Annual Meeting Spotlights Dairy Farmer Unity

December 06, 2023

NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney commended U.S. dairy farmers for their persistence in supporting positive change for their industry at the organization’s annual meeting in Orlando held Nov. 13-15, noting that challenges are nothing new to producers and that their unity has brought progress toward better federal farm policy.

“We’re nourishing families around the world through milk’s unbeatable nutritional value,” said Mooney in remarks at the meeting held jointly by NMPF, the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and the United Dairy Industry Association. “I’ve dairied for a long time, through good times and bad times, but there’s never been a time that I haven’t laid my head down on my pillow at night and been proud of what I accomplished on my farm,” said Mooney, a Dairy Farmers of America member-owner who farms near Rogersville, MO.

Dairy producers in the past year have faced operating margins at their lowest since the federal dairy safety net was adopted in its current structure in 2014 as prices plummeted from record highs. Meanwhile, the U.S. farm bill expired at the end of September before Congress passed an extension until next October, and dairy farmers are seeking a fairer milk pricing system through a USDA-led Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing.

Following Mooney onstage was NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern, who is retiring at the end of this year after leading the organization for a decade. Mulhern reflected on the challenges dairy farmers have met and how they will meet the challenges to come.

“I’ve tried to remain true to what I see as the hallmark of the dairy community: people who work hard, approach things with common sense, care passionately about the product they produce,” Mulhern said. “You all strive to do the right thing. And I can tell you, looking over the course of my career, those are qualities that can take you a very long way.”

Also at the meeting, NMPF’s Board of Directors approved the organization’s policy positions and elected new members. New directors elected to the Board of Directors and approved by NMPF delegates include Brad Bateman of Dairy Farmers of America and Rick Burkhamer of Foremost Farms. Burkhamer, who farms near Richland Center, WI, was also named to NMPF’s Executive Committee. Pete Kappelman of Land O’Lakes, a member of the Executive Committee, was elected Treasurer to replace retiring Board member Dave Scheevel of Foremost Farms. The members awarded Honorary Directors for Life recognition to Brian Hardy and Rick Smith of DFA, and Joe Wright of Southeast Milk.

The meeting drew roughly 750 attendees and also featured breakout sessions on industry topics as well as the Dairy Experience, an exhibit and snacks area featuring industry vendors and dairy products.

Doud, Economists Explore Dairy’s Future

December 06, 2023

The future of U.S. dairy farming is bright as global growth and American capacity for innovation and production combine to create a powerhouse, NMPF incoming president and CEO Gregg Doud and the organization’s economists said in presentations at NMPF’s annual meeting.

“In terms of the world of protein, dairy is a huge part of the future,” said Gregg Doud, who will take over NMPF’s reins on Jan. 1. Doud, a former chief agricultural trade negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, said opportunities are there for U.S. dairy’s taking with robust outreach and appeals to consumers worldwide.

“My message to you today is very simple,” he said. “Let’s go. Let’s get it in gear.”

Dairy producers in the past year have faced operating margins at their lowest since the federal dairy safety net was adopted in its current structure in 2014 as prices plummeted from record highs. In a panel of NMPF economists following Doud’s remarks, forecasts showed an improving price outlook next year, even as inflation continues to pose challenges for consumers.

“We see a road to recovery in 2024,” said Will Loux, head of the joint economics unit serving NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “Things aren’t all roses, we still have really significant headwinds on the demand side both here at home and abroad, but we look at the world with a lot of optimism still, especially in the long run.”

NMPF Secures Continued DMC Production History Boost in Farm Bill Extension

December 06, 2023

NMPF worked closely with the House and Senate Agriculture Committees last month to finalize a one-year farm bill extension that was signed into law Nov. 17 as part of a larger government funding bill.

The extension continues the successful Dairy Margin Coverage program for 2024. At NMPF’s urging, it also incorporates the 2019 partial production history update, previously known as Supplemental DMC, into the underlying DMC safety net.

Through 2023, Supplemental DMC offered payments to those producers whose DMC production history was below five million pounds, but whose actual production had increased to that level by 2019. Eligible farmers received payments totaling 75 percent of the difference between their actual 2019 production and their DMC production history. Enactment of the farm bill extension now converts this supplemental program into a base production history update within DMC, ensuring it will continue going forward without requiring a separate extension.

Congress’s move also funds those programs that did not have a budget “baseline” to ensure that they would be funded into the next farm bill. This includes the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which was created in the 2014 Farm Bill with NMPF’s support to leverage both private and public resources to maximize agricultural research needs.

NMPF thanked congressional leaders for their work on the extension and reinforced the importance of passing a five-year farm bill as soon as possible. “We commend House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairs Glenn Thompson and Debbie Stabenow, as well as Ranking Members David Scott and John Boozman, for their bipartisan work to finalize this farm bill extension as part of the congressional spending agreement President Biden signed today,” NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern said in a statement. “With this bill passed, we stand ready to work closely with the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to deliver a strong, five-year farm bill as swiftly as possible.”

NMPF Gains through EPA Retreat on Manure Air Emissions

December 06, 2023

NMPF regulatory staff gained a years-earned win last month when the Environmental Protection Agency decided to solicit information on a proposed end to an exemption from reporting ammonia and hydrogen sulfide air emissions from manure under the Emergency Planning Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) rather than to simply overturn that exemption. The somewhat surprising move all but ensures that the Biden Administration will not overturn the exemption, which benefits dairy, before the end of the presidential term that ends in 2025.

NMPF and animal agriculture groups since 2019 have worked hard with EPA to promulgate the EPCRA exemption after securing a Congressional exemption under the FARM Act in March 2018 for the same type of reporting under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). EPCRA and CERCLA are separate but interrelated environmental statutes. Both exemptions remain in place today—but while the CERCLA exemption would require Congress to overturn the CERCLA exemption, EPA retains the authority to overturn the EPCRA exemption.

Environmentalists seized on an opportunity to overturn the EPCRA exemption by modifying a complaint in ongoing litigation which challenged the final EPCRA rule. After the Biden Administration in January 2021 issued an Executive Order that called upon EPA to immediately review federal regulations issued over the past four years for consistency with national objectives, such as confronting the climate crisis, EPA that November asked the courts to return the final EPCRA rule to EPA for further review.

EPA then allegedly promulgated a proposed rule to eliminate the EPCRA exemption which was then sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, where it sat for an extended period.  During that period NMPF and other ag groups repeatedly asserted to EPA and OMB that revoking the exemption would be inappropriate and defy common sense by requiring useless emissions reports that would serve no logical purpose other than to harass farmers—even while knowing the revocation was very much on the table.

Instead, EPA has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which solicits information pertaining to requests comments to assist in potentially developing regulations to reinstate the reporting of animal waste air emissions at farms under EPCRA. The agency is soliciting comments under five general categories: health impacts; implementation challenges; costs and benefits; small farm definition and potential reporting exemption; and national report on animal waste air emissions.

The bottom line is that while the issue is far from over, EPA did not have sufficient information to justify a proposed regulation to end the exemption and therefore had to switch to information collection. NMPF and other ag groups will continue to fight on this long-lived, cumbersome issue.

Prairie Farms Wins NMPF Cheese and Yogurt Contest

December 06, 2023

Prairie Farms Dairy won the Chairman’s Award in this year’s NMPF Cheese and Yogurt Contest, a mark of co-op quality and prestige.

This year’s annual edition of the cheese and yogurt contest for member cooperatives included 252 entries from 14 participating NMPF co-ops, a total of 3,350 pounds (1.52 metric tons) of cheese and yogurt. The high-quality cheeses and yogurt from the NMPF membership highlight U.S.-made dairy products and our continuing promotion of the REAL® Seal.

The entered products are assessed against scoring standards for the ideal cheese or yogurt in each class. NMPF thanks the judges for helping with the contest this year: Ms. Allison Reynolds (lead judge), USDA, Dairy Grading Branch, Turlock, California; Mr. Timothy Meyers, College of DuPage, Glenn Ellyn, Illinois; Dr. Gina Mode, CDR, University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Chad Galer, Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, IL.

Prairie Farms won for its Cave Aged Rinded Swiss, produced in Faribault, MN. Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery won the Chairman’s Reserve Award for its Pepperoni with Marinara Rub produced in Menomonie, WI. Best in Class awards included:

  • Best Cheddar – Makers Reserve Extra Sharp White Cheddar 2014 from Tillamook County Creamery Association, Tillamook, OR
  • Best Cottage Cheese – Peach Yogurt from Dairy Farmers of America, Farmington, MN
  • Best Italian – Pasteurized Blue Cheese from Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc., Faribault, MN
  • Best Yogurt – Triple Cream Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt from Agri‐Mark, Inc., Cabot, VT

In a first, the cheese contest was featured in an RFD-TV news package, highlighting the contest’s value to members and its rich history.

Extra cheese and yogurt from the contest and dairy products from the dairy bar were donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a private, nonprofit organization that collects, stores and distributes donated food to more than 625 feeding partners in seven Central Florida counties: Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia.

Last year, with the help of numerous donors, volunteers and a caring, committed community, the food bank distributed enough food for 81 million meals to partner programs such as food pantries, soup kitchens, women’s shelters, senior centers, day care centers and Kids Cafes.

FARM Excellence Awards, Co-Op Communicators Honors Presented

December 06, 2023

The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program announced the winners of the third annual FARM Excellence Awards, and the top farmer and cooperative communicators of the year, were recognized at an awards luncheon at the Joint Annual Meeting Nov. 14.

The FARM Program recognized three farms and one evaluator who go above and beyond industry standards through their commitment to innovation and continuous improvement. The 2023 FARM Excellence Award recipients are:

  • Animal Care & Antibiotic Stewardship — Ingleside Dairy Farm, Inc. (Dairy Farmers of America)
  • Workforce Development — Newmont Farm LLC (Agri-Mark, Inc.)
  • Evaluator of the Year — Jim Kauffman (Associated Milk Producers Inc.)

The 2023 FARM Excellence Award for Environmental Stewardship was awarded to a Dairy Farmers of America farm that wished to remain unnamed.

The FARM Excellence Awards were created in 2021 to celebrate farms that are dedicated to continuous improvement in one or more FARM Program areas, and a FARM Program evaluator for their exceptional care and attention to the farms they evaluate. Visit the FARM website for more information about the FARM Excellence Awards and the 2023 award winners.

In NMPF’s annual Cooperative Communications Contest, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association took top honors, and a farmer-owner of the cooperative also received NMPF’s Farmer Communicator of the Year award.

Austin Schwartzbeck of Peace & Plenty Farm won the farmer award for his active efforts in promoting dairy’s values through communicating with both dairy and non-dairy audiences—including a recent television feature about how he and his wife met at the Maryland State Fair.

“Austin’s excellence in communication on behalf of the dairy community is rooted in his ability to tell a compelling personal story, connect with readers emotionally, educate and advocate for the industry, emphasize family values, utilize visual storytelling and leverage various media platforms for outreach,” Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association said in its nomination letter. “Through these efforts, he effectively portrays the dairy industry as one filled with dedication, tradition and a deep love for farming.”

Schwartzbeck and his family milk 245 registered Holsteins and farm 1,100 acres in Union Bridge, MD.

Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association was also recognized as the Cooperative Communicator of the Year, receiving top honors in the writing category and recognition in the publications, graphics and special projects categories.

The cooperative’s “Best of Show” award winner, “MDVA Member Stands as Beacon of Service to Others,” details North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University’s 492-acre farm with 57 dairy cows three miles from the skyline of downtown Greensboro—a Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association member and the only dairy unit at a Historically Black College and University.

“This entry delivers delightful surprises while at the same time examining—without flinching—a serious national problem: the decline of black dairy farmers from 1 million in 1920 to 50,000 today,” the contest evaluator wrote. “The entry does more than expose a crisis. It shines a spotlight on a hidden gem providing a partial solution.”

NMPF also spotlighted the farm earlier this year as part of its Farmer Focus series.

The “Best of Show” award is selected from the first-place entries in the contest’s main areas: publication, writing, graphics and special projects. This year’s winners were:

A full list of the winners of the NMPF communications contest, which received 110 entries from 15 member cooperatives, can be found here.

NMPF’s YC Program Empowers Up-and-Coming Dairy Leaders

December 06, 2023

More 75 younger dairy farmers and co-op coordinators representing 14 NMPF member cooperatives convened for intensive leadership discussions—and a trip to Orlando’s historic Milk District—during the National Young Cooperators (YC) Program’s annual Leadership and Development Program held parallel to the Joint Annual Meeting.

The professional development event held Nov. 12-13 included two leadership workshops; a co-op leadership panel; an overview of dairy production in Florida; and a tour of the largest cow-calf operation in the United States and a visit to Orlando’s historic Milk District.

“It’s truly the people I have met that have made this experience so great,” Lorilee Schultz, Illinois dairy farmer and chairperson of the National YC Program, said in her remarks to the NMPF Board of Directors. “I love hearing from other young dairy producers and learning about the amazing things they are doing on their farms.”

The National YC Program has provided training and leadership development opportunities to beginning dairy farmers for more than 70 years, and aims to provide producers with the education, tools and resources they need to improve their leadership skills, profitability and resilience through year-round virtual and in-person programming.

The program is managed by NMPF and funded by its members with support from stakeholders including Farm Credit, Phibro Animal Health, Ever.Ag, Monument Advocacy, Cornerstone and Viral Nation. Employees and owners of dairy farms that are members of an NMPF member cooperative and under the age of 45, as well as co-op staff, are invited to participate.

Click here for more information and sign up here for program updates.

NMPF Champions President’s Export Council Recommendations after Canada Disappointment

December 06, 2023

The President’s Export Council approved an agricultural trade proposal introduced by NMPF member Land O’Lakes at a Nov. 29 council meeting. The unanimous decision followed a Nov. 27 letter of support coordinated by NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and signed by 35 leading agricultural organizations.

The approved proposal calls on the administration to diversify the U.S. agricultural supply chain, establish a robust agricultural trade agenda, enforce existing trade agreements, and lead on international climate initiatives.

The President’s Export Council is the primary White House advisory committee on international trade. It includes a broad mix of groups, with Land O’Lakes being the sole agricultural voice. To build support for the recommendations, the letter highlighted the importance of agricultural trade for the U.S. economy and the indispensable role that American agriculture plays in achieving global food security.

With a projected food and agriculture trade deficit of $17 billion for 2023, the letter calls on the administration to implement the recommendations and provide the U.S food and agriculture industry an opportunity to meet growing international demand.

The need to prioritize proper enforcement of trade agreements became especially timely after a U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) dispute panel ruling issued Nov. 24 that will allow Canada to continue to restrict market access for U.S. dairy products, weakening the agreement’s principles.

The ruling follows nearly two years of NMPF advocacy and collaboration with the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Agriculture aimed at enforcing USMCA’s dairy provisions.

An earlier panel ruled in January 2022 that Canada had improperly restricted access for U.S. dairy products. In response, Canada made inadequate changes to its dairy tariff rate quota system, resulting in a second challenge by the United States. The decision means Canada is not obligated to make further changes, a disappointment to U.S. dairy farmers and exporters.

“It is profoundly disappointing that the dispute settlement panel has ruled in favor of obstruction of trade rather than trade facilitation,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Despite this independent panel’s adverse ruling, we’d like to thank the Biden Administration and the many members of Congress who supported us for their tireless pursuit of justice for America’s dairy sector. We urge Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack to look at all available options to ensure that Canada stops playing games and respects what was negotiated.”

Despite the discouraging result, NMPF will continue to work with USTR and USDA to address Canada’s ongoing practices to depress U.S. imports and distort dairy trade.

NMPF Submits Comments on Dietary Guidelines Protocols

December 06, 2023

NMPF submitted comments on Nov. 17 on recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) protocols that emphasize the need to include the newer science on dairy fats in their review and to shorten the duration of time required for randomized controlled trial studies.

NMPF comments focused on protocols for two scientific questions: What is the relationship between food sources of saturated fat consumed and risk of cardiovascular disease, and what is the relationship between dietary patterns consumed and risk of cardiovascular disease?

On the first question, NMPF pointed to the complexity of dairy fat and the growing body of evidence that supports dairy consumption, regardless of fat content, does not increase cardiovascular disease. On the latter question, NMPF pushed for a shorter duration to be used for randomized controlled trials. Changes in blood lipid levels in randomized controlled trials can be seen in 3 weeks which is much shorter than the 12 proposed by the committee in this protocol.

These protocols will, when final, inform the conduct of systematic reviews and food pattern modeling that will form the science base of the 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The committee has released the protocols in waves as they are developed. The full comments can be found here.

NMPF Plays Leading Role at U.S.-China Ag Forum

December 06, 2023

Jaime Castaneda, NMPF Executive Vice President for Policy Development and Strategy, traveled to Beijing and Shanghai on Nov. 1-7 to promote the competitiveness and sustainability of the U.S. dairy industry at the U.S.-China Agricultural Trade Cooperation Forum.

Castaneda began the trip meeting with Chinese trade associations to discuss the country’s high agricultural tariffs and other challenges faced by U.S. companies. He then spoke at the forum alongside representatives from other U.S. commodity groups and met with U.S. and Chinese government officials to discuss barriers to trade—including high tariffs, geographical indications restrictions and dairy facility listing requirements.

Castaneda also presented at the Global Dairy Forum hosted by the China International Import Expo, the world’s largest import-themed national-level conference. The event featured a panel discussion with other agricultural organizations and a group media interview. Throughout all discussions Castaneda emphasized that the U.S. dairy industry is committed to the Chinese market and advocated for better trade conditions that will allow American exporters to compete and succeed.

November CWT-Assisted Dairy Export Sales Totaled 5.4 Million Pounds

December 06, 2023

CWT member cooperatives secured 43 contracts in November, adding 4.6 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 231,000 pounds of butter, and 525,000 pounds of cream cheese to CWT-assisted sales in 2023. In milk equivalent, this is equal to 52.1 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. These products will go to customers in Asia and Middle East-North Africa, and will be shipped from November 2023 through February 2024.

CWT-assisted 2023 dairy product sales contracts year-to-date total 46.1 million pounds of American-type cheese, 1.1 million pounds of butter, 26,000 pounds of anhydrous milkfat, 8.3 million pounds of cream cheese and 39 million pounds of whole milk powder. This brings the total milk equivalent for the year to 801.6 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.

NMPF Promotes FARM Program Efforts to Track Antibiotic Use in Livestock

December 06, 2023

NMPF extolled the FARM antibiotic stewardship program in comments filed with the FDA on Oct. 31 as a means of overseeing and promoting the judicious use of antimicrobial products in dairy cattle.

Our comments were filed with FDA related to the Reagan Udall Foundation summary report “Establishing a Draft Framework for a Public-Private Partnership to Support the Tracking of Antimicrobial Use in Food-Producing Animals,” released this summer. The Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration is an independent 501(c)(3) organization created by Congress to modernize medical and veterinary product development and oversight.

NMPF comments addressed:

  • The role of the National Dairy FARM Program in promoting the judicious and responsible use of antimicrobials by U.S. dairy farmers;
  • The important requirements of confidentiality, voluntary participation, and data aggregation for any collection of antimicrobial use data, and;
  • Response to specific FDA requests about cost estimates and oversight.

EPA Calls for Nominations to Animal Agriculture and Water Quality Subcommittee

December 06, 2023

EPA has opened nominations for the Animal Agriculture and Water Quality Subcommittee, a subcommittee of the Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Advisory Committee.

The subcommittee goal is to inform agency decisions on how to improve the implementation of the Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation permitting program to effectively reduce nutrients and other types of water pollutants from animal feeding operations. The subcommittee will help determine whether any revisions to regulations are warranted and whether EPA can otherwise support the efforts of AFO operators to protect water quality.

EPA is looking for a diverse range of qualified candidates, with applications due on Jan. 2, 2024. If interested in serving, please reach out to Miquela Hanselman at The announcement can be found here.

FMMO Hearing Focuses on Price Surface, May End in February

December 06, 2023

NMPF witnesses advocated for a fairer Class I price surface dominated testimony in USDA’s Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing, which resumed Nov. 27 in Carmel, IN. That’s critical for its contributions to the hearing record the Agriculture Department is building to craft a proposal to submit to farmers next year.

Economist Peter Vitaliano continued to anchor NMPF’s testimony, joined by multiple co-op experts explaining the effects of a modernized formula taking account of differing cost structures for milk production in various regions of the country. With NMPF’s Proposal #19 taking the bulk of the hearing time over a scheduled two-week period, the team effort highlighted the unanimous co-op unity that’s allowed NMPF to lead the discussion, aided by organizations such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Milk Producers Council that are aligned with NMPF positions and show broader farmer and industry support for the proposal.

The hearing itself, however, is becoming significantly delayed, with an original timeline of wrapping up in mid-October now being pushed as late as early February due to venue availability and delays for holidays. That potentially may cost millions of dollars to farmers who would not benefit from the improved component pricing, modernized Class I price surfacing and the return to the “higher of” Class I mover. NMPF continues its thorough preparation for all scenarios.

DMC Margin Gains $1 in October

December 06, 2023

The Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program margin in October saw another significant monthly increase, as the futures markets had been anticipating. The all-milk price rose $0.60/cwt from September to $21.60/cwt., and the October DMC cost was down by $0.40/cwt to $12.16/cwt., mostly due to a lower corn price. The October margin was therefore $9.44/cwt, generating just a 6-cent margin payment for coverage at the $9.50/cwt Tier 1 level.

The dairy and grain futures markets are anticipating the substantial increases the DMC margins  have made over the past three months, from $3.52/cwt in July to October’s $9.44/cwt, have hit pause, and the margin will remain at or modestly below the $9.50/cwt level for the next several months.