Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Industry News

Read coverage of current events and news affecting dairy producers and the industry.


How much is $13,552,485,816,852? Let’s consider one billion first. One billion seconds ago it was 1959. Now multiply one billion by 13,552 and you have our national debt. But don’t stop there – it is constantly growing. A number that is easier to comprehend is $43,371 – each American’s share of the debt. Why don’t you go ahead and tack it on to your balance sheet?

How did we get here?
In all but four of the last 30 years, our U.S. government has spent more money than it has brought in. The most recent federal budget deficit, fiscal year 2009, was $1.4 trillion – the largest in the history of the U.S. In terms of gross domestic product (GDP), the deficit was 10 percent in 2009 – the highest since World War II. Final numbers are not available for 2010, but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates it will be around $1.3 trillion.

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With the exception of the spot period for nearby Q4 2010, the forward profit margin outlook for dairy producers is unfortunately poor as negative returns are reflected throughout next year. In our last installment of this margin outlook in July, forward profit margins in 2011 were still projected around a breakeven level through the first half of 2011, although this has since changed as forward values of feed costs and milk have diverged over the past few months.

As of mid-October, profit margins for the first half of 2011 were projected at a loss of around $2.00 per hundredweight (cwt), with losses of about $0.80 per cwt projected in Q3 2011, which we have also started tracking since our last update in July.

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A recently released economic analysis by economists at the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) shows changing U.S. fluid milk standards for inclusion of nonfat solids to those used in California would have a significant short-term increase in all-milk price per hundredweight.

The analysis was commissioned at the request of the four co-chairmen of the Congressional Dairy Farmer Caucus, Congressman Joe Courtney, Congressman Timothy Walz, Congressman Devin Nunes and Congressman Peter Welch.

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To assist the dairy industry in selecting the right policy reform, three dairy policy experts analyzed three main legislative proposals brought forth in the past year. They announced their findings at the 2010 World Dairy Expo just after presenting them to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s Dairy Industry Advisory Committee in Washington, D.C.

While not promoting any one plan over the other, Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Chuck Nicholson, department of agribusiness, Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo; and Scott Brown, associate director, Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), University of Missouri – Columbia, displayed their assessments in an objective manner to allow people in the industry to draw their own conclusions.

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Firefighters helped extinguish an arsonist’s fire in a milking barn early in the morning Sept. 25 at a New York dairy family’s farm.

According to The Oberver-Dispatch of Utica, New York, firefighters were dispatched at 2:20 a.m. to Dave and Robin Fitch’s dairy farm for a fire that investigators now say was intentionally set.

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Dairy producers have a long history of being sustainable. We care about the environment and our cows, and we are constantly working to become more productive and efficient.

In short, we know that sustainability is good business. It is all about making the most efficient use of natural resources – such as energy, water and waste byproducts.

Today, we are presented with new challenges. Increasingly, consumers want products and services that they know are made responsibly. Research conducted by Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff program, shows that “frequent milk users” – those who drink milk at least once per day – may increase their consumption if they believe dairy products are not only nutritious and good-tasting but also environmentally friendly.

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