Farm Bill Expires, Government Funding Doesn’t, and FMMO Hearing Soldiers OnOctober 04, 2023
Uncertainty defined dairy in September, as the threat of a government shutdown and the impending expiration of the 2018 farm bill, occurring in the context of a slow-moving USDA hearing on the Federal Milk Marketing Order system, reminded dairy farmers of how much of the policy landscape operates outside their control, even as genuine progress continued in the areas that they could.
Five weeks into USDA’s FMMO hearing in Carmel, IN, a federal shutdown approached on Oct. 1, with government spending authority scheduled to lapse and NMPF experts and analysts readying for an indefinite hiatus in the hearing. Instead, an unexpected extension of funding for 45 days presents allow the hearing to continue USDA’s thorough examination of milk pricing, in which NMPF’s proposals have formed the foundation of discussion and remain the most compelling, comprehensive plan for milk pricing modernization.
“We had unanimous support from our board on our proposals” forged after two years of discussion, NMPF Senior Director of Economic Research & Analysis Stephen Cain said in a Dairy Defined podcast Sept. 18. “We have a well-rounded package that’s supported by the entire industry. So that’s the big piece here, again, is just making sure that we get everything we need to into the record to make sure the USDA has the right information they need to make the best decisions to make sure their orders are operating as effectively as they can.”
As October began, USDA had already heard testimony surrounding most major NMPF-identified topic areas, including the make allowance, milk composition and the Class I mover, and was moving into the Class I price surface, the last major topic of dispute among industry players. Through the hearing, NMPF’s years of preparation has paid off, with well-reasoned, factually grounded positions that work in tandem to help farmers in the entire industry. Opposing NMPF has been a motley crew of processor and niche-farmer interests touting proposals that largely benefit themselves.
For more information on the FMMO modernization effort, visit NMPF’s page on the FMMO hearing here.
As FMMO discussions progressed in Indiana, farm bill action in Washington remains elusive as legislation reauthorizing USDA programs expired Sept. 30. Farm bill expirations have ample historical precedent, with authorization often expiring before a new bill is approved. Agriculture committee lawmakers and NMPF continued to express optimism that a law can be passed before year’s end; if not, historical experience suggests that Congress may seek an extension of current law in late 2023 or early 2024, keeping farm-bill programs such as the Dairy Margin Coverage program in operation. NMPF staff continue to be heavily involved in discussions about both the shape and timing of the farm bill.
Long-Awaited Disaster Assistance Comes After NMPF EffortsOctober 04, 2023
NMPF on Sept. 11 applauded USDA’s announcement it will provide critical, long-awaited financial assistance for dairy farmers affected by natural disasters, which came after years of lobbying the agency for a plan to administer the aid approved by Congress.
The Milk Loss Assistance program administered by the Farm Service Agency will compensate eligible dairy farms and processors for milk dumped due to qualifying disaster events in 2020, 2021 and 2022, including droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms and smoke exposure.
“On top of the challenges created by wild price gyrations and the COVID-19 pandemic, dairy farmers since 2020 have also faced an inadequate federal mechanism for addressing unforeseen weather catastrophes, further straining finances at a time when strains have been hard to bear,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.
“NMPF never accepted that situation, and we’re very appreciative of USDA’s diligent work over several months to finalize the compensation plan that will address this backlog of disaster assistance. We thank Congress for providing this necessary funding, and we encourage both Congress and USDA to find ways to address future natural disasters more quickly. We also urge farmers affected by these disasters to sign up, and we stand ready to assist them as they go through this process.”
Since Congress approved funding in 2021, NMPF has held numerous meetings with FSA (Farm Service Agency) staff highlighting dairy farmers’ disaster needs. Most recently, NMPF helped provide USDA with cost estimates for the program to help speed up its implementation and met with Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie to urge action on the issue. NMPF also sent a public letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging that funds be released quickly and engaged with members of Congress to ensure accountability, among other initiatives.
These efforts came on top of NMPF advocacy for the funds to be included in legislation, a wide-ranging effort that involved grassroots activism and many meetings with dairy champions in Congress. The Milk Loss Program will help farmers and, in certain cases, cooperatives, recover losses previously overlooked by disaster assistance.
Dairy farmers and cooperatives can sign up for the Milk Loss Program through Oct. 16. Affected producers are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible. For eligibility and application information, as well as details about how payments will be calculated, visit USDA’s Milk Loss Assistance program announcement.
DMC Margin Gains Almost $3 in AugustOctober 04, 2023
The August Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) margin was up by $2.94/cwt from July to reach $6.46/cwt in August, 2023’s highest margin since January and the margin’s first monthly increase this year.
As is often the case whenever there is a large monthly margin movement, the milk price was the main driver of the change. The U.S. average all-milk price added $2.30/cwt to July’s level to reach $19.70/cwt in August, the year’s first monthly milk price increase. August feed costs fell $0.64/cwt, mostly due to a drop in the price of corn, although soybean meal and premium alfalfa prices were down slightly as well.
The August margin jump in the margin was the first of several that futures markets expect will raise the margin above the maximum $9.50/cwt DMC Tier 1 coverage level. So far this year, the program has made substantial payments to that coverage level every month.
NMPF Provides Comments to Dietary Guidelines Advisory CommitteeOctober 04, 2023
NMPF’s Regulatory Affairs Director, along with an Olympic athlete (and dairy farmer), told the government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee how dairy is a critical part of American diets that should be considered for its full range of benefits in comments made before the panel Sept. 12.
Miquela Hanselman from NMPF, and Elle St. Pierre, a farmer-member of the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative and a world medalist track athlete who represented the United States in the women’s 1,500-meter race in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, both offered their perspectives on dairy’s role in the diet before the panel that will shape the scientific report informing the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Hanselman’s comments focused heavily on how dairy at all fat levels haven neutral or positive health benefits and how current guidelines work against including the varieties of milk that Americans consume the most.
“With the scientific question focused on sources of saturated fats, this committee has the opportunity to remedy a previous oversight and include the newer science on dairy fats and the dairy matrix,” she said. “Dairy foods, regardless of fat level, appear to have either neutral or beneficial effects on chronic disease risks including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and stroke. This committee shouldn’t default to the overly broad recommendation to avoid saturated fats regardless of food source.”
St. Pierre, a U.S. track and field champion and recent new mom, spoke out against the proliferation of plant-based imitation beverages that offer wildly inconsistent nutritional value, cautioning against any consideration of them as potential dairy replacements.
Plant-based beverages “are so nutritionally different from real milk that whether one views them positively or negatively, their impact on health cannot be assumed to be the same as, or even similar to, that of milk,” said St. Pierre, who lives near Berkshire, VT. “I strongly caution against and oppose any inference that health impacts associated with milk consumption would apply to plant-based milk alternatives.”
Public oral comments are part of the committee’s information-gathering process for the next set of guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is convened every five years by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services to make recommendations for American diets, affecting many federal nutrition programs.
NMPF Reorganizes Staff as Doud Begins ServiceOctober 04, 2023
NMPF announced a significant staff reorganization Sept. 7 as it transitions to new leadership, with incoming President & CEO Gregg Doud beginning work with the organization as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer, a position he will hold until current President & CEO Jim Mulhern retires in January.
“I am excited to announce these changes, which will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our organizational structure,” said Mulhern. “They also recognize the significant contributions of the affected individuals to our overall success in recent years and position the organization well for even greater success in the future.”
As part of the reorganization, NMPF named three Executive Vice Presidents – Paul Bleiberg, Shawna Morris and Alan Bjerga – as part of the reorganization, recognizing responsibilities that are expanding across NMPF teams. Bleiberg will serve as Executive Vice President, Government Relations; Morris as Executive Vice President, Trade Policy & Global Affairs; and Bjerga as Executive Vice President, Communications and Industry Relations.
Other promotions include David West to Chief Administrative Officer; Stephen Cain to Senior Director, Economic Research & Analysis; Beverly Hampton Pfifer to Senior Director, FARM Animal Care; Theresa Sweeney-Murphy as Senior Director, Communications and Outreach; Miquela Hanselman to Director, Regulatory Affairs; and Tony Rice to Director, Trade Policy. Staffers receiving title changes in line with new responsibilities are Chris Galen, who will serve as Senior Vice President of Member Services and Governance, and Claudia Larson, Senior Director, Government Relations & Head of Nutrition Policy.
NMPF, FARM Program at IDF World Dairy Summit, World Dairy ExpoOctober 04, 2023
NMPF and the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program is being well-represented at two key fall events for dairy in October, the International Dairy Federation 2023 World Dairy Summit in Chicago, Oct. 15-19, and the World Dairy Expo Oct. 3-6 in Madison, WI.
The IDF 2023 World Dairy Summit’s Chicago meeting will be the first hosted by the United States since 1993 and is largely the result of NMPF and U.S. Dairy Export Council leadership, complemented by extensive sponsorship and staff support by Dairy Management Inc. and additional support from others in the U.S. dairy industry. NMPF Executive Vice President for Trade Policy & Global Affairs Shawna Morris and Nick Gardner, USDEC’s Senior Vice President for Sustainability and Multilateral Affairs are co-chairs of the event, which will draw a global contingent of dairy leaders and experts from over 50 countries to discuss critical issues for the industry including those pertaining to trade, farming practices, processing innovations, emerging technologies, food safety topics, sustainability issues, and other subjects.
In addition to Morris’ Co-Chair role, NMPF’s presence at the Summit will include remarks by NMPF First Vice chairman Simon Vander Woude, NMPF Animal Health and Wellbeing Committee Chairwoman Karen Jordan, NMPF Young Cooperator Chairwoman Lorilee Schultz, NMPF Executive Vice President for Policy Development and Strategy Jaime Castaneda, NMPF Chief Science Officer and Vice President for Sustainability & Scientific Affairs Jamie Jonker, NMPF Sr. Vice President for Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Clay Detlefsen and NMPF Vice President of Global Economic Affairs Will Loux.
NMPF’s Senior Director of Communicators and Outreach Theresa Sweeney-Murphy has organized the IDF World Dairy Summit’s first-ever Young Farmer Roundtable to build on the success of NMPF’s Young Cooperator program by providing networking opportunities specifically targeted at young farmers from around the world. While in Chicago, NMPF will also hold meetings with key dairy allies and counterparts from other markets. In addition, NMPF is joining US-IDF, USDEC, ADPI (American Dairy Products Institute) and IDFA in co-sponsoring the U.S. reception at the summit on Oct. 15.
The FARM team has supported development of several opportunities for international attendees to visit U.S. dairy farms and facilities in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, and will also have a booth and staff at the event, which is expected to draw 1,100 attendees. Registration is still open here.
At World Dairy Expo, the annual event in Madison, WI, that’s the industry’s largest trade show, both NMPF and FARM are sponsoring events. The FARM booth will be open throughout the week, and highlighted events included Tuesday’s Mooving Cows Seminar presented by Dr. Jennifer Van Os*; Thursday seminars hosted by NMPF’s Young Cooperators; a session on farm policy featuring Land O’Lakes executive Pete Kappelman and NMPF Chief Operating Officer Gregg Doud; and FARM; discussions on Friday featuring NMPF Young Cooperators and Dairy Girl Network present: Tanbark Talk along with a separate discussion on Career Connections.
FARM Program Launches Enhanced Biosecurity InitiativeOctober 04, 2023
The FARM Program announced the launch of FARM Biosecurity – Enhanced on Oct. 4, a new aspect of the FARM Biosecurity Program that includes training and an online database.
FARM Biosecurity – Enhanced, includes an online database to develop and securely store dairy producers’ enhanced biosecurity plans (EBP) and an online training that helps users write those plans. FARM has also developed a FARM Biosecurity – Enhanced Biosecurity Prep Guide and Database User Guide to complement these tools.
Stronger, or enhanced, levels of biosecurity will be needed to protect cattle against the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) found in two-thirds of the world. One FMD case in the United States could shut down movement across the nation of livestock and their products for at least 72 hours.
FARM Biosecurity – Enhanced incorporates the on-farm elements of the Secure Milk Supply Plan for Continuity of Business. The Secure Milk Supply (SMS) Plan for Continuity of Business was designed to help the dairy industry prepare for an FMD outbreak by providing producers with the tools to develop an enhanced biosecurity plan. The FARM Biosecurity – Enhanced database not only securely stores the EBP plans, but with producer permission will share the plans with state animal health officials for their approval to speed up issuing a movement permit in the event of an FMD outbreak.
FARM Biosecurity has two parts: Everyday Biosecurity for common disease threats and Enhanced Biosecurity for highly contagious foreign animal diseases. The FARM Biosecurity resources aim to protect dairy cattle, build resiliency, and future business continuity opportunities for the dairy industry.
NMPF and the National Dairy FARM Program would like to thank the United States Department of Agriculture National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (USDA NADPRP) for funding the FARM Biosecurity initiative through a cooperative agreement and Dr. Danelle Bickett-Weddle with Preventalytics who was instrumental in the development of the FARM Biosecurity resources.
To learn more about the FARM Program or access protocol templates and training aids, visit the FARM website: nationaldairyfarm.com
To learn more about the Secure Milk Supply Plan, access templates, standard operating procedures, movement logs, and more, visit securemilk.org.
2023 Scholarship Winners Webinar on Oct. 24October 04, 2023
To highlight the work of NMPF’S 2023 National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Recipients, NMPF is hosting an online seminar on Oct. 24 from 1-2 p.m. EDT. The scholarship program supports master’s and doctoral students conducting research important to dairy farmers.
This year’s five recipients are researching topics ranging from control of Listeria monocytogenes in dairy processing plants, to choline’s role in hepatic metabolism, to evaluating the effects of management and maternal genetics in beef on dairy systems, and more.
Registration for the webinar is free and can be accessed here.
The scholarship program is largely funded through an annual online raffle fundraiser. Tickets may be purchased through Nov. 15, with the raffle drawing to occur at the close of the joint Annual Meeting. Prizes this year include a $1,000 travel voucher, American Express gift cards, Target gift cards, a Cabot Creamery Premium Gift Box, and more.
Sustaining this program means ensuring that critical dairy research may continue. Organizations interested in sponsoring the scholarship program or the fundraising raffle can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
September CWT-Assisted Dairy Export Sales Nearly 10.4 Million PoundsOctober 04, 2023
Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) member cooperatives secured 30 contracts in September, adding 2.4 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 99,000 pounds of butter, 719,000 pounds of cream cheese and 7.1 million pounds of whole milk powder to CWT-assisted sales in 2023. In milk equivalent, this is equal to 82.2 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. These products will go to customers in Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, South America and Middle East-North Africa, and will be shipped from September 2023 through March 2024.
CWT-assisted 2023 dairy product sales contracts year-to-date total 36.3 million pounds of American-type cheese, 908,000 pounds of butter, 26,000 pounds of anhydrous milkfat, 6.9 million pounds of cream cheese and 38.6 million pounds of whole milk powder. This brings the total milk equivalent for the year to 692.6 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 Supports USDEC in Shoring Up Ties in MexicoOctober 04, 2023
NMPF’s Jaime Castaneda traveled to Mexico on Sept. 25-27 with leadership from the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI) to reaffirm the U.S. dairy industry’s commitment to working with Mexico as a key dairy trading partner.
Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC; Barb O’Brien, president and CEO of DMI; Alex Peterson, Missouri dairy producer and chair of USDEC; and Marilyn Hershey, Pennsylvania dairy producer and chair of DMI; and Castaneda took part in a series of meetings with government officials and local dairy industry leaders.
The delegation spoke to Mexico’s importance as a trade partner for the U.S. dairy industry and the organizations’ commitment to building on the foundation that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement has established. The U.S. delegation emphasized the commonality between Mexico and the U.S. dairy industries and the need to defend dairy’s image and provide nutrition to consumers in both countries.
Castaneda raised strong objections to any geographical indications restrictions that the European Union may seek to convince Mexico to impose if they would limit the ability of U.S. exporters to use common cheese names. He also urged the Mexican government to reject proposed regulatory standards that would create unnecessary barriers to trade.
In talks with allied organizations, NMPF, USDEC and DMI offered to collaborate on efforts to increase milk consumption in Mexico through educational and marketing campaigns.
NMPF Engages on New Federal Supply Chain ProgramOctober 04, 2023
NMPF and USDEC coordinated a Sept. 8 U.S. Department of Transportation briefing on its Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) program to a group of members that have been engaged in the organizations’ supply chain working group.
A novel approach to optimizing supply chain data, FLOW allows U.S. stakeholders including ocean carriers, ports, motor carriers, railroads, warehousers and others to exchange data and better measure cargo traffic demand versus equipment supply. FLOW incorporates elements of the now-defunct USDA Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report, which NMPF and USDEC have long advocated for resuming. The two organizations are also pressing the U.S. government for increased transparency into the export supply chain, including through expanding dairy exporter participation in FLOW.