Arla will offer milk premiums for European dairy farmers steering clear of GMO feeds. U.S. dairy loses a leader with death of Kirkpatrick. Asian companies are investing in Russia. This and other U.S. dairy industry news can be found here.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

GMO-free feed premiums for milk starting in Europe

Denmark-based Arla Foods will pay dairy farmer owners a premium to increase milk production while continuing to provide their cows genetically modified-free (GMO-free) feedstuffs.

Arla chairman Åke Hantoft said the move was meant to capture commercial potential, and not a corporate stance on GMOs or other technology.

The premium will be 1 eurocent per kilogram (about 50 cents per hundredweight) of milk, and is designed to assist dairy farmers seeing higher feed costs for GMO-free feed. The company did not provide a timeline on when the premium payments would begin.

Theis Brogger, director of external communications, said the premium will be limited to Arla farmer-owners in seven European Union countries, but not contract farmers. As commercial opportunities increase, more farmers may become eligible for the premium as they convert to non-GMO feed sources.


In a press release, Arla said it was passing along premiums received from consumers willing to pay more for GMO-free milk. It expects demand for GMO-free milk will grow by 1 billion kilograms (about 2.2 billion pounds) during the next 12 months.

Arla said about 20 percent of its milk supply was sourced in Sweden, already GMO-free. It estimated up to 10 percent of feed volume fed by its dairy farmer suppliers was in the form of GMO soy.

Arla’s GMO-free dairy products will be offered to U.S. consumers, but for now the dairy farmer premiums won’t cross the Atlantic Ocean. In March, Arla announced a joint venture with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and eight U.S. dairy farmers to build a premium cheddar cheese production facility in western New York. It also has a cheese production facility in Wisconsin.

Former MMPA president Elwood Kirkpatrick dies at 79

Former dairy industry leader and Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) president Elwood Kirkpatrick passed away May 16, at the age of 79.

Kirkpatrick, of Kinde, Michigan, served in dairy industry leadership roles for more than 28 years, including 26 years as MMPA president.

“The dairy industry lost a great leader. Elwood Kirkpatrick made a tremendous impact on the dairy industry on both the state and national level,” MMPA president Ken Nobis said. “He played an important role in shaping today’s dairy industry, and his vision will live on.”

First elected to serve on the MMPA board of directors in 1979, Kirkpatrick was elected president of the cooperative in 1981, serving in that capacity until his until his retirement in March 2007.

In Michigan, Kirkpatrick served as chair of the Michigan Dairy Industry Committee, was a member of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan board of directors and had served on the Michigan Agriculture Commission.

On the national level, Kirkpatrick served on the executive committee of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) for 23 years, including serving as NMPF vice president from 1983-2003.

In the late 1980s, Kirkpatrick helped lead the charge to unify the promotion and marketing efforts of the U.S. dairy industry, bringing together the activities of the United Dairy Industry Association and the National Dairy Board through the formation of Dairy Management Inc.

One of his most influential roles was serving as the first chairman of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). At the time of its start, dairy exports represented less than 3 percent of annual U.S. milk production. Today, exports of U.S. dairy products exceed over 15 percent of U.S. milk production.

Kirkpatrick also served as chair of the U.S. Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals & Animal Products (ATAC) and was a member of the U.S. Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade (APAC).

As an accomplished dairy farmer, Kirkpatrick had been recognized with Michigan State University’s “Dairy Farmer of the Year” award in 1986 and the “Distinguished Service to Agriculture” award in 1987.

Read: Kirkpatrick Gave Fledgling USDEC Instant Legitimacy.

McDonald's offering virtual farm tours in United Kingdom

Here’s some more news from across the Atlantic, with potential applications here.

McDonald's is using a roadshow and headset technology to provide virtual farm tours in the United Kingdom (UK). The effort is designed to bring restaurant customers closer to the food they eat.

The roadshow will be available at agricultural events across Britain, according to The Guardian. McDonald’s will provide headsets, allowing customers to drive a tractor and help harvest the potatoes for its fries. They can also go behind the scenes with a virtual tour of supplier farms producing eggs, milk and beef for McDonald's 1,250 UK restaurants.

Read: McDonald's takes virtual tours of actual supplier farms on the road.

Swiss dairy company Emmi purchases Cowgirl Creamery

Artisanal cheese manufacturer Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes, California, has been sold to Emmi, the largest dairy processor in Switzerland. Terms were not disclosed.

Cowgirl Creamery was founded in 1997 by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith. The company makes and markets a dozen cheese varieties through its two cheesemaking facitilies, two retail outlets and restaurant.

Asian countries investing in Russian dairy market

Russia’s ban on Western dairy imports is often cited as a reason for the current global milk glut and low prices. Now, Russia is turning to Asia to meet its dairy needs.

Russia banned Western imports of dairy and other agricultural products in 2014, in retaliation for sanctions imposed on the country over its handling of the Ukraine. The ban was renewed for one year last fall.

With dairy product shortages, Asian businesses plan to invest around $4 billion in milk production in Russia to help fill that milk pipeline, according to published reports.

Vietnamese dairy producer TH Group broke ground on a 45,000-cow dairy in Volokolamsk, in the Moscow region, as part of a $2.7 billion 10-year project.

Also, the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) announced an agreement with Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) for construction of a $1-billion, 80,000-cow milk and dairy complex in the Ryazan region of Russia.

Burnett Dairy Co-op acquires deli cheese company

Wisconsin-based Burnett Dairy Cooperative acquired 100 percent of Cady Creek Farms LLC, a retail deli cheese company located in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The business arrangement had been a 50:50 partnership between Burnett Dairy and Dairy Deli Solutions since 2013.

The company will continue the Cady Creek Farms’ brand of retail deli products. Burnett Dairy also produces Burnett Dairy and Wood River Creamery branded retail products and Fancy Brand foodservice brands.

Cooperatives Working Together assists with 1.5 million pounds of cheese, whole milk powder export sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) accepted seven requests for export assistance to sell 1.186 million pounds of cheddar cheese and 308,647 pounds of whole milk powder (WMP) to customers in Asia, Central America, North Africa and South America.

Bids were accepted from CWT-member co-ops Dairy Farmers of America and Michigan Milk Producers Association. The products have been contracted for delivery in May through November 2016.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives to sell 20.194 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 7.716 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 18.375 million pounds of WMP to 17 countries. The sales are the equivalent of 494.149 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Prescription for hypertension: Italian cheese?

A serving of Italian Grana Padano cheese can help lower blood pressure, according to a small study at an Italian hospital.

Grana Padano, an Italian staple similar to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, has been shown to have peptides (short chains of amino acids) with strong angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitor activity. These peptides provide similar blood vessel relaxation effects as ACE inhibitor blood pressure prescription drugs.

The research was conducted at the Hypertension Unit of Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital and Catholic University of Piacenza, Italy. A summary was presented at the 31st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension (ASH), May 13-17.

Hood Milk Sportsmanship Scholarship winners recognized

New England-based dairy processor HP Hood has awarded 18 high school seniors with $5,000 Hood Milk Sportsmanship Scholarships. Three students from each of the six New England states, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, were honored for their integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the playing field.

Now in its seventh year, the Hood Milk Sportsmanship Scholarship is one of the largest scholarship programs in New England. Award criteria include grade point average, participation in varsity sports and sportsmanship and community volunteer activities.

Read the list on scholarship winners. PD

Dave Natzke