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Panelists share agricultural lending landscape, outlook

June 14, 2024

By Alyssa Mitchell

CHICAGO — Domestic and global dairy market updates, a dairy producer panel, a weather outlook and ag lending panel all were part of the agenda Wednesday at HighGround Dairy’s annual Global Dairy Outlook Conference, held June 18-20 at the Union League Club in Chicago. This year’s event set a record of nearly 110 attendees.

In a panel discussion Wednesday on agricultural lending, Jim Moriarty, vice president of ag lending at Compeer Financial, and Amanda Durow, vice president of CoBank’s Corporate Agribusiness Banking Group, shared their insights on the lending landscape for dairy producers and processors.

Sharing insights on the producer environment for ag lending, Moriarty says current views on U.S. farms reflect optimism with a sense of caution and uncertainty.
Dairy producers’ financial position generally is solid today, he notes. Farms largely were profitable from 2019-2022, while a bit uneven in 2023. Results vary by region depending on feed cost differences, spot basis swings and Class III and Class IV milk prices.

The cost to produce also remains elevated, Moriarty says, noting producing more milk, through expansion, can help to spread out higher costs. Some of the other key challenges facing producers today when it comes to expansion include:

• Facility construction costs, which have experienced a 30%-40% increase since 2019;

• High interest rates;

• Labor costs and availability;

• Milk processing capacity and availability; and

• Regulatory pressures.

However, there also are incentives for producers to invest and expand, including a continuous improvement mindset that can lead to innovation. Capital improvements also can aid with labor-saving productivity as older facilities are updated with new equipment, including advances in automation.

Many farms also are increasingly investing in sustainability to gain efficiency in operations while also lowering their environmental footprint, Moriarty notes.

In addition to sustainability, some key on-farm topics of discussion when it comes to lending, expansion and investment include:

• Margin management — how to sell or hedge milk as well as manage feed costs;

• Lowering cost of production;

• Developing and retaining middle management labor;

• Cattle prices and replacements; and

• Expansion and second site exploration — more producers today have interest in multi-site operations but also must consider the cost of new construction and labor availability.

Meanwhile, Durow shared lending insights from a dairy processing perspective.

First and foremost, the U.S. dairy industry is investing for the future, with $7 billion in new dairy processing plants coming online in the next couple of years, Durow notes. Through 2026, U.S. cheese production is projected to grow by 520,000 metric tons, with 2023-2026 growth in Cheddar-style cheeses set to more than double the growth seen from 2019-2022, according to data from the U.S. Dairy Export Council, National Milk Producers Federation and CoBank.

Durow notes U.S. consumers are eating more dairy than they are drinking, with U.S. per capita consumption of dairy rising 0.07% per year over the last decade.
Cheese exports on a volume basis also continue to grow, she says.

Dairy processing plants today are increasing in scale, size, complexity and cost, Durow notes.

Diversification is a key consideration for the sector to aid in expanding markets, penetrating different channels, shifting product mix based on seasonal demand and optimizing all milk solids, she says.

Working capital is necessary to manage through market volatility, she adds, noting processors can manage accounts receivable financing, inventory and non-milk payables to optimize working capital.

Regulatory and environmental pressures also are impacting processors, Durow notes, and some pricing challenges persist.

Panelists note the industry eagerly awaits the outcome of the federal milk marketing order reform hearings held earlier this year, with a recommended decision by USDA expected in the coming weeks.


Bird flu continues to spread among dairy herds in the U.S.

June 21, 2024

WASHINGTON — In its latest update this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as of June 20, a total of 12 states and 115 dairy herds have been affected by the current outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI, or H5N1). Three human cases of H5N1 virus infection also have been reported in the United States following exposure to affected dairy cattle.

Among the latest reports of HPAI is one of the largest dairy farms in Iowa, a herd of about 10,000 in Sioux County, announced Tuesday by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. To date, the department has announced eight detections within Iowa dairy herds.

Also this week, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Tim Boring announced immediate financial assistance for Michigan dairy farms impacted by HPAI to help advance research on the disease toward aiding farms in recovery. Funding is available for up to 20 farms, up to $28,000 per farm. This assistance is in addition to funding already available from USDA to HPAI-impacted dairy farms in Michigan.

“From the beginning of Michigan’s outbreak of HPAI in dairy cattle, MDARD has worked closely with our state, federal and industry partners to quickly respond to this virus. We understand our dairy farmers are facing unprecedented challenges, and this action is an important step toward supporting them during this emergency,” Boring says. “Our HPAI-impacted farms have been incredibly cooperative in Michigan’s One Health approach to combat this disease. The research opportunities through this package will help us advance science in real-time to best develop our continued rapid response.”

According to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Michigan has had a total of 25 confirmed HPAI cases in dairy milking cattle, the highest of any state to date.

Meanwhile, CDC has announced that the U.S. government is developing vaccines against H5N1 viruses in case they are needed. Seasonal flu vaccines do not provide protection against avian influenza A viruses, but CDC has developed H5 candidate vaccine viruses (CVVs) that could be used to produce a vaccine for people, if needed. Preliminary analysis show that they are expected to provide good protection against H5N1 viruses currently circulating in birds and other animals.

Recently published research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania also shows an experimental mRNA vaccine against H5N1 is highly effective in preventing severe illness and death in preclinical models. The vaccine potentially could help manage the current outbreak and prevent human infections with the virus.

“The mRNA technology allows us to be much more agile in developing vaccines; we can start creating a mRNA vaccine within hours of sequencing a new viral strain with pandemic potential,” says Scott Hensley, a professor of microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine.

Hensley and his laboratory collaborated in the study with the laboratory of mRNA vaccine pioneer and Nobel Prize winner Drew Weissman, the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research and director of vaccine research at Penn Medicine.


USDA raises cheese, commodity price forecasts for 2024, 2025

June 14, 2024

UTRECHT, Netherlands — Rabobank RaboResearch has published a new report on how China’s growing self-sufficiency in dairy production is having a profound influence on global dairy trade.

The report notes that China’s monumental achievement in self-sufficiency in milk production, representing 11 million metric tons from 2018 to 2023, has left an indelible mark on the global dairy sector. The country’s whole milk powder (WMP) imports plunged from an average of 670,000 metric tons between 2018 and 2022 to a mere 430,000 metric tons in 2023.

As China produces more dairy products domestically, New Zealand must seek alternative markets for its WMP exports, leading to greater global dairy export competition and below-average milk powder prices. The report’s author Mary Ledman, Rabobank global dairy strategist, describes the global dairy sector as a row of dominoes, with China’s demand representing the first domino, followed by New Zealand’s supply and finally a key commodity: WMP.

“If China’s demand falls, it triggers a chain reaction, causing each subsequent domino to topple. This has inevitably intensified competition among the existing dairy-exporting regions and led to lower-than-average global milk powder prices,” Ledman says.

New Zealand accounts for less than 3% of world cow milk production, but more than 25% of global dairy trade. As the primary dairy exporter to China, it now must find alternative markets for the milk equivalent of nearly 150,000 metric tons of WMP. Almost 1.3 million metric tons of milk — equivalent to 6% of New Zealand’s annual milk production — now is in search of import destinations in the form of WMP, skim milk powder (SMP), milkfat and cheese, the report says.

New Zealand’s WMP exports peaked in 2021 due to China’s robust demand, which dropped in the subsequent years. In response, New Zealand adjusted its export strategy, increasing exports of SMP, butterfat and cheese, offsetting a 255,000 metric ton fall in WMP exports between 2021 and 2023, the report adds. In 2022 and 2023, New Zealand also multiplied its WMP imports to Algeria, the world’s second-largest WMP importer.

“This caused the New Zealand dairy supply domino to cascade into the European market, the traditional WMP and SMP supplier for Algeria,” explains Ledman. “New Zealand also diverted milk from WMP to SMP, resulting in a nearly 40% boost in its total SMP exports from 2021 to 2023, putting pressure on SMP exports from the EU and the U.S.”

Meanwhile, China’s growing milk and dairy production offers opportunities for companies supporting animal health, genetics, nutrition, manure management and milking and processing equipment. While it is doubtful that China would become a net dairy exporter, says Ledman, “it nevertheless poses a significant challenge to the key dairy exporting regions, which have significant exposure to the Chinese market and will need to continue to adapt to the changing market dynamics.”

She cautions: “While the cost of production will play a role in competitiveness, shorter supply chains and increased trade protectionism could potentially offset these costs. China’s increased self-sufficiency may serve as an example for other countries aiming to reduce reliance on trade.”

The full report is available at


Ellsworth boosts local community with its national reputation for curds

ELLSWORTH, Wis. — This weekend, the 3,000-person village of Ellsworth near the western border of Wisconsin will host around 30,000 visitors, serving up more than 3 tons of its locally-made cheese curds during the annual Ellsworth Cheese Curd Festival.

This year named the No. 3 Specialty Food Festival in the United States in USA Today’s 10Best competition, the Ellsworth Cheese Curd Festival pays homage to Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery’s famous cheese curds and, more broadly, Wisconsin’s rich cheese and agricultural heritage. It features a wide array of cheese curd-inspired foods, unique tasting experiences, live music, an artisan market and a cheese curd eating contest.

Each year the festival also presents a unique, never-before-fried cheese curd flavor. For this weekend’s event, attendees can savor Ellsworth’s Garlic Dill specialty cheese curds, hand-dipped in a famous beer batter, fried to golden perfection and served with ranch dipping sauce. And in addition to these and traditional deep-fried cheese curds, the festival boasts other exclusive offerings such as Cinnamon Sugar dessert curds, introduced in 2018 and now a staple of the annual event.

“Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery has put Ellsworth, Wisconsin, on the map, establishing the small village’s reputation for cheese, particularly cheese curds,” says Paul Bauer, CEO and general manager, Ellsworth
Cooperative Creamery. “The early adoption and innovation in cheese curd production set Ellsworth apart from other producers.”

In fact, Ellsworth’s cheese curd production led to the village being designated as the “Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin” in 1983 by then-governor Anthony Earl, a title that underscores Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery’s significant contribution to the state’s cheese industry, Bauer adds.

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Stakeholders praise release of farm bill framework in Senate

June 14, 2024

WASHINGTON — Dairy and agricultural stakeholders this week lauded U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, for releasing a farm bill framework reflecting the priorities of Senate Republicans.

“From the onset of this process, we have sought to draft a farm bill that reflects the needs of stakeholders. The world has changed dramatically since the 2018 bill became law, and the unprecedented challenges and economic uncertainty that farmers face now are only projected to get worse in the coming years,” Boozman says. “This is why producers have been calling on senators to put more farm in the farm bill. Our framework released today meets that call by modernizing the farm safety net, facilitating the expansion of access to overseas markets, fostering breakthroughs in agricultural research and growing the rural communities our farmers, ranchers and foresters call home — all while making a historic investment in conservation and protecting nutrition programs that help Americans in need.”

Following on the House Committee on Agriculture’s bipartisan passage of a farmer-focused farm bill last month, Boozman notes Senate Republicans are putting forth a framework that exhibits a shared common ground with their Democrat counterparts on several key priorities and offers a path forward in the places where they differ.
“Our framework builds on the momentum from committee passage in the House and Chairwoman (Debbie) Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) release of Senate Democrats’ priorities,” he says. “I am eager to follow the House’s lead and draft a bill that will garner support on both sides of the aisle.

“I have been proud to partner with Chairwoman Stabenow on priority issues and shepherd significant reforms into law, particularly the accomplishments focused on climate and nutrition,” he adds. “These accomplishments would not have been possible without a commitment to working together as good faith partners.
Senate Republicans have every intention of continuing farm bill negotiations in the same manner and remain committed to advancing a bipartisan farm bill that meets the needs of farmers, ranchers, foresters, rural communities and consumers nationwide.”

Stabenow echoed the sentiment of a collaborative effort, calling introduction of a farm bill framework “a welcome development.”

“Now it is time to build upon the areas where we share common ground, of which there are many, and do the hard work of reaching a bipartisan compromise so we can finish our work,” she says.

However, Stabenow adds, “Unfortunately, the framework follows the same flawed approach as Chairman (Glenn) Thompson’s (R-Pa.) proposal in the House and splits the broad farm bill coalition. It makes significant cuts to the family safety net that millions of Americans rely on and walks away from the progress we have made to address the climate crisis. Similar to the House, the framework also appears to propose spending far in excess of available funding.

“A strong farm bill is one where all farmers benefit — not just the largest farmers or a handful of commodities,” she says. “The only path forward is to hold together the broad food and farm coalition that has always been the foundation of a successful farm bill. I look forward to working with Ranking Member Boozman and our partners in the House to finish our work by the end of the year.”

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says Senate Republicans’ framework includes several IDFA priorities, namely the outline for a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Dairy Nutrition Incentives Program (DNIP) that expands on the SNAP Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives (HFMI) program to include all varieties of milk, as well as cheese and yogurt and cultured products. The DNIP outline included in the Senate Republicans’ framework reflects the bipartisan Dairy Nutrition Incentives Program Act co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan., in the Senate and by U.S. Reps. Jim Costa, D-Calif., and Nick Langworthy, R-N.Y., in the House, which gained IDFA support in 2023 and has remained the center of IDFA’s farm bill advocacy. The Dairy Nutrition Incentive Program Act currently has eight bipartisan co-sponsors in the Senate and 15 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House. The program would expand the HFMI projects — a 2018 Farm Bill program currently testing best practices for incentivizing milk purchases among SNAP beneficiaries in 19 states — to include a wide variety of milk and dairy products.

“IDFA applauds Ranking Member Boozman and Senate Republicans for leading this effort to increase access to nutritious dairy products with a robust dairy nutrition incentives program,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO, IDFA. “IDFA is also grateful to Chairwoman Stabenow for expanding the current incentive program in her farm bill framework. IDFA is committed to working with members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to ensure a robust program, reflective of the widely popular and bipartisan Dairy Nutrition Incentives Program Act, becomes part of the next farm bill.”

He adds the farm bill framework released this week includes several other IDFA priorities. Importantly, the outline ensures any proposed changes to the Class I mover formula will be determined by USDA through the federal milk marketing Order (FMMO) process currently underway, consistent with IDFA’s stated goals.

“The USDA process to make changes to the FMMO system through a federal order hearing has been underway for well over one year, and USDA will soon announce its recommended FMMO decision,” Dykes says. “IDFA members feel strongly that the farm bill should not predetermine the outcome of USDA’s ongoing FMMO process.”

The Senate Republicans’ 2024 Farm Bill outline also promises cost surveys to ensure make allowances accurately reflect the cost of manufacturing dairy products. This provision is consistent with IDFA’s requests for cost surveys for butter, Cheddar cheese, nonfat dry milk and whey in the next farm bill, Dykes notes.

The outline also makes the Dairy Forward Pricing Program permanent, thereby eliminating the possibility that forward pricing programs for Class II, III and IV proprietary plants and their producers will lapse if a new farm bill is not passed before the existing farm bill expires.

Finally, the framework also would allow schools to serve whole milk and reduced-fat (2%) milk to students, pursuant to Chairman Thompson’s Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, which IDFA has supported.

“There remains much work to do for both committees and all of Congress to develop a bipartisan farm bill that can win passage in both chambers to become law,” Dykes says. “IDFA and its member leaders will continue to advocate with bipartisan committee leaders as well as their respective staffs to ensure our industry’s full set of priorities are reflected in future farm bill drafts and, ultimately, a bipartisan farm bill that can be enacted into law.”

Gregg Doud, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), says dairy farmers and their cooperatives commend Sen. Boozman for issuing a strong farm bill framework that marks another important step toward enacting a bipartisan farm bill into law this year.

“Ranking Member Boozman’s framework includes numerous dairy priorities, such as reauthorizing and updating the vital Dairy Margin Coverage safety net and advancing NMPF-led bipartisan bills to spur approval of innovative feed ingredients, protect the use of common food names and boost consumption of nutritious milk among our nation’s youth,” Doud says. “A five-year farm bill provides producers with certainty as they manage their risk and resources and feed consumers at home and abroad. We stand ready to continue working with House and Senate Ag leaders in both parties to complete the job this year.”

Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) adds that the Senate farm bill framework supports America’s dairy producers and helps exporters remain competitive in the international marketplace.

“We are pleased to see the framework includes a much-needed boost in funding in the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development
(FMD) program — dollars that USDEC invests to promote U.S. dairy products in markets around the globe,” Harden says. “Critical MAP and FMD funding helps to retain some balance in a competitive playing field that continues to tilt in our competitors’ favor.”

She notes the framework also includes a USDEC-led initiative to preserve market access for common food and beverage terms like “parmesan” and “asiago.” The bipartisan Safeguarding American Value-added Exports (SAVE) Act provides direction to the U.S. government to proactively negotiate protections for terms that are frequently at risk of confiscation by the European Union’s misuse of its geographical indications system.

“We thank Ranking Member Boozman for taking this important step in the process and encourage Congress to advance these priorities for U.S. dairy producers and processors,” Harden says.

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) also commended U.S. Senate Republicans’ farm bill framework released this week.

“We’re grateful to Sen. Boozman and Republicans serving on the Senate Agriculture Committee for affirming their strong support for Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBII). To have both parties in the Senate calling for more monies for DBII in the next farm bill demonstrates both their appreciation of the program’s impact — creating a resilient food supply chain and stronger rural communities — and their understanding of the challenges dairy farmers and processors face now,” says Rebekah Sweeney, WCMA senior director of programs and policy. “As work continues on the farm bill, we hope all lawmakers will agree that a measured increase in DBII funding over the next five years will pay off for generations to come.”

Together with the Center for Dairy Research, WCMA administers the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA), one of four DBII centers located throughout the country. Since DBII was launched in the 2018 Farm Bill under the leadership of Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., it has directed $165 million in federal funding to support farmers and processors, WCMA notes.

Other agricultural groups weighed in on the release of the farm bill framework this week as well. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew says NFU appreciates Sen. Boozman’s work on advancing the farm bill and looks forward to continuing the process.

“Farm bills do best when they are the product of bipartisanship, which requires collaboration and negotiation. Ranking Member Boozman outlined his policy priorities in (this week’s) framework, which represents another important step towards passing a farm bill,” Larew says. “We hope that further talks with Chairwoman Stabenow will result in a farm bill that enhances and ensures competitive markets, strengthens voluntary conservation programs, maintains strong support for nutrition programs and boosts the farm safety net while directing benefits to family farmers and ranchers. We’re ready to keep working together in the weeks and months ahead.”

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall commended Sen. Boozman’s release of an outline for a new, modernized farm bill that increases investments in the farm safety net and advances voluntary conservation efforts.

“His plan, combined with Sen. Stabenow’s previously released outline, brings into better focus each party’s vision for this important legislation,” Duvall says. “This is encouraging progress in the Senate, but there is much work to be done. There are stark differences between the two outlines, and we urge Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman to find common ground on the important issues that farmers and ranchers face. We urge the Senate Agriculture Committee to use these outlines to draft a bipartisan farm bill that updates the farm safety net and makes crop insurance more accessible, and to schedule a committee markup soon. The farm bill benefits every family in America. They’re relying on Congress to get the job done.”


USDA updates dairy on H5N1 as states work to curb spread

June 14, 2024

WASHINGTON — USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has published a National Epidemiologic Brief on highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI or H5N1). Among the key messages in this report are that the spread of H5N1 between states is linked to cattle movements (versus independent wild bird introduction), with further local spread between dairy farms in some states; disease spread between dairy cattle farms likely is multi-factorial with both direct and indirect transmission routes; and biosecurity is key to mitigate the risk of disease spread. The full brief is available at

Additionally, USDA has released a summary of its epidemiological investigations of HPAI H5N1 in Michigan dairy herds and poultry flocks, including observations of viral spread between premises and mitigation recommendations.

In early April, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) invited a USDA Epidemiological Strike Team into Michigan to investigate the links between HPAI affected dairy premises and evidence of spillover into poultry premises. This report summarizes the findings from field epidemiological investigations of disease spread between premises for 15 dairy herds and eight poultry flocks confirmed with HPAI genotype B3.13 in Michigan. According to the summary, transmission between farms likely is due to indirect epidemiological links related to normal business operations such as numerous people, vehicles and other conveyances frequently moving on and off the affected dairy premises, with many of these indirect links shared between premises. Importantly,USDA says, disease spread due to independent introduction of the virus onto dairy or poultry premises from migratory waterfowl is not supported based on both genomic and epidemiological data analysis. This summary can be found at

Meanwhile, more cases continue to be reported by states. Last Friday, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the Wyoming Livestock Board announced they received confirmation from USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory of the detection of HPAI in a dairy cattle herd in the state. This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in a dairy farm in Wyoming. As of June 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that HPAI has affected 93 dairy herds in 12 states.

In Wisconsin, which has not yet had a reported case, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced this week that it is requiring Influenza A testing prior to movement of lactating dairy cattle to fairs or exhibitions effective beginning June 19. In order to move lactating dairy cattle to fairs or exhibitions within the state, producers must receive a negative test for Influenza A virus at an approved National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) laboratory with samples collected no more than seven days prior to movement to the fair or exhibition. This testing is available to producers at no cost through USDA APHIS at NAHLN laboratories. Producers also may apply for reimbursement of shipping and veterinary fees for collection of samples. This intrastate order requiring a negative Influenza A test prior to traveling to a show or exhibition will remain in effect until 60 days after the last detection of H5N1 in cattle herds in the United States.


USDA raises cheese, commodity price forecasts for 2024, 2025

June 14, 2024

WASHINGTON — USDA this week raised its 2024 and 2025 price forecasts for cheese in its latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report released Wednesday.

For 2024, cheese, butter, whey and nonfat dry milk (NDM) price forecasts are raised from the previous month on recent price strength, USDA says. Cheese now is forecast to average $1.790 per pound, butter $2.970, NDM $1.175 and whey $0.435.

With the changes in product prices, 2024 Class III and Class IV milk prices also are raised, to $17.90 and $20.50 per hundredweight, respectively, USDA says. The all-milk price forecast is raised to $21.60.

USDA notes strong demand for dairy products is expected to carry into 2025 and prices are raised for cheese, butter and whey, while the forecast for NDM is unchanged. As a result of higher product prices, Class III and Class IV milk price forecasts also are raised, as well as the all milk price forecast.

Meanwhile, milk production forecasts for both 2024 and 2025 are unchanged from last month, at 227.3 billion and 229.3 billion pounds, respectively, with slight adjustments to cow inventories offset by slower growth in milk per cow, USDA says.

For 2024, commercial exports are raised on a fat basis, largely due to higher expected shipments of cheese. Skim-solids basis exports are unchanged. For 2025, exports are raised on a fat basis and a skim-solids basis based on expectations of continued strong international demand. Imports for 2024 are raised for both a fat and skim-solids basis, supported by higher expected butter and milk protein containing products, respectively. Import forecasts for 2025 are raised as well, USDA says.


June Dairy Month kicks off with events, promos, contests

June 7, 2024

MADISON, Wis. — In honor of National Dairy Month, dairy organizations and businesses are offering unique ways to celebrate the industry in the weeks ahead.

“This June, let’s come together as a community to celebrate the tradition of dairy farming in Wisconsin,” says Chad Vincent, CEO of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW). “Whether it’s enjoying a scoop of ice cream, savoring a slice of cheese or just thanking a dairy farmer, let’s show our appreciation for the hard work and commitment that goes into bringing the very best dairy products to our tables.”

Wisconsin will feature 80 farm breakfasts and community events across the state over the course of June. Farm tours and dairy-themed events will allow visitors the chance to connect with local farmers and learn how they care for their cows, steward their land and produce milk that helps feed local communities.

A full list of dairy-themed activities can be found at

Additionally, DFW will be holding a Grate. Pair. Share. competition. Visit to find a selection of recipes featuring Wisconsin dairy. After trying it at home, there is an opportunity to review it online and be entered into a drawing to win a Wisconsin Cheese prize pack.

Culver’s also is encouraging people to support dairy farmers by enjoying their favorite frozen dairy treat, even if it isn’t Culver’s Fresh Frozen Custard, during National Dairy Month.

“Every dish, cone, shake, malt and concrete mixer we serve our guests is a result of the farmers working every day to bring them to our table,” says Craig Culver, co-founder of the restaurant chain. “Dairy desserts are a special treat every day — but this month, let’s enjoy our favorites a little extra and show dairy farmers how grateful we are for their hard work and dedication.”

Culver’s also is pledging a $25,000 donation to the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Organization to help fund dairy-specific programming and lesson plans. With the donation, Culver’s hopes to inspire and equip future dairy farmers with the tools they need to continue providing the nation’s growing population with high-quality dairy.

Dairy Month celebrations also extend to California, with the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) announcing a partnership with Raley’s Food For Families to deliver milk and dairy foods to nourish families in need.

Throughout the month of June, CMAB will match customer in-store and online Food For Families donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $30,000, to provide California dairy products for feeding programs. Prompts with the “Do Good with Dairy” message will be shared through in-store signage and digital communications to alert consumers to the initiative.

“Despite California’s leading position worldwide in food production, far too many people here are food insecure, and we must change that. I applaud the efforts of the California Milk Advisory Board and Raley’s to help feed hungry families,” says California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross.

“We are excited to partner with Real California Milk to bring dairy products to our food bank partners,” says Zoe Edwards, operations specialist for Raley’s Food For Families. “Year-round we accept donations to Food For Families to alleviate hunger in our communities. Dairy is an important food group, providing nutrients and additional sources of protein to our food bank partners and their clients.”

Many other companies and organizations also have special events and promotions planned for this month.

Prairie Farms is celebrating June Dairy Month with activities throughout the month, including dairy farmer interviews, product launches, refreshed package designs, giveaways and more.

“It’s our favorite time of year because we’re celebrating Dairy Month. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to our dairy farmers, employees and loyal customers. Their trust and support is the foundation of our success,” says Matt McClelland, CEO and executive vice president of Prairie Farms Dairy. “As a farmer-owned dairy cooperative, our priority is returning value to our dairy farmers, which includes new product introductions. This month, I say ‘clear space in the dairy case’ for Prairie Farms because we’re expanding our portfolio in several categories.”

The company is introducing a line of classic natural cheese that includes Cheese Curds, Natural Cheese Spreads, Mini Moon Wheels and a Classic Cheese Sampler, with nine of 10 products carrying the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge.

Additionally, Prairie Farms will be expanding its production and distribution of Lactose-Free Milk Gallons and Lactose-Free

Cottage Cheese and Sour Cream in 16-ounce tubs throughout the company’s footprint. This follows a soft launch of the lactose-free lineup in April in the St. Louis metro area.

For the first time since 2009, Prairie Farms also is rolling out new packaging for cottage cheese, sour cream and dips. The simply artisan look with a “best-in-class” wax seal builds on the success of design elements used on its cream cheese and ice cream packaging. An on-pack QR code links to dynamic video content to enhance consumer engagement that covers the farm-to-table journey and other important topics, like cow cars and sustainability.

Consumers can enter for a chance to win a $100 dairy prize package with 25 winners each week, and one lucky grand prize winner will receive $1,000 cash.

To enter in the drawing or for more information on Prairie Farms’ Dairy Month activities, visit www.prairie

CLAAS is celebrating the dairy industry with a special promotion that captures candid moments with a favorite cow to win an annual supply of premium cheese.

The “Say Cheese” promotion allows farmers who share candid images or selfies of themselves and a camera-loving cow to be entered to win a monthly supply of handcrafted cheese and other goodies for a year. Three winners will be chosen.

CLAAS is partnering with Brooten, Minnesota-based Redhead Creamery to provide a rotating selection of its award-winning artisan cheeses made fresh and packaged on its dairy farm.

“Redhead Creamery is the ideal partner for this as they represent everything we’re celebrating with the promotion — hard work, passion, family and a love for their herd,” says Tyler Roucka, marketing specialist for self-propelled forage harvesters with CLAAS of America.

The promotion started June 1, and photos will be accepted until June 30. Three winners will be randomly selected, and monthly shipments of Redhead Creamery cheese, snacks and CLAAS-branded gear will be shipped monthly for a year starting in July.

“As a small, independent, family-run business, we’re honored a global brand like CLAAS came to us for something like this,” says Alise Sjostrom, president and CEO of Redhead Creamery. “We love the idea of honoring America’s dairy industry with a leading ag equipment manufacturer as we’re dairy farmers ourselves, and we look forward to the national visibility this will bring us as we continue to expand our operation.”

To enter to win, visit www.claas and upload the image and contact information by June 30.

Meanwhile, Tillamook recently unveiled the new Tillamook iScreen,
a high-tech solution to protect Tillamook’s Chocolate Collection Ice Cream by making it hide in plain sight. The iScreen is on sale today (June 7) at, in honor of National Chocolate Ice Cream Day.

The Tillamook iScreen offers a personal privacy shield using cutting-edge technology to make the ice cream disappear. It acts as an invisibility shield, using R&D that spans half a decade. The magic happens with materials made from lenticular lenses, which use tiny ridges to bend light, tricking the eye to make what’s behind the shield simply disappear, the company says.

“We know Tillamook fans everywhere are crazy for the new Chocolate Collection and will go to great lengths to keep their freezers stocked with the goods — as they should,” says Kate Boltin, vice president of marketing at Tillamook. “Some people are kind enough to share a spoonful here or there, while others are not, and that’s OK, too. Honestly, that’s why we created the Tillamook iScreen, to keep unwanted spoons out of your Tillamook ice cream, so it stays, well, yours.”

The Tillamook iScreen was developed in partnership with HELO, There You Have It 3D and Leo Burnett.


April U.S. cheese production increases 1.8% from year ago

June 7, 2024

WASHINGTON — April U.S. cheese production, excluding cottage cheese, totaled 1.187 billion pounds, up 1.8% from the 1.165 billion pounds of cheese produced in April 2023, according to data released this week by USDA’s Natural Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Dairy Production chart on page 10.) April cheese production was down 3.0% from the 1.224 billion pounds produced in March, but up 0.2% on a daily average basis.

Italian-type cheese production in April totaled 503.9 million pounds, up 6.2% from April 2023. Production of Mozzarella, the largest component of Italian-type cheese production, totaled 401.2 million pounds in April, up 6.1% from a year earlier.

American-type cheese production in April totaled 468.1 million pounds, down 4.7% from April 2023. Production of Cheddar, the largest component of American-type cheese, totaled 322.3 million pounds, down 8.6% from April 2023.

Wisconsin was the leading cheese-producing state with 293.7 million pounds produced in April, up 4.3% from April 2023. California followed with 205.5 million pounds produced in April, down 0.9% from a year earlier.

U.S. production of butter totaled 207.8 million pounds in April, up 5.3% from April 2023. April butter production was down 1.3% from March’s 210.5 million pounds but up 2.0% on a daily average basis. California was the leading butter-producing state with 63.2 million pounds produced in April, down 0.2% from April 2023.


U.S. dairy groups partner with Colombian and Mexican industries on pro-trade policies

June 7, 2024

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and Colombian Association of Dairy Industry (Asoleche) on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to increase cooperation between the U.S. and Colombian dairy industries as they advocate for pro-trade and science-based policies.

This agreement details objectives focused on improving communication and knowledge-sharing between two industries highlighting the economic and social importance of the dairy industry and eliminating trade barriers that harm producers and consumers alike.

“This agreement is another significant step in the U.S. dairy industry’s commitment to working with and supporting our partners in Colombia and across Latin America. Both industries benefit when we have a robust trade relationship,” says Krysta Harden, president and CEO, USDEC.

“The U.S. and Colombian dairy industries share many of the same values and priorities,” adds Gregg Doud, president and CEO, NMPF. “We’re excited to work alongside Asoleche to promote positive, sound policies that build a stronger dairy industry in the Americas and internationally.”

Ana María Gómez Montes, executive president of Asoleche, says the association hopes to work with USDEC and NMPF to develop innovative projects that benefit the entire dairy chain and consumers in Columbia, who rely on both domestic and imported dairy products.

“At Asoleche, our mission is to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of the Colombian dairy industry,” she says “This partnership with USDEC and NMPF will enable us to promote milk consumption, which is one of the greatest challenges we face as a dairy chain in Colombia. It will also provide us with more tools for innovation through the exchange of knowledge between industries.”

The MOU complements similar agreements USDEC and NMPF have made throughout Latin America,
including with Sociedad Rural Argentina, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the Chilean Federation Nacional de Productores de Leche.

Meanwhile, USDEC and NMPF last month co-led the U.S. delegation at the U.S.-Mexico binational meeting in Chihuahua, Mexico.

As both countries head toward presidential elections this year, and policy threats to dairy consumption in Mexico — the United States’ largest dairy export market — are growing, the meeting focused on how to best collaborate to address future challenges.

NMPF and USDEC reaffirmed their commitment to a strong partnership with the largest U.S. dairy export destination during the event, which focused on the importance of shared advocacy for pro-trade and science-based public policies, as well as the opportunity for greater work together on dairy promotion efforts.

The U.S. contingent included 14 U.S. dairy farmers, cooperative staff and processor representatives, while the Mexican dairy industry was led by five producer and dairy processor groups with a total of approximately 20 representatives from Mexico.

The two parties discussed the most pressing issues facing their respective industries and capped the meeting with a agreed-upon list of 12 new and updated priorities, including enhanced trade, the continued defense of common names, and improved information sharing on sustainability and market trends.

Designed to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Mexican dairy sectors, the two industries first formalized their partnership through a MOU in 2005 and since have met regularly to build on that collaboration.


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
June 24, 2024

Barrels: $1.9150 (-1/2)
Blocks: $1.8900 (+4 1/2)

Click here for more market activity

Cheese Production
U.S. Total April
1.187 bil. lbs.

Milk Production
U.S. Total April
19.135 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

What’s behind door 2024 for M&A

Bob Wolter, Cornerstone Business Services

Cheese rally demand-driven, but supply risks still loom

Nate Donnay, StoneX* Group

Click here for our columnist archives

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