Fake Milk Guidance Generates NMPF Push

June 02, 2022

As a summer deadline for FDA guidance on the labeling of plant-based alternatives approaches, NMPF staff have been in communications with key administration officials and Capitol Hill lawmakers pressing to ensure transparency and integrity in the use of dairy terms and labeling – all the while maintaining the public drumbeat for positive change.

NMPF leadership held a call with FDA and administration officials May 16, discussing dairy’s main arguments for an FDA guidance that reaffirms the agency’s own commitment to enforcing its standards of identity for product labels, which in the case of milk is clearly defined as a dairy product. Allies on Capitol Hill are also being engaged to keep pressure on FDA to stand up for consumers and end the marketplace confusion over the nutritional value of plant-based vs. dairy products.

And finally, NMPF has been devoting its recent Dairy Defined columns to the issue, focusing on FDA commissioner support for labeling integrity as well as instances in FDA’s own history in which it’s properly defended dairy terms, underscoring that a better approach is possible. NMPF looks forward to a positive outcome on the issue, and is prepared to respond to whatever guidance is offered.

U.S. Monthly Average Milk Price in April Tops March Record

June 02, 2022

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported Tuesday the U.S. average all-milk price was $27.10/cwt, the second straight month of a record high all-milk price and shattering the previous record set in March.

The March milk price, which was not revised in the recent announcement, was $25.90/cwt. That was 20 cents/cwt higher than the previous record, in September 2014, and only the fourth time the monthly milk price has been above $25.00/cwt.

Dairy futures prices as of the end of May indicated that the monthly all-milk price would stay in the range of April’s price through this fall.

USDA reported the April DMC margin was $12.29/cwt, a gain of $0.74/cwt over the margin for March. The April DMC feed cost rose $0.46/cwt, driven entirely by a higher corn price, while the soybean meal price declined, and the premium alfalfa price showed a small increase.

NMPF Push on Canadian USMCA Compliance Results in Second USTR Case on Dairy Access

June 02, 2022

NMPF’s championing of the need to use the full arsenal of U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement enforcement tools to tackle Canada’s lack of compliance with its dairy market access obligations saw USTR launch an additional dispute settlement case on May 25. Just over a week prior, on May 16, Canada published as final a revised set of USMCA dairy tariff rate quota (TRQ) rules, which failed to fix its USMCA-violating practices. To address the additional problems Canada’s revised approach has raised and to defend the integrity of the agreement, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office announced it was bringing an additional case.

“Prime Minister Trudeau regularly pledges Canada supports a rules-based global order built on cooperation and partnership, yet Canada continues to flout these trade commitments and plays games rather than meet its signed treaty commitments,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Dairy farmers appreciate USTR’s continued dedication to aggressively pursuing the full market access expansion into the Canadian market that USMCA was intended to deliver. At the same time, given Canada’s history of persistent violations and the high likelihood Ottawa will once again disregard its USMCA obligations, USTR and USDA must be prepared to deploy the strongest-possible retaliatory measures envisioned under the USMCA should this ‘whack-a-mole’ approach continue. Canada’s actions must have consequences.”

The latest step came after repeated meetings by NMPF and USDEC staff with USDA and U.S. Trade Representative officials to urge further action in anticipation of Canada’s announcement that it would make only minor cosmetic changes to its dairy USMCA tariff-rate quota (TRQ) system. Those changes fall well short of the reforms both organizations have insisted are needed for Canada to meet its commitments under the trade agreement.

A USMCA dispute settlement panel, initiated by the U.S. government at NMPF’s urging, found in January that Canada has not complied with its dairy market access commitments. Canada responded to the ruling in March with a proposal to “modify” its dairy TRQs, which NMPF and USDEC soundly rejected as it failed to incorporate real reforms. Despite the subsequent rejection from the Administration and Congress, Canada forged ahead on May 16 in publishing the TRQs without any consequential changes. In response, USTR indicated its intent to challenge those new rules.

Canada’s dairy TRQ system is also facing a dispute settlement process initiated by New Zealand under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a process that echoes some of the concerns raised by the U.S. government.

USTR Amplifies NMPF Concerns on Common Cheese Names in Key Report

June 02, 2022

NMPF push for U.S. action to address the EU’s campaign to claim exclusive rights to use common food names like “parmesan” and “feta” were highlighted in by the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office in an April 27 report on intellectual property impediments around the world.

USTR included in its annual Special 301 Intellectual Property Report  numerous policy concerns raised in January in a joint filing by NMPF and USDEC and also detailed in a separate filing by the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), which NMPF’s trade policy team staffs.

Echoing alarms raised by NMPF, USDEC and CCFN, the USTR report outlined global challenges on intellectual property issues, describing in detail the European Union’s (EU) campaign to eliminate competition in the global marketplace by restricting the use of common food and beverage terms.

“As part of its trade agreement negotiations, the EU pressures trading partners to prevent any producer, except those in certain EU regions, from using certain product names, such as fontina, gorgonzola, parmesan, asiago, or feta,” USTR’s report noted “This is despite the fact that these terms are the common names for products produced in countries around the world.”

While NMPF appreciates the accurate diagnosis of the EU’s deliberate global strategy, the organization is asking the administration to develop a proactive common food name strategy to counter EU efforts. The government has a broad range of tools at its disposal, including Free Trade Agreements, the upcoming Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations and Trade and Investment Framework Agreements, which should be used to establish concrete market access protections with U.S. trading partners around the world.

NMPF Leads on Supply Chain Issues in White House, USDA, Congressional Engagement

June 02, 2022

NMPF staff joined USDEC leadership engaging policymakers in meetings at the White House and USDA, as well as with leading members of Congress, in meetings May 12 on export supply chain issues. The group underscored the importance of the pop-up sites USDA launched earlier this year in Oakland and Seattle, and emphasized additional potential remedies, including:

  • Preferential port access for ocean carriers that maximize agricultural export carriage
  • Resuming the weekly Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report
  • 24-hour ag export pop-up sites at inland ports; and
  • Dual-turn facilitation of containers. A dual-turn allows containers delivering imports to an inland location to be provided directly to a nearby export-focused shipper, rather than being returned empty to the coast.

On May 25 USDA announced that it would begin accepting applications for the Commodity Container Assistance Program (CCAP) at the ports of Oakland and Seattle. Under the program, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is providing a $125 per container payment to assist exporters with the additional logistical expenses associated with picking up empty shipping containers to be filled with agricultural commodities and will also provide payments of $200 per dry container and $400 per refrigerated container to help cover additional logistical costs associated with moving the shipping container.

NMPF touted this additional step to support dairy exports as president and CEO Jim Mulhern noted, “While we continue to seek solutions from the carriers and from Congress, these steps by USDA demonstrate their understanding of our industry’s challenges. We feel they are positive, focused investments that will offer immediate relief to our dairy exporting cooperatives.”

NMPF remains among the most active agricultural industry voices pushing for progress to resolve the export supply chain crisis through a full-spectrum approach, engaging policymakers, driving policy and educating the public.

NMPF also commended a House bill introduced on May 13 by Reps. Angie Craig (D-MN) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) that would create a dedicated task force within USDA designed to support American agriculture by shoring up the supply chain, increasing government coordination and preventing future issues. The bill unanimously passed the House Agriculture Committee on May 18. The language in this stand-alone bill parallels language in the existing COMPETES Act, now in conference.

Finally, NMPF’s senior vice president of trade policy, Shawna Morris, addressed dairy industry concerns as part of a May 18 webinar, hosted by Hoard’s Dairyman. Shawna focused on NMPF’s policy efforts. The lively and informative panel, which remains available for viewing, included perspectives from the Port of Oakland, a dairy exporter and an expert academic.

Member CEOs Meet at NMPF Office

June 02, 2022

In light of the many recent leadership transitions at NMPF’s member cooperatives – half of the members have changed CEOs within the past three years – NMPF hosted informational meetings May 9-10 to provide background materials and resources to these executives and discuss overall organizational strategy and mission priorities at NMPF, part of the ongoing discussion of how to best serve dairy farmers and the entire sector.

Five cooperative CEOs attended, with one joining via Zoom, for the deep dive on NMPF governance, budgets and staff resources and policy priorities.

Task Force Recommends Next Steps in FMMO Modernization Work

June 02, 2022

The task force of milk marketing experts from across NMPF’s membership met May 12 to review and approve a series of recommendations about how to improve the Federal Milk Marketing Order program.

The meeting at NMPF’s office was the next step in refining proposals to modernize and improve the price determination under the FMMO system. The Task Force reached unanimous agreement on a number of recommendations for improving our current pricing system and is expected to make several more recommendations before its work concludes.

The full NMPF Economic Policy Committee will review the Task Force’s proposals at their next meeting on June 6th, followed by a Board of Directors review of the proposals at their meeting June 7-8. NMPF will conduct additional member and industry stakeholder outreach over the summer.

FARM Unveils Online Modules for Calf Care and Quality Assurance Program

June 02, 2022

The FARM Program announced May 11 that farmers raising dairy calves have access to new training resources and certification through the Calf Care and Quality Assurance (CCQA) program. CCQA promotes a way of thinking that prompts calf raisers to approach management decisions with thoughtfulness and an appreciation for the responsibility they have to their animals, consumers, the environment and the broader cattle industry.

The science- and outcome-based program was developed with an understanding of the diversity of calf-raising enterprises while maintaining facility type and size neutrality. While the practices identified in the animal care reference manual are not the only practices that can meet the desired outcomes, the program provides a framework that serves as a resource for anyone working in the calf-raising industry.

In addition to the manual, online modules and self-assessment tools, CCQA will release an audit tool later this year. Completion of the CCQA online modules provides certification equivalent to Beef Quality Assurance certification.

Certification through CCQA helps ensure optimal calf health and welfare and is the first, collaborative educational tool that provides guidelines for calf raisers. The CCQA program is a joint initiative led by the FARM Program and the Beef Quality Assurance program, with support from the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association and the Veal Quality Assurance program.

Application Deadline for FARM Beef Quality Assurance Award Approaching

June 02, 2022

The application deadline for the FARM Program and Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program’s annual joint award is June 10.

The award will recognize an outstanding dairy farmer that demonstrates excellence in animal care and handling principles. Applicants must also demonstrate a strong desire to continually incorporate BQA principles on their farms while encouraging others to implement the producer education program. Winners will receive a round trip to New Orleans, LA to attend the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show.

The FARM Program is a proud BQA partner. BQA is a nationally coordinated, state-implemented program that provides information to U.S. beef producers, including dairy farmers, and beef consumers about how common-sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA guidelines are designed to make certain all beef consumers can take pride in what they purchase – and can trust and have confidence in the entire beef industry.

Click here for more information and to apply.

May CWT-Assisted Dairy Export Sales Totaled Nearly 19 Million Pounds

June 02, 2022

CWT member cooperatives secured 57 contracts in May*, adding 5.0 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 49,000 pounds of butter, 13.0 million pounds of whole milk powder and 679,000 pounds of cream cheese to CWT-assisted sales in 2022. In milk equivalent, this is equal to 147 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. These products will go customers in Asia, Central America, Oceania and South America, and will be shipped from May through December 2022.

CWT-assisted 2022 dairy product sales contracts year-to-date total 47.7 million pounds of American-type cheese, 95,000 pounds of butter, 5.0 million pounds of cream cheese and 28.5 million pounds of whole milk powder. This brings the total milk equivalent for the year to 690 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.

*Awaiting confirmation on one bid offer

2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines Kick Offs, NMPF Submits Comments

June 02, 2022

NMPF submitted comments on the proposed scientific questions for the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) May 16, emphasizing NMPF’s shared priority with USDA and HHS of ensuring all Americans have access to nutrient-dense, healthy foods. NMPF also requested the opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the inclusion and exclusion criteria that will apply to the systematic review as this has led to some dairy-focused studies not making the cut in the past. The full, detailed comments can be found here.

The Dietary Guidelines are important as they form the basis of federal nutrition policy and programs including the National School Breakfast and Lunch programs. The development of the new version can be lengthy, with the next steps including selection of the Scientific Advisory committee and their review of the evidence.

The 2020-2025 guidelines retained dairy as a separate group and continued to recommend 3 servings of low-fat and non-fat dairy products in the Healthy U.S.-Style Dietary Pattern. NMPF will continue to monitor and advocate for dairy in the DGAs throughout the entire process.