A lawsuit has been filed against the Whatcom County Dairy Women, Northwest Washington Fair Association and the Lynden School District over an E. coli outbreak that sickened children and others attending a Milk Makers Fest in April 2015. This and other U.S. region-by-region dairy news can be found here.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

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Milk Maker Fest organizers face lawsuit

A lawsuit has been filed against the Whatcom County Dairy Women, Northwest Washington Fair Association and the Lynden School District over an E. coli outbreak that sickened children and others attending a Milk Makers Fest in April 2015.

The Whatcom County Dairy Women host the annual event, designed to introduce young students to farming.

The lawsuit, filed in Whatcom County Superior Court, alleges the organizations failed to protect children from being infected by E. coli by failing to follow established public health rules and guidelines, according to the Bellingham Herald.


About 1,325 Whatcom County first-grade students, plus the teachers and parents attended the event. About 60 people likely were sickened, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Western Growers seek to stem tide of El Niño water flow

Western Growers launched a digital media campaign to increase awareness about the need to capture and store this year’s El Niño waters before they are lost to the Pacific Ocean.

Western Growers represents family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California and Colorado. The centerpiece of their program is a two-minute video educating Californians on the amount of water currently being lost to the ocean, and calling on them to leverage social media to demand action from lawmakers.

“Three billion gallons of extra water are passing under the Golden Gate Bridge every single day,” according to the video. “We’re not talking about water we need to protect fish or the environment. That water is already being accounted for. No, this is additional water that could be captured and stored for use by farms and cities.”

Viewers of the video will be directed back to a website where they can learn more about the drought and the loss of potential benefits of El Niño.

New Mexico Right to Farm law strengthened

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed Senate Bill 72 into law during a ceremony held at Southwest Cheese’s Clovis plant, according to the Clovis News Journal.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Stuart Ingle (R-Portales), updated the state’s Right to Farm Act, protecting New Mexico farmers seeking to expand against nuisance claims.

People moving into a neighborhood next to an existing farm would be prevented from filing nuisance claims against an expanding farm, unless the farm substantially changed its nature and landscape.

Dairy worker pleads ‘no contest’ in animal abuse case

A former New Mexico dairy worker has pleaded no contest in an animal cruelty case, according to the Associated Press.

Cesar Morales-Iniguez entered his plea before a state district judge in Chaves County. The judge suspended a 364-day jail sentence pending the defendant's successful completion of probation.

Morales-Iniguez was one of four Winchester Dairy workers charged last year after a Mercy For Animals undercover video showed them abusing cows.

Another worker received the same sentence in December after pleading no contest to animal cruelty charges. Cases are pending against two more workers.


Georgia dairy farmers need ‘spare tire’ waiver

Any Georgia dairy farm using more than 25 spare tires for things such as bunker silo covers must file a “spare tire” waiver with state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Environmental Protection Division.

Georgia DNR regulates spare tire disposal, in part to improve mosquito control. The regulation limited availability of spare tires and sidewalls, leading to efforts by the Georgia Agribusiness Council and others to seek a waiver for dairy farms to obtain, store and use tires.

Rules have been finalized, according to the Georgia Milk Producers. The waiver ties the intent of state law and associated best management practices.

A copy of the waiver can be obtained from the Georgia Milk Producers or by calling 706-310-0020.


Maryland Dairy Industry Association honors two

Fritz-Farm LLC, of New Windsor, and MD Cedar Knoll, of Keymar, were named this year's Dairies of Distinction by the Maryland Dairy Industry Association (MDIA).

Operated by the Fritz family, Fritz-Farm LLC includes 210 owned and 40 rented acres and 60 registered Holsteins.

Jerry and Barbara Watt operate MD Cedar Knoll, a 900-acre, 175-cow dairy farm. The Watts milk 175 Holsteins.

Massachusetts hosts hearing on dairy tax credit program

Massachusetts dairy farmers voiced support for making an emergency dairy tax credit program a permanent part of the state tax code.

The program, part of the Dairy Farm Preservation Act, allows the state’s dairy farmers a refundable income tax credit based on the amount of milk marketed through the Northeast federal milk marketing order. The tax credit is triggered by estimated statewide costs to produce milk, compared to average milk prices. A maximum of $4 million is allocated annually.

Read more about the tax credit program here.

Vermont decisions sets watershed best management framework

Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross issued a revised decision requiring mandatory best management practices (BMPs) for farms in the Missisquoi Bay Basin.

In his revised decision, Ross determined that BMPs – site-specific conservation practices beyond those required by Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) regulations – are generally necessary on farms in the watershed to achieve compliance with state water quality goals.

The decision provides a framework for outreach, education and assessment of farms in the watershed, and a process for farm-specific development and implementation of a farm plan to address identified water quality resource concerns.


100,000 to share Indy 500 milk toast

With the Indianapolis 500 automobile race hitting the century mark, 100,000 race spectators will be able to join the winning driver in a milk toast, according to the Indiana Dairy Producers.

Milk has been a proud part of the “greatest spectacle in auto racing” since 1936, with winners receiving quarts of ice-cold milk in Victory Lane.

In honor of the 100th birthday of the Indy 500, the checkoff-funded American Dairy Association Indiana is partnering with Prairie Farms Dairy and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to hand out 100,000 bottles of milk to race spectators.

The race is set for May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Ind.

IDP welcomes new directors

The Indiana Dairy Producers welcomed two new members to three-year terms on the board of directors during the organization’s annual meeting in February.

Greg Peters, along with his wife Deanna, own and operate Green Lo Farms located south of Brownstown, Ind.

Seventh-generation dairy farmer Fred Kunkel is part owner of Kunkel Dairy Inc. near Decatur. He and his father, Fred, milk about 100 Holsteins and farm around 300 acres of cropland.

North Dakota looking to grow milk processing capacity

The North Dakota Dairy Coalition of Mandan will receive a $82,000 grant to study ways to expand milk processing capacity in the state. The grant is provided by North Dakota's Agricultural Products Utilization Commission (APUC), according to the Central Plains Dairy Association. APUC is a division of the state’s Department of Commerce. PD

Dave Natzke