Ag Insider

More steps remain in federal order process


After five months and 12,000 pages of testimony, the National Federal Milk Marketing Order Pricing Formula Hearing has ended. Forty proposals were submitted. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will now review the transcripts, and there will be another opportunity for amendments and closing statements from industry stakeholders. After the USDA issues a final rule, dairy farmers will vote in a referendum about the federal orders.

NMPF defends its FMMO proposal 

The National Milk Producers Federation is touting its federal order reform plan as “the most comprehensive, coherent and compelling framework for modernizing a system that’s badly in need of improvement,” said Gregg Doud, president/CEO. The NMPF proposal seeks a return to the higher-of Class I mover, discontinuation of the use of barrel cheese in the protein component price formula and updating component factors for protein, other solids and nonfat solids in the Class III and Class IV skim milk price formulas. It also updates dairy product manufacturing allowances.

There is no united voice 

With the FMMO hearings complete, Dairy Business Association/Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative CEO Tim Trotter said one thing is obvious. “There’s not a united voice, there’s not a consensus as we thought there might be, but, again, it’s a very diverse industry,” Trotter said.

AFBF seeks emergency decision 

The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to issue a final decision on an emergency basis to speed up implementation of the higher-of Class I mover formula to lessen the impact of further losses. “Dairy farmers remain stuck with current pricing regulations until the USDA publishes a final rule,” said Sam Kieffer, vice president of public policy, AFBF. “The current Class I mover was a well-intentioned policy misstep that has reduced dairy farmers’ checks with little relief in sight.”

Plainview Milk Products Cooperative fined for wastewater violations

Plainview Milk Products Cooperative must pay a $20,000 civil penalty after allowing nearly 7,000 gallons of cream drain through its wastewater and sewer system. The incident happened in April 2022 when the product spilled within the plant and drained into the city storm sewer system and into a ditch southeast of Plainview, Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the company failed to report and immediately investigate these releases. Plainview Milk Products Cooperative must also take corrective action to prevent future incidents.

Dairy beef providing a positive eating experience for consumers

With the popularity of the dairy-beef cross, Minnesota Beef Council CEO Kelly Schmidt said beef checkoff research is looking at muscle cuts and consistency. “We’ve seen the number of cattle that are dairy and beef cross increasing every year so with that, we’re learning more about where they fit in the market,” Schmidt said. “Every year, we’re seeing more consistency and getting that good quality product we’re striving for.”

Veterinarian shortage continues to climb

The demand for veterinary services within agriculture has long outpaced the supply. “It makes it harder for people to hire veterinarians, and it makes it harder for practice owners in certain areas to retire or sell their practices,” said Dr. Laura Molgaard, dean, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Molgaard is working hard to increase the number of veterinarians within the state. “We start with recruitment; we reach out to young people and try to get them excited about veterinary medicine,” she said. “We have to be pretty selective because there are so many applicants; this year we have over 1,500 candidates for 125 seats.” UMN has a partnership with South Dakota State University where students can begin their collegiate education before coming to veterinary school in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Podesta replaces Kerry 

Senior White House advisor John Podesta will replace John Kerry as the Biden administration’s climate diplomat. Podesta has been in his current role since late 2022. Previously, Podesta served as chief of staff for President Clinton and counselor to President Obama.

A snirt-filled winter

Warm temperatures and limited snow cover are a big change from what was seen in the last two winters. University of Minnesota Extension state soil health specialist Anna Cates said this can impact the amount of wind erosion seen. “If we can hold soil in the field, we hold nutrients,” Cates said. “But, the less snow cover might mean an earlier, warmer spring which might be a great thing for farmers.” Soil erosion research can be tricky. “One thing about wind erosion is that soil can move a long way,” she said. “Once it lifts off, it can move hundreds of miles.” Having residue in the field in the form of wheat stubble, corn stalks or a living cover crop can help prevent wind erosion.

AGCO FarmerCore model requires a change in mindset 

AGCO Corporation has launched a new distribution model that it describes as “transformative.” FarmerCore will use tools that puts dealers in closer proximity to farmers, both on-site and online. The one-size-fits-all outlet approach will be de-emphasized and moves to a hub-and-spoke model. The FarmerCore program includes mobile service fleets; alternative formats, like a parts-only store; and new digital tools. This effort is beginning in select locations and will expand throughout this year.

New automation for hay production

Case IH is bringing light detection and ranging technology to hay producers with a first-of-its-kind in large square hay baler automation. With the automatic adjustments and hands-free baling, farmers can put less experienced operators in the cab or spend their time in the cab focusing on other farm business.

AgriGrowth executive director announces retirement plans

Minnesota AgriGrowth Council Executive Director Tamara Nelsen has announced her plans to retire this year. “On behalf of the AgriGrowth board, I want to thank Tamara for her leadership and advocacy on behalf of our members,” said Sheryl Meshke, chair. “She helped strengthen the foundation of our trusted organization.” Nelsen has been in this role for the past five years and will continue to serve as the AgriGrowth board of directors seeks her replacement.

Tesch to chair MN FFA Foundation Board of Trustees

Julie Tesch is the new chair of the Minnesota FFA Foundation Board of Trustees. Tesch is the president/CEO of the Center for Rural Policy and Development. Tesch’s experience includes time as the executive director of the National FFA Alumni Association and executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council.

Trivia challenge 

DiGiorno is the best-selling frozen pizza brand in the United States. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what is the term for the main bone in a cow’s hoof? We’ll 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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