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Severe winter weather strikes dairy farms in Yakima Valley

Feb. 15, 2019

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Severe winter weather is impacting dairy operations across the nation, particularly the Northwest, which was hit by a severe winter storm last Saturday.

The arid Yakima Valley in Washington state is home to a number of dairy farms that use open lots for their cows, meaning their buildings are without walls. That’s typically not a problem because the area only gets 6-8 inches of rain per year.

But Dairy Farmers of Washington, the local dairy checkoff program in Washington state, notes that snowfall, freezing temperatures and winds gusting to 80 miles per hour have caused heartbreak for dairy farm families in the Yakima Valley this week. Recent reports estimate approximately 1,800 dairy cows have been lost thus far from last weekend’s storm.

“That was the worst storm I have ever been associated with — I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Dan DeRuyter of George DeRuyter & Sons Dairy in Outlook, Washington, Yakima County.

DeRuyter says while he and other dairy operations tried to prepare for the storm by adding extra bedding to insulate areas for cows to lay, providing extra feed and thawing water troughs with hot water, sustained severe winds, heavy snow and low- to zero-visibility during the storm created hazardous conditions for employees and animals alike.

“We milk about 5,000 cows; we had pretty significant losses,” he says. “It breaks your heart no matter how they pass — one loss is too many.

“Everyone was overwhelmed during this storm,” he adds. “The county wasn’t able to clear the roads. I was up until 2 a.m. trying to clear the road so employees and trucks could get up to our dairy.”

DeRuyter says while the livestock losses are devastating, he’s thankful his employees are safe.

“I honestly don’t know what the outcome is yet, but I can say we are way down in milk and it has affected us significantly. Right now we’re concentrating on the animals that are here and making sure they are brought back to good health,” he says. “I was really worried about my employees. They deserve a lot of credit, because everyone busted their tails. I’m thankful that everybody on our crew is OK, and I’m grateful for the hard work they put in to help us do what they could.”

Alyssa Haak, a dairy farmer in Prosser, Washington, also says she is thankful for her dedicated employees and community members who helped during the inclement weather.

“Without our employees, there’s no way we, or our cows, could survive this storm,” Haak says. “To shield our cows from the wind we stacked straw bales to create a windbreak for our cows. I give a lot of credit to our milk truck drivers, too. Without their bravery, we wouldn’t be able to get our milk off the farm.”

Sarah Taydas, director of corporate communications for Darigold Inc., Seattle, says members of the Northwest Dairy Association (NDA), which owns Darigold, were affected by the winter storm.

“We are aware of the tragic losses of cows. Darigold and the Northwest Dairy Association care deeply about the health and safety of people and animals affected by the weather,” Taydas says. “Our hearts go out to the farmers who are dealing with this. It’s important to know that members of NDA are committed to, and take great pride in, caring for their animals."

Darigold is the marketing and processing subsidiary of NDA — a dairy cooperative made up of about 450 dairy farm owners. NDA farms are independently owned and operated.

“On the Darigold side, the weather has had a severe impact on transportation. A combination of wind, snow drifts and low visibility is hampering milk pick-up on farms,” Taydas says. “This is making it difficult to deliver milk to Darigold plants for processing and causing us to short customers everywhere. Multiple road closures and extremely lengthened drive times have caused severe supply constraints and widespread shortages. We have been in a state of ‘force majeure’ for a few days now.”

She adds that in some cases, plants are receiving only 20 percent of their normal milk delivery. In other cases, it is “boom and bust” as trucks line up.

“To be operating safely under these conditions is our top concern, especially with the extended hours of operation to try to keep supply chains open,” she says.

Winter weather is expected to remain in eastern Washington throughout the next week. In the meantime, dairy farmers are assessing their current losses and preparing for the next round of snow and wind. Farmers are working together to help each other through these tough times, says Dairy Farmers of Washington.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency for the state, which will hopefully lead to further assistance for farmers, Dairy Farmers of Washington says, noting these losses come at an already very difficult time for dairy farmers as most of them are struggling to survive volatile market conditions. This weather will have lasting economic and emotional implications on dairy farmers across Washington state.

Meanwhile, portions of the Midwest and Northeast in recent weeks have been hammered with continued snowfall and record freezing temperatures.

Late last month, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency in response to life-threatening temperatures.
USDA’s Dairy Market News says the extreme cold in the Midwest forced some bottling plant closures last month, but milk production generally has not been hindered by the weather.

Sandy Chalmers, state executive director of the Wisconsin state office of USDA’s Farm Service Agency, says so far, Wisconsin producers have reported a small number of cow and calf deaths due to extreme cold, and the losses occurred in counties across the state.

“In at least two cases, producers were unable to milk their cows because of power outages. Producers suffering livestock losses, or injured livestock that are sold due to recent weather events, are encouraged to contact their local county office to inquire about potential eligibility for disaster programs administered by the Farm Service Agency,” Chalmers says.

This week, Dairy Market News says winter weather conditions continue to affect Upper Midwestern fluid milk and cream logistics, with hauling delays being reported regularly from a number of contacts in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

“Even still, fluid milk and cream is readily available,” Dairy Market News says. “Bottling is somewhat slow, thus more milk is making its way into cheesemaking and drying. Cheesemakers are hesitant to take on extra milk, and the number of reported spot milk purchases has declined for two consecutive weeks.”

Dairy Market News says Midwest cheese production remains slower as plant managers work on inventories, and weather-related production stoppages have done their part to slow/stop production in some cases.

Harsh snowy and icy weather conditions also are hitting parts of the Northeast region, Dairy Market News adds, noting, however, there are little to no reports of transportation issues or power outages.


Florida dairy trending toward large farms, fewer operations

Feb. 15, 2019

Editor’s note: As part of our series, “From Cow to Curd: A Look Across the Nation,” Cheese Market News takes a look at the cheese and dairy industry across the United States. Each month we examine a different state or region, looking at key facts and evaluating areas of growth, challenges and recent innovations. This month we are pleased to introduce our latest state — Florida.

By Rena Archwamety

MADISON, Wis. — Florida may not have a large number of dairy farms, but its dairy farms generally have large numbers of cows, with the average herd size well over 1,000.

Currently there are around 80 permitted dairy farms in Florida, producing roughly 2.5 billion pounds of milk annually. Florida also is home to 21 Grade A milk processing plants and eight cheese manufacturing facilities, according to Florida Dairy Farmers, which promotes the sale of milk and other dairy products by communicating to Florida’s diverse population of 21.3 million residents and more than 105 million domestic and 11 million international tourists that visit the state each year.

“As the third most populous state in the country, Florida’s dairy industry is ripe with opportunity because of the sheer volume of new consumers that flood into the state each year,” says Brian Chapman, director of industry relations, Florida Dairy Farmers. “The demand for fresh, local milk in large markets like Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando will continue to necessitate dairy production in the state.”

• Dairies declining

Heat and humidity can be hard on dairy herds, though Florida’s climate does offer advantages such as an extended growing season for many of the forages cows eat, Chapman notes.

“The cows in Florida consume many byproducts of other industries that thrive in the state such as leftover citrus pulp and brewers’ grain from distilleries, reinforcing the important role dairy farmers play in environmental sustainability and protecting our state’s precious natural resources,” he adds.

The number of dairy farms in Florida has gradually declined due to several factors, including volatile milk prices, labor shortages, rising land values and feed costs, and there has been some farm consolidation, Chapman says. According to the most recent USDA data, there were 118,000 head of milk cows in Florida in November 2018, down from 124,000 head a year earlier.

Florida is largely a fluid milk market, and the state’s largest dairy processor is T.G. Lee, owned by Dean Foods. T.G. Lee has two milk plants in the state — one in Orlando that processes more than 230,000 gallons of milk per day, and another in Orange City, Florida, that processes 100,000 gallons of milk, juice and other drinks per day. T.G. Lee also distributes a full line of cultured products, cream, butter, eggs and Mayfield ice cream throughout Florida.

Two-thirds of Florida’s total farms and approximately 75 percent of the state’s milk are represented by Southeast Milk Inc. (SMI), which was created in 1998 by the merger of two Florida dairy cooperatives, Florida Dairy Farmers’ Association and Tampa Independent Dairy Farmers’ Association Inc. Today SMI, based in Belleview, Florida, represents farmers mainly in Florida and Georgia, as well as members in Alabama, South Carolina Mississippi and Louisiana. The largest concentration of Florida’s milk is in Okeechobee County in the southern part of the state, while there is another concentration in the northwest.

Travis Senn, market analyst, SMI, notes that like other parts of the country, the Southeast and Florida have struggled through recent years of low milk prices, as well as ongoing challenges like the lack of a next generation willing to take over farms and rising land values.

“The number of milking cows has decreased 30,000 head over the last 20 years, and over 80 licensed herds in the state have closed since 2004, according to USDA data,” he says. “Urban encroachment continues to buy up agricultural land for developing properties, as more and more people continue to add on to Florida’s population of over 20 million. Climate continues to put pressure on producers here, especially during the summer months. Hurricanes have ravaged rural areas each of the last two years as well.”

Cheryl Wainwright Finney, whose family owns Wainwright Dairy & Creamery in Live Oak, Florida, has seen dairies in the state dwindle since she was a child on the farm her parents started in the 1960s.

“There are very few dairies left in Florida. When I was a child, we went to school with countless other people who grew up on dairies. That was their livelihood,” she says. “It’s not the case anymore. The majority of them have closed down ... if they stayed in business, they had to become a mega-dairy.”

• Farmstead cheeses

Wainwright Dairy took a different path to keeping the business sustainable for future generations. In the 1990s, founder Carl Wainwright set out to make the farm more self-sustaining by growing its own non-GMO feed, and he later started plans to build an on-farm creamery. Wainwright Dairy eventually started bottling milk and making cheese in 2009, and Finney says her family’s products have been growing in quality and quantity ever since.

“If the family didn’t know to put in cheesemaking equipment early on, it might have been too late by the time we knew the market was not coming up,” Finney says. “My dad had the wisdom and vision and knew what we needed to do.”

Wainwright Dairy & Creamery maintains about 300 cows — very small compared to most Florida dairies — and sells its non-GMO milk, chocolate milk, kefir and several varieties of cheeses throughout the state.

“Coffee shops love our milk,” says Finney, who manages creamery operations.

For cheeses, Wainwright Dairy offers Cheddar in various sharpness levels, Colby, Pepper Jack with Chipotle and ghost pepper varieties, Baby Swiss, and a seasonal specialty cranberry Cheddar.

Nancy and John Mims, owners of another farmstead cheese operation, Cypress Point Creamery in Hawthorne, Florida, also started value-added processing as a means to help keep their small dairy profitable. Nancy’s parents, third-generation dairy farmers from Wisconsin, started the dairy when they moved to Florida, and the Mims later purchased the dairy from Nancy’s mother.

“The cheese business came along because we felt like we had very little control over what we were being paid for our milk,” Nancy Mims says. “We made our first cheese in March of 2010. We do European-style cheeses — Gouda, Havarti, Feta, Tomme and a Swiss, and we’re just starting to play around with a Camembert.”

Most of the milk from the herd of about 120 Jersey cows still goes to their co-op, SMI, and about 10-15 percent is used in the cheese plant. The cheese is handled by two distributors out of Orlando, and it is served at resorts and restaurants in the state, including at Disney World.

Mims says she sees interest in local cheeses, though there are not a lot of cheesemakers in the state.

“Florida has a totally different mindset when it comes to milk production. It’s mainly about producing a lot of milk and selling it as fluid milk,” she says. “Historically, Florida has not been able to produce enough fluid milk for its own consumption. But that’s changed, and now there is too much. A lot of smaller dairies wish they had looked into (value-added products) earlier.”


Licensed imports of cheese, dairy down in 2018 vs. 2017

Feb. 15, 2019

WASHINGTON — Licensed imports of cheese and other dairy products into the United States totaled 102.9 million kilograms in 2018, down from 107.9 million kilograms in 2017, according to the latest data released by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. December 2018’s licensed cheese and non-cheese dairy imports totaled 12.2 million kilograms, down from 12.9 million kilograms a year earlier.

Total licensed cheese imports in 2018 were 88.5 million kilograms, down from 92.3 million kilograms of licensed cheese imports in 2017. December total licensed cheese imports were 8.4 million kilograms, down from 9.2 million kilograms the previous December.

Licensed imports of Swiss and Emmenthaler with eye formation totaled 1.9 million kilograms in December and a total of 22.2 million kilograms in 2018.

Imports of Italian-type cheeses subject to licensing requirements totaled 1.1 million kilograms in December and 9.5 million kilograms in 2018.

December licensed Cheddar imports totaled 962,615 kilograms, while 2018 licensed Cheddar imports totaled 7.1 million kilograms.

Edam and Gouda licensed imports totaled 437,932 kilograms in December and 6.7 million kilograms in 2018.
Processed Gruyere imports subject to licensing requirements totaled 357,850 kilograms in December and 3.0 million kilograms in 2018.

Licensed imports of Blue mold cheeses totaled 149,019 kilograms in December and 2.8 million kilograms in 2018.

Licensed imports of other cheese not specifically provided for (NSPF) totaled 3.6 million kilograms in December and 37.1 million kilograms in 2018.

Licensed imports of other lowfat cheese-NSPF totaled 16,794 kilograms in 2018, with no imports recorded in December.

USDA reports no December licensed imports of American-type cheeses including Colby, and licensed imports in the category totaled 81,814 kilograms for 2018.

Licensed butter imports totaled 362,105 kilograms in December and 6.9 million kilograms in 2018.

Licensed imports of butter substitutes totaled 2.8 million kilograms in December 5.6 million kilograms in 2018.
November and December data for imports of high-tier cheese and other dairy products were not available in the most recent reports.

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Winona Foods adds products, expands its presence in retail
Product launches include Cheese Tiles and Goat Cheese Spreads that cater to snacking trends

By Kate Sander

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Winona Foods Inc., a national supplier of cheese, sauces and salsas based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, continues to grow by offering new innovations for the dairy case. Expanding on its focus on private label, ingredient and foodservice products, the company has introduced a number of branded retail products to meet the needs of snacking consumers in addition to the needs of its foodservice and industrial customers.

“We offer various solution-based cheese programs to retail, foodservice, co-pack, industrial ingredient and private label segments. Our mission is to provide our customers exceptional dairy solutions and services of the highest quality,” says Nate Meyer, marketing manager, Winona Foods.

“We’ve done really well in foodservice and industrial, and retail is an area where we felt we could grow and expand our company,” adds Hillary Hildebrandt, regional sales manager, Winona Foods. “We’re versatile, and we’re looking to grow that segment in a big way.”

In the past couple of years, the company has introduced two new major products lines under its Cheese Crafters brand: Cheese Tiles and Goat Cheese Spreads.

Winona’s Cheese Crafters brand is focused around specialty cheese items and includes artisan natural cheese snacking items, as well as specialty goat cheese spreads, Meyer says.

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Pepper cheeses pack heat, flavor to entice consumers

Feb. 8, 2019

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — With much of the United States blanketed in snow and ice, spicy cheeses are heating up retail shelves as consumers increasingly are seeking more complex flavor profiles and taste experiences.

More than a trend, cheeses with peppers and other spices present a pleasing flavor profile because milk is one of the best beverages to drink to tamper down spicy foods, says Chad Galer, director of food safety and product innovation for the National Dairy Council.

“Milk is the best for heat when you eat something spicy — the heat is in the oil — so the protein in the milk is a natural emulsifier to move the heat along. So when combining peppers and cheese, the cheese helps to balance it out,” Galer says.
“It used to be that if you wanted a cheese with peppers, you went to the store and you saw Monterey Jack with red or green bell peppers in it and it was Pepper Jack,” he adds. “Now there’s been an explosion in the cheese aisle with many different types of cheeses — like Cheddars and Goudas — that have a firm texture and pair well with heat and pepper flavor.”

Information Resources Inc. (IRI) data compiled by Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Dairy Management Inc. show that jalapeno topped the list of pepper cheeses by volume in 2018 (through Dec. 2, 2018), followed by pimento and habanero peppers.

Meanwhile, traditional Pepper Jack cheeses (with bell peppers) had the largest volume growth in 2018 (through Dec. 2, 2018), followed by jalapeno and then jalapeno with a variety of combinations, including bacon, habanero, red bell pepper, chili and pimento.

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin says ghost pepper also is one of the fastest growing cheese flavors, and ghost pepper cheese sales have seen triple-digit growth (or more) in each of the past four years.

“Our cheesemakers continue to innovate with new flavors, including hot pepper cheeses, as consumers become increasingly more curious and adventurous when it comes to trying new on-trend flavors,” says Suzanne Fanning, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin senior vice president and Wisconsin Cheese chief marketing officer.

Shullsburg Creamery, Shullsburg, Wisconsin, offers several cheeses featuring hot and spicy flavors, including its Urfa Pepper Cheddar featuring select Turkish Urfa peppers blended with aged Cheddar, yielding a complex yet satisfying flavor sensation, says Scott Stocker, CEO, Shullsburg Creamery.

“The Urfa pepper has a really sophisticated flavor — not a lot of heat but different flavor qualities and spice,” Stocker says. “When you mix that with an aged Cheddar, it becomes a nice, satisfying snack.”
Shullsburg Creamery also offers Sriracha Cheddar, building off the general popularity of Sriracha sauce spices among today’s consumers.

The company has taken things to an even higher heat level by incorporating into its cheeses ghost peppers and Carolina reaper peppers, which Stocker says are “off the charts hot.”

“We’ve found that the hotter the cheese, the more popular the cheese is to a point,” he says. “We sell thousands of different styles of cheese and have noticed the hot pepper side has a constant interest on the part of the consumer.”

Stocker says as consumers age, their taste becomes more sophisticated and less sensitive.

“Children like sweeter cheeses, but as you get older, you want a more sophisticated flavor. We’re just drawn to the heat — they are so many varieties, it’s almost endless what you can do, and the consumer responds very well,” he says.

Fiscalini Cheese Co., Modesto, California, offers a habanero Cheddar as part of its everyday artisan line, says Laura Genasci, marketing manager and a fourth generation family member of Fiscalini Cheese Co.

“We are seeing popularity with this item in the foodservice category. Chefs enjoy the spicy flavor it adds to their dishes. We also make a retail cut that does well on the shelf. Consumers love adding a little color and kick to their cheese plates,” Genasci says.

In late 2018 Fiscalini Cheese released a cranberry habanero Cheddar directed at the retail market and just for the holiday season.

“This limited edition flavor was a huge success,” Genasci says. “The bitter taste of the cranberries and the heat of the habanero powder created a savory sensation.”

Saputo Cheese USA Inc., Lincolnshire, Illinois, also offers several cheeses with hot and spicy flavors under its Great Midwest brand, notes Kristy Klug, marketing manager for Saputo Cheese USA.

“Our Great Midwest cheeses are perfect for heating up snack time, entrées or cheeseboards,” Klug says, noting the brand’s Ghost Pepper Cheddar, Mango Fire Cheddar and Three Alarm Colby Jack cheeses all are made by certified Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers.

“For our spiciest options, we take the classic taste of our award-winning Cheddar and Colby Jack cheeses and blend in spicy hot peppers like jalapeno, habanero and ghost peppers for a robust punch of flavor,” Klug says. “For some sweet heat, there is the Great Midwest Mango Fire Cheddar, which is anything but ordinary. This cheese starts with delectably sweet mango and finishes strong with impactful bits of hot habanero pepper that are blended into smooth, firm Cheddar cheese.”

Galer notes that sweet and hot cheeses, such as a mango habanero blend, are trending.

“The great thing is most of these ingredients or flavors can be added to the curd before they are pressed into blocks,” he says, noting, however, this can be a challenge because of the different particulate size.

Other challenges include different pHs/attributes of the peppers compared to the cheeses, Galer says.

“You have to adjust your cheese make so you don’t get crumbly cheese or too much waste,” he says, noting “trim” from flavored or pepper cheeses is not as likely to be useful for converting to processed cheese. “When you’re pressing it, the peppers may be a natural place for it to kind of fall apart. You want to adjust your pH, moisture and other attributes so it still has a good flavor and texture.”

When looking to add pepper or spice into cheese, Stocker says the idea is to enhance the flavor of the natural cheese rather than overpower it.

Using Cheddar as a base, Shullsburg Creamery ages the Cheddar at least three months minimum, he says.

“We find that the longer it ages, the more it interacts with the pepper flavor and becomes quite a sophisticated flavor,” he says.

Genasci notes many chefs and retail shoppers love adding spicy flavors to their creations.

“It was important when creating habanero Cheddar to offer a cheese with a kick that our supporters would embrace,” she says. “With that being said, it has always been very important to us, no matter what the flavor, that it balances well with our Cheddar and is not overpowering.

“We see the demand to be for a well balanced spicy flavor,” she adds. “While ghost pepper or fire alarm flavor can be daring to the spice lover, we want to make sure our cheese is enjoyed over and over. If it’s too hot, it may not be what people reach for a second time.”

Genasci believes the trend for hot and spicy cheeses will continue.

“Sriracha is the perfect example of a trend that has branched out into cheese and other products,” she says. “Consumers love the anticipation of putting spicy into their mouth.”

Klug notes that as consumers become better educated about food from watching cooking shows and browsing the plethora of books and magazines now available with recipes and overall information regarding food, they’re increasingly inquisitive about new flavors.

“We’re excited to offer them a well-rounded variety of spicy cheese options that are perfect for everything from quick snacks to more formal cheese platters,” she says.

Stocker adds when it comes to flavored cheeses, “Blueberry is blueberry, cherry is cherry — but the wide variety of things you can do with peppers, that’s kind of the motivation. We’re looking for a WOW factor.”


Bills would allow congressional intervention on trade, tariffs

Feb. 8, 2019

WASHINGTON — U.S. dairy industry organizations have endorsed bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reform a White House trade tool to ensure it is used as intended by Congress to respond to genuine national security threats.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., on Wednesday led a group of bipartisan lawmakers to introduce the Trade Security Act, a bill that would reassert congressional authority over trade and tariff policy by reforming Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Additionally, the bill would redesignate national security threat assessments in regards to Section 232 tariffs to the Department of Defense. A Senate companion version of the bill also was introduced Wednesday.

“This administration’s go-it-alone approach of resolving our trade imbalances has sparked a trade war that is hurting Wisconsin farmers, workers and families,” Kind says. “The National Security tariff process is being misused, at the cost of our rural and local economies. It is long-past time for Congress to reassert its constitutionally-granted power in our nation’s trade policy and protect our export power.”

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) notes that the United States currently sends 16 percent of its dairy production overseas, and industry officials see room for expansion in the future.

In recent years, NMPF notes, Section 232 has been used to levy duties on imports of steel and aluminum from Mexico and other countries. In response, Mexico imposed retaliatory tariffs on a range of U.S. goods, including cheese.

“Dairy prices have steadily fallen since Mexico imposed its tariffs, harming farmers,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF. “Exports to our most important market are being threatened, hurting dairy businesses and the thousands of Americans they employ.”

Tom Vilsack, chairman and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, agrees that agriculture is being hurt by retaliatory tariffs.
“The bill’s sponsors should be applauded for finding a common-sense process to a complex issue,” Vilsack says. “It protects one of the president’s tools to combat threats to our national security while allowing for the full consideration of true safety and economic factors at play.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., last week introduced legislation that would require the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. A companion bill also was introduced in the Senate.

Under the proposed Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019, members of Congress have a 60-day period following submission to review the president’s proposal. A joint resolution to approve the proposal would qualify for expedited consideration in both chambers. The requirement would apply to all future Section 232 actions, in addition to those taken within the last four years.

Gallagher notes the bill would restore the national security intent behind Section 232 by transferring national security investigator authority from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Defense.

“When it comes to trade, Congress has consistently surrendered its constitutional authorities to the executive branch. This bill reverses that trend, allowing for trade interventions when our national security is at stake and giving the Defense Department a greater role in that process,” Gallagher says. “My bill also safeguards the public from executive overreach and from protectionist policies that hurt Wisconsin families, manufacturers and farmers.”

The bill has garnered support from a number of state and national farm, food and manufacturing businesses and organizations, including the American Dairy Coalition and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

“Recently, the U.S. dairy products industry has been reeling, trying to overcome the challenges created when major trading partners like Mexico and China placed retaliatory tariffs on dairy products in reaction to steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration,” the American Dairy Coalition says in a statement. “The American Dairy Coalition feels the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act will allow our elected officials to weigh in on the possible impacts of import adjustments on various industries that employ hard-working Americans.”


ADPI compares dairy proteins with other sources in webinar

Feb. 8, 2019

By Rena Archwamety

ELMHURST, Ill. — The American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) compared dairy proteins with proteins from alternative sources, in both quality and number of studies backing results, in a webinar this week titled “Facts vs. Fiction: How do Alternative Proteins Compare with Dairy Proteins? A nutrition perspective.”

The webinar, presented by Cindy Schweitzer, principal of Schweitzer Consulting LLC, and Veronique Lagrange, ADPI director of strategic development, focused on protein quality, research documenting health benefits of proteins, and how dairy proteins can help in areas such as exercise and recovery, supporting healthy aging and improving glucose smanagement.

Lagrange notes that consumers come across lots of information about dairy proteins and alternative proteins, and may wonder, “Are all proteins created equal? What is the concept of ‘protein quality?’ And why does it matter?”

Schweitzer explains that protein quality is the ability of a food to deliver the right amount of proteins for what is required by the body. Some foods like nuts and beans contain protein but also fiber that makes it more difficult for the proteins to be completely digested. Milk and whey proteins are more easily digestible, she says.

She also notes that there are many more clinical trials that have examined the benefits of dairy proteins compared to other kinds of proteins, in part because the dairy industry has long invested in scientific research and committed to publishing results, no matter how they turn out.

In the area of exercise performance and recovery, Schweitzer says the idea that dairy proteins may help accelerate weight loss has been around for at least a decade. She points to a 2018 meta-analysis of 13 clinical trials that found whey protein ingestion before or after resistance training enhances post-exercise recovery of muscle function. This analysis also found 20 grams of whey protein stimulated muscle protein synthesis better than plant proteins. Meanwhile, another 2018 study suggested dairy proteins assisted in increased muscle mass and decreased fat mass in women.

Studies also have shown whey proteins support healthy aging, Schweitzer says, and combining whey or other dairy proteins with exercise have proven benefits, such as slowing muscle loss, increasing muscle mass and strength and improving physical functions.

“Older adults could benefit from more protein,” she says. “Higher doses have been confirmed to be safe in older individuals.”
Diabetes is a major health issue around the world, and dairy proteins may have a role in decreasing its risk.

Schweitzer explains that evidence of dairy foods’ benefits in lowering the risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and obesity have been recognized in the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

“Since then, there has been an enormous amount of research on insulin resistance and glucose management,” she says. “Dairy proteins consumed before or with meals can help manage this.”

In addition to health benefits, Lagrange and Schweitzer looked at perceptions of plant-based diets and dairy production and consumption in terms of impacting the environment and planet.

All foods impact the health of the planet, they note, adding that environmental, social and economic impacts all must be taken into account.

“Studies have focused almost exclusively on greenhouse gas, but that’s only one aspect of it,” Schweitzer says. “There’s just so much we don’t know yet to make a judgment of the sustainability of foods and dietary patterns.”

Some issues that she says must be considered when determining the impact of proteins on the environment include deforestation due to certain crops and how do animals help maintain land used to grow crops. She also notes how cow ownership and increased milk production has helped increase farmer incomes as well as employment beyond the farm, impacting economies.

Some interesting new research is emerging, Schweitzer says, including a large multinational, multicollaborative study evaluating protein quality in 10 different ingredients in both humans and pigs. Also, she says some literature has uncovered interesting health effects related to bioactive peptides — proteins broken down into shorter chains of proteins — including their effects on reducing blood pressure.


Stakeholders urge action on farm bill after shutdown ends

Feb. 1, 2019

WASHINGTON — After a month-long partial federal government shutdown, government offices in Washington, D.C., reopened this week, and dairy stakeholders are urging Congress and the administration to take action on implementation of dairy safety net programs in the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill.

President Donald Trump late last week agreed to reopen the government for three weeks, allowing time for Congress to agree to a Homeland Security funding package by Feb. 15.

U.S. Agriculture Sonny Perdue says President Trump already has signed legislation that guarantees back pay for all employees.

“Meanwhile, we will prepare for a smooth re-establishment of USDA functions,” Perdue says.

With the reopening, USDA anticipates its February market reports — including the Dairy Products and World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimates reports set to be released next week — will be released this month as scheduled. Dairy industry stakeholders operated partially in the dark in January as none of the monthly market reports were released as scheduled during the shutdown. (For a full list of rescheduled report release dates, visit USDA will continue updating in the coming days.)

The shutdown also delayed applications and payments to farmers affected by trade retaliation. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FSA) offices last week began offering a wide range of services even before the shutdown ended, including processing new trade relief payments, after the program had been frozen for weeks. The new deadline for applicants is Feb. 14.

With the shutdown currently on hiatus, dairy stakeholders also are urging action on the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) last week sent a letter to Perdue urging quick implementation of the law’s dairy provisions.

“Dairy farmers have just completed a fourth consecutive year of depressed milk prices and are facing an uncertain outlook for 2019,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, in the letter to Perdue. “We believe that the significant dairy policy reforms we worked successfully with Congress to enact in the new farm bill will be critically important to helping farmers better manage difficult periods of low margins.”

NMPF says dairy programs should be fast-tracked because of the nature of farm bill reforms.

“Because the dairy provisions of the law simply modify the pre-existing margin program, it is clear from Congress’ direction that USDA can move forward to enact the new provisions without conducting a formal rulemaking process,” Mulhern writes. “We encourage you to utilize this flexibility to help add momentum to the process, especially in light of the fact that the government shutdown has delayed the department’s ability to proceed.”

NMPF says it looks forward to working with USDA on a farmer-friendly sign-up process that gives producers time to understand their options, with quickly updated online tools to streamline the process.

The new farm bill includes several critical provisions important to dairy. The new Dairy Margin Coverage program (DMC) offers more affordable and higher coverage levels than previous initiatives, with all dairy producers able to insure margins up to $9.50 per hundredweight on their Tier I (first 5 million pounds) production history. The DMC also offers a lower-cost $5 margin coverage, which is catastrophic protection for operations wishing to cover more than 5 million pounds of production.

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative also welcomed the government reopening and urges immediate implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.

John Rettler, president, FarmFirst, says that low margins have been affecting dairy farmers for more than four years now, and for the DMC program to be effective, FSA offices need to be open and dairy farmers need the ability to sign up for the program.

“With the government reopened, FarmFirst urges the USDA to keep the 2018 Farm Bill as a priority and expedite implementation,” Rettler says. “Fortunately, the Dairy Margin Coverage program mirrors much of the original program, so we are hopeful that there won’t be a need for a formal rulemaking process.”

This week, the board of the National Farmers Union (NFU) passed a resolution calling on the administration and Congress to work together to strengthen the farm safety net to help farm families weather the coming years.

“Economic challenges have forced many farmers into significant financial strain, particularly beginning farmers and ranchers who have not had the ability to build up equity,” the board says. “Despite their best efforts, many farmers are struggling to stay afloat. We urge Congress and the administration to work together to find solutions that will provide significant, long-term answers to strengthen the farm safety net.”

The NFU board notes that net farm income in 2018 is estimated to be nearly 50 percent less than 2013 levels, and that median farm income is estimated to be negative $1,548, meaning a majority of farms — of all sizes — lost money last year. The board adds that ongoing disputes with China and other key trading partners caused further damage to U.S. agricultural markets.

“The short-term assistance provided through USDA’s Market Facilitation Program was appreciated but fails to provide long-term relief,” says the NFU board. “Regardless of when and how existing trade disputes are resolved, it will take decades to overcome the self-inflicted damage to our markets.”

The board adds that the recently passed farm bill provides meaningful but modest relief.

“Changes to Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage will improve each program’s effectiveness and will eventually strengthen the levels of support they provide. The Dairy Margin Coverage program is a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Margin Protection Program,” the board says.

“However, in neither case do the changes reflect the severity of existing market challenges and the immediacy of the financial crisis facing family farmers and ranchers,” the board adds.

In addition to bolstering the safety net, the NFU board urges Congress to examine options to meaningfully address chronic oversupply in the marketplace, which has been particularly damaging to U.S. dairy and grains sectors, it says.


USDEC: Dairy exports to Japan threatened by competing FTAs

Feb. 1, 2019

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) this week released a study that projects new trade agreements between Japan and other countries will put U.S. dairy exports at a competitive disadvantage, resulting in the loss of $5.4 billion in U.S. sales over 21 years.

The Japanese dairy market, the fourth-largest export destination for U.S. dairy exports, is expected to continue to grow in years to come. With a level playing field, the U.S. could roughly double its market share, according to the study conducted by Tokyo-based Meros Consulting.

However, the study warns that without swift and effective action by the United States to secure a strong trade treaty with Japan that meets or exceeds Japan’s agreements with Australia, New Zealand and the European Union, the United States could see its market share drop in half over the next decade.

Australia and New Zealand have the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in place with Japan already, which replaced the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the United States dropped out of the agreement. USDEC notes that as of today, Europe’s agreement with Japan also will take effect.

Without a strong U.S.-Japan trade treaty, competitors will seize a cumulative $1.3 billion in dairy sales over the next decade that otherwise would have been supplied from the United States, a toll that climbs to $5.4 billion once CPTPP and the Japan-EU agreements are fully implemented, USDEC says.

“These agreements will give our competition a significant economic advantage that will enable them to increase their market share in Japan, costing the U.S. dairy industry billions of dollars in lost sales,” says Tom Vilsack, president and CEO, USDEC. “U.S. dairy farmers and processors strongly support the administration’s launch of trade talks with Japan. We hope this report provides fresh ammunition to our negotiators about why a strong U.S.-Japan agreement is so important for American agriculture.

In December, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released negotiating objectives for a U.S.-Japan trade pact, which includes measures that would help support U.S. agricultural exports to Japan. (See “CPTPP enters into force; USTR outlines Japan trade objectives” in the Jan. 4, 2019, issue of Cheese Market News.)

“U.S. dairy farmers are facing economic hardships, and expanding opportunities overseas is the best way to counter that,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation. “A trade deal with Japan that significantly expands dairy access would make 2019 a brighter year.”


Great Lakes Cheese plans to expand manufacturing in Ohio

Feb. 1, 2019

HIRAM, Ohio — Great Lakes Cheese Co. has announced plans to expand manufacturing operations and build a new corporate headquarters building at its existing property in Hiram, Ohio. This announcement is the latest in a series of investments the company says it has made to continue to provide the best quality products to its consumers.

The plant expansion will include an additional 290,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space. The new headquarters building will be constructed on another part of the property, about 500 feet away from the current location and adjacent to the manufacturing facility. The current headquarters location will eventually be remodeled to become a new cafeteria and other amenities for the plant employees, the company says.

Plant construction is scheduled to begin in the spring, and corporate headquarters construction will begin in the summer.
The company currently employs more than 650 employees in Ohio and expects to hire an additional 400 over the coming years as a result of these projects. Great Lakes Cheese worked closely with JobsOhio and their partners to decide upon the Geauga County location, in the outskirts of Hiram, Ohio. JobsOhio and the State of Ohio granted a $10.143 million assistance package to assist with its expansion projects.

“Our company has called Ohio home since the beginning. It is only fitting that we make these significant investments in our infrastructure here. Our legacy of excellence is innately tied to this community and our many Ohio employee-owners,” says Dan Zagzebski, president and CEO, Great Lakes Cheese.

Great Lakes Cheese says it looks forward to continuing to build a positive future for Ohio and its residents for many years to come.

The company has facilities in Ohio, New York, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
February 15, 2019

Barrels: $1.4350 (NC)
Blocks: $1.5800 (NC)

Click here for more market activity
Cheese Production
U.S. Total Nov.
1.082 bil. lbs.

Milk Production
U.S. Total Nov.
17.370 bil. lbs.

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Guesswork and government shutdowns

Dave Kurzawski, INTL FCStone Inc.

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