Here is a summary of news released this week that will have an impact on your dairy operation.

Lee karen
Managing Editor / Progressive Dairy

How does your farm employee compensation compare? 

Compensation is essential for retaining and attracting workers on the farm, but how do you know if you are offering the going rate?

Cornell Cooperative Extension Agricultural Workforce Development is inviting producers to participate in its 2024 farm employee compensation benchmark project.

There is no cost to participate, and farms who provide at least one usable employee entry will receive a report of the results and an invitation to attend a webinar discussion of the findings.

It only takes about 10 minutes per employee to enter data from 2023 on hours worked, pay earned and non-wage benefits received.


Farms with more complex workforces should enter multiple employees. Choose a few representative front-line employees plus any middle managers or even more senior managers in the business.

All information will be kept confidential. Only aggregate data, with no way to identify farms or individuals, will be published or shared.

Online Dairy Margin Coverage program update offered on March 22

UW – Madison Division of Extension will be hosting a virtual meeting featuring Leonard Polzin. He will cover what a producer needs to know for the 2024 Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) sign-up and walk-through changes to the DMC program that could affect current and previous years’ coverage from the program. 

Polzin, UW Extension dairy markets and policy outreach specialist, will discuss the DMC decision tool that was developed to help producers decide on the level of coverage necessary, with a variety of conditions, to help determine the strongest financial safety net for their farm.

The program will be held on Friday, March 22, at 11 a.m. (CDT) online utilizing the Zoom platform. Register online to participate in the meeting.

If you need assistance registering, call Jackie McCarville, regional dairy educator, at (608) 576-0147.

The USDA began accepting applications for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program Feb. 28 for enrollment in 2024. The deadline to apply for this program is April 29.

More information on the DMC program can be found on the Farm Service Agency’s website.

NMPF releases annual report

On March 6, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) released its annual report, chronicling the organization’s activities and accomplishments of the past year.

“Guided by the unanimous support of our member cooperatives, we led the industry through a challenging hearing on the Federal Milk Marketing Order system. We also led advocacy for improvements in the Dairy Margin Coverage program, successfully pushed against EPA overreach on emissions and gained ground in the fight against FDA guidance on plant-based beverage labels,” said Gregg Doud, NMPF president and CEO.

This is the first annual report presented under Doud’s leadership of the organization, since he became president and CEO following Jim Mulhern’s retirement at the end of 2023.

House passes package of first six spending bills

The House of Representatives passed a $460 billion package of spending bills, including agriculture, on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to take up the legislation before a midnight Friday, March 8, shutdown deadline.

Read: Economic Update: Congress releases first six budget bills, including agriculture

GDT index drops 2.3%

The price index of dairy product prices sold on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) platform fell by 2.3% in an auction held March 5. Compared to the previous auction, prices for individual product categories were mixed, led by roughly 4% increases in the prices for butter milk powder, cheddar cheese and lactose. Anhydrous milkfat posted a smaller increase at 1.4%. Skim milk powder experienced the largest decrease at 5.2%, while whole milk powder, butter and mozzarella had smaller decreases in price.

The GDT platform offers dairy products from several global companies: Fonterra (New Zealand), Darigold, Valley Milk and Dairy America (U.S.), Amul (India), Arla (Denmark), Arla Foods Ingredients (Denmark) and Polish Dairy (Poland).

The next GDT auction is March 19.

Canadian cow, heifer numbers down slightly

As of Jan. 1, 2024, there were 963,600 dairy cows in Canada, down about 1,000 head from the year before, according to data compiled by the USDA and Statistics Canada. 

The report also estimated there were 407,300 dairy heifers aged 1 year or older, down about 2,500 from a year earlier.

The 2024 Canadian total would be equal to the combined dairy herds of Ohio, Michigan and New Mexico in the U.S.

Previously, the USDA National Ag Statistics Service estimated the number of dairy cows calving in the past year in the U.S. at 9.4 million head, unchanged from Jan. 1, 2023. Dairy replacement heifers weighing more than 500 pounds were estimated at 4.1 million, down 14,400 head from a year earlier.