We Will Meet HPAI’s Challenge

For more than a month now, dairy farmers and the entire industry have been working together to manage a challenge that they didn’t create and didn’t bring upon themselves. As of Monday, farmers are now dealing with new federal mandates that are complicating their livelihoods, even as they’re aimed toward mitigating a very real animal and potential public health risk. And because these challenges revolve around a virus, our circumstances aren’t fully under our control.

But they’re challenges we can meet.

Since Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in dairy cattle was first identified in the Texas Panhandle in late March, we at NMPF have been tirelessly monitoring, learning, and applying new information to the situation as it evolves, answering questions for our members and advocating for dairy’s interests as policymakers and the general public understandably pay increased attention to dairy farms.

As farm biosecurity becomes top-of-mind, we’re proud to say we’ve already been thinking about it, through our FARM Biosecurity initiative, which was initially developed thanks in part to a USDA cooperative agreement. As knowledge of HPAI and its effects on cattle develop, we’re blessed with deep knowledge of animal care and science on our own staff. And as buyers and trade partners ask questions and federal agencies create guidelines, we’ve been able to address concerns and discourage over-reaction due to our credibility and demonstrated leadership in making sure that U.S. dairy is responsible, reliable and ready to reassure based on science and sound judgment.

We’ve also been encouraged by the collaboration we’ve seen throughout agriculture, not just among dairy organizations but with federal and state officials, veterinarians and our colleagues in the cattle, poultry and egg industries, as we share best practices and information on how best to confront what may become a longer-term fixture on dairy’s landscape. We know from others’ experiences that while HPAI may change certain practices, it’s far from fatal to either public confidence or to industries affected by it. HPAI is a situation to be managed, not a cause for panic. Calm communication and coordination with others have helped us respond effectively to concerns and build confidence that our responses will succeed in steadying any disruptions we’ve felt.

So even in uncertainty, there’s much we can do. What we can’t do is declare an early victory over this challenge or predict an endpoint at which these concerns pass. The fact is, there may not be an endpoint. Again, we’re dealing with a virus. Viruses mutate, they spread in ways we don’t fully understand, and they prompt reactions that we can’t fully control. While we are hoping that the end of the spring migration, along with stepped-up biosecurity, herd monitoring and testing, will cause HPAI in dairy cattle to fizzle out, the possibility that this virus could become an ongoing, cyclical concern for dairy farmers is real.

But we’re ready. As we’ve learned these past few weeks, we have an ability to work together, meet challenges, and respond nimbly as circumstances evolve. We are looking forward to rising to meet whatever comes our way, knowing we have the depth, determination and expertise required to make the unexpected manageable, and seemingly daunting tasks the foundation for future success.


 

Gregg Doud

President & CEO, NMPF

 

Doud Takes Reins at NMPF

NMPF began its new year with a new President and Chief Executive Officer, as Gregg Doud succeeded outgoing leader Jim Mulhern on Jan. 1.

“As NMPF’s new president and CEO, I am duty-bound to defend this industry. And because of our farmer and co-op leadership and first-class staff, we defend it well,” Doud said in his first CEO’s Corner, published yesterday. “2024 is also exciting because of the great potential we in dairy have to take the initiative. We can attack as well as defend. 2024 is going to be a great year for this industry. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share in the leadership of this journey.”

Doud has served in numerous leadership roles in trade association and government work in his more than 30-year career in agricultural policy and economics, most recently at Aimpoint Research, a global intelligence firm specializing in agriculture and food. From 2018 to 2021 he served as Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative, appointed by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate, where he led numerous successful efforts to create a fair, prosperous environment for U.S. agricultural exports, including the U.S.-China “Phase One” agreement and the USMCA negotiations.

Before that role, he served as president of the Commodity Markets Council, a trade association for commodities exchanges and industry counterparts; as senior professional staff on the Senate Agriculture Committee; and as chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, among other roles.

Mulhern leaves NMPF with the organization spearheading a once-a-generation update of federal milk marketing orders; with dairy farmers benefiting from a comprehensive federal safety net that features a suite of risk-management programs tailored to farms in all sizes and regions; agriculture-leading initiatives on sustainability and animal care; and undeniable progress in creating a more transparent marketplace for consumers amid the proliferation of plant-based dairy imposters, among other accomplishments.

More Protein, Better Policy: Welcome to 2024

Happy New Year, and what a year 2024 promises to be. Within dairy and throughout agriculture, the refrain that will be often repeated is that this will be the year of protein. In fact, it may be the first of many — if you look out over the next decade, the supply of animal protein in the world – that’s beef, pork, poultry, and dairy — comes nowhere near meeting the demand.

That means U.S. dairy’s emphasis on exports and our international competitiveness will certainly be an area of focus. Dairy farmers and their cooperatives are extremely well positioned to do this: we’re efficient, we can get high-quality products overseas competitively, and our processing capacity is expanding. Our innovation and technology in the dairy industry to expand international markets is second to none. NMPF can support these efforts by continuing our excellent partnership with the U.S. Dairy Export Council and by seeking sound policy that promotes the powerhouse potential of U.S. dairy.

Our Cooperatives Working Together Program will soon be in a position to bring significantly greater resources to bear in supporting market growth for U.S. dairy worldwide – just as our main competitors in New Zealand and Europe take a step back in large part due to regulatory constraints we in the United States have been able to avoid.

We also have room to grow our industry by increasing protein demand at home. A focus on the next generation is critical to achieving this. Last month, the House of Representatives took an important step toward boosting the next generation of milk drinkers by passing the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, which would get whole and 2% milk back on school lunch menus. The vote was 330-99, which gives us high hopes in the Senate next year. Meanwhile, we know that the science behind the health benefits of dairy in all its compositions is only becoming more compelling – and that puts us in a great position as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee meets to craft new nutrition standards that guide federal programs.

More demand for dairy protein and better health, in America and worldwide. If that’s not enough to get an industry excited for the future, I don’t know what could be.

Another critical topic for this year is risk management. USDA’s Federal Milk Marketing Order hearing has been painfully slow, but it’s incredibly important for U.S. dairy producers. Our NMPF game plan and team effort has been outstanding thus far, and we will follow the hearing to its conclusion. We will be prepared to respond as needed to whatever USDA proposes and ensure that the path forward is what’s best for dairy.

A new Farm Bill is also on tap. We’re comfortable this time around with the fundamental structure of the dairy safety net, but there are always improvements to be made, and we’ll be seeking opportunities for positive change whenever they become available.

Of course, federal policy includes much more than just the Farm Bill. We’re excited to see the evolution of greenhouse gas regulation and carbon markets in ways that benefit dairy farmers. We are pushing for faster approvals for feed additives that reduce methane emissions and put us on a path toward consistently improving our environmental footprint. We’re excited to see billions of dollars of investment capital and new technology and innovation flow toward dairy, because it’s not just farmers who believe in this industry’s future – it’s some of the world’s brightest minds and savviest investors.

These are just some of the most immediate opportunities we can meet. Looking only slightly beyond 2024, we will again need to address tax policy and how we can stimulate investment and growth in all of agriculture and rural America. In addition to that are the ongoing, long-term fights where progress is slow, but real. Dairy is chipping away at the market share of plant-based imposter-dairy beverages and making headway with FDA in restricting the use of dairy terms. Our FARM program remains a world-leading customer assurance program that’s protecting this industry from the wildly inaccurate claims of our detractors and competitors.

As NMPF’s new president and CEO, I am duty-bound to defend this industry. And because of our farmer and co-op leadership and first-class staff, we defend it well. But 2024 is also exciting because of the great potential we in dairy have to take the initiative. We can attack as well as defend. 2024 is going to be a great year for this industry. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share in the leadership of this journey.


Gregg Doud

President & CEO, NMPF