Additional Pandemic Payments Announced after Months of NMPF Advocacy

February 01, 2023

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) commended Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and leading congressional dairy advocates on Jan. 23 for providing $100 million in additional, targeted payments under the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program. The assistance will aid medium-sized and larger producers who missed out on equitable payments during the first round of assistance in 2021 and comes after nearly a year-and-a-half of NMPF effort in tandem with congressional allies.

“While losses due to the combination of unforeseen market circumstances and an inadequate Class I pricing system have not been fully remedied, USDA and congressional efforts will aid thousands of dairy producers who otherwise would have absorbed losses created by policies that didn’t work for them,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “It’s not every day that lawmakers step up and resolve a problem that could have been left to lie. We never gave up, and we’re pleased that others didn’t either.”

NMPF singled out for praise, along with Vilsack, Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-GA); Jim Costa (D-CA); David Valadao (R-CA); Kat Cammack (R-FL); Josh Harder (D-CA); Kim Schrier (D-WA); and Andy Harris (R-MD) as well as Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) for their efforts, which directly reflect their dedication to the dairy farmers who live in their districts and nationwide. “The leadership of these lawmakers, and others, were critical in ensuring that available USDA funds were directed toward their best use – making life fairer for dairy farmers,” Mulhern said. “It’s heartening to see such effective leadership for our industry on Capitol Hill as well as in the administration.”

In this round of payments, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will make PMVAP payments to eligible dairy farmers for fluid milk sales between 5 million and 9 million pounds from July through December 2020. This level of production was not eligible for payment under the first round of the PMVAP, which capped payments at 5 million pounds during that same period. Payment rates will be identical to the first round of payments, which distributed $250 million in assistance to 25,000 dairy farmers. This new round of payments will be made using the $100 million that remained unspent from the initial round.

USDA will again distribute monies through agreements with independent handlers and cooperatives, with reimbursement to handlers for allowed administrative costs. USDA will contact handlers with eligible producers to notify them of the opportunity to participate. More details on the program were included in an NMPF Member Alert sent on Jan. 24.

NMPF will continue in its efforts to remedy losses among dairy farmers of all sizes, as well as for those farmers unable to receive program funds because their milk was not pooled on a Federal Milk Marketing Order but still endured comparable price losses.

U.S. Government Plows Ahead on Canadian USMCA Compliance

February 01, 2023

NMPF lauded the administration’s Jan. 31 announcement that the U.S. had requested a second U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) panel to evaluate Canada’s compliance with its USMCA dairy market access obligations. The decision pushes forward the dispute settlement process, slightly more than a month after the U.S. requested consultations with Canada on an expanded set of USMCA dairy tariff-rate quota (TRQ) commitment violations.

Since USMCA’s implementation, Canada has continually flouted the agreement’s TRQ provisions, giving preferential treatment to Canadian processors at the expense of American dairy exporters and Canadian consumers. When this breach was initially confirmed by the first USMCA dispute panel, Canada responded by making only insignificant changes to its TRQ policies. This latest move challenges the persistent problems remaining in Canada’s dairy TRQ system.

NMPF and USDEC have worked closely with the U.S. Trade Representative and USDA throughout the dispute to support their case and demonstrate Canada’s lack of compliance with its USMCA commitments.

Focus on Farm Bill Begins After Tumultuous Speaker Election

February 01, 2023

The tumultuous start to the 118th Congress has implications for the farm bill due later this year, as changes to House procedures may lead to a more free-wheeling approach to passing legislation.

Following a midterm election that saw Republicans win control of the House of Representatives by a smaller margin than anticipated, the opening of the 118th Congress saw the most contentious race for Speaker of the House in a century, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) prevailing after 15 ballots once a handful of members agreed to drop their opposition following an agreement on overall House rules and floor procedures.

McCarthy gained by victory by making agreements with a small group of recalcitrant Republicans, which include plans to allow a wider array of floor amendments to be debated and voted on major pieces of legislation this Congress. This may have significant implications for the next farm bill. While past farm bill debates have featured scores of amendment votes, the last House floor farm bill debate in 2018 included fewer amendments.

McCarthy’s election also allowed House committees to organize. Reps. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and David Scott (D-GA) have formally become the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, respectively, and will be the House’s farm-bill drivers. Separately, and with significant importance for key dairy trade and tax issues, Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) won a contested race to become Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee while Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) will serve as the committee’s Ranking Member, continuing in his position as its top Democratic member.

The House farm-bill process is already underway. Chairman Thompson led a bipartisan delegation of members in January to Harrisburg, PA for a farm bill listening session at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. NMPF staff attended the session, which featured multiple dairy speakers voicing support for maintaining and tweaking the Dairy Margin Coverage program and improving the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, including restoring the Class I mover to its previous ‘higher of’ formula on account of the asymmetric risk farmers bear under the current mover.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate kicked off the new Congress more quietly. But Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) have also signaled a quick start to the farm bill process. The duo plans to continue holding farm bill hearings this winter and spring. NMPF looks forward to working with the House and Senate to finalize a farm bill this year that maintains and improves current policy regarding dairy safety net and risk management issues, conservation and sustainability, trade, and nutrition.

NMPF Advances Sustainability Leadership, Member Service with Staff Promotions

February 01, 2023

NMPF named Nicole Ayache its first ever chief sustainability officer and Emily Yeiser Stepp the first ever executive director of its National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, bolstering its sustainability leadership and member service in staff promotions announced Feb. 1.

NMPF also elevated Louise Kamali and Sage Saffran in recognition of their growing and expanding roles with the organization. Kamali is becoming Vice President, Meetings and Office Services, while Saffran has been promoted to Manager, Sustainability Initiatives.

Each staff member brings unique talents to NMPF, Mulhern said.

“As dairy cooperatives continuously improve their own sustainability and develop new opportunities to benefit their members and their communities, NMPF is excited to have Nicole leading our work in the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “As the leader of the FARM Program’s Environmental Stewardship initiative, Nicole has already shown how dairy leads agriculture in best practices and stewardship principles. By expanding her role, we are ensuring that both FARM and NMPF’s efforts in these areas will grow under energetic leadership.”

Yeiser Stepp’s new position as Executive Director of the FARM Program comes after nearly five years leading FARM’s strategic initiatives for the U.S. dairy industry’s social responsibility program, encompassing animal care, antibiotic stewardship, biosecurity, environmental stewardship, and workforce development. She first joined FARM, a joint initiative of NMPF and Dairy Management Inc., in 2016 and has been integral to its rapid expansion and increasingly central role in U.S. dairy.

“Emily’s new role reflects her success in leading our comprehensive efforts to develop FARM as one that assists farmers and the entire dairy producer community in addressing and communicating its record of success in managing high quality animal care, as well as farm biosecurity and workforce development,” Mulhern said. “Her strong record of achievement in working with a wide range of industry stakeholders, of managing a growing staff, and of staying ahead of rapidly evolving industry challenges positions her well for her new role – and NMPF for continued success benefiting from her leadership.”

Louise Kamali’s promotion to Vice President, Meetings and Office Services recognizes her significant and long-standing contributions to the efficient and effective management of numerous organizational meetings as well as the internal administrative functions for both NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, with which NMPF shares office resources.

“Louise is a unifying presence within our jointly operated office, dedicated to making sure that NMPF and USDEC staff have the tools, assistance, and resources necessary to achieve their best on-the-job results,” Mulhern said. “Whether working with service providers or meeting facilities — or most importantly, our members — as a frontline representative, her expertise, attention to detail, and thorough knowledge of the many moving parts of our organizations continue to significantly and successfully bolster our efforts in ways large and small.”

Kamali has more than 31 years of association experience. February marks her 21st anniversary with NMPF.

Sage Saffran has been promoted to Manager, Sustainability Initiatives. Her new role reflects her expanded responsibilities in managing internal operations for the FARM Environmental Stewardship (ES) and Workforce Development (WFD) programs. Saffran oversees the evaluator training for both initiatives; she also coordinates efforts with FARM team members and contractors to grow evaluator and farmer resources, improve database functionality, develop communications, and promote stakeholder engagement.

In addition to her work with FARM, Sage contributes to important NMPF initiatives, such as the internship program, the Young Cooperators program, and the annual scholarship raffle.

“Since joining NMPF two years ago, Sage has quickly asserted herself as key to the FARM team’s progress and expansion,” Mulhern said. “Her contributions are highly valued, and we look forward to her continued growth as an essential part of NMPF.”

FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine Testing Feed Samples for PFAS

February 01, 2023

NMPF staff met with the Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA CVM) after learning that FDA has started a new sampling project to explore levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in livestock feed samples The assignment will help the dairy industry understand if PFAS chemicals are getting into feed or not and if so at what levels. NMPF believes that no PFAS will be found, which will help push back on those who try to portray this as a dairy issue.

The project is set to run through the year, and FDA has assured NMPF it isn’t focused on dairy and is intended only to gain more knowledge around PFAS. FDA CVM plans to collect 60 different samples from randomly selected locations throughout the country. The samples will comprise 20 corn silage, 20 alfalfa hay and 20 corn grain samples. To date, 27 samples have been collected and 14 have been tested. All have come back non-detect for PFAS. These results thus far are unsurprising, given that all PFAS chemicals are synthetic and shouldn’t be present on a farm or in crops grown on a farm unless the farm is adjacent to a military base, landfill, industrial site, or land applied sewage sludge to cropland.

PFAS encompasses a group of 5,000 synthetic chemicals, commonly used in non-stick products and firefighting foam. Concerns over their potential environmental and health impacts continued to gain awareness over the past decade. A handful of isolated incidents have directly impacted dairy farms, in some instances, preventing farmers from shipping milk. However, PFAS continues to be a water-centric issue, with hundreds or thousands of drinking water sources contaminated. Little to nothing is known about how PFAS is transferred through the food chain. NMPF will continue to work with FDA and monitor the findings of this feed study.

CWT Supports 138.2 Million Pounds of Dairy Exports in 2022

February 01, 2023

Year-end tallies indicate that Cooperatives Working Together (CWT)-assisted sales rose in 2022, as the program did its part in supporting a record year for U.S. dairy exports.

Member cooperatives in 2022 secured 695 contracts, adding 98.0 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 657,000 pounds of butter, 30.7 million pounds of whole milk powder and 8.8 million pounds of cream cheese to CWT-assisted sales. In milk equivalent, this is equal to 1.212 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. On a product volume basis, this is equal to 138.2 million pounds – up 6% (+7.9 million pounds) from 2021. Product destinations include Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, Middle East-North Africa, Oceania, and South America.

CWT provides a means to move domestic dairy products to overseas markets by helping to overcome U.S. dairy’s trade disadvantages supporting dairy-product exports 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.

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 Communicates Dairy Priorities to New Ag Trade Representatives, Congratulates Hill Leaders

February 01, 2023

NMPF and USDEC sent a letter on Jan. 23 to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip and USDA Under Secretary of Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor congratulating them on their confirmations and detailing the market access and trade priorities that NMPF is looking to advance in 2023 and beyond.

After many months of delay, Congress finally confirmed McKalip and Taylor at the end of 2022. NMPF and USDEC strongly supported both McKalip and Taylor’s nominations and called on Congress to quickly confirm both nominees throughout the delay. NMPF looks forward to working with Taylor and McKalip to expand market access and push for other dairy priorities.

NMPF and USDEC also sent letters congratulating the new leadership of the House committees responsible for agricultural export promotion efforts and trade policy. The letters to Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA), and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) relayed NMPF and USDEC’s dairy trade priorities, including increased funding for the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs, stronger protections for common names like “parmesan” and “feta,” and a more ambitious approach to tacking barriers to U.S. dairy exports.

NMPF will work closely with both committees to heighten the Congressional focus on agricultural trade issues in the coming year.

EPA Releases Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15; Announces CAFO Study

February 01, 2023

A new EPA plan to study and develop PFAS pollution limits and other measures is underway, NMPF was notified on Jan. 20, before the agency released its multifaceted Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15.

The plan lays out how the agency will develop technology-based pollution limits and conduct studies on wastewater discharges from industrial and other sources. Specifically, the plan focuses on evaluating nutrient and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) discharges.

The plan includes conducting a new study on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), examining the extent to which CAFOs discharges from production and land application areas reach waterways that fall under the Waters of the U.S. rule. The study will take years to complete; in addition to it EPA wants to gather information on new technologies and practices aimed to reduce discharges coming from the production and land application areas.

EPA will also look at the economic vitality of the regulated community as any future changes must be economically feasible. This information will then be used to determine if a revision to the effluent and pretreatment standards is warranted.

NMPF will work with EPA and monitor this issue closely.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol Survey Open Through March 14

February 01, 2023

NMPF, along with USDEC, Newtrient, IDFA (International Dairy Foods Association), and dairy companies, are participating in a coordinated effort through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to develop messaging for U.S. dairy organizations to consider when crafting their response to the GHG Protocol’s Survey on Need for GHG Protocol Corporate Standards and Guidance Updates. The survey, due Mar. 14, is a welcome opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions to the standards that shape the sustainability data requests that customers make of their dairy suppliers.

GHG Protocol’s standards provide the globally recognized methodologies for measuring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including the Scope 3 emissions tracking that FARM Environmental Stewardship enables. Companies across all industries, including within the dairy supply chain, use these standards for their GHG reporting because they underpin prominent GHG reporting frameworks, such as the Science Based Targets initiative and the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.

Several of GHG Protocol’s standards and guidance documents have not been updated in more than a decade. As such, this is a rare opportunity to share U.S. dairy’s perspective and encourage updates to make GHG accounting and reporting more practical to implement.

2022 Ends with No DMC Payments; 2023 May Be Different

February 01, 2023

The December DMC margin was $9.76/cwt, down $1.13/cwt from the month before but still above the $9.50/cwt threshold for federal payments at the highest insurance level. Much of this decline was contributed by a $0.90/cwt fall in the U.S. average all-milk price, to $24.70/cwt. The DMC December feed cost rose $0.23/cwt from November, on higher corn and soybean meal prices.

The DMC margin fell below the highest coverage level of $9.50/cwt during just two months of 2022, as record high feed costs were generally topped by record high milk prices. This year’s outlook is very different, with the DMC margin currently projected to fall below $9.50/cwt every month until sometime next fall and to average around $8.00/cwt for the year.

Prairie Farms’ Lorilee Schultz Elected to Lead YC Program in 2023

February 01, 2023

Illinois dairy farmer Lorilee Schultz was elected chairperson of the National Young Cooperators (YC) Program Jan. 17 at the program’s biannual Advisory Council and Coordinators meeting. Schultz, a member-owner of Prairie Farms, Inc., manages Mil-R-Mor Farm, a 60-cow registered Holstein dairy in northern Illinois. Schultz will lead the YC Program and represent its interests to the NMPF Board of Directors in this role throughout 2023.

“We provide consumers with safe, high-quality, affordable and nutritionally dense dairy foods, while also contributing significantly to our local economies and being responsible stewards of our resources,” Schultz said. “There are challenges, but I am confident that dairy farmers—and young dairy farmers in particular—are willing and ready to do what we do best: go to work and tackle them head-on. I’ve been in the trenches on the farm 15 years; now I want to look beyond my own farm and do what I can to help strengthen our industry.”

Schultz has served in leadership roles with several industry and community organizations including the National Holstein Foundation and Midwest Dairy Association, but she credits her four brothers for giving her extensive experience “listening to all sides and bringing out the best ideas.” She enjoys dairy cattle judging and helping her nieces and nephews and the farm employees’ children show at their local dairy shows.

Justin and Hannah Watt, owners of Cedar Knoll Dairy LLC in Keymar, Maryland and members of Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, were elected to serve as vice chairpersons.

Established by NMPF in 1950, the National YC Program provides training and leadership development opportunities to dairy farmers under 45. The program aims to enhance producers’ leadership skills to make them more effective managers and more influential leaders through year-round in-person and virtual programming. Click here and subscribe and receive updates from the YC Program.

Applications Now Accepted for NMPF’s Scholarship Program

February 01, 2023

NMPF is now accepting applications for its National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Program for academic year 2023-2024.

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 US 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). Scholarship recipients will be invited to present their research via webinar during the summer of 2023. Top applicants are eligible to be awarded the Hintz Memorial Scholarship, which was created in 2005 in honor of the late Cass-Clay Creamery Board Chairman Murray Hintz who was instrumental in establishing NMPF’s scholarship program.

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.

Applications must be received no later than Friday, April 14, 2023.  For an application or more information, please visit the NMPF website or email

The scholarship program is funded through the National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Fund. If you would like to support the scholarship fund, please consider a donation here.