NMPF Hires Texas Native with Nonprofit Experience as New Executive Assistant to the President and CEO

October 07, 2015

Carrie Hughes, a Texas native with experience in nonprofits, has joined the NMPF staff as executive assistant to President and CEO Jim Mulhern. She will provide administrative support by facilitating day-to-day workflow, coordinating business trips and completing special projects. She replaces Brenda Rowe, who worked under Mulhern for two years.

Hughes has a family history of farming: Her father’s family previously owned a small farm in East Texas, and her aunt and uncle own a ranch in South Texas. Hughes attended Baylor University in Waco, where she majored in political science.

Since then she has received another degree in teaching, and worked for several nonprofits, including the Young Presidents Organization in Texas, and the D.C.-based Arthritis Foundation as administrative coordinator to the vice president of advocacy.

Hughes is attending George Washington University for her master’s in geographical information systems and geography.

FARM Program to Launch Social Properties, New Website at Annual Meeting

October 07, 2015

To help dairy marketers and farmers feed consumers’ hunger for information about where their food comes from, the National Dairy FARM Program will be launching a new website this month. To help share the story of animal care on America’s dairy operations, this October, the FARM Program will be releasing a new suite of communications resources that includes a brand new, consumer-friendly and updated website; a catchy, modern, animated video explaining the program and a blog to talk about animal care.

The FARM Program will also be active on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to cross-promote the content from dairy farmers and co-ops that are active on social media, especially when they’re mentioning or discussing topics that pertain to animal care. This activity is supported by Dairy Management Inc.

The new education tools come at a time when the number of consumers who say animal welfare is important has grown since 2013 from 17% to 31%.  Today, more than 93% of the domestic milk supply comes from farms that participate in the National Dairy FARM Animal Care Program.

Vilsack, Football Coach and Millennial Marketing Expert Head Speaker List for NMPF’s Annual Meeting

October 07, 2015

What do the Secretary of Agriculture, former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, and a world-renowned magician have in common?

All are appearing at NMPF’s annual meeting at the Marriott World Center in Orlando October 26-28. The 2015 meeting agenda, which is nearly complete, also includes a marketing expert specializing in millennials, and panel discussions on two of the hottest issues in dairy farming, humane animal care and renewable energy.

NMPF’s annual meeting is held jointly with the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and the United Dairy Industry Association. The core general session program opens Tuesday, October 27, with the three-hour NMPF Town Hall, at which attendees learn about the Federation’s activities and question staff on the future of the dairy industry.

Millennial marketing expert Jeff Fromm, president of FutureCast, speaks after lunch Tuesday, followed by the panel discussion animal care. Invited panelists include representatives from McDonalds, Starbucks, Kroger supermarkets and Schreiber Foods. Chobani and Walmart are confirmed.

After the panel discussion, NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney and President and CEO Jim Mulhern will present their report on the Federation and its priorities and that evening a Welcome to Florida reception will feature the winners of NMPF’s annual cheese contest.

Wednesday, October 28, opens with the renewable energy panel discussion, featuring Steve Rowe, CEO of Newtrient LLC, a consortium of organizations dedicated to reducing dairy’s environmental footprint. Among other things, Newtrient LLC, helps dairy farmers capture economic value from agricultural by-products.

Tom Vilsack, the longest serving agriculture secretary in nearly 50 years, speaks later in the morning, followed by Tom Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc.

Holtz, one of the most successful college football coaches of all time and a former ESPN analyst, is the closing lunch speaker and magician Bill Herz is the entertainment for the evening banquet.  

In between these major events are board meetings, a dairy bar, networking and sightseeing opportunities, and a raffle to raise money for NMPF’s scholarship program.

Reservations at the Marriot World Center are still available on a space and rate available basis. Attendees can register for the meeting up to the last minute, but a late fee will be charged. See NMPF’s website for the latest registration and hotel information. 

FDA Issues 2 Key Preventive Control Regulations under the 2011 Food Safety Act

October 07, 2015

In early September, the Food and Drug Administration published final versions of two of the longest and most important regulations to be issued under the 2011 rewrite of the nation’s food safety laws.  The regulations spell out good manufacturing practices and preventive controls for producing both human food and food for animals. The human food regulation is 900 pages and the animal food regulation is 600 pages.  NMPF staff currently are reviewing the documents.

The regulations require facilities producing both human and animal food to develop written plans indicating possible problems affecting the safety of their products and the steps they would take to prevent or minimize those problems.

NMPF has been involved in the development of these regulations over several years, advocating on behalf of the dairy industry. A conference call or webinar will be scheduled with NMPF members later this month to review key aspects of the regulations. 

NMPF Staff, Programs Highlighted at World Dairy Summit in Lithuania

October 07, 2015

NMPF staff played leadership roles in September at the 2015 International Dairy Federation (IDF), World Dairy Summit (WDE) held in Vilnius, Lithuania. Before the Summit even started, NMPF staff were active in representing the interests of U.S. dairy farmers and cooperatives in the IDF business meetings, discussing important topics including international trade, process cheese standards, farm management issues, antimicrobial stewardship, animal health, environment and sustainability, food safety, and animal care.

Due in large part to NMPF’s contributions, several staff were nominated to take leadership roles on several of IDF’s standing committees. Dr. Jamie Jonker, Vice President of Scientific Affairs, was elected as Chair of IDF’s Farm Management Committee. Emily Meredith, Vice President of Animal Care, was elected as Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Residues and Chemical Contaminants. Shawna Morris, Vice President Trade Policy, shown above, will also remain as Vice-Chair for US-IDF for another term.

NMPF spotlighted the U.S. dairy industry successes during the WDS, as well. Dr. Jonker presented during the Animal Health and Welfare Conference on the “Antibiotic Stewardship in the United States Dairy Industry,” showcasing the efforts underway to ensure judicious use of antibiotics by America’s farmers. During the same session, Meredith discussed the National Dairy FARM animal care program in a presentation titled “Addressing animal care concerns and building consumer trust through ‘responsible sourcing’ guidelines for dairy producers.”

At the Dairy Farming Conference during the poster session, Dr. Jonker highlighted the on-going preparedness efforts for “A secure milk supply plan for a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in the United States.” During the same Conference, he moderated a panel discussion about risk management on dairy farms, where Morris discussed the new dairy Margin Protection Program. Dr. Jonker also moderated the first IDF Dairy Farm

ers Forum, where dairy farmers from around the

 world discussed common issues of economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

In addition to highlighting the great things happening on U.S. dairy farms, the WDS provided an excellent opportunity for NMPF staff to network and engage with experts from numerous countries. Staff in attendance brought back many ideas that will help inform and improve many NMPF programs. 

September’s CWT Export Sales Contracts Top 13 Million Pounds of Dairy Products

October 07, 2015

Cooperatives Working Together member cooperatives last month captured 52 contracts to sell 13.104 million pounds of dairy products to customers in 19 countries. The 3.4 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 6.5 million pounds of butter and 3.2 pounds of whole milk powder will be shipped from September 2015 through March 2016.

These sales contracts bring the 2015 CWT totals through August to 47.1 million pounds of cheese, 25.7 million pounds of butter, and 35.6 million pounds of whole milk powder. In total, CWT assisted transactions will move the equivalent of 1.272 billion pounds of milk, on a milkfat basis, to customers in 35 countries on five continents. These totals are adjusted for contract cancellations.

Developed by NMPF, CWT is a voluntary export assistance program supported by dairy farmers producing 70 percent of the nation’s milk. By helping to move U.S. dairy products into world markets, CWT helps keep maintain and grow U.S. dairy farmers share of these expanding markets which, in turn, keeps dairy farmer milk prices at reasonable levels.

Producers Have an Extra 7 Weeks to Sign Up for Margin Protection in 2016

October 07, 2015

Dairy producers have more than a month — until November 20 — to sign up for 2016 coverage under the dairy Margin Protection Program.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack extended the enrollment period under the dairy safety net program on September 22, a week after NMPF expressed concern that the original Sept. 30 deadline coincided with the fall harvest in many areas and also with the enrollment deadline for USDA’s Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs.

“A similar extension last fall greatly helped to boost enrollment in MPP for 2015,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “This extension should likewise enhance participation in the program for 2016.”

To help farmers make decisions, NMPF has updated tools at www.FutureforDairy.com, a website serving as a clearinghouse for MPP information. Included is a calculator allowing farmers to estimate future margins based on their forecasts of feed and milk prices.

MPP helps protect against the kind of catastrophic losses that many farmers experienced in 2009 and again in 2012. It allows farmers to insure the difference between milk prices and feed costs. Producers insure their operations on a sliding scale, deciding both how much of their production to cover and the level of margin to protect.

Slightly more than half of U.S. dairy operations signed up in the first MPP enrollment period last fall. The program has issued payments to those with the maximum $8 coverage in each of four bi-monthly coverage windows this year. Under the previous Milk Income Loss Contract program, no payments would have been authorized so far this year. 

NMPF to USTR: Russian Ban on Dairy Imports Is Disrupting Markets, Violating Trade Rules

October 07, 2015

NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council have told the U.S. Trade Representative that Russia’s ban on Western dairy imports, imposed in response to economic sanctions instituted after the invasion of Ukraine, is disrupting global dairy markets and appears to violate international trade rules. 

In comments filed with USTR late last month, NMPF and USDEC condemned the Russian ban and said it was forcing a shift of dairy supplies from Europe to other global markets, where competition for buyers is intensifying. In addition, they said, “Russia’s outright ban on products from the U.S. and other major suppliers for purely political reasons appears to be in violation of its World Trade Organization commitments.”

The two groups urged USTR to prepare for the ban to be lifted by establishing a government list of dairy facilities wanting to export to Russia. “The reality is that if the ban were lifted tomorrow, the U.S. dairy industry would still be cut off from this market due to the facility listing requirement Russia is maintaining in violation of its WTO accession commitments,” they said.

In separate comments on China’s compliance with WTO rules, NMPF and USDEC said some U.S. dairy companies still are unable to ship products to China because of Chinese registration requirements. They urged the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration to make complying with the Chinese rules a priority.

NMPF and USDEC also noted that negotiations are under way between China and the European Union over geographical indications. The two groups expressed “deep concern” about the impact of these negotiations on U.S. exports to China and particularly on opportunities to expand the range of products sold in the rapidly evolving Chinese market. 

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Pact Closes; Impact on US Dairy Not Yet Clear

October 07, 2015

After an intense week of final negotiations in Atlanta, representatives from the 12 countries involved in the Pacific Rim trade deal reached a final agreement early Monday morning, ending more than five years of work on the massive agreement known officially as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Details of the final agreement are slowly emerging, and NMPF is examining them to assess the package’s overall impact on the U.S. dairy industry. The dairy negotiations were among the most difficult and contentious aspects of TPP talks, and dairy was one of the very last pieces of the negotiations wrapped up. Over the years-long duration of this major regional trading agreement, NMPF at each turn has worked aggressively to best position U.S. dairy interests.

As they did during the previous meeting of TPP Ministers in late July, NMPF staff and leadership actively participated in discussions with the negotiating team in Atlanta throughout the week in order to advocate strongly for America’s dairy farmers.

When the TPP effort began, it was little more than a façade for a free trade agreement with New Zealand, in light of the other 3 countries involved. Given the uniquely consolidated structure of New Zealand’s dairy industry, NMPF articulated strong concerns about the prospect of creating a one-way trade agreement with that country.

Eventually, in response to consistent recommendations from NMPF and others, countries with more significant dairy markets — Canada and Japan — were added to this agreement. Those decisions created new opportunities for our industry in TPP that previously had not been possible.   

We are still evaluating the extent of those new opportunities in the final package, as well as the degree of new domestic dairy competition that the U.S. government has agreed to with Australia and New Zealand. Given that dairy was concluded only Monday morning and involves a considerable degree of complexity across various countries and tariff lines, NMPF is withholding its judgment on the final agreement until we are able to review the specifics. 

“Based on information available to date, it appears that our industry has successfully avoided the type of disproportionate one-way street that we were deeply concerned could have resulted under this agreement,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “New Zealand did not get the unfettered access to the U.S. market that it long sought; but Japan and Canada did not open their markets to the degree we sought. On an A through F grading scale for TPP, it was long clear the agreement would not score an A; the preliminary information suggests that the result is not an F. Our assessment of which of the remaining grades the final agreement merits will hinge on a careful analysis of its freshly agreed-upon dairy details.”

The strong and unified insistence from dairy farmers and processors across this country — aligned with dozens of members of Congress — reminded TPP parties throughout the course of negotiations of the risk of agreeing to a harmful dairy outcome. Fresh examples of that support in the final week included strong messages from House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and committee member Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and committee ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a TPP House dairy letter led by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI), a TPP letter on dairy and sugar issues led by Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and a TPP letter on agricultural issues (including dairy) led by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX).

Mulhern and NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney expressed deep appreciation for the strong interest and support from Capitol Hill in the outcome of the agreement’s dairy negotiations.

Read NMPF’s news release on the close of TPP negotiations.