AgChat Offers College Aggies Free Trip to Meeting

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agchat2Some lucky, make that, hard-working, students are going to get their ways to AgChat Foundation’s (ACF) 2015 Collegiate Congress paid. This news release on the Animal Agriculture Alliance website says ACF will send the winners of the College Aggies Online (CAO) program all expenses paid to the event on January 17 & 18, 2015, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

This year the CAO program has teamed with the AgChat Foundation (ACF) as partners in the 2015 Collegiate Congress event which will be held at Dow AgroSciences headquarters in Indianapolis. In addition to monetary scholarships in the amount of $5,000.00 and $2,500, respectively, the top two individual winners will each be rewarded will an all expenses paid trip to attend the Collegiate Congress.

The ACF’s 2015 Collegiate Congress is the first of its kind, and aims to challenge passionate, agriculture college-students from across the U.S. to expand their social media experiences and shorten the bridge between consumers and their food. The event will include sessions on what consumers see and hear, how social media can be improved to tell a story when you are living on campus and away from the farm, how to use blogging, and what it means to make a consumer connection, both on and offline. Attendees can expect a strong focus on networking with other students and exchanging ideas on how to connect with fellow non-agriculture students on their campuses.

“We are excited to be teaming with the College Aggies Online program on the 2015 National Collegiate Congress. As we build a solid foundation for our youngest agvocates, developing alliances with other like-minded programs is essential,” stated AgChat Foundation’s Executive Director Jenny Schweigert. “This year’s College Aggies Online program includes some of the best of the best of college advocates. We are delighted to further their experiences by hosting the top two individual winners of the College Aggies Online competition.”

You can learn more about the event here.

Ag Group, AgChat, Education

Food Safety Modernization Act Seminar Added to IPPE

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IPPElogoOrganizers of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) taking place Jan. 27-29, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, have added a one-day Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA) seminar to the program. The Phase I “Food Safety Modernization Act – Building a Foundation for Compliance” course being held on Jan. 28 is designed to educate and update feed and pet food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers on the various components of the new law.

Dr. Henry Turlington, AFIA director of quality and manufacturing regulatory affairs, will address a number of FSMA-related issues affecting the industry in this hands-on training including: FSMA proposed rules and AFIA recommendations; building a solid foundation with current good manufacturing practices, key components of a supplier verification program; and creating an animal food safety plan, recall plan and training program.

“Our goal for the training is to help our members and the feed industry understand what it will take to comply with the new rules,” said Turlington. “The requirements for the industry are changing and we need to begin building the foundation for success now.”

AFIA has hosted three successful Phase I FSMA regional seminars this year in Sacramento, California, Des Moines, Iowa, and Atlanta, Georgia, as well as partnered to speak at training sessions in Ohio, Indiana and New York. To register for the upcoming seminar online, click here.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, food safety, IPPE

COOL Reform Coalition Asks Congress to Repeal Rule

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Vital Force Technology Logo TMThe Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Reform Coalition is asking Congress to repeal the existing U.S. Mandatory COOL rule for muscle cuts of meat. In a letter sent by the group’s 109 stakeholders, the signers say they are gravely concerned about the negative impact the rule will have on the U.S. economy.

On October 20, 2014, a World Trade Organization (WTO) Compliance Panel released a report determining that the rule violates obligations the United States has undertaken as a member of the WTO with regard to our two largest export markets, Canada and Mexico. While there is an opportunity for the United States to appeal this decision, final adjudication should occur in early 2015. At that time, if the Compliance Panel’s original findings are found to be valid, both Canada and Mexico could subject an array of U.S. exports to retaliatory tariffs. A finding of non-compliance would surely result in serious economic harm to U.S. firms and farmers that export to our neighbors.

Canada has already issued a preliminary retaliation list targeting a broad spectrum of commodities and manufactured products that will affect every state in the country. Mexico has not yet announced a preliminary retaliation list, but has implemented retaliatory tariffs in the past which may be indicative of future tariff opportunities. It is expected that U.S. industries would suffer billions in lost sales if retaliation is allowed. We invite you to review the state-by-state retaliatory analysis available at

The coalition goes on to say that “it would be intolerable for the United States to maintain, even briefly, a rule that has been deemed non-compliant by the WTO.” The group wants Congress to give the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture immediate authority and direct the secretary to rescind elements of COOL that have been determined to be non-compliant with international trade obligations.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, Government, International, Trade

Family-Owned Wisconsin Cheesemaker to Expand Ops

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bakercheeseA family-owned cheesemaker in Wisconsin is expanding and modernizing its operations. This news release from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) says Baker Cheese Factory, a fourth-generation company that is nearly a century old, is investing $7 million in new equipment that will make the company more efficient and enable it to produce additional products.

“Wisconsin is the number one cheese-producing state in the country and in order to ensure the industry remains strong, it’s important that state cheese-makers continue to aggressively upgrade their operations,” said Governor Scott Walker. “I commend Baker Cheese Factory for making this significant investment in its operations as a way to modernize and reach new markets—which is good for Fond du Lac County and the entire region.”

“Baker Cheese is committed to the growth of the Wisconsin dairy industry by investing in our Wisconsin cheese plant operations. High-quality Wisconsin milk and dedicated employees allow our company to supply award-winning string cheese to the growing domestic and international markets,” said company President Brian Baker. “As an organization, we have remained focused on providing high-quality jobs to our local economy and are excited about this next project for the continued growth of our company.”

The company will get up to $800,000 in state Economic Development Tax Credits over the next three years. The project is expected to be completed by October 2016.

Agribusiness, Cheese, Dairy, Government

Dairy Group wants Japan’s Import System Replaced

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IDFAA group representing American dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers says that Japan’s import system is a “potential Achilles heel” in trade negotiations. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack calling for the replacement of Japan’s current import administration program in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Japan’s Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corporation (ALIC) is the state-trading enterprise that administers the country’s manufacturing milk quotas and imports of dairy products under tariff rate quotas. IDFA believes that ALIC operates in a trade-distorting and inconsistent manner that makes it difficult for U.S. dairy exporters to access the market.

“Suffice it to say that its administration of Japan’s import constraints on dairy products is the antithesis of free and open trade. ALIC is in total control of Japan’s dairy imports,” said Connie Tipton, president and CEO of IDFA. “The financial benefits of the system flow entirely to the government, after which those financial ‘gains’ are shared with Japanese dairy producers. It would be difficult to imagine an import management system that is more trade distortive than this one.”

The letter went out in advance of bilateral meetings and the TPP Ministerial being held over the weekend in Sydney, Australia. IDFA wants the current ALIC system to be replaced with a tariff rate quota system as part of the bilateral negotiations with Japan.

Ag Group, Dairy, Dairy Group, idfa, International, Trade

‘State of the African Farmer’ Report Tells Complete Story

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stateofafricanfarmer1A group whose mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth wants people to get the complete story about African farmers. Heifer International issued its State of the African Farmer report to add to the debate on agriculture and food security in Africa.

Elizabeth Bintliff, vice president of Heifer’s Africa Program, is an African born in Cameroon, and brings her own perspective to the contents of this book. Although she recognized the need for statistics and data, she is a passionate advocate of the personal stories she sees everyday in her work, and is concerned that Africans often become an impersonal statistic that doesn’t give the complete story.

“African farmers, specifically, who are the people I most often come across in my work, are victims of this phenomenon. Worse still, the statistics are dire, ominous, and dismal,” said Bintliff.

This report puts smallholder farmers at the center of the dialog about agriculture in Africa. Too often, the conversation about farming is conceptual and macroeconomic in scale, she said. In this report, Heifer and other respected contributors go beyond the numbers and data to discuss the farmer as a person, engaging in agriculture, faced daily with both opportunities and challenges.

Heifer International officials say that all of our futures that are linked together and will be until the end of poverty and until Africa is fed.

You can download a PDF of the report here.


Milk Producers Welcome New Coop, Board Members

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nmpfFour new dairy cooperatives are joining as members of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), along with two new board members and one new board officer for the group. The announcement came as NMPF wrapped up its 2014 annual meeting.

The new cooperative members are Bongards’ Creameries, Norwood, Minnesota; Cortland Bulk Milk Producers Cooperative, Cortland, New York; Mount Joy Farmers Cooperative Association, Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, and Oneida-Madison Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Sherrill, New York.

These new members bring the number of dairy cooperatives in NMPF to 31. NMPF members market the majority of the milk produced in the United States, making NMPF the voice of more than 32,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies.

The two new NMPF board members are Michael Doyle, president and CEO of Foremost Farms USA in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and Scot Meyer, board member of Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth, Wisconsin. In addition, board member Keith Murfield, CEO of United Dairymen of Arizona, was elected to serve as secretary of the organization.

NMPF also recognized six outgoing board members for their service to the organization. Those receiving certificates of appreciation were William Blalock, Cooperative Milk Producers Association; Albert Knegendorf, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery; Dennis Donohue, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative; David Newhouse, Farmers Cooperative Creamery; Dave Fuhrmann, Foremost Farms USA; and Donald DeJong, Select Milk Producers. NMPF also presented its Political Action Committee Award to board member Dan Senestraro of Dairy Farmers of America.

Dairy, Dairy Group, National Milk

Dairy Margin Protection Program Deadline Extended

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USDA_logoDairy producers will have a little more time to enroll in a program that bridges the possible financial gaps when milk prices drop below production costs. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the extension to Dec. 5, 2014 for farmers to sign up for the Dairy Margin Protection Program during his speech at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting.

“We want dairy producers to have enough time to make thoughtful and well-studied choices,” said Vilsack. “Markets change and the Margin Protection Program can help protect dairy producers from those changes.”

Vilsack encouraged producers to use the online Web resource at to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. “Historical scenarios also can be explored to see how the Margin Protection Program would function should poor market conditions occur again in the future,” said Vilsack. The secure website can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also extended the opportunity for public comments on both the Margin Protection Program and the Dairy Product Donation Program until Dec. 15, 2014.

“USDA is committed to creating strong opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. When dairy producers bring new family members into the business, these changes could affect safety net coverage,” said Vilsack. “If our current rules hinder intergenerational changes or if improvements are needed in these programs, then we want to hear from dairy producers.”

Comments can be submitted to USDA via the website at

Dairy, Government, usda

Alltech Founder to Receive 2014 Henry Clay Medallion

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alltech-p-lyonsThe founder of a company that improves the health and performance of people, animals and plants through natural nutrition and scientific innovation will be honored with an award that recognizes individuals of exceptional merit. Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech, will receive the 2014 Henry Clay Medallion for Distinguished Service.

The Henry Clay Medallion recognizes, honors and celebrates individuals of exceptional merit who share characteristics of the life and work of the great Kentucky statesman, Henry Clay. Senators, Speakers of the House, royalty and business visionaries are among the list of distinguished past recipients.

Lyons was selected for his accomplishments within Kentucky as well as for bringing the best of Kentucky to the attention of people throughout the United States and around the world. Lyons founded Alltech in Kentucky in 1980 with $10,000, and it is now a $1 billion company operating in 128 countries with more than 3,500 employees.

Wherever his frequent travels take him, Lyons brings along Kentucky, promoting the region as an ideal place to live, visit and do business. His enthusiasm for the state extends to a number of community and education-focused initiatives, such as the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition, which annually awards more than a half-million dollars in University of Kentucky Opera Theatre scholarships; a commitment with his wife, Deirdre Lyons, the director of Alltech’s corporate image and design, to construct at least one Kentucky primary school laboratory each year; and an annual Innovation Competition that sets Kentucky university business teams against one another to promote economic growth within the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Check out Chuck’s conversation with Lyons during this year’s annual Alltech Symposium.


DMI Announces Partnerships for Fluid Milk Innovation

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) today announced seven new partnerships to “ignite fluid milk innovation.”

Mike Saint John of Coca Cola North America's Minute Maid Business; United Dairy Industry Association chairman Neil Hoff; Barbara O'Brien and Tom Gallagher with  DMI; and DMI chair Paul Rovey toast new partnership

Mike Saint John of Coca Cola North America’s Minute Maid Business; United Dairy Industry Association chairman Neil Hoff; Barbara O’Brien and Tom Gallagher with DMI; and DMI chair Paul Rovey toast new partnership

According to DMI, the objective of the partnerships is to meet the growing demands of both foreign and U.S. consumers. The seven partners, supported by DMI which represents America’s dairy farm families and importers, are “committing an unprecedented investment to unlock innovation and put milk back in the center of the rapidly growing health and wellness beverage market.”

The seven partners from across the supply chain include Dairy Farmers of America (DFA); Darigold/Northwest Dairy Association; The Kroger Company; Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Inc.; Shamrock Farms; Southeast Milk, Inc and The Coca-Cola Company – all working aggressively to pursue growth opportunities for fluid milk through infrastructure, capital, human resource and marketing investments.

“These dairy partners are making an unprecedented investment over the next few years – more than half a billion dollars in capital and other resources,” said Tom Gallagher, CEO of DMI. “With our check-off resources and dedication to fluid milk innovation, we’re excited to see how unique partnerships will help us drive ingenuity and generate new offerings and sales in the fluid milk category.”

“As a farmer, I am proud to see to see farmer-led organizations and other leaders committed to revitalizing fluid milk,” said Paul Rovey, Arizona dairy farmer, chairman of DMI and chairman of United Dairymen of Arizona, a regional dairy cooperative.

Gallagher and Rovey participated in a telephone press conference this afternoon to talk about the new partnerships. DMI Announces New Partnerships

Audio, Dairy, Dairy Checkoff, Milk, Promotion