North Dakotans vote down corporate dairy measure. Thought to be defeated, California ‘ag overtime’ bill is resurrected. Washington state dairy farmers urged to comment on CAFO permit proposal. This and other U.S. region-by-region dairy news can be found here.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

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North Dakota corporate dairy measure fails

A statewide vote on a referendum to allow non-family corporations or limited liability companies to own and operate dairy or swine farms in North Dakota was soundly defeated.

Senate Bill 2351, “Measure 1” on the ballot, would have allowed corporations to own up to 640 acres for a dairy or hog farm. The bill passed the North Dakota Legislature last year and was signed into law in March 2015.

However, opponents, including the North Dakota Farmers Union, gathered enough signatures to force a statewide vote. About 75 percent of those voting opposed the measure, forcing a repeal.


Following the vote, the North Dakota Farm Bureau (NDFB) filed a lawsuit in district federal court to challenge the state’s anti-corporate farming laws. NDFB president Daryl Lies is asking the court to declare the state’s law unconstitutional because farms don’t have the same right as other businesses to form corporations.

World Dairy Expo unveils 50th Anniversary painting; seats new board members

World Dairy Expo unveiled a 50th anniversary commemorative painting during its summer board meeting and Friends of Expo volunteer picnic.

The painting, completed by artist Larry Schultz of Sunny Beach Farm Studio, showcases iconic moments, animals and people in the event’s five-decade history.

Prints can be ordered from the 50th Anniversary page on the World Dairy Expo website. Paper prints are available in three sizes, including 8”x10”, 16”x20” and 18”x24”. Additionally, a canvas wrap is available in 16”x11”.

Two new World Dairy Expo board members, Randy Gieger and David Cooper, were seated on the board. Gieger owns a herd of registered Holsteins with his wife, Rosalie, near Reedsville, Wisconsin. Cooper serves as the general manager for FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative.

The 50th annual World Dairy Expo will be held Oct. 4-8, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Minnesota dairies earn milk quality recognition

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson released a list of 136 Minnesota dairy herds recognized for milk quality. The herds were cited for average somatic cell counts (SCC) under 100,000 cells per milliliter in 2015.

The SCC list of Minnesota dairy farms is online.

Wisconsin officials take dairy message to Mexico

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker joined Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Production (DATCP) secretary Ben Brancel at the 2016 International Conference on Dairy Cattle (CIGAL) Dairy Trade Show, held in June in Jalisco, Mexico.

Mexico is Wisconsin’s second-largest export destination, agricultural product sales totaling more than $290 million in 2015. Jalisco has been Wisconsin’s sister state since 1990.

A Wisconsin pavilion at CIGAL features booths and displays specially designed by DATCP.

Minnesota partners with Land O’Lakes on water quality program

Minnesota’s state government and Land O’Lakes Inc. have created a public-private partnership to help farmers improve water quality.

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary program for farmers and landowners to implement conservation practices protecting and improving the state’s water resources. Since its inception in 2014, the program has certified over 150 farms totaling more than 83,000 acres.

Through the public-private partnership, Land O’ Lakes will work to expand participation in the program through their ag retail network. Farmers implementing and maintaining approved farm management practices will be certified and, in turn, obtain regulatory certainty for a period of 10 years.


Washington state CAFO permit proposal comment period open

Washington state dairy farmers have until August 17 to comment on a Department of Ecology proposed environmental permitting process for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Under the proposal, CAFOs with groundwater discharges would require a state-only permit, but may opt into a combined state/federal permit. CAFOs with discharges to surface water would require a combined state/federal permit.

The new permit is estimated to cover 150 to 200 Washington dairies and up to 95 percent of all dairy cows in the state. Herds with fewer than 200 mature cows would be exempt.

The Department of Ecology has not completed an economic impact analysis, but published report indicate a permit will cost $0.50 per animal unit, up to a maximum of $1,670 a year.

Two public workshops/hearings and a webinar have been scheduled to provide additional information and facilitate public comment. The workshops will be held July 26 in Bellingham and July 28 in Yakima. The webinar is set for July 27. Find more information and related documents.

Pacific Northwest: 20 years of milk marketing changes

Pacific Northwest milk production has seen dramatic changes in the past 20 years, according to John Mykrantz, agricultural economist with the federal milk marketing order administrator’s office in Bothell, Washington.

Mykrantz analyzed milk deliveries in the order based on herd numbers, milk production per dairy and interregional differences, comparing October 1996 to October 2015. The Pacific Northwest milk shed includes producers primarily in Oregon and Washington, but also some counties in Idaho, northern California and Utah.

In October 1996, 1,289 producers delivered about 551 million pounds of milk. Two decades later, the number of producers decreased to 577, but the milk delivered to the market in October 2015 increased to 736 million pounds.

While the number of producers declined by 55 percent, the average production per producer increased from about 427,000 pounds to nearly 1.3 million pounds for the month, or almost 200 percent.

Mykrantz also looked at regional differences within the Pacific Northwest milk shed, finding the growth in the share of production has moved east.

Finally, Mykrantz analyzed milk deliveries by herd size. As of October 2015, the portion of milk supplied by large (2.5 to 5.0 million pounds per month) and very large (5 million pounds or more per month) farms (73 total farms) represented 56 percent of the total milk production. While larger dairy farms have grown yet larger, two-thirds of the producers (385) in the milk shed currently produce less than 1 million pounds per month, and almost one-third (176) produce less than 250,000 pounds of milk per month.

Read Pacific Northwest federal order: 20 years of change


California ‘ag overtime’ bill resurrected

A bill requiring California dairy farmers to pay overtime to employees working more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week isn’t finished yet, according to Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager of California’s Milk Producers Council.

On June 2, AB 2757 garnered 38 votes in the Assembly, three short of the 41 needed for passage. Read California ag worker ‘overtime bill’ falls short of necessary votes.

However, in a process known as “gut-and-amend,” the original bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), took another bill she sponsored (AB 1066), gut the original language (addressing unrelated education issues) and inserted the ag overtime bill language in its place. The bill will likely receive a vote in the full California Senate in the coming weeks or month, Vandenheuvel explained.

If AB 1066, with the new ag overtime language, is approved in the state Senate, it must again go to the state Assembly by the end of California’s legislative session, which ends August 31.

Hawaii dairy farm approved

A proposed 699-cow dairy farm on the on the island of Kauai has received approval from the Hawaii Department of Health, according to Pacific Business News.

Construction of Hawaii Dairy Farms, funded by eBay billionaire founder Pierre Omidyar’s Honolulu investment firm Ulupono Initiative, is set to begin in 2017, and could be operational by 2018.

Dairy farmer, former World Ag Expo chair Mark Watte dies

Mark Watte, a California dairy farmer and former chairman of the World Ag Expo, died June 17. A funeral was held June 23 in Tulare, California.

Watte and his brother, Brian, were partners in George Watte & Sons, a dairy and 3,000-acre nut and row crop farm. They were named the 2000 Tulare Farmers of the Year.

Mark Watte was also selected as the 2013 Tulare Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year and 2014 Tulare County Farm Bureau Agriculturalist of the Year.


‘Got Milk with Dignity’ coming to Vermont

Three labor advocacy organizations have rolled out a “Got Milk with Dignity” program, enlisting food buyers to support structural changes affecting farm worker wages and working conditions.

Representatives of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the Fair Food Standards Council and Migrant Justice launched the program in Vermont on May 1.

In mid-June, Vermont’s iconic ice cream maker, Ben & Jerry’s, negotiated an agreement to implement the Milk with Dignity Program in its supply chain, according to the CIW website. Ben & Jerry's sources dairy ingredients from farmer-members of St. Albans Cooperative.

The labor groups estimate there are approximately 1,500 migrant workers in Vermont’s dairy industry, including on-farm and processing industry employees.

Read the full Progressive Dairyman article.

Ohio has new agritourism protections

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 75, which defines agritourism and offers protections for agritourism operators, addressing issues including civil liability risks, property taxation and local zoning authority. The law takes effect Aug. 16.

The law protects operators from liability for injuries related to risks inherent in agritourism activities. Operators must post warning signs near each entrance or at each activity notifying visitors that the operator is not liable for any injuries related to those inherent risks.

County and township zoning won’t be able to prohibit agritourism, but can make some requirements to address property access, parking and building setbacks in certain situations.

The law also clarifies that land where agritourism activities take place should be taxed under Ohio’s current agricultural use valuation program, rather than at higher property tax rates.

Find details on Ohio State University Extension’s Ag Law Blog.  PD

Dave Natzke