Archive for February, 2010

Checkoff committed to childhood nutrition

Your Dairy Checkoff At Work

By Tom Gallagher

Since its inception in 1915, National Dairy Council® (NDC), the nutrition research and education arm of the dairy checkoff, has had an unwavering commitment to childhood nutrition through a strategy focused on sound science promoting dairy’s role in a healthy diet.

Times are changing. Today, kids are drinking less milk and childhood obesity is turning school lunchrooms into a battleground where many foods and beverages (including dairy) have to defend their place in the cafeteria. But, with 55 million kids attending school 200 days a year, it’s a battle worth fighting … and one that dairy producers, through their investment in the dairy checkoff, are committed to winning by engaging students directly to make the necessary changes to create healthier schools and healthier children.

The commitment of America’s dairy producers remains a core priority because we know that what’s good for children’s nutrition also is good for dairy.

Earlier this year, NDC entered into a new, unprecedented partnership to help improve the health of our nation’s youth, and to help the U.S. dairy industry grow sales and establish lifelong dairy consumers. NDC established a historic public-private partnership to help defeat childhood obesity by working through our nation’s schools with the National Football League (NFL) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This partnership was announced at a public school in New York City where I was honored to join USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, 16th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, the leaders of seven health professional organizations, representatives of major corporations, NFL players, and hundreds of students – all who pledged to support the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) in-school program.

These partners are committed to the goals of FUTP60 to empower America’s youth to live healthier by increasing student access to nutrient-rich food – including dairy – and getting 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Dairy producers, through NDC, have committed $250 million over five years ($50 million per year) to support the campaign and its goals.

This initiative comes at the right time and with the right partners. It leverages the unique strengths of all three lead organizations:

• NDC’s science-based credibility in schools and with health professionals and consumers that NDC has brought since it was first established in 1915.

• NFL’s unparalleled star power from all 32 NFL teams and its existing physical activity program (“Play 60”) help activate FUTP60 through partnerships with state and regional dairy councils in local markets.

• USDA’s legacy in establishing healthy nutrition education initiatives for all Americans, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPyramid program.

Fuel Up to Play 60 Takes School Programs to a New Level

While national and local dairy checkoff organizations have offered nutrition education and other in-school programs in the past, FUTP60 is unique in that kids decide which programs should be implemented to best meet their school’s nutrition and fitness goals. This allows students to become active participants, energized and committed to making healthy choices and encouraging their friends, classmates and families to follow suit. Students can get involved in many ways, including:

• Working with school foodservice staff to taste-test new milk and yogurt flavors; the “winners” are then added to the permanent school menu.

• Creating an after-school walk club,  and/or

• Organizing a “grab-n-go” breakfast station at a high-traffic location in the school where students can get a healthy meal (including milk and yogurt) before they start their day.

By the end of the 2009-10 school year, FUTP60 will reach more than 60,000 schools. That’s two-thirds of our nation’s public schools and nearly 36 million students!

Outside partners include major companies that provide funding to further reward those schools that adopt healthy eating behaviors in accordance with the MyPyramid model and develop innovative ways to help youth achieve 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

These efforts not only will create healthier youth, but also will help protect dairy’s place in schools and increase access to kid-friendly dairy products in schools. As school nutrition guidelines become increasingly restrictive, the U.S. dairy industry must provide great-tasting, quality products that are lower in sugar, fat, sodium, and total calories. That’s why the dairy checkoff continues to work with industry leaders to not only provide students the products they want, when and where they want them, but – aligned with the goals of FUTP60 – to create healthier schools by increasing dairy availability throughout the school and by spurring product innovation. Efforts include:

• Expanding the New Look of School Milk program (already available in nearly 11,000 schools nationwide), which works to increase the availability of white and flavored milk available in plastic bottles on the school meal line,

• Working with a dairy industry leader to develop a “healthier” school pizza that offers tasty, lower-fat, lower-sodium cheese,

• Developing additional milk flavors in schools that meet with school total sugar and calorie guidelines,

• Increasing the number of schools that adopt “Breakfast in the Classroom” (which includes milk and yogurt), and

• Exploring additional dairy consumption opportunities at lunch and snack times.

As demonstrated here, the combined power of the NFL, USDA and NDC working together toward a common vision can create a real, lasting – and needed – change to improve the health of our nation’s youth, and can help create sustained growth opportunities for dairy.

To learn more about FUTP60 and the movement to help defeat childhood obesity, visit


Tom Gallagher is chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI), the domestic and international planning and management organization that works to increase sales of and demand for U.S.-produced dairy products and ingredients on behalf of America’s dairy producers. For more information on dairy checkoff programs, visit

Firm ground: Dairy & forage producers look ahead

Editor’s note: This article includes several forage production charts. To see the charts, visit and click on the March 2010 issue of Western DairyBusiness.

One danger of riding a roller coaster is that you can get sick. The heights of 2007-08 were followed by the lows of 2009 – for milk and hay producers alike.

By Dave Natzke

Having been on the same economic ride the past three years, Western dairy producers and hay growers entered 2010 with similar financial queasiness.

In proceedings prepared for the 2009 Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Dan Putnam, University of California-Davis Extension forage agronomist, noted “the cash-hay system which characterizes western alfalfa and dairy production has been challenged as never before. Price swings, coupled with high cost pressure has caused negative cash flow and profitability for both hay operations and dairy producers.”

Western dairy and forage producers face similar situations entering 2010. Substantial carryovers from 2009 production hang over the market, but improved demand should stabilize the price floor. Longer-term, the two highly interdependent sectors will likely continue on the same financial and environmental ride, according to Putnam. Innovations to stabilize pricing arrangements and innovations to improve productivity, quality, water use efficiency and environmental impacts are needed, he concluded.

2009 production in review

While marketing has caused pain, forage production really hasn’t been the issue. USDA’s annual reports, released in January 2010, summarize 2009 forage and hay production stories.

Nationally, high prices and demand for corn and soybeans pulled some acreage away from forage crops again in 2009, with nearly all crops seeing declines in harvested area. However, strong yields offset some of those acreage declines.

Eighteen states participate in a USDA forage estimation program, with an emphasis on total alfalfa production. The total 2009 all haylage and greenchop production for those states was 31.5 million tons, of which 21.3 million tons were from alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures.

The estimated forage area harvested was 35.8 million acres, including 15.7 million acres from alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures. The total forage was 723,000 acres less than 2008, and total forage production was down 4% from last year. The U.S. yield was estimated at 2.78 tons per acre, down 0.60 ton from 2008.

Sorghum silage production was estimated at 3.68 million tons in 2009, down 35% from 2008. Average yield was estimated at 14.5 tons per acre, up 0.7 ton; harvested area was 254,000 acres, down 38%.

Corn silage production was estimated at 108 million tons in 2009, down 3%. Average yield hit a record-high 19.3 tons per acre, up 0.6 ton from 2008. Acreage harvested was estimated at 5.61 million acres, down 6% from a year earlier.

Dry hay

Production of all dry hay for 2009 was estimated at 147 million tons, up 1% from 2008. Area harvested, at 59.8 million acres, was down 1%; average yield, at 2.47 tons per acre, was up 0.04 ton from the previous year.

Production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures in 2009 was estimated at 71.0 million tons, down 1% from 2008. Harvested area, at 21.2 million acres, was up 1% from the previous year; average yield was 3.35 tons per acre, 0.02 ton more than 2008.

Several Western states posted 100,000-acre or more increases in 2009 harvested area: Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. In competition for corn and soybeans, Midwest states with the largest decreases in harvested acres included Iowa, down 230,000 acres; and Michigan and Missouri, each down 70,000 acres.

Yields were up in the extreme Western states and the Upper Missouri Valley area, but down in the Corn Belt. Arizona recorded the highest alfalfa hay yield, at 8.50 tons per acre.

Production of all other hay in 2009 totaled 76.4 million tons, down slightly. Area for harvest, at 38.5 million acres, was down 1%; average yield, at 1.98 tons per acre, was up 0.03 ton from 2008.

Arizona had the highest yield increase from 2008, at 0.80 ton per acre, while California recorded the largest yield decrease, 0.70 ton per acre. States with acreage increases from 2008 were led by Oklahoma and Texas, with 300,000- and 200,000-acre increases, respectively. Largest acreage decrease occurred in North Dakota, down 380,000 acres, and Kansas, down 350,000.

Hay stocks

Strong hay production and lower cattle inventories contributed to higher hay stocks entering 2010. Disappearance from May-December 2009 totaled 62.3 million tons, down about 2 million tons from the same period a year earlier.

All hay stored on farms Dec. 1, 2009 totaled 107 million tons, up 3% from a year ago. Hay stocks increased in the Rocky Mountains, Pacific Northwest, northern Great Plains and Southeast, with the exception of Florida. The southern Great Plains and Great Lakes showed lower stocks.

New seedings

Growers seeded 2.67 million acres of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures during 2009, down 1% from 2008. The largest decrease occurred in California, down 70,000 acres from 2008. The largest increase was in Oklahoma, with an additional 55,000 acres.


■  For more information on forage acreage and yields, log on to and click on “Crops and Plants.”

■  Find “Envisioning the Future for Alfalfa & Forage Crops in the West,” by Dan Putnam, University of California-Davis Extension forage agronomist, at Contact
Putnam at

National Perspectives: Reconcilable differences

‘Supply management’ another regional fight?

By Dave Natzke

I make no apologies for bearing the pride and prejudices of being a Midwesterner, and specifically, a Cheesehead. All of life is subject to our interpretation – colored by the perspective from which we view it. Other than the Minnesota Vikings and Brett Favre in a purple uniform, I am tolerant of just about anything here in the Midwest.

But one thing that isn’t getting much tolerance in these parts is any discussion regarding supply management. At many of the dairy meetings I’ve attended this year, the potential of production controls casts a dark cloud on an industry’s new dawn.

The resurgence and growth of Midwest milk production is being celebrated as a resurrection story. What’s not to celebrate?

Beginning in the 1990s (maybe earlier), the message was that the sun had set on the region’s dairy industry. Producer and milk production attrition had turned the mood decidedly negative. Dairy growth and investment slowed. Citing fears of milk shortfalls, some major processing players put their money elsewhere. Between 1990 and 2008, Wisconsin dairy herd numbers declined by more than half, down 20,000. We had supply management, not necessarily by choice.

At the same time, milk production grew nearly unabated in other parts of the country. We watched, at times envious of their progress; at other times resentful of our losses. Flaunting “happy cow” ads didn’t improve our moods, serving as a light-hearted reminder of our impending destiny. The message: Even the cows wanted out.

The United States is littered with areas that lost industries – never to return. Thus, the Midwest resurgence bucks that trend. The recovery has little, if anything, to do with government intervention. It is largely due to dairy producers, working with industry and state governments, taking charge to change their economic, environmental and psychological climate.

Midwesterners can thank the West for some of that resurgence, too. Producers visited World Ag Expo and a few dairies on the way, and picked up ideas and systems for improving production efficiencies. Recent milk production growth shows we obviously learned some things well.

But now, in some circles, dairy’s Midwest  resurrection is looked upon with disdain.

Here in Wisconsin – as in many other states – we have lots of small resort towns located around lakes. In the past, people from big cities moved north in search of their own little pieces of heaven. Then, they tore down the cottages and built million-dollar homes. After they were done building, they feared encroachment by other folks looking for their own pieces of heaven, and began rezoning property to prevent development around them.

What’s my point? The same regions with decades of unabated dairy growth are now the birthplace of “rezoning” in the form of supply management. The concept is not being well received by all Midwest neighbors. From what I’ve been hearing, the general mood here was somewhat humourously paraphrased by Phil Plourd, of Blimling Associates, at the recent International Dairy Foods Association 2010 Dairy Forum: “Beware of Californians bearing ‘supply management’ gifts.” A couple of decades of economically imposed supply management have made Midwesterners a little surly and suspicious. Costly, often painstaking work to reverse trends has lessened our tolerance for such talk.

A teachable moment?

All that being said, there are undoubtedly some “teachable moments” as a national dairy industry moves out of a three-year period alternatively devastating to processors and then producers.

One lesson is to focus production goals on marketing capacity, not processing capacity or the size of the government’s stomach. There are some policy problems to address, but it starts with local co-op leaders being held accountable for their own co-op’s supply/demand balance, before pursuing a one-size-fits-all national supply management plan. Some co-ops already do this well.

Another lesson is to work together. Author and speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer, who frequently appears on public television, says there’s no such thing as “justified resentment.” (I agree, unless it has to do with Brett Favre in a purple uniform.) Resentment can be like taking poison, and hoping the other guy dies.

I’ve expressed skepticism of anything politically positive coming out of USDA’s new Dairy Industry Advisory Committee. So where do we look for solutions?

Although not perfect, Wisconsin’s model is that producers and processors – along with bankers, economic development wings of government, marketers and others – can find some common ground. There are several national forums which can facilitate such cooperation.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) puts on an excellent Dairy Forum. More dairy producers should attend (although IDFA should create a special producer registration fee to offset the high costs).

The National Milk Producers Federation, National Dairy Board and United Dairy Industry Association put on a great joint annual meeting. I came out of the 2009 session more optimistic then ever that the future is bright for those who survive to live it. More processors should attend, and the organizers should create opportunities for greater dialogue.

One format, used by Alltech at its Global Dairy 500 meeting in Kentucky each year, would be a good model. In addition to speakers and panels, attendees representing every corner of the industry and globe are assigned to participate in roundtable discussions with people from different aspects of the industry and globe. The fruits of these discussions remain to be harvested, but the sprouts can help crowd out the seeds of resentment.

A history lesson

I read an article many years ago, written shortly after the turn of the century. (I regret I put the article “in a safe place” and can no longer find it, so I can’t give adequate credit to the author.) The article was about a traditional dairy area bemoaning the fact some “upstarts” were increasing milk production. The article was written in early 1900, by someone in New York. The “upstarts” were in Wisconsin. It was a cycle repeated nearly a century later; only the names of the states changed.

With change happening much quicker, the U.S. dairy industry must get its house in order, or new “upstarts” will appear – and they could very well be in the Ukraine, Brazil or China. According to a study conducted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, with support from Bain & Co., an internationally recognized management consulting firm, the window of opportunity is small. And while the report, “The Impact of Globalization on the U.S. Dairy Industry: Threats, Opportunities and Implications,” deals primarily with global markets, 2009 showed how undeniably linked the strength of our domestic industry is tied to the rest of world.

Hopefully, differences can be reconciled.


• To offer your own opinion or response, e-mail Dave Natzke, national editorial director, DairyBusiness Communications, e-mail:

* The GLASS …

… is half full

• Preliminary 2009 U.S. milk production is estimated at 189.3 billion lbs., 0.4% less than 2008.

U.S. cow numbers averaged 9.2 million head in 2009, 115,000 fewer than 2008. January 2010 cow numbers were estimated at 9.01 million head, down 252,000 from January 2009.

• 2009 U.S. cull cow slaughter totaled about 2.815 million head, 224,000 head more than 2008.

Dairy exports as a percent of total U.S. milk production represented 11.2% of U.S. milk production in October and November 2009 (total solids basis), the highest percentage since the summer of 2008. Year-to-date (Y-T-D), exports represented 9.3% of production (total solids basis).

Imports as a percent of production are running at 3.3% (total solids basis) in 2009, the lowest percentage since 1997.

• The January 2010 milk-feed price ratio – an indicator of milk income relative to feed costs – is 2.45, up from December’s 2.42, and the highest month ratio since January 2008.

… is half empty

Dairy replacement heifers (>500 lbs.) were estimated at 4.52 million head on Jan. 1, 2010, up 106,000 from a year ago and 16,000 more than July 1, 2009. Of the total, about 2.94 million are expected to calve in the next year, up about 32,000 from Jan. 1, 2009.

• On a value basis through October 2009, Y-T-D 2009 exports totaled $1.856 billion, down 45% from the same period in 2008. Y-T-D imports total $2.060 billion, down 18% from 2008. The Y-T-D trade deficit for FY ’09 is estimated at $204 million. That compared with a trade surplus of $682 million in 2008 and $156 million in 2007.

Price recovery took a step back. California’s January 2010 Class 4a price is $13.75/cwt., down $1.10 from December 2009; the 4b price is $12.72/cwt. down $2.32 from December.

American cheese commercial disappearance in the September-November 2009 period dropped 1.2%, after posting gains of more than 4% through August.

* Depending on your point of view

Agriculture should brace for destructive EPA regulatory trend

Opinions & Sacred Cows, by Ron Goble

After such a difficult, and in some instances, devastating 2009, dairy producers could use some good news. But, I’m sorry, other than the price of milk climbing back to break-even or a little above, there may be more to cause you sleepless nights than there will be things to celebrate.

Most bad news for dairymen has to do with government regulation in one way or another. Have you heard of “environmental justice?”

All indications are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), plus the air pollution and water quality control boards will be much more aggressive in 2010 and beyond. One of the reasons is the trend toward “environmental justice,” a destructive movement and a slippery slope that government bureaucrats and activists want to drag agriculture down.

At the end of 2009, the EPA signed a final rule that governs emissions of certain compounds from commercial feed and feed ingredient manufacturing facilities. The proposed rule would apply to the majority of feed manufacturers that use chromium or manganese compounds in their operations.

It doesn’t surprise us that the EPA disregarded input from the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and American Feed Industry Association (AFIA). The two organizations had worked together on the EPA rule making issue, and submitted a joint statement in August seeking major revisions to the agency’s initial proposal. The two organizations faulted EPA for basing its regulations on “erroneous and misguided assumptions and estimates of emissions of chromium and manganese compounds.”

Over-regulation of feed and feed ingredient manufacturers will eventually impact dairy producer costs too. While rule changes are restrictive and hurt the industry’s efficiency and economic viability, the real damage to dairy will be government’s commitment to chasing the environmental justice ideology.

Why wouldn’t EPA work with industry to get their regulations in line with science, and take into consideration the simple realities of living in an industrialized society? Because EPA’s new expanded agenda isn’t about protecting the environment as much as it is about “environmental justice.” EPA focus is on getting even for all the perceived “sins” of industry.

Recently, Lisa P. Jackson, EPA administrator, said “we have begun a new era of outreach and protection for communities historically underrepresented in EPA decision-making. We are building strong working relationships with tribes, communities of color, economically distressed cities and towns, young people and others, but this is just a start. We must include environmental justice principles in all of our decisions. This is an area that calls for innovation and bold thinking, and I am challenging all of our employees to bring vision and creativity to our programs.”

Small business owners need to be aware of the motivation behind the regulations. It is sad to see that regulations have become the “hammer” with which bureaucrats will pound home their environmental justice message. We’ve been told that environmental justice will be pursued in regard to every EPA decision. Thus, we can expect more out-of-balance decisions will be made by EPA and other such agencies with a bent toward environmental justice over science and common sense.

Have an opinion or response? E-mail Ron Goble, Associate publisher/editor, Western DairyBusiness at:

U.S. dairy exports off in 2009; modest improvement forecast for 2010

The crash of global dairy markets in mid-2008 put U.S. exports on course for a decline in 2009, ending a streak of six straight years of expansion.

Dairy export sales totaled $2.32 billion last year, down 39% from 2008’s record level, according to analysis of government trade data conducted by the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). However, most of the downturn reflected lower world prices; overall export volume was off just 16%, at 2.178 billion lbs. of milk solids (total-solids basis), according to USDEC. Export volume represented 9.3% of U.S. milk production in 2009, down from 11.0% in 2008 and 9.8% in 2007.

After struggling through the first three quarters of the year, U.S. export volumes were up 15% in the fourth quarter. For the full year, volumes of milk powder, butterfat and cheese were lower, while shipments of whey proteins, lactose and fluid milk were higher.

“A year ago at this time, USDEC’s economic analysis suggested overall volumes would drop 27% to 41% in 2009. But U.S. exporters retained more of their sales than expected, aided by stronger world markets in the latter part of the year,” said USDEC president Tom Suber.

“By the end of 2009, U.S. exports displayed far more resilience than forecast in January, and the persistent sales efforts of many value-added exporters does mark a further maturation of the U.S. industry,” he continues. “U.S. dairy export volume – overall and in all individual product categories – is significant and high in historic context. In fact, volumes are at levels where exporting is a prerequisite to maintaining a healthy and growing industry.”

‘Last in, first out’

Still, though sales held up to some degree, the United States will struggle to become more than an opportunistic exporter of dairy commodities unless it transforms from a production-centric industry to a global-customer-centric one, Suber said. The importance of the overseas channel was evident last year, when lost export sales contributed to an oversupplied U.S. domestic market.

“U.S. exporters are still not doing everything necessary to sustain international volume gains,” Suber warns. “For instance, last year, the United States surrendered market share and volume in the nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) sector to almost all competitors. New Zealand largely replaced U.S. supply in key markets like China, and even Argentina gained ground. NDM/SMP is a category we should own, but large parts of our industry still treat exports as primarily surplus disposal instead of serving their customers by meeting buyer specs. Similarly, the United States lost almost all butterfat sales claimed in the prior year.

“Unless the United States deals with the fundamental problems that make it the residual supplier to the world, it will remain the last-in/first-out player in base commodities, which accelerates volatility,” he said.

Weak international markets in 2009

The international market turned quickly on U.S. exporters in mid-2008 and continued into 2009. The high prices of 2007-08 spurred production growth throughout the world; in addition, recovery from severe drought on New Zealand’s North Island combined with industry expansion on the South Island boosted New Zealand’s production by nearly 10% in the 2008/09 marketing year. Faced with softening global demand from soaring price inflation as well as fallout from the worldwide recession and credit crisis, Oceania suppliers priced aggressively to prevent inventories from building. When world selling prices fell below U.S. support levels for basic commodities, it took U.S. suppliers out of the market. In Europe, eroding world prices prompted the reinstatement of its export subsidies, which also contributed to lost U.S. share. Though world markets improved dramatically in the second half of 2009, average commodity prices in 2009 were still 30%-40% below the 2008 average.

USDEC role

For its part, USDEC responded to changing market conditions in 2009 by shifting resources among products and markets, putting a greater emphasis on helping suppliers to maintain export volumes in the short term. Priority was put on activities with an immediate volume impact in Mexico and Asia, such as retail and foodservice promotions, applications seminars and trade-servicing sessions. Meanwhile, to address constraints to U.S. exports, USDEC worked with governments and dairy industries in dozens of countries to revolve market-access issues, and conducted in-market programs such as a risk management seminar that helped buyers manage price volatility.

USDEC also held fast to its long-term belief that growing global demand would continue to create opportunities for U.S. dairy suppliers. To capitalize on prospects in the ingredient sector, USDEC combined Dairy Management Inc.’s domestic ingredients program into its export program in 2009 to create a single, integrated global ingredients marketing platform directed by its members.

Slight improvement projected for 2010

With the ever-present volatile markets, USDEC projects overall U.S. dairy export volumes to increase 7%-12% in 2010, as global demand cautiously recovers, world commodity prices sustain most of the strength shown at the end of 2009, and U.S. suppliers remain engaged with their overseas customers. Large inventories from Europe continue to hang over the market, but milk production in Oceania is forecast to decline in the 2009/10 marketing year, EU and U.S. milk output is trailing year-ago levels as well and the European Union has suspended export subsidies for the time being – all of which should support historically strong world markets in 2010.

2009 export highlights

• U.S. dairy exports in 2009 were valued at $2.32 billion. Even with the 2009 decline, exports have increased 14% annually over the last six years.

• U.S. dairy imports decreased 23% in 2009 to $2.55 billion. On a volume (total solids) basis, exports were more than double the level of imports for the fourth straight year.

• Exports represented 32% of the NDM/SMP produced in the United States last year, 50% of the whey proteins, 67% of the lactose, 4.0% of the butter and 2.4% of the cheese.

• Mexico remained the largest market for U.S. dairy exports, with sales of $636 million last year. Other top markets were Canada ($483 million), Southeast Asia ($287 million), Middle East/North Africa ($174 million), China/Hong Kong ($146 million), Caribbean ($135 million) and Japan ($131 million).

• Exporters shipped 549 million lbs. of NDM/SMP last year, down 36% from 2008. Shipments of NDM/SMP to Mexico, the largest single market for U.S. milk powder, slipped 10%, but sales to other destinations registered much larger declines. Exports to Southeast Asia decreased 45%, with large drops in shipments to the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Significant decreases in export volumes were also noted to North Africa (primarily Algeria and Egypt), South America, China, Japan, the Caribbean and Central America.

• U.S. cheese exports dropped to 239 million lbs. in 2009, down 17% from the prior year. U.S. suppliers focused on core markets in Latin America, boosting sales to Mexico by 9% and the Caribbean by 4%. However, exports to most other destinations declined: Middle East/North Africa (-55%), Southeast Asia (- 34%), South Korea (-16%) and Japan (-25%) all saw cutbacks in purchases of U.S. cheese in 2009.

• U.S. exports of whey proteins in 2009 were 774 million lbs., up 5% from the year before. Lower prices helped spur global demand in both the food and feed sectors. Exports of sweet whey increased 3% to 455 million lbs. Sales of whey protein concentrate (WPC) and other modified whey proteins increased 7% to 284 million lbs. and exports of whey protein isolate (WPI) jumped 29% to 34 million lbs.

• Shipments of whey proteins to China/Hong Kong, our largest market, increased 27% last year. Exports to Mexico were up 18% and Southeast Asia up 5%. Among other key markets, whey protein exports to Canada were up 6%, Japan was down 5% and South Korea was up 10%.

•  U.S. lactose exports were 483 million lbs., up 18% from a year earlier. Major markets remain Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and Mexico.

• Shipments of butterfat plunged (-68%), to 62 million lbs., though sales improved in the last four months of the year. In 2009, U.S. suppliers lost key customers in Russia, Morocco and Japan. Exports to the Middle East/North Africa region were cut in half and exports to Mexico dropped by 40%.

• Exports of fluid milk increased 5% in 2009, to 116 million lbs. Shipments to Mexico increased 6%, while sales to Canada dropped 1%.

Ice cream exports gained 1% to 56 million lbs. Exports to Mexico, our primary market, decreased by 4%.

• Exports of food preparations decreased 15% to 147 million lbs. Nearly half our sales went to Canada, where purchases dropped by 2%, and shipments to the Caribbean were cut in half.

New watchdog website monitors HSUS

The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) launched, a watchdog project dedicated to analyzing the activities of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HumaneWatch will include a blog written by CCF’s Director of Research, a document library, and a database capable of tracking the dozens of nonprofit (and for-profit) organizations that make up HSUS’s financial empire.

The Humane Society of the United States has become the animal rights industry’s most powerful player, but it has avoided serious public scrutiny for years. HSUS raises nearly $100 million annually from Americans who largely believe their donations filter down to local pet shelters and improve the lives of dogs and cats. But in 2008, less than 0.5% of HSUS’s budget consisted of grants to actual hands-on “humane societies” that deal with the thankless task of sheltering unwanted pets.

“Someone has to ask the hard questions about the Humane Society of the United States, and HumaneWatch will be a relentless source of useful information,” said CCF Director of Research David Martosko. “Nearly 1 million Americans donate money to HSUS every year. And most are completely unaware that they’re bankrolling PETA-style propaganda, far-reaching anti-meat campaigns, a huge staff of lawyers, and bloated pension plans for HSUS executives.”

In 2008 alone, HSUS put more than $2.5 million into pension plans—money that its own advertising suggested would be put toward the direct care of animals. (HSUS neither operates nor is legally affiliated with, any pet shelters anywhere.)

Martosko continued: “Even the best charities can run off the rails, so it’s no surprise the professional dog-watchers need their own watchdog. Donors to the Humane Society of the United States deserve to know exactly how their money is being spent. HumaneWatch will create an open dialogue for farmers, scientists, fashion designers, entertainers, and countless Americans who love both their pets and their chicken sandwiches.”

The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers, working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.

Opinion – Community level impact of Idaho’s changing dairy industry

By Bob Naerebout

Executive Director

Idaho Dairymen’s Association

During 2008, the Idaho dairy industry generated an estimated $2.15 billion in milk sales. That amounts to 34% of Idaho’s farm cash receipts; which places dairy ahead of all other agricultural commodities produced in Idaho.

Obviously life down on the farm is changing.

In turn, entire communities are changing.

Dairies have brought prosperity and growth to struggling rural communities. That unprecedented growth in the dairy industry has created numerous jobs that have drawn foreign-born dairy workers to our rural communities. The current perception is that the influx of those new employees has brought additional burdens to schools, jails and health care services.

In an effort to understand and quantify those concerns in January of 2008 the Idaho Dairymen’s Association commissioned a study with the University of Idaho to determine what impacts foreign-born workers are having on southern Idaho communities. That study is now completed and it should ease most of those concerns

The study involved surveys through phone calls to over 1,300 southern Idaho residents and also in-depth interviews with 63 key community members such as teachers, judges, church leaders, etc. Thorough scientific analysis of the information revealed many important conclusions, some surprising others anticipated, including the following:

  • • On average these workers are making about $2,000 per month after paying taxes, a worker with questionable documentation will limit their community involvement.
  • • Education is extremely important to the Hispanic families and recognized it as the vehicle to raise the standard of living for future generations but the lack of mastering the English language is holding their children back in our rural schools.
  • • Some rural communities feel the social impacts of this Hispanic influx more than neighboring communities. The cities of Twin Falls and Jerome capture more of these workers’ incomes, but the workers may actually live in neighboring counties.
  • • Private businesses have been able to “turn on a dime” and profit from this Latino influx, but public schools and the justice system by their very nature can’t adapt quickly.
  • • Foreign-born workers do not get more free health care services or commit more crime than other community members.
  • • A majority of long-time residents do not perceive these workers or dairies as having negative impacted southern Idaho.

This study demonstrated that changes in certain policies and practices are in order, a few of those are:

  • • A stable and predictable immigration policy needs to be adopted at the national level.
  • • There is a need for programs that promote the economic prosperity of this workforce.
  • • The dairy industry along with the University of Idaho Extension should consider developing a community outreach liaison, who is a native Spanish speaker who would be responsible to present opportunities for building bridges between the industry, Latino workers, schools, the health care industry and law enforcement.

The Idaho dairy industry is committed to following the guidelines established in the study and will continue to work with the University of Idaho, state agencies and local communities to accomplish that goal.

To read the study, go to (link).

USDA: New framework for animal ID

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2010-Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA will develop a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the United States, and undertake several other actions to further strengthen its disease prevention and response capabilities.

“After concluding our listening tour on the National Animal Identification System in 15 cities across the country, receiving thousands of comments from the public and input from States, Tribal Nations, industry groups, and representatives for small and organic farmers, it is apparent that a new strategy for animal disease traceability is needed,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I’ve decided to revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we heard.”

The framework, announced today at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Mid-Year meeting, provides the basic tenets of an improved animal disease traceability capability in the United States. USDA’s efforts will:

  • Only apply to animals moved in interstate commerce;
  • Be administered by the States and Tribal Nations to provide more flexibility;
  • Encourage the use of lower-cost technology; and
  • Be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rulemaking process.

“One of my main goals for this new approach is to build a collaborative process for shaping and implementing our framework for animal disease traceability,” said Vilsack. “We are committed to working in partnership with States, Tribal Nations and industry in the coming months to address many of the details of this framework, and giving ample opportunity for farmers and ranchers and the public to provide us with continued input through this process.”

One of USDA’s first steps will be to convene a forum with animal health leaders for the States and Tribal Nations to initiate a dialogue about the possible ways of achieving the flexible, coordinated approach to animal disease traceability we envision. Additionally, USDA will be revamping the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health to address specific issues, such as confidentiality and liability.

Although USDA has a robust system in place to protect U.S. agriculture, with today’s announcement, the Department will also be taking several additional actions to further strengthen protections against the entry and spread of disease. These steps will include accelerating actions to lessen the risk from diseases–such as tuberculosis–posed by imported animals, initiating and updating analyses on how animal diseases travel into the country, improving response capabilities, and focusing on greater collaboration and analyses with States and industry on potential disease risk overall.

More information on USDA’s new direction on animal traceability and the steps to improve disease prevention and control is available at