Digest Highlights

DFA issues annual financial report

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) reported its 2020 financial results for the 12-month period ending Dec. 31, 2020. Due to travel and capacity restrictions related to COVID-19, DFA’s annual meeting was held virtually and limited to members only.

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Editor / Progressive Dairy

In 2020, DFA increased its net income and net sales, primarily due to the co-op’s acquisition of a significant portion of Dean Foods’ assets out of bankruptcy. DFA’s net sales totaled $17.8 billion for 2020, compared to $15.8 billion in 2019. Net income, excluding non-recurring items, was $170.6 million for 2020 compared to $83.2 million for 2019.

In 2020, DFA directed the marketing of 63.2 billion pounds of milk for both its 12,500 members and others through the cooperative’s consolidated businesses. That represented about 28% of total U.S. milk production in 2020.

Lower U.S. milk prices partially offset increased sales. The U.S. all-milk price averaged $17.79 per hundredweight (cwt) in 2020 compared to $18.46 per cwt in 2019.

Cash distributed to members in 2020 totaled $46 million. Of the cash distributed to members in 2020, $27 million was in equity retirements and $19 million represented the cash portion of the allocated patronage dividends.


Highlights of the year included DFA’s acquisition of 43 manufacturing facilities from Dean Foods; the opening of a new joint venture cheese and whey manufacturing facility, MWC, in St. Johns, Michigan; and establishment of science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its supply chain by 30% by 2030.

DFA also helped support local communities with the creation of its Farmers Feeding Families Fund, raising more than $675,000 through donations from DFA farmer-owners, employees and industry partners, and distributing funds to more than 230 community food banks for the purchase of dairy products.

Newton joining Senate Ag Committee GOP staff

John Newton, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) chief economist, is joining the Republican staff of the Senate Agriculture Committee, according to Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas), ranking member on the committee.

Newton served as AFBF chief economist since 2018. Before joining AFBF, he served as an economist for the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). His final day at AFBF is April 9.

APHIS sitting on RFID eartag requirement

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will apparently sit on a proposal to require radio frequency identification (RFID) as the official eartag for use in interstate movement of cattle.

On March 23, the agency announced it would “use the rule-making process for future action related to this proposal.”

“This means that the original notice will not be finalized, and that all current APHIS-approved methods of identification may be used as official identification until further notice,” according to an APHIS news release.

In April 2019, APHIS originally proposed a timeline to transition to RFID eartags, including a requirement that all cattle previously tagged with metal eartags had to be retagged by Jan. 1, 2023. However, in October 2019, APHIS pulled that proposal from consideration.

Under a new proposal published in July 2020, RFID tags would have still been required by Jan. 1, 2023. However, cattle previously tagged with metal eartags would be grandfathered in, and the metal tags would be allowed for the remainder of their lifespan, with no retagging requirement.

Public comments on that proposal closed in October 2020. APHIS said 944 public comments had been received.

The APHIS release said the agency “continues to believe that RFID tags will provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases and will therefore continue to encourage the use of RFID tags while rulemaking is pending.”

USDA buys process cheese

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awarded a contract for 2.85 million pounds of sliced process cheese to Associated Milk Producers Inc. The cheese, in packages of six 5-pound loaves, is scheduled for delivery throughout the U.S. between May 1-Sept. 30, 2021.

USDA announces ‘Pandemic Assistance for Producers’ initiative

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new initiative — the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers — designed to reach a broader set of producers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs. The effort will include assistance for dairy farmers through the Dairy Donation Program.

As part of the initiative, the USDA will develop rules for new programs that will put a greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers, and others. Existing programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will fall within the new initiative and will be refined to better address the needs of producers, Vilsack said.

Among provisions outlined by Vilsack, the USDA will reopen sign-up for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has committed to improve outreach for CFAP 2 and will establish partnerships with organizations with strong connections to socially disadvantaged communities to ensure they are informed and aware of the application process.

The initiative also adjusts payment formulas under CFAP, including automatically increasing payment rates for cattle under CFAP 1, and providing additional assistance of $20 per acre for some crop producers (including alfalfa, corn, soybeans and others) who received flat-rate or price-trigger payments under CFAP 2.

For a full description of provisions under the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, click here.

Read also: USDA announces additional assistance for cattle, row crop producers  end mark