FARM Biosecurity helps protect dairy’s future

By Miquela Hanselman
Director of Regulatory Affairs, National Milk Producers Federation

Biosecurity may be more top-of-mind than ever in dairy herds in light of how industry practices are changing in reaction to the presence of the H5N1 virus in dairy cows. The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Biosecurity Program has resources that can support dairy farmers as they face evolving animal care challenges.

The FARM Program launched its Biosecurity Program in 2021 via a cooperative agreement with the USDA National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response program. FARM Biosecurity builds on the existing FARM Animal Care Program and Secure Milk Supply (SMS) Plan, providing resources focused on protecting cattle and employee health.

The program includes both everyday biosecurity practices as well as enhanced biosecurity resources. The FARM Everyday Biosecurity Program focuses on preventing disease introduction and spread by building on the good husbandry practices dairy farmers have long included in animal care. Everyday biosecurity practices protect against common diseases like contagious mastitis, respiratory infections, and scours.

Enhanced biosecurity brings the practices developed under the SMS Plan into the FARM program. Though FARM Enhanced Biosecurity was developed to help ensure continuity of business during a foot and mouth disease outbreak, the concepts can help protect against other known disease threats, such as the current highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in dairy cattle.

Take steps now

We are still learning about how HPAI virus spreads among cattle, with more information expected as testing ramps up and federal agencies begin isolating data patterns. Below are some every day and enhanced biosecurity focus areas that help against the spread of many known diseases in cattle. These measures may also help prevent HPAI virus exposure to cattle and the people who care for them. Great first steps are identifying a line of separation, limiting animal movement as much as possible, using premovement testing, and having logs of visitors, deliveries, and animal movements.

Protecting the dairy from exposure:

  • Minimize access of wild birds to cattle and their environment.
  • Manage movements of cattle and their transport.
  • Limit livestock contact to essential people.

Preventing cattle or calf exposure:

  • Avoid feeding raw colostrum or milk to calves, cattle, and other mammals.
  • Follow good milking practices.
  • Separate new or returning animals and isolate sick animals.
  • Sanitize milking equipment after use with new, returning, or sick cattle.

Precautions for animal caretakers:

  • Avoid consuming unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses from suspect or confirmed HPAI cattle.
  • Wear protective gear covering the eyes, nose, mouth, and hands when contacting infected animals, carcasses, milk, or manure.

The enhanced biosecurity prep guide and online training include key biosecurity concepts that can be used during the H5N1 outbreak.

Good biosecurity takes time and practice to be effective, but as current challenges show, more attention to it will be critical to our industry today and tomorrow. Building everyday practices into your routine and having an enhanced biosecurity plan can protect your animals, employees, and business from disease threats.

Visit nationaldairyfarm.com to learn more about biosecurity and access resources, and visit nmpf.org/hpai for the latest updates on HPAI in cattle.


This column originally appeared in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel on June 3, 2024.

NMPF Awarded USDA Grants to Advance Dairy Industry Disease Preparedness

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today was awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) supporting two projects advancing dairy cattle disease preparedness.   

The first award will expand on USDA funding NMPF received in 2021 to build the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM)Biosecurity Program. FARM Biosecurity provides dairy farmers with the tools to protect the health of their herds and employees from everyday and foreign animal diseases. Biosecurity resources developed from the initial 2021 USDA funding are currently being used to respond to the H5N1 animal health issue.  This new funding will expand educational resources and training opportunities for producers, cooperatives, state animal health officials and FARM Program evaluators; update the Secure Milk Supply Plan guidance and further develop the capabilities of the FARM Biosecurity database. 

The second award will bring together stakeholders including dairy cooperatives, milk haulers, milk testing labs, state and federal animal health officials and National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) lab directors to conduct a gap analysis and create a report outlining current capabilities and guidance for industry and policymakers to implement a foot-and-mouth disease diagnostic assay using bulk tank milk samples to provide herd-level disease surveillance in the event of an outbreak. 

“USDA funding for continued enhancement of biosecurity on dairy farms for emerging and foreign animal diseases arrives at a time when the dairy industry is already using USDA-funded resources to address the challenges of H5N1,” Gregg Doud, president and CEO of NMPF, said. “This ongoing collaboration between USDA and NMPF is building resiliency for the U.S. dairy industry now and for the future.” 

The grants are funded by the 2018 Farm Bill as part of an overall strategy to help prevent animal pests and diseases from entering the United States and reduce the spread and impact of potential disease incursions through advance planning and preparedness. USDA has funded the NADPRP projects with the goal of individually and collectively addressing critical livestock biosecurity, large-scale depopulation and carcass disposal concerns in all major livestock industries across all U.S. regions. NMPF will apply the grant funding to advance biosecurity and diagnostic testing capabilities to support animal health on dairy farms by partnering with stakeholders and experts, including dairy farmers, veterinarians, dairy cooperatives and processors, NAHLN laboratories, Preventalytics LLC, and state and federal animal health officials. 

Pushing for Lower Tariffs Worldwide

Jaime Castaneda HeadshotBy Jaime Castaneda, Executive Vice President, Policy Development & Strategy, National Milk Producers Federation

Exports are critical to America’s dairy farmers and processors. Last year, the American dairy industry exported $8.1 billion in dairy products, roughly 17% of total U.S. milk production. That’s the second-best year on record, falling just short of 2022.

As global demand for high-quality and sustainably-produced dairy products will grow, the U.S. dairy industry must keep exports expanding to thrive today and over the long term. To help encourage that, and in the absence of efforts by the U.S. government to secure new market openings, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) have taken the initiative to drive forward projects to pursue Most-Favored Nation (MFN) tariff reductions in multiple key export markets.

U.S. dairy’s quarter-century of export expansion hasn’t been by chance. The strong commitment from U.S. dairy producers and manufacturers to investing in painstakingly growing international sales, coupled with multiple trade agreements that opened the door for that growth to occur, are key drivers of the trend. Unfortunately, in recent years, anti-trade rhetoric has gained momentum from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Meanwhile, major competitors — namely in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand — have successfully negotiated new market access, advantaging their domestic producers through lower tariff rates and favorable trading conditions. The result is that U.S. producers are increasingly at a disadvantage in several key markets, including China and most countries in Southeast Asia.

MFN tariffs are tariff rates that one country applies to imports from all trading partners that are members of the World Trade Organization. Importantly, MFN tariffs do not apply to products that benefit from even lower rates due to preferential trade agreements, such as a free trade agreement or customs union.

Not content to yield key markets to trade competitors, NMPF and USDEC launched a formal initiative in 2014 to lower duties on U.S. dairy exports in China. Following years of engagement, that resulted in a tariff cut on U.S. cheese exports. A few years later in 2019, NMPF and USDEC’s efforts scored another breakthrough by securing tariff reductions on a variety of exported dairy products into Vietnam.

Halfway around the globe, NMPF and USDEC tallied a small victory in March by successfully petitioning the United Kingdom government to eliminate its 6% tariff on fat-filled milk powder for at least two years.

NMPF and USDEC are continuing to pursue MFN tariff cuts in other key markets around the globe as well, with an emphasis on the growing Asian region, even as government initiative is lacking.

For example, the Philippines is a sizable dairy importer, using those inputs in the Philippine food processing and food service sectors. NMPF and USDEC have impressed upon the Philippine government the advantages of diversifying its dairy supply chains further and are petitioning for MFN tariff reductions for a variety of products, including cheese, lactose, and milk powder.

Although these initiatives by NMPF and USDEC cannot fully replace government negotiation of new trade agreements, efforts to drive down tariffs in these countries represent just a few examples of the markets that NMPF and USDEC are prioritizing as they continue to fight for fair opportunities for U.S. dairy producers and companies to compete in the global market.


This column originally appeared in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel on April 4, 2024.

NMPF’S Jonker Discusses Findings of Bird Flu in Cattle in Southwest

NMPF’s Chief Science Officer Jamie Jonker explains to Dairy Radio Now listeners what the implications are of the discovery that bird flu has infected some cattle in Texas and Kansas. As the USDA investigation and more sampling is done, Jonker provides tips to listeners about how they can protect their herds from the contagious virus.

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The Class I Mover Needs to Move

By Paul Bleiberg, Executive Vice President, Government Relations, NMPF

Even as an election looms on the horizon, USDA will soon develop its Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) modernization recommendations after months of proceedings. Meanwhile, Congress is preparing to advance a farm bill. U.S. dairy farmers and their cooperatives have a stake in both. But regardless of the policy landscape of the moment, one pressing priority that unites producers from coast to coast in every way, shape, and form is the need to restore the “higher of” Class I mover.

Since it was implemented five years ago, the current “average of” Class I mover has cost dairy farmers nationwide more than $1 billion in Class I skim revenue, with losses continuing to pile up monthly. This, of course, was not intended — but neither were the repeated price inversions that upended decades of data and showed the new mover is poorly adapted to dairy’s present and future in a variety of economic climates.

Congress changed the mover during the last farm bill to respond to fluid processor requests for risk management, but that was with the expectation that it would be revenue neutral for the dairy producer. Unfortunately, the new mover has been anything but revenue neutral, and it’s been so in a way that has overwhelmingly favored processors, who are not the epicenter of the FMMO system. The new mover has underperformed repeatedly, to the detriment of dairy farmers, in 2020, 2022, 2023, and again, month by month, in 2024. The current formulation has harmed farmers so consistently that it would have been nowhere close to revenue neutral even setting aside the calamity of 2020.

In an attempt to remedy an intolerable situation (everyone, even processors, agrees on that point, at least), several concepts have been put forth that are bandages to the problem but aren’t true solutions. Modifying the current formula, for example, to retroactively recoup producer losses would still fail to send timely price signals to farmers. The argument that this modified version would have paid more to farmers at some point just yet again exposes the problem with the “average of,” which is that it causes farmers to suffer losses when they should have been paid based on market signals and instead distorts the true market by paying them back later. That approach also provides little help to the many family dairy producers who don’t have years to be made whole, a fact underscored forcefully by continued trends toward farm consolidation.

The solution to this problem comes down to priorities. The current mover may have been a fair experiment to test, but with its performance now having been assessed, continuing the “average of” formulation can be to nothing except the detriment of dairy farmers who have lost more than $1 billion dollars of ongoing disorderly marketing of milk.

The right solution is the previous “higher of” mover. That tried-and-true approach, one that served farmers well for decades, responds quickly to and accurately reflects the marketplace, encouraging the orderly marketing of milk that provides the rationale for the FMMO system, and it helps dairy farmer cash flow when it counts. The “higher of” Class I mover must be reinstated.


This column originally appeared in Hoard’s Dairyman Intel on March 4, 2024.

NMPF’s Vitaliano Offers 2024 Dairy Economic Outlook

 

NMPF’s Vice President of Economic Policy Peter Vitaliano provides Dairy Radio Now listeners a look ahead at what farm-level milk prices will do in 2024. Farmers should benefit from lower feed costs, and with milk production expected to remain stagnant again this year, prices should gradually improve.

NMPF’S Cain sums up USDA milk pricing hearing

 

NMPF’s Stephen Cain provides Dairy Radio Now listeners a summary of what USDA will do now that its five-month-long national milk pricing hearing concluded at the end of January. NMPF and other parties will soon submit post-hearing briefs, and the USDA is expected to then weigh the evidence presented by witnesses and issue a draft proposal by mid-summer.

NMPF’s Bjerga on the Urgency of Changing the Class I Mover

NMPF Executive Vice President for Communications & Industry Relations Alan Bjerga speaks with RFD-TV about the need to change the Class I mover in a way that ends losses to dairy farmers that have totaled $1.2 billion since 2019. The mover is in the spotlight with the conclusion of USDA’s Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing in Carmel, IN.

 

Galen Offers Preview of Upcoming Dairy Policy Developments in Early 2024

NMPF’s Chris Galen tells Dairy Radio Now listeners about the major national policy developments expected to top the headlines in early 2024.  These include efforts to fund the government, including agencies like the USDA.  Lawmakers also have to complete work on a new Farm Bill prior before the political focus shifts away from Washington toward the 2024 election campaign.

 

NMPF’s Bjerga on Trade, FMMO

NMPF Executive Vice President Alan Bjerga speaks with RFD-TV about how all of agriculture needs to fight for the integrity of trade agreements in the wake of a USMCA dispute panel decision that failed to protect U.S. access to Canada’s market. The President’s Export Council, with member co-op Land O’Lakes representing farmers, discussed the importance of market access in a White House meeting on Wednesday. Bjerga also talked about the resumption of the USDA Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing in Indiana this week, and how repeated delays aren’t helpful for milk producers.

NMPF Cheese Contest: A Tradition of Excellence

NMPF’s annual cheese contest, held in conjunction with its annual meeting, has evolved from a quality-improvement initiative to a showcase of some of the world’s top cheeses, as produced by NMPF member cooperatives. RFD-TV goes behind the scenes to talk with cheese judges, contest coordinators and winners to show how the contest — which now features other dairy products — encourages the best in NMPF co-ops, and the best in cheesemaking as well.