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  February 2019 -- Issue No. 475

Inside this months issue …

OUR STORY OF THE MONTH (Click the blue title below to read "the complete story"):

Dean Foods on Financial Tightrope: March 1, 2019 Deadline Looms (p. 1)


Lost Export Markets Boost U.S. Cheese Inventories & Erode Prices (p. 1):  Jan Shepel details how lost export sales for cheese during 2018’s final seven months caused a build-up of inventories – particularly for American-style cheeses (like Cheddar).  Inventories up, prices down.

Dean Foods on Financial Tightrope: March 1, 2019 Deadline Looms:  The nation’s biggest fluid milk processor is in violation of covenants with lenders and has until March 1 to straighten out matters, or …  (A Story of the Month.)

“Furloughed” Dairy & Farm Data to Slowly Resuscitate (p. 2): The 35-day federal gov’t shutdown means many important USDA dairy reports were not available.  USDA personnel will belatedly be issuing these reports.

UW’s Stephenson: Challenges Continue for Dairy (p. 2): Jan Shepel eports on the dairy forecast offered by University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dr. Mark Stephenson at the recent UW=Madison Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Jan. ’19 Class III Price Rose $0.18/cwt. to $13.86 (p. 2):  The January ’19 Class III (cheese) milk price rose modestly, according to USDA.

Record Meat Supplies & Trade Tensions Will Depress Cattle Prices (p. 3):  Dr. Brenda Boetel, agricultural economist at UW-River Falls, gave the outlook for the meat industry.  She projects record supplies sof beef, pork and poultry will be sent to market in 2019.  Trade wars will keep a lid on livestock prices this year, she expected.  Reported by Jan Shepel.

Rep. Kind Weighs in on Trade Issues, Government Payments to JBS (p. 3): Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind (D) is hammering USDA for paying $5 million to JBS for pork purchases, using funds that were supposed to help U.S. farmers and processors financially weather the trade wars.  JBS is Brazilian-owned.

Dairy Cow Slaughter: Big Surge in Late December (p. 3): Recently released USDA numbers show a big jump in dairy cows sent to slaughter during the weeks of December 15 and December 22.  Farmers are culling cows to try to boost year-end farm income.

DFA Heavily Exposed to Collateral Damage at Dean Foods (p. 4): As Dean Foods’ financial stability is under a cloud, that firm’s single biggest supplier of raw milk is Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).  

Phony Miyoko’s “Butter” Draws Legal Challenge (p. 5): A lawyer in New York State has filed a class action lawsuit against Miyoko’s Kitchen butter product.  That “butter” contains no dairy ingredients.

Taking a Closer Look at Miyoko’s Kitchen’s Butter (p. 5): The ingredients on this product defy FDA standards of identity for butter.  In late January or early February, Miyoko’s Kitchen’s on-line store was suddenly out of stock!

Dr. Robert Bradley Unveils Better Butter II (p. 5): UW-Madison emeritus professor of Food Science Dr. Robert Bradley has issued an updated version of his butter book.  The new title is: Better Butter II.  Dr. Bradley offers insights gained from a long professional career in this fact-packed book.

Organic Dairy Farmers Struggle to keep Milk Market (p. 6):  Jan Shepel revisits the Uebersetzig family of Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin.  Their organic dairy markets have been disrupted during 2018, but they’re now back – shipping to Cedar Grove Cheese.

Is Use of Glyphosate in Crop Production Leading to a Variety of Health Problems in Dairy Cows? (p. 7-8): Dairy Nutrition consultant Dieter Harley has assembled a wide body of research suggesting that Glyphosate residues in crops and water and impairing the health of some bovines.

Bioremediation Neutralizes Soil Glyphosate Residues (p. 9-10): Writer Paris Reidhead describes a mineral tea product sold by Bio Minerals Technologies (Logan, Utah).  This firm’s products – derived from fermenting ancient humus from Alaska – help remove Glyphosate residues from soils.  This product is important for numerous reasons, including the fact that later in 2019, China will start limiting Glyphosate residues on foods and commodities imported into that country.

Some Plant-Based “Milks” Are Nutritionally Closer to Pepsi-Cola than to Dairy Milk (p. 11): The staff of The Cornucopia Institute – the organic industry’s watchdog group – is compiling an analysis of various plant-based products that compete with beverage milk.  The full report will be out in March.  The Milkweed enjoys a sneak preview.  In many instances, the nutritional quality of these plant-based, “milk”-type beverages is inferior.

California’s “Stop QIP” Going on the Road (p. 11): Organizers of the petition seeking a referendum to vote on California’s milk quota system are organizing a “road show” to visit major dairy regions of the state and seek signatures on their petitions.

Not a Swan Song!  The Future of Organic Farming (p. 12): Our friend John Bobbe is retiring at the end of February from his post as executive director of O=FARM (a marketing agency for organic grain producers’ cooperatives).  John offers his “parting wisdom,” but warns he isn’t going away.

2018 Farm Law Boosts Funds to Fight Organic import Fraud (p. 12): The 2018 federal farm law provides new teeth (and financial resources) for USDA to track the integrity of organic foods – particularly imports.  Credit for this added funding should go to Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin and Montana Senator Jon Tester.

Cheddar Prices Rising, Butter & Milk Powder Holding (p. 13):  The dairy commodity complex is steady (butter, nonfat dry milk) to rising (Cheddar).  That’s good.  We see good legs under nonfat dry milk prices as 2019 ensues. U.S. production is down and Europe’s mountain of aged, surplus Skim Milk Powder is virtually gone.

No Improvement in Dairy Livestock Prices (p. 14): The headline says it all.

Slaughter of the Innocents:  Nationwide, Hundreds to Thousands of Dairy Calves Killed Weekly (p. 14): There is no market for many dairy calves right now – even females.  By the hundreds, and perhaps thousands, many calves are being killed each week across the U.S.  We’ve become the “Land of Milk and No Money.”

Dairy Policy Proposal: The National Dairy Disaster Assistance Program (p. 14):  Mark Spurgeon, who milks cows near Seymour, Indiana, offers his novel solution for the U.S. dairy industry.  Spurgeon proposes a “National Dairy Disaster Assistance Program” that would paya dairy produces in emergency conditions a premium to send their herds to slaughter.  Spurgeon proposes to pay for these herd acquisitions by a $.40/cwt. deduct from all milk production.   He theorizes that removing herds from disaster situations (fire, flood, tornado, human health, etc) would reduce surplus milk production and give a graceful exit to some producers.  

Suicide Try by WI Organic Producer: Market Failure (p. 15): Following an attempted suicide by a Wisconsin dairy farmer, Mark Kastel – director of The Cornucopia Institute – urges depressed dairy farmers to seek out help.  This producer had lost his organic milk market and then shipped to a small cheese plant that folded – owing producers unpaid milk checks.

Caputo Cheese’s “Grated Parmesan Style Cheese”is Suspicious (p. 16):    The list of ingredients for this product is enough to gag a maggot.  Yet on the back panel, the firm marketing this product brazenly refers to the product as “Parmesan.”  Parmesan is a cheese with an FDA standard of identity.  Parmesan may not legally contain ingredients such as “milk protein,” water, modified food starch, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, citric acid, guar gum, etc.  Parmesan it ain’t.

“Down Under” Milk Trends: Kiwis Up, Aussies Down (p. 16):  On the opposite side of the world, the two major dairy nations are seeing opposite milk production trends.  New Zealand milk output this season is up – milk solids are up about 6% over last year.  (Note: Last year, NZ was below the 2016-17 season.)  Meanwhile, Australian dairy farmers are facing a terrible drought and heat wave – widespread deaths of milk cows have been occurring.  Australian dairy farmers are facing very scarce, expensive supplies of hay.

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