Digest Highlights • Wisconsin dairy herds slip below 8,500; task force members named • National Dairy Board appointees named • June global dairy price index weakens • Whole milk buffers May fluid milk sales decline • FDA to enforce dairy labeling regulations • ADC urges FDA action on ‘milk’ labels • State Farm Bureaus press imitation dairy labeling issue • ‘Choose PA dairy’ promotional materials available • ADC seeking support for another dairy labor bill • CMPB launches kid-based milk promotion campaign

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

Wisconsin dairy herds slip below 8,500; task force members named

The number of Wisconsin dairy farms licensed to sell milk fell below 8,500 to start July, down about 4 percent from Jan. 1, 2018. As of July 1, 2018, there were 8,463 Grade A and Grade B dairies licensed in Wisconsin, down 583 from one year earlier and more than 1,000 less than two years ago.

In response to the ongoing trend, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker named the 31 members of the Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0. Walker had directed the heads of the state ag department and university system to establish the task force and recommend participants. Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, was named task force chairman.

The task force is tentatively scheduled to hold its first meeting in August, and is charged with recommending actions to maintain a viable and profitable dairy industry in the state.

The Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0 members include 14 dairy farmers, nine processors and marketers, and eight representatives of allied industry:


Dairy farmers:

• Moriah Brey, Brey Cycle Farm LLC, Sturgeon Bay

• Andy Buttles, Stone-Front Farm, Lancaster

• Janet Clark, Vision Aire Farms LLC, Rosendale

• Tom Crosby, Crosby's River Valley Dairy, Shell Lake

• Dave Daniels, Mighty Grand Dairy, Union Grove

• Patty Edelburg, Front-Page Holsteins, Scandinavia

• Don Hamm, Sandy Loam Farm, Fredonia

• Ryan Klussendorf, Broadland Grass Farm, Medford

• Shelly Mayer, Mayer Farm, Slinger

• Dan Pearson, Pearson Farm, River Falls

• Amy Penterman, Dutch Dairy, Thorp

• Brody Stapel, Double Dutch Dairy, Cedar Grove

• Charles Untz, Untz Farm, Lake Mills

• Darin Von Ruden, Von Ruden Farm, Westby

Milk processors and marketers:

• Steve Bechel, Eau Galle Cheese Factory, Durand

• Dave Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Company, Monroe

• Rob Byrne, Schreiber Foods, Green Bay

• Ted Galloway, Galloway Company, Neenah

• Paul Scharfman, Specialty Cheese Company, Reeseville

• Jerry Schroeder, Schroeder Milk Transit, Oconto Falls

• Jeff Schwager, Sartori Cheese, Plymouth

• David Ward, Cooperative Network, Madison

• Elizabeth Wells, Organic Valley, La Farge

Allied organizations:

• John Accola, Premier Cooperative, Prairie du Sac

• Dennis Bangart, AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Marshfield

• Michael DeLong, First Bank of Baldwin, Baldwin

• Bradley Guse, BMO Harris Bank, Arpin

• Dr. Melissa Haag, Lodi Veterinary Hospital, Lodi

• Rene Johnson, Union Bank and Trust Co., Evansville

• John Schmidt, Landmark Services Cooperative, Appleton

• Chad Vincent, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Madison

The Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0 is patterned after a similar committee formed in 1985. That group met numerous times over a 14-month period, issuing an 82-page report that included findings and 75 recommendations, many of which are credited with a dairy resurgence in Wisconsin.

National Dairy Board appointees named

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appointed 13 members to fill vacancies on the 37-member National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (NDB). Twelve appointees will serve three-year terms, Nov. 1, 2018, through Oct. 31, 2021. One appointee will serve the remaining portion of a vacant position, effective immediately and expiring Oct. 31, 2019.

Appointed members serving the three-year terms are: California – Brad Scott and Pauline Tjaarda; Idaho – Kim Korn; Indiana – Cynthia Adam; Iowa – Doug Carroll; Maryland – David Pyle; Minnesota – Deb Vander Kooi; New York – Patricia Bikowsky; Oregon – Warren Chamberlain; Texas – David Jackson; and Wisconsin – Evan Hillan and Randy Roecker.

Michael Oosten, California, was appointed to the term expiring in October 2019.

Global Dairy Trade prices mixed

Overall Global Dairy Trade (GDT) dairy product prices moved another 1.7 percent lower during the auction held July 17.

Prices for individual product categories were mixed. Among major products, the cheddar cheese price was down 3.3 percent to $3,596 per metric ton (MT), and butter was down 8.1 percent to $4,953 per MT. Whole milk powder was up 1.5 percent to $2,973 per MT, and skim milk powder was up 0.8 percent to $1,959 per MT.

The next GDT auction is Aug. 7.

June global dairy price index weakens

Declining dairy product prices helped push the global index of food prices lower in June 2018, according to the latest United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index. The weaker tone was largely because of rising tensions in international trade relations, the report said.

The FAO Food Price Index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of five food commodities – cereal, vegetable oil, dairy, meat and sugar. The overall June index was about 1.3 percent less than May 2018.

The FAO Dairy Price Index includes global average prices for butter, cheese, skim milk (SMP) and whole milk powders (WMP). The June 2018 index declined 0.9 percent from May, but was still 2 percent higher than a year earlier.

The June decline was driven by lower price quotations for cheese, more than offsetting a rise in SMP prices; butter and WMP remained steady. Increased export availabilities in the U.S. and European Union weighed on cheese prices, whereas persistent import demand provided support for SMP. Butter and WMP quotations rose in Europe, but fell slightly in Oceania.

Whole milk buffers May fluid milk sales decline

Whole milk and flavored whole milk varieties were again the only categories to post year-over-year sales gains in May, according to the USDA’s Dairy Market News. At 3.9 billion pounds, overall sales of packaged conventional and organic fluid milk were down 3.2 percent compared to the same month a year earlier.

May 2018 sales of conventional products totaled 3.7 billion pounds, down 3.2 percent from the previous year. However, sales of conventional whole milk and flavored whole milk were up 0.4 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively.

Sales of organic products, at 219 million pounds, were down 3.1 percent, with a very small increase in sales of reduced-fat (2 percent) milk. Organic represented nearly 5.4 percent of total sales for the month.

Through the first five months of the year, U.S. fluid milk sales totaled 19.8 billion pounds, down 1.7 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.

The U.S. figures represent consumption of fluid milk products in federal milk order marketing areas and California, which account for approximately 92 percent of total fluid milk sales in the U.S. Sales outlets include food stores, convenience stores, warehouse stores/wholesale clubs, nonfood stores, schools, the foodservice industry and home delivery.

FDA to enforce dairy labeling regulations

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said his agency will soon begin enforcing regulations that define milk as an animal product, not a plant-based food.

After acknowledging that “an almond doesn’t lactate,” Gottlieb said the agency soon will seek public input as a prelude to enforcing existing regulations on dairy labeling standards.

The head of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) welcomed Gottlieb’s comments.

“After years of inaction in response to our complaints about these labeling violations, Dr. Gottlieb’s announcement that the agency is intending to act on this issue is very encouraging,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The marketing of nondairy imitators must comply with federal standards of identity, and consumers should not be misled that these products have the same nutrition as real milk, yogurt, cheese and other actual dairy products.”

NMPF wrote to Gottlieb last year to complain that the agency has not been enforcing labeling standards, pointing out that FDA’s lack of action “has led to rampant consumer fraud related to the inferior nutrient content of these nondairy products compared to their true dairy counterparts,” Mulhern said, adding that in addition to fake “milks,” there also are a proliferation of products calling themselves “yogurt,” “cheese,” “ice cream” and “butter.”

“Consumers who purchase these imitations are not receiving the same level of nutrients found in cow’s milk, and that contributes to Americans falling short of the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals for a healthy diet,” said Mulhern. “FDA must act on this matter or else see the further decline of proper nourishment of our children and families.”

Mulhern said he hopes the agency will rapidly move to take enforcement action, adding that “this issue can be quickly resolved." 

ADC urges FDA action on ‘milk’ labels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a public hearing on a wide range of food labeling issues, including the use of “milk” by manufacturers of plant-based alternative beverages. The hearing is set for July 26, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Eastern time), in Rockville, Maryland. FDA is accepting electronic or written comments until Aug. 27.

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) has rolled out a new initiative – the Protecting Milk Integrity Initiative – to advocate on behalf of dairy, according to Laurie Fischer, ADC chief executive officer.

“It is crucial the dairy industry speaks up and ensures the FDA understands just how crucial it is for them not only to uphold their current standards of identity for milk, but to enforce these standards – restricting the use of the word 'milk' on all future plant-based milk alternative product labels,” Fischer said.

“Nondairy plant alternatives are not equivalent to milk in nutrient value, despite their marketing techniques that attempt to brand them as so,” Fischer said. “These dishonest branding techniques make it extremely difficult for consumers to select products that will meet their dietary needs and the needs of their children.

“However, true dairy milk, with its standardized and color-coded milk-fat percentage packaging, is consistent no matter the brand,” she said. “The dairy industry has developed their labeling system to be easy for consumers to know exactly what to expect in their dairy products. Adding nondairy alternatives to the dairy case bearing the same name clouds the consistency and uniformity consumers have enjoyed for years when shopping in grocery stores across the nation.”

“Dairy farms are going out of business at an alarming rate and the price of milk continues to decline,” Fischer said. “Meanwhile, the sales of plant-based alternatives are up 61 percent over the past five years and are projected to continue to gain market share into the future. As the consumption of fluid milk continues to decrease, we simply can no longer stand by and let deceitful plant-based alternative beverage marketing tactics slide by unchallenged.”

The Protecting Milk Integrity Initiative has developed a petition to collect signatures to submit to FDA.

State Farm Bureaus press imitation dairy labeling issue

In early July, a letter coordinated by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and signed by 37 state Farm Bureaus and other agricultural groups was sent to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. The letter expressed displeasure with the lack of enforcement for labeling of imitation dairy products using the term “milk.”

The letter said FDA’s discretionary enforcement of labeling laws was misleading consumers regarding food allergen-related health risks. In addition, allowing plant-based beverages to inappropriately use “milk” on packaging failed to hold those beverages to the same standards of identity, degrading dairy’s share of the marketplace and significantly harming the financial viability of more than 40,000 dairy farm families.

Following the letter, Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte and the heads of state Farm Bureau organizations from Mississippi, Tennessee and Utah met with Gottlieb.

“Commissioner Gottlieb was understanding of the many issues facing America’s dairy industry, and we had a productive conversation about the proper procedure moving forward to address accurate standards of identity,” said Holte.

‘Choose PA dairy’ promotional materials available

The Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence (CDE) is distributing promotional materials to encourage consumers to buy locally produced dairy products. Materials for the “Choose PA Dairy: Goodness That Matters” campaign, including rack cards and posters, are available at no cost for distribution and display at farm tours, community events, community offices and more.

In addition to CDE, the campaign is supported by Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, PA Preferred, American Dairy Association North East, Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Lebanon County Dairy Promotion Committee and Pennsylvania Dairy Princess & Promotion Services.

To request these items, email contact Myrannda Kleckner or phone (717) 346-0849.

CMPB launches kid-based milk promotion campaign

The California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) launched "You Can Always Count on Milk," a new $16 million advertising initiative aimed at millennial families throughout California.

The campaign highlights the everyday challenges kids face in their lives as seen through the lens of a demanding 9-to-5 blue-collar job, illustrating that no matter how tough daily life can get, milk – familiar, dependable and trustworthy – is the one thing they can continue to count on.

The multi-platformed "You Can Always Count on Milk" campaign is the first campaign for GALLEGOS United, following the CMPB's decision to consolidate advertising agencies in early 2018.

View these "You Can Always Count on Milk" spots on YouTube: "Trust"; "Diner"; "Greetings"; and "Checkmate."

ADC seeking support for another dairy labor bill

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) has issued a “critical wake-up call” to the U.S. dairy industry, seeking help to apply pressure on House members to pass immigration reform that is friendly to dairy.

According to an email alert, the latest version of the Goodlatte/AG/E-Verify bill under discussion makes the dairy industry eligible for H-2A program visas immediately upon enactment, instead of waiting for approximately six months until H-2C visas become available. The bill also increases the number of visas to about 1.5 million by the third year after enactment, with workers currently here exempt from being counted against this cap. Finally, E-verify requirements under the bill would apply only for new hires, not workers currently residing and working in the U.S.

ADC expects the Goodlatte/AG/E-Verify bill to be introduced soon and hopes for passage prior to the August congressional recess.

"The dairy industry cannot afford to let this opportunity go by," said Laurie Fischer, ADC chief executive officer. “We cannot stress enough the importance of reaching out to your representatives. We have waited 20 years for an immigration reform solution to provide the reliable workforce our industry so desperately needs.” end mark

Dave Natzke