the mandatory commodity checkoff programs. Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie said the checkoff programs may have begun with good intentions, “but, it is pretty well known in Washington, D.C., that this program has gone rotten and no longer services farmers.” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson is opposed to the amendment. Thompson said this issue should not be addressed in the appropriations process. “I’m a strong supporter of research and promotion programs and will wholeheartedly advocate for their continued existence,” Thompson said. “I believe any debate surrounding the integrity of these programs should be reserved for farm bill deliberations.”

Dairy-beef cross demands fresh thinking
A different mindset is required for dairy farmers who want to feed dairy-beef crossbred calves. Purina Animal Nutrition Director of Nutrition Services Tom Earleywine said these calves need to be handled differently from purebred dairy calves. “There’s been years and years of history on the dairy side of the business where the Holstein bull calf was not a high-value calf, and as a result, we’ve built systems to raise a low-cost calf,” Earleywine said. The dairy-beef cross is now more valuable and deserves more investment. “If you don’t take advantage of that hybrid vigor because you don’t provide enough nutrition, you’re not going to get much of a gain out of that feed efficiency, but if you provide enough nutrition to allow them to efficiently gain, you can actually reduce your cost per pound by feeding them more,” he said. A traditional dairy calf may be fed 2 quarts of milk replacer twice a day, while the young dairy-beef cross would require 3 quarts. Earleywine was part of World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

WDE honors Morris
Longtime auctioneer and manager of the World Classic Sale, Tom Morris, was honored as the World Dairy Expo Industry Person of the Year. Morris has also served as the chairman of the WDE Dairy Cattle Exhibitor Committee.

Beef council elects new president
Dr. Amy Radunz is the new president of the Wisconsin Beef Council board of directors. Radunz is a beef cattle technical specialist and is based at Ellsworth, Wisconsin. Radunz succeeds Rosie Lisowe, a dairy farmer from Chilton, Wisconsin.

Trivia challenge
Head, Heart, Hands and Health are the four Hs referenced in the 4-H pledge. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, when was October recognized nationally as Co-op Month? We will have the answer in our 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.

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