USDA Sets Aug. 23 FMMO Hearing, NMPF Plan as Basis

August 02, 2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announced plan for a hearing beginning this month on modernizing the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) system reflects the comprehensive approach to improvement carefully crafted by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), an emphatically positive development for dairy farmers.

“Dairy farmers nationwide are grateful that USDA is moving forward by including the full scope of NMPF’s proposal to guide the dairy industry forward as it modernizes the Federal Milk Marketing Order system,” said Randy Mooney, a dairy farmer near Rogersville, MO, and chairman of NMPF’s Board of Directors, in a statement released July 21, the day plans for the hearing were announced.

The hearing will begin on Aug. 23 in Carmel, IN, and is expected to last several weeks. NMPF’s cooperative-led effort will be involved in every significant topic, reflecting its detailed proposal and the nationwide scope of its effort.

“This recognition of NMPF’s consensus-based leadership allows us to continue the substantial momentum for change that we’ve achieved,” Mooney said in his statement. “Each piece of our proposal, from returning to the “higher-of” Class I mover as soon as possible, to updating both Class I price differentials and manufacturing cost allowances, has been crucial toward building that consensus, and all components of our plan are critical to a successful update to this important program.

“There is still a long journey ahead toward a modernized federal order system that works better for farmers, but NMPF is ready, with co-op led efforts well under way to ensure that we are well-prepared for the FMMO hearing,” Mooney said. “We’re excited to lead this industry toward solutions that will offer benefits for everyone, and we are gratified that USDA is showing thoughtful leadership through its responsiveness and support for dairy.”

DMC Margin Drops Below $4 for First Time Ever

August 02, 2023

The June Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) margin dropped by $1.18/cwt from a month earlier to $3.65/cwt, the first time it’s been below $4/cwt since margin protection became the basic federal safety net mechanism for dairy in 2014. It will generate a lot of $0.35/cwt payments for Tier 2 coverage at the free $4/cwt coverage level, as well as payments of $5.85/cwt for coverage at the maximum $9.50/cwt Tier 1 coverage level. The June all-milk price was $1.40/cwt lower than in May, the same as the April to May drop a month earlier, while the DMC June feed cost was only $0.22/cwt of milk lower than May’s, due relatively evenly to slight drops in the prices of all three feed formula components.

Available forecasts indicate the margin will improve slightly in July from the June level, then increase rapidly from August through October and approach $9.50/cwt by December.

Draft Guidance Not Enough to Prevent Misleading Labeling, NMPF Tells FDA

August 02, 2023

While the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) draft guidance on plant-based beverages acknowledges the public health concern regarding nutritional confusion, it falls woefully short of ending the decades-old problem of misleading plant-based labeling using dairy terminology, NMPF said in comments submitted to the agency July 30.

As the leading voice of American dairy producers, NMPF emphasized the importance of transparent product labeling to ensure consumer understanding and informed purchasing decisions, and urged FDA to take prompt enforcement action against misbranded non-dairy beverages that resemble milk.

“For far too long, plant-based beverage manufacturers have blurred well-defined standards of identity to inappropriately and unfairly capitalize on dairy’s nutritional benefits while FDA has ignored its enforcement obligations,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “FDA’s draft guidance is an encouraging first step toward promoting labeling transparency in the marketplace, but it’s not enough. Our comments outline a solution to the misleading labeling practices existing in the marketplace today, and provide clear, truthful labeling options for marketers of plant-based beverages.”

In its comments, NMPF commended FDA for its acknowledgement of consumer confusion over the nutritional content of dairy imitators. “For decades, NMPF has been frustrated with FDA’s unwillingness to enforce its own standards of identity for milk and milk products which continues today. We are encouraged by the agency’s acceptance of the reality of consumer confusion regarding nutritional content,” NMPF wrote. Still, NMPF cautioned FDA to adhere to the law by going through the proper legal process, as outlined in NMPF’s Citizen Petition and comments.

Because of the voluntary nature of the proposed guidance and FDA’s undependable labeling enforcement history, NMPF continues its work in Congress to pass the bipartisan, bicameral DAIRY PRIDE Act, which would direct FDA to enforce its own rules and clarify that dairy terms are for true dairy products.

NMPF Co-op Member Farmer Briefs Congress on Farm Bill Trade Priorities

August 02, 2023

Brad Vold, a Glenwood, MN farmer and a member of the Land O’Lakes cooperative, testified to the value of rules-based trade at a July 10 House Ways and Means Committee field hearing in Kimball, MN.

Vold, co-owner of Dorrich Dairy, spoke on the need for the United States to negotiate new comprehensive free trade agreements, enforce existing trade deals and address nontariff barriers to exports. Vold pointed to the importance of reducing tariffs and enforcing clear and consistent rules for trade, as well as the U.S. government’s responsibility to combat the European Union’s monopolization of common food names. NMPF’s trade policy team collaborated with Land O’Lakes and helped Vold prepare testimony and briefed congressional offices on U.S. dairy trade priorities prior to the briefing.

NMPF also participated in a July 11 briefing with congressional staff at the U.S. Capitol on the importance of USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) funding to promote U.S. dairy exports. NMPF Trade Policy Manager Tony Rice explained how USDEC uses the funds to build relationships in overseas markets and promote U.S. dairy products to foreign customers. Rice emphasized that despite the proven success of the MAP and FMD investments in growing international market share, the programs have not had an increase in nearly two decades and are routinely oversubscribed.

NMPF and USDEC are working to advance bipartisan legislation to double MAP and FMD funding in the upcoming farm bill. The Expanding Agricultural Exports Act is led by Senators Joni Ernst, R-IA, Tina Smith, D-MN, Susan Collins, R-ME, and Chuck Grassley, R-IA, and the Agriculture Export Promotion Act is led by Representatives Jim Costa, D-CA, Tracey Mann, R-KS, Kim Schrier, D-WA, Ashley Hinson, R-IA, Jimmy Panetta, D-CA, Brad Finstad, R-MN, and Chellie Pingree, D-ME.

NMPF’s Morris Touts Dairy on Panel with Top Federal Ag Trade Officials

August 02, 2023

Shawna Morris, NMPF’s Senior Vice President of Trade Policy, moderated a July 12 trade policy panel with U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip and USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor at the annual U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council conference in McLean, VA.

Morris underlined the importance of exports for the U.S. agricultural industry and highlighted the ways that the Biden Administration can work with the industry to make progress in opening new markets. Morris and Tony Rice, NMPF’s Trade Policy Manager, joined USDEC staff in a series of meetings with USDA Foreign Agricultural Service attachés during the conference to brief them on dairy trade issues specific to the attachés’ markets around the world.

NMPF and USDEC also organized a July 7 letter with 22 other leading agricultural organizations to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai ahead of the July 9-15 Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations. The letter points out American agriculture’s preference for resuming comprehensive trade negotiations, spells out the agricultural industry’s priorities for the negotiations including securing specific commitments on common name protections, burdensome facility listing and certification requirements, and sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to trade.

NMPF’s Castaneda Advocates for Dairy in Switzerland

August 02, 2023

NMPF’s Jaime Castaneda pushed to protect common food names at the July 10 World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) general assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. NMPF’s executive vice president for policy development and strategy represented the U.S. dairy sector as well as other manufacturers of common-food-named products.

The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), which NMPF’s trade policy team staffs, holds observer status in the organization because of its leadership on protecting common names like “parmesan” and “feta.” Castaneda advocated for a balanced approach that protects the rights of common names users while still honoring legitimate geographical indications (GIs). NMPF’s engagement with WIPO – an influential organization that has traditionally supported an agenda that has favored GI interests – is critical for countering the European Union’s common name monopolization campaign and keeping markets open for U.S. dairy producers around the globe.

Castaneda also joined a non-governmental organizations session with WIPO Director General Daren Tang and met with government representatives from the United States and elsewhere who participated in the assembly.

While in Geneva, Castaneda also met with World Trade Organization (WTO) officials and government representatives on July 11-13 about the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference taking place Feb. 26-29, 2024. Castaneda participated in sessions with the New Zealand and Australian Ambassadors to the WTO, Chairman of the Dispute Settlement Committee Marco Molina, WTO Deputy Director General Angela Ellard and several country delegations to discuss agricultural priorities for the upcoming February ministerial, including WTO dispute settlement reform and market access.

Scholarship Fundraising Raffle Live

August 02, 2023

NMPF’s annual scholarship fundraising raffle is now live, running through this year’s Joint Annual Meeting that concludes Nov. 15 when winners are announced. Prizes this year include American Express gift cards, Target gift cards, a Cabot Creamery Premium Gift Box, and more. The raffle can be accessed here.

The NMPF National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Program supports Master’s and Ph.D. students conducting research important to dairy farmers. The scholarship program is largely funded through the raffle fundraiser, making ticket purchases essential to its funding. Sustaining this program means ensuring that critical research benefiting the entire dairy community can continue.

Scholarship winners for 2023 selected by the NMPF Scholarship Committee included five graduate students who are conducting research in areas that will benefit dairy cooperatives and producers. Scholarships, announced to NMPF’s Board of Directors in June, were awarded to:

  • Alanna Staffin, a Ph.D. candidate in Integrative and Biomedical Physiology at Penn State University, whose research focuses on the effects of palmitic and stearic acids on mammary gland uptake, gene expression, and metabolism in lactating dairy cows.
  • Alyssa Thibodeau, a MS candidate in Food Science and Technology and Oregon State University, whose research addresses upcycling of whey to produce craft organic acid-based beverages or vinegar with novel yeast and bacteria co-cultures.
  • Bhaswati Chowdhury, a MS candidate in Biological Sciences – Dairy Science at South Dakota State University, whose research focuses on the control of persistent environmental Listeria monocytogenes within the dairy processing plant using genomic and phenotypic approaches.
  • Luke Fuerniss, a Ph.D. in Animal Science at Texas Tech University, with research focusing on beef genetics in the dairy management system, evaluating the effects of management systems and maternal genetics.
  • Usman Arshad, a Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition at University of Florida, whose research focuses on choline and its role in hepatic metabolism and performance in dairy cows.

NMPF’s Jonker Addresses Dairy Sustainability at Two International Forums

August 02, 2023

Dr. Jamie Jonker, NMPF Chief Science Officer, spoke at the inaugural Agriculture Working Group of G20, International Symposium on Sustainable Livestock Transformation, held July 17-18 in Anand, India. In his role as Chair of the International Dairy Federation Science Program Coordinating Committee, Jonker used examples from U.S. dairy to discuss the role of animal health, genetics and nutrition on dairy farm economic, environmental and social sustainability. Maintaining healthy animals and reducing disease incidence increases milk sales while reducing greenhouse gas intensity and antimicrobial use.

On July 24, Dr. Jonker joined antimicrobial resistance (AMR) experts from around the world at the virtual GLG-UN Food Systems Summit event Country Progress and Political Action on AMR in Agrifood Systems: Building Towards the UNGA High-Level Meeting on AMR in 2024. As a member of the Global Leaders Group on AMR, he stressed the importance of the One Health approach which considers animal health, human health and the environment. This approach addresses the need for additional innovation to support additional biosecurity and animal health interventions which maintain animal health and reduce the need for antimicrobial use.

July CWT-Assisted Dairy Export Sales Totaled Over 4 Million Pounds

August 02, 2023

CWT member cooperatives secured 36 contracts in July, adding 3.2 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 44,000 pounds of butter, 679,000 pounds of cream cheese and 130,000 pounds of whole milk powder to CWT-assisted sales in 2023. In milk equivalent, this is equal to 36.7 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. These products will go to customers in Asia, Oceania, Central America, the Caribbean and Middle East-North Africa, and will be shipped from July through December 2023.

CWT-assisted 2023 dairy product sales contracts year-to-date total 27.6 million pounds of American-type cheese, 809,000 pounds of butter, 24,000 pounds of anhydrous milkfat, 5.9 million pounds of cream cheese and 31.4 million pounds of whole milk powder. This brings the total milk equivalent for the year to 548.9 million pounds on a milkfat basis.

Exporting dairy products is critical to the viability of dairy farmers and their cooperatives across the country. Whether or not a cooperative is actively engaged in exporting cheese, butter, anhydrous milkfat, cream cheese, or whole milk powder, moving products into world markets is essential. CWT provides a means to move domestic dairy products to overseas markets by helping to overcome U.S. dairy’s trade disadvantages.

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.