Supply/demand forecast updated

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In the December U.S. Department of Agriculture’s supply/demand report, 2023 milk production was estimated at 226.9 billion pounds. That’s down 200 million pounds from the previous forecast. For 2024, milk production is estimated to be 229 billion pounds, down 100 million pounds from November. A drop in cow numbers and in the per-cow production levels were cited as reasons. The all-milk price forecast for 2023 is $20.60 per hundredweight, and it is $2025 per hundredweight for 2024.

Whole milk bill advances 

Congress has passed legislation allowing schools to serve whole milk. That’s in addition to the 2% milk that is now available. This bill now moves to the Senate where it has bipartisan support.

Risk management options for dairy farmers 

The Dairy Revenue Protection program allows dairy farms to put a floor on the milk price and capture any market upside. Purina risk management specialist Tim Patchin said there is more interest in managing risk with the current low milk prices. “We recognize that you should act proactively versus reactively,” Patchin said. “I think that’s one of the advantages of sitting down with one of us and discussing options. What’s your risk management comfort level? What’s your risk management knowledge base? Let’s start from the beginning and build out from there.” Approximately 25% of the milk produced today is covered by DRP.

Ag pushes back on possible trade war

Members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party have issued a report on U.S.-China relations. According to Politico, farm-state lawmakers were able to reduce the most critical language about China. The concern is China would retaliate against U.S. agriculture. Fifteen farm groups, including the American Soybean Association and National Corn Growers Association, sent a letter to committee leadership emphasizing the importance of the Chinese market. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley is a longtime advocate of a more protectionist policy against China. When asked about the potential impact to farmers, Hawley said the government would “take care of agriculture.” In 2018, the Trump administration provided federal assistance to farmers dealing with low prices due to a trade war with China. Hawley may be referring to a similar scenario.

USDA to begin issuing pandemic assistance 

USDA has announced plans to issue more than $223 million in Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program payments. This money is to help farmers and ranchers who suffered a drop in gross revenues due to COVID-19 in 2020. The application process wrapped up in mid-July. There were more than 38,500 applications, triggering payments of nearly $7 billion. That is far above the available funding. As a result, a 9.5% payment factor has been applied to all payments to ensure equitable distribution.

Cheese trends

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin has released its cheese trends for 2024. Cooking and consuming cheese products at home has remained popular since the pandemic began and continues to draw strength. With a focus on health and wellness, the report said, consumers treat themselves with “mindful indulgence.” Local food is a growing trend. DFW said consumers also want more unique flavors.

WFU honors

The Wisconsin Farmers Union presented awards at its recent convention. Inga Witscher and Jessica Ryba received the Friend of the Family Farmer Award. Witscher co-created the “Around the Farm Table” PBS television series and has a small Jersey herd at Osseo. Ryba is a former WFU staff member and founded the Cadott Farmers Market. Dave Mickelson and Phil O’Leary received the Builder’s Award. Mickelson is an active WFU committee member and participant in lobby day. O’Leary is a University of Wisconsin-Madison emeritus engineering professor and led rural political messaging workshops. Dylan Bruce served as Vernon-Crawford County Farmers Union president and received the Emerging Leader Award. Danielle Endvick was selected to receive the Bruce Miller Award. Endvick was a journalist for Country Today newspaper, served as WFU communications director and is now the WFU director of development.

Dairy leader moves to soybean checkoff board

The United Soybean Board will have a new CEO on board at the beginning of the new year. Former South Dakota Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch succeeds Polly Ruhland, who is retiring. Lentsch is now an executive vice president with Dairy Management Inc. Previously, Lentsch was the CEO for Midwest Dairy.

UWRF dairy plant has new manager

Rueben Nilsson is the new Wuethrich Family/Grassland Dairy Center of Excellence manager at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Nilsson succeeds Michelle Farner, who left in November. Nilsson helped operate the Lone Grazer Creamery and previously worked at the Caves of Faribault.

Agropur hires new president

Maxime Devourdy is the new president of ingredients and corporate strategy for Agropur. Devourdy most recently was the vice president of corporate development and sustainable growth strategy for Agropur. Devourdy succeeds Dan LaMarche, who is retiring.

Sonnentag promoted

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation has promoted Cassie Sonnentag. As its senior director of public relations, Sonnentag will continue to oversee WFBF’s media relations and work extensively with the Gather Wisconsin brand.

Malcore named public relations specialist

Rachel Malcore has been named the public relations specialist for Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative. Malcore’s experience has been in marketing and communications. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and is expected to earn her master’s degree in communications this summer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Heusel moves to Edge Co-op

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative has added a field services representative to its member services team, focusing on its members in Minnesota and South Dakota. Most recently, Kaitlin Heusel was a field rep for Foremost Farms in northern Wisconsin. Heusel will also provide Edge services to members of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association.

Trivia challenge

Ghee, or clarified butter, is the term for butter with the milk solids and water removed. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what is the highest grade for butter? 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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