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2011: The year of government involvement in dairying?

PD Editor Walt Cooley Published on 03 February 2011

By now you’ve probably heard of or read the New York Times article revealing the FDA’s plan to allegedly test milk on farms that have previously had antibiotic residues in slaughter cows. In this issue, we delve into how the USDA tests slaughter animals for antibiotic residues and what it takes to get on their list of violators. Click here to jump to the article in our Poll department.

For now the FDA’s plan is on hold. But whether or not the FDA actually does do the tests and whether or not the tests actually reveal any new evidence of traces of antibiotics in milk, the lesson to be learned is that stricter regulation and oversight of antibiotics is most likely coming.

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We’ve included more commentary and opinions about what can be done to lower the number of residue violations occurring in slaughterhouses from all sectors of the meat industry, including beef, dairy and veal. Also, read this article to review and sharpen your protocols for proper antibiotic use and administration of withholding periods.

If there is optimistic news, it’s the significant improvement in milk futures in January. $17 milk has been available recently for contracts this spring. Obviously, feed prices are also on the rise. It seems like we are headed back to times when $18 milk is the new $12 milk. The profitability of that price will continue to be a topic of discussion this year. Click here for an update on plans for dairy reform in the newly sworn-in Congress.

It’s clear this Congress will scrutinize federal budgets more carefully, including agriculture. I heard again recently on TV new members of Congress calling for an end to direct farm payments as a way to cut spending.

If representatives listen to their constituents, their view on the USDA budget would probably be very different. ( Click here for more information.) It’s interesting that food safety and inspection would be the last dollars consumers want their representatives to cut.

If you’re not subscribed to our thrice-monthly e-newsletter, you’re missing out. Recent e-newsletters have distributed audio and video training on colostrum management and our FACTSim dairy trading peer group, which is just starting. ( Click here for more information on the trading group and how to join.) To start receiving Progressive Dairyman Extra via e-mail, sign up at http://bit.ly/SubscribeProgressiveExtra

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If you don’t want more e-mail, you can still see related videos and audio by subscribing to our iTunes feed. Search Progressive Dairyman in podcasts.

Also, in this issue, is a review of the dairy industry’s first-ever sustainability report, which was released at the end of 2010. The report highlights new research indicating the U.S. dairy industry’s carbon footprint is 2 percent of total U.S. emissions. Click here for more information.

And, finally, I must thank you for your participation in the dairy industry’s exclusive online social network – www.proudtodairy.com . In addition to surpassing 500 members in January, the site also now has several historical photos of dairying from 40 to 50 years ago.

If you’ve thought that social networking is just for young producers, I challenge you to prove otherwise by joining and posting your own photos of dairying as it once was. It’s refreshing to view these photos as the industry considers what dairying should be in the future. PD

  • Walt Cooley

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