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Biden administration asks court to lift stay on vaccine mandate

November 26, 2021

WASHINGTON — In response to a court ruling to halt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) implementation of an emergency temporary standard (ETS) that would require employees of companies with 100 or more employees to either be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19, the Biden administration this week filed an emergency motion to dissolve the stay. (See “OSHA suspends Jan. 4 vaccine mandate following court ruling” in last week’s issue of Cheese Market News.)

In its filing asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to remove the stay, the administration’s legal counsel says petitioners have not shown their claimed and speculative injuries outweigh the interest in protecting employees from a dangerous virus while litigation proceeds. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has been chosen to hear multiple lawsuits against the vaccine and testing mandate.

“The Fifth Circuit’s stay should be lifted immediately,” the emergency motion says. “The court’s principal rationale was that OSHA allegedly lacked statutory authority to address the grave danger of COVID-19 in the workplace on the ground that COVID-19 is caused by a virus and also exists outside the workplace. That rationale has no basis in the statutory text. Congress charged OSHA with addressing grave dangers in the workplace, without any carve-out for viruses or dangers that also happen to exist outside the workplace.”

The motion also addresses arguments that the ETS is not required for employers with fewer than 100 employees, while it also doesn’t account for different types of workplaces or employee ages and health histories.

“Petitioners’ asserted injuries are speculative and depend heavily on minor compliance costs or predictions about how employees may respond that are at odds with empirical evidence addressed by the agency,” the administration’s appeal says. “These claimed injuries do not justify delaying a standard that will save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations.”

The American Medical Association (AMA), which filed a brief opposing the stay before it was issued by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month, recently joined other medical organizations to call on the business community to support the federal vaccine and testing requirement.

“Instead of wasting time in court trying to overturn these mandates, business leaders should be focused on how to protect their employees from COVID through vaccination. That’s the only way we’ll be able to return to normal and stabilize our economy,” says Ezekiel Emanual, vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, who organized the statement signed by AMA and other medical groups and health leaders. “We’ve seen over and over that employer vaccine mandates work to raise vaccination rates, and they don’t cause workforce shortages. It’s time for the business community to step up and show the leadership our nation needs now.”

Meanwhile, FMI, The Food Industry Association, says the stay on the ETS issued by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals gives the industry additional time to seek clarity on elements of concern, including the availability of sufficient testing capacity and exemptions for workers with limited contact with others, such as truck drivers and warehouse workers.

“FMI remains concerned with the potentially harmful impact the ETS will have on American consumers and the food supply chain if implemented, as written, during the busiest grocery shopping season of the year,” says Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO, FMI. “FMI remains committed to working with OSHA to encourage and facilitate vaccinations, continue protecting consumers and our workers, and ensure U.S. supply chains remain up and running.”

Dairy groups, many of which continue to encourage vaccinations and provide resources to the industry about compliance and safety, also have expressed concerns over how the mandate could impact labor and supply chain issues.

The International Dairy Foods Association earlier this month hosted a webinar for its members on implementation of the ETS, and previously it had joined a group of food industry trade associations to request an exemption for critical infrastructure food companies, including dairy processors, from the mandate. That request was not granted.


U.S. House passes Build Back Better Act, sends on to Senate

November 26, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House late last week passed the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better Act, sending it on to the Senate, which aims to approve it before Christmas, news reports say.

According to a summary from the House Budget Committee, the Build Back Better Act includes:

• The largest investment in child care in the nation’s history, saving most working American families more than half of their spending on child care;

• Guaranteed universal pre-school for all 3- and 4-year-olds, the first expansion of basic public education in the country in 100 years;

• The nation’s largest investment to combat the climate crisis;

• Capping annual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs under Medicare at $2,000, saving more than 1 million seniors an average of $1,200 a year;

• An expansion of the Affordable Care Act so that those who have been locked out of Medicaid can get good coverage, and then requiring all insurance companies to provide insulin for no more than $35 a month;

• The single largest and most comprehensive investment in affordable housing in U.S. history, and;

• One of the largest middle class tax cuts in the nation’s history.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack notes that, with the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal now law, the nation will reap its benefits of new job and economic growth and the ability to compete around the world. Together with the Build Back Better bill, Vilsack adds, “We have a truly transformational opportunity to rebuild the physical, natural and human infrastructure of our nation. The time is now to deliver this historic catalyst to new economic growth, the creation of millions of good-paying jobs and record investments in America’s working families all while lowering costs, reducing taxes and easing inflation.”

Earlier this month, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) lauded the inclusion of $27 billion in a once-in-a-generation funding boost for conservation programs — with an emphasis on climate-smart agricultural practices — in the Build Back Better Act. The $27 billion package spearheaded by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will help dairy farmers advance their sustainability leadership by bolstering farm bill conservation programs in meaningful ways for dairy, NMPF says. Substantial new investments will provide important voluntary technical assistance to dairy farmers who undertake a variety of stewardship practices, NMPF adds. The legislation also includes targeted new funding that emphasizes critical farm practices that yield significant environmental benefits for dairy, notably in feed management.

“Dairy farmers have long been proactive land and water stewards because they seize opportunities for innovation,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF. “We are deeply grateful to Chairwoman Stabenow for her tireless leadership to secure game-changing conservation investments, with a focus on climate-smart practices. These investments will better position dairy farmers to proactively implement the dairy sector’s Net Zero Initiative and fulfill its 2050 environmental stewardship goals.”

Colin Schwartz, deputy director of federal affairs for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says House passage of the Build Back Better Act is great news for millions of children and parents who rely on the school meals program.

“We urge the Senate to pass it without delay,” Schwartz says. “Even reduced in size, the Build Back Better Act expands access to free school meals to nearly 9 million more children and provides food assistance in the summer months to an additional 21 million children who receive free or reduced-price school meals. It also includes $250 million to help schools support healthier meals as well as $30 million to improve school kitchens.”

Meanwhile, other agricultural, food and retail groups expressed some concerns with the legislation.

“After watching months of contentious, partisan debate surrounding the Build Back Better Act, AFBF stands in opposition to the legislation,” says Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), in a recent letter to House leadership.

Duvall says while some elements of the reconciliation package would benefit agriculture, the massive amount of spending and tax increases required to pay for the plan outweigh the gains the agricultural sector would see in rural America.

“We appreciate House efforts to protect farmers and ranchers by leaving key tax provisions untouched,” he says. “Thousands of small businesses, however, would still be affected by tax increases, forcing them to pass increased costs to families across the nation. The economy is still recovering from the pandemic, supply chains are stressed and inflation is putting pressure on America’s pocketbooks. Now is not the time to put an additional burden on families struggling to make ends meet. We urge lawmakers to find common ground and work in a bipartisan manner to address the challenges facing our nation.”

Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, says the association is disappointed that the House passed the Build Back Better Act without including the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) Replenishment Act.

“The last few months have been a stark reminder that restaurants are still on a pandemic roller coaster. The loss of consumer confidence because of the delta variant, combined with rising food prices, supply chain shortages and higher workforce pay, created a perfect storm that wiped out our rebuilding momentum. Passing this bill without including RRF replenishment leaves thousands of small business restaurants teetering on the brink of closure,” Kennedy says.

“We are also concerned with several elements included in the final bill. At the beginning of the year, we specifically asked Congress to not pass any legislation that would harm restaurants as they rebuild. However, this bill newly applies the net investment income tax (NIIT) to active business income for pass-through businesses — which includes many small business restaurants,” Kennedy adds. “The last thing that restaurants and other small businesses across the nation need at this time is to be saddled with an additional $252 billion in new taxes.”

He notes the final bill does include some provisions the association recognizes will help address workforce concerns across the economy, including free universal pre-K and expanded childcare subsidies.

“We are also pleased that the House recognized the value of apprenticeship programs like the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundations’ Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship, Restaurant Youth Registered Apprenticeship and their apprenticeship opportunities for military personnel. The increased funding for programs like these will provide opportunity and training for people ready to advance their careers,” Kennedy says.


Opportunities, new partnership discussed at recent ag summit

November 26, 2021

LAS VEGAS — Barbara O’Brien, president and CEO of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, said agriculture has an “open door of opportunity” amid growing pressures and expectations to feed a growing population sustainably and responsibly during her opening comments at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit, held Nov. 17-18.

The summit, conducted under the theme “Regeneration and Resilience,” annually convenes the collective food and agriculture value chain to learn, develop and advance a shared vision for a sustainable and resilient U.S. food system.

O’Brien referenced recent events including the UN Food Systems Summit and COP26 (26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) as examples of how the conversation has reached an apex globally. She says this is U.S. agriculture’s time to collectively lead and demonstrate its vital role in the health of people and the well-being of the planet.

O’Brien cites a recent global survey that revealed agriculture is the third-most-trusted industry when it comes to acting on climate change, exceeded only by the renewable energy and technology sectors.

“And yet, while trust in agriculture is high, consumers want to know more, with 65% of people saying they don’t know much — or anything at all — about climate change solutions,” O’Brien says. “They want to be better informed but say they can’t find information they trust or easily understand. And overwhelmingly, they want to hear less about the problem and more about the solutions. This means U.S. agriculture has an open door of opportunity to demonstrate our determination to innovate and to lead in being good and responsible stewards of the land. While we know there are no easy solutions, we also know we are stronger together.”

Kelly Bengston, senior vice president and chief procurement officer at Starbucks, served as the summit’s keynote speaker and stressed how the coffee company values the contributions of farmers, including the nation’s 31,000 dairy farm families. Bengston says dairy remains an integral part of its business and is featured in more than half of Starbucks’ core beverage offerings.

“For 50 years, Starbucks has been dedicated to inspiring and nurturing the human spirit,” Bengston says. “And in that time, we’ve also learned an important fact — our future is tied to the future of farmers, their families and the health of our planet. Right now, from the impacts of the climate crisis to rising costs, we know it’s never been harder to be a farmer.”

Bengston says dairy and coffee account for more than one-third of Starbucks’ carbon emissions. This led to Starbucks last year announcing 2030 targets to reduce its carbon, water and waste footprints by half. Starbucks also joined the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative (NZI), collaborating with the industry on research, on-farm pilots and programs to make the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies more accessible and affordable to farms of all sizes.

To that end, Bengston announced that Starbucks is partnering with Alliance Dairy in Trenton, Florida, to apply and measure innovative technologies and regenerative farming practices that build an economically viable path to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve water use efficiency and quality.

As part of this pilot, technologies such as evaporative nutrient recovery will be explored with the goal of helping Alliance Dairy become a source of renewable and organic fertilizer and water reuse, while significantly reducing GHG emissions.

“At Starbucks, we are focused on driving innovation at scale to support people and planet,” Bengston says. “This includes identifying new ideas and technologies with our partners that are meaningful to farmers, and then working hard to help get them on their farms.”


Experiences on and beyond the board help promote cheese during holidays

MADISON, Wis. — Holiday celebrations — whether they be large events, intimate gatherings or long-distance connections — call for decadent food displays, and cheese can be a centerpiece for entertaining.

“The versatility of cheese makes it the perfect entertaining partner, and there’s a style and variety for every taste,” says Jennifer Giambroni, vice president of communications for the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB). “Triple cremes are perfect for layering or adding festive cutouts with jam or savory tapenades; hard cheeses can be cut into a variety of shapes and sizes to add interest to a board or individual box. We’ve seen some creative ideas for creating individually portioned cheese boards for events, which serves the desire to entertain but away from shared/buffet-style displays.”

For this year’s holiday season, Giambroni says CMAB anticipates consumers will proceed with caution — celebrating but on a smaller scale, with more focus on the little touches that make holidays so special. She notes cheese and dairy fit into this nicely.

“We’re leaning heavily on ideas for downsized entertaining occasions with a consumer PR campaign outlining on-trend ideas for using cheeses ‘beyond the board’ in edible displays that serve both as the decoration on the table as well as the evening appetizer and inspiration for a cookie exchange board that can serve as both a party theme and a dessert grazing table of sorts,” she says.

The cheese board, a traditional staple for entertaining, is the centerpiece of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin’s

(DFW) holiday campaign this year. Last week DFW launched the Wisconsin Cheese Board Awards, a six-week competition that invites aspiring cheese board aficionados to submit photos of their unique Wisconsin cheese board creations. The champion will win a year’s supply of cheese for themselves and a friend, plus a cheese donation provided by Winona Foods to the food pantry of their choice.

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Dairy opportunities highlighted at U.S. House hearing on trade

November 19, 2021

WASHINGTON — This week during a House Subcommittee for Livestock and Foreign Agriculture hearing on trade policies and priorities, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) First Vice Chairman and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) board member Simon Vander Woude encouraged the U.S. government to prioritize expanded market access opportunities for U.S. dairy exports.

Vander Woude and his wife, Christine, operate a 3,200-head dairy in Merced, California. He also serves as chairman of the board of directors of California Dairies Inc. (CDI), the largest dairy farmer-owned cooperative in California and the second largest in the United States. With 60% of the cooperative’s milk powder sold to foreign markets, he notes, CDI’s 360 family-owned dairy farms strongly rely on U.S. trade policy tools to keep export markets for their products open and growing.

“Despite all the growth and success the dairy industry has enjoyed on the export front over the past two decades, we could be doing even better with a level playing field,” Vander Woude testified at Wednesday’s hearing. “While trade is all too often disparaged in this country and its benefits sold short, our competitors are busy forging new agreements. We farmers need a proactive trade policy to keep pace and continue to increase sales and support the good farm and manufacturing jobs our industry creates.”

Vander Woude stressed in his testimony the urgency of expanding access to key dairy markets like the United Kingdom, Asia (Japan, Southeast Asia, China) and the Middle East to catch up with dairy competitors whose countries aggressively have sought trade agreements over the past decade. Vander Woude also highlighted other policy priorities significantly impacting U.S. dairy operations, including the current supply chain crisis, securing long-term relief from Chinese retaliatory tariffs, and implementation and enforcement of existing trade agreements, including the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“As Simon outlined so well to the House Livestock and Foreign Agriculture subcommittee (Wednesday), exports are essential to the health of dairy farmers and to our wider industry,” says Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “New access into markets like Canada and Japan last year was a welcome first step, but still far less than what our farmers need to remain competitive globally. The United States needs to begin moving forward again with trade agreements and other policies that expand foreign market opportunities to help family dairy farms thrive and support the thousands of jobs that depend on dairy across this country.”

USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden adds: “Sound trade policy that opens doors for American-made products takes time to negotiate, and the time is ripe for laying that foundation. With the administration and Congress having charted progress on many domestic priorities, now is the time for the U.S. government to take a proactive approach to tearing down both tariff and nontariff trade barriers. We also need forward-looking solutions to the nation’s supply chain issues that are hindering U.S. exports, particularly in markets where America’s farmers are at a disadvantage to our competitors.”

Also on Wednesday, the United States, Japan and the European Union announced they have agreed to renew their trilateral partnership to address global challenges posed by non-market policies and practices of third countries. The trilateral partners plan to meet in person on the margins of the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, set for Nov. 29 through Dec. 3 in Geneva, Switzerland. Additionally, the United States and Japan announced the launch of the U.S.-Japan Partnership on Trade, which reaffirms the shared commitment to strengthen the alliance through regular engagement on trade-related matters of importance to both countries.

“This partnership will depend on the cooperation between the United States and Japan that has defined our strong bilateral trade relationship,” says U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. “Our close collaboration will support the Biden-Harris administration’s development of an economic framework for the Indo-Pacific and help create sustainable, resilient, inclusive and competitive trade policies that lift up our people and economies.”

It is expected that the first series of meetings under the U.S.-Japan Partnership on Trade will take place in early 2022. Periodic meetings will be held thereafter on a regular basis to advance a shared agenda of cooperation across a broad range of issues as well as to address bilateral trade issues of concern on either side.

In other trade news, President Biden on Monday held a virtual meeting with President Xi Jinping of China focused on ways to responsibly manage the competition between the two countries. Among economic issues discussed, according to a White House spokesperson, Biden underscored the importance of China fulfilling its commitments under the phase one agreement and his desire to see real progress on conversations that Tai is having with her counterpart, Vice-Premier Liu He.

On Thursday, Biden hosted the first North American Leaders’ Summit since 2016, where leaders discussed economic cooperation, efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and promote global health security, efforts to address climate issues and a coordinated approach to migration management. In the area of foreign competitiveness, the leaders discussed the start of a North American supply chain working group that is going to look at defining essential industries to minimize future supply chain disruptions, a White House spokesperson reports.


OSHA suspends Jan. 4 vaccine mandate following court ruling

November 19, 2021

WASHINGTON — Following a court ruling, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has suspended implementation of the vaccine and testing mandate set to take full effect for large businesses Jan. 4.
On Nov. 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a motion to stay OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), published on Nov. 5 in the Federal Register. (See “OSHA publishes vaccination, testing mandate for business” in the Nov. 5, 2021, issue of Cheese Market News.)

“While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation,” a statement on OSHA’s website says.

The stay was issued after petitioners, including 15 locally-owned Louisiana supermarkets, filed a suit arguing that they will be adversely affected by the ETS because they already face worker shortages, and the ETS would make it even harder to hire and keep employees.

The Department of Justice countered in an appeal that there was no reason to rule on the petitioners’ stay motions immediately, since many of their claimed harms relate to a testing requirement that does not become effective until January 2022. Furthermore, the appeal said the petitioners have not shown that their claimed injuries outweigh the harm of staying a standard that will “save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations.”

Several states and other petitioners also have filed lawsuits related to the ETS. Earlier this month, FMI, the Food Industry Association, announced that it had joined 10 other trade groups representing grocery, truck drivers, wholesalers-distributors, warehousing and logistics providers, and small businesses in a lawsuit challenging the ETS for
COVID-19 vaccination and testing.

“At FMI, the health and safety of our members’ customers and employees is our top priority. Our industry supports efforts to encourage greater vaccination among the American public and has gone to extraordinary lengths to promote vaccination rates among our associates and communities. In fact, our 10,000 food retail pharmacies have administered a significant percentage of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters,” says FMI CEO Leslie G. Sarasin.

“However, we believe that the ETS, as currently written, will only exacerbate ongoing labor challenges and worsen an already existing shortage of transport and supply chain capacity,” Sarasin says. “Vaccine and testing mandates would further slow delivery times and drive up costs for consumers, retailers and manufacturers alike while disrupting our ability to keep the level of food on the shelves necessary to serve our communities as we approach the busy holiday shopping season, which has already been plagued by rising inflation and consumer fears about product availability.”

Sarasin adds that FMI is pursuing litigation because the time and resources needed to put policies and procedures in place to track employee vaccination status and determine who needs to be regularly tested will create significant challenges during the busiest time of year for food retailers.

“We hope to continue to work with OSHA to encourage and facilitate vaccinations for more Americans, address issues related to the ETS, including the lack of testing availability for workers who chose not to get vaccinated, and reevaluate exemptions for low-contact workers — such as truck drivers — who work largely in isolation,” Sarasin says.

Meanwhile, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) also has voiced disappointment that OSHA’s vaccine mandate for larger employers fails to adopt accommodations to recognize the unique nature of agriculture.

“While the ETS compliance deadline does take farmer co-ops past harvest and does exempt employees working exclusively outdoors, implementing this standard will be disruptive, and it contains no provisions included to help ensure the integrity of the food and agriculture supply chain,” says NCFC President Chuck Conner. “NCFC will be providing formal comments to OSHA outlining our concerns further and will work with our members to look for ways to minimize the disruptions this ETS will cause to a critical sector of our economy.”


October milk production down slightly from one year earlier

November 19, 2021

WASHINGTON — Milk production in the 24 major milk-producing states in October totaled 17.71 billion pounds, down 0.3% from October 2020, according to data released this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). For the entire United States, October milk production was estimated at 18.52 billion pounds, down 0.5% from October 2020. (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart.)

NASS reports September’s revised production for the 24 major states totaled 17.26 billion pounds, a decrease of 37 million pounds or 0.2% from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

October production per cow in the 24 major states averaged 1,990 pounds, 6 pounds below October 2020 and 55 pounds above September 2021. For the entire United States, production per cow in October is estimated at 1,970 pounds, 6 pounds below October 2020 and 54 pounds above September.

NASS reports the number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major states was 8.90 million head in October, up 4,000 head from October 2020 but down 15,000 head from September. In the entire United States, there were an estimated 9.40 million milk cows in October, 14,000 cows less than October 2020 and also 14,000 less than in September.

California led the nation’s milk production in October with 3.34 billion pounds of milk, down 1.3% from October 2020. Wisconsin followed with 2.65 billion pounds of milk produced in October, up 2.7% from October 2020.


Dairy sustainability highlighted during UN climate change event

November 12, 2021

GLASGOW, Scotland — A number of initiatives and technologies to bring more sustainability to the dairy industry were highlighted over the last week during the 26th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

Last week, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA’s support of the newly launched Pathways to Dairy Net Zero, an initiative to help accelerate climate action in the global dairy sector, bringing together organizations throughout the dairy supply chain and dairy farms of all types and sizes around the world to collectively achieve net zero emissions in the next 30 years.

“Livestock, including dairy, can provide critical climate solutions,” Vilsack says. “Sustainably managed livestock systems play an important role globally in food and nutrition security, livelihoods and nutrient cycling and carbon storage. Increasing the rate of adoption of feed management, manure management and digesters will be key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions including methane.”

During the COP26, the United States and United Arab Emirates officially launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) alongside 31 countries and more than 48 non-government partners. Previewed at President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate in April, AIM for Climate is a pioneering initiative focused on increasing investment and enabling greater public-private and cross-sectional partnerships, intended to both raise global climate ambition and underpin transformative climate action in the agriculture sectors in all countries. A full list of partners and more information about AIM for Climate is available at

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) applauded USDA’s formal support of Pathways to Dairy Net Zero and the launch of AIM for Climate. The groups note that these global ag efforts align with the approach U.S. dairy is taking to reduce its environmental impact through its Net Zero Initiative launched last year that aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. USDEC Senior Vice President for Sustainability and Multilateral Affairs Nick Gardner attended the COP26 events in Glasgow to help demonstrate the U.S. dairy industry’s commitment to sustainability and ensure its farmers, processors and exporters were well-represented at the global forum.

“Dairy farmers are proud to be part of the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative to do our part in driving toward a global climate solution,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF. “USDA’s formal support for the Pathways to Dairy Net Zero, which NMPF also supports, will help to further catalyze this global effort by dairy sectors and governments around the world to foster sustainable production practices. We commend USDA’s global leadership in charting an incentive-based approach of encouraging sustainably managed livestock systems that can help feed a growing global population while minimizing environmental impacts.”

U.S. dairy leads the world in sustainability with the world’s lowest greenhouse gas footprint per gallon of milk, notes USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden.

“Yet we’re also deeply committed to making further progress as we work together with others in the U.S. and around the world to create environmental solutions that make U.S. dairy ever more competitive globally,” she says. “Working together and with a firm commitment to the positive role that innovation and productivity can play in the sustainability arena, we’ll be able to help create the sustainable future so important to us all.”

In addition to the developments on Pathways to Dairy Net Zero and AIM for Climate, Vilsack also joined European Union Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski to announce a newly created transatlantic collaboration platform on agriculture designed to take on the global challenges of sustainability and climate change.

“We are reaffirming our mutual commitment to sustainable and climate-smart agricultural production, recognizing that we are both engaged in multiple, effective ways to achieve mutually desired outcomes,” the two leaders said in a joint statement. “We believe that science and innovation will bring about a more sustainable agriculture. We must work together to devise systems and solutions that are good for agricultural producers, good for consumers, good for businesses, good for our communities and good for our planet.”

Among specific actions the dairy industry is taking to reduce emissions, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced during the COP26 an industry-oriented consortium that will award approximately $5 million over the next five years to fund research that provides beef and cattle producers with solutions for enteric methane emission mitigation to curb the escalating climate crisis.

Enteric methane is the single largest source of direct greenhouse gas emissions in the beef and dairy sectors. While several efforts to advance the sustainability of livestock production currently are underway, few specifically address enteric methane emissions, the groups note.

“Although mitigation of enteric methane from ruminants is not a novel field of research, many challenges remain to identify, develop and validate effective mitigation options that will also meet farmer and broad socioeconomic needs,” says Juan Tricarico, vice president for sustainability research at the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

The Greener Cattle Initiative serves as a vehicle for multiple stakeholders to share knowledge and accelerate the development of scalable and commercially feasible technologies that reduce enteric methane emissions and enable the production of sustainable beef and dairy. It supports research in feed additives, supplements and ingredients that help inhibit and reduce enteric methane emissions; genetic selection of cattle that emit less methane; increased understanding of microbiome composition and activity in cattle; technologies such as sensors, robots and artificial intelligence to monitor enteric methane emissions; and socioeconomic analysis of enteric methane mitigation practices and technologies.

Others also highlighted research and technologies to reduce methane emissions during COP26. Royal DSM announced that it is planning to realize large-scale production capacity for its novel methane-reducing feed additive for ruminants, Bovaer, with a new plant at its existing site in Dairy, Scotland, supported by Scottish Enterprise.

DSM notes that in early September, it received full regulatory approvals in Brazil and Chile for Bovaer. DSM has initial commercial product volumes available for near-term market development, but to prepare for further scale-up in the coming years, engineering for a new large plant in Dairy has started, and the plant is expected to be complete in 2025.

Scientists at the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, also are researching adding seaweed to animal feed to reduce methane gas released into the atmosphere by ruminants. Early laboratory research at IGFS has shown promising results using native Irish and United Kingdom (UK) seaweeds, the scientists say. Trials are about to begin on UK farms.

IGFS lead Sharon Huws, professor of animal science and microbiology, says she expects the combined research to show a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 30%.

“The science is there. It’s simply a matter of providing the necessary data and then implementing it,” she says. “Using seaweed is a natural, sustainable way of reducing emissions and has great potential to be scaled up.”


DMI releases 2020 annual report; New CEO outlines future goals

November 12, 2021

By Rena Archwamety

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which oversees the national dairy checkoff program, recently released its 2020 annual report on the progress of its initiatives, while new DMI President and CEO Barbara O’Brien addressed future goals and plans for the checkoff during a virtual press conference.

The 2020 annual report, now available at, provides highlights of 2020 strategies and programs as well as an audited financial report. It outlines activities aligned around board-approved priorities that focus on accelerating domestic and international dairy sales, building trust with consumers and youth, positioning dairy globally, and farmer and community relations.

The annual report detailed progress in the following areas:

• Growing U.S., international sales — In 2020, national and local checkoff organizations worked together with dairy and food industry partners to address immediate disruptions resulting from COVID-19, and despite losses of in-store dining, domestic partners including McDonald’s and Taco Bell outperformed the overall foodservice category. Checkoff staff worked with retailers last spring to help ensure a continuous supply of fluid milk as well as with co-ops, processors and retailers to donate milk and other dairy products to food banks and pantries. On a global scale, checkoff-led efforts helped support U.S. dairy export growth through foodservice partners including Domino’s Japan and Pizza Hut Asia-Pacific. In 2020, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (primarily funded through the checkoff) opened its U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence in Singapore. Menu innovations at home and abroad helped increase dairy consumption.

• Building trust with consumers, youth — The checkoff-created and industrywide Undeniably Dairy initiative launched an extensive media campaign to reassure consumers of dairy farmers’ essential role and commitment to communities nationwide, which included media interviews, a Pizza Hut giveaway for high school graduates and a Home Fridge Advantage series where NFL players offered a look inside their real refrigerators to show how dairy fits into their lifestyles. Other work included a Fuel Up to Play 60 Homeroom experience with virtual farm tours and recipes, a gamer-focused “Barnstorming” effort that told dairy’s sustainability story through Minecraft, a healthy eating and activity promotion with Subway, and checkoff efforts through GENYOUth to support school meal programs.

• Positioning dairy globally — The checkoff continued to advance its science-based approach to nutrition, product, environmental and technical research. In 2020, checkoff-funded research, relationships and communications led to the continued recommendation of three servings of dairy per day in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans; the National Dairy Council’s publication of 41 peer-reviewed research pieces focused on nutrition and sustainability; the adoption of the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment to social responsibility priorities by 32 companies and co-ops representing 74% of U.S. milk production; and sharing U.S. Dairy’s 2050 Environmental Stewardship goals with leading organizations including the World Economic Forum, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and others.

Meanwhile, looking toward the future, DMI hosted a press conference Oct. 28 where its new president and CEO, Barbara O’Brien, addressed how the checkoff will continue its efforts and implement new areas of focus and efficiencies in the future. O’Brien assumed her new role Oct. 11. She has been with DMI since 2000 and worked closely with previous CEO Tom Gallagher, who will remain as an advisor through next summer. O’Brien says her selection to lead the organization was a vote for strategic continuity.

“Continuity doesn’t mean complacency,” she emphasized. “We need to examine what we do and change when we need to change. There have been amazing results that we’ve been able to generate over the years. The environment for dairy is complex and increasingly reliant on the global marketplace for new volume. We want to make sure we’re efficiently and effectively investing farmers’ dollars.”

For the short term, O’Brien says DMI will be looking at its umbrella companies to make sure there is stronger integration and that it is not duplicating efforts in any way. She is committed to transparent communication with the farmer funders to help them see, understand and give feedback on the job the checkoff is doing regarding growing dairy sales domestically and around the world. DMI also will look at other efficiencies to maximize every dollar put into its programs.

While looking at reining in focus, DMI also will continue to eye new areas of opportunity, O’Brien notes. Among these are new innovations and partnerships for products beyond milk and cheese, such as yogurt and powdered ingredients. Additionally, the checkoff will work with its scientific partners to help showcase dairy, look at a broader spectrum of influencers and build on its longtime relationships with dietitians and chefs.

The longer term, she says, is about defining what’s next, as DMI in recent weeks officially kicked off its 2022 unified marketing plan.

“Long term, we will be guided by what the global market demands. Growth is so dependent on not only meeting domestic needs, but also global customer needs,” O’Brien says. “We’re also going to review our operations and expenditures. There is an eye to greater synergy as we look as a checkoff to evaluate priorities. I plan to go to the DMI board in the next few months with recommendations on how to shape current and future success. I also will talk about what we need to stop doing. Today we’re doing a lot, and I welcome the opportunity to get laser-focused.”

Continuity will drive this year’s plan into next year, O’Brien says. First, it will be about winning with the next generation of consumers.

“Generation Z, which we talk a lot about, has $100 billion in spending power. They are digitally savvy, and a different subset of people with different priorities in what drives their decisions,” she says.

Second, she says DMI will look at what drives demand and sales domestically as well as around the world, working with the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Third, O’Brien says the industry needs to put dairy out there for people to see.

“What it takes to produce food sustainably, we have such a great story to tell,” she says. “I’m excited about the completion of this year and what’s coming up next year. The opportunity I have, not alone, but as the new CEO to work with farmer leaders and industry leaders I have nurtured relationships with over the last 20 years, about working together to accomplish what we can for U.S. dairy. We are going to continue to drive results for farmers. It’s what they expect and deserve, and they have my 150% commitment to that.”


USDA lowers milk production, cheese price forecast for 2021

November 12, 2021

WASHINGTON — The milk production forecasts for 2021 and 2022 are reduced from the previous month on lower expected dairy cow numbers and slower growth in milk per cow, notes USDA in its latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report released Tuesday.

USDA now forecasts 2021 milk production to reach 226.4 billion pounds in 2021, down 600 million pounds from last month’s forecast. In 2022, USDA forecasts milk production to reach 228.1 billion pounds, down 1.6 billion pounds from last month.

Fat basis import forecasts for 2021 and 2022 are reduced on lower expected imports of butterfat products. Fat basis export forecasts for 2021 and 2022 are raised on higher expected exports of cheese and butterfat products. The skim-solids basis import forecast for 2021 is raised while 2022 imports are unchanged from last month. The 2021 and 2022 skim-solids basis export forecasts are unchanged from last month, USDA says.

The cheese price forecast for 2021 is reduced to $1.670 per pound, down from $1.680 last month, on current prices and continued large supplies. Butter, nonfat dry milk (NDM) and whey price forecasts for 2021 are raised from last month — to $1.720, $1.270 and $0.570 per pound, respectively — on strength in demand and lower expected production, USDA says.

The 2021 Class III price forecast is reduced from last month to $16.95 per hundredweight as the lower forecast cheese price more than offsets the higher whey price. The Class IV price forecast is raised to $16.00 on higher NDM and butter prices, and the 2021 all milk price forecast is raised to $18.50 per hundredweight.

For 2022, cheese, butter, NDM and whey price forecasts are raised on strength in demand and lower expected milk supplies, USDA says. Cheese now is forecast to average $1.765, butter $1.910, NDM $1.485 and whey $0.530 per pound.

The 2022 Class III and Class IV price forecasts also are raised, to $17.75 and $18.70 per hundredweight, respectively, on higher forecast dairy product prices. The all milk price for 2022 is raised to $20.25.


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
November 24, 2021

Barrels: $1.5250 (NC)
Blocks: $1.8575 (NC)

Click here for more market activity
Cheese Production
U.S. Total Sept.
1.141 bil. lbs.

Milk Production
U.S. Total Oct.
18.515 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

Dairy’s certainties guide industry

Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation

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