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FMMO hearing in recess

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The National Federal Milk Marketing Order Pricing Formula Hearing is in recess until Nov. 27. Once the process begins again, the hearing is expected to last for a couple more weeks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will compile and analyze the information presented at the hearing and publish a proposed decision, likely in 2024.

A tedious, giant undertaking

Former U.S. trade ambassador Gregg Doud will succeed the current CEO for the National Milk Producers Federation, Jim Mulhern, at the end of the year. Doud said he has a lot to learn, including the work being done on Federal Milk Marketing Orders. “Not many people have gone through this,” Doud said. “It’s been 23 years since the last time they did this. This is a very tedious and gigantic undertaking.” Doud credits Mulhern for building consensus among NMPF members.

Back to the drawing board  

As Dairy Star went to print, the House of Representatives was still without a speaker. James Callan Associates CEO James Callan said whoever is selected as the next speaker will have a full plate. “There’s the continuing resolution to be dealt with, funding for Israel and Ukraine, and the next farm bill, which are all tall orders for the next House speaker,” Callan said.

A pause in interest rate increases 

Speaking at a New York event Thursday, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell indicated short-term interest rates would remain unchanged at their next meeting Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. With a tighter financial situation, Powell suggested an extended pause in interest rate hikes.

Milk Loss Program deadline extended

USDA is extending the application deadline for its Milk Loss Program to Oct. 30. This program compensates farmers who were forced to dump milk due to weather-related events, such as power outages and impassable roads.

Dairy numbers defy cull cow prices

Despite high beef prices, dairy herds seem to be maintaining numbers. AgDairy broker Robin Schmahl said this is unexpected. “We’re not seeing the strong interest in culling even though we had been looking at record beef prices,” Schmahl said. At this point, there’s more interest in producing milk for cash flow purposes. “You get rid of that cow, you have the money there, but that’s it,” Schmahl said. “You take her out of the herd.” 

Co-op 100 report released

CHS Inc. remains the largest cooperative in the United States with 2022 revenues of $47.8 billion. Dairy Farmers of American is a distant second with annual revenue of $24.5 billion. The National Cooperative Bank lists the top 100 cooperative businesses in its annual co-op 100 report, and the Midwestern dairy industry is well represented. Land O’Lakes is the third largest cooperative nationwide. The list also includes Foremost Farms USA at No. 26, Associated Milk Producers Inc. at No. 30, Organic Valley at No. 63, First District Association at No. 68, Bongards at No. 79 and National Farmers at No. 84.

A win for PETA, activist groups 

The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a victory for animal rights groups and other activists by refusing to hear a case dealing with the so-called “ag-gag” laws. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals challenged North Carolina’s law that prevented companies from suing employees who made undercover video and audio recordings. “That law actually was enacted back in 2015 in response to a long-standing dispute between ABC News and the Food Lion grocery chain dating back into the 1990s,” said Roger McEowen, agricultural law professor, Washburn University. “At that time, PETA and other animal welfare groups challenged the law saying it violated the First Amendment, and it eventually went to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals; they agreed with PETA that the law was unconstitutional when it was applied to their efforts to gather news.” North Dakota is one of many states that have similar laws. “They can expect to be challenged if they haven’t been challenged already,” McEowen said. “They’re basically back to the drawing board on these as to how to get around that First Amendment/free speech issue.”

PETA emboldened by Supreme Court decision 

PETA released a statement celebrating the Supreme Court decision not to hear a lower court ruling on North Carolina’s “ag-gag” law. The activist group said it “will continue to use every legal means at its disposal, including whistleblower reports and undercover investigations” as it targets large-scale farms and meat processors.

Annual conservation report released

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Bureau of Land and Water Resource Management has released its annual report on soil and water conservation. The analysis highlights conservation efforts including the planting of cover crops, managed grazing and farmland preservation projects. In particular, the DATCP showcases the implementation of more than 7,500 nutrient management plans covering 3.45 million acres.

UWRF dairy plant reopens

The Wuethrich Family Grassland Dairy Center of Excellence at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls will be processing milk next month. The dairy facility was shut down for multiple years for fundraising and renovation. The facility includes updated processing equipment.

Mulhern honored for service to agriculture, dairy industry 

During the World Dairy Summit in Chicago, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack presented an award to National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Mulhern. Mulhern will retire at the end of the year after a 40-year career in agriculture policy. Vilsack praised Mulhern for the development of the Dairy Margin Coverage Program.

A star finalist

There are 16 finalists for the national FFA American Star Awards. Joseph Pulver of Randoph-Cambria-Friesland FFA is the one Wisconsin student competing for the recognition. Pulver is a finalist for the American Star in Agribusiness.

Trivia challenge

October Co-op Month began in 1964. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what cities have hosted the National FFA Convention? 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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