Digest Highlights

APHIS seeks public comment on RFID eartag transition timeline

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on another proposed timeline to transition to radio-frequency identification (RFID) eartags for interstate movement of most cattle.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

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. Both metal and RFID tags are current options to support APHIS’ ongoing efforts to increase animal disease traceability.

Under the new proposal, RFID tags would be still 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.

This proposed transition timeline would not alter other existing regulations. The types of cattle and bison that must be identified will not change, nor will the option for animal health officials in shipping and receiving states to agree to accept alternate forms of identification, including brands and tattoos, in lieu of official identification.

Public comments will be accepted through Oct. 5, 2020.


Darigold, NDA target carbon neutrality by 2050

Dairy processor Darigold Inc. and its nearly 400 owner-dairy farmer members of the Northwest Dairy Association (NDA) cooperative are on a more aggressive path toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

“The co-op had previously announced a goal to reduce carbon emissions 20 to 30 percent by 2030, but our organization determined it is not only feasible, but imperative to go all the way and strive for complete carbon neutrality,” said Stan Ryan, president and CEO of Darigold.

Co-op leaders believe they can offset the greenhouse gas emissions of Darigold’s entire enterprise, from farm to consumer. They plan to do that through investments in renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency, promoting farm-level carbon sequestration projects, as well as modernizing its processing and transportation network.

Preliminary results from one major farmer-run project, developed with help from state and conservation groups over the past few years, demonstrated that the carbon-neutral goal is within reach. And while carbon credit validation results are still pending, NDA is hopeful it can offer up to 100 million pounds per year of farm-level carbon-neutral milk by 2021.

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Darigold is the marketing and processing subsidiary of NDA. It is owned by dairy farm families in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Darigold handles approximately 10 billion pounds of milk annually, operating 11 plants throughout the Northwest and producing a full line of dairy-based products.

Lawmakers want action on organic dairy heifer ‘loophole’

U.S. lawmakers have asked the USDA to finalize the National Organic Program’s “Origin of Livestock” rule. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Anthony Brindisi (D-New York) and Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) urged action to close a loophole they say is especially harmful to smaller organic dairy farms.

Advocates for changes to the rule charge inconsistent enforcement has plagued the transition of livestock from conventional to organic production. While some organic certifiers strictly adhere to the policy, others have allowed farmers to remove calves from organic herds, raise them using conventional practices prohibited under organic regulations and then transition them back to organic management when they are ready to be milked.

A Cornell University study compared the costs of production for organically raised calves from day one to those raised conventionally and transitioned to organic before freshening. The study showed that the loophole allowed dairies whose certifiers allowed conventional raising of the newborn calf to 1 year of age to save $884 per animal for feed and labor. (Read: Study finds loophole puts organic dairies at a disadvantage when raising heifers.)

A USDA Agricultural Marketing Service comment period on the proposal to amend the rule closed on Dec. 2, 2019. A 180-day period that Congress provided the USDA to finalize the rule has now passed.

USDA ‘climate hub’ includes hurricane guidance for dairy, forage producers

It’s hurricane season in the southeast U.S., and the USDA Southeast Climate Hub has published a Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guide.

The guide provides individualized guidance for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, with specific sections for producers of various agricultural commodities. All states include information for producers of forage crops, with dairy highlighted in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

In addition to general information, the guides also contain links to federal and state resources specific to each state. Downloadable forms enable producers to develop their own lists of local resources and emergency contacts for on-farm handbooks.

The guides focus on facility and infrastructure considerations to minimize disruptions due to power loss and heavy rain, preparing and securing facilities to protect cattle and property, and describe initial recovery following a hurricane.

Global Dairy Trade index jumps more than 8%

The index of Global Dairy Trade (GDT) dairy product prices rose 8.3% in the latest auction, held July 7. It represents one of the largest index increases dating back to the second half of 2016.

A price summary of individual product categories follows:

  • Skim milk powder was up 3.5% to $2,694 per metric ton (MT).
  • Butter was up 3% to $3,717 per MT.
  • Whole milk powder was up 14% to $3,208 per MT.
  • Cheddar cheese was up 3.3% to $3,762 per MT.

The next GDT auction is July 21.

Dairy-state hay acreage takes another small step back

Heading into spring, it looked like U.S. growers intended to devote more acreage to hay in 2020 than in either 2019 or 2018. By the end of June, that anticipated increase has all but disappeared.

The USDA released its annual Acreage report on June 30, providing an estimate of crop acreage after most 2020-21 crop planting is done. Based on grower surveys conducted during the first two weeks of June, the report estimates hay producers intend to harvest 52.4 million acres of all hay in 2020, down about 44,000 acres from 2019 and down about 902,000 acres from the USDA’s March Prospective Plantings report. If realized, this will represent the lowest total hay harvested area since 1908.

Among major dairy states, Wisconsin leads all states in reduced all hay acreage in 2020, down 230,000 acres from 2019 and down 280,000 acres from March intentions. California’s 2020 estimate of 825,000 acres is down another 185,000 acres from last year, continuing a steep reduction from the 1.55 million acres in 2012. Montana, Missouri, Texas, New York and Nevada are all down at least 100,000 acres in 2020. Biggest gains are in Kansas (+450,000 acres) and Nebraska (+220,000 acres).

U.S. alfalfa hay area is down 391,000 acres from 2019, with much of that decline in the 24 major dairy states, which are forecast 368,000 acres lower, collectively.

However, the loss of alfalfa acreage is almost entirely recouped in “other hay” acreage in 2020, up 347,000 acres from 2019. While the major dairy states will see a 360,000-acre increase, most of that is attributed to a huge jump in Kansas (+550,000 acres).

For more on hay acreage, exports and market conditions, check out Progressive Forage’s Forage Market Insights update.

California QIP goes to court, July 28

The next scheduled stop to determine the future of California’s Quota Implementation Plan (QIP) is in a courtroom, July 28. A lawsuit, filed by Stop QIP Dairy Tax Coalition in the Sacramento Superior Court, alleges the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been conducting the QIP illegally and that all collection of funds and distribution of quota payments should cease immediately.

The United Dairy Families of California (UDFC), which opposes the elimination of the QIP without compensation for holders of quota, was joined by the Western United Dairies in filing an amici curae ("friend of the court") brief in support of CDFA. The document provides background information on the QIP and its implementation.

CDFA began administering a stand-alone QIP, also called the Quota Administration Plan (QAP), with California’s entry into the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) system. For background, find the plan on the CDFA hearing matrix website.

Other things related to the QIP are pending:

  • An administrative law judge has yet to issue a recommendation to CDFA Secretary Karen Ross on whether to hold a referendum calling for suspension of the California Food and Agriculture Code (Chapter 3.5). The request, filed by Stop QIP Dairy Tax Coalition, was the subject of a hearing on June 9-10. If a referendum is held and suspension is approved, the action would effectively terminate the QIP. Multiple hearing and post-hearing briefs are posted on the California Milk Producers Council website.

  • Ross has not yet validated more than 300 petitions submitted on June 8 by the UDFC calling for a referendum to consider a proposed five-year sunset on the QIP.

Study warns consumers of raw milk about anti-microbial resistance

Improperly stored raw or unpasteurized milk can hold high levels of anti-microbial-resistant genes, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California – Davis (UC – Davis). The study also found bacteria that harbored anti-microbial-resistant genes can transfer them to other bacteria, potentially spreading resistance if consumed.

The UC – Davis researchers analyzed more than 2,000 retail milk samples from five states, including raw milk and milk pasteurized in different ways. The study found raw milk had the highest prevalence of antibiotic-resistant microbes when left at room temperature. The study was published in the journal Microbiome.

Lead author Jinxin Liu, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of food science and technology at UC – Davis, said the warning was not meant to keep people from drinking raw milk, but rather to educate them on the importance of proper refrigeration and handling.

An estimated 3% of the U.S. population consumes raw milk. Raw milk is often touted to consumers as having an abundant supply of probiotics, or healthy bacteria, compared with pasteurized milk. UC – Davis researchers did not find that to be the case, and if raw milk is left at room temperature, it creates dramatically more anti-microbial-resistant genes than pasteurized milk.

Some consumers intentionally let raw milk sit outside of the refrigerator at room temperature to ferment in order to make what’s known as clabber. Co-author and chair of the UC – Davis Dairy Food Science Department, David Mills, said if consumers eat raw milk clabber, they are likely adding a high number of anti-microbial-resistant genes to their gut.

Livestock groups seek ‘mandatory price reporting’ hearing

The U.S. Cattlemen's Association (USCA), National Farmers Union (NFU) and 11 other organizations sent a letter to leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee requesting a hearing on livestock mandatory price reporting reauthorization.

The Livestock Mandatory Reporting rule, established in 1999, mandates price reporting for cattle, boxed beef, swine and lamb. It is reauthorized every five years, with the current program expiring on Sept. 30, 2020.

In May, U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jon Tester (D-Montana) introduced S. 3693, a bill that would require a minimum of 50% of each packer processing plant’s weekly volume of beef slaughter to come as a result of purchases made on the open market or spot market.

Concerns expressed by stakeholders regard the low volume of negotiated purchases and a parallel trend toward increased formula purchases or other marketing arrangements. Other concerns include confidentiality and a lack of clarity on how transactions are categorized in reports.

Progressive Dairy COVID-19 resources

Progressive Dairy frequently provides updates on COVID-19 news and resources on a special webpage.

Updates for July 6 cover information about new and extended “food box” contracts that include more than $288 million dairy products, the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application period, Cal/OSHA compliance visits on Merced County dairies and more.

There’s also information on event changes and cancellations; a list of recent dairy organization podcasts related to COVID-19; a comprehensive list of other state, regional and national resources; and helpful articles previously appearing on the Progressive Dairy website.  end mark

Dave Natzke