Archive for the ‘NMPF’ Category

NMPF: Immigration Policy Must Need Congressional Action

November 21, 2014 — The National Milk Producers Federation issued this statement following the White House’s executive action on immigration policy.

“The executive action announced by the White House this week will not solve the current or future needs of dairy farmers. We still need congressional action, in the form of comprehensive legislative reform of our broken immigration system. This is both an opportunity and an obligation for Congress. We need action in both the House and Senate, with support from both Republicans and Democrats, to do the job that needs to be done,” Jim Mulhern, President and Chief Executive Officer, NMPF.

“NMPF’s focus remains the same going forward, as it has been in the past decade: we must secure a permanent fix to our broken immigration system – and that must be done by the Congress. “Regardless of the executive order announced by the White House, we must continue pressing for a long-term, meaningful solution that provides permanent relief for current workers and future labor needs. It is imperative that Congress address this issue in 2015 and resolve it, once and for all,” he concluded.

In this week’s address, President Obama laid out the steps he took this past week to fix our broken immigration system. From WhiteHouse.gov:

“Enacted within his legal authority, the President’s plan focuses on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes. These are commonsense steps, but only Congress can finish the job.

As the President acts, he’ll continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill — like the one passed by the Senate more than a year ago — that can replace these actions and fix the whole system.”

 

Message to Congress: Restore the Tax Provision

November 20. 2014 — The National Milk Producers Federation this week joined 41 other agricultural organizations in urging Congress to restore a tax code provision that allows small businesses, including farms, to write off capital purchases such as equipment immediately, instead of over time.

The provision, known as Section 179, is one of more than 50 expired tax policies the House and Senate are likely to consider for reinstatement during their post-election lame duck session. The farm groups urged restoration of Section 179 in a November 18 letter to congressional leadership.

“Farming requires significant investments in machinery and equipment,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “By allowing farmers to immediately write off these purchases on their taxes, Section 179 gives producers an incentive to invest in their businesses while it reduced their record-keeping burden.”

Mulhern said restoring Section 179 will encourage farmers to purchase machinery and equipment in years when they have a positive cash flow. “On the other hand,” he said, “failure to restore Section 179 will add to the financial strains on asset-rich, cash-poor family farmers who already find it difficult to pass on their farms to the next generation.”

Section 179 allows farmers to write off capital expenditures in the year that purchases are made. The farm groups asked that the maximum amount of annual expensing be restored to $500,000, as it was in 2013. In addition, they asked Congress to reinstate the 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including farm equipment.

Dust is Settling After Midterm Elections

November 6, 2014 — It was certainly a big night Tuesday for Republicans. I think it’s fair to say they exceeded expectations with victories in both the U.S. House and Senate. But, there will still be a Democrat living in the White House for another two years and President Obama will be facing off against the GOP majority.

For agriculture, it’s expected there will be some implementation issues with two new chairmen of those committees as we start 2015. For the House of Representatives, Mike Conaway (R-TX) will be taking over the reins from Frank Lucas (R-OK). While both are from the Southwest, it will still be a big of a shift.

Over in the Senate, Pat Roberts (R-KS), who faced a very difficult re-election campaign but won rather handily, will be rewarded with chairing the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Many are wondering how this will affect the key issues on Congress’ plate next year, like the Waters of the U.S. Rule.

“I think it’s going to make it harder for the Obama administration and its Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with that,” National Milk’s Chris Galen reported to DairyLine. “Given the opposition in the House and also now in the Senate.”

Another big question is immigration reform. A Republican Senate is not going to pass the same type of bill that was passed by the Democrats last year.

“It’s still possible we’re going to see something comprehensive get done,” Galen said. “But I think it’s going to be an issue where we’re going to have to really do a lot of spade work from the grassroots level in order to encourage Republicans to pass something that is going to be friendly and useful for dairy farmers and other agricultural employers.”

Voters also defeated mandatory GMO labeling in two states. Even after the defeats in Colorado and Oregon, the food-labeling debate is far from over. Nearly 90 bills in 29 states addressing labeling have been introduced this year alone.

“Regardless of what happens with the state’s labeling initiatives a lot is going to depend on how the courts look at these things,” Galen said, referring to what is happening in Vermont after voters approved GMO labeling in that state.

While the latest approval rating for Congress is hovering around 16%, there were not a lot of incumbents defeated. Voters instead sent a message to the White House by not voting for the President’s party.

Dairy Producers Receive High Marks in Latest Animal Care Assessment

October 23, 2014 — Dairy farmers across the U.S. continue to care of their animals under the highest standards possible, according to a report released by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).

“We have a national program in place to demonstrate the commitment that dairy farmers have for their herds,” NMPF’s Chris Galen said on DairyLine. “And, we continue to make improvements in the overall quality of care that farmers give to their cows.”

The summary report, issued annually, quantifies practices by farmers participating in the industry’s responsible care program, known as the National Dairy FARM Program (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management). A copy of the report can be found online.

The report quantifies the results of more than 12,000 dairy farm evaluations conducted during the previous three years. All the data collected by second-party evaluators who visit each of those farms is catalogued, and provides a baseline of the breadth of adoption of the program’s care practices.

For example, the report found nearly 95 percent of farms enrolled in the program train their employees to properly move animals that cannot walk, and more than 98 percent train employees to handle calves with a minimum of stress. Other findings included:

  • 99 percent of farms observe animals daily to identify health issues for early treatment;
  • 93 percent develop protocols with veterinarians for dealing with common diseases, calving and animals with special needs;
  • 92 percent train workers to recognize the need for animals to be euthanized.

“What we are seeing is a high degree of training and compliance that goes on, in terms of farm managers and owners working with their employees, to make certain that cows get their optimal care,” Galen said. At the same time, the report found some areas still need improvement. For example, 84 percent of farms in the program have a valid veterinarian-client relationship, and 84 percent also conduct annual training in animal care for employees. However, both of these areas have shown an increase in industry adoption, up from 80 percent and 83 percent, respectively, since the first annual report two years ago.

“All this is a way of saying that farmers are caring for their animals, and we’re not just talking the talk when we make that point, we’re actually walking the walk in terms of providing data to back that up.”

This week at their joint annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, NMPF board members will vote on whether or not participating companies require that every farm associated with that company has to require those farms to be in the FARM program.

“We are expecting that our board will approve that change,” Galen said. “So, when a cooperative or a proprietary processor say they are a participant in the FARM program…all farms handled by that co-op or processor have to be enrolled.”

Overall, according to the report, participation in the FARM Program increased to more than three-quarters of the nation’s milk supply, up five percentage points from the previous year.

Available to all U.S. dairy farmers in the United States, the FARM program is now in its fifth year. It is a voluntary, national set of guidelines designed to demonstrate farmers’ commitment to outstanding animal care and a quality milk supply. Cooperatives, milk processors, and individual producers use the program to assure consumers that the dairy foods they purchase are produced with integrity.

Participants are given training materials and are evaluated by a veterinarian or another trained professional. Evaluators provide a status report and, if necessary, recommend areas for improvement.

Each year, a nationwide sample of dairy farms in the program is randomly selected for visits from third-party “verifiers” to assure that the observations recorded by veterinarians are valid. A certified auditing company, Validus, conducts the third-party verification process.

The third annual verification of the FARM program reflects adoption of select practices as of December 2013. As of this month, more than 60 cooperatives and milk processors participate in the program, as well as dozens of individual dairy producers.

NMPF also released the new 2015 edition of its safe use manual for antibiotics and other animal drugs. The Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual permits producers to quickly review those antibiotics approved for use with dairy animals. It can also be used to educate farm managers in how to avoid drug residues in milk and meat. The manual, available online, is updated annually.

Ag Secretary to Speak at NMPF Annual Meeting

October 9, 2014 — The agenda for the 2014 annual meeting of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is set for the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, October 27-29. A NMPF press release says the meeting is shaping up as one of the best in years.

NMPF confirmed that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be joining the line-up of speakers at the Dallas meeting, when he speaks at a general session the morning of October 29th.

The October 28 line-up includes renowned political analyst Stu Rothenberg, publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report, and Patrick Doyle, CEO of Domino’s Pizza. In a departure from previous years, that day also kicks off with Town Hall Meeting, at which attendees learn about NMPF activities and question staff on the future of the dairy industry.

The next day, Daniel Burrus, one of the world’s most recognized business gurus, will offer insights on the future of the dairy industry, followed by two top Coca-Cola executives discussing new Coke ventures in the dairy category. The lunch speaker on the 29th is Charlotte Jones Anderson, executive vice president and chief brand officer for the Dallas Cowboys. The meeting will conclude with a reception and banquet featuring both the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and Big City Outlaws, the hottest country rock party band in Texas.

In between major events there are board meetings, a dairy bar, networking and sightseeing opportunities, and the chance to win some fabulous prizes in the annual raffle raising money for NMPF’s National Dairy Leadership Scholarship Program. It adds up to a power-packed program that offers something for everyone.

Rooms at the Gaylord Texan are sold out right now, but you can still register to attend the annual meeting. Nearby hotels have some space and more rooms could become available at the Gaylord Texan. Also, you can register for the annual meeting up to the last minute. NMPF’s website has the latest registration and hotel information.

NMPF Offers Margin Protection Slide Show

September 25, 2014 — The National Milk Producers Federation has posted a slide presentation on YouTube to help dairy farmers understand the new federal dairy safety net, known as the Margin Protection Program (MPP), as part of its ongoing effort to educate farmers about the new program.

There are links to the narrated presentation on both the NMPF website, and the Future for Dairy website serving as NMPF’s information hub for the new MPP program, which was launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture September 2nd.

The 21-minute, 34-slide presentation walks the viewer through the details of the program, including who is eligible, how to sign up, and what the fees and payments might look like under various scenarios. Also covered are the basic concept of the program, what it replaces, and how it compares to the previous dairy safety net. This narrated presentation is a video file to accompany a more basic, slides-only version already available online.

“Dairy farmers are now making their decisions on participation in the new program,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern, who narrates the slide presentation. “Along with other tools NMPF has developed, this presentation should help them make the best choices for their individual circumstances.”

Meanwhile, dairy producers attending next week’s World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, can find out what they need to know about the new dairy safety net at a special, 90-minute briefing set for Thursday morning, October 2nd.

Sponsored by NMPF, the briefing will feature Mulhern along with noted University of Missouri dairy economist Scott Brown. It will start at 8:30 a.m. in Mendota Room No. 4, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

The briefing is titled “Covering Your Assets: Why Farmers Need to Enroll in the Margin Protection Program.” In addition to the briefing and the narrated slide presentation available through www.nmpf.org and www.futurefordairy.com, NMPF has produced a five-page written summary of the new program, and an online calculator to help farmers select their coverage levels.

The new dairy safety net was included in the 2014 farm bill. It allows producers to protect their margin – the difference between milk prices and feed costs – rather than supporting milk prices.

Producers have until November 28th to sign up for the program for the remainder of 2014, all of 2015, or both.

NMPF Launches Online Calculator to Help Farmers Select Coverage Levels

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Milk Producers Federation today launched an online, downloadable calculator to help farmers select coverage levels under the new federal dairy safety net, known as the Margin Protection Program for dairy (MPP). The calculator is located at www.futurefordairy.com/mpp-calculator.

The calculator allows farmers to enter their own milk production and commodity price data to gauge the new program’s likely impact on their operations. It complements a similar tool created by a consortium of land grant universities that is available through the Agriculture Department website.

A key difference between the two tools is that NMPF’s is available both online, and as a downloadable Excel file. Also, while the USDA tool is pre-programmed with market forecasts from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the NMPF tool allows farmers to input their own projections for milk as well as corn, soybean meal and alfalfa hay prices.

“Dairy farmers must make some important decisions in the coming weeks about how best to use the new insurance program,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “This calculator, along with the other informational tools that NMPF has prepared, will help them learn about the program and make the best choices for the future.”

The calculator and other tools are available at www.futurefordairy.com, which is serving as NMPF’s information hub for the Margin Protection Program, as well as at www.nmpf.org.

NMPF was instrumental in crafting the new safety net over the last five years. It developed the program after extensive discussions with farmers in 2009 and 2010 and then worked with Congress to include the plan in the 2014 farm bill. More recently, NMPF worked closely with the Agriculture Department on implementation issues for the program.

USDA formally unveiled the MPP in August. A three-month sign up period opened September 2, with farmers having until Nov. 28th to obtain coverage either for the remainder of 2014, all of calendar year 2015, or both.

The new safety net helps protect against the kind of catastrophic losses many dairy farmers experienced in 2009 and again in 2012 by limiting volatility in producer margins caused by either low milk prices, high feed costs or a combination of both.

Producers will insure their operations on a sliding scale, deciding both how much of their milk production to cover and how much of a margin to protect. Basic margin insurance at $4 per hundredweight is available for a $100 registration fee. Above the $4 level, a premium is required.

The NMPF online MPP calculator comes with a printable instruction manual.

NMPF also is preparing a narrated slide presentation to walk through the entire MPP program. That video presentation will be available next week, also at www.futurefordairy.com.

The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The members of NMPF’s cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making NMPF the voice of more than 32,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. Visit www.nmpf.org for more information.

NMPF Pleased With MPP End Result

September 1, 2014 — The new margin protection insurance program for dairy farmers, which was developed by the National Milk Producers Federation and enacted in the 2014 Farm Bill, was formally unveiled late last week by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. NMPF said it is pleased with the overall provisions of the new program, and urged farmers to begin familiarizing themselves with what will be a “valuable tool” to help manage farms’ financial risks in the future. NMPF’s CEO Jim Mulhern shared his thoughts on Monday’s DairyLine Radio program:

 

Milk Prices See Double Peak

August 14, 2015 — There has been a double peak in farm level milk prices. The U.S. dairy industry reached a record high earlier in the spring before dipping back down, but then prices went back up in July. That’s going to give us stronger prices in August.

This is despite some of the continued overall weakness in world markets. The European Union is currently shut out of Russia as they put sanctions on Europe’s export of dairy products.

“That means there’s more cheese trying to find a home in other markets because it can’t be sold now in Russia,” National Milk’s Chris Galen reported.

That being said, the U.S. exported 16.5% of its total milk solids during the first half of 2014, that’s an increase of 2% from last year. All the major categories including cheese and butter were well over last year’s level.

“This is one of the reasons why we’re seeing that double peak in prices,” Galen said. “Even though world prices are sagging now, the combination of our strong exports and internal demand and slower milk production means we will see above average prices for the remainder of the year.”nmpf

One of the big questions is why haven’t prices dropped more and is that related to slower milk production.

“You would think that with these record high prices that more cows and more milk per cow would have been more evident in the latest milk production report, but it’s been fairly slow going,” he said.

June Milking cow numbers were only raised slightly from a year ago.  For the most part milk production is growing but it hasn’t been coming on in torrents yet.  Because of that, we are not exceeding demand.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) will release their August issue of the Dairy Market Report Monday (Aug. 18th). The report will be available at nmpf.org

FDA Has a Lot to Digest

August 7, 2014 –The National Milk Producers Federation wants the Food and Drug Administration to fix a problem in the planned definition of added sugars on food labels, saying it appears to include dairy products used as food ingredients, even though the lactose – or “milk sugar” – in those products occurs naturally.

Commenting August 1st on the FDA’s proposed changes to the nutrition facts label, NMPF was basically supportive of FDA’s proposal to list added sugars, saying it will clarify the contribution of lactose to dairy products and allow consumers to pinpoint added sweeteners in foods.

But, under FDA’s proposed definition, NMPF said the lactose in a tablespoon of nonfat dry milk incorporated into another food would count as an “added sugar,” while the lactose in a glass of milk would not.

“Surely, that can’t be what FDA intends,” said Beth Briczinski, NMPF’s vice present for dairy foods and nutrition. “We assume this is simply an oversight, since nonfat dry milk is often an ingredient in dairy products like yogurt and ice cream, as well as other foods, including baked and processed foods that benefit from added milk solids.”

“Either way,” Briczinski added, “this needs to be corrected.”

NMPF offered three specific reasons to exclude lactose-containing dairy ingredients from the definition of added sugars:

  • Unlike typical added sugars, dairy ingredients containing lactose are not used primarily to sweeten foods. In fact, compared with other sugars, lactose is not very sweet (it would take six times the amount of lactose to equal the sweetness level of table sugar). Instead, dairy ingredients like milk powder or whey powder are added to foods for other reasons, like texture and appearance.
  • The federal definitions of many standard dairy products allow them to include lactose-containing dairy ingredients, like nonfat milk powder, while still allowing the product to be called “unsweetened.” Examples include unsweetened yogurt and no-sugar-added ice cream.
  • Under FDA’s proposed definition, confusion would likely be created, since otherwise-identical dairy products would list or not list added sugars, depending on what ingredient was used. For example, a yogurt made with nonfat dry milk would be required to list added sugars, while the same yogurt made solely from skim milk would not list any added sugar.

NMPF also used its comments on the proposed revisions to the nutrition facts label to remind the FDA that it is allowing manufacturers of imitation dairy products, including soy “milk” and rice “yogurt,” to trick consumers into thinking their products are nutritionally equivalent to real-milk products.

“The name on a food conveys significant nutritional information,” said Briczinski. “Consumers think non-dairy alternatives with the term ‘milk’ or ‘yogurt’ in their name are nutritionally the same as real dairy products. But they are not. In addition, allowing these imitations to call themselves “milk” or “yogurt” is a clear violation of FDA’s own food standards and labeling regulations.

“It’s unfortunate that FDA has ignored this blatant misbranding of food products for decades, and is now touting its efforts to provide meaningful nutrition information to consumers,” Briczinski said.

Other points made in NMPF’s comments on FDA’s proposed revisions to the Nutrition Facts label:

  • Since industry in recent years has drastically reduced the trans fat in food – with a corresponding reduction in the trans fat in the American diet – it may no longer be necessary to list trans fat in the nutrition facts label. Regardless, ruminant trans fatty acids, which occur naturally in meat and dairy products, are not the same as added trans fats and should be exempt from the labeling requirement.
  • Dual-column labeling, designed to allow consumers to see nutritional information per-package as well as per-serving, doesn’t work for some dairy products, which should be exempted from the requirement – including quarts of milk, pints of cottage cheese, and dairy foods that are used primarily as ingredients, like butter and buttermilk.

In separate comments on serving-size issues, NMPF supported reducing a typical serving of yogurt from eight ounces to six ounces and opposed increasing a serving of frozen desserts from half a cup to a full cup. “The yogurt change makes sense,” Briczinski said, “since it brings the government’s measurement in line with packaging found in the marketplace.”

At the same time, Briczinski said, while FDA is proposing to increase a frozen dessert serving, consumption of both ice cream and frozen desserts generally has been declining steadily for two decades. “Consumption data,” she said, “strongly suggests that an increase in the frozen dessert serving size is not warranted.”

“Overall,” said Briczinski, “FDA’s proposed Nutrition Facts and serving size changes will have a positive impact. They will provide accurate nutrition information to consumers. But a few aspects of the proposals will result in unintended consequences for some dairy foods and FDA needs to review those aspects and correct them.”

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance the well being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The members of NMPF’s cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making NMPF the voice of more than 32,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. For more on NMPF’s activities, visit our website at www.nmpf.org.

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