Burkholders Sustain a Dairy for Generations to Come

In farming, success often means creating an operation that can sustain the next generation. And that requires embracing change. That balance of continuity and innovation is what Clint Burkholder and his family have tried to achieve.

“Things change very rapidly on the farm,” said Burkholder, owner of Burk-Lea Farms near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. “We’re striving to do the best that we can. We care for our animals. We care for the land. We need to treat the animals, treat the environment and everything to the best of our ability, because if we don’t, it won’t be there for the next generation.”

The Burkholder family, a member of Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, milks 850 Holsteins, raises roughly 700 heifers and cultivate 1,400 acres of cropland. Animal care and environmental conservation is part of the business plan; they house their cows in free-stall barns with sand bedding and use cover crops and no-till on their cropland to benefit soil and water quality. The farm also has a manure separation system and a water recirculating system to recycle water.

For more of the family’s story and more profiles of innovative dairy farms, visit NMPF’s Sharing Our Story page.

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NMPF’s Mulhern Speaks at Annual Meeting


NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern speaks at the organization’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV on Nov. 16.

NMPF’s Bjerga on COVID Community Corps

NMPF’s Senior Vice President for Communications, Alan Bjerga, discusses dairy’s leadership in getting farmers and farmworkers vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as NMPF’s membership in the federally led COVID Community Corps, in audio from an interview with RFD-TV.


NMPF’s Sweeney-Murphy Explains Vaccination Resources

NMPF’s Theresa Sweeney-Murphy says confusion can vary by state or even among counties for when for COVID vaccines will be available for essential food and ag workers. “There are 50 states, and they each have different plans for distributing vaccines,” she said in an interview with the Brownfield Ag News She says a new toolbox aims to answer COVID questions and help dairy farmers navigate the continually changing eligibility requirements.

FARM Program’s Yeiser Stepp on Rethinking Dairy Engagement

Emily Yeiser Stepp, NMPF’s vice president for the National Dairy FARM Program, discusses how 2020 changed the way dairy-sector engagement has pivoted into the virtual world. She speaks on RFD-TV.


Biden Immigration Plan the Starting Point for Negotiations

The Biden Administration this week put forward an immigration reform package that would give a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the United States. That plan would give priority to ag workers, but would not expand the H2A visa plan for those ag workers.  Paul Bleiberg of the National Milk Producers Federation joins Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer and John Herath of Farm Journal to sort through the details of the immigration proposal on this week’s DC Signal to Noise Podcast.  The three see the Biden immigration package as an opening offer in what will be a series of negotiations over issues such as the ag exemption for overtime and an expanded H2A program.

Other issues covered in this episode:

    • USDA Ag Outlook projects record corn and soybean acres
    • Climate at the center of USDA Ag Outlook
    • When will CFAP money be released?
    • Update on COVID aid package


NMPF Statement on Proposed Immigration Reform Legislation

In response to the immigration bill introduced today in Congress, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern offered the following statement:

“As a leader in agricultural labor reform efforts, NMPF knows all too well that immigration policy is one of the most controversial and difficult issues to solve. We applaud President Biden, Representative Sanchez, and Senator Menendez for stepping up and leading with the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, making clear that immigration legislation is a significant, immediate priority. Still, reforms to our immigration system must include changes crucial for the dairy workforce. These include extending to current workers and their families the legal protections they have earned and enabling dairy farmers to use a guest worker program to supplement their domestic workforce when needed.

“NMPF looks forward to continuing to work with our policy champions in Congress in a bipartisan manner, as well as the administration, to get ag labor reform across the finish line and secure the stable, legal workforce dairy needs to continue producing affordable nutritious food to feed our country and our world.”

NMPF Calls for More-Equitable Class I Mover as Part of Push for Improved Dairy-Pricing

The National Milk Producers Federation today called for changes to the so-called Class I fluid milk price mover to recover losses dairy producers have faced from the extreme price disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, part of a suite of policies essential to advancing the well-being of dairy farmers and the entire industry in response to challenges brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are seeking consensus across the dairy industry for changes to the Class I mover that remedy economic damage to dairy farmers who have disproportionately suffered as a result of this pandemic,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF, after a meeting of NMPF’s Executive Committee on Friday to discuss policy approaches. “The intent behind the current mover was a revenue-neutral solution to the concerns of fluid milk processors about hedging their price risk. With that balance severely upended due to the pandemic, a modified approach is necessary. We need a solution that provides more equity and balance between farmers and processors.”

The current Class I mover used to price fluid milk in federal milk marketing orders took effect in 2019. It applies a $0.74/cwt adjuster to the monthly average of Class III and IV prices. That replaced the previous Class I formula, which was based on either the Class III or IV price each month, whichever was higher – an approach that worked for farmers but made it more difficult for fluid milk handlers to hedge milk prices using the futures market. The 2019 change was intended to be revenue-neutral and was widely supported across dairy when it was implemented. But the significant gap between Class III and IV prices that has developed during the pandemic has exposed dairy farmers to asymmetrical losses not experienced by processors.

Dairy farmers may lose roughly $800 million in revenues under the current Class I mover, making its re-examination necessary.

NMPF’s Executive Committee on Friday supported a motion directing the organization to explore, with other industry stakeholders, updates to the pricing formula that better protect dairy producers. The committee also discussed other dairy-pricing improvements as part of an ongoing in-depth NMPF examination of important issues related to Federal Milk Marketing Orders. NMPF leadership directed staff to convene NMPF’s Cheese Pricing Task Force to further refine proposals involving both public and private sector organizations that could help address ongoing imbalances in the pricing of block and barrel cheese.

“These issues are challenging and complex, but also crucial to face if we are to best promote prosperity among dairy farmers, their cooperatives, and the entire industry,” Mulhern said.