Ag Insider

Stay engaged in farm bill advocacy


With the current farm bill extended through September and no firm prospects for bringing new legislation up for a vote, National Farmers Union President Rob Larew is warning members not to be discouraged. “Even when there is a middle ground, unfortunately, there’s a small group of members that are blocking that,” Larew said. During his State of the Farmers Union address at the annual meeting, Larew encouraged members to stay engaged. “If farmers speak up, we can make the difference so that those that can find a middle ground can get a farm bill wrapped up and through the halls of Congress,” Larew said. 

NFU approves special orders of business 

NFU delegates approved six special orders during its convention. The priorities include fairness for farmers, the farm bill, the farm safety net, conservation, dairy policy reform and support for the cooperative business model. The special order regarding dairy policy said the milk price only covers about 50% of the production costs, which has led to record Dairy Margin Coverage payments. The NFU is calling for an incentive-based plan to match milk supplies with demand, a reevaluation of the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, establishment of a national make allowance to reflect the difference between milk prices and the cost of production, and the restoration of whole milk as an option in the school lunch program.


Dairy groups appeal DNR requirement 

The Wisconsin Dairy Alliance and Venture Dairy Cooperative are appealing a decision made by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to require large-scale farms to get a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. The WMC Litigation Center is handling the case. “Larger-scale farms in Wisconsin are already some of the most regulated entities in our state and nationally, and this permit requirement simply creates additional burdens on our agricultural community,” said Scott Rosenow, executive director, WMC Litigation Center.

Emergency action sought 

The American Dairy Coalition Inc. is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grant the American Farm Bureau Federation’s official request for an emergency decision to return the Class I skim price formula to the higher of. During the past five years with the average of methodology, dairy farmers have experienced a net loss of $1.1 billion. Nearly 30 state, regional and national dairy organizations, state Farm Bureau organizations and cooperatives have signed the ADC letter.

GOP lawmakers press White House to address ag trade

Over 20 Senate Republicans have sent a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai voicing concern about the sharp decline in ag exports. The letter said, “While the Biden administration continually refuses to pursue traditional free trade agreements, China, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and others continue to ink trade pacts that diminish American export opportunities and global economic influence.”


A difficult farm economy

Margins will be tighter on the farm this year. Farmers Business Network Financial general manager Dan English cites the current economic environment. “This certainly isn’t going to be as profitable of a year, unfortunately, as we saw a year or two ago,” English said. “The good news is we’re expecting to see a little bit of relief on interest rates here in the second part of this year, but there’s a lot more pressure on farmers this year with higher interest rates, higher input costs and lower prices.”

Reason for optimism 

Despite the recent downturn in the dairy markets, Rabo AgriFinance LLC senior dairy analyst Lucas Fuess remains optimistic for the second half of 2024. “We’ve got to get through the spring flush period over the next few months, of course,” Fuess said. Fuess said several variables are at play. “Looking ahead, the U.S. is very well positioned, especially when considering other key dairy exporting places around the world, places like the European Union and New Zealand,” Fuess said. “We see milk production getting challenged in those regions and we still see growth in the U.S. over the long term.” 

Midwest Dairy names CEO

The Midwest Dairy Association has named Corey Scott their new Chief Executive Officer. Scott began her duties March 13 and will be transitioning from retiring CEO Molly Pelzer. Scott previously served as vice president of sales and marketing for Athian Inc. and held several leadership positions over 15 years at Land O’Lakes.


Larew, Kippley return for another term 

NFU delegates re-elected president Larew and vice president Jeff Kippley by unanimous ballot. Both will serve another two-year term. Larew has served as the NFU president since 2020. Kippley, who farms near Aberdeen, South Dakota, is beginning his second term as vice president.

Forrest earns leadership award 

Professional Dairy Producers presented the Dean Strauss Leadership Award to Brian Forrest. Forrest is the owner and manager of Maple Ridge Dairy near Stratford, Wisconsin. Forrest has received dairy recognition at the state and national level, including Focus on Energy’s 2022 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award and platinum-level recognition in 2020 from the National Mastitis Council. Forrest was also named a 2021 Wisconsin Agriculturalist Master Agriculturalist.

Rosen receives meritorious service award 

Former Wisconsin Farmers Union President Dennis Rosen received the Meritorious Service to Farmers Union and American Agriculture Award during the NFU Convention. Rosen was recognized for his 40-plus year dedication to the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

Farm Bureau establishes board of trustees

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau has created the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation Board of Trustees, which is responsible for fundraising and program efforts. Bob Nash is the chair, and Andrew Dal Santo is vice chair. The board also includes Jim Renn, Ben Huber, Robert Nigh, Loren Wolfe, Roger Grade, Kaitlyn Kesler, Ken Harter, Sara Menard Huber, Isaac Christenson and Kristi Fiedler. 

Top Chef in Wisconsin 

The “Top Chef” reality television show is on the air for its 21st season. The food competition show on the Bravo Media network was filmed in Wisconsin. America’s Dairyland and a plethora of dairy products will be on the menu.

Trivia challenge 

The average American consumes 18 gallons of milk per year. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what was the average retail price for a gallon of whole milk last year? We will have the answer in the 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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