News for Dairy Co-ops

Volume 72, No. 10

USDA Secretary Vilsack Just Added To Impressive Agenda for 2014 NMPF Annual Meeting

The agenda for NMPF’s 2014 annual meeting, set for the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, October 27-29, is shaping up as one of the best in years.

NMPF has just confirmed that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be joining an already powerful line-up of speakers at the Dallas meeting, when he speaks at a general session the morning of October 29th.

The October 28 line-up includes renowned political analyst Stu Rothenberg, publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report, and Patrick Doyle, CEO of Domino’s Pizza. In a departure from previous years, that day also kicks off with Town Hall Meeting, at which attendees learn about NMPF activities and question staff on the future of the dairy industry.

The next day, Daniel Burrus, one of the world’s most recognized business gurus, will offer insights on the future of the dairy industry, followed by two top Coca-Cola executives discussing new Coke ventures in the dairy category. The lunch speaker on the 29th is Charlotte Jones Anderson, executive vice president and chief brand officer for the Dallas Cowboys. The meeting will conclude with a reception and banquet featuring both the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and Big City Outlaws, the hottest country rock party band in Texas.

In between major events there are board meetings, a dairy bar, networking and sightseeing opportunities, and the chance to win some fabulous prizes in the annual raffle raising money for NMPF’s National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Program. It adds up to a power-packed program that offers something for everyone.

Rooms at the Gaylord Texan are sold out right now, but you can still register to attend the annual meeting. Nearby hotels have some space and more rooms could become available at the Gaylord Texan. Also, you can register for the annual meeting up to the last minute. NMPF’s website has the latest registration and hotel information.

Producers Have Until December 5 to Sign Up for New Federal Safety Net Program

Dairy farmers have until December 5 to sign up for the new federal dairy safety net, known as the Margin Protection Program, or MPP. To help farmers understand the program, NMPF has a variety of on-line tools, including a five-page written summary, a downloadable calculator, and a narrated slide presentation that walks the viewer through the details.

These and other materials are available through both the NMPF website and the Future for Dairy website. The Future for Dairy site is serving as an information hub for the new program.

The calculator allows farmers to enter their own milk production and commodity price data to gauge the new program’s likely impact on their operations. It complements a similar tool created by a consortium of land grant universities and available through the Agriculture Department website.

The 21-minute slide presentation covers who is eligible for the program, how to sign up, and what the fees and payments might look like under various scenarios. Also covered are the basic concept of the program, what it replaces, and how it compares to the previous dairy safety net.

“Dairy farmers are starting to make their participation decisions,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “The calculator and the other NMPF tools should help them make the best choices for their individual circumstances.”

NMPF was instrumental in developing the new safety net and is strongly encouraging farmers to sign up. Rather than supporting milk prices, the program allows producers to insure their profit margins on a sliding scale. Basic coverage is free, aside from $100 annual administrative fee. Producers can sign up for the remainder of 2014, all of 2015, or both, through the end of November.

Mulhern (pictured) led a NMPF seminar last week at the World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin to discuss the sign-up process for the MPP.

Dairy Industry Blasts Market Barriers in EU-Canada Trade Deal

The recent release of the official text of the free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada has triggered dairy industry charges that the authors are attempting to further restrict U.S. access to the Canadian cheese market.

Dairy trade groups including NMPF, the International Dairy Foods Association and the U.S. Dairy Export Council said the text includes objectionable provisions on geographical indications, and reallocates some of Canada’s import quota for cheese from the United States and other countries to the EU.

The geographical indications provisions are particularly alarming, the groups said, because they grant the EU automatic protection for five commonly used cheese names in violation of both international trade commitments and Canadian intellectual property law.

The cheese names are asiago, feta, fontina, gorgonzola and munster. Under the agreement, manufacturers that produced these cheeses before last October can continue to use the generic names, but others will be required to use qualifiers, such as asiago-type, feta-style or imitation munster cheese.

Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president of both NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, said Canada added insult to injury by both watering down the already-limited access of U.S. exporters to the Canadian cheese market and by restricting access U.S. exporters expect to gain through a separate Trans-Pacific free trade agreement.

“This is yet another example of Canada’s work at every turn to limit access to its market for highly competitive U.S. products,” Castaneda said.

The text of the agreement, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, still must be ratified. An implementation date is not known.

NMPF Joins CCFN at Intellectual Property Rights Conclave in Geneva

Working through the Consortium for Common Food Names, NMPF also monitored activities at the 2014 General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva September 27-30.

The World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, is a United Nations agency charged with developing a balanced international intellectual property system. CCFN is a non-profit organization seeking the adoption of model geographical indication guidelines worldwide.

At the WIPO meeting, CCFN voiced concerns about the expanded use of geographical indications to restrict trade through an international system known as the Lisbon Agreement.

At its heart is the ability of U.S. dairy producers to keep using cheese terms that have become part of global lexicon. The European Union, in particular, is systematically seeking to restrict the use of many of these terms in export markets.

Recently, CCFN was granted official observer status at the Lisbon Agreement Working Group. CCFN will continue efforts to protect the rights of food producers at the next Lisbon Agreement Working Group meeting, set for the end of this month.

CWT Continues to Grow Export Markets for U.S. Dairy Products

Cooperatives Working Together helped its member cooperatives make 33 export sales in September, involving 5.7 million pounds of American-type cheese and 12.7 million pounds of whole milk powder. The total 18.4 million pounds of dairy products will be delivered to customers on six continents by March 2015.

The September total brings CWT-assisted dairy export sales to 167 million pounds for the year. The sales are equivalent of 2.1 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. That equals the annual milk production of nearly 100,000 cows.

USDA data shows there were 47,000 more cows in the national dairy herd in August than a year earlier. CWT’s Export Assistance program has helped member cooperatives market the milk of those cows and more.

CWT is a voluntary, farmer-funded program developed by NMPF to preserve family dairy farms. It helps cooperatives maintain and expand world markets for products made from milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers.

Two Dairy Producers Among Finalists for Next ‘Faces of Farming’ Class

Carrie MessTwo standout dairy producers – Carrie Mess of Wisconsin and Carla Wardin of Michigan – are among eight finalists competing in the latest Faces of Farming and Ranching competition organized by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. The winners will be announced next month in Kansas City.

USFRA, a coalition of more than 80 farm groups and agricultural companies, including NMPF, launched the first Faces of Farming competition several years ago to help put real faces on agriculture. Alabama dairy farmer Will Gilmer was a Faces of Farming winner in the first round.

Carla WardinThe public will have 10 days starting on October 24 to vote online for the second-round winners. The final decisions will be made by USFRA and be announced during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual meeting in Kansas City November 12.

In addition to being successful dairy producers, both Mess and Wardin are prominent bloggers. Mess (above), who is known online as Dairy Carrie, is co-owner with her husband of Mesa Dairy in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. Her blog, The Adventures of Dairy Carrie, had more than a million page views last year. Earlier this year she was named “Social Media Farmer of the Year.” Mess is an NMPF member though Swiss Valley Farms.

Wardin and her husband own a centennial farm in St. Johns, Michigan. Wardin (below) has written her Truth or Dairy blog for four years and is active in numerous farming organizations. She and her husband were named Michigan Milk Producers Association’s Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators in 2012, and the following year, were elected to serve as NMPF's Young Cooperator Chaircouple.

The Faces of Farming and Ranching winners share their experiences on a national stage through media interviews and public appearances.

Voting for the second-round winners will take place through the USFRA Facebook page and at www.fooddialogues.com/Faces.

CEO’S CORNER

Painting a Clear Picture about Dairy Farming

Jim Mulhern
NMPF President & CEO

Associate Member Focus: 

The Ohio Dairy Producers Association is a grassroots legislative, research, and producer education organization. It represents dairy farmers across the state, regardless of farm size, production strategy, marketing preference, or political affiliation. ODPA speaks with a unified voice on policies that affect the dairy industry. It also offers education opportunities and access to Ohio dairy news and issue updates.

ODPA works closely with state government agencies and The Ohio State University on environmental policies, on-farm issues, product innovation and more. It works in tandem with the dairy check off program to protect the image of dairy farmers by providing consumers with facts about animal care, environmental stewardship, on-farm practices and food safety.

To learn more, visit the website or contact Scott Higgins at 614-890-1800 or by email at scott.higgins@odpa.org.