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USDA launches new $98M initiative to curb HPAI spread

May 17, 2024

WASHINGTON — Since the first strain (H5N1) of highly pathogenic avian Influenza A virus (HPAI) was confirmed in dairy herds in Texas and Kansas on March 24, to date, HPAI has been confirmed in 42 dairy herds in Colorado, Idaho, Ohio, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Dakota, according to an updated report on HPAI in dairy herds published Wednesday by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

USDA on May 10 announced $98 million in funding for initiatives to curb the spread of HPAI. The initiatives include funds for producers to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees; biosecurity plan development; heat treatment for waste milk; reimbursement for veterinarian and sample shipping costs; and compensation for workers who participate in HPAI studies. USDA estimates affected dairies could receive up to $28,000 each over the next four months. USDA also plans to use the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish program to compensate for milk losses. The announcement also included $101 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for testing and treating avian influenza and $8 million from FDA for commercial milk safety.

To date, the CRS report says, there has been little impact on dairy markets. One initial analysis indicates a minimal impact on milk production and markets. According to USDA statistics, there are 9.4 million dairy cows in the United States producing about 226 billion pounds of milk annually. In 2023, USDA reported that there were 26,290 licensed dairy herds (commercial operations) in the United States producing a majority of the milk. About 0.1% of dairies have been affected by the current HPAI outbreak to date.

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) this week reported that in direct conversation with WCMA staff, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed its previous recommendation that anyone working with confirmed affected or potentially affected raw milk — which means all raw milk — wear PPE. This includes dairy haulers and dairy processing personnel involved in raw milk handling. Recommended PPE for employees working with raw milk includes a NIOSH Approved particulate respirator, eye protection and gloves, and they also must thoroughly wash their hands after raw milk contact. CDC officials also note that workers should receive training on the use of PPE, including how to properly put it on, take it off, dispose of it and maintain it.

On Wednesday, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Tim Boring announced the detection of HPAI in an additional dairy herd in Gratiot County. On May 10, MDARD had announced the detection in HPAI in dairy herds in Allegan, Clinton, Gratiot, Ingham and Isabella counties. Samples have been sent to USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory for additional confirmatory testing. Michigan is the state with the most herds affected by HPAI.

New research from Michigan State University (MSU) announced this week will study the effects of the HPAI outbreak on dairy cattle reproduction and milk production, as well as transmission of the disease and ways to mitigate it.

A total of $168,000 in support for the new project has been provided through MSU AgBioResearch from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and through the Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture. The project is co-led by Catalina Picasso, Zelmar Rodriguez and Annette O’Connor, faculty members at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

The research team plans to conduct five studies on farms with H5N1-positive animals, and they also will examine milking equipment for H5N1 presence and compare testing accuracy between pooled and individual samples. Data from Michigan farms will be combined with findings from other universities nationwide for a comprehensive analysis.

“There’s still an enormous amount of information we don’t know,” O’Connor says. “This outbreak underscored the critical need to understand the dynamics, impact and prevention of H5N1 among the cattle population. We are fortunate to be able to ground this research in on-farm studies, working closely with MDARD to access farms that have had herds test positive for the virus.”


Stakeholders voice priorities for new farm bill to Congress

May 17, 2024

WASHINGTON — As lawmakers begin to release outlines of what a new farm bill may look like, dairy and agricultural stakeholders are voicing their priorities for what they want to see in the legislation.

Two weeks ago, House and Senate agriculture committee leaders released title-by-title overviews of the 2024 Farm Bill. Dairy stakeholders including the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) praised lawmakers for getting the process moving and are eagerly awaiting a markup of the House Ag Committee’s bill next week. (See “Industry lauds new bill that puts farm bill back on track” in the May 3, 2024, issue of Cheese Market News.)

Today, House Ag Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., included the Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act as a part of the farm bill reauthorization legislation. The first farm bill effort on common names, the SAVE Act would promote the protection of common food and beverage names such as “parmesan,” “chateau” and “bologna,” notes Jaime Castaneda, executive director of the Consortium for Common Food Names.

“Over the past decade, the European Union (EU) has been allowed to aggressively misuse and abuse geographical indications to monopolize common name products across several key markets,” Castaneda says. “The SAVE Act is an important step in the right direction to making sure that our producers can fairly compete in the global marketplace.”

Beyond the European market, the EU has forced countries around the world to disregard their intellectual property laws and existing commitments with the United States to impose protectionist geographical indication rules under the pretenses of free trade agreement negotiations. In many cases, these policies block U.S. and other producers from reaching important international markets, Castaneda adds.

“The SAVE Act will help support the current and future administrations in taking action to protect common names, and in turn, the rights and commercial interests of domestic producers,” he says. “The U.S. has the political and economic resources to reverse this trend, and we believe the SAVE Act is the beginning.”

In addition to inclusion of the SAVE Act, the bill also doubles funding for the Foreign Market Development and Market Access programs, and balances international food aid authorities of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with USDA.

Today’s updates follow additional details on the bipartisan policies and priorities included in the 2024 Farm Bill released last week by Thompson, who also sent an open letter to colleagues and stakeholders.

“I have long been clear in my intent: Any farm bill must align the farm safety net with the needs of producers, make long-term investments in locally led, voluntary, incentive-based conservation practices, expand market access and trade promotion opportunities, strengthen program operations to demand transparency and accountability to the taxpayer, revitalize rural communities and economies, and reinforce not only the importance of helping our neighbors in need, but doing so without indiscriminate expansion of our nutrition safety net,” Thompson says.

NMPF President & CEO Gregg Doud commended Thompson for including language in the House farm bill to restore the previous “higher of” Class I mover formula.

“The previous mover served dairy farmers well for decades, while the current mover has cost dairy farmers more than $1 billion in Class I skim milk revenue and continuously undermines orderly marketing of milk,” Doud says. “We also are grateful for the inclusion of language to require mandatory manufacturing plant cost studies to help inform future discussions on make allowances, another critical component of the federal milk marketing order system. We are excited for the House’s upcoming farm bill markup and thank the members in both parties who have supported each of these priorities.”

Meanwhile, more than 200 dairy business leaders in 31 states this week called on congressional leaders to fully fund Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBII) in 2025 and throughout the duration of the pending new farm bill.

In a public letter written by Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) and Organic Valley and directly shared with Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., chairs of the agricultural appropriations subcommittees, as well as Thompson and Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., dairy leaders request $36 million in annual federal support for DBII. Administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the program provides resources to four regional initiatives headquartered in California, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin. Since their launch in 2018, the centers have offered $165 million in research and market analysis, and direct-to-business grants for dairy farmers and processors.

“Targeted investments in new value-added dairy product development, export endeavors and on-farm diversification help to ensure stability in the food supply chain now and in the future,” says Rebekah Sweeney, WCMA senior director of programs and policy. “We are now calling on House leadership to join them in this push to support dairy businesses.”

The letter notes that the dairy industry remains under pressure, facing market disruptions, supply chain and labor concerns, and biosecurity threats.

DBII offers both farmers and processors opportunity to innovate and modernize amid those challenges, creating more stable, more resilient businesses, says Adam Warthesen, Organic Valley director of government and industry affairs.

“Since the program was first launched, we’ve seen both inflation and increased demand for DBII
dollars, and $36 million in annual federal funding will deliver the support needed now,” he adds.


Study reveals why some lack adequate dairy nutrition in diet

May 17, 2024

WASHINGTON — A consumer survey released this week by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) explores barriers to dairy nutrition among Americans and how to remove them.

The report provides a roadmap for how industry, government and health and nutrition groups can improve awareness of and access to lactose-free milk and dairy products; expand understanding about dairy’s nutritional value; and work with the dairy industry to extend shelf life and improve the value of dairy purchases to consumers.

The report draws on the beliefs, behaviors and perceptions of Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and Non-Hispanic White consumers toward dairy.

Some key points include:

• Missed opportunities for lactose-free: Nearly two in three Americans say they’ve never consumed lactose-free milk (64%), lactose-free flavored milk (76%) or other lactose-free dairy products other than milk (68%). The rate of non-consumption is more than half among Latino, Black and Asian/Pacific Islander communities, indicating low awareness among groups that report higher rates of lactose sensitivity.

• Affordability is a leading factor for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and non-SNAP households alike: Approximately 30% of all races and ethnicities at all income levels cite affordability as a reason for consuming milk.

• Expiration dates and “passive avoidance” top barriers: Concern about spoilage before it’s used (19%) is a leading reason consumers avoid milk. Thirty-seven percent of respondents cited no specific reason for limiting dairy consumption, suggesting “passive avoidance” that could be overcome with greater media, health care and community outreach. Self-reported lactose sensitivities also contribute to higher levels of avoidance.

• Taste and health top purchase drivers, cheese reigns supreme: Cheese is the most frequently consumed dairy product (90% weekly) followed by butter (85%), milk (75%) and yogurt (60%). Consumers overwhelmingly rank taste as the main factor for purchasing cheese, yogurt and milk, followed by dairy being a good source of protein. Health benefits cited include bone health as the most recognized (90%), as well as other advantages including immune system support (65%) and heart health (54%).

“Good nutrition is the foundation of health and wellness for adults and children across all demographics, and dairy is a crucial part of healthy diet beginning at a very young age,” says Michelle Matto, associate vice president of regulatory affairs and nutrition at IDFA. “This survey shows how consumers value dairy for nutrition and taste but may lack adequate information about or access to the types of dairy that are right for them and their families. It demonstrates that dairy will need to expand its partnerships with communities of color, with health and nutrition experts and with policymakers to remove barriers preventing Americans from getting adequate dairy nutrition, including high-quality protein, calcium, vitamin D, potassium and health benefits including better bone health and lower risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

The full survey can be found at


Caputo provides cheese solutions for foodservice, industrial and soon retail

MELROSE PARK, Ill. — Caputo, a second-generation family-owned business, provides Italian cheeses for nearly any application, from menu items at restaurant chains, to ingredients in frozen entrees, and coming soon, full retail programs for dairy and deli shelves.

“We’re a solutions provider — not your average cheesemaker or cheese processor. We’re not making one kind of cheese,” says Natale Caputo, president. “We have all types of cheeses and can mix and blend them for customers who want something more unique. It could be price, flavor or functionality. We’re getting that phone call first from them, saying, ‘We have this idea, do you have a cheese to perform in the way we’re looking for?’”

Caputo sources Parmesans, Romanos, Asiagos and other Italian-type cheeses from all over the world to grate, shred, blend or provide other custom processes for its customers. The business also specializes in Fresh Mozzarella.

• Fresh Mozzarella

In March, Caputo’s Nodini won Best in Class among all Fresh Mozzarella entries at the World Championship Cheese Contest in Madison, Wisconsin.

“It’s a Fresh Mozzarella hand-tied in a knot that offers chefs and restaurants something more unique to present on a plate other than just Caprese salad. It looks great,” Caputo says of the winning Nodini.

Another standout in Caputo’s Fresh Mozzarella Business is Burrata, which also is made on-site from purchased curd. Burrata is so popular that Caputo has a full team of Burrata cheesemakers within its Fresh Mozzarella team.

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CME spot cheese nears $2, hits highest level yet in 2024

May 10, 2024

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Spot Cheddar blocks and barrels at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) have soared in recent weeks, reaching their highest levels yet in 2024 on Thursday.

Cheddar barrels settled at $1.9125 per pound Thursday, their highest price since March 28, 2023, while blocks settled at $1.9800 per pound, their highest level since Aug. 31, 2023. Prices remained at those levels today.

For a number of weeks now, cheesemaker contacts in the Central region have been suggesting strengthened demand from both local and Eastern customers, says USDA’s Dairy Market News.

“Reports from cheesemakers across the varietal spectrum are similar this week. Milk handlers and cheesemakers
suggest spot milk availability has shifted beyond peak milking season. Current cheese inventories are generally viewed as balanced by some contacts, but cheesemakers say they are limiting their number of orders as to not oversell,” Dairy Market News adds.

Erica Maedke, vice president of Ever.Ag Insights, says she sees three things driving the cheese market higher: record-high exports, tighter and more expensive spot milk supplies, and good retail promotions.

“All three are leaving less Cheddar available for the market in Chicago. U.S. exports in the first quarter were up 21% from 2023, with March at a chart-topping 110 million pounds, the highest monthly total ever,” Maedke says. “Last spring also had significant volumes of spot milk available to cheesemakers for $8-$10 per hundredweight under class, and a lot of discretionary cheese got made. This year, spot milk premiums are more in line with historical norms, and, if a seller has a choice, they’re going to send it to a Class IV plant given the spread to Class III. Finally, retail feature activity in April was strong. USDA data pegs 21% more stores promoting cheese at an average of $2.43 per pound, the lowest price since November 2020.”

Dave Kurzawski, dairy broker at StoneX Financial Inc., says U.S. cheesemakers have done a good job of not overproducing Cheddar as domestic demand remained weaker than normal late last year and for the first few months of 2024.

He notes year-to-date Cheddar production is down 5.9% (adjusted for leap year). At the same time, fresh milk is tight in some milk sheds.

“Both of those things can coexist if demand stays consistently weak. In April, demand for fresh cheese — be it driven by new demand or concerns over U.S. milk supply going forward — increased and, in my opinion, drove more buyers to seek out product and ultimately exposed the lack of fresh availability,” Kurzawski says.

Sara Dorland, managing partner at Ceres Dairy Risk Management, agrees, noting that the cheese price appeared to be too low earlier in the year, so an upswing was expected. However, the rate of appreciation was likely fueled by lower milk production, record-setting exports and stronger retail sales, she adds.

“While there is capacity to produce cheese, so far this year there is not additional milk to fill those new plants,” Dorland says.
However, Maedke says dairy market stakeholders should not “count the U.S. dairy producer out.”

“With this current run in Class III and Class IV futures corresponding to easing grain prices, farm margins look the best they’ve been in quite a while. U.S. producers are very good at making more milk when shown the money, so we might start to see a rebound in U.S. milk supply later this year,” she says.

Dorland says that the longevity of this cheese price run-up hinges on international cheese demand.

“As the United States adds more cheese capacity, the domestic consumption is unlikely to absorb all of that new cheese — that means the United States will become more reliant on exports to balance markets,” Dorland says. “If the United States gets out of step with the international market, like in early 2023, cheese stays home, and that can weigh on price. The opposite is also true — when the United States is competitively priced, as it was in Q1 2024, cheese exports lift.”

Maedke agrees, noting record exports were booked when spot cheese was priced in the $1.40s and futures were in the $1.60s per pound.

“If prices move to $2, U.S. manufacturers won’t win deals,” she says. “I suspect that retailers and foodservice establishments will dramatically scale back promotions and features. There just won’t be enough margin to find marketing dollars to spend.”

Maedke adds that many cheese buyers are on previous-week or previous-month average pricing.

“When markets are on the move higher, wholesale buyers have an incentive to add inventory at lower prices,” she says. “While there may be an underlying increase in demand, this price formula exacerbates runs higher and makes the following declines even more precipitous.”

Kurzawski notes that the Cheddar market of the last half year or more has materially changed now.

“I don’t expect to see cheese trade back down into the $1.40s or $1.50s anytime soon. There will be fluctuations in price, with my opinion of a cheese market floor now at $1.70. And milk availability is likely to be an ongoing concern for the balance of 2024,” he says.

Meanwhile, CME spot butter also is at elevated levels, topping $3 per pound last week before dropping a bit this week to settle at $2.99 per pound today. Dairy Market News notes prices of roughly $3 per pound may be higher than typical this time of year, but expectations are they will only continue to push.

“Clearly, butter markets are, and have been, the bullish stalwart of the industry in recent months,” Dairy Market News says. “Contacts’ expectations vary, particularly regarding market prices, but the general viewpoint is a consensus: bullish.”

Kurzawski says spot butter looks like the “follower.”

“The real demand over the past several months seems to be in the butter futures market as end-users and others want price through year-end. In turn, this has helped underpin the spot butter market and, at times, opened the door to good bidding for bulk butter against somewhat unaggressive — or let’s call it lack of worry — spot sell side,” he says.

Commenting on USDA’s monthly Dairy Production report released earlier this week, Maedke says if U.S. total butter use continues its first quarter pace at +3.0% year-over-year, butter production rising 1.4% won’t be enough to keep up.

“I suspect that’s a fear of many buyers, which is keeping a forward bid in this market and prices well supported,” she says.


U.S., Mexican dairy industries renew cross-border agreement

May 10, 2024

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — Leading dairy representatives from the United States and Mexico this week met in Chihuahua, Mexico, to renew their commitment to collaborate and advocate on mutually beneficial dairy policies. This was the sixth meeting between leading U.S. and Mexico dairy organizations since 2016.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) steered the U.S. delegation, which consisted of more than 14 member companies, U.S. farmer representatives and USDEC and NMPF staff. Delegates from

Mexico’s milk producers and dairy processors included:

• Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas (National Organization of Livestock Organizations);

• Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Leche (Mexican Association of Milk Producers);

• Gremio de Productores Lecheros
de Mexico (Mexican Dairy Producers Guild);

• Cámara Nacional de Industriales de la Leche (National Chamber of Milk Industries); and

• Consejo Nacional Agropecuario (National Agricultural Council).

Throughout the week, attendees discussed the most pressing issues affecting both industries, in their local respective markets and across the globe.

“Our two industries share so many similar challenges that call for us to work together,” says Krysta Harden, president and CEO of USDEC. “Mexico is and will continue to be a valuable partner for U.S. dairy. These meetings help strengthen those ties and set the dairy sectors in both countries up for continued success.”

Gregg Doud, president and CEO of NMPF, adds, “The U.S. and Mexico dairy industries are key partners in their shared mission to grow demand and protect dairy’s public image. The renewed commitment signed today further strengthens our important relationship.”

As part of the meeting, attendees toured the Reny Picot Mexico plant in Chihuahua. The only demineralized whey powder producer in Mexico, Reny Picot is the largest nonfat dry milk powder importer in Mexico, importing an average of 5,000 metric tons per month.

In a joint statement, the delegations defined the following framework where they agreed to:

• Preserve, facilitate and improve trade between the two nations.

• Preserve this forum for discussion and analysis of relevant topics and issues of the milk and dairy producing sectors of Mexico and the United States.

• Have as a key objective the growth of dairy consumption in both countries for the benefit of producers, manufacturers and consumers in the United States and Mexico.

• Promote joint activities seeking to increase the consumption of dairy products within the region.

• Identify and promote actions that improve the productivity of dairy farms in Mexico and the United States.

• Strengthen the image of milk and dairy products in both countries to defend against the misuse of milk and dairy product names by other products of non-dairy origin.

• Maintain an open communication channel between the milk and dairy producer organizations of both countries, with the aim of reaching consensus for the benefit of the industries. Likewise, exchange information and successful experiences through the participation of members of both countries in forums and congresses organized by their associations.

• Work on strengthening cooperation in technological exchange and training, both in terms of on-farm milk production and in improving the quality and safety of milk and dairy products from a nutritional and health standpoint.

• Work to share information on key new areas such as sustainability, animal welfare, farm labor and other issues as they arise and are mutually agreed upon for the benefit of producers and industry to ensure that stakeholders coordinate dairy advocacy efforts in international forums and among consumers.

• Exchange information about the performance of the milk and dairy products market in the North America region.

• Continue with activities to defend common food names, particularly cheese names, thus allowing their free use in the North American market.

• Develop a work plan on the issues of the common agenda, with indicators and a follow-up program with scheduled meetings.


March cheese production rises slightly from one year earlier

May 10, 2024

WASHINGTON — March U.S. cheese production, excluding cottage cheese, totaled 1.226 billion pounds, up 0.1% from the 1.225 billion pounds of cheese produced in March 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 13.) March cheese production was up 7.6% from the 1.140 billion pounds produced in February, and up 0.6% on a daily average basis.

Italian-type cheese production in March totaled 518.1 million pounds, up 4.4% from March 2023. Production of Mozzarella, the largest component of Italian-type cheese production, totaled 409.7 million pounds in March, up 6.8% from a year earlier.

American-type cheese production in March totaled 491.3 million pounds, down 2.9% from March 2023. Production of Cheddar, the largest component of American-type cheese, totaled 343.3 million pounds, down 3.4% from March 2023.

Wisconsin was the leading cheese-producing state with 302.9 million pounds produced in March, down 0.3% from March 2023.
California followed with 214.5 million pounds produced in March, down 2.2% from a year earlier.

U.S. production of butter totaled 208.5 million pounds in March, up 1.4% from March 2023. March butter production was up 5.5% from February’s 197.6 million pounds but down 1.3% on a daily average basis. California was the leading butter-producing state with 65.8 million pounds produced in March, up 0.5% from March 2023.


Industry lauds new bill that puts farm bill back on track

May 3, 2024

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., this week unveiled the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, which contains more than 100 bipartisan bills and puts the 2024 Farm Bill back on track to being signed into law by the end of the year.

“This is a serious proposal that reflects bipartisan priorities to keep farmers farming, families fed and rural communities strong. The foundation of every successful farm bill is built on holding together the broad, bipartisan coalition of farmers, rural communities, nutrition and hunger advocates, researchers, conservationists and the climate community. This is that bill, and I welcome my Republican colleagues to take it seriously and rejoin us at the negotiating table so we can finish our work by the end of the year. Farmers, families and rural communities cannot wait any longer on the 2024 Farm Bill.”

The Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act reflects more than two years of bipartisan work on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and incorporates more than 100 bipartisan bills and the work of senators on and off the committee. It addresses the issue of foreign ownership of farmland, builds on a commitment to rural communities, makes meaningful investments into the farm safety net to provide certainty to all farmers, ensures that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) keeps up with the realities of American life, and brings the historic investment in climate-smart conservation practices into the farm bill.

“Chairwoman Stabenow and I have had several conversations about getting our ideas down on paper, so the release of the majority’s framework is a welcome development,” says U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “My colleagues and I will be soliciting input from stakeholders as we consider these ideas alongside the approach we have constructed in our framework, which will be released after the House considers its bill in the coming weeks. With Chairwoman Stabenow releasing a framework that reflects Senate Democrats’ priorities, and (House) Chairman (Glenn) Thompson’s work to advance legislation out of committee this month, I’m optimistic that real progress on the farm bill can still occur this Congress.”

Boozman is referring to a statement released Wednesday by House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., after sharing a title-by-title overview of the bipartisan policies and priorities included in the 2024 Farm Bill.

“This bill is a product of an extensive and transparent process, which included soliciting feedback from members of both political parties, stakeholder input from across the nation and some tough conversations,” Thompson says. “Each title of this farm bill reflects a commitment to the American farmer and viable pathways to funding those commitments, and is equally responsive to the politics of the 118th Congress. The Committee on Agriculture will mark up this bill on May 23, and I hope for unanimous support in this endeavor to bring stability to producers, protect our nation’s food security and revitalize rural America.”

Boozman notes that actions by Congress must reflect the realities in farm country.

“Farmers are facing challenging times that, by every metric, are likely to continue in the coming years,” he says. “Considering the farm bill only comes around every five years, we must ensure we do right by our farmers and make meaningful investments in the risk management tools they rely on to weather the storm.”

Dairy and agricultural industry stakeholders expressed appreciation for movement on the farm bill.

“Dairy farmers are heartened that (Wednesday), both House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow each released documents providing an overview of their farm bill priorities and plans. Dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own are better served by the certainty provided under a five-year farm bill, and as both chairs point the way toward important dairy priorities across multiple farm bill titles, all of dairy is eager to see this process get moving,” says Gregg Doud, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “We look forward to the House Agriculture Committee’s markup of its bill on May 23. We’re ready, and excited, to work with both chairs and their ranking members to complete work on a farm bill this year.”

Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, notes as both committees continue their consideration of policies for the next farm bill, dairy exporters are eager to see a doubling of funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development program (FMD) to support further expansion of the sale of American-made dairy products around the world. The dairy industry also wants to ensure that the bill establishes a robust new process for safeguarding common food and beverage names in international markets and to enhance USDA’s participation in the decision-making process regarding global food aid programs, she adds.

“We look forward to working with both committees to support progress on these key priorities for U.S. dairy producers and processors,” Harden says.

Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) Executive Director Jaime Castaneda echoed this sentiment, noting CCFN views the farm bill as a vital opportunity to create a specific policy to address the increasing harm facing American food and beverage manufacturers in light of the European Union’s attempts to impose worldwide bans on commonly used terms — words such as parmesan, bologna, classic, kölsch beer and basmati rice.

“This is a priority concern for U.S. exporters, and CCFN is pleased to see the forward movement in that process as indicated by the proposals issued today by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. CCFN is ready to work closely with both committees to advance a strong farm bill and ensure the inclusion of the type of robust protections for the use of common food and beverage terms in global markets that are laid out in the Safeguarding Value-Added Exports Act,” Castaneda says.

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) members also cheered the introduction of the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act and urged House lawmakers to take action on the bill, which boosts funding for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (DBII).

“Our thanks go to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member John Boozman and all committee members for recognizing the great impact of DBII by including $36 million in annual funding for the program in their farm bill proposal,” says Rebekah Sweeney, WCMA senior director of programs and policy. “The education, research and targeted grants delivered by these initiatives make them essential to the U.S. dairy industry’s future stability and strength amid continued market challenges and emerging threats like highly pathogenic avian influenza.”

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 U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., it has directed $165 million in federal funding to support farmers and processors.

“Our farmer-owners have benefited from grants from three of the DBII centers nationwide, with each one targeted to addressing regionally-specific needs,” says Adam Warthesen of WCMA member Organic Valley. “As dairy businesses innovate, our national food supply chain and rural communities are strengthened. We appreciate the leadership of lawmakers prioritizing funding to achieve those critical goals.”

Orphee Paillotin of WCMA member Alpinage Cheese adds that the DBII program has been “life-changing,” allowing the company to build a new dairy processing business from the ground up and become profitable, while honoring its farmer partners.”

“We’re encouraged to see members of the Senate offer continuing support via the farm bill, because we know it will create opportunity for others like us,” Paillotin says.

“For a small, family-owned business, investing in innovative equipment can be a tall order. The targeted grants DBII offers have made those purchases more feasible for us, allowing us to grow as we continue to take great care of our employees and supply chain partners,” adds Ian Behm of WCMA member Pine River Pre-Pack.

From the diversification of on-farm revenue streams to processors’ launch of new value-added dairy products and export endeavors, DBII is a catalyst for growth, Sweeney says.

“We urge House Agriculture Committee leaders to take action in the weeks ahead to ensure the program’s future,” she says.

WCMA also is encouraging dairy industry leaders to contact their congressional representatives to advocate for DBII.


Opportunities, trends for butter spotlighted at ADPI conference

May 3, 2024

By Alyssa Mitchell

CHICAGO — Consumer demand for butter and opportunities for increased sales in that market was one of the topics spotlighted during the 2024 American Dairy Products Institute/American Butter Institute (ABI) Annual Conference, held this week in Chicago.

More than 940 professionals hailing from 26 countries and more than 300 organizations in the dairy ingredient and related products sector gathered for the annual event. This year’s meeting featured concurrent technical and commercial session tracks with deep dive sessions. Additionally, more than 30 industry related exhibitors showcased their insights, technology and opportunities to conference attendees to help the industry grow.

In a session on dairy markets, Phil Plourd, head of market intelligence at Ever.Ag, provided an overview of spot market and global dairy pricing trends, including the butter market. Spot butter at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange topped $3 per pound this week, fueled in part by uneasy feelings about supply, solid retail demand and interest in forward coverage, Plourd notes.

While butter stocks have been building, there likely still is a lack of bulk butter available to the market on any given day, he adds.

Meanwhile, in another session on “Delivering Value in the Dairy Category,” panelists highlighted risks and opportunities for butter in 2024 as well as consumer trends.

Peter Vitaliano, vice president of economic policy and market research for ABI, notes U.S. per capita consumption of butter largely has been on an upward trend since the early 2000s. While consumption dropped a bit during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been trending upward again in the past couple of years.

Retail butter prices also have been impacted by inflation, particularly in the past two years, he adds.

Looking at risks and opportunities for butter in 2024, Michael Burdeny, president of Challenge Dairy Products Inc., says butter is the “perfect” food, noting its taste, versatility and health attributes resonate positively with consumers.

He notes Baby Boomers are driving a lot of this growth, and butter/butter blends shoppers spend $6.78 per trip on the category. Butter also has surpassed margarine in sales and demand due to its shorter ingredient list and natural attributes.

However, younger consumers are a little less “gung-ho” for the category, he says, and while many are not anti-dairy, they do have an interest in plant-based alternatives.

Burdeny notes 61% of Gen Z believe food reflects their beliefs, and sustainability, animal welfare and LGBTQ rights are important factors when buying food.

Both Gen Z and millennials also are cooking differently. Social media is a source of cooking inspiration — 56% of Gen Z use Tiktok to discover new recipes or learn cooking techniques, and 47% watch cooking videos on YouTube. Seventy percent are more willing to trust a food trend that has gone viral, Burdeny says.

A majority (64%) of Gen Z are cooking for themselves at home an average of 5.9 times per week, he adds.

Burdeny says in order to reach new consumers, butter makers need to be authentic, noting nearly six in 10 members (58%) of Gen Z don’t like advertising that interrupts the content they’re enjoying, and many will scroll past anything in their feed that feels overtly like an ad.

However, brands still need to entertain, and 43% of Gen Z say that they would like ads that are humorous. They also want to see content tailored to them, with 37% allowing tracking in order to see more relevant ads.

Gen Z also is more brand loyal than other generations and want to engage with brands, with 43% wanting to participate in reviews, Burdeny says.

Finally, Angela Pengelly, vice president of dairy foods marketing at Land O’Lakes Inc., shared insights on consumer sentiment and buying behavior.

Generally, today’s consumers are a bit overwhelmed by the state of the world today, with disheartening external factors (political issues, financial uncertainty, etc.) driving many Americans “selfward,” meaning they are leading with self-interest to pursue personal wealth and ambitions, Pengelly says. Consumers also are looking for self-care through escapism, entertainment and joy.

Looking at eating occasions, she notes at-home meal occasions remain elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels. E-commerce growth also remains strong and consistent.

Dairy demand strength continues, with butter a positive attribute to total dairy sales and volume growth, she adds. Category dollar sales for butter have remained above pre-pandemic levels, and butter volumes continue to grow despite inflation.

Pengelly notes that with higher prices, promotional activity becomes increasingly important. Though prices are increasing, the depth of promotion remains strong, and consumer preference for butter versus spreads is growing even as the price gap widens.

“Butter is positioned for success in the marketplace,” she says.


Cheese winners unveiled as part of 2024 Good Food Awards

May 3, 2024

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Good Food Foundation recognized 215 food and drink crafters from across the United States in 18 categories, including cheese, as this year’s Good Food Award Winners. Chosen through a rigorous blind tasting and sustainability vetting process from nearly 2,000 entries, these winners rose to the top on the basis of taste while also demonstrating an outstanding commitment to sustainable environmental and social practices, the foundation says.

Now in its 14th year, the Good Food Awards were held for the second time in Portland, Oregon, on April 29. The awards ceremony opened with Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who welcomed a full house of 600 guests to the celebration. Speakers included Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of the Zingerman’s family of businesses, and Good Food Founder and Executive Director Sarah Weiner.

The Good Food Awards ceremony and celebration was made possible through the support of the Good Food Merchants Collaborative and also supported by Market of Choice, Prosper Portland, the Oregon Organic Coalition, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Travel Oregon and Travel Portland, among many others.

In each category, three food crafters from each region — North, South, East, West and Central — receive a Good Food Award honor each year and can display the blue Good Food Awards seal on she shelves of grocers who stock them.

This year’s cheese category winners are:

Butterbaby, Briar Rose Creamery, Dundee, Oregon;

Cloud Cap and Sleeping Beauty, Cascadia Creamery, Trout Lake, Washington;

Trilby, Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrence Township, New Jersey;

Prairie Tomme, Green Dirt Farm, Weston, Missouri;

Boont Corners Vintage, Pennyroyal Farm, Boonville, California;

Bay Blue, TomaRashi and Toma Truffle, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Point Reyes, California;

Touvelle Cheese, Rogue Creamery, Central Point, Oregon;

Tarentaise, Spring Brook Farm Cheese, Reading, Vermont;

Cloth Bound Cheddar, St. Isidore’s Dairy, Osseo, Wisconsin;

Green Hill, Sweet Grass Dairy, Thomasville, Georgia;

Prufrock, The Grey Barn and Farm, Chilmark, Massachusetts;

Fortuna and Liwa, Tomales Farmstead Creamery, Tomales, California;

Foxglove, Tulip Tree Creamery, Indianapolis, Indiana; and

Rinske’s Farmstead Cheese, Working Cows Dairy, Slocomb, Alabama.

Earlier this week, several news outlets reported that a vegan Blue cheese made by Climax Foods of Berkeley, California, which previously had been named a finalist, had been disqualified from the competition due to an ingredient that was not FDA-approved. The Good Food Foundation did not respond to Cheese Market News’ request for confirmation or comment by press time.


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
May 20, 2024

Barrels: $2.1100 (-1 1/2)
Blocks: $1.9200 (-2 1/4)

Click here for more market activity

Cheese Production
U.S. Total March
1.226 bil. lbs.

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

Guest Columnist

Dairy foods have entered the chat

Amy DeLisio, Dairy Council of California

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