EDITOR’S UPDATE BY DAVE NATZKE
A Farm Bill and federal dairy policy
are on the upcoming 2012 sched-
ule. Dairy news headlines and de-
velopments this spring offered little
clarity on how things will play out.
growth in the yogurt market could lead to near-
term raw milk shortages in the Northeast for
ﬂ uid and soft dairy products.
But in California, Land O’Lakes-Western
was playing defense, initiating supplemental
base reduction measures, including substantial
penalties ($10/cwt.) for any production over
Earlier this year, I took my first
base volumes, April 1 through June 30. In
spring break since about 1979, visiting
addition, producers in Tulare and Southern
friends in Arizona and taking in some Cactus
League baseball. My wife California would be subject to an additional 6%
and I enjoyed eight games production reduction.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, associate editor
in 5 days (four Milwau-
Kayla Jentz was at a Professional Dairy Pro-
kee Brewers games in
ducers of Wisconsin annual business confer-
four different parks and
ence, where Gov. Scott Walker went to bat for
four college games at
Grand Canyon University the “Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Initiative,”
a game plan designed to help the state’s dairy
producers increase milk production to 30 bil-
During those games,
I could never completely lion lbs. (about 15%) annually by 2020.
With a short seventh-inning stretch to
eliminate the need to
I Dave Natzke is
spend one night in my own bed and do some
check my Android for
laundry, I headed to Kansas City, for the Dairy
director, DairyBusi- daily dairy headlines and
Farmers of America (DFA) annual meeting.
developments. Starting a
During his address to members, president and
few days before the ﬁ rst
him via e-mail:
pitch until the week after CEO Rick Smith declared the co-op’s “fervent
dnatzke@ I unpacked, the news and support” of the Dairy Security Act. Signiﬁ cant
dairybusiness.com. milk production growth, especially in the West,
messages were about as
was pointing the supply-demand trend in the
inconsistent as spring training pitching. News
wrong direction, and February 2012’s U.S.
seemed to change by the inning.
milk production growth of 4.3% (on a daily
Just before we traded the 70°-80°s tem-
basis) was a “recipe for a crisis.” The current
peratures of Wisconsin for Arizona, Dairylea
2012 price outlook, combined with higher
Cooperative CEO Greg Wickham described
production costs, could lead to the “terrible dy-
how the “yogurt phenomenon” was changing
namics” of more milk production in a period of
the dynamics of the Northeast dairy industry.
negative producer margins.
The result, he suggested, was that continued
FYI Back in New York, U.S. Sen. Chuck
Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced the DAIRY
(Dairy Augmentation for Increased Retail in
Yogurt products) Act, allowing farmers a 50%
bonus depreciation to buy cows. The bill is es-
pecially designed to rally New York producers
to supply more milk to the state’s yogurt indus-
try. The New York Farm Bureau estimated the
state’s producers must boost milk output 15%
(1.9 billion lbs.) annually, to meet that demand.
To extend the baseball theme, during all
this time Congress continued to act like a hy-
brid of Carlos Zambrano and Ozzie Guillen.
Press conferences and news releases indicated
the Dairy Security Act was either on its way
to the federal dairy policy starting line-up, or
caught in a run-down between second and third
base, ready to be tagged out.
Dairy policy is way beyond spring training,
but 2012 sure is shaping up to be a season of
strain, in more ways than one.
Between all the hits, runs, outs,
strikes, beer and peanuts, by far the most enter-
taining (and I’d say inspiring) message I heard
was presented at the DFA meeting by Hamdi
Ulukaya, founder and president of Chobani,
one of the hottest “teams” in the dairy industry.
Since coming to the United States from Turkey
as a student in 1994, his mix of innovation,
risk-taking, humor, pragmatism and humility
has created a $1 billion/year yogurt business
that continues to grow. He even built a baseball
ﬁ eld in New York. If you ever get to hear him
speak, by all means step up to the plate. ❐
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