A bill requiring California dairy farmers and other agricultural employers to pay overtime for workers after 40 hours per week fell short of the necessary votes. A U.S. district ordered Idaho to pay legal fees to animal activist groups. Three Midwest Farm Credit groups are exploring a merger. This and other U.S. region-by-region dairy news can be found here.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

To find news in your region, click on its link below.







California ag worker ‘overtime bill’ falls short of necessary votes

A bill requiring California dairy farmers and other agricultural employers to pay overtime for workers after 40 hours per week fell short of the necessary votes on June 2, meaning it is likely dead for this legislative session.

After multiple amendments to delay implementation, AB 2757 garnered 38 votes in the Assembly, three short of the 41 needed for passage, acccording to Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager of California’s Milk Producers Council (MPC).

Vandenheuvel said the bill was another in a long line of regulations threatening California’s struggling dairy industry. If the bill had passed and had also been accompanied by the state’s $15 per hour minimum wage, agricultural employers would have been forced to shorten their workers’ hours or pay at least $22.50 per hour for any work longer than an 8-hour shift.


According to Western United Dairymen (WUD), the average California herd has 1,215 cows and averages one worker for 188 cows. Current workers average 59.25 hours and have a salary and benefits averaging $14.11 per hour.

California is one of the few states already requiring overtime pay for agricultural employees who work more than 10 hours per day or 60 hours per week.

Finger millet forage studied as forage supplement in Southern High Plains

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is researching a drought-tolerant crop sometimes used in India as cattle feed as a potential forage for the dairy industry in the Southern High Plains.

Most dairy producers in west Texas and New Mexico produce and feed corn silage, and west Texas also has a high concentration of beef cattle fed corn. The region’s Ogallala Aquifer is being stretched. Prasanna Gowda, an ARS agricultural engineer, knows that dairy cattle in his native India are raised on finger millet (Eleusine coracana) forage. Studies in India, where finger millet grain is used to make breads, porridge and baby food, show it uses 10 to 20 percent less water than sorghum and grows on marginal land. It also has methionine, an essential nutrient that helps dairy cattle digest feed, wean healthier calves and produce more milk.

Gowda and his colleagues at Bushland, Texas, grew the finger millet varieties for 120 days. They found finger millet had higher levels of potassium, twice as much calcium, and four to five times as much phosphorus as corn, and comparable levels of protein, fiber and total digestible nutrients. Finger millet used less water than the corn and sorghum, but also produced lower forage yields.

They concluded finger millet will not completely replace corn, but could be fed to dairy cattle as a supplement. He plans future studies on the milk quality of dairy cattle fed finger millet.


United Dairymen of Idaho hires Bastian to industry relations post

Dr. Eric Bastian has joined the United Dairymen of Idaho (UDI) as vice president of industry relations. He will serve as a liaison between Idaho’s dairy farm families, dairy food processors and regional research universities.

Bastian previously served as vice president of research and development for Glanbia Nutritionals and Glanbia Foods. Prior to his role at Glanbia, Bastian was instrumental in building the Midwest Dairy Research Center at the University of Minnesota, where he served as a faculty member in the department of food science and nutrition

UDI protects and promotes the Idaho dairy industry and dairy farm families through outreach, nutrition counseling and partnerships with consumers, dairy processors, retail outlets and farmers and their families. It is the parent organization of both the Idaho Dairy Council and the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.

Idaho must pay legal fees in ‘ag-gag’ law case

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill has ordered Idaho to pay about $250,000 in legal fees to animal activist groups who sued the state over a so-called “ag-gag” law.

Idaho lawmakers passed a law, endorsed by the Idaho Dairyman’s Association, after the Bettencourt Dry Creek Dairy became the target of an undercover animal rights investigation in 2012. The law made it a crime to conduct undercover videos of agriculture operations in 2014.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the state, and in 2015 Judge Winmill invalidated the law, finding it violated the First Amendment.

Colorado Department of Agriculture preparing hay directory

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is putting together the 30th anniversary edition of the Colorado Hay Directory.

Colorado hay producers may list contact information by June 15. Cost is $25.

The free directory will be available in August through Colorado State University (CSU) Extension offices and various livestock associations.

The directory also includes listings for companies offering hay-related products or services. Advertising opportunities are available.

Find forms for the Colorado Hay Directory here.


Three Farm Credit groups explore merger

The boards of three Midwest Farm Credit institutions are exploring the possibility of joining forces.

According to a joint release, Badgerland Financial, AgStar Financial Services and 1st Farm Credit would combine to create the nation's third largest Farm Credit group, with about $17 billion in assets.

Badgerland Financial serves 33 southern Wisconsin counties with 17 locations. AgStar Financial Services has 13 branch offices in 69 counties in Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. 1st Farm Credit covers 42 counties in northern Illinois at 16 sites.

A merger would require approval by the individual boards and member-borrowers of each cooperative. No timetable has been announced.

Summer camp suing Indiana county zoning board over approval of dairy farm location

A summer church camp is suing Indiana’s Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals over its siting approval of a 1,400-cow dairy near camp property.

Harvest Christian Camp, operated by House of Prayer Ministries, hosts 300 to 500 children each summer.

The lawsuit, filed May 16 by the Hoosier Environmental Council, contends the zoning committee violated the ministry's constitutional rights and local zoning rules when it approved the proposed dairy farm in April. It also argues the board should have provided the camp with the same one-mile setback protection a county ordinance requires for schools

The Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals ruled Milco Dairy LLC can build near the camp. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management approved a permit for the dairy last November.

Michigan State University dairy open house is June 14

Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station will hold an open house on June 14 from 4 to 8 p.m.

The free event will provide wagon tours of the Pasture Dairy Center and a look at robotic milking technologies. Wagon tours depart hourly at 5, 6 and 7 p.m.

Call (269) 671-2508 or email pasture.dairy@kbs.msu.edu.

4-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference is June 15-16

The 2016 4-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference is June 15-16 at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa.

Conference speakers include Dave Mertens, Mertens Inovations, discussing how to use undigested neutral fiber (uNDF) to predict performance and design rations. Lance Baumgard, Iowa State University, will share his latest research on leaky gut contribution to inefficient nutrient utilization, and University of Wisconsin nutritionist Randy Shaver will revisit the latest starch research.

Phil Cardoso, University of Illinois, will discuss his research on feeding amino acids and the affect on reproduction. Paul Fricke will show how to achieive high pregnancy rates along with high production. Don Niles, DVM and partner in Dairy Dreams, will discuss how their dairy implements practices to achieve high production and reproduction.

Breakout topics include:

• heifer stocking density and performance

• keys to success with automatic calf feeders

• maintaining forage quality in organic systems

• using MUN as a nutritional and environmental management tool

• using cow behavior monitors for management

• forage value of cover crops

Diamond V is sponsoring a pre-conference symposium, June 15, discussing new perspectives on salmonella control and improving immunity in dairy animals.

Balchem is sponsoring a post-conference symposium, focusing on milk protein.

Learn more about the 4-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference.

Northern Indiana Dairy Trail tours are June 18 and 25

A series of farm tours will allow families to explore modern dairy farming practices in northern Indiana.

The Northern Indiana Dairy Trail, co-sponsored by Purdue Extension, will take place June 18 and 25, with five to six dairy farms open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. each day.

The 12 participating farms are in Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble and St. Joseph counties, which together contain 28 percent of all dairy cows in the state. Farms on the trail range in size from 110 to more than 3,000 cows.

In addition to the focus on modern dairy farming, some farms will feature displays and activities based on historical farming methods as part of Indiana’s bicentennial celebration.

A panel of private and public volunteers and sponsors, including the American Dairy Association Indiana and Indiana Dairy Producers, organize the Dairy Trail. Funding for the event comes from more than 40 industry and state sources.

No registration is required. Read more about the participating farms and the history of the Dairy Trail project.


Pennsylvania law raises milk-hauling weight limits on interstate highways

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 1108 into law, raising the state’s weight limits for trucks hauling milk.

Long-sought by the Pennsylvania dairy industry, the bill (now known as Act 34) enables the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to issue special permits to milk-hauling trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds.

Previously, federal law limited how states could treat bulk milk shipments. That limitation was removed under the federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law last December. It allows states to more closely align weight limits with neighboring states.

New York, Ohio and West Virginia have had higher interstate weight limits. The new Pennsylvania special permits allows state haulers to move more milk with fewer trucks, reducing the cost of moving milk to processors.

Under Act 34, PennDOT and the state Agriculture Department will develop a permitting and fee schedule, similar to what is in place for dairy haulers on non-interstate roads.

Read more about provisions of the law.

Saacke inducted into Virginia Tech hall of fame

Richard Saacke, professor emeritus of dairy science, was inducted into the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame.

Saacke joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1965.His career included research, teaching and mentoring graduate students in the field of bovine reproductive physiology and artificial insemination.

Saacke’s research program is credited with many firsts in the area of bovine reproduction. His lab was instrumental in leading the artificial insemination industry through the transition from unfrozen, cooled semen to frozen semen. His work led the transition from glass ampoules to French straws for semen storage, and the guidelines he developed for freezing sperm continue to be an integral part of the industry today. His doctoral research on electron microscopy shows detailed ultrastructural characteristics of bovine sperm.

Center for Dairy Excellence waives ‘Dairy Decisions’ application fees in June

Due to low milk prices, Pennsylvania’s Center for Dairy Excellence (CDE) is waiving application fees normally associated with its Dairy Decisions Consultant Program during June.

The Dairy Decisions Consultant Program offers up to $1,750 in funding to provide dairy farm families with professional consulting resources to address business and financial performance.

Visit CDE’s website and click on “Business Tools” for more information.

University of New Hampshire hosting Farm-to-School Days

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) will welcome more than 800 area students to the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center for the 29th Annual School-To-Farm Days, June 7-9.

The event is sponsored by the UNH Agricultural Experiment Station, Agriculture in the Classroom program and Rockingham and Strafford County Farm Bureaus.

Fourth graders will learn about farm animals, farm equipment and dairy cows, and visit the UNH Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center, Equine Center and other educational stations.

The Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center develops new knowledge and management expertise focused on improving animal health and the profitability of the regional dairy industry.

Learn more about School-to-Farm Days. PD

Dave Natzke