Ag Insider

World Trade Organization ministerial ends without ag agreement

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World Trade Organization negotiations went into overtime at its ministerial meeting in Dubai but failed to reach consensus on agriculture or any other major trade initiatives. In an apparent reference to the Hamas-Israel war and the Russia-Ukraine war, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the summit occurred “against an international backdrop marked by greater uncertainty than at any time I can remember.” India pushed for an expansion of its public stockholding program, a policy used to purchase, stockpile and distribute food to needy people. This program is promoted as a food security measure, but the United States describes the public stockholding plan as an expansion of trade-distorting policy. The U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Milk Producers Federation were represented in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to monitor and advise U.S. trade negotiators. “NMPF supports a holistic work plan on agriculture that includes an equal commitment to increasing market access and limiting domestic support,” said Gregg Doud, president/CEO, NMPF. Doud previously served as the chief agricultural trade negotiator during the Trump administration.

A volatile time for exports

The latest agribusiness review from Rabobank cites the ongoing conflict on the Red Sea as causing global shipping capacity to tighten. Most shippers are avoiding that region and adding emergency risk surcharges. The report said this will be another year of volatility for anyone managing logistics. Uncertainties over the U.S. election and potential labor disruptions on both coasts are expected.

Ag trade needs to be a priority 

The House Agriculture Trade Caucus has sent a letter to the Biden administration, urging them to make agriculture a priority in its trade agenda. Nearly 30 House members signed the letter calling for trade agreements that open markets and reduce trade barriers.

Emergency action sought for Class I mover formula

The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union have sent a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking for a change to the Class I mover formula. Rather than using the average of the Class III and Class IV prices, the two major farm groups want U.S. Department of Agriculture to use the higher of the Class III and Class IV prices. Without a change, the AFBF and NFU said milk checks would continue to crash and “each additional month without a change poses a threat to dairy farmers’ livelihoods.”

DMC enrollment begins

Enrollment is underway for the Dairy Margin Coverage safety net program. This USDA program compensates dairy farmers to offset milk and feed price differences. Rules have been changed to allow eligible dairy farms to make a one-time adjustment to their established production history. Sign up continues through April 29.

It’s not business as usual

Farmers are facing a very different economic landscape today. Commodity prices are lower and interest rates are higher. “It’s not business as usual,” said Tony Jesina, senior vice president of crop insurance, Farm Credit Services of America. “Farmers need to take a look at some different options than may have considered in the past.” Firstly, it is important to know the cost of production. Secondly, Jesina concentrates on the cost of production relative to the market. That data may require adjustments in the farming operation. “Maybe it’s how your debt is structured; maybe there’s a way to restructure or rebalance your debt so that the cash flow is more in line with where your revenue’s going to be going forward,” Jesina said. Ultimately, a risk management plan is needed to protect the bottom line.

Ag census continues trend to larger farms

The Census of Agriculture reaffirmed the trend toward larger farms. Farmers National Company Senior Vice President Matt Gunderson said the census is generating a lot of discussion. “It’s creating a conversation within production agriculture and internally in terms of what does that look like for the next generation, how does that look from a generational planning perspective and brings to the forefront the importance of estate planning,” Gunderson said.

Your Farm-Your Footprint

Professional Dairy Producers has launched a sustainability initiative called Your Farm-Your Footprint. “It’s a proactive move to continue to position U.S. dairy as a preferred supplier of global dairy customers who hope to reduce carbon emissions and cut methane by one-half by 2030,” said JJ Pagel, who is a PDP board member. “We’re talking about Nestle, Danone and Starbucks. They’ve been very upfront that they are looking to become more sustainable and cut their carbon footprint in half by 2030.” Pagel said he appreciates that this is a farmer-led initiative.

Yogurt gains qualified health claim

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first-ever qualified health claim for yogurt. It recognizes the potential connection between the regular consumption of yogurt and a reduced risk of type-2 diabetes. International Dairy Foods Association Senior Vice President of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Roberta Wagner reacted by saying, “Dairy products continue to demonstrate they are central to healthy, balanced diets for all people of all ages.”

Wisconsin’s best burger

The Wisconsin Beef Council is promoting its first-ever Best Burger Contest. Nominations can be made for Wisconsin restaurants with the best burger on the menu. Nominations will be taken through March 24.

Holstein association adds new board members

The Wisconsin Holstein Association has welcomed four new members to its board of directors. They are Brian Coyne of Monona, Patrick Crave of Waterloo, Brenda Murphy of Poynette and Todd Hoesly of Brodhead. They will serve a three-year term.

Compeer names new CIO

Bruce Feist will soon succeed Jerry Wiese as the chief information officer for Compeer Financial. Feist has been with Cargill for the past 15 years. Wiese is retiring in April.

Alice in Dairyland finalists

The six Alice in Dairyland finalists from Wisconsin have been named. They are Cierra Essock of Fox Lake, Halei Heinzel of Oconomowoc, Katrina Hoesly of Denmark, Machaela King of Big Bend, Kiley Pagel of Kewaunee and Lauren Siemers of Kiel. The 77th Alice in Dairyland will be named April 4 in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Trivia challenge

The average American consumes 180 slices of pizza per year. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, how many gallons of milk does the average American consume every year? 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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