NMPF, Ag Groups Work to See Changes to E-Verify Bill

August 02, 2011

In response to concerns that the use of E-Verify may soon become mandatory across the country, the National Milk Producers Federation, along with several other agricultural interest groups, sent a letter to the House leadership seeking inclusion of a “workable, efficient worker program that encompasses all of U.S. agriculture.” This came as a response to a bill offered by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that would impose mandatory E-Verify for all businesses in the United States, but would also pre-empt all state bills that have instituted similar and harsher legislation.

The letter makes the argument that in order to continue food production, the agricultural industry needs an opportunity to secure a suitable workforce. While no date has been scheduled for the House to start marking up H.R.2164, Smith’s Legal Workforce Act, NMPF and the agricultural community will continue to advocate for positive changes to be made so that the agricultural industry can continue to function in an efficient and productive manner.

Debt Debate Settled For Now

August 02, 2011

July was a very challenging month in Congress, where partisan battling over government spending was the only game in town. The federal debt ceiling and budget reduction debate continued until the final hours, almost literally. But the House of Representative finally passed a package of spending cuts yesterday, hours before the August 2nd deadline for increasing the debt threshold. The Senate is expected to vote today, Tuesday, on the House-passed version and send it to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

The bill includes nearly $1 trillion in deficit reduction, while allowing the President the authority to increase the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion, eliminating the need for further increases until 2013. A bipartisan committee must accept or identify an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by November 23, 2011. These cuts may include entitlement program reductions, and also tax reforms.

The plan would result in $21 billion in cuts in its first year. Time and again, members of Congress have called for cuts to agricultural programs. The best-case scenario appears to be $11 billion in agriculture spending cuts over the next 10 years. This will require real and significant farm policy reform that will impact direct payments and conservation programs.

NMPF’s dairy policy reform, Foundation for the Future, was written in order to provide a better safety net to dairy producers while staying within the current budget baseline, with likely savings of more than 10% over 10 years.

Preparations Underway for 2011 Joint Annual Meeting

August 02, 2011

Although it’s still more than three months way, staff members have been working on plans for the 2011 annual meeting that NMPF shares with the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and the United Dairy Industry Association. This year’s meeting will be held November 14 – 16 at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego, CA.

Centering on the theme “Navigating a New Course,” attendees will arrive for a few days of speeches, reports, banquets, general sessions, town hall meetings, and award ceremonies. Dairy producers, cooperatives, Young Cooperators (YCs), industry representatives, staff, and others from within the dairy sector are all invited to attend.

Information will be posted online at www.nmpf.org/nmpf-joint-annual-meeting as it becomes available.

NMPF Congratulates Recipients of 2011 Scholarship Program

August 02, 2011

At its June meeting, the NMPF Scholarship Committee selected four graduate students to receive scholarships as part of the 2011 NMPF National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Program.

These students are all conducting research in areas that will benefit dairy cooperatives and producers.

The 2011 Hintz Memorial Scholarship, given to the top scholarship candidate, was awarded to João Paulo Nascimento Martins (in the photo), a Ph.D. candidate in Animal Science at the Michigan State University. His research project is “The effect of enhanced luteinizing hormone pulses during ovulatory follicle development on oocyte competency and subsequent pregnancy losses in dairy cattle.”

Other scholarship winners included:

  • Daniel Garrido, a Ph.D. candidate in Food Science at the University of California-Davis, with his research project, “Molecular validation of the prebiotic properties of casein glycomacropeptides.”
  • Amanda Sterrett, a M.S. candidate in Animal Science at the University of Kentucky, with her research project, “Characterization of relationships between lying behavior, rumination behavior, and core body temperature using novel precision dairy farming techniques.”
  • Laura Bradner, a M.S. candidate in Biochemistry at the Iowa State University, with her research project, “Optimization of methods for the detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in milk and colostrum of naturally infected dairy cows.”

The Scholarship Committee was impressed with the quality of applications and thanked all of the students who applied for the 2011 program. All eligible students are encouraged to apply next year.

If you have any questions about the NMPF scholarship program, please call the NMPF office at 703-243-6111, or email Beth Briczinski.

NMPF Continues to Advocate for Passage of Pending Free Trade Agreements

August 02, 2011

During the past month, NMPF has continued to advocate for the advancement of the three pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. However, it doesn’t appear Congress will take final votes prior to the upcoming August recess.

In the month of July, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed different versions of the FTAs. The Senate Finance committee approved a bill that included the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), while the House Ways and Means Committee approved the FTAs on their own with a plan to move the TAA in parallel fashion through the House. There is still some concern on whether the House and Senate will be able to come to an agreement on the FTAs. However, several Republican Senators, including Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rob Portman (R-OR), have secured several other Republican Senators who are committed to vote for the current FTA agreements including the TAA.

Muscle Milk Warned by FDA Following NMPF Criticism of Label Terms

August 02, 2011

On June 29, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) San Francisco District office sent a warning letter to CytoSportTM, Inc., Benicia, CA, concerning alleged misbranding of some of the company’s Muscle Milk® products.

FDA reviewed the labels for the company’s Chocolate Muscle Milk® Protein Nutrition Shake, Vanilla Creme Muscle Milk® Light Nutritional Shake and Chocolate Peanut Caramel Muscle Milk® products, and concluded that these products are misbranded because the labels are false or misleading. The warning letter pointed to the “Contains No Milk” statement on the front of the package, which contradicted the presence of milk-derived ingredients in the ingredient statement and in the allergen statement. FDA’s warning letter also noted that Muscle Milk® Shake products were misbranded because they purported to be milk – based on the prominence of the word “Milk” on the front of the package – but did not conform to the standard of identity for milk according to the ingredient statement.

NMPF, whose own past efforts to draw attention to misbranded imitation dairy products have specifically cited Muscle Milk® products, welcomed FDA’s warning letter to CytoSportTM.

“We hope that FDA’s recent warning letter to Muscle Milk®’s CytoSportTM is an indication the agency is finally going to flex some of its own muscle against brands and products that misappropriate dairy terms on their labels,” said Beth Briczinski, NMPF’s Director, Dairy Foods and Nutrition.

Milk Producers Continue to Enroll in New National Dairy FARM Program to Assure Consumers

August 02, 2011

Today’s consumers want to know that the food they purchase is safe, wholesome, nutritious, and produced with integrity. U.S. milk producers are demonstrating that commitment by enrolling at a rapid pace in the National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM). In fact, since enrollment began in September 2010, 45 percent of the nation’s milk supply now comes from farmers, cooperatives, and proprietary processors implementing the FARM program.

Voluntary and open to all producers, FARM is a national dairy animal care, third-party verified program designed to demonstrate dairy farmers’ commitment to outstanding animal care and a quality milk supply. Independent dairy producers, proprietary processors, and cooperatives are quickly coming on board.

“Telling this story is essential at a time when consumers want to know how their food is produced,” said John Miles, Land O’Lakes FARM implementation leader. “The FARM program helps us reach out to customers, consumers, and the entire marketing chain. It sends a strong message that Land O’Lakes member producers work hard caring for their animals and producing quality milk.”

FARM was created by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), along with support from Dairy Management, Inc. FARM provides thorough animal care education for producers, on-farm evaluations, and objective third-party verification, giving customers and consumers the assurances they deserve.

Participating producers are provided comprehensive training materials and undergo an on-farm evaluation conducted by a trained veterinarian, extension educator, co-op field staff member, or other FARM-trained professional. Evaluators then provide a status report and, if necessary, recommendations for improvement.

To protect the integrity and credibility of the program, a certain number of participating dairy farms will be randomly selected for objective third-party verification. Validus, an Iowa-based certified auditing company with more than 10 years of experience verifying on-farm animal care, has been selected to conduct all third-party evaluations and will begin that process this summer.

A complete list of participants and all training materials in both English and Spanish can be found at www.nationaldairyfarm.com.