The National Milk Producers Federation voted at its March board meeting to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and urged Congress to pass it this year – as long as certain implementation and enforcement concerns are addressed. The TPP agreement is a historic trade pact between 12 countries bordering the Pacific Ocean.
Board members also discussed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), another major trade pact being negotiated with Europe. NMPF expressed its opposition to further advancement of the TTIP in light of Europe’s continuing refusal to remove barriers to U.S. dairy exports.
“Taken in its entirety, the TPP agreement is positive for the U.S. dairy industry,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Although it achieves less than we wanted in terms of throwing open new markets in Japan and Canada, I am pleased that we did not concede to a surge in new imports.”
With its endorsement, NMPF outlined one caution: U.S. government agencies must ensure the diligent enforcement of the agreement’s provisions with America’s trading partners. The NMPF resolution also urged the U.S. to establish proper enforcement measures regarding access granted to the domestic market, and monitor compliance with those measures after the TPP is implemented.
The board also noted that given the lack of significant export inroads in the agreement, the TPP market access package should not be used as a template for future U.S. trade agreements
NMPF’s position reflects a detailed assessment of the agreement, conducted by the staffs of both NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). The board weighed several factors in making its decision to support the TPP agreement:
- The net effect on the U.S. dairy industry of all TPP market access concessions is expected to be neutral to slightly positive, with the most notable U.S. export gains coming in Canada and Japan, along with somewhat smaller increases in new imports.
- There is the potential for the agreement to expand over time to include additional participants in Asia, particularly nations that currently – or will soon – have trade agreements with major dairy competitors. It is imperative that the U.S. remain a key player in the region as its works to expand future U.S. exports.
- In the areas of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) provisions, the TPP features groundbreaking new commitments that should limit the possibility of participating countries eroding existing and future market access for U.S. dairy exporters through unjustified regulatory determinations.
- The TPP contains new Geographical Indications (GI) provisions establishing a more equitable international model on registering GIs for food. The text does not directly block the EU from inappropriately restricting the use of common food names important to global trade, but it does significantly strengthen the ability for the U.S. to combat barriers when they arise, thereby helping preserve market access opportunities for U.S. companies.
Regarding the TTIP negotiations, Mulhern added: “The negotiations have not demonstrated concrete progress toward addressing food safety challenges and other non-tariff trade barriers.”
NMPF is strongly combatting the EU’s efforts to restrict common food names for its members. The failure to resolve these issues in the TTIP “would exacerbate the existing U.S. dairy trade deficit with the EU of over $1 billion,” he said.
The National Milk Producers Federation Board of Directors recently approved revisions to the dairy industry’s animal care program, Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM). The changes, approved on March 8, were recommended by both the FARM Technical Writing Group and NMPF’s producer-led Animal Health and Wellbeing Committee.
The NMPF Board vote concludes the nearly 11-month revision process that began in May 2015, when the Technical Writing Group, comprising farmers, veterinarians, co-op staff and animal care experts, convened to discuss the latest research in animal health and wellbeing, as well as review data from the last three years of FARM Program evaluations. This comprehensive revision process occurs every three years and includes input not only from the Technical Writing Group and Animal Health and Wellbeing Committee, but also a public comment period.
Though the revised program guidelines won’t begin to be evaluated on until January 1, 2017, FARM Program staff will work to provide farmers with all the resources, tools and training opportunities that may be needed to adhere to the new program standards. Many resources, including a summary of changes, sample forms and protocols, and employee training tools, are already available on the FARM Program website: www.nationaldairyfarm.com. Additionally, FARM Program staff conducted four webinars in March to help walk through the key changes and resources that will be made available.
Specifically, the updated FARM Program will include key criteria that receive additional focus and attention. Such criteria include having a Veterinarian-Client Patient Relationship, conducting employee training and maintaining records of those trainings, developing protocols on key issues such as euthanasia and non-ambulatory cattle movement, as well as ending tail docking. While these evaluations points have always been part of the FARM Program, they will receive greater focus in Version 3.0.
These changes will help ensure that the dairy industry addresses the concerns of customers and consumers who are increasingly asking more questions about the conditions under which farm animals are raised. The FARM Program provides context for the great story farmers have to tell about animal care and also enables marketing organizations to meet customers’ expectations in this area.
A bill backed by NMPF that would have created a national, voluntary labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) failed on the Senate floor March 16, when the measure did not win the 60 votes needed to move it forward.
The bill – authored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) – would have pre-empted Vermont from implementing its own mandatory labeling law, set to go into effect July 1. NMPF is concerned that other states will follow suit, creating a patchwork of varying requirements that will increase costs across the supply chain.
“Passage of a coherent food label disclosure law by Congress is the only logical approach in order to avoid the chaotic mess that would arise from leaving this issue up to the whims of 50 different states,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.
“The vote is a disappointment, but not a defeat for those of us seeking a strong, clear, national and rational standard for food labeling,” he said. “We still believe a bi-partisan federal policy is within reach.”
Roberts introduced the bill on Feb. 19. It was approved by the agriculture committee on March 1. NMPF is supporting efforts now underway to recraft a measure that will win more bipartisan support.
Since the bill failed, several major food brands, such as General Mills and Kellogg, have announced they will begin complying with Vermont’s law by labeling their products.
NMPF has been heavily involved in the biotechnology debate as members of the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food (CFSAF). In support of Roberts’ bill, NMPF and CFSAF joined roughly 650 food organizations that signed a letter urging Congress to act.
GMOs have been proven safe by nearly 2,000 studies from the leading scientific bodies in the world, including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association. Currently, up to 80 percent of the food available in the United States contains genetically modified ingredients.
At the beginning of the year, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a draft guidance document urging the prohibition of the promotion and marketing of milk products to children up to age 3. NMPF has engaged in extensive efforts to counter the premise of the document, which runs contrary to ample scientific evidence of the benefits of dairy foods in young children’s diets. The proposal was modified in late March, in some areas addressing points NMPF had sought changes to, but the revisions are not enough to address NMPF’s concerns with this proposal.
The WHO proposal, titled “Ending Inappropriate Marketing of Foods for Infants and Young Children,” also conflicts with U.S. nutritional recommendations such as the recently-updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the inclusion of dairy foods in programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
“The WHO guidance document goes beyond the appropriate recommendations of encouraging breast feeding for infants, and instead is a de facto criticism of all milk consumption by toddlers,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “This flies in the face of all credible, international nutrition research, and would confuse consumers across the globe.”
NMPF joined a coalition of several other organizations to object to this proposal, highlighting both the nutritional and trade problems that could result from WHO pushing adoption of the guidance around the world. Among its efforts, NMPF met with numerous U.S. agencies and submitted detailed comments to the Department of Health and Human Services, the lead federal agency on the matter. These efforts, coupled with support from congressional offices, helped form the official U.S. comments to the WHO that incorporated many of the concerns NMPF and its coalition partners had cited.
NMPF wants the U.S. government to insist that the WHO revise this document to address the egregiously incorrect suggestion that dairy is inappropriate for young children. Following consultations with member countries this Friday, the WHO is currently planning to move this document forward for adoption by the World Health Assembly in May. However, National Milk believes more time is needed for consultations and evaluations of scientific evidence to ensure that any final guidance document recognizes the strong nutritional benefits of dairy to young children.
NMPF joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week in congratulating the winners of Phase 1 of EPA’s Nutrient Recycling Challenge. The EPA’s challenge, launched last November, is a national competition, formed in partnership with dairy and other livestock groups, to develop affordable technologies to manage nutrients from livestock manure.
The Nutrient Recycling Challenge sought ideas for cost-effective technologies that extract nitrogen and/or phosphorus from cow manure, and concentrate them into a usable and potentially marketable form. The emphasis was on how an idea either improves upon some aspect of what technologies can do today, or achieves the nutrient management goals in an entirely new way.
The dairy industry has played a pivotal role in developing this new program. NMPF, Dairy Farmers of America, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Newtrient, and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy are among the 19 partners involved.
“By getting involved with this competition, we wanted to reinforce the need to continue developing sustainable farming practices,” said NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern. “Nutrient recovery is a new and exciting endeavor, and we’re pleased to see the results.”
Phase 1 required submitting concept papers for ideas. EPA received 75 papers from all over the world and selected 34 submissions to continue on to Phase II, involving project designs. EPA is awarding a total of $30,000 in cash prizes to the top 10 submissions, including four winners and six honorable mentions.
The winning concepts are:
- Slurry Separation with Coanda Effect Separator (by Ahimbisibwe Micheal of Bravespec Systems Ltd.) - Using centrifuge technology to separate smaller nutrient particles from manure, with fewer energy inputs and lower costs.
- Manure Convertor (by Ilan Levy of Paulee Cleantec Ltd.) - Using chemical processes to rapidly turn manure into a non-toxic, fertile ash fertilizer.
- Producing Nutrients Concentrated Bio-solids via AnSBEARs (by Bo Hu, Hongjian Lin, and Xin Zhang of the University of Minnesota) - Creating a dry biosolids fertilizer by using a novel anaerobic digestion and solid-liquid separation system.
- Removal of Dissolved N and P from Livestock Manure by Air Stripping (by Hiroko Yoshida of Centrisys Corporation) - Using CO2 stripping and other processes to create a range of fertilizers from anaerobically digested manure.
NMPF’s forecast for 2016 MPP margins, based on late-March milk and feed futures prices, indicates that nearby margins may dip below the $8 threshold before strengthening in the latter half of 2016. The USDA reported last week that the Jan.-Feb. 2016 margin was $8.01, a penny above the MPP payment threshold. As evidenced by the wide confidence interval, a high degree of uncertainty remains in milk and new crop feed prices.
Cooperatives Working Together member cooperatives last month received 31 contracts to sell 3.946 million pounds of cheese, 2.535 million pounds of butter and 5.589 million pounds of whole milk powder. The products will go to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East, North Africa, Oceania and South America. The product will be shipped from March through September 2016.
For the first three months of 2016, CWT assisted members in capturing sales contracts totaling 12.361 million pounds of American-type cheese, 7.716 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 14.676 million pounds of whole milk powder going to customers in 14 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 394.845 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.
Assisting CWT member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share through the Export Assistance program in the long-term expands the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This, in turn, positively impacts all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.
The amounts of dairy products and related milk volumes reflect current contracts for delivery, not completed export volumes. CWT will pay export assistance to the bidders only when export and delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.
All cooperatives and dairy farmers are encouraged to add their support to this important program. Membership forms are available on the CWT website.
In reaction to public health concerns about the effectiveness of antibiotics, the Obama Administration announced the establishment in March 2015 of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. The Advisory Council was formed to provide advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services about programs intended to support Administration efforts to reduce the spread of antibiotic- resistance bacteria. NMPF has monitored this initiative and participated in several meetings to ensure that dairy industry efforts to use antibiotics judiciously are incorporated into the process of assessing best practices in the future.
The Advisory Council met on March 30-31, 2016, to finalize its first report “Report1: Initial Assessment of the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic –Resistant Bacteria.” The report contains a wide array of goals and recommendations to combat antimicrobial resistance in the United States with international collaborations through a One Health approach. One Health is a multiple disciplinary approach of human and veterinary medicine to address such issues as antimicrobial resistance.
The report contains wide-ranging goals and recommendations for antimicrobial stewardship in both humans and animals. For the U.S. dairy industry, these goals and recommendations fall in four focus areas: (1) on-farm antibiotic use data collection; (2) increasing antimicrobial stewardship in food and companion animals (including additional veterinary oversight); (3) additional research in the flow of antimicrobial resistance through the environment (from use in animals to people and use in people to animals); and (4) development of new disease detection, prevention, control and treatment options (vaccines, new antibiotics, alternative therapeutics, etc.).
For more than 25 years, the U.S. dairy industry has focused educational efforts on the judicious use of antimicrobial drugs through the annual publication of a Best Practices Manual. The 2016 edition of the National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management™ Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual developed by NMPF is the primary educational tool for dairy farm managers throughout the country on the judicious and responsible use of antibiotics serving as the industry’s antimicrobial stewardship guide.
Dairy farmers continued in 2015 to improve their already stellar track record of keeping antibiotic residues out of the milk supply, with the most recent national survey finding that 99.99% of all bulk milk tankers had no violative levels of animal antibiotic drug residues. On-farm vigilance in following drug withdrawal times has led to a steady decline in detectable antibiotic residues, with 2015’s figure of 0.012% of violative tankers declining from an already low level of 0.038% in 2005 – a decline of nearly 70% in the last decade. All milk loads are tested for antibiotics, and any tanker that tests positive for a drug residue is rejected before entering a dairy plant and does not enter the market for human consumption.
These figures are based on information reported to FDA’s National Milk Drug Residue Data Base by state regulatory agencies under the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments. Data are reported on the extent of the national testing activities, the analytical methods used, the kind and extent of the animal drug residues identified, and the amount of contaminated milk that was removed from the human food supply.
New biosecurity resources to help farmers prevent the spread of animal diseases are now available, thanks to ongoing efforts by NMPF to marshal additional tools for farmers.
In 2014, the NMPF Animal Health and Wellbeing Committee identified the need for educational resources on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) for dairy farmers and veterinarians. NMPF approached the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other groups about the possibility of developing such materials. This resulted in a cooperative agreement from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to the Center for Food Security and Public Health (Iowa State University) with contributions from NMPF, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, and the National Cattleman's Beef Association, for the development of a variety of FMD educational resources.
An FMD poster and pocket guide were published last September. Three new biosecurity resources have recently become available:
- General biosecurity in English and Spanish
- Visitors with animal biosecurity in English and Spanish
- Visitors without animal contact biosecurity in English and Spanish
The posters are also available on the Secure Milk Supply website.
In March, the USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) released Dairy Cattle Management Practices in the United States, 2014, the first report from its Dairy 2014 study. Dairy 2014 is NAHMS sixth study of the U.S. dairy industry. The study was conducted in 17 of the nation’s major dairy states, covering 76.7 percent of U.S. dairy operations and 80.3 percent of U.S. dairy cows. USDA will release additional reports in the next year.
A few highlights of the report include:
- Rolling herd average (RHA) milk production was 19,932 lb./cow. RHA milk production for grazing and organic operations was similar (14,513 and 14,758 lb./cow, respectively).
- Overall, 47.5 percent of operations had accessed the Internet for dairy information during 2013. Internet use generally increased as herd size increased, with 31.6 percent of very small operations (fewer than 30 cows) accessing the Internet for dairy information compared with 89.7 percent of large operations (500 or more cows).
- The percentage of operations that administered vaccines to cows increased as herd size increased. Overall, 73.8 percent of operations administered any vaccine to cows. More than half of operations administered vaccines against BVD (68.0 percent), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (60.2 percent), parainfluenza type 3 (55.8 percent), bovine respiratory syncytial virus (54.8 percent), or leptospirosis (51.5 percent).
The deadline to apply to the NMPF National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Program for academic year 2016-2017 is this Friday, April 8.
Each year, NMPF awards scholarships to outstanding graduate students (enrolled in Master’s or Ph.D. programs) who are actively pursuing dairy-related fields of research that are of immediate interest to NMPF member cooperatives and the U.S. dairy industry at large.
Graduate students pursuing research of direct benefit to milk marketing cooperatives and dairy producers are encouraged to submit an application. Applicants do not need to be members of NMPF to qualify. The top scholarship applicant will be awarded the Hintz Memorial Scholarship, which was created in 2005 in honor of the late Cass-Clay Creamery Board Chairman Murray Hintz.
Recommended fields of study include, but are not limited to, Agriculture Communications and Journalism, Animal Health, Animal and/or Human Nutrition, Bovine Genetics, Dairy Products Processing, Dairy Science, Economics, Environmental Science, Food Science, Food Safety, Herd Management, and Marketing and Price Analysis.
For an application or more information, please visit the NMPF website or call the NMPF office at 703-243-6111.
Since 1919, the Dairy Council of California (DCC) has been producing balanced nutrition education programs and resources for schools, health professionals’ offices and workplace wellness programs.
DCC promotes the many benefits and uses of milk and milk products, though its programs’ focus on making the best choices from all food groups.
DCC staff include registered dietitians, nutrition, education and communication experts, as well as customer relations professionals who work with educators, health professionals and community leaders, to educate others on how to make food choices from a realistic and inclusive perspective.
Tammy Anderson-Wise is the chief executive officer. To learn more about DCC, please visit their website.
|Editor: Christopher Galen (703) 243-6111 E-mail: CGalen@nmpf.org|