The Little Rock feed supplement production plant operated by Novus International, Inc. was recognized for exceptional health and safety management with a special ceremony on April 13, 2017. The Novus facility was presented with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Voluntary Protection Program’s highest honor, the VPP Star Certification.
“This is something we’ve been working toward for years,” said Jeff Klopfenstein, president of the Novus methionine business unit. “As a company, we strive to set the standards for solutions, service, and sustainability, and safety is an integral part of sustainability.”
Novus marked the accomplishment with a celebratory lunch followed by a ceremonial raising of the VPP Star flag at the site. Employees, community and government officials, and the executive leadership of Novus International were in attendance, including Novus’s president and CEO François Fraudeau and Little Rock Executive Plant Manager John Farmer.
“We are proud to be accepting this honor from OSHA. Our industry is not mandated to uphold the standards in this program, but we believe it is simply the right thing to do for our employees and our community. We hope to set an example for other companies to join us in VPP and promote safety as well,” said Farmer.
The Little Rock facility has been in production since 2006 and employs about 40 workers. Novus’s MHA® and MFP® feed supplements, as well as MINTREX® chelated trace minerals, are manufactured in Little Rock.
Elanco Animal Health’s seminar at the Central Plains Dairy Expo highlighted the role of innovation in the dairy industry. Dr. Roger Cady, Global Sustainability Lead, Scientific Affairs & Policy for Elanco talked about the positive impact of innovation on the I-29 Dairy Corridor which includes Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota.
“Producers along the I-29 Corridor are recognized as leaders in making milk production and dairy products among the most sustainable in existence – not only in the United States, but also in the entire world – by embracing the concept of continued progress and innovation,” said Cady.
He said communicating sustainability progress to retailers and consumers is key as they are the “second gatekeeper” regarding what they will and will not accept for sale in their outlets based on what they believe is sustainable food production.
“While sustainability has become a complex issue, at its core, it really is about being a farm operator in 20 years from now and passing a successful farm to the next generation,” said Cady. “What it is not about is regulation and retail mandates. When something is sustainable, all benefit: people, animals and the planet.”
As we meet the demand for a growing world, Cady said we cannot afford to do away with innovation that helps farmers produce food in a safe, healthy manner and protects our planet along with the animal’s welfare.
Listen to my complete conversation with Dr. Cady here: Interview with Dr. Roger Cady, Elanco
The U.S. dairy sector and state agriculture officials urged President Trump to take immediate action against Canada’s repeated and escalating disregard for its trade obligations under NAFTA. As a result of Canada’s new national pricing policy, dozens of dairy farmers in the Midwest recently learned they must find new customers for their milk by May 1, which will cause considerable economic hardship and possibly force them to go out of business.
In a joint letter, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) urged the administration to tell Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt the new pricing policy and restore imports of the blocked U.S. products, specifically ultra-filtered milk. They also asked President Trump to direct U.S. agencies to “examine a full range of tools that could be used immediately to impress upon Canada in a concrete way the importance of dependable two-way trade.”
“U.S. dairy exports support approximately 110,000 jobs across America, many of which are in farming and food manufacturing, as well as in supporting rural manufacturing and skilled farm service workers,” the organizations said in the letter. “However, for trade to yield its full potential and provide the maximum impact possible in supporting American jobs, our trading partners must hold up their end of the bargain as well.”
“We appreciate your administration’s work to date on this issue and ask you to send a very clear message that Canada should be one of America’s most reliable trading partners, but in the case of dairy it has consistently chosen to pursue a disturbing and harmful path,” they said. “We stand ready to support your efforts to address this urgent dairy issue.”
Repreve® Renewables, LLC unveiled a new company name and logo as part of a corporate rebranding initiative. The new name, AGgrow Tech, illustrates the companies dedication to biomass products and renewable energy solutions derived from Giant Miscanthus grass, a high-yielding, low-input and drought-tolerant perennial.
“We are an agriculture-based company, and feel this transition better supports our drive to be the leader in sustainably produced agricultural-based products,” said Travis Hedrick, chief executive officer for AGgrow Tech. “We believe the rebrand delivers a clearer understanding of our core business model and allows us to truly explore the next generation of renewable agriculture technologies and the applications of our products.”
AGgrow Tech has established itself as a leader in renewable biomass production. The company’s agriculture-based production can be utilized in a variety of markets, one including animal bedding.
AGgrow Tech’s animal bedding product, AGgrow Bedding, will feature three product specifications that will fulfill a wide range of animal welfare and bedding needs. The “Advanced” specification is a rebranding of the former product, Thrivez, an industry proven poultry bedding product used by the top poultry producers in the U.S. Other specifications will service the equestrian and small animals bedding needs.
According to Wikipedia, the custom of Christians decorating eggs for Easter can be traced to at least the 13th century in Mesopotamia, spreading from there into Russia and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, and later into Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches. The Easter egg tradition may also have merged into the celebration of the end of the privations of Lent in the West, since eggs were originally forbidden during Lent as well as on other traditional fast days in Western Christianity. The cracking open of Easter eggs is also linked with the empty tomb of Jesus.
Check out the American Egg Board website fun Easter egg activities, recipes, and ideas – and have a glorious Easter!
An upcoming CattleFax Trends+ Cow-Calf Webinar will address whether or not the lows have been established for the cattle industry, as well as provide an outlook for the cow-calf and entire beef industry for 2017.
The free webinar will be held May 24, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. MT. Participation in the webinar, and access to program details, producers and industry leaders, requires registration. Register online here.
One of the most aggressive U.S. beef cowherd expansions in the last four decades has increased beef supplies and caused cow-calf profitability to be reduced back toward long term levels. As profits have narrowed well-informed producers can maintain healthy margins by adjusting production, marketing and risk management plans with increasing supplies in mind.
CattleFax analysts will discuss a variety of topics in the one-hour session, including cattle and feedstuff market projections for the next 12 to 18 months, calf market outlook through summer and fall of 2017, and analysis of a recent Cow-Calf Survey conducted by CattleFax.
Although renewable energy methods, like anaerobic digesters that convert manure to energy, offer solutions to the waste management and sustainability challenges facing the dairy industry, they are not broadly used on American dairy farms. The major capital expense requirements and the significant expertise and time commitment needed to manage them keep many farmers reluctant to invest in the technology.
“Dairy farmers have always been great stewards of the land. But, like any business, farmers must continue to innovate and evolve,” said David Darr, president of farm services at DFA. “With this partnership, we hope to make anaerobic digestion more available to more farmers, which is not only good for the environment, but will also help our farmer families run their businesses more efficiently, and that’s a win-win.”
DFA and Vanguard Renewables will develop resilient business models using anaerobic digestion systems and work with farmers, government agencies, dairy processors and retailer customers to build business cases for innovative systems. Vanguard Renewables will also provide capital investment for anaerobic digestion systems on DFA member farms that cannot make the financial commitment on their own.
Since 2011, brothers and DFA members Randy and Brian Jordan from Jordan Dairy Farm have been operating an anaerobic digester that combines manure and organic food waste and then puts electricity back into the utility grid.
“We are absolutely seeing the benefit of having an anaerobic digester from Vanguard Renewables on our farm,” said Randy Jordan. “Before the partnership, our monthly electric costs were more than $2,400. Now, we’re receiving low-cost energy, hot water and heat, replacing oil and propane, and natural fertilizer, which increases our hay yields. This is absolutely a partnership that will help sustain our farm for future generations.”
Rising demand has caused a record number of dairies to transition to organic milk production, according to a new report from CoBank. Organic milk generates the highest sales of any certified organic commodity, and this steady demand growth has the potential to lift organic fluid milk market share and further stimulate product innovation with the organic dairy industry.
“The substantial gap between organic and conventional on-farm milk prices, combined with more price stability, is driving the transition,” says Ben Laine, CoBank senior dairy economist. “We are seeing increasing herd sizes for many existing organic dairies looking to take advantage of size efficiencies and price premiums.”
The 12-month average national organic milk mailbox price in April 2016 was $36.25 per hundredweight (cwt) compared to a conventional average of $14.89 per cwt.
Dairies consider this sizable pay difference, and the extended pressure on conventional milk prices, considerable motivation to invest in the costly three-year organic transition process to become certified organic. The year-long contracts common for organic production that may temper the monthly price volatility often found in the conventional milk market are also attractive to today’s dairies.
Higher prices for organic milk have not dampened consumer interest. “While demand for fluid milk overall has struggled to slow its downward trajectory over the past several years, organic milk is one segment experiencing strong growth,” notes Laine. “The price premium for organic milk at retail is typically second only to the premium for organic eggs.”
Private label organic milk, the evolution of other organic dairy products including cheese, butter and yogurt, as well as new industry partnerships will likely add value and additional growth opportunities to the organic dairy industry in the coming years. Food service companies are also increasing investment in organic dairy products, leading to additional demand. These factors are expected to influence processing capacity over time.
A brief video synopsis of the report, “The U.S. Organic Dairy Industry – Booming Demand with Room to Grow,” is available on the CoBank YouTube channel. The full report is available to media upon request.
The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey found that retail prices are lower for several foods this year, including eggs, ground chuck, sirloin tip roast, chicken breasts and toasted oat cereal.
“As expected due to lower farm-gate prices, we have seen continued declines in retail prices for livestock products including eggs, beef, chicken, pork and cheese,” said John Newton, AFBF’s director of market intelligence.
According to the informal survey, the total cost of 16 food items used to prepare meals was $50.03, down $3.25, about 6 percent, compared to a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 11 decreased, four increased and one remained the same in average price.
“As farm-gate prices for livestock products have declined and remained lower, prices in the retail meat case have become more competitive,” Newton said.
The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.
“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.
According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 117 shoppers in 31 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in March.