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Dairy industry leaders applaud USTR for calling out GI abuse

May 7, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) last Friday released its annual Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Among issues noted in the report was the European Union’s (EU’s) policy of blocking competition through the pursuit of geographical indications (GIs) restricting the use of common food and beverage terms, including those on many cheeses.

“Intellectual property rights incentivize our creators, manufacturers and innovators to invent new products and technologies,” says U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. “The laws, policies and practices that protect those rights must appropriately balance the interests of creators with those seeking to use their creations.”

The report notes concerns persist with the EU’s aggressive promotion of its exclusionary GI policies. The United States continues its intensive engagement in promoting and protecting access to foreign markets for U.S. exporters of products that are identified by common names or otherwise marketed under previously registered trademarks.

“As part of its agreement negotiations, the EU pressures trading partners to prevent all producers, other than in certain EU regions, from using certain product names, such as fontina, gorgonzola, parmesan, asiago or feta. This is despite the fact that these terms are the common names for product produced in countries around the world,” the report states.

The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) commended Tai and the USTR office staff, as well as USDA and other administration partners, for reaffirming the U.S. government’s commitment to tackling EU misuse of legitimate GI protections in the Special 301 Report.

“USTR has accurately diagnosed the problem. Now the task before the U.S. is to take the necessary steps to effectively curb this scourge to U.S. food and agricultural producers,” says Jaime Castaneda, executive director, CCFN. “The EU’s GI policy is intentionally barring competition from a host of other suppliers that all simply seek a level playing field including small and medium-sized family-owned companies, farmer-owned cooperatives, producers in developing countries and other actors throughout the supply chain that bear the brunt of these harmful restrictions. The U.S. must build on past advances to pursue a more proactive and effective path to combating the misuse of GIs by establishing concrete market access protections for the use of widely used terms.”

CCFN filed extensive comments with USTR outlining GI-related developments, foreign governments’ roles in driving those policies and the impacts on U.S. farmers and food producers. NMPF and USDEC also submitted comments supporting CCFN’s global overview and the need for a more robust U.S. trade policy approach to tackling GI abuses.

“U.S. dairy farmers and processors are counting on the U.S. government to have their back and defend their rights to cultivate opportunities around the world,” says Krysta Harden, president and CEO, USDEC. “Our industry produces great products here at home and then works hard to market them overseas. To be as successful as possible, however, they count on strong U.S. government support to head off and combat unfair trade barriers such as geographical indications that ban the use of generic cheese terms. We want to partner with USTR to help bring the right policy tools to bear to make headway on this thorny issue.”

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF, notes that last year, more than 170 members of Congress urged an expansion of the trade toolkit the United States deploys to deal with GIs that block the use of common food names.

“It’s time to put that into practice and secure affirmative protections for the key common terms on which U.S. cheesemakers and other food producers rely,” he says. “We look forward to working more closely with USTR to achieve those gains to keep doors around the world open to made-in-America products.”

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) also says it is pleased with the Special 301 Report and USTR’s strong acknowledgement of the EU’s abuse of legitimate intellectual property rights through its GI policies.

“In particular we appreciate and agree with USTR’s recognition that the EU’s GI policies are inconsistent with World Trade Organization obligations under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, and that even European countries fail to abide by the EU’s GI policies by continuing to export protected cheeses from non-origin countries,” says Becky Rasdall, vice president for trade policy and international affairs, IDFA.

USTR reviewed more than 100 trading partners for this year’s Special 301 Report and continued its enhanced approach to public engagement activities in this year’s process. USTR requested written submissions from the public through a notice published in the Dec. 15, 2020, Federal Register, and the notice drew submissions from 50 non-government stakeholders and 22 foreign governments. The submissions filed in response to the Federal Register notice are available to the public online at www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2020-0041. The 2021 Special 301 Report is available at ustr.gov.

CMN


Millennials reflect on work/life balance, diversity, mentorship

May 7, 2021

Editor’s note: “Mind of a Millennial” is CMN’s segment tapping into the unique perspectives of dairy industry professionals of the millennial generation. As this segment of the population takes on increasing leadership roles at companies across the industry, we delve into the challenges millennials face in today’s fast-paced workforce, from communication to management style to work/life balance.

MADISON, Wis. — As much of the working world went virtual this past year, companies now are looking at how best to facilitate office hours, work meetings and other communications as workers return to a “new normal.”

Working professionals from the millennial generation have a unique perspective on various forms of communication as they’ve experienced a world that evolved from in-person events and traditional office settings to webinars and remote work.

In this segment of Mind of a Millennial, panelists reflect on work/life balance, generational diversity and communication, and what lessons they’ve learned from their mentors throughout their careers.
This round’s participants are:

• Beth Crave, director of quality assurance and customer service, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wisconsin

• Ilana Fischer, CEO, Whisps, New York City

• Stacy Schnabel, sales and marketing coordinator, Loos Machine & Automation, Colby, Wisconsin

• Jackie Seibel, director of research and development, Sartori Cheese, Plymouth, Wisconsin

• Alex Walsh, associate vice president of regulatory affairs, Northeast Dairy Foods Association
Inc., Syracuse, New York

1. What are some of the pros and cons of using virtual meeting platforms versus in-person meetings? How does video conferencing technology add to the atmosphere of a remote meeting instead of traditional conference calls?

Crave: Virtual meetings or events have become the new norm. They definitely have their advantages and disadvantages. Being virtual, I’m still able to work and be available to my team members right up to the start of the meeting, not needing to leave the building. I find that I can complete more work during those times since I don’t have the drive time to and from meeting and events. The one downside of this is not physically seeing people outside of the workplace. I’m a very social person and I extremely miss getting together in person, whether it be meeting a new sales rep for the first time or giving a hug to a colleague you haven’t seen in a while. Virtual meetings just do not give me the same atmosphere as in-person meetings.

Fischer: What’s interesting is that going digital has made our business more inclusive as many of our sales and field marketing teammates worked remote before and couldn’t participate in all team building activities. Going 100% digital has made us a more inclusive company for everyone and helps us all feel more like “one team.” One thing has become clear: Working from home works for most companies. I believe, however, that in 2021 you’ll begin to see hybrids of companies strategically combining in-office and remote work. Offices will be the place for people to gather and brainstorm together, something our team has noted within internal surveys they’ve found harder to do remotely. Simultaneously, our day-to-day work is happening seamlessly at home, thanks to instant messaging for short conversations and video chats for longer discussions.

Schnabel: Online meetings, like any other thing in life, have their advantages and disadvantages. Virtual meetings tend to be a bit more structured. They are the most cost-effective, convenient and time-saving mode of communication, but they also greatly reduce personal connection. In my opinion, the best mode of communication is face-to-face communication. Many things can be understood from a facial expression or body language. With the absence of this, there is a chance of misunderstanding.

Seibel: Virtual meeting platforms are very efficient. It enables people to meet, even when they may be across the world. It can be difficult, but not impossible, to build relationships by meeting virtually. There can be hurdles when others are not familiar with a platform or if there are bad connections/audio. It’s important that we can each be patient with one another and also be good teachers to get us all comfortable. I appreciate the flexibility that video conferencing offers since you can treat any platform just like a conference call and go without video, but the video is there if desired. Being able to screen share has been a huge help when training or trying to problem solve, too.

Walsh: The No. 1 pro to using virtual meeting platforms for meetings is flexibility. You don’t need to account for drive time, finding parking, weather or other things that make a one-hour meeting a half-day affair, and really lessens the stress of my schedule. In my role as our association’s lobbyist, I can meet virtually with a New York legislator at 10 and a Maine legislator at 10:30. It has really opened up peoples’ availability and made it easier to “meet” with people and coordinate an available time. The biggest con for me is missing that authentic interaction, like being able to shake the person’s hand. Not to mention the usual tech-related problems that we (yes, even millennials) run into.

2. How can millennials help to encourage generational diversity in the remote work environment and foster greater collaboration with more acceptance and understanding?

Crave: Being a manufacturing facility, it is not possible to work remotely. My job is very hands on in the day-to-day operation as is all other staff members at Crave Brothers.
The one piece of advice I would have to foster greater collaboration would be for everyone to turn on their camera and participate during a video call or meeting. It is very disrespectful to others who have taken time out of their schedules not to actively participate and be involved.

Fischer: Our company culture of showing up for each other isn’t just limited to in-office meetings or our internal team. Our team pushed us to “do cheddar” — our version of do better — when the pandemic and other cultural events occurred. Every teammate having a voice and open space to provide feedback free from fear has been critical to our culture and company growth.

We work to have inclusive company discussions and events for all generations, like an upcoming overview of TikTok, sharing favorite family holiday traditions and guessing who is who from baby photos.

We also try not to be closed off to what is happening in the world. For example, when COVID-19 took hold in the U.S. last March, our team quickly recommended and then created a program to donate more than 500,000 Whisps to frontline health care workers across the country needing a healthy, individually packaged snack to sustain them during their extremely long shifts. Additionally, as part of our country’s national dialogue on racism, our team committed to educating ourselves on the issue though books and speakers, raised significant funds for the NAACP, and looked internally at our marketing and sales strategy to ensure we reached and amplified the voices of diverse backgrounds and lifestyles.

Schnabel: Organizations that embrace generational diversity in the workplace develop an environment that encourages participation and collaboration between age groups.

Employees simply want to feel valued for what they can add to an organization as an individual. While each generation has different norms when it comes to doing business, we all have unique skill sets, personalities and work habits that we bring to the table and make us stand out. Embrace different working and learning styles. Unique perspectives and ideas are a benefit to a workplace. If an employee has a unique way of doing things but still gets the job done, it should be respected — not changed.

Seibel: The first step is recognizing that diversity exists, and that people have different backgrounds and experiences. It is important to take that next step and invite inclusion. Be curious and authentic. Ask others how they are doing and ask more specific follow-up questions if the reply is generic. Make the time to take the time to form a symbiotic connection. You will be surprised how much you can help each other.

Walsh: I think that even as we start transitioning back to more “normal” routines, virtual and remote work will still remain in place to some degree. It’s easy to get frustrated when someone can’t get their camera or microphone to work, or a toddler is screaming in the background (I know that one from personal experience), but you have to have patience and realize that it really isn’t a huge problem. My advice is to make it as fun and interactive as possible for all participants. I once threw up a virtual background of the Oval Office for a meeting and it generated a few laughs but also turned into a teaching moment, and I showed other folks how to make a virtual background. I come from a generation that, generally speaking, would rather text or email than make a phone call. And there’s other generations that are opposed to virtual meetings. So no matter what generation you are a part of, we all need to remember that we are making the best out of a not-ideal situation, and need to work together to accomplish the goal we are seeking. Hopefully, the concept of being understanding to others’ situations lives for a long time past the pandemic.

3. What sort of hours do you work? Are you traditional 9-5, second or third shift or do you have flex hours? If given the opportunity to choose, what sort of schedule would you prefer?

Crave: My typical work schedule is 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but I am very flexible in my schedule. I am part of the team at Crave Brothers, so if I need to come in early or stay late, I do. Whatever it takes to get the job completed successfully.

I also value the flexibility my job has. Being a family-owned business, they understand different situations that may arise personally and are willing to work with you.

Fischer: It is important to build flexibility into schedules to help people work from home more efficiently and practically for their lifestyle. We’ve found success in implementing “meeting-free Friday afternoons” and do not believe in a “no emails after 5 p.m.” philosophy. With many parents on our team, including myself, we want to make sure we really support them so that they can balance family and work and have the flexibility they need to succeed. To me, this means not being prescriptive about hours, so that people can get their work done when it works for them, as long as it works for the rest of the team as well.

Schnabel: A typical work week is 45-50 hours Monday through Friday. Over the years, I’ve managed to maintain a high level of efficiency at work, which allows me to have a consistent full-time work schedule. However, I am willing to work late nights or weekends for difficult or important projects.

Seibel: I mainly work normal business hours and flex time according to business and family needs. If I could choose, I would like to flex my hours more, for example working more hours for 4 days/week a few times a year.

Walsh: Technically, I have “normal” office hours — 8-4:30 Monday through Friday, which is what I prefer. But, you can usually find me answering emails, phone calls or handling the association’s social media accounts before I leave the house and when I get home or on the weekends. Sometimes, in my line of work, an issue happens that needs immediate attention, which as we all know, the dairy industry is 24/7, 365. But, with a wife and two kids and other hats I wear, I am fortunate to have a great work/life balance.

4. How can dairy and cheese companies successfully attract, hire and retain the different generations? From a millennial perspective, what are some of the inclusive recruitment strategies that can be implemented?

Fischer: I believe a solid company culture and clear, individual growth opportunities are paramount to attracting and retaining fantastic teammates.

Our culture is ingrained in our core values, particularly how we look to spark more joy in people’s lives, especially for our team! Oh, and we must celebrate our love of cheese, too (we’re all cheese fanatics!).

From poems of appreciation to very “PUNny” birthday celebrations, we make sure to provide endless amounts of team-bonding and recognition activities, especially now that we’re remote. This includes our weekly wine and cheese happy hours (which have continued over Zoom while working remote) and our employee recognition awards for doing a “Wheely Grate” job.

As far as career opportunities go, Whisps is a very lean but mighty team, so management provides numerous opportunities for employees to grow and do meaningful work that directly impacts the business and the world. Our leadership team is goals-oriented and instills that ethos across the company along with positivity, proactivity and transparency. They ensure the whole team is clear on what success looks like and tracks and shares our performance against those goals weekly. As one employee states, “Our leadership team is very goal focused but always positive in achieving and making those goals happen. It brings a real sense of clarity and prioritization to my work. ” Employees also stated that seeing their work directly contribute to the success of the company is one of the things that makes them most happy about their job.

Schnabel: Opportunities for an improved salary or prospects to climb the corporate ladder will obviously entice top employee talent to search for new job opportunities that will allow them to advance their careers. However, better workplace environments and healthier company cultures also lure employees away from their current jobs.

Working for a smaller company, I don’t think inclusive recruitment can be automated. It takes careful processes and approaches to be successful, and as with all things related to diversity and inclusion at work, it isn’t just a box to be ticked. Every time you recruit, it requires new thinking and questioning to ensure you are doing everything to attract the best candidates and allow them to succeed.

Seibel: Treat people well. Ask and listen to feedback, and try to accommodate people’s needs to meet them where they are in life. For recruitment, try to be transparent about pros and cons of a position to find the best match.

Walsh: This has been a hot topic with members of our association for a couple of years now. There is a shortage and struggle with obtaining and retaining qualified employees in the dairy food industry. We need to attack this in a few different ways. The first is by planting the seed early and start introducing these types of jobs and careers to middle and high school students, and get them involved in apprenticeship or internship programs that can transition into a full-time job. The second is by highlighting the benefits these jobs come with: great, competitive pay, sign-on bonuses, retirement plans, advancement opportunities, certificate or higher educational compensation, and the other perks many companies are offering. Lastly, we need to rewrite the narrative and highlight and emphasize why someone should work in the dairy food industry, something like “help feed the world.” The message needs to resonate with all generations and make them feel like what they’re doing has a larger impact than what they may think.

5. Has a mentor or co-worker from a different generation shared a piece of advice with you that still resonates with you to this day? How has it helped you grow professionally?

Crave: I have been in the dairy industry for 15 years now. Looking back when I first started, I had very little knowledge about the industry. I have gained so much knowledge from our production manager, Kurt Premo. He has been in the dairy industry his whole life. He has a wealth of knowledge, and I try to obtain as much as I can each day I work with him. Everything I’ve learned from Kurt I’ve been able to apply each and every day. It has enabled me to be more confident in my work and be able to better communicate with our customers.

Fischer: Yes, many! Neal Schuman told me once that all operations projects cost twice as much and take twice as long as they are expected to, and that has certainly turned out to be true! In all seriousness, watching Neal run a company helped me to see that, in spite of all of the remote and electronic ways of communication we have today, sometimes the best thing you can do is pick up the phone or stop by someone’s office for a personal chat. And he taught me that it is always, always most important to invest in people and relationships, and to treat your customers as partners.

Schnabel: Listen to your elders. People who’ve lived through generations play a vital role in how our society functions. Listening to the stories and experiences of older generations — whether it’s a family member, neighbor or coworker — can help us understand history and how to better shape our future. So, keep an open mind. Listen and follow advice when needed.

Seibel: There is a lot of advice I collect and try to use at the right moments. One I think of frequently is intent versus impact — conflict generally is derived from a gap between the two. I try hard to state my intention when entering a tough conversation, and I work to understand others’ intentions when something hits me the wrong way. Also, it comes in handy to separate the two when mediating conflicts from individuals or teams.

Walsh: My previous boss passed away about a year ago from cancer. He was a tremendous mentor and a passionate advocate for the dairy industry. When he learned of his prognosis, he emphasized the importance of how short life really is, and how, yes, your job is important, but so is spending time with family, cherishing moments with friends and doing things you enjoy. There will always be other jobs, but not always another family or friend. Don’t let work consume you. Be there for your spouse and kids. This is easier said than done some days, but I try to remember his voice telling me, “it can wait until tomorrow, enjoy the time with your family.” You can still get your work done and be successful, but take care of the really important things, too.

CMN


Hilmar Cheese announces new cheese, whey facility in Kansas

May 7, 2021

HILMAR, Calif. — Hilmar Cheese Co. and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly this week jointly announced the company’s decision to build a new state-of-the-art cheese and whey protein processing plant in Dodge City, Kansas.

Hilmar Cheese, founded in 1984, is one of the world’s largest producers of American-style cheese and whey products, with customers in more than 50 countries.

Hilmar is expected to break ground on the facility this summer and be fully operational in 2024.
The new facility is expected to create 247 new jobs and represents $460 million in capital investment. The project is estimated to bring an additional $550 million in capital investment and 750 new jobs within a 50-mile radius of Dodge City by late 2023.

Hilmar Cheese Co. President and CEO David Ahlem says Dodge City is an “ideal choice” given its central location, critical existing infrastructure, proximity to the growing local dairy industry and business-friendly climate.

Gov. Kelly adds that the region’s workforce and central location make Kansas one of the best places in the nation to do business.

“It’s great to see another major food manufacturer like Hilmar choose to put their trust in our state and Dodge City for their newest facility,” she says.

The state-of-the-art facility will showcase sustainable solutions.

Hilmar Cheese notes the company has adopted the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment and goal to achieve a net zero dairy industry by 2050.

“We want our plant to be as good for the environment as it will be for the local economy,” Ahlem says. “We’ll use technologies and sustainable practices to promote carbon neutrality.”

Nick Hernandez, city manager, notes that one of the biggest advantages for both Hilmar Cheese and Dodge City is the cohesive nature of both parties’ sustainability efforts.

“They have a standing commitment to being stewards of the environment much like Dodge City, and through this mutually beneficial partnership, we will be able to further utilize our wastewater for crop irrigation and biogas production,” he says.

The new facility will help Hilmar Cheese meet the growing demand of its customers and the marketplace for cheese and whey products worldwide. In addition to job creation,the plant will create opportunities for the Dodge City community, promote growth for Kansas dairy producers and help Hilmar Cheese fulfill its purpose to improve lives, Ahlem says.

Joann Knight, executive director, Dodge City/Ford County Development Corp., says the economic impact to the community “will be compounded substantially by the additional dairies, transportation and services that will be required to support the processing facility once operational as well as the impact that the construction phase will have on our region.”

“We greatly appreciate the warm welcome from the state of Kansas and the City of Dodge City officials whose values of integrity and excellence closely align with ours,” Ahlem says. “Dodge City gives us many opportunities including a local and skilled labor force, a supportive and expanding agricultural region, and an excellent transportation network that allows us to easily reach our expanding markets.

“We’re really happy with our decision and excited about becoming a part of this outstanding community,” he adds.

CMN



Stickney Hill’s The Humble Goat brand expands flavors, honors community

ROCKVILLE, Minn. — Named after the location where it all started, Stickney Hill Dairy was founded in 1999. Growing up on a dairy farm, David Lenzmeier saw growing demand for goat milk and transitioned into goat farming with a friend after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. In 2004, Lenzmeier took over operations of the Kimball, Minnesota, goat farm, and with his wife, Frankie, started to grow their goat’s milk cheesemaking business from a farmstead plant located at the bottom of Stickney Hill.

A year later, the Lenzmeiers decided to sell their herd of goats to local producers, buying their milk and focusing solely on cheese production.

“Back in the day, we were selling locally to co-ops in Minnesota, local distributors and restaurants,” says Frankie Lenzmeier, co-owner, Stickney Hill Dairy. “Chefs started to really like it. It was the beginning of the farm-to-table movement, and it was wonderful that local businesses could create and share their artisinal cheeses.”

They started with four flavors of Chevre under the Stickney Hill brand — Plain, Honey, Tomato Basil and Garlic and Herb — and over the years have greatly expanded their flavors, production and distribution.

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U.S. cheese production rises 0.9% in 2020 versus prior year

April 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. cheese production in 2020, excluding cottage cheese, totaled 13.25 billion pounds, up 0.9% from 2019, according to revised annual data in the Dairy Products 2020 Summary released this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) (all figures are rounded).

Italian cheese varieties in 2020 totaled 5.63 billion pounds, down 0.8% from 2019 production, accounting for 42.4% of total cheese in 2020, USDA reports. Mozzarella accounted for 79.1% of the Italian cheese production at 4.45 billion pounds, down 1.0% from 2019. Parmesan totaled 418.8 million pounds, up 1.6%. U.S. Provolone production in 2020 was 366.4 million pounds, down 4.6%. Ricotta production totaled 258.9 million pounds, up 5.8%.

American-type cheese production in 2020 totaled 5.34 billion pounds, up 2.0% from 2019 and accounting for 40.3% of total 2020 cheese production. Cheddar accounted for 71.7% of American-type cheese production at 3.83 billion pounds, up 2.4% from 2019.

Wisconsin was the leading state for total cheese production in 2020, producing 3.39 billion pounds of cheese or 25.6% of total U.S. production. Wisconsin also was the leading producer of Italian cheeses with 29.3% of total U.S. production, and American-type cheese production with 19.9% of total U.S. production.

U.S. production of cream cheese and Neufchatel totaled 1.01 billion pounds in 2020, up 8.2% from 2019.
Hispanic cheese production increased 4.3% in 2020 to 347.4 million pounds. Feta production increased 5.8% to 137.5 million pounds.

Swiss cheese production fell 4.0% in 2020 to 324.9 million pounds. Muenster production fell 4.3% to 188.5 million pounds.

Blue and Gorgonzola production as well as Brick production each fell 19.7%, to 76.1 million pounds and 1.6 million pounds, respectively.

U.S. butter production in 2020 totaled 2.15 billion pounds, up 7.6% from 2019. California was the leading state with 31.1% of total butter production, or 667.7 million pounds in 2020.

U.S. production of nonfat dry milk (human) in 2020 totaled 1.99 billion pounds, up 7.6% from 2019. Skim milk powder production in 2020 totaled 695.2 million pounds, up 21.4% from 2019.

U.S. dry whey production in 2020 totaled 951.0 million pounds, down 2.7% from 2019. Lactose (human and animal) production in 2020 totaled 1.10 billion pounds, down 10.1% from the previous year. Whey protein concentrate production totaled 477.7 million pounds, down 2.7% from 2019.

Total U.S. production of regular ice cream in 2020 was 913.6 million gallons, up 3.9% from 2019. Lowfat ice cream totaled 482.5 million gallons, up 1.8%, and frozen yogurt production totaled 35.5 million gallons, down 37.7% from 2019.

NASS also reports in its Milk Production, Disposition, and Income 2020 Summary released this week that total milk production in 2020 increased 2.2% to 223.22 billion pounds. The highest milk-producing state was California, with 41.28 million pounds in 2020, up 1.7% from 2019.

CMN


NMPF seeks hearing on order reform; other proposal unveiled

April 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — The National Milk Producers Federation’s (NMPF) board of directors recently voted to request an emergency USDA hearing on a federal milk marketing order proposal to restore fairness for farmers in the Class I fluid milk price mover. The endorsement of the board, which represents dairy farmers and cooperatives nationwide, follows approval from the organization’s executive committee earlier this month.

The NMPF plan would ensure that farmers recover lost revenue and establish more equitable distribution of risk among dairy farmers and processors. The current mover was adopted in the 2018 Farm Bill and intended to be revenue neutral while facilitating increased price risk management by fluid milk bottlers. However, the new Class I mover contributed to disorderly marketing conditions last year during the height of the pandemic and cost dairy farmers more than $725 million in lost income. NMPF’s proposal would help recoup the lost revenue and ensure that neither farmers nor processors are disproportionately harmed by future significant price disruptions.

“As the COVID-19 experience has shown, market stresses can shift the mover in ways that affect dairy farmers much more than processors. This was not the intent of the Class I mover formula negotiated within the industry,” says Randy Mooney, dairy farmer and chairman of NMPF’s board of directors. “The current mover was explicitly developed to be a revenue-neutral solution to the concerns of fluid milk processors about hedging their price risk, with equity among market participants a stated goal.

“Dairy farmers were pleased with the previous method of determining Class I prices and had no need to change it, but we tried to accommodate the concerns of fluid processors for better risk management,” Mooney adds. “Unfortunately, the severe imbalances we’ve seen in the past year plainly show that a modified approach is necessary. We will urge USDA to adopt our plan to restore equity and create more orderly marketing conditions.”

While the current Class I mover was designed to improve the ability of fluid milk handlers to hedge milk prices using the futures market, it also was expected to be revenue neutral compared to the formula it replaced. But that has not been the case, NMPF notes. The significant gaps between Class III and IV prices that developed during the pandemic exposed dairy farmers to losses that were not experienced by processors, showing the need for a formula that better accounts for disorderly market conditions.

NMPF’s proposal would modify the current Class I mover, which adds $0.74 per hundredweight to the monthly average of Classes III and IV, by adjusting this amount every two years based on conditions over the prior 24 months, with the current mover remaining the floor. NMPF’s request will be to limit the hearing specifically to proposed changes to the mover, after which USDA would have 30 days to issue an action plan that would determine whether USDA would act on an emergency basis​.

Meanwhile, this week Wisconsin-based Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, along with Dairy Business Association (DBA) and farm groups in Minnesota and Nebraska, proposed an alternate idea for a USDA emergency hearing.

These groups propose “Class III Plus,” which would create a different mover — called an adjuster — that ties only the Class III skim milk price to the Class I skim milk price. The adjuster is initially set at $0.36 per hundredweight, and this value would be reviewed and changed by USDA each year by looking at movement of the higher of Class III and IV skim milk prices in the last 36 months.

Notably, the proposal ends advanced pricing of Class I milk, which can contribute to negatives producer price differentials (PPDs), the groups say.

“Our proposal looks to the future, instead of merely focusing on clawing back revenue for two years,” Edge says.

The groups’ Class III Plus concept “would make lasting changes to the milk pricing system that will limit negative PPDs in the future and the possible negative effects from future crises,” they note.

CMN


Biden gives address to Congress, outlines American Families Plan

April 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — During his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden highlighted the progress the United States has made on pandemic recovery and laid out his strategy to create additional jobs and lift more families out of poverty. The linchpin of that strategy is the American Families Plan, a comprehensive package that would invest $1.8 trillion in education, childcare, nutrition assistance and paid leave.

A longtime advocate of strengthening the nutrition safety net, National Farmers Union (NFU) says it was heartened by the president’s attention to food insecurity, especially in light of the added challenges caused by the pandemic.

“Though the issue of hunger has received a lot of attention over the past year, it certainly isn’t a new problem, and it won’t just disappear when the pandemic ends,” says NFU President Rob Larew. “Fortunately, we already have a safety net to catch families when money is tight — but it isn’t strong or wide enough to support everyone who needs help. President Biden’s bid to expand free school meals and summer EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) is an important step towards reinforcing our existing system so that it can accommodate all Americans experiencing food insecurity.”

One of the reforms included in Biden’s American Families Plan is a change in the way capital gains are treated in the U.S. tax system so that for people making more than $1 million, the tax system no longer favors income from wealth over income from work. The plan won’t raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, according to USDA.

To offset the cost of the plan, President Biden is proposing an array of tax reforms, including the elimination of stepped-up basis. In an overview, the White House says that such a change would “be designed with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.”

Larew says he had reservations about the pay-for provisions and is seeking more information.
“While we support many of the recommendations in the American Families Plan, we have questions about how these tax proposals will impact our farms and ranches,” he says. “The devil is in the details.”

President Biden also emphasized the necessity for immigration reform, asking Congress to offer undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship by passing his U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. Under the bill, farm workers would be fast-tracked for naturalization and would be granted greater protections.

“We’re pleased that President Biden has kept immigration reform among his top priorities,” Larew says. “It’s very clear that our farm labor system is falling short; it is not providing a steady stream of qualified workers for agricultural employers, nor is it offering necessary protections or a clear future for agricultural workers. Because the U.S. Citizenship Act seeks to meet both parties’ needs, it would go a long way towards building the farm labor system we all deserve.”

In addition to economic recovery and immigration reform, climate leadership was a focus of the address. Included on the president’s list of recommendations for action was incentivizing climate-smart agricultural practices, an approach backed by NFU and many other farm groups.

“Farmers know that they can be part of the climate solution, and we’re glad to have an ally in the White House who recognizes that potential,” Larew says. “We hope these statements of support are followed by immediate and aggressive action from both Congress and the administration to provide farmers with the tools they need to respond to this crisis.”

Peter G. Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), says CSPI strongly endorses the Biden administration’s American Families Plan, noting it would invest $45 billion to help low-income Americans have greater access to nutrition assistance through the school meals program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other programs. It expands access to free school meals by making it easier for high-poverty schools to qualify under the Community Eligibility Provision, a program that allows schools with at least 40% of students participating in SNAP to serve free meals.

Additionally, the plan ends the policy that prohibits those previously incarcerated for drug-related felonies from receiving SNAP benefits unless individual states modify the policy.

“Considered alongside the American Rescue Act, the American Families Plan would round out the most ambitious anti-poverty program we’ve seen since the Lyndon Johnson administration,” Lurie says. “Its swift passage would bring about a healthier, more resilient and more equitable future as we rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

CMN


Checkoff spotlights dairy sustainability for Earth Day

April 23, 2021

By Trina La Susa

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The national dairy checkoff this week is kicking off new communications strategies to highlight dairy farmers’ longstanding commitment to the environment and their stories of stewardship. Beginning on Earth Day April 22 and continuing into May, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) is showcasing examples of real environmental progress being made on farms and throughout the dairy supply chain.

“At a time when the environment only continues to increase in importance with consumers, the great news is dairy has a solid story to tell that many people aren’t aware of,” says Marilyn Hershey, Pennsylvania dairy farmer and chair of DMI. “We have made progress and we have made commitments and we continue to embrace new technologies that show how much we are dedicated to the health of the planet. Earth Day is dairy’s moment to shine.”

DMI is using its channels, including www.USDairy.com and its social media properties, to publish sustainability-related content, such as videos, articles and infographics highlighting farmer stories.

Other strategies include cultural influencers publishing dairy sustainability content via their social media channels and the recent release of a second video from media partner Vox examining what would happen to nutrition and the environment if the U.S. dairy cow herd were removed. The video is based on the recent U.S. Without Cows study, which can be accessed at https://www.usdairy.com/news-articles/dairy-cows-and-climate-change. The first Vox video on “Cow Power” was released last fall.

“Dairy farmers are environmental leaders. They show their commitment to natural resources in so many ways: from cover cropping and buffer strips, to timely manure application and advanced treatment technologies, to numerous other practices that together make dairy part of the solution to today’s sustainability challenges,” says Nicole Ayache, senior director for sustainability initiatives with the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, which is administered by National Milk Producers Federation. “We know that all of what they do makes a difference. Between 2007 and 2017, the carbon footprint of milk decreased by 19%, and the water footprint decreased by 30%.”

Meanwhile, DMI says it has been committed to a steady flow of media outreach and will continue these efforts, which include leading media members on farm tours and creating a media resource guide with key information. The checkoff also has led efforts to build awareness with audiences about dairy’s vital role in sustainable, equitable and secure food systems over the past six months, sparked by the announcement of the Net Zero Initiative, an industrywide, on-farm effort designed to play a key role in helping the U.S. dairy industry continue to progress toward the 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals (see “New Net Zero Initiative aims for carbon neutrality by 2050” in the Oct. 16, 2020, issue of Cheese Market News).

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says it is proud to be part of U.S. dairy’s industrywide efforts to find sustainable ways to reduce environmental impacts, meet consumer nutritional needs and preferences, and remain a vibrant, growing industry, according to Danielle Quist, vice president, regulatory affairs and counsel, IDFA.

“We are demonstrating that being united as an industry with shared goals and dedicated resources to our commitments is the best way to increase trust with consumers and ensure consumption of nutritious dairy products continues to rise,” Quist says. “Dairy processors and marketers will continue to partner with producers to find viable ways to achieving net-zero emissions, reduced water usage and improved water quality, and they will continue to make substantial and unique contributions at the processing level to achieve those goals.

“IDFA is grateful for its partnership with national dairy organizations, dairy brands, and farms large and small, and we look forward to the innovation and progress our industry will make in the coming years,” she adds.
Heather Oldani, executive vice president of corporate communications for DMI, says consumers are increasingly looking for products they can consider “green,” and companies and brands are making sourcing decisions based on sustainability commitments. She says DMI’s Earth Day strategy focuses on reaching three audiences to build trust and sales:

• Thought leaders: Those who consider themselves informed on the issues of the day. They are leaders and decision-makers within their organizations, and they expect stakeholders to understand the climate challenge is a systemic problem interconnected with multiple global issues.

• Conflicted health seeker millennial parents: They’re concerned not only about what they’re feeding their kids but how foods are made. They’re expecting organizations and the people who make their products to help them be more environmentally friendly and ethical in their everyday lives.

• Gen Z (consumers aged 10-23): They’re looking for authenticity and expect companies and brands to help them navigate the anxieties they face, particularly when it comes to global issues such as the environment. According to aYPulse Sustainability Report of Gen Z and millennial audiences (captured here as 13-39 years old), two in five young people worry about climate change every week.

Oldani says sustainability takes on an added focus with the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit this fall. The Summit’s goal is to raise global awareness and shape commitments that can transform food systems to resolve hunger, reduce diet-related diseases and restore planetary health.

“It’s important that we tell the story of the incredible things farmers and the dairy community are doing to demonstrate their care for the land and animals in the realm of sustainability,” Oldani says. “More than ever, this is an opportunity for dairy and all of agriculture to stand up and say, ‘this is the essential role we can play in sustainable food production and one we’ve played for generations.’”

CMN


U.S. expansion brings increased cheese production, innovation

April 23, 2021

Editor’s note: Plants in Progress is a special segment spotlighting new facilities and expansion in the U.S. dairy sector. As the industry works to meet new demand, growth and expansion are inevitable. Here, we provide a glimpse into new cheese and dairy plants and expansions across the country — from initial groundbreaking to full operation, and everything in between.

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Despite the challenges facing the dairy industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, cheese and dairy companies continue to invest in expansions, upgrades and new plants across the United States.

U.S. milk production continues to expand, and with it, production of dairy products including cheese, yogurt, ice cream, ingredients and milk innovations to satisfy consumers’ growing appetites for protein.

From a new Fairlife milk plant in Arizona to a cheese and whey operation in Michigan to an ice cream plant and retail store in Virginia, dairy investments are taking root from coast to coast. In the following pages, you’ll read about investments in dairy processing and packaging from California to Texas to Wisconsin.

These companies are not only bringing nutritious and delicious cheese and dairy products to U.S. consumers — they also are creating jobs in their surrounding communities, investing in environmentally-friendly and sustainable operations, and expanding offerings to include more value-added products, new flavors and in some cases, plant-based alternatives. For many, these facilities are more than just a place to produce products — they are a consumer learning center and destination.

Please read on for more on these Plants in Progress ...

• Fairlife LLC, Goodyear, Arizona

Fairlife LLC, a wholly owned business of The Coca-Cola Co., last month announced the opening of its newest production facility in Goodyear, Arizona. The new 300,000-square-foot facility features advanced manufacturing technologies and equipment to enable continued growth more efficiently while supporting the increased demand for Fairlife products, company officials say.

“The new state-of-the-art facility allows us to significantly increase our production capabilities in the West region and beyond while also bringing hundreds of jobs to Arizonians,” says Neil Betteridge, senior vice president of global manufacturing, Fairlife LLC.

In addition to the more than 100 roles already filled at the Goodyear facility, Fairlife also has partnered with United Dairymen of Arizona (UDA) to source milk from numerous dairy farmers in the West Valley. The new plant will use this milk to manufacture nearly all products in the Fairlife portfolio including the different varieties of Fairlife ultrafiltered milk, Core Power, Fairlife YUP! and its newest protein-rich beverage, Fairlife Nutrition Plan.

“With shared values of animal care and great nutrition, our partnership with the UDA has been a seamless and enjoyable part of opening this new plant in beautiful Arizona,” Betteridge says. “We look forward to ramping up production in the coming weeks to bring Fairlife products to more consumers.”

• First District Association, Litchfield, Minnesota

First District Association is commissioning three new plant expansions for cheese, lactose drying and milk receiving in Litchfield, Minnesota. President and CEO Bob Huffman says the cooperative is on schedule to have all three expansions up and running by early summer.

“We’re in the process of commissioning the plants. Our new drive-thru milk receiving intake and milk laboratory is commissioning this week,” Huffman says. “In mid-May, our lactose dryer plant will commission, and our large cheese plant will commission in June.”

He notes the project will result in the company’s Litchfield location becoming one of the largest greenfield dairy processing plants in the Upper Midwest.

The expansion will allow First District to process 7.5 million pounds of milk per day in Litchfield. The cooperative now will be able to produce 40-pound cheese blocks in addition to 500-pound barrel cheese, Huffman notes.

“The cooperative turned 100 years old in April. We have between 750-800 cooperative members. Their investment into this new facility will help set us up for the next 100 years,” Huffman says. “We also want to thank our partners including RELCO, Tetra Pak, Advanced Process Technologies and Streck for their assistance in building the facility.”

• Great Lakes Cheese, Abilene, Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently announced that Great Lakes Cheese will establish a new packaging and distribution facility in Abilene, Texas. The project will create more than 500 new jobs and represents almost $185 million in capital investment. A Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) grant of $3,000,000 has been extended to Great Lakes Cheese.

“We are proud to welcome Great Lakes Cheese to the state of Texas, and we are excited for the impact that this company will have on Abilene’s economic success,” Abbott says. “Great Lakes Cheese joins the ranks of thousands of companies that have chosen to invest in the Lone Star State. Our model of low taxes, reasonable regulations and incredible workforce continue to attract investments that keep Texas the best state for business.”

Great Lakes Cheese CEO Dan Zagzebski notes Great Lakes Cheese is a family business built on the values of hard work, honesty and integrity.

“These values continue to support our long-term growth in the dairy industry and help us identify the employee-owners, customers, suppliers and communities that align with our culture,” Zagzebski says. “We feel fortunate to have found that fit with Abilene and are proud to welcome Texans into our Great Lakes Cheese family.”

Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams says this is the biggest opportunity recruited to the city of Abilene in the last 30 years and a perfect example of what strategic economic development should be.

“This successful partnership with Great Lakes Cheese will benefit Abilene and the state of Texas by generating opportunities for decades to come,” Williams says.

• Holmen Cheese, Holmen, Wisconsin

Production began in October at the new $30 million, 100,000-square-foot Holmen Cheese plant in Holmen, Wisconsin.

“We have spent the last six months ramping up production and building our teams,” says CEO Jeff Fowler. “We currently have about 70 employees, and we are running five production lines on multiple shifts, including an industrial block line, an industrial loaf line, an IWS (individually wrapped slice) line, a shredding operation and a plant-based exclusive line. We have also just started up our drying line this last week.”

The plant is producing dairy and plant-based cheese alternatives, cheese blends and processed cheeses for industrial, foodservice and retail markets.

Fowler says the company regularly continues to add new customers and already is in the planning stages to further expand its capabilities.

• LaClare Family Creamery, Pipe, Wisconsin

LaClare Family Creamery is launching a seasonal Greenhouse & Garden Center as part of expanded family-friendly attractions the farm is debuting this spring.

Visitors will see the changes immediately when they arrive as LaClare’s trademark goats greet them from atop a relocated century-old wood silo overlooking the world-famous cheesemaking facility.

“We’ve created a destination that appeals to everyone in the family — mom, dad and the kids,” says Jessi Schoofs, retail manager, LaClare Family Creamery. “Whether sampling our cheese, shopping for the home garden or getting an up-close look at our animals, we wanted to create a quality on-the-farm experience that will leave everyone talking.”

The new Greenhouse & Garden Center will feature an expansive selection of annuals with a variety of petunias, begonias, bedding plants, tomatoes, herbs, succulents and more. In addition, the center will offer common perennials, such as black eyed Susans and hostas.

“At the core of LaClare is a heritage of farming … and no one knows plants better than farmers,” says Marji Lechner, LaClare’s supply chain manager. “We felt this was a very natural extension of what we do.”

In addition to the goat tower — built from the timber of a 110-year-old Watertown, Wisconsin, silo — visitors also may get an up-close look at other common farm animals in a new viewing barn.

With expanded outdoor and indoor dining and buying options, guests will have more opportunities to sample LaClare’s award-winning goat and cow’s milk cheeses.

“We’ve always believed in ‘try before you buy,’” Schoofs says. “We call it ‘The Cheese Experience.’”

The new features come in the wake of a major 2019 expansion, which doubled LaClare’s cheesemaking space as well as launched a one-of-a-kind visitors center that allows guests to take a self-guided tour, learn about LaClare’s (and Wisconsin’s) agricultural heritage and watch world-class cheesemakers in action from special viewing windows.

• MWC, St. Johns, Michigan

MWC, a $470 million state-of-the-art cheese and whey plant in St. Johns, Michigan, began receiving milk in October from local farmers to begin the commissioning phase of the project.

Commissioning operations at MWC are underway, with the initial 1 million pounds of milk per day set to increase to the designed capacity of 8 million pounds per day.

When fully operational, the 375,000-square-foot facility built on a 120 acre lot will employ 260 local people and process more than 2.9 billion pounds of milk from local farmers into more than 300 million pounds of superior quality block cheese and 20 million pounds of value-added whey protein powders each year.

A joint venture between Glanbia Nutritionals, Dairy Farmers of America and Select Milk Producers Inc., MWC is one of the most technically advanced dairy processing facilities in the United States, designed and built over a two-year period to meet exacting food manufacturing standards.

“We expect the facility to be fully commissioned by this summer,” says Eric Borchardt, director, corporate marketing, Glanbia Nutritionals.

• Redhead Creamery LLC, Brooten, Minnesota

After receiving a $20,000 grant from the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), Redhead Creamery, Brooten, Minnesota, is working to update its facilities as it continues to adapt to shifting market dynamics during COVID-19.

“With the onset of COVID-19, Redhead Creamery quickly adapted and created a new delivery system with a refrigerated van that delivered products from Redhead Creamery as well as nine other cheesemakers throughout Minnesota and neighboring North and South Dakota. To make the routes most efficient, Redhead also picked up other Minnesota cheeses along the route,” says Lucas Sjostrom, co-owner, Redhead Creamery. “This pivot and quick expansion in Minnesota cheese sales from our own and other creameries required staff dealing with logistical hurdles and tight work spaces as Redhead Creamery met demand with the new delivery service and heavy 2021 summer farmers market usage.”

To adapt, Redhead Creamery used DBIA grant funds as part of a larger set of projects to make several physical improvements, increase social media advertising and enhance workflow for staff. The physical improvements include a new storage shed, an outside cooler for handling outgoing cheeses and receiving incoming cheeses, a retaining wall and a new aging room through modification of an existing room dedicated to the creamery’s 2021 Good Food Award winner North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster, Sjostrom notes.
“The added social media presence spanned the fall and holiday season following these physical improvements,” he says.

The North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster aging room was completed last summer, followed by the retaining wall, parking pad, exterior cooler and new storage shed in the fall.

Looking ahead, the creamery is evaluating fluid milk sales through delivery, energy savings through a chiller installation, continued improvements to processes, and growing its regional presence as well as that of other Minnesota cheesemakers, Sjostrom says.

• Rumiano Cheese Co., Willows, California

Rumiano Cheese Co. late last year began construction on a new 46,766-square-foot cheese processing and packaging plant in Willows, California.

Rumiano Cheese says this new state-of-the-art facility will enable the company to expand its current headquarters’ operations in Willows, California, and double its current packaging volume by the end of 2025 as retail demand continues to accelerate. The company says it will be able to increase its processing and distribution capacity, and it will introduce additional product lines and capabilities for new retail package types including shreds and snacks. The expansion also bolsters Rumiano’s ability to scale its cutting and packaging business for other West Coast cheesemakers and its “Board at Home” program, which supports California’s artisanal community.

Located at 101 Harvest Drive, a short distance from the existing plant at 1629 County Road E, the new site will occupy 4 acres of a new 38-acre commercial industrial park being developed by the City of Willows. The facility is expected to be operational by this summer.

“The city’s assistance with this industrial development site made it possible for us to remain here in Willows where we’ve been successfully operating for 101 years,” says John Rumiano, vice president and third-generation co-owner, Rumiano Cheese Co. “We are eager to deepen our long-standing contribution to this wonderful community, and we remain committed to our dedicated employees, many of whom have been with us for 30-40 years.”

Construction of the new facility is supported by a $1.8 million economic development grant from the City of Willows along with private funding. Rumiano will retain all 150 current employees and is actively recruiting additional employees to support the new growth plans. Rumiano currently employs more than 200 people between its production plant in Crescent City, California, where its cheese is made, and its facility in Willows, where all products are processed and packaged for distribution.

The company says it will move most of its packaging operations to the new facility, and the existing Willows plant will be renovated for cheese aging and storage as well as a range of small-batch value-added processing. A new research and development space will be created for ongoing innovation in new products and packaging.

• Smiley’s Ice Cream, Rockingham County, Virginia

Smiley’s Ice Cream, a producer of premium, homemade-style ice cream based in Mt. Crawford, Virginia, is building a new ice cream manufacturing facility and retail store in Rockingham County, Virginia. The company has invested more than $1.15 million in the project and will create eight new jobs, according to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. As part of this expansion, the company will source an additional 18,000 gallons of Virginia-produced dairy and an additional 2,500 pounds of Virginia-grown fruits over the next three years.

Established in 2001, Smiley’s Ice Cream uses local ingredients, including milk and cream sourced exclusively from neighboring Mt. Crawford Creamery, to churn up more than 80 specialty flavors that are offered 16 flavors at a time. The company sources fruits from Shenandoah Valley farmers and makes many of their mixed-in ingredients in-house, including fresh-baked brownies, hand roasted pecans and homemade caramel.

Founder Derek Smiley has grown his operation from serving at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market using old-fashioned, wooden ice cream buckets into a successful specialty ice cream and catering business serving the region. Building on this success, Smiley’s opened its first brick-and-mortar facility next to Mt. Crawford Creamery in 2017.

Located less than a quarter mile west in the Town of Bridgewater, the new facility will allow Smiley’s to more than double production, increase storage and offer patrons additional parking and expanded seating areas, both indoors and out.

• Taste and See Creamery, Boyceville, Wisconsin

Taste and See Creamery recently received a $20,000 DBIA grant that the creamery is using to purchase a vat pasteurizer for the new creamery being built on its grass-fed dairy farm in Boyceville, Wisconsin.

The company broke ground on the project last fall and is in the final stages of completion, says Casey Sutliff, cheesemaker and owner, Taste and See Creamery. She plans to make Cheddar, Colby, Pepper Jack and Gouda. She also will have a store on the small farm she owns with her husband, Kyle Sutliff, and plans to sell cheese to area retailers as well as at farmers markets in nearby Menomonie and Baldwin, Wisconsin.

“The vat is installed and we are just finishing up some odds and ends and waiting for the final pieces of equipment that are supposed to arrive later this week,” Sutliff says. “We hope to have the facility licensed and producing cheese by mid-May.”

The company also plans to host tour groups upon project completion.

• University of Wisconsin-Madison Babcock Hall Dairy Plant and Center for Dairy Research, Madison, Wisconsin

Last year, the State of Wisconsin Building Commission (SBC) approved a $25.7 million increase in the project budget for the University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research (CDR) and the Babcock Hall Dairy Plant addition.

The project will construct a three-story addition and remodel portions of Babcock Hall to house CDR. It will demolish 2,770 square feet of space within Babcock Hall, demolish the 3,200-square-foot Science House, construct an approximately 48,569-square-foot addition to the west of the existing building and renovate about 28,905 square feet in the existing building.

The renovation and addition will provide a state-of-the-art production, teaching and research facility for both CDR and the food science department’s dairy plant.

Phase one of the project — constructing the three-story CDR addition — is nearing the “substantial completion” stage, where the space can be occupied and used for its intended function, officials say. The first floor of the addition will be ready for occupancy by the Center for Dairy Research as soon as July. Occupancy of the second floor and installation of important equipment is scheduled to be completed during the fall. At this point, the addition will be operational, but some work will continue to complete commissioning.

Contractor C.D. Smith is expected to begin phase two of the project in July. This includes renovations to the existing Babcock Hall dairy plant and the second-floor space planned for the CDR offices. While construction continues on the office space, CDR staff are working out of the old Meat Lab building a few blocks west of Babcock Hall. Babcock cheese and ice cream continue to be manufactured by third-party vendors during the plant closure. Because of COVID restrictions, the Babcock Dairy Store is open only for curbside pickup.

The complete remodel of the dairy plant, which includes the addition of a new raw room on the south end, new flooring and equipment, and remodeled office space for CDR is scheduled to be complete in June 2022.

CMN


March U.S. milk production rises 1.8% from one year ago

April 23, 2021

WASHINGTON — Milk production in the 24 major milk-producing states in March totaled 18.84 billion pounds, up 2.0% from March 2020, according to data released this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). For the entire United States, March milk production was estimated at 19.75 billion pounds, up 1.8% from March 2020. (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart.)

NASS reports February’s revised production for the 24 major states totaled 16.86 billion pounds, an increase of 36 million pounds or 0.2% from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

March production per cow in the 24 major states averaged 2,104 pounds, up 19 pounds from March 2020 and up 120 pounds from February 2021. For the entire United States, production per cow in March is estimated at 2,086 pounds, 20 pounds above March 2020 and 218 pounds up from February.

NASS reports the number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major states was 8.95 million head in March, up 93,000 head from March 2020 and up 7,000 head from February. In the entire United States, there were an estimated 9.47 million milk cows in March, 77,000 cows more than March 2020 and 8,000 more than in February.

California led the nation’s milk production in March with 3.73 billion pounds of milk, up 1.5% from March 2020. Wisconsin followed with 2.72 billion pounds of milk produced in March, up 3.7% from March 2020.

CMN


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
May 13, 2021


Barrels: $1.7800 (+2 1/2)
Blocks: $1.7875 (-2 1/2)


Click here for more market activity
Cheese Production
U.S. Total March.
1.175 bil. lbs.


Milk Production
U.S. Total March
19.750 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

Avoid the quick fix for federal orders

John Umhoefer, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association

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